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.
Obviously some of these small business ideas have more earning potential than others, but what they all share in common are relatively low barriers to entry and the flexibility to work at them for a limited amount of time per week. I also tried to focus on side business ideas that have some sort of online component to them, since that's what I love most.
Grabbing the attention of curious browsers on the most popular crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo is a tough job. If you’re inventive and know how to tap into human emotion, then this is a niche worth exploring. Many aspiring entrepreneurs look for personalized advice to carry their campaigns to the finish line, so try offering action-oriented eBooks or online courses targeted at this particular audience.
If you are a confident web developer then designing your own themes is an obvious path to follow if you are looking to make money online. ThemeForest sells a wide assortment of developers themes, including themes for WordPress, Shopify, Weebly, and Tumblr, to name a few. Once you have created your theme, get it accepted onto the ThemeForest marketplace and make money each time it sells.
The German Economist Schumpeter once said that there are “no original ideas”, only new combinations of old ones. Curation of curiosity-fueling content is an intriguing and little-known business model. One of the best success stories out there is Brainpickings – a platform that describes itself as “an inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness, spanning art, science, design, history, philosophy, and more”. The subscription-based model and successful utilization of affiliate links have turned the blog into a self-sustaining business.
18. CraigsList – Some things don’t ship very well. Other things may make you feel uncomfortable to sell to someone across the country. Anytime you’re selling a large item or something you just don’t want to ship, Craigslist is a great place to go. It’s simple to list your item (again, take good pictures!). If you don’t like the idea of putting your phone number out there, the interested individual can send you a message to your inbox without even getting your email address.
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.
Then you can move into more actionable online courses like Modern Web Design on CreativeLive and Learn Web Design and Profitable Freelancing on Udemy will teach you everything from foundational web design knowledge to earning your first freelance income as a web designer. On top of that, you can take even more immersive courses and learning experiences with access to direct instructor feedback and personal mentorship with platforms like Treehouse, LinkedIn Learning and General Assembly to get up-to-speed even quicker with this career path and listen to my podcast interview with Ian Paget about how to become a freelance designer as a side business idea.
Just as with E-bay, selling items on Amazon can be a great source of online income. The simplest way to do this is to purchase items are traditional retail spots and sell it on Amazon for a higher percentage. The great part about Amazon selling is that once you purchase your items to sell you send them on to Amazon’s warehouse. They store it and ship it for you while you get to make a tidy profit less the tax, shipping and the fees charged by Amazon.
Creating a video series and selling it as a digital download on your blog, much like an eBook, can be another great seller. A video course, teaching viewers a specific skill or how to achieve a particular activity, may well resonate with your audience. If you are going to go down this route then your videos need to be as professional as possible so you should consider investing in some video and lighting equipment, as well as editing software.
More and more people are taking advantage of having a virtual assistant online. Being a virtual assistant can be quite varied. It might mean sorting and replying to email, tweeting, doing internet research or writing documents, among many other tasks. There are many sites where you can find employers or advertise your services such as Freelancer.com.