The idea of a “job for life” is now a thing of the past. That's why around 30 million Americans operate a home-based business, many of them pursuing an online business model of one type or another.
Wanting to start your own internet business is a smart move for a lot of reasons. But the biggest mental hurdle most of you face right now is figuring out what the best online businesses to start are. Maybe you've heard about affiliate marketing, but somebody mentioned Shopify during lunch. Plus…you've always wanted to write a book, and you’ve read stories about indie authors earning millions.
So, how can you possibly choose the right online business idea for you?
But there's good news! You see, you're alive at the best possible time in human history to start your own business. Never before has the barrier to entry been so low, startup costs so minimal, or the income potential so vast. You have access to resources and tools that didn't exist a decade ago, social media being just one key example.
In this article, we're going to take you on a journey through our top 13 online businesses, any of which are perfect for a home-based internet business.
And if you are reading this you can take heart you getting advice from someone that has actually started a successful online business. I've been a full-time internet entrepreneur since 2011! So, not only is this “online business” stuff possible…but I hope to provide you some good advice to get you started with your next venture.
Your Income Goals and Needs
Starting an online business isn't a decision you've come to lightly. In fact, we're pretty sure you've talked yourself out of the idea of being self-employed as many times as you've convinced yourself it's absolutely the best possible decision for you right now.
But once we get to the heart of why you want to have your own part-time or full-time online business it comes down to a handful of factors:
There’s no better feeling than grabbing the rudder of life away from an ungrateful employer and setting sail for the glowing horizon of entrepreneurial success. You KNOW you can do this.
But an even more pressing need is earning enough money to replace your 9-5 income, or just to pay those extra bills, with the sweat of your brow.
And this is the point where you need to stop and ask yourself how quickly you want to replace your income.
Because that will have a direct impact on the type of business you start. You see, there are only two types of businesses:
- Product based
- Service based
A product-based online business is one where you're selling products directly to customers. E-commerce stores are a perfect example of a product-based internet business. Just be aware it can take several weeks or months for this type of business to earn money.
Service-based businesses are where you exchange your time for money, but at a higher rate than a daytime job. The real beauty of this type of business is that you can start earning money almost immediately. There's constant demand from businesses for virtual assistants, freelance writers, web developers, and SEO consultants, for example.
Never leave a full-time job in the hope of getting rich overnight from an online business. That might happen, but the odds are stacked against you.
The Benefits Of An Online Internet Business
When you compare any online digital business to its brick-and-mortar retail equivalent, you'll understand why tens of millions of people all over the world take the online route instead.
Owning a “real” business means you need to think about bank loans or financing, leases, maintaining inventory, business insurance, finding staff, training staff, etc. You then need to factor in finding a prime location for your business. If you don't have enough footfall then you can expect to be shutting up shop in as little as a few months. In fact, 50% of small brick-and-mortar businesses fail within their first 3 years.
Some of the things we love about pretty much any online business model out there include:
- Low startup costs
- Almost non-existent overheads
- Can be run from anywhere in the world
- Can be run part-time
- No staff required, unless you choose to
Most of the online business models we cover here can be started for less than $50, while some of them can be started for exactly $0.
That's not a typo – it genuinely does mean zero dollars and cents.
If you can find any ethical and legal brick-and-mortar retail business you can start with exactly nothing, then we'd love to hear about it. Oh, and that doesn't include the “no money down” property flipping model.
Now that you have more insight into why owning an online business is such a great idea, it's time to look at exactly which are the best online businesses to start in 2018, and beyond.
1. Flipping Used Textbooks
One of the simplest side hustles to get started with is flipping used textbooks on Amazon. While there are a couple of different approaches to take, the one I like best is buying used books on Amazon and then trading them into Amazon (via the Amazon trade-in program) and pocketing the difference.
Sound too good to be true?
There are actually more deals out there like this than you'd believe, thanks to the fact that sellers list used textbooks for low prices on Amazon all the time, not realizing they could trade that book into Amazon for more money. For example, you might see a Biology 101 textbook that has a used price of $45 and an Amazon trade-in price of $70 – meaning you could buy it and trade it right back in for about a $25 profit.
You can start searching for deals manually or use TexTrader to speed up the process significantly.
Start up costs: $50 or the price of the first used book you decide to flip.
Income potential: Anywhere from $50 to $1,000 per month.
Success story: Chris from FBAMaster.com has made thousands of dollars doing this in recent years. Click here to get the tool he uses to find the best deals automatically.
2. Your Affiliate Marketing Empire
This model gives me warm fuzzies because it's a simple online business that's also enjoyable and has the potential for almost 100% passive income.
Affiliate marketing, in a nutshell, is about selling products on a commission basis for a range of companies, including major brand names. There's no need to buy stock, you don't handle packing or shipping, and you never have to deal with customer service issues.
The cornerstone of your affiliate business is about setting up a website that's focused on a specific niche. You research low competition keywords for that niche, with the aim of ranking on page one of Google for those keywords. People visiting your site then click on a referral link, and if they make a purchase at the destination store, then you get paid a commission. That's why some people call it “referral marketing”.
As internet-based businesses go, affiliate marketing has huge income potential. And as mentioned earlier, once it's set up properly the income from it can be almost 100% passive. In fact, this is how I quit my job originally. I built lots of little niche sites that eventually were bringing in income of over $10,000 a month! So, I say “Adios!” to my day job and I've never looked back.
You have two choices when creating a site to sell products or services via affiliate marketing – a niche site or an authority site.
Niche sites are smaller and focused on a specific type of product or service, featuring several dozen pages of content. Authority sites, on the other hand, tend to have hundreds of articles, completely covering all known keywords for a given topic.
If you hate the idea of writing you can always outsource that work to somebody else. But writing great content for an affiliate site really isn't that difficult. It just takes a bit of practice, and once you see those first commission checks you'll be up writing articles for your site before work, during your lunch break, and when you should be sound asleep in bed. Successful affiliate marketers can be real gluttons for punishment.
Start up costs: $10 for web hosting, $10 for a domain name and $30 for a WordPress theme.
Income potential: Anywhere from $50 to $100,000 per month.
Success story: TheWireCutter.com – this affiliate site recently sold to The New York Times for US$30 million.
**Want to learn from me directly** about how to build a successful affiliate website that can potentially turn into a significant online business? Join my Niche Pursuits Insider training to get all my online business “blueprints” as well as gaining access to an active group of other people building a new online business right alongside you.
Get access to all the training + ongoing live webinars + a private Facebook group to make sure all your questions are answered.Join Niche Pursuits Insider
3. Open an Etsy Store
Do you love everything arts, crafts and vintage? Or maybe you love making things with your hands?
If that's the case then Etsy is an online business model with a twist because it provides crafters like you with a dedicated platform to sell your handmade or vintage goods from. And don't think you’ll have to nickel-and-dime your way to a profit – it's actually the opposite.
Although Etsy originally launched as a platform solely for crafters, it's expanded to include pre-made vintage and antique items. Some sellers do try to circumvent the system to sell mass-produced items, but Etsy shut those stores down as soon as they find them.
So, what sells well on Etsy? Here's a complete course that teaches you exactly how to establish a successful etsy business.
Personalized items such as mugs, pillows and wedding favors are always popular. Handmade bags, stickers and vinyl transfers, handmade jewelry and charms, and other fabric items also sell in volume. If you're not artistically inclined then you could set up an Esty store that only sells the raw materials of the crafter trade to others.
Other big sellers on Etsy include vintage and retro household wares and clothing items. Everything from hats to chairs and sofas can sell for 20x what you paid for them in a thrift store.
Starting an Etsy shop is completely free, and they provide tons of support and training for sellers. This includes an online marketing training course that even covers the basics of SEO. An Etsy store can be started as a part-time business, and then become your full-time gig when you're earning enough from it. The top sellers on the platform often sell over 1,000 items from their store every day. Yup, that’s 1,000 items every single day.
Start-up costs: Free – you can start by selling unique items you own but no longer want. Or have a look on Craigslist for items people are giving away for free. People regularly give away vintage and retro items that are worth hundreds of dollars.
Income potential: The biggest Etsy sellers earn tens of thousands of dollars per month.
Success story: There are too many to mention individually, but here’s a selection.Join the Etsy Business Course Here
4. Brainstorm An E-Commerce Business
Some people still shy away from the idea of having an e-commerce store because of the dotcom crash of 2001. It left a lasting impression on anyone who knows anything about it. But modern e-commerce businesses are as far removed from those days as Google is from Yahoo in terms of dominating the search market.
Back then you had to worry about paying web developers vast amounts of money to build an e-commerce site for you. After that it was time to pay an SEO agency to rank your site, or you had to resort to paid (PPC) traffic. Then you had to deal with inventory, staff, deliveries and managing customer service issues.
Modern e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify, provide you with an easier and more cost-effective way to set up an online store. You can choose to sell your own products directly to customers, which will involve packing and shipping products.
Another option is to again set up a Shopify store. But instead, you have customer orders drop-shipped to them by the manufacturer, or distributor. You know those super-cheap items you see on Facebook that seem too good to be true? The catch is always that it can take 30 – 45 days for your order to arrive – that's the drop-shipping model in operation right there.
A particularly hot e-commerce market right now is selling monthly subscription boxes. One of the most famous examples of this business model is the Dollar Shave Club. These guys started out in 2012 selling affordable men's grooming boxes each month. By the time 2015 rolled around the Dollar Shave Club was acquired by UniLever for US$1 billion.
Shopify has become very popular in the online store industry because it offers a stable e-commerce platform, with secure payment options.
Start-up costs: $29 per month for a basic Shopify store. You then need to choose from either the drop-shipping model, or to sell your own products directly from your store.
Success story: The Dollar Shave Club.
Income potential: Umm around US$1 billion dollars, if you do things right. On a more serious note, an e-commerce business, selling in-demand products, can make 5-figures per month.
**Want to learn from someone that has built a successful online store?** Check out Steve Chou's 6 days free mini-course that will teach you how to create a profitable online store.Get the 6 Day Mini-Course for Online Store Creation
5. Start An Amazon FBA Business
We kept the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) business model separate to the e-commerce section above. The reason for this is that Amazon FBA is a little bit different to regular e-commerce. This difference is it allows you to piggyback off the success of the biggest online retailer on the planet – Amazon.
How would you like to come up with an idea for a range of products you want to sell online, but to have Amazon do all the hard work of advertising, picking, packing, shipping, returns, and dealing with customer services headaches queries for you?
Sounds great, right?
It is, and that's exactly what Amazon offers their FBA sellers.
The process of getting Amazon to sell your products for you is a straightforward one:
- You brainstorm an idea for a product you think will sell online
- Next up is to do extensive market research on that product, focusing on product popularity, sales price and profit margin
- Now you need to find a company that will manufacture your product(s) for you – this is a lot easier than it sounds
- Once your product order is completed, you then arrange for them to be shipped to an Amazon fulfillment center
- You create your product listings for your Amazon store
- The listings go live, and you start making sales
- Around 14 days later you receive your slice of the pie from Amazon via check or electronic fund transfer to your bank account
The above is a simplified version of each step, but it really is that simple when you break the Amazon FBA business model down to its core principles.
Start-up costs: An Amazon ‘Professional Sellers Account” only costs $40 per month, but you’ll need around US$2,500 in total to get started. That figure does not include advertising or professional photography.
Income Potential: Anywhere from $1,000 per month to several million dollars per year.
6. Start A Virtual Assistant Service
This is our first example of a service-based online business, and it's ideal for anyone who wants to earn money from a side hustle, but without having to wait tables or mow lawns. There's nothing wrong with waiting tables or mowing lawns, by the way – they're both great offline side-hustles.
So what exactly is a virtual assistant (VA)?
They are generally solopreneurs who offer their services to small businesses who need help with a given range of tasks. Some people might argue that being a virtual assistant isn't really running a business. But somebody like Gina Horkey can prove that's simply not true, and she has a booming business to back her claims up. She's also seen as the “go to” person for a step-by-step guide to running your own VA business.
It's also possible to scale up the idea of being a solo VA and becoming an agency instead. In this model you find and vet virtual assistants for business owners, and get paid a referral fee for doing so.
Typical tasks required of a virtual assistant can range from answering phones and organizing their clients inbox, all the way up to graphic design, search engine optimization and ad-hoc web design and website maintenance tasks.
Wait…somebody will pay you to manage their emails for them?
You'd be amazed at just how many small business owners and entrepreneurs are buried under an inbox of 10,000 – 20,000 emails that they don't have time to categorize, prioritize or reply to.
If you're trying to decide on what virtual services to offer, all you need to do is sit down and list out what skills and abilities you have. Everyone has a skill they can sell as a virtual assistant. And even if, for some odd reason, you don't then you can always learn one by taking courses on Udemy or Teachable.
The odd thing about having a VA business is that once you develop a reputation, then word-of-mouth advertising takes over. All successful VAs wind up hiring other people to help them because they get so swamped with client work.
Startup costs: A laptop, and Internet connection and a $10 account on Upwork.
Income potential: Virtual assistant rates vary from $20 to $100 per hour, but you’re more likely to make around $30 per hour for your efforts. And you get to do that without ever leaving your home.
Success story: Gina Horkey, but she’s just one of many successful VAs out there.
7. Become An Indie Publisher
They say that everyone has at least one book in them. While that's true, the traditional publishing industry (or trad pub, for short) didn't support everyone's dream of seeing their novel on the shelves of their local bookstore.
Traditional publishing had settled into a comfortable rut of turning down aspiring authors left, right and center. They could do this because a trad publishing deal was the only option available to authors. Their only other choice was vanity publishing, which is expensive and a waste of time.
Jeff Bezos completely disrupted that industry way back in 2007 when Amazon launched the first Kindle. Industry experts (cough) were quick to dismiss the Kindle, saying it was a fad. They had an equally dim view of the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform, which allows people to upload their own books to the Amazon marketplace.
But instead of failure, something wonderful happened – a legitimate self-publishing industry was born. Now people from all walks of life with an idea for a book could become an independent author. Not that Indy…and we’re never going to talk about that movie.
There are now more than 3.4 million self-published indie books on the KDP platform. And both new and established authors release hundreds of fiction and non-fiction books every single day.
Although non-fiction books are extremely popular on Amazon, the real money is in publishing fiction. The indie publishing industry has hundreds of success stories of authors earning tens of thousands of dollars per month. In fact, there are so many of them it was difficult to pick one success story to feature.
If nothing else, the indie publishing scene proved that dismissing business opportunities without fully understanding them can be a big mistake. Just ask Barnes & Noble.
Startup costs: Zero, but ideally you'll need at least $100 for a great cover for your book. You would then ideally have another $100 for an editor and $100 to market your book once it's finished. That’s a total investment of $300 to write and publish a novel that could make back 10x – 20x what you invested in it.
Income potential: A single successful book can earn you anywhere from $100 – $500 per month. A successful series of books could earn you up to $50,000 per month within your first year as an indie author.
Success story: Dave Chesson is a successful publisher with several books under his belt. He blogs regularly with tips for self-publishing books and has also created Publisher Rocket that will help you find the best idea for your first (or next) book.Check Out Publisher Rocket Here
8. Start an SEO Business
If you have even moderate SEO skills, then you can easily start a side hustle offering just search engine optimization services to businesses all over the world. SEO is global, so always think global when it comes to your potential client base.
But…isn’t SEO dead?
The sad truth is that for all the SEO consultants out there who know exactly what they're talking about, there are hundreds of others who are clueless, money-grabbing sharks. Their sole focus is on getting customers signed up to a 6-month retainer based on promised results. They then kick their heels for the first few months, pocketing cash for doing nothing.
There is huge demand for ethical, white hat SEO experts who can help businesses improve their online visibility in the major search engines, and all the lovely, free organic traffic that goes with that.
You can approach this online business from a couple of angles. The first is to market yourself directly to companies through LinkedIn or via cold emailing. The idea of actually marketing yourself might terrify you, but it gets easier with time. Promise.
The other option is to offer white label SEO services to web design agencies. What this means is they handle the web development side of things, and you take care of the search engine optimization work. The perk of this approach is you never have to deal with their clients. Most SEO consultants start here because all the client-finding work is already done. That leaves them to do what they're best at – ranking sites in Google.
The only real downside to running an SEO business is that you'll need to invest in a handful of tools to give you the best possible chance of landing those 4-figure per month client retainers.
Oh, and if you have any experience in managing PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising campaigns for clients, you can double whatever your current hourly SEO rate is. Businesses in competitive industries are quite happy to pay a freelance PPC consultant a lucrative monthly retainer to beat out their competitors.
Start-up costs: Long Tail Pro ($37 per month), SEMrush ($99 per month) or Ahrefs ($99 per month). Long Tail Pro is essential for client keyword research, whereas SEMrush and Ahrefs are very useful when analyzing where your clients' competitors rank in Google.
Income potential: Monthly retainers of US$1,000+ per month are quite achievable
Success story: Daryl Rosser is a perfect example of a local SEO consultant earning an enviable monthly income from his business.
9. Invest In Peer-to-Peer Loans
The traditional model of banks having a monopoly on loans and currency has finally been turned on its head after several hundred years. Although the first bank was set up by the Medici family in 1472, the loans process hasn't changed since then.
Then in 2005 the first Peer-to-Peer (P2P) loans took place.
The P2P lending model directly matches lenders with borrowers, and usually at very competitive interest rates. So, even if you have lousy credit, there's still a good chance you might qualify for a P2P loan instead. There can be more risk for the lender in a peer-to-peer loan, but the dividends are worth it.
Peer-to-Peer loans are really just a form of crowdfunding. But the difference is that P2P lenders “invest” in borrowers, instead of investing in business start-ups.
So, how exactly do you go about lending your money to other people and generating a profit?
You use an intermediary P2P platform, such as Lending Club, to do all the hard work for you. They're just one of the many popular P2P loan platforms online, including others like Prosper, BitBond, and Zopa.
To give you a basic example of how P2P lending works, let's say you find a borrower on a P2P loan platform that needs $10,000. You offer them a loan for the full amount but at an 8% interest rate over 3-years due to their unstable credit rating. You could also offer to part-finance the loan, with other lenders investing in the remainder of it.
If you invested the same money in a standard savings account in the United States you'd earn a whopping .01% to 1.45% in interest per year. Banks actually offer those rates with a straight face!
The lending platform then takes a 1% cut for matching lender and borrower, leaving the investor with a healthy 7% return on their investment.
This is a simplified version of what takes place, but the principles are the same:
- You lend money to people who can't or won't borrow it from regular banks
- Your profit is generated by the interest charged on that loan
Startup costs: You don't need to be Warren Buffet to get involved in the peer-to-peer lending market. In fact, some peer-to-peer success stories have started with as little as $25.
Income potential: Inexperienced lenders can earn as little as 4% per year in interest on their loans. More experienced lenders report returns of 12% – 14% on their loans. Do your due diligence because every financial transaction involves an element of risk.
Success stories: Read how Joseph Hogue made US$10,000 with P2P loans.
10. Become A Blogger
Now, here's an online business model that has unfortunately become the butt of far too many jokes. This is because a certain segment of society (that’s you, hipster!) went around loudly telling anyone willing to listen that they were full-time bloggers. The net result of all this misplaced enthusiasm is that if you tell any of your friends or family you're going to start a blogging business, they'll wrinkle their collective noses at you, while coughing politely.
Don't let that stop you from starting a blogging business. There are lots of very successful bloggers out there – we're talking 5 and 6-figure-a-month levels of success. What you absolutely must avoid doing is starting a blog about “how to be a successful blogger.” How can you do that when you haven't achieved any success yet yourself? Faking it until you make it is not a business model we'd advise anyone to follow.
Blogging is still a viable online business idea, and one with as much potential as ever. Just make sure that you start a blog on something that people actually want to read about. If that happens to be something you're passionate about that's great. But you need to understand that it's way easier to monetize a blog about organic dog food than it is to make money from a blog about obscure literary fiction.
Learning how to start a blog isn't all that difficult either. You can choose to use a free WordPress or Blogger.com account to get started. Or if you can afford to invest about $20, then you can register a domain name, get a cheap web hosting account, and install WordPress from there.
One of the biggest misperceptions about blogging is that you need to write these long, thought-provoking posts that make people stop and think about their life. Your blog doesn't need to be life-changing. In fact, you'll make more money if you focus on helping your readers solve whatever problems they're facing.
Or even just help them find a cool new product or service they didn't know they needed. The truth is that blogging can be as visual as you like too – there are plenty of photo and craft bloggers out there with massive audiences.
If you're wondering how to make money from your blog, then stop. You can't monetize a blog without an audience, and you can't get an audience without creating content. Build your audience first, and then start looking at options like AdSense, Amazon affiliate selling, or paid guest posts.
Start-up costs: You can start out with a free WordPress account and then upgrade to a paid account later. Registering a domain name plus cheap web hosting will cost you about $20. A premium theme for WordPress costs about $50, which is ideal if you can afford it.
Income potential: Blogs with a huge audience can earn anywhere from US$10,000 to US$100,000 per month.
Success story: Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income is one of the most successful, and dare we say likeable, success stories in the blogging industry.
**Want a step by step plan to start and grow a blog that gets free traffic from Google?**
Check out my very own Organic Traffic Formula. This step by step course will teach you how to grow a site and rank it in Google. This is exactly how I've built and grown all my sites over the past 10 years.Join Organic Traffic Formula Here
11. Write Your Way To Success
Ever wondered where the term “freelance” comes from?
Freelancers used to be soldiers-for-hire, willing to sell their lance to the highest bidder. We're not really sure how that got applied to writers-for-hire, but they do say the pen is mightier than the sword.
Speaking from experience, selling your services as a freelance writer is one of the quickest ways to earn money online. The weird thing is that you don't need a Masters in English or journalism experience to be successful. In fact, having too much knowledge can actually get in your way of making money as a freelance writer.
What you do need to get clients are samples of your previous writing work. And that means you'll need to create some if you don't have any. One of the quickest ways to build a portfolio to present to clients is write articles for sites like Constant Content. Their editors are merciless, so that means they only approve well-written work.
If that approach doesn't interest you then head over to Google Trends and look for a trending topic. Ideally this will be something you find interesting, but that's not an absolute requirement here. Then create a piece of content on that same topic, sign up for a free WordPress account and post it there. Voila – you now have one “clip” for your writing portfolio.
What will also help your earning potential is to specialize in one style of writing, and maybe even one particular subject. You see, writing on the same subject for hundreds of hours each year makes you an expert on it. To paraphrase Cal Newport, “…you'll build up a lot of career capital through deliberate practice.” It’s how you become so good that clients can’t ignore you.
Once you have one or two samples to show prospective clients, it's then time to find some. Sites like Freelancer and Upwork are good places to start out. But you don't need to stick to the same path taken by every other freelance writer. Use some lateral thinking to find clients. Join relevant groups on Facebook or LinkedIn. Have a look for forums dedicated to web development, digital marketing or SEO – there's almost always a “writers for hire” section you can use to find new clients.
Some writers only work on specific types of writing, such as technical writing. Other freelance writers will work for whoever is willing to pay them. But writers who specialize earn more than generalists. That's been proven time and time again.
Two sub-niches within the freelance writing world you should be aware of are editing and proof-reading. Reliable, high-quality editors are in huge demand, with some of the best ones having a six month waiting list.
Startup costs: Freelance writing is another of those service-based businesses with very low start-up costs. There are tons of places online where you can find clients for free. At worst you can sign up for an Upwork account for $10 per month, just don't plan on staying there forever. The most lucrative writing projects are rarely found on platforms like Upwork.
Income Potential: Freelance writers charge anywhere from 1c per word to $1 per word, depending on their experience and ability.
Success stories: Laura Pennington is a former school teacher who now runs a six-figure freelance writing business.
12. Flip Websites And Domains For Profit
Let's assume you have money you want to invest in an online business, but you have limited free time in which to do that. In fact, you'd just like to buy low and sell high, like they do in the property market. There's my “Flipping Vegas” addiction rearing its ugly head again.
If you're the type of personality that likes the maximum return for the minimum of effort (and who doesn’t?) then you might just fall in love with the idea of flipping websites and domains for profit.
There are thousands of website owners looking for somebody to buy their web properties. Now, most investors who buy these sites will continue to run them, banking the profits. They take a long-term approach to their investment, not hoping to recoup their investment for several years.
But there are other speculators looking for “Golden Goose” websites. They're looking for sites where the owner doesn't understand the true value of their web property. Sometimes they've made a handful of mistakes with their SEO that's caused their traffic to tank. Sometimes they just haven't monetized it properly.
What this means for you is you can find websites being sold for just a few hundred dollars. That same website can quite easily be resold to the right person for several thousand dollars.
So, as an investor you could buy a website for $10,000. You then hire an SEO consultant to optimize it for $1,000. Once the SEO work is complete you flip the site several weeks later for $20,000. That leaves you with US$9,000 in profit for doing almost no work.
If can't afford to buy a website there are just as many opportunities in buying and selling domain names. The people who do this are referred to as domain flippers. The principle is the same – you buy a domain for as little as $10 and flip it for several times that amount. Do companies still pay thousands of dollars for a domain name you own but they want? Absolutely.
Startup costs: It's entirely possible to start a domain flipping business for as little as $10. Running a website flipping business on a tight budget is possible, but you'll realistically need $500 to find a worthwhile investment.
Income potential: The sky really is the limit here. I'm aware of one site that was bought for US$30,000 and is being flipped two years later for almost US$400,000.
Success stories: Chris Clark registered the domain name Pizza.com in 1994 for $20 and flipped it in 2008 for US$2.6 million. Similar opportunities still exist today.
A great way to learn more about starting a website is through my Organic Traffic Formula Course. Check it out here.
13. Digital Products
While this online business model does involve selling products, they're not physical ones. Instead digital products can be anything from a PDF file, to a membership site, a training course, or a software product.
But the one thing to remember about selling digital products is this: You create it once, and you sell it many times over.
A digital product can be resold to new customers all year round. This is the exact opposite to the e-commerce industry where you're constantly looking for new products to sell.
Infoproducts can cost almost nothing to produce, and they don't require space in a warehouse. Customers receive their order by email, or via a download link, so there's no shipping involved.
Creating a digital product can be as simple as writing a document in Microsoft Word, saving it as a PDF file and then uploading it to Clickbank. Although the days of selling high-priced PDF “eBooks” is a thing of the past, there's still huge demand for digital products across a wide range of niches.
An example of this is all the cryptocurrency training guides currently available online. People from all walks of life want to invest in cryptocurrencies because of the crazy success of Bitcoin. A digital product teaching people about crypto might only sell for $27, that's pretty much 100% profit for the creator.
Digital software products can be just as profitable, but operating system compatibility issues can make it tough work. You can wind up spending half your day dealing with customer support issues, for example.
Now with the advent of SaaS (Software as a Service), software creators are hosting their products online. Your customers don't have to download and install a software installer because your product is available from the cloud.
Taking your software to the cloud means your product is compatible with almost any computer with a web browser. Customers then pay for access to the software, ensuring your creation is never pirated or hacked.
Startup costs: You can create an eBook with a word processor, a few hours of your time, and some stock images. Your total production costs would be no more than $20. You may need additional money if you want to pay for advertising or promotion.
Income potential: Successful digital product creators can make tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars per month. This depends on the pricing of their product and whether or not they have recurring income from it.
Success stories: Here’s a great example of lateral thinking when it comes to selling digital products. This creative couple are making US$50,000 per month selling doll clothing patterns.
There you have it – a comprehensive guide to the best online businesses to start this year. We deliberately didn't cover ideas like app development or IT support because they require specialized skills. That's why we only provided you with businesses you can start with very little money. In fact, you can even start some of them with very little knowledge.
But which online business idea should you choose?
Most entrepreneurs will start several over a period of a few years. This is so they never have to rely on just one stream of income. The online business world is always in a state of flux, so it's best to never to have all your digital eggs in one basket.