Starting An Online Business – 36 Low Cost Ideas

Although online business has many benefits, it can also present its own challenges. The truth is, starting a business of any kind is hard work. Although some people may view the internet as a quick way to make money, there are still basic principles that apply to business.

Online is a way to connect businesses with people. It is a powerful tool that allows you to reach anyone, anywhere in the world. It’s still about connecting the right customers to the right offer when you create a business.

36 Best Online Business Ideas

1. Start your own clothing or online T-Shirt shop

If you have some designs in mind and a little bit of time on your hands, you can get your clothing company off the ground.

Shopify in conjunction with Oberlo, Printify or Printful can be used to create your own clothing line. They automatically link your shop to clothing printers and manufacturers. You can also have them handle all aspects of the retail fulfillment process, so you are free to design and ship as many pieces as you like right away.

Thanks to print-on-demand apps, the process of designing and delivering your own custom-made clothing has been streamlined and simplified making it ideal for anyone with imagination and a flair for design.

So, why not start your own clothing business?

    • Nothing is more satisfying than designing products that people use every day.
    • You can start selling immediately after you have built your Shopify store.
    • It’s a great feeling to see your ideas come to life and make them profitable.

2. Launch a dropshipping business

You think you will need a warehouse to manage your business? You might be wrong! Dropshipping is a great way to start a business on a budget. By sourcing pre-existing products from suppliers, you can get up and running quickly. They will take care of fulfillment and packaging.

This allows you to skip many of the obstacles that could be preventing you from starting your business. It also eliminates the possibility of discovering that there is no market for your product once you have placed a large order with a supplier or manufacturer.

Dropshipping is a great option.

    • Stock products don’t have to be kept in physical locations. This means that cash flow will not get impacted by inventory. There is less risk of cash shortages.
    • You place an order with third parties when a purchase is made. They handle all the rest. Dropshipping is a great way to eliminate potential headaches such as tracking inventory and mailing packages.
    • You can operate your business from any location, because there is no warehouse. You can work anywhere you like, whether it’s in your living room or at the café down the street.

Oberlo is a dropshipping marketplace. Oberlo allows you to search for thousands of products from suppliers that can be sold online. You can then sell to customers around the globe while building your brand and marketing it. You don’t have to purchase inventory until it is sold to a customer. From online boutique to jewelry store to women’s clothing store to one-product store, dropshipping works for most online store ideas

3. Sell your art online

Whether you’re a painter, photographer, or musician, there are plenty of ways to start an online business and turn your latest masterpiece into a source of revenue with a beautifully designed ecommerce website.

Printify and Printful allow you to sell your photography or painting work as prints, canvases or framed posters. This is a great way to make your art tangible so people can take it home and incorporate it into their homes. Are you a music lover? You can sell your beats, songs, samples, and more as digital products.

Why should you sell your art?

    • By bringing your work into homes, you can make a difference in people’s lives.
    • By opening an online shop, you’ll be able to showcase your work.
    • Artists aren’t limited to a hobby. It’s an integral part of your daily life. This is your opportunity to make your passion a career and earn an income stream.

4. Become a freelance writer, developer, or designer

Based on their skills, developers, writers, and graphic designers could start businesses. You can use your skills as a freelancer to help people around the world with their projects, while also making money.

You don’t have to take on long projects that consume your time. Freelancing does not mean you must. It’s easy to pick up small tasks that work around your schedule.

You can find people who need your assistance by using freelancing platforms like Fiverr and Upwork.

Fiverr is not like a traditional job board. Many of the jobs are $5, as the name implies. You can make a lot of money with Fiverr by carefully structuring your offers to be able to upsell clients for more money.

As an example, you might offer to write a 150 word introduction for your first $5 service. You could also charge $10 per 150 words more. You can adjust your services until you find a combination that is worth it.

Shopify allows you to control the price of your services. Since you aren’t physically delivering any goods to your customers, you can list your services under products. To give your customers the ability to schedule appointments, you can use apps such as BookThatApp or Events Calendar.

Why should you freelance?

    • Freelancers can choose the projects they want to work on, and create their own schedule and workplace.
    • It’s a great feeling to get paid to do something that you are good at.
    • Freelancing can be a great way to expand your skills in writing, design, and development. It also gives you the opportunity to gain real experience in many industries. You may discover a passion or knack for something that you didn’t know you had.

5. Teach an online course

Teaching and selling online courses is a low-investment business idea for generating passive income. You simply create a video tutorial or eBook explaining subject matter that you are familiar with and sell the training from your website.

It takes effort up front to produce the course content and record it, but you reap the rewards for the long term.

You have market and drive traffic to your courses to ensure you get sales and people know about them.

Online courses are a great way to teach.

    • Online courses are easy to set up and forget resulting in a passive income. You can build on and tweak the course to keep it relevant for the long term.
    • The knowledge is already there, all you have to do is share it. Concentrate on what you are already an expert in and the rest will follow.
    • It’s a rewarding experience to teach someone a new skill. Teaching online courses is a lucrative business, but helping others is always rewarding.

6. Your thrift store finds can be repurposed

Selling second-hand treasures online is a great idea if you enjoy thrift shopping and finding great deals.

Potential customers are looking for cool stuff but don’t want the hassle of digging through old soccer jerseys or braided belts in order to find that one unique item. This is your chance to position yourself as a trusted curator who can find great vintage pieces for others.

Don’t sell your thrift store finds!

    • Let’s face the facts, you would be browsing through thrift stores anyway. So why not make some extra money by selling your shopping obsession?
    • These margins can be huge. The RadioShack two-dollar radioshack ball cap that you bought over the weekend? It can be made into a vintage hat for $40.
    • You are selling something special. You are the only person who can offer the vintage collection you have assembled.

7. Publish your book

You’re allowed to admit that you have thought about publishing your book one day. Although it might seem impossible to see your name on the bestseller list, it is possible.

There are many options available for self-publishing your work, no matter what genre it is: a science-fiction novel or marketing guide. You can release your writing as an ebook using the Digital Downloads app or on-demand printing services such Blurb and CreateSpace.

Install the Digital Downloads app to instantly stock ebooks in your online store. Your ebooks will be sent directly to your customers as an email attachment or via a direct download link after they have been purchased.

Blurb and CreateSpace will allow you to sell physical copies of your book. They will custom print your book, handle fulfillment, and manage storage.

Why publish a book when you can do it yourself?

    • Is it worth writing something if no one is around to read it? Self-publishing is the fastest way to get your book in front of potential readers.
    • Blurb and CreateSpace take care of printing, storage, delivery, and distribution.
    • You are passionate about creative writing and deserve to be able make money doing what you love.

8. Start a blog

Since its inception, blogging has advanced a lot. The blog was originally a virtual journal. It has since become a marketing tool and even a monetization tool.

A blog can be a great way to start an online business, whether you are making money by publishing sponsored posts, hosting ads from third parties, or selling products.

Building a loyal, engaged audience is the key to launching a successful blog. If you approach your audience with a trusting mindset, you will build trust. You can then start driving revenue when you earn trust.

This is how Mr. Money Mustache began his popular blog about personal finance. The movement that began as a small business has grown into a national phenomenon and is now a well-known brand.

Why should you start a blog?

    • Blogs offer unlimited growth potential. There are many ways to expand your blog into affiliate marketing, ecommerce and courses. Some blogs even use a paid subscription model to drive revenue.
    • Blogs are a long-term investment. Although you may not see immediate results, blogs are more likely to last. Blogs can be found online forever, or at least until they are deleted.
    • You can practice your writing, which is an essential skill for business and communication. To improve your writing, you can use tools such as Hemmingway or Writer.

9. Become an influencer

A social media influencer is someone who has a large following and is considered an expert in a specific area of makeup or fitness. They post about their lives regularly and promote products they like. This internet business idea offers the opportunity to get paid to promote businesses to your followers, much like affiliate marketing. Influencer marketing is a huge online business trend right now that you can capitalize on. Try your hand at Vlogging and starting a Podcast, which are under-utilized channels of communication for influencers right now.

What’s the point of being an influencer?

    • It’s an opportunity to get an introduction to marketing–particularly valuable if you’re interested in pursuing that as a career or additional business venture.
    • You will learn about interesting and new brands. You may discover companies and products you love that are not available if you didn’t ask.
    • It’s so simple that even a monkey could do it. You can make your pet the star, but not literally.

10. Launch a podcast

Consider recording your voice for a podcast if you enjoy the sound of it. Podcasts are a great home business idea with multiple monetization options, similar to starting a blog.

Here’s what you need to start your podcast:

    • High-quality microphone
    • Software for audio recording
    • Software for recording calls

Consider inviting prominent people to your podcast as guests. This will help promote your podcast. Encourage your listeners to leave reviews, and share the podcast with their family and friends.

Why start a podcast?

    • Podcasts are gaining popularity. According to Podcast Insights, 51% of Americans have listened to a podcast.
    • Podcast success can open up endless opportunities: you can turn your podcast into a blog, find sponsors, advertisers, and make connections that you would not have made otherwise.

11. Become a virtual assistant

Do you love to work behind the scenes and are organized? You might be the ideal candidate for a virtual assistant (VA), business.

An VA is a person who helps executives, entrepreneurs, and businesses organize their personal and professional lives. The duties of a VA can range from basic marketing management to appointment scheduling. Everything can be done online.

Why should you become a VA?

    • Your ideal client is the one you should work with. Even if you don’t know it at first, you will find out who you enjoy working with and what you are passionate about doing for them. These preferences can be incorporated into your business.
    • You can interact with people all around the globe. You only need an internet connection to be able to interact with professionals and clients around the world.
    • Your business can be transformed into a network that includes VAs. You can train and hire VAs to help you achieve your growth goals if you are too busy.

12. Build apps, websites, plugins and themes

Learn coding skills if you are tech-savvy and get started building. There is an enormous demand for programmers and website developers. You can build digital products, whether it’s Shopify apps, mobile apps or WordPress themes and plugins.

For example, you can create a custom Shopify theme template and sell it to merchants looking for an affordable DIY approach to designing their website. You can also work directly with clients to create websites and apps that are tailored to their needs.

Most websites are built on WordPress. Creating customized websites, WordPress themes and plugins  or simply being able to fix broken websites will open  the door to a full time online income.

Why create apps and websites?

    • Technology isn’t going away, and there will be a growing demand for technical skills to create apps and websites.
    • As more businesses move online, the opportunities are growing exponentially for website and app development as online stores, shopping carts and online marketing opportunities continue to grow.

13. Become an Affiliate Marketer

Affiliate marketing is when you promote a product or service and get a commission on any sales when the product is purchased through your unique affiliate link.

Why do affiliate marketing?

    • Passive Income: Affiliate marketing allows you to earn money while you sleep, unlike regular jobs that require you to work.
    • No customer support: Thanks to the affiliate marketing structure, you’ll never have to be concerned with customer support or customer satisfaction. The sole purpose of an affiliate marketer’s job is to connect the seller and the customer. After you have received your commission, the seller will deal with any complaints from consumers
    • You can work from home: Affiliate marketing is done online so you can work from anywhere where you have an internet connection. No commuting or regular office hours.
    • Cost effective: Low startup and fixed overhead costs. Driving traffic is the main cost of business besides needing a computer and internet connection.
    • Performance based results: With other jobs, you could work an 80-hour week and still earn the same salary. Affiliate marketing is purely based on your performance.

14. Provide translation services

Translating is a great option if you have a gift for more than one language, but no desire to learn others. Many companies require their collateral and website translated to be successful in a new market. It is possible to help them accomplish this while still being active in multiple languages. Remember that the most popular way to bill is by cost per word. So price wisely to make smart business decisions.

15. Become a foreign language teacher

It is well-known that learning a language quickly is best done by speaking with native speakers. You were born in a language other than English or French. To connect with learners and maximize your privileges, use online communication tools such as Skype and Google Hangouts. You have limited time, so make sure you use it to teach.

16. Develop a niche product

You might have the next great online business idea if you spot a niche opportunity. Niche products cater to a unique audience. They can be very useful for a particular community if done right.

A niche could be defined based on industry, location, value, product attributes, or price point. A niche could include anything that is specific enough to reach a limited number of customers. Here are some examples:

    • Conscious consumers: Think vegan, sustainable, eco-friendly brands and products.
    • Pet owners: You can even drill down by type of pet.
    • Remote workers have special attributes that are different from traditional office workers.

Why develop a niche product?

    • Niche products are distinctive and therefore highly sought-after. Early success can be all you need to drive press coverage with zero budget.
    • Although it might seem scary, targeting a specific customer allows you to make marketing and messaging more effective. Instead of trying to reach a wide, diverse audience, you can speak to people with many common characteristics.

17. Create handmade goods

If you’re particularly crafty, selling handmade products would be a great ecommerce business idea for you. You can make jewelry, furniture or picture frames online.

You can still use Etsy or Craigslist, but your online store gives you more control and makes it easier to track orders and fulfill them.

Why should you sell handmade products?

    • You can give as much or as little of your time as you like. You can decide how big you want to get.
    • You can create according to your schedule. Make your handmade goods on a set schedule, when you have spare time, or whenever you want.
    • Turn your passion into income. Passion is the key to making your entrepreneurial venture more rewarding.

18. Do Software bug testing

Software companies cannot ignore bug testing. You can make a platform that allows users to pool their expertise and help each other to solve this problem. This will increase your chances of making a profit. Offering bug testing resources is a unique way to increase your income. For more information, visit BugFinders or CrowdSourceTesting.

19. Become a video producer

YouTube is the second largest site in the world, so there’s no surprise that video is becoming one of the main communication mediums for businesses of all types and sizes. It doesn’t take long to build your clientele if you are proficient in editing or video filming. The business world can benefit from everything, including video editing workshops and soundtrack libraries. A video production business idea that offers lots of creativity and challenges is one of the most appealing online ideas.

20. Work as a graphic designer

From small businesses to multinational corporations, graphic designers are in high demand. Starting a graphic design business can allow you to tap into this great opportunity. Using your portfolio as a showcase of your previous experience can help you attract customers without any aggressive outreach.

21. Become a social media manager

Although social media is an essential part of any business, it can be time-consuming and constantly changing. It’s also very difficult to keep up and capitalize on. Many business owners are willing to outsource this time-intensive task, so it’s a great opportunity for social media fanatics. You will get more clients if you bundle a few offers such as the “Startup Social Media Kit” or “Small Business Social Media Starter Kit”. This package includes everything you need, from analytics reports to social media graphics.

22. Remote customer service agent

You can help people remotely if you love helping people, but don’t want your time spent in an office or call center. You can help people by phone, chat, video or email. Every day, you save lives. Although this may not be your first million, it is a great feeling to help others.

23. Become an SEO expert

This business is one of the most popular online jobs at the moment. It’s a great opportunity for tech-savvy entrepreneurs. Although everyone is obsessed with SEO optimization, few people are able to grasp the concept. If you decide to go into this field, you can think about offering link building, content creation, ecommerce SEO optimization, and similar one-off packages.

24. Provide online research services

It sounds too good to be true, but some people make a living from their ability to search online for information. From data research for infographics to market research for budding startups, talented researchers know that you can put a price tag on knowledge.

25. Be a proofreader

You might be a proofreader if you enjoy reading. You can request manuscripts from other people for research papers or books. Give them your honest feedback before you publish the work of art. To ensure everything is printed, this job requires expertise and attention to detail.

26. Do CV writing

It is difficult for most people to create a winning CV. A CV writing business could be for you if you are a good writer and can highlight the best qualities of people. You can also sell professional CV templates to help job seekers get noticed quicker and produce better results.

27. Do Speechwriting

It is terrifying to give speeches. Bad speeches are something that no one wants to do. Wordsmiths are able to win people over with the power of well-strung sentences. You can make speeches that will make your wedding, awards ceremony, or political debate more memorable if you are a writer.

28. Be a ghostwriter

You are a writer, but don’t have a topic. It is a requirement that you write in detail about someone or something. It can take time and much research to finish this type of project so be sure to have a few months free to give to it. You can sell your services on Fiverr or Upwork where clients are constantly looking for writers.

29. Do content curation

Schumpeter, a German economist, once stated that there are no original ideas. Only new combinations of existing ones. It is a fascinating and under-appreciated business model to curate curiosity-fueling content. One of the best success stories out there is Brainpickings – a platform that describes itself as “an inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness, spanning art, science, design, history, philosophy, and more”. Blog has become self-sustaining due to its subscription-based model and the successful use of affiliate links.

30. Become a lead generation service provider

Most businesses are chasing customers and looking for ways to increase conversion rates. This can mean investing in lead generation activities that can be tedious. Many companies outsource this task to a provider of lead generation services. This is the job for you if you’re a good phone operator and love to reach out to strangers.

31. Become a nutritionist

Healthy eating is a growing trend. With so many contradictory information online about what is healthy and what isn’t, professional nutritionists are becoming more popular for their expert advice and guidance. You can easily find free online courses to learn the fundamentals of this profession and start offering personalized nutrition plans online.

32. Bake!

The world of great bake-offs is rich and growing. Online business is a wonderful way to turn a passion into a successful business. Online baking is possible. Platforms like Shopify make it easy to sell baked goods online.

33. Launch a natural & organic beauty shop

Online shoppers are becoming more careful about what they buy, especially when it comes beauty products. One of the most popular online business ideas is to run a beauty shop with strong values and an ethos that resonates with animal lovers and nature.

34. Sell women’s sportswear

With LuluLemon spearheading the way, online sportswear shops for women are quickly climbing to the top of the most popular idea amongst ecommerce entrepreneurs. It’s clear that yoga pants will be a big trend in ecommerce.

35. Sell 3D-printed products

3D printing, one of the most important technological innovations of our time, is leading the way for a new strategy for ecommerce. Jewelry, accessories for the home, bike parts, and tech accessories are some of the most popular 3D-printed products. Check out 3DigitalCooks and DanitPeleg for some stunning examples.

36. Launch an ethical fashion brand

One thing is certain – clothing and accessories will continue to be a super-profitable online business idea for an ecommerce website. However, with so many boutiques and fashion online stores in existence, rising above the noise is extremely difficult. One promising trend that smart entrepreneurs may have already seen is “ethical fashion”. Pachacuti and Sea Salt, as well as Matt & Nat, have built their brands around ethical, organic production of fashion items. They are now at the top of the most powerful brands.

How to Start Your Online Business

No matter how small your online business is, it can be costly and time-consuming. You may need to learn accounting and legal knowledge. It’s not too late to start your online business. As a great source of income, side hustle opportunities are abundant as you don’t need to be located next to a customer in order to provide the goods or services to them.

It is important to take the following steps to get started with an online business:

1. Decide on your business

This is the most crucial step, as you won’t be able to start a business without it. Take a look at our top-rated online business ideas, and decide which one you like best.

2. Research Your Industry

Learn about the industry you work in. Perhaps there is a pricing system that your competitors use and it will work for you. Perhaps you’ll discover that there are many competitors in your industry and decide to modify your business plan to be competitive.

3. Create Your Brand

With every good business comes a good brand and if you figure this out at the start you can become a more successful online business in the beginning. This includes a great website and social media (if customers are there), a killer logo, engaging in PR and more outreach and marketing activities.

4. Start Getting Customers

The last step in getting started is getting your first customer. Your business will succeed if you have great customers. To find these customers you should discover how to get in front of your audience, sending out the right message to entice customers, and devising a pricing structure that works for the majority of customers to effectively give customers what they need.

In Conclusion

There are many online business ideas that can be used. Most office-based jobs can now be done online through freelancing or remote working. Technology’s beauty means that online businesses can grow and prosper, making the world an increasingly global marketplace. If you are considering moving away from the traditional career path and want to start your own business, read through our list of business ideas a few times and contemplate the many ways you can start a successful online business today.