Matt ZavadilWritten by Matt Zavadil
Updated May 18, 2024

If you’re looking for online business ideas, don’t worry!

There are plenty of opportunities to choose from that will help you start an online business that achieves your revenue goals.

Getting a successful online business up and running begins with honing in on that one business model you’ll stay with long enough.

The best business ideas for new entrepreneurs this year (and during recessions) will be those that require only a small investment, can make money quickly, and that you’ll stick with because you enjoy it.

In this blog post, I list 41 of the best online business opportunities based on your ability to start a low-cost Internet-based business that becomes profitable and your best 9-to-5 alternative.

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Rockin' one of these best online business ideas could make life fun again.

What Are The Best Online Business Ideas?

Here are my top online business opportunities that you can start on a low-cost basis and ramp up into profit relatively quickly.

1. Start a Membership Site

Starting a membership site is one of the most profitable online business ideas and it’s relatively easy to set up.

All you need is a domain name, some basic web hosting, and an online membership software platform like MemberMouse or Mighty Networks.

Once your site is up and running, you can create a variety of different membership levels (e.g., Bronze, Silver, Gold) and charge your members accordingly.

You can also offer free trials to attract new members and build your email list.

Key Benefits:

  • Ability to charge recurring fees
  • Potential for multiple income streams (e.g., online courses, live events)
  • Build an online community

2. Start Blogging

In my opinion, starting a blog is THE most effective online business idea.


Because you can buy a domain name for about $15/year, purchase hosting from Bluehost or Hostgator for about $100 per year, and install some blogging software such as Jetpack by Automattic (free).

Finally, set up your own email mailing list through MailChimp or Aweber so that those subscribing have an easy way to receive updates anytime you launch something new.

In total, this type of online business startup costs less than $200-$500 if done correctly.

Go in with patience because it will take at least a few months to get your new blog making money.

Once it does, though, you’ll start benefiting from passive income. Done well, and you just might join the group of top bloggers earning at least $1,000 per day.

Key Benefits:

  • Establish yourself as an online authority in your niche
  • Attract a loyal audience that will buy products or services you recommend
  • Create a passive income stream while becoming your own boss

3. Develop an Online Course

Developing and selling online courses is another attractive online business idea because you can get your own online business started inexpensively.

You don’t need to create a physical product. You simply need to develop the course content and upload it online using software like Thinkific or Teachable.

The costs of developing an online course vary depending on how long your video lectures are. Generally, it might range between $200-$500 if you record everything yourself with simple Powerpoint slides and use a paid software option such as Camtasia.

Or, you can use a less expensive option like Screen-Cast-O-Matic.

If you’re not tech-savvy, then I recommend hiring someone who knows what they’re doing from sites like Elance or Odesk. It’s a reasonable option when you consider rates that range anywhere from $15/hour or so.

Key Benefits:

  • Recurring sales once your course is launched
  • Potential passive income over time
  • Attract customers who may buy additional products or services from you in the future

4. Become an SEO Consultant

Do you have search engine optimization skills? If so, you can start your own online SEO consulting business.

The great thing about this online business idea is that you can start it for relatively little money. You could probably get started with just a few hundred dollars.

Your primary investment will be in marketing and advertising your services online. You can use techniques like blogging, paid ads, social media, and partnerships to get started.

You’ll also want to purchase the best keyword research software, such as Ahrefs, so that you can better serve your clients.

Once you have a solid client base, you could begin charging anywhere from $75-$200 per hour for your services. Or, you can charge $1,000+ per project.

Key Benefits:

  • Can be started with little money
  • Attract clients who are willing to pay premium rates for your services
  • No physical product needed

5. Teach Math

Why not try tutoring in math if you have skills in this area? You can start your online business tutoring students in math from anywhere in the world.

I recommend connecting with parents by advertising on sites like Craigslist and having a monthly online classroom, such as “Ace Tutors,” where you post all available dates/times when parents can book online appointments to have their children assessed for free.

Key Benefits:

  • Can be done online from anywhere in the world
  • Unique, considering few people can perform this work
  • Large market of students and parents to tap into as customers

6. Become an Affiliate Marketer

Another online business idea is to start an affiliate marketing website.

You can specialize in just about any market with affiliate marketing, but I recommend finding a niche like health, fitness, or business if you want to create a successful online business sooner than later.

Here are the steps to starting an affiliate marketing business:

Decide on a domain name and purchase it online. You can use Bluehost to get started for less than $100 per year. You need website hosting so that your business has an online home where customers can find you.

Create content (blog posts) about each product in your affiliate marketing niche.

  • Write reviews with pros and cons listed out
  • Include screenshots
  • Mention any bonuses you receive upon purchasing

You should also optimize your online business blog for SEO. To find products to sell, use popular affiliate programs like Clickbank, Commission Junction, and Flex Offers.

Key Benefits:

  • No need to create any products
  • Get paid multiple times from the same blog posts
  • Low start-up costs

7. Develop Mobile Apps as a Side Project

This might sound crazy at first, especially because there are well over one million apps now on the Apple App Store alone!

But app development is becoming quite popular among entrepreneurs looking for ways they can make money from home without investing too much time or money.

You can create apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices.

One online business idea is to make an app that serves as your unique way of helping people solve problems in their everyday lives. You could also do app development for games like the popular “Angry Birds” franchise (which was initially developed by a small team out of Finland).

Key Benefits:

  • Potential to make a lot of money if your app becomes popular
  • Can be done online from anywhere in the world
  • No major investment required

8. Start a Podcast

These days it’s easier than ever to get started with your own online radio show because you don’t need much equipment.

You can create a podcast and release it on iTunes, Spotify, and other popular podcast directories online.

Or, you can create a podcast to complement your blog by interviewing thought leaders in your industry or publishing helpful “how-to” episodes.

To get started, all you need is a microphone and some recording software like Audacity.

Key Benefits:

  • Podcasting is growing in popularity
  • Reach a large audience quickly and easily
  • No overhead costs beyond a microphone and recording software

9. Start a DFY Digital Marketing Agency

If you have the skills, starting a digital marketing agency is one of the best online business ideas available.

In this role, you can offer your services as an online consultant that specializes in web design, SEO, social media management, and other types of online marketing.

You don’t need tons of experience either. Most business owners will hire marketers without requiring them to have extensive backgrounds in the industry.

Key Benefits:

  • Create value by solving problems for clients
  • No overhead costs beyond a few software programs
  • Can start the business with little experience
Related Reading:

Side Hustle Quotes

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

Best Affiliate Marketing Platforms

10. Begin a College Consultancy Business Online

If you know what it takes to pass all the exams and write the required letters to get into college, then you can start one of the most unique online business ideas around: consulting parents and their teenagers trying to get into their desired university.

A college student in the university library.

Many parents are too tired after working all day to help their kids navigate the college entrance game. Or, they simply don’t know what to do to help their children.

You can step in and provide a valuable service to these parents by helping them increase their chances of getting into the school of their dreams.

Key Benefits:

  • Many parents are eager to pay for this help
  • Provides a valuable service
  • Work from home

11. Create an Online Classroom for Kids to Learn New Subjects

People are always looking for new ways to teach their children, especially since online resources have exploded in popularity over the last few years.

If you’re knowledgeable about something like history or science and would enjoy teaching others, then starting your own online classroom is one of the best online business ideas out there.

You can charge people per month to access all your study tools that will help them pass standardized tests.

If you leverage past student successes through testimonials on your site, you’ll accelerate new enrollments in your online classes.

Key Benefits:

  • You can charge people for access to materials you built cost-free
  • Can make a profit from home teaching kids about exciting topics
  • Helps students learn to love learning

12. Become a Social Media Consultant

If you know how to grow your online presence via social media, then one of the best online business ideas is teaching others how to do it themselves.

You can show people the exact steps through tutorials and consulting calls so they can replicate what you did in their unique industry or niche market.

Key Benefits:

  • People love learning from experts
  • Solves a problem many small businesses face (i.e. lack of time)
  • Monetize your love of social media

13. Get Free Stuff & Then Sell It (Item Flipping)

One of the easiest online business ideas to get started with is flipping items you can find for free.

For example, if you’re into fashion, search for designer clothes on Craigslist or eBay and then resell them on a site like Poshmark or Tradesy for a profit.

Or, if you’re more crafty, look for free items online like furniture or home decor and then turn around and sell them on an online marketplace like Etsy.

The key to profiting from this online business idea is to be ruthless about only selling high-quality products that people will love.

Key Benefits:

  • No inventory costs
  • Can start making money today
  • Items typically sell online for more money

14. Become a Micro-Influencer

If you have a decent following on social media, then one of the best online business ideas is to start monetizing that influence.

You can do this by becoming a micro-influencer and working with brands that want to reach your followers.

The reason many brands work with micro-influencers is because they are more authentic than an average celebrity endorser.

Since you have a smaller online presence, brands know they’re more likely to get your audience’s undivided attention when working with you on campaigns or promotions.

You can also start an online course eventually teaching people how to become successful micro-influencers themselves.

Key Benefits:

  • Can make a lot of money if done strategically
  • Your following is already engaged so the work is half done for you
  • Brands enjoy working with micro-influencers

15. Start a Dropshipping Business from Home

Dropshipping has taken off in recent years as one of the easiest online business models to get into.

With a dropshipping business, you create an online store and partner with a supplier who will ship products directly to your customer’s doorsteps.

When someone buys something from your online store, you simply contact the supplier to send that person what they ordered.

Key Benefits:

  • No inventory costs
  • No shipping expenses
  • You just need to market (not fulfill)

16. Publish a Book

This online business idea is one of the oldest in the book.

But, it’s still a great way to make money online if you know how to produce unique and interesting content that people will want to buy online.

For example, use Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or CreateSpace to publish your own e-books or printed books online then sell them on your website or at an online store like Etsy.

Key Benefits:

  • Can start making sales immediately once published
  • You only pay when someone buys something from you
  • Make money from your knowledge

17. Sell Your Art Online For Profit

If you have art skills – painting, photos, music pieces, etc. – selling your works can be profitable, but difficult without having an established name in the industry.

However, online marketplaces like Etsy and Society Six make it easier for artists to sell their work online without having to go through a third-party gallery.

Key Benefits:

  • Easier than starting an online store from scratch
  • Don’t need superpower marketing skills
  • Focus on your art while listing on sites like Etsy

18. Start Online Stock Trading

If you’re interested in online business ideas that require a little more risk, then online stock trading could be for you.

With online stock trading, you buy and sell stocks online through a brokerage account.

Then, you make money when the stock prices go up (or down) based on how many shares of the stock you own.

While this online business idea isn’t necessarily passive, it can still become profitable if done correctly.

Key Benefits:

  • Work from home (or anywhere, really)
  • You’re in control of your earnings potential
  • High-risk high reward online business

19. Teach Your Favorite Language Online

Many online platforms make it easy for you to teach others a new language, like VIPKid and Italki.

Both of these platforms allow you to set your own rates, so you can make as much money as you want.

Key Benefits:

  • Teach something you love
  • Teach people something they’re interested in learning
  • You can make your own schedule online

20. Start an Online Consulting Business

If you have a specific skill or knowledge that others could benefit from, starting an online consulting business is one way to monetize that talent.

For example, if you know how to negotiate well or are an expert in online marketing, you could start charging for your consulting services.

Key Benefits:

  • Can cost less than opening a brick-and-mortar company
  • You have more control over how much money you make
  • Can work remotely

21. Sell Fitness & Nutrition Services Online

If you’re a fitness junkie and know how to help others get in shape, online business ideas like this one could be perfect for you.

A woman working out who could use her fitness skills to fulfill her intention to put an online business idea into action.

For example, if your friends always ask for advice on what they should do at the gym or where they can buy healthy food online, start an online business that offers these services on-demand.

Key Benefits:

  • Offer people convenient ways to get in shape
  • Make money from your expertise online
  • Help people online from your own home office

22. Start a Print-on-Demand Business

If you want an online business idea that doesn’t require a lot of start-up costs, starting a print-on-demand business could be a good option.

With this online business model, you simply create designs for products (like t-shirts, mugs, etc.), then upload them to a site like Printful or Zazzle.

Once someone orders one of your products, the supplier will automatically produce and ship it out.

Key Benefits:

  • No need to maintain inventory levels
  • No shipping expenses
  • Stay creative

23. Start Your Own Clothing Line

If you have an eye for fashion and the know-how to create your own online clothing line, consider starting a business like this.

As long as you understand how much it costs to produce one product (including fabric prices), then you can start selling online.

Key Benefits:

  • Remain more in control of your creations
  • You can start online and sell in-person later

24. Buy & Sell Domain Names

Domain name flipping can become one of the most profitable online business ideas to consider taking on. However, it does take a lot of research and time to make money.

When you buy a domain name for a website, you can turn around and sell that domain name to someone else for a higher price.

Domain names can be sold for a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, so this online business idea can make you some serious money over time.

Key Benefits:

  • There’s no inventory to worry about
  • You don’t need any special skills or knowledge to get started flipping domains
  • No physical products needed

25. Sell Your Handmade Crafts Online

If you love making handmade crafts, consider selling on the Internet.

For example, if you knit scarves or crochet blankets, set up a shop on Etsy to sell your products. You can also create a website to sell online. From there, you can promote your online shop on social media platforms or through online marketplaces.

Key Benefits:

  • You can reach a larger audience online than you would in-person
  • No need to set up a physical store
  • Can be more profitable than selling through traditional market space outlets like craft fairs and bazaars

26. Become a YouTuber

If you’re passionate about a topic and have video-editing skills, starting a YouTube channel could be your best online business option.

Not only will this allow you to share your thoughts and ideas with the world, but a YouTube channel can also help you make money from ads or sponsorships.

Just be sure that whatever topic you choose to discuss is something that people are interested in watching videos about.

Key Benefits:

  • You can reach a large audience quickly and easily
  • Leverage your passion and knowledge for free
  • Can make passive ad money

27. Write and Sell an eBook

If you’re an expert on a topic, consider writing and selling an ebook.

This online business model is one of the most popular ones out there because it doesn’t require any start-up costs (beyond your time).

All you need to do is write the book, create a cover, and then upload it to Amazon. From there, people can purchase it and you’ll earn royalties on each sale.

Key Benefits:

  • No inventory to worry about
  • Can be written in your spare time
  • Earn a passive income from each sale

28. Start an eCommerce Business

eCommerce businesses are becoming increasingly popular because they allow you to open an online store and sell products online without having to set up a physical store.

To get started, you’ll need to invest in some basic eCommerce software and then set up a website. From there, you can promote your business through online marketplaces or social media platforms.

Key Benefits:

  • You have more control over your inventory than if you were selling through a third-party retailer
  • Can be more profitable than traditional brick-and-mortar businesses
  • No need for employees (unless you want to outsource certain tasks)

29. Start a Network Marketing Business

Network marketing (also known as multi-level marketing) is one of the hottest online business ideas because it allows you to easily share products with large audiences that will help them improve their lives.

As long as build your marketing and sales skills, this could turn into a lucrative online business idea for those who put in the time and work necessary.

Key Benefits:

  • There’s no inventory involved
  • You don’t need any special skills or knowledge to get started
  • Can make passive income

30. Coaching: Use Your Expertise

Are you an expert on a certain topic? If so, consider starting a coaching business.

Coaching businesses are one of the online business ideas that you can get started with right away.

All you need to do is promote and then start accepting clients.

Key Benefits:

  • Work from home
  • No need to set up a physical office
  • Make money from skills you already possess

Here are five coaching niches that work well:

  1. Life coaching: help people with personal and professional goals
  2. Health coaching: help people achieve their health and fitness goals
  3. Business coaching: help entrepreneurs start and grow
  4. Relationship coaching: help people improve their interpersonal relationships
  5. Dating coaching: help people find love

Other Online Business Ideas: Freelancing

Freelancing is one of the most popular online business ideas because it allows you to work from home and choose your own hours.

It’s an interesting way to transition from a job mentality into a business mentality. In my mind, freelancing represents one of the most effective work-from-home jobs.

To get started, create a profile on freelance websites like UpWork or Fiverr. From there, you can start bidding on projects that interest you. Getting your own website up also helps attract client leads.

Key Benefits:

  • Work from your kitchen table or home office
  • Choose your own hours
  • Ramp up your income over time w/ more clients

Here are a few freelancing gigs to consider starting:

31. Editing & Proofreading

As an editor or proofreader, you can help people improve their writing skills.

32. Graphics Design

If you have experience in graphic design, you can offer your services to businesses that need new logos or branding materials created.

33. Social Media Marketing

Freelancing in this area can be lucrative because businesses are often willing to pay a premium for social media marketing services.

34. Virtual Assistant Services

If you have administrative experience, consider offering your services as a personal virtual assistant online. In a virtual assistant business, you’ll help people with daily tasks like making appointments and reminding them of important dates.

35. Marketing Consultant

Businesses often hire marketing consultants to help improve their online presence. This can include things like improving their website or social media presence.

36. Transcriptionist

If you have a good grasp of the English language, consider becoming a transcriptionist online. With sites like Scribie and Rev, it’s easy to get started right away!

Become a Freelance Writer

If you have a good command of the English language and excellent customer service skills, online writing jobs are one of the easiest online business ideas to start.

Every website needs more content. You can find online writing jobs on freelance job websites like UpWork, Freelance Writing Gigs, and Problogger.

Once you have a few clients, you can work toward making a full-time income as a freelance writer.

37. Freelance as a Video Editor

Do you have experience in video editing? Many online platforms allow you to freelance as a video editor. Some of the most popular ones include UpWork, Fiverr, and PeoplePerHour.

38. Use Your Developer Skills as a Freelancer

If you’re a web developer, consider freelancing your services online. Many online businesses need help with website design, development, and SEO.

This is one of those online business ideas that can become quite lucrative if you have the right skillset and experience.

39. Start a Freelance Research Business

If you’re good at conducting research, you can turn it into a freelancing gig that you work from home.

Just create a profile on online marketplaces like UpWork or Fiverr and start bidding on projects that interest you.

40. Start Freelancing as a Copywriter

Copywriting is one of the most in-demand freelance skills online.

If you have a knack for writing persuasive copy, consider freelancing as a copywriter. Use sources like SolidGigs, FlexJobs, or to pick up your first copywriting gig.

41. Begin Freelancing as a Voiceover Actor

Video games, television shows, movies, and commercials all hire voiceover actors. If you have “one of those voices”, then you can get into this game, work from home, and make money talking all day.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have a few questions about online business ideas?

What are the most successful small businesses?

The most successful small businesses are the ones where the owners are involved in the day-to-day operations. These owners also strive to constantly improve in marketing, sales, and personal development.

What online business ideas are best for beginners?

The best online business ideas for beginners are the ones that don’t require a high initial investment. This way, you can test out your idea without risking a lot of money.

How much money can I make as a freelancer?

The amount of money you make as a freelancer is completely up to you. If you’re willing to work long hours and put in the effort, you can make a full-time living online.

What online businesses make money?

The online businesses that make money are the ones with high-profit margins. That’s why many online business ideas revolve around eCommerce, blogging, and high-ticket affiliate marketing, coaching, and online courses.

Wrap Up

If you’re looking to start an online business, this blog post gives you everything you need to get started.

I’ve compiled the most attractive small business ideas that make sense this year.

Whether you want to freelance as a personal assistant, make money online as a marketing consultant, or become the next top-ranked blogger/affiliate marketer, you can do it!

Get started today by picking one of these small online business ideas that are perfect for new entrepreneurs.

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