Wondering to yourself, “what kind of online business can I start?”
You are not alone.
Entrepreneurship is a dream for many. It can afford you so many awesome opportunities like the ability to work from home, set your dream schedule, unlimited income potential and more perks. The only problem is, starting a business can be expensive.
And, this is a barrier for many people who delay their dream of launching their own business. But online businesses can be started fairly cheaply. In some cases, even for free.
How to make money online?
Starting your own business is a common route many people take to start making money online. Earning online means you can ditch your commute to work, save money on work attire, work in a comfortable environment, possibly set your own schedule, have unlimited income potential and more.
You’ll need a computer and access to the internet. Then, depending on how you’ll make money, other requirements may be needed.
What kind of online business can I start?
As mentioned above, a big barrier to starting a business is the capital required to begin.
Consider a retail store, for example.
To start a retail store, common startup costs can include:
- Deposit for rental space
- Communications equipment
- Operations equipment
- Merchandising expenses
- Plus, a lot more!
These are costs you incur before you even open your doors on launch day!
It’s very expensive.
If you compare this to an online business, you can save a lot of money working online.
Warehouse space may not be needed. Depending on the business, you may not need to hire staff. There’s zero merchandising, no signage required, and you may be able to run the entire operation from your home, which cuts out costs for renting a space, among other expenses.
There are many benefits, as you can see. Here are some low cost business ideas you can start that won’t break the bank.
10 Best Low Cost Online Businesses to Start
There are two different kinds of businesses:
- Product-based businesses
- Service-based businesses
Of the two, service-based business ideas will be cheaper to start. That’s because you are selling a service, which requires your time and labor mostly, whereas a product-based company may require supplies and equipment for manufacturing, operation, and sales, which is more expensive.
So, you’ll find mostly service businesses in our list below. This doesn’t mean pursuing a product business is a bad idea but it can be more costly so keep that in mind.
Here we go…
1. Running Facebook ads
You can make money online running Facebook ads for local businesses. This is a great way to help businesses in the community while making money at the same time.
You’ll do tasks like:
- Creating and managing Facebook campaigns to generate leads for businesses
- Creating landing pages
- Setting up lead forms
- Monitoring the results
A computer with internet is all you will need here. You can earn $1,000 to $2,000 per month per client with the ability to make much more if you scale up your clientbase.
2. Virtual assistant
A virtual assistant is someone that gets paid to assist others online.
It’s an online personal assistant.
Your clients can include busy households, professionals, small businesses, etc.
Your role exists to help streamline and make the life of your client easier.
The tasks you’ll do will vary based on the needs of your client but some examples of work tasks you might do include:
- Email management
- Appointment setting
- Social media posting
- Event management
- Admin duties
You’ll need access to a computer with stable internet access. Your work will be entirely online and you’ll work from home to assist the clients you have.
Virtual assistants can earn $10 to $100 per hour, based on the scope of work.
If you have specialized skills, like a background in computer programming or design or other skills, you may be able to earn on the higher end of this scale.
Interested? Gina Horkey has a course called Fully Booked VA that can help get you started.
3. Freelance writer
A freelance writer makes money writing for others. The writing you can do can include:
- White papers
- Blog posts
- Magazine articles
- Podcast transcripts
- And, more!
Your clients can be small businesses, bloggers, attorneys, etc.
This job is a good fit for you if you enjoy writing. You will not need a background or degree in writing to get started in this business.
There are virtually zero startup costs and all you’ll need is a computer with internet access and word processing software (like Microsoft Word or Google Docs) to get started.
Freelance writers generally charge by the word and beginner writers can fetch $.02 to $.05 per word which means if you have 3 clients producing 10,000 words/month each, you can make $600 to $1,500 per month for simple article writing.
For more complex projects like resume writing or producing white papers, it’s not unusual to earn up to $3,000 for a single project!
4. Teach online
If you are knowledgeable about a topic, create a curriculum and start teaching online. You can use any one of these course platforms to reach and deliver your course to students online:
Course creators can charge up to $300 to $2,000 per class they sell to students. Taking on just 10 new students per month at $300 per course can earn you $3,000 per month.
What you’ll need for this business is a computer with internet access plus, any filming software or equipment you might need if you’ll be recording video lessons for your course.
The online course platforms shared above are not free but you can secure an affordable monthly rate of around $40+, depending on the platform you join.
5. Start an online store
An online store can be a fun project to explore that can make you a lot of money.
First, decide what you’ll be selling. Then, source your products. Figure out your business model. Sign up to a store platform like Shopify and begin building your store. Then, prepare for the launch!
It will be helpful to create a business plan from the start, which is something you should do for all the business ideas shared in this roundup. Your business plan will help you create objectives for your business and identify goals you want to conquer.
Here are some online store ideas you can consider:
- Women’s, men’s or children’s apparel
- Trending gifts
- Office supplies
- Home decor goods
You will need a computer and access to the internet along with a store platform to run your online store on.
6. Flea market flipping
Flea market flipping is just what it sounds like. You make money flipping goods you source from flea markets.
For example, you could source a vintage flatware set for $10 and resell it for $50, profiting $40. Or, you could find an antique figurine for $5 and resell it for $100, making a $95 profit.
These examples might sound unbelievable but finds like this happen everyday with flea market flipping!
Flea markets are also just one of the places you could source for goods to resell. You can also check out thrift shops, consignment shops, garage sales, online marketplaces like Ebay, retail stores, online retail websites, etc.
This kind of business can be very fulfilling and it’s the perfect job for you if you like being hands on and being out and about, compared to sitting at a desk all day. For those that like desk work, flipping can be done entirely online too!
You’ll need transportation as you’ll be visiting flea markets and other stores and shops in person. You also need internet access for sourcing goods and reselling online.
The income potential here really varies. New flippers can earn up to a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars per month while seasoned flippers can make five figures per month or beyond.
Flea Market Flipper University is a great course on how to get started with flipping flea market finds.
Blogging is very rewarding. It’s a way to write about the things you love, connecting with an audience while teaching and inspiring them.
You start by picking a blog niche. Your niche is the main topic of your blog, like finance, travel, or food, for example.
Here are some other examples of blog niches you can pursue:
- College lifestyle
- Vegan lifestyle or other food-based lifestyles (like gluten-free, etc.)
- Occupation-based (like writing, management/leadership, etc.)
After picking your niche, you’ll want to get hosting and a domain. Then, you can begin creating your content, design your blog, then launch to publish your work!
You can make money blogging through a variety of different routes:
- Affiliate marketing
To start you’ll need access to a device with internet like a computer, tablet, or mobile phone. Hosting and domain will likely be the only costs you incur up front, running under $3 per month if you choose BlueHost as your provider.
An influencer makes money by influencing others. Influencers are usually found on social media like Tik Tok, YouTube, Instagram, and other social networks.
To make money as an influencer, start by picking a social network to focus on. Then, start posting content consistently. As your following grows you will start to notice brands reaching out to you for sponsorship or affiliate marketing opportunities.
But you don’t have to wait to be contacted, you can also reach out to brands you’d like to work with.
How do sponsorships work?
A sponsorship, or brand deal is when you get paid to partner with a brand to share their products with your audience.
For example, if you are a finance influencer on Tik Tok, you may work with an investment app, partnering with them to share the app with your audience. You will get paid for this social share.
The amount you earn varies on many factors like your reach, engagement rate, the size of your audience, the kind of social network you’re on, etc.
It’s not unusual to make up to $10,000 or more for a single sponsorship!
The three ways to start to make money with sponsorships are:
- Contacting the brand
- The brand contacting you
- Working with a sponsor network
Contacting the brand is as simple as emailing companies you want to work with then pitching them a sponsorship.
Make sure you have your contact details prominently displayed on your social channels to make it easy for companies to reach out to you.
You can also join sponsored networks for free and apply to opportunities that are a good fit. Here are some sponsored post networks you can join:
How does affiliate marketing work?
With affiliate marketing, you share your favorite products with your audience and if they click your affiliate link and buy, you earn a commission at no additional cost to them.
For example, if you are a finance influencer and refer your favorite credit card, your audience may click your affiliate link to the credit card and apply to get the card. When that happens, you could earn a commission.
You will need to be on one or more social media networks of your choice. Plus, a computer or mobile device and internet access will be needed for this online business.
To get started with affiliate marketing, check out this helpful resource.
Podcasting is like running your own radio show. You can podcast about virtually anything you want, from stock investing, leadership, bad date experiences, running a business, cooking vegan, etc.
It’s kind of like blogging but it’s all audio-based. You can make money podcasting through sponsorships and affiliate marketing.
Have you ever listened to the commercials on the radio? Those are sponsors.
Companies pay you to share them in a short commercial on your podcast.
Next, there’s affiliate marketing which is where you refer your favorite products to your audience and earn a commission when they buy using your affiliate link.
Podcasters make money with affiliate marketing by mentioning products on the podcast with an easy to remember URL and linking to them in the show notes.
You’ll need to invest in equipment to start your podcast, like a microphone and other supplies. Then, you’ll need podcast hosting and editing software as well.
Here’s our free guide to how to start a podcast, to get you started.
10. Freelance graphic designer
A freelance graphic designer makes money creating graphics for their clients. These can include social media graphics, ebook and book covers, sales page graphics, blog post and website graphics, etc.
If you know how to design, that’s all you’ll need to get started. No formal degree, experience or background is required for this job.
You will need access to a device with internet access, like a computer or tablet, etc. You may also need access to graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop, etc.
What kind of business can I start online?
Hopefully this article has given you some ideas of low cost online businesses to launch. If you have a computer and internet, you can kick off most of these businesses yourself.
For more on online business, you’ll enjoy our guide on how to start a small online business in 2021. Good luck!