Online Business Ideas You Can Start Today

Working from the comfort of your own home sounds like a dream: casual Friday is an everyday occurrence and you’re in control of when you work and, to a degree, how much you earn. While most online business ideas take some time to actually start bringing in money, you can start many of them without a lot of startup capital — and in some cases, none at all. 

Here’s a comprehensive list to online business ideas so you can find the one that makes you excited to get out of bed (even if you end up staying in your pajamas all day).

#1: Create Your Own Blog

The blogiverse is huge, but there’s always room for one more, especially if you create engaging content that excites your target audience. While it can take months (and sometimes longer) to make money as a blogger, you can diversify your income streams in a few different ways. An easy way to get started monetizing your content is to sign up for Google AdSense, which embeds ads directly into your blog. 

As your traffic grows, join ad networks that offer higher paying commissions when your readers click or make a purchase. Sponsored content is another way to make money from your blog, allowing companies to advertise their product directly in your post in order to reach your audience. 

To diversify your blog income, you can also sell digital products or courses (more on that later) that your readers may be interested in. 

#2: Start a YouTube Channel

Like a blog, creating your own YouTube channel earns you money through ad revenue and corporate sponsorships. Create content around a theme that genuinely interests you so that your sincerity comes across the camera. 

Plus, it’s easier to continually think of video ideas if your channel is focused on something you’re passionate about. From nursery rhymes to hair tutorials, you can literally vlog about anything and gain a following. Be consistent and once you hit certain viewership thresholds, you can join the YouTube Partnership Program and start monetizing your videos.

#3: Launch a Podcast

Online media is growing bigger and bigger, with people craving more podcasts to get them through boring everyday tasks like driving to work or washing the dishes. Starting your own podcast is a low cost initiative, with just some basic audio equipment necessary to create one. Then you just need to write a compelling description of your podcast and the episode and publish it online.

To be really successful, of course, you should market your podcast within online communities that would be interested in your topics. Once you grow a following, you can start to seek out sponsors for your episodes.

#4: Jump Into Retail Arbitrage

If you like to shop for deals, then retail arbitrage might be the right online business for you. Essentially, you buy in-store products and sell them online for a higher price. While it’s possible to sell on many different sites like Ebay, the Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) program is convenient and very seller-friendly.

There’s even a free app for FBA sellers that allows you to scan items before you buy them to determine your anticipated profit margin. It’s a fast process that helps you know what is likely to sell and at what price. Plus, you don’t have to manage any of the customer service. Instead, you send your items in bulk to Amazon and they manage the sales, shipping, and returns process on your behalf.

#5: Open a Drop Ship Business

Dropshipping differs from the FBA program in that you never actually carry any inventory. Instead, you find a supplier of your chosen product category that handles the shipping and fulfillment for you. Your primary responsibility is creating an online shop through which to market and sell the items.

Profit margins are an important consideration since running your drop ship business takes the same amount of time and effort regardless of what you’re selling. Do background research with some online analytics tools to pick the right category.

#6: Become a Transcriptionist

If you want to avoid selling things and offer a service rather than a product, becoming a transcriptionist is a relatively easy skill that almost anyone can learn. It entails listening to audio recordings and typing them out into a word processing document. While there are plenty of automated services that can transcribe audio recordings, many companies prefer a human to ensure accuracy. You can offer general transcription services, or market your business within certain niches, like medical or legal transcription. 

As you begin your online transcription business, you can bootstrap and simply use your laptop. But as you gain more work, invest in equipment to make your job easier, like a foot pedal for easy start and stopping of the recordings you listen to.

#7: Become a Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants are growing in popularity and you can easily become one during your off-hours. The responsibilities of a VA vary from client to client and you can craft your own service offerings based on your unique skills. Common tasks include managing emails, handling customer service, researching, proofreading, and managing social media. 

Basically, anything you can help a company manage more easily can be packaged as virtual assistant services. And as you grow your client base, you can train and manage more virtual assistants to work for you so that you end up managing the business itself rather than tasks for clients.

#8: Monetize Your Social Media Following

Becoming a social media influencer allows you to partner with companies and share their products with your following. Instagram is a great platform with this, but it can be done on any other social media platform as well. 

The key is to strike a balance between authentic and promotional content and only support products or services that you genuinely think will resonate with your followers. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating your audience and losing them altogether. A successful influencer really understands what people want to see online and present it in a way that is informationally and aesthetically pleasing. 

#9: Produce Facebook Ads

Another growing online business idea is to create and manage Facebook ads for clients. At a most basic level, this entails creating the copy and graphics for companies’ ads that are displayed on Facebook. To charge even more for this service, you can become part of the strategy to perform A/B testing, track conversions, and lower customer acquisition costs for your clients.

Take a shortcut in learning some of these skills by taking an online course. This gives you a head start among the competition and can also lead to better clients and higher pay rates. As you grow your business, you can also train staff or outsource some of the less strategic tasks.

#10: Manage Social Media Accounts for Businesses

Most companies know they need to be active on social media but simply don’t have the time to do it. That’s where you can come in to curate posts and engage followers on behalf of your clients. Build your portfolio by working with a local organization or small business that is on a tight budget. 

As you begin to achieve engagement metric milestones, you can begin raising your rates and seek higher profile clients. You can charge either hourly or offer a set monthly price for a specific range of tasks.

#11: Offer SEO Research Services

Search engine optimization is a must-have for any website that hopes to rank on the first page of Google (or any other search platform). By offering SEO research as a service, you can help companies grow their online reach organically. Since there’s no college major in SEO, it’s easy to teach yourself the basics with some free or low-cost online guides.

You’ll learn how to web crawlers work, best practices for on-page and off-page optimization, and how to recommend target keywords. All of this information is vital for any content strategy to work, but a lot of companies lack the in-house expertise. You might need to make a minimal investment upfront to access some analytic tools, but this only adds to the value you bring to your future clients.

#12: Start Freelance Writing

Because online content is a must for most digital marketing strategies, there’s a huge need for freelance writers to actually create all of the articles and blogs we like to read on the internet. Sales copy is also an in-demand resource, whether it’s for email campaigns, landing pages, or other promotional materials.

Before pitching potential clients, build a portfolio either by guest posting for free on existing websites or by creating your own content either on a “Hire Me” website or on a free content site like Medium. 

#13: Take Stock Photos

Even an amateur photographer can use a half-decent camera to take photos and list them for sale on a stock photography website. Everyone with a blog, social media account, or other online presence constantly needs images that don’t look like everyone else’s. You can help give them options by uploading your own photos to sell.

Popular themes include nature, travel, money, desks, and people. Once you list them on a stock photo website, you’ll earn a royalty-based commission, which is calculated as a percentage of the sale amount. This online business idea is convenient because you don’t need to build up a clientele in order to make money. Instead, you just need to create a digital product and wait for it to sell.

#14: Flip Blogs

Blog flipping is when you create a blog and monetize it, then sell it at a profit. Alternatively, you can also buy an existing blog, improve it, and sell it at a higher price. It might sound easy, but flipping blogs entails growing your brand awareness, increasing traffic, and bringing in more earnings.

Once you’ve developed or grown a blog successfully (say, over a six month period), you can then list it and sell it on a website like Flippa, Empire Flippers, or Latonas. Just remember that using one of these platforms generally entails paying out a commission once the blog sells.

#15: Create Website Themes

If you have strong web development skills, you can start an online business designing and selling WordPress themes. Required skills include HTML, CSS, and PHP. Also get to know common website structures so your templates fulfill a need for relevant companies. Once you’ve finalized your template, you can list it for sale on a website like Theme Forest.

#16: Be an Online Chat Agent

Another online business idea is becoming an online chat agent. While some companies use automated services, many still prefer their customers to talk to real live human beings. The requirements to get started are pretty minimal and include a solid internet connection and accurate typing skills.

Whether you work through a chat service for multiple companies or directly with one business, customer service is key. Expect pay to be around $10 an hour, which might not be the most lucrative online business, but can serve as a healthy side hustle. 

#17: Become an Etsy Seller

Making money on Etsy involves selling either handmade goods, craft supplies, or vintage finds. The key to being successful is accounting for all of the expenses that go into maintaining your Etsy shop. These include the listing fees, shipping costs and supplies, all of the materials, plus (perhaps most importantly) your time. 

As long as the numbers work, creating an online Etsy business can be a fulfilling way to make money while flexing your creative muscles. Plus, you can make or source your products at your own schedule, whether it’s after working your day job or when you baby is taking a nap.

#18: Open a Stock Trading Account

If you’re open to some risk and excitement in your life, you could try your hand trading stocks online. Day trading requires tracking market trends so you can buy stocks low and sell them high. Of course, you also run the risk of losing the money you put into your stock picks, so be prepared for this worst case scenario.

There are plenty of trading platforms to use, just compare trading costs before you choose one. You might also need to have a minimum balance. Before you start trading stocks, consider using a virtual trading platform first to gain some experience. It basically involves making practice trades to see how you would have fared before you start buying stocks with real money. 

#19: Teach Online

You can start an online teaching business either by creating your own clientele and teaching through a free platform like Skype, or by working as a contractor with an existing company. One option that is easy to qualify for is teaching English as a second language. There’s particularly high demand for this in China, so many companies hire teachers who are available at night or early in the morning to make up for the time difference.

Alternatively, if you have expertise in a specific subject area, you can build up your own clientele. Math and English are the most common topics and therefore may not bring in as much money. But if you specialize in rarer subjects, like science, you can charge more for your services.

#20: Create an Online Course

If you have a skillset beyond the typical education system, consider creating an online course. This can leverage your knowledge and once the course is created, also generate ongoing passive income. There are plenty of platforms like Udemy and Teachable that help you create and promote your course. 

Browse current categories to see get ideas on what kind of course to create. On Udemy, for example, top categories include development, business, IT and software, design, marketing, personal development, and photography.

#21: Manage Airbnb Listings

Buying a rental property to turn into an Airbnb takes a lot of upfront cash and can be risky. Instead, consider creating your own Airbnb management business, which relieves property owners of the burden actually communicating with guests on an ongoing basis.

Offer services like creating guidebooks and handling messages with guests. You’ll be responsible for sending check-in information and answering questions. It’s easier to start in your local market since you’re familiar with attractions and restaurants. But you can also branch out into other markets and use online resources to create guidebooks and offer recommendations for guests. 

You can typically charge between 20% and 30% of each booking for management services. If you want to earn even more, consider taking over the cleaning services as well (although that requires a less flexible time commitment).

The Bottom Line

There’s no limit to how you can make money with just a laptop and wifi connection. Whether you want to earn some side income or completely transition to an entrepreneurial life, these online business ideas are proven to work. Hit the ground running and you’ll soon see real results — and money.