As of 2021, over 2.14 billion people have turned to online shopping to fulfill their needs. It’s likely because the COVID-19 pandemic has made 40.3% of customers reduce their visits to physical stores.
Experts estimate that this trend will continue as eCommerce revenues are projected to grow to $5.4 trillion in 2022. If you’re considering starting a small business online, now is the perfect time to do so.
As deciding how to shape your online business will determine its success, it’s important to plan your business strategically according to the market’s demands. To do so, you must decide what to do first.
This article will explore 30 lucrative business ideas. You will discover what is required for each of them and how much you can expect to make. We will also include a section detailing the steps to jumpstart your online business idea.
Video Overview of Online Business Ideas
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Why Start an Online Business?
If you still have doubts about moving your business online, here are some of the most common reasons why people choose to do it:
- Flexible business hours and location. An online business owner can work from anywhere at any time, leaving more time for personal interests.
- Low startup costs. Unlike a brick-and-mortar store, an online business doesn’t require a physical storefront or utilities to operate.
- Wide audience reach. Online businesses’ scope isn’t limited to the local market. The internet makes it possible to create an international market where you can sell products or services to customers worldwide.
- Passive income streams. Monetization methods like affiliate marketing and online ad displays make for a compelling side hustle.
Best Online Business Ideas to Get You Started
Building a successful online business requires plenty of effort and time. Picking an idea that suits your skills and interests will increase your chances of success and make the journey worthwhile.
The following are the 30 best online business ideas you should consider pursuing.
1. Become a Freelancer
- Estimated Income: around $21+/hour, depending on the industry and location
- Requirements: skills and experience in a particular field
The rise of the gig economy makes freelancing a viable alternative to the usual nine-to-five jobs. In fact, 75% of freelancers reported that their income increased after this career shift.
Those with prior work experience can leverage their expertise and the acquaintance network they’ve built to establish a professional brand. Any line of work will do, though web development, graphic design, and writing are the most in-demand skills online.
Since the freelancing market has become more competitive, you must develop a unique selling point to set yourself apart. One way to do this involves defining your ideal clients, like freelance writer Elise Dopson does – she focuses on B2B and SaaS companies.
Freelancers usually create a website to promote their services online. Signing up on work marketplaces like Fiverr and creating a LinkedIn profile can also improve your online presence.
2. Start a Blog
- Estimated Income: $100-$10,000+/month, depending on blog operational expenses and monetization channels
- Requirements: writing, content marketing, and SEO skills
Starting a blog is one of the most profitable online business ideas. Many six-figure entrepreneurs, like Pat Flynn, began by blogging about their skills and knowledge to a small audience.
In truth, a successful blog is more than just sharing your thoughts on a subject. Before you get started, remember to focus on the following elements:
- Niche. It’ll be easier to grow your website by focusing on a specific theme rather than covering a wide range of topics. Explore blog ideas for inspiration.
- Content quality. Producing content that offers a good user experience will turn visitors into loyal readers and rank your blog higher on search engine results pages.
- Traffic size. Bloggers with high visitor volumes usually have better chances at attracting potential business partners and selling their own products or services.
- Monetization options. Diversifying the blog’s income streams will make maximizing profits easier. Popular methods include affiliate marketing, Google Ads, and sponsored content.
3. Self-Publish an eBook
- Estimated Income: 35-75% of the eBook’s price as royalties, depending on the platform
- Requirements: creative writing and content marketing skills
Thanks to the internet, becoming an author no longer requires sending a manuscript to a publisher. Anyone can now sell eBooks through a personal website or self-publishing sites, like Amazon KDP.
If you’re a blogger, eBooks are great for compiling existing content into one comprehensive guide. That’s what Elna Cain does with her long-form articles. To add more value to the product, she inserts some printable worksheets.
On the other hand, self-publishing sites offer the benefit of an existing audience, saving you the hassle of starting from zero. The only downside is that you won’t be able to claim the eBook’s gross earnings.
As such, many writers create a website as an additional monetization channel to maximize their revenue.
Keep in mind that book production expenses range between $100-$6,000. Make sure to allocate a budget to cover any initial costs if you want to pursue this online venture.
4. Launch an Online Store
- Estimated Income: $1,000-$100,000+/year, depending on the eCommerce store, its expenses, and the market size
- Requirements: business management, digital marketing, and site maintenance skills
Creating an eCommerce store is one of the most rewarding online business ideas to pursue. You may be the next person to launch a multi-million dollar brand with the right strategy.
To guarantee your success, check out which products are trending. Alternatively, try tapping into a micro-niche. While it may attract low traffic volumes at first, segmenting your niche will reduce competition and provide considerable growth potential.
An excellent example of a successful micro-niche business is Neuro, a caffeinated gum and mint company. The founders created the product to provide a healthier alternative to energy drinks and coffee.
Besides displaying products on your eCommerce site, consider selling on social media platforms, like Facebook or Instagram. Diversifying the sales channels can widen the audience reach and increase revenue.
5. Start a Dropshipping Business
- Estimated Income: $200-$3,000+/month, depending on the online store and market size
- Requirements: business management, digital marketing, and site maintenance skills
The dropshipping business model involves partnering with a supplier to sell their products on your platform. The vendor handles storing and shipping the item, while the seller focuses on marketing the goods to prospective customers.
Since there’s no need to manage inventory, the startup costs are usually quite low. The average cost of setting up a dropshipping site is $150. This figure includes a web hosting service, a domain name, and membership at a supplier directory, like Spocket.
As customers cannot inspect the products in person, the success of this business model relies on customers’ trust. To avoid any issues mid-operation, vet suppliers before collaborating with them.
Investing in excellent customer service is another way to retain customers and ensure their satisfaction.
6. Flip and Sell Thrifted Goods
- Estimated Income: $50-$5,000+/month
- Requirements: business management and negotiation skills
If you’re looking for an affordable online business idea, consider reselling second-hand goods for a profit. Look for unused items of decent quality around your household or purchase pre-owned goods from secondhand marketplaces.
Once you have items to sell, conduct market research to determine their prices. You can do so by looking up how much similar products of comparable quality sell for.
In some cases, it may be necessary to repair or recycle the item into a different product to increase its value. While it’s not a prerequisite, having basic handyman skills will benefit you in this industry.
Check out Flea Market Flipper for inspiration. This site offers comprehensive online courses on making flipping items a full-time profitable business.
7. Sell Handmade Goods
- Estimated Income: $30,000+/year, depending on the material and the time spent making the product
- Requirements: artisanal or crafting skills
The internet has made it easier for artisans to turn their craftsmanship into a profitable business.
Unlike merchants who partner with suppliers, you’ll have the upper hand selling one-of-a-kind goods that customers can’t find anywhere else. As a consequence, it’s possible to charge more for your creations.
Bridget Bodenham is one among many artists who successfully make a living selling their crafts. She’s built an eCommerce website to handle all the transactions independently, giving her full control over the brand’s business and marketing strategies.
You can also sell handmade goods online on Etsy. With over 39.4 million buyers worldwide, this platform makes it easier to target your ideal customers and build a following. That said, be prepared to compete with fellow merchants for buyers’ attention.
8. Sell Prints
- Estimated Income: 10-20% commission/print
- Requirements: artistic skills, such as photography, graphic design, and fine arts
Selling prints is one of the best online business ideas for visual artists. Besides making money, doing so also allows fans to display your work in their homes, promoting you.
One of the easiest ways to sell prints involves creating an online store and signing up with an on-demand printing service, like Printful. This method allows you to make more artwork and concentrate on marketing the business while the platform takes care of the procurement and shipping.
Some successful businesses sell full-size digital files of their prints, like A Beautiful Mess. This way, customers can print and frame your art themselves, eliminating shipping costs.
As other people can duplicate said files, make sure to add a copyright notice on each piece of art and take action if infringement occurs.
9. Launch a Subscription Box
- Estimated Income: $6,000-$400,000+/month
- Requirements: business management, digital marketing, and site maintenance skills
A subscription box service is a business model that periodically delivers a package of products to customers, like Dollar Shave Club.
This business idea has gained more traction in recent years. 54% of online shoppers are subscribed to at least one subscription box service to receive a convenient personalized experience.
The main benefit of running a subscription box service is the chance to generate recurring income and foster a long-term relationship with customers. That said, succeeding in this online business requires a product that people are willing to pay for repeatedly.
A good example is Butcher Box. This subscription service delivers various kinds of meat. The brand’s unique selling point is the fact that its meat is organically sourced to provide customers with more value when purchasing the products.
10. Start a Consulting Business
- Estimated Income: $60-$400/hour, depending on the industry and skillset
- Requirements: skills and experience in a particular field
This is another great online business idea for people with advanced knowledge in their field. Consulting businesses help companies solve problems, whether they’re related to marketing, operations, or human resources.
If you decide to start offering consulting services, it may be challenging to find new clients. Consultant Kate Bagoy recommends focusing on generating leads through LinkedIn and cold email pitches during the first six months to grow your pool of prospects.
11. Become an Affiliate Marketer
- Estimated Income: $300-$10,000+/day, depending on the affiliate program and niche
- Requirements: content marketing skills
Affiliate marketing is one of the most affordable online business ideas. An affiliate marketer promotes a brand’s products or services by including links to them in their content. The commission rate is based on the number of purchases made through the affiliate link.
You can start this internet business venture by creating a blog focused on product recommendations. An excellent example is Baby Gear Lab, a site dedicated to baby essentials.
To begin, sign up on affiliate programs like Amazon Associates, Skimlinks, or Hostinger Affiliates. Then, write a blog post relevant to the product you’re advertising. The key is to create original content that resonates with the readers’ interests.
12. Flip and Sell Websites
- Estimated Income: $10,000-$100,000+/year
- Requirements: web development, web design, SEO, and digital marketing skills
Website flipping takes longer to generate a profit than other online business ideas on the list. However, many entrepreneurs like Yaro Starak make a significant amount of money with this type of business.
The process starts with purchasing underperforming sites or online businesses with growth potential. Marketplaces like Flippa generally sell or auction them at relatively low prices.
Once the deal goes through, work begins to increase the website’s value. Besides making sure the site functions properly, it is optimized for search engines. To find success, it’s necessary to conduct market research on the most effective monetization methods for the site’s niche and market.
The website should generate significant traffic and revenue before being put up for sale. Buyers will be inclined to purchase it if it is profitable. Website flippers usually price sites at two to three times their annual income. For instance, if an online store makes $1,200/year, it will be sold for $2,400-$3,600.
13. Buy and Sell Domain Names
- Estimated Income: $1,000-$10,000+/domain
- Requirements: digital marketing skills
Buying and selling domain names can be a successful business if executed right. That’s because high-demand domains can sell for up to millions of dollars.
As such domains are often unavailable, many domain flippers turn to names with local keywords, like jobsinlondon.com. Besides being more affordable, these domains also have less competition to worry about.
Start by looking for prospective and affordable domains on domain checkers or auction websites, like Sedo. Consider purchasing multiple names at once to increase the sales prospects.
Then, create a landing page for the domains you want to sell or send email pitches to potential customers. Keep in mind that persistent marketing is required to find the right buyer.
14. Design Website Themes
- Estimated Income: $5-$200+/theme license
- Requirements: web design, front-end development, and CMS knowledge
Selling website themes is an excellent online business idea for web designers looking to earn extra money. As more people launch their own websites, the demand for beautiful and easy-to-use pre-made designs is higher than ever.
Consider including regular updates and priority support in the package to boost the theme’s value. Alternatively, provide a custom theme service. Many online businesses are willing to pay more for a one-of-a-kind web design.
You can sell the theme’s license on your own website or list it on a theme marketplace, like TemplateMonster. While the latter promises more exposure, most marketplaces charge a commission for each sale made.
15. Develop Apps
- Estimated Income: $61-$80/hour
- Requirements: app development, UI/UX design, and product management skills
If you’re a developer interested in mobile app development, consider pursuing this online business idea.
With 78% of digital buyers preferring mobile apps over websites to access online stores, many businesses turn to multi-channel eCommerce for a broader reach. As a consequence, the demand for mobile developers has dramatically increased.
If you don’t have experience in app development, there are relevant online courses on eLearning platforms, like Treehouse. Alternatively, you can use code-free web development software like AppyPie to jumpstart your online business venture as an app developer.
The ways to make money as an app developer include displaying ads and featuring in-app purchases. Apps can also be sold on marketplaces like Flippa. Finding customers will be easier once you have built a strong portfolio.
16. Offer Social Media Marketing Services
- Estimated Income: $15-$80/hour, depending on the level of expertise
- Requirements: content marketing skills and familiarity with social media trends
This is a great online business idea for those with a strong social media presence. Many small businesses need an expert marketer to reach users in the social media landscape, especially when targeting a younger demographic.
A social media marketer leverages social marketing techniques to boost a brand’s visibility, attract followers, and increase audience engagement. This includes content creation, social listening, and influencer marketing.
Besides self-promoting via your own social media profile, consider creating a portfolio site or a blog to market your services. This is what Nadine, the owner of The Social Shells, does to boost her brand’s online presence and credibility.
17. Work as an SEO Consultant
- Estimated Income: $68+/hour
- Requirements: on-page, off-page, and technical search engine optimization skills
SEO has become one of the most critical success factors for online businesses. It’s a cost-effective way to raise brand awareness and generate high-quality traffic.
SEO consultants advise clients on how to optimize their websites for search engines. Since the job market is competitive, choosing a specialization or targeting a specific customer segment will distinguish you from the competition.
Remember to stay on top of the latest search engine algorithm updates to provide your clients with the newest, most relevant information.
18. Become a Virtual Assistant
- Estimated Income: $19+/hour
- Requirements: administration, communication, and digital marketing skills
A virtual assistant’s main responsibility is to help business owners or entrepreneurs with clerical tasks, like scheduling appointments and replying to inquiries.
In some cases, virtual assistants also offer marketing support, such as formatting email newsletters and managing social media accounts. According to The Penny Hoarder, an assistant possessing these skills can earn up to $60/hour.
Start your own online business as a virtual assistant by looking for jobs on portals like Fiverr and Upwork. Additionally, create a website to market your services ‒ check out Virtual Nina Creative‘s website for inspiration.
19. Launch a Data Entry Service
- Estimated Income: $15+/hour
- Requirements: average typing speed of 60-90 words/minute and experience with data processing software
Data entry is an excellent online business idea for anyone looking for a side gig with flexible working hours. Many businesses need professionals to document information from various sources, such as daily sales reports or meeting notes, in an organized, digital format.
The faster and more accurate your typing, the more bargaining power you’ll have. As such, we recommend taking typing practice courses like Keybr before starting a business in this field.
Additionally, consider investing in a numeric keypad to increase your typing speed. Ensuring that you have a good internet connection will further optimize your productivity.
20. Offer Transcription Services
- Estimated Income: $5-$21+/hour
- Requirements: good listening skills, fast typing speed, and proficiency with data processing software
This online business idea is similar to the previous one. The difference is that it involves transcribing audio files into text documents.
Besides typing speed and accuracy, the niche you pick can also affect your earnings. Medical transcriptionists generally are paid the most, averaging $26/hour. Be prepared to familiarize yourself with an industry to set a high hourly rate.
Check out Rev and TranscribeMe for transcription jobs. Consider taking typing lessons to increase your speed and accuracy.
21. Create an Online Course
- Estimated Income: $1,000-$50,000+/month, depending on the production expenses, online course platform, and number of students
- Requirements: teaching skills and subject matter expertise
This is one of the best online business ideas for anyone interested in sharing their knowledge with others. Many people look for online courses to boost their job market value and gain new experiences.
Since the online learning market has become saturated, consider picking a unique subject that others haven’t covered yet. Then, conduct market research on whether the subject has a potential target audience.
Crystal Dawn‘s course on creating raw desserts is an excellent example of this line of work. The topic is specific and caters to a niche market of healthy plant-based food enthusiasts.
While there is a wide range of hosted course platforms, we recommend creating a website with an LMS plugin. That way, you will have full control over the teaching and monetization methods.
22. Tutor Students Online
- Estimated Income: $15+/hour
- Requirements: expertise in school subjects or standardized tests and teaching skills
Starting an online tutoring business is a great idea for people with teaching experience. With distance learning becoming the new normal, many parents need help with their kids’ education.
Sites like Skooli are excellent for finding tutoring jobs aligned with your specialties. They make connecting with students who need assistance easier.
After collecting a sizable pool of clients, create a full-fledged tutoring business on your own website. Check out how BMAT Crash Course built its site for inspiration.
23. Start a Podcast
- Estimated Income: $500-$10,000+/month, depending on the monetization channels and number of downloads
- Requirements: communication, audio editing, and social media management skills
Podcasts have become a popular type of content, particularly among younger demographics. As a consequence, many people take the opportunity to start a business in podcasting.
Consider adopting a micro-niche concept to make your podcast stand out. One example is The Pen Addict, which focuses on any pen-related topics. While the scope seems limited, this program has attracted a loyal group of enthusiasts.
Create a site to host your podcasts and upload them on Spotify or Apple Music as well. Don’t forget to establish a social media presence to reach potential listeners.
First-time podcasters usually earn money via affiliate marketing. Once their audience has grown, they may consider setting up a Patreon page for crowdfunding or joining an advertising network like Midroll.
While anyone can start a podcast, having proper recording equipment will improve the audio quality. Therefore, we recommend allocating a production budget to upgrade the tools and software.
24. Launch a YouTube Channel
- Estimated Income: $5,000/month on average with one million subscribers
- Requirements: communication, video editing, and social media management skills
The rising popularity of content creators has made video content creation a compelling business idea to pursue. With over 30 million daily active users, YouTube is the most popular platform for publishing video content.
You can create any type of video content from home. Examples include product reviews, reaction commentaries, software tutorials, and cooking demos.
If you decide to launch a YouTube channel, focus on attracting 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours during the first few months. Surpassing those metrics will make you eligible to apply for the YouTube Partner Program, allowing you to monetize the channel.
Other monetization methods include Patreon crowdfunding, affiliate marketing, and sponsored content.
25. Write Guest Posts
- Estimated Income: $5-$2,000/blog post, depending on the length and quality
- Requirements: writing, content marketing, and SEO skills
This internet business idea is excellent for people who want to make money writing online without creating their own blogging site.
If you decide to become a guest post writer, you’ll earn money by submitting articles to blogs. In many cases, the blog posts have to be ghostwritten, which means they’ll be published under someone else’s name.
There are many digital publishing platforms like Business2Community and Writer’s Digest which are open to guest post submissions. Pick sites in a niche you’re familiar with to make the writing process easier.
26. Write Resumes and Cover Letters
- Estimated Income: $50-$300/resume
- Requirements: writing proficiency, personal branding skills, and familiarity with the recruitment process and application tracking system
With the job market becoming more competitive, job seekers need assistance with writing the perfect application letter. If you have a knack for personal branding and writing cover letters, this may be the perfect opportunity for you.
Find clients seeking new employment on professional networks like LinkedIn and offer your resume and cover letter writing services. The key is to make their application effective for better employment opportunities.
Start building your network by providing pro bono services for your friends and family. Having something to show in your portfolio will attract clients to hire you.
Consider obtaining a professional certification like PARWCC to further increase your business’ credibility. Doing so will give you more bargaining power in fee negotiations.
27. Become a Technical Writer
Here’s another excellent business idea to pursue if you have a passion for writing. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for technical writers is growing 7% faster than average.
The main purpose of technical writing is to make industry-specific ideas easier to understand. The copy you will write may include user guides, whitepapers, and handbooks for technical products and services.
Like any other writing-based business, having a portfolio and a certification will distinguish you from the competition. By picking projects related to industries you’re familiar with, you’ll have an easier time writing high quality content.
28. Offer Translation Services
- Estimated Income: $21-$27+/hour, depending on the certification and years of experience
- Requirements: language and cultural knowledge as well as communication and research skills
This online business idea suits people proficient in two languages or more. Other than translating copy from one language to another, you’ll be responsible for localizing the content for the target audience’s culture.
Look for translation gigs on job portals. Plenty of translation agencies open job vacancies for freelancers from time to time, which is perfect for building a portfolio.
Consider completing certification training for better, high-paying opportunities. Certified translators can take professional gigs from reputable clients, such as government offices and corporations. Taking them will significantly boost your value as a service provider.
29. Sell Stock Photos
- Estimated Income: $5-$100/image, depending on the license, resolution, and distribution channel
- Requirements: photography, artistic, and SEO skills
Stock photographers produce licensed images for a variety of uses. Businesses often incorporate stock images in their marketing campaigns to evoke desired emotions or make the material more appealing. As a result, there are plenty of opportunities available in this industry.
To begin, invest in a decent camera and lighting equipment. Research various markets to see what’s currently in demand and then optimize your images with relevant keywords. That said, we recommend focusing on a specific niche to strengthen your branding.
Stock photography sites like Shutterstock and Getty Images are excellent places for new stock photographers to build a portfolio and following on. Alternatively, create a photography website to manage your business and marketing strategy independently.
30. Become an Audiobook Narrator
- Estimated Income: $25-$55/hour, depending on the skill level, years of experience, and location
- Requirements: voice clarity and acting skills
The rising popularity of audiobooks has increased the demand for narrators. An audiobook narrator turns printed and digital writing into audio files. The job is to narrate the story while expressing its nuances.
Despite sounding easy, narrating audiobooks require excellent voice clarity and tone control. In some cases, you’ll have to change your voice when recording the direct speech of different characters. That’s why possessing acting skills will give you an advantage over the competition.
Like starting a podcast, investing in recording and editing software will improve your work’s quality. Taking acting and vocal classes is an excellent way to improve your skills.
Newbies may have to settle with freelance projects in the beginning. Once you’ve gained enough experience, you can look for professional gigs from voice-over companies and job portal sites, such as Bunny Studio and ACX.
I Have My Online Business Idea, What’s Next?
Finding an online business idea to realize is merely the beginning of a long journey as an internet entrepreneur. Here are the general steps you should take to start an online business:
- Conduct market research to identify the target audience and the market’s demands.
- Decide on the niche you want to explore.
- Get a domain name and web hosting.
- Build a website that reflects your brand.
- Promote your product or service on various online platforms.
There you have it ‒ the 30 best online business ideas to pursue in 2022, each one of them lucrative in its own way. Make sure to consider your skill set, experience, and income expectations when choosing one.
That said, becoming a successful internet entrepreneur requires hard work and dedication. Picking an online business idea that aligns with your interests and passion will make the journey less arduous and more rewarding.
We hope this article has provided you with a better understanding of the online business world. Best of luck!
Online Business Ideas FAQ
In this section, we’ll answer some common questions about online businesses.
How long does it take to begin making money online?
A business generally takes two to three years to become profitable. However, the exact estimation varies depending on the type of business since each has different necessary capital costs, operating expenses, and time investment.
For instance, a blog may take a shorter time to become profitable than an online store as the former requires less money to operate. On the other hand, many freelancers and independent contractors spend years building their skills and portfolio to improve their hiring rate.
How much money can I make?
The amount of revenue a business can make depends on various factors ‒ including but not limited to its type, marketing strategy, and scope of operations.
For example, bloggers who monetize their site by selling ad space generate around $32,800/year, whereas affiliate marketers make an average of $52,130/year. They rely on website traffic, so improving the site’s exposure leads to a revenue increase.
Professionals with a particular skill can price their services based on their certifications and experience. In the US, a freelancer’s average base salary is $21.07/hour. The rate may increase if more customers feel satisfied with your work.
How much time a day should I dedicate to my online business?
The amount of time to put aside for running your business depends on whether you want to do it as a part-time or full-time job.
The former may take three to four hours each day, leaving you with plenty of time for other activities. Accordingly, full-time entrepreneurs can expect to work up to 60 hours/week or more.
As establishing a business takes a lot of time and work, be prepared to invest more time during the first year. We recommend setting business goals to determine the proportional working hours for optimal company growth.
Will I need to hire employees?
Hiring employees will reduce your workload and improve the workflow’s efficiency. New people can bring fresh ideas to the table, which may contribute to the company’s growth.
However, hiring costs may put an additional strain on the business’ expenses. Besides salaries, the costs may also comprise training program fees, health insurance coverage, and other employee benefits.
Before hiring employees, make sure the company can afford the expenses that come with new personnel. Additionally, evaluate the return on investment of each candidate to ensure success.