Working from home is all the rage now, whether you’ve been forced to create a home office after your job shifted to remote work or you’re a freelancer who’s happily embraced the WFH lifestyle. But if you don’t already have an at-home job – or if you want to add to your current workload – figuring out what you can do (and want to do) takes some thought. Whether you’re looking into online business ideas because you want a new full-time job or you’re interested in moonlighting for extra income, there are a number of options that span a variety of interests and talents.
Considerations When Researching Online Business Ideas
When deciding on the best online business idea for you, consider the following:
- How much will be needed as an initial investment? Some jobs won’t require you to put in any money upfront, while others will need you to have a nest egg before you get started.
- What skills do you need to get started? You may have them already, or you may have to get special training or certifications.
- Is the income going to be active or passive? Active income means you only earn based on the time spent working, while passive income means you can continue to earn money even when you’re not working. An example of passive income is creating an e-guide once and selling it over and over to customers.
21 Online Business Ideas
Now, let’s get into 21 ideas for starting a business online. Some of these will be the basics you may have thought of already, but others are outside-the-box. Either way, they’re all lucrative and worthy of consideration.
1. App Developer
Mobile apps are incredibly popular, and people often opt to use them over the brand’s website when they’re on a smartphone. Maybe you have an idea for an app that you want to develop and launch on your own. Or, maybe you have mobile app developer skills and want to partner with brands that are in need of app development. And if you have an idea for an app but don’t have the skills to create it yourself, there are a lot of developers out there who’d be thrilled for a collaborator.
2. Audiobook Narration
Audiobook sales aren’t slowing down, which has opened the door to a new gig: audiobook narration. The buy-in is expensive because you have to purchase reliable recording equipment. Plus, you have to make sure you’re comfortable reading into a microphone and that your voice comes out clear, understandable and easy to listen to. To get started with audiobook narration, check out ACX and Bunny Studio, where you can post audition pieces and go after your first clients.
3. Computer Training Online Business Ideas
Just about everyone has a computer today, but not everyone knows how to use one. Even something as simple as email or Microsoft Office comes with a learning curve, one that’s hard for the older generation to navigate. If you know the basics of how to use a computer (or smartphone, for that matter), you may be able to start an online business where you teach people how to get the most out of their technology. You can work one-on-one with people through live Zoom calls, or you can create an online course that teaches people the basics. You can also combine both types of services to sell a standard course and then offer personalized training, too.
Do you have advanced computer, smartphone or tech expertise? Here are more online business ideas: cater your services to a different market and offer online tech support to businesses and professionals.
4. Customer Service Rep
A lot of businesses, particularly startups and small brands, need to offer customer service but can’t handle the responsibility on their own. Outsourcing customer service is a huge opportunity for those companies to serve their audience without using up time that could be otherwise spent developing products, running marketing campaigns, etc. Consider starting a business where you offer brands remote customer service support – so long as you’re willing and able to learn everything about the companies you work for, you can be a real help to them and their customers.
5. Domain Flipper
This business idea has been around forever, but since there’s no sign of website creation slowing down, it’s just as lucrative – if not more so – as it’s always been. Buying and flipping domains is pretty much what it sounds like. You purchase a domain name that you expect someone will want to buy at some point, then you re-sell it for a profit. By throwing in some nice-to-haves, you can sweeten the deal for the buyer, too, and encourage them to go through with the purchase. Empire Flippers is a good source for domain names that are for sale, and you can get an idea of what’s offered along with the domain names.
6. Fill-in-the-Blank Consultant
If you have expertise in pretty much any field, you can offer consulting services. These online business ideas can range from being a life or wellness coach to a small business or marketing consultant. Basically, if you know the ins and outs of a field, you can likely find people who need help mastering it too.
7. Foreign Culture Consultant
If you’ve lived and/or worked in a foreign country, you likely have firsthand knowledge of the culture, expectations and requirements. Reach out to companies that have their employees visit those countries. Offer consultation services to prep them before they go.
P.S. If you’re fluent in a foreign language, offer language-learning courses in conjunction with or separate from consulting services. In this way, you can bundle online business ideas for a well-rounded service package.
8. Membership Community Manager
If you’re part of a community – or you want to be – consider creating a membership site that people have to pay to participate in. You can build a website that has a membership or forum section, or start a paid Facebook group that’s private and only accessible by members. You can build a community that’s super engaged and wants to interact with one another. Plus, you can exercise control over who’s allowed in and what topics to cover. Remember that the more perks you offer members, the better – it’ll be easier to get them to pay for membership if they know they get a lot in return.
9. Niche Website Creation Online Business Ideas
There are a ton of professional website designers out there, not to mention easy-to-use software that allows many individuals and business owners to create their own sites without hiring someone at all. But if you have web design skills and a deep interest in a specific niche – like dog training, movie reviews or adventure sports – you can start a business where you build websites for just that topic.
Don’t want to build an entire website? You can create niche templates that you then sell to designers or website owners.
Here’s another alternative: Website maintenance for already-established sites. You don’t have to build them from the ground up, but you can step in when the website owner needs an update or troubleshooting.
10. Online Course Creator
If you have expertise or skills in any area, you can put together an online course to help others. Sites like Skillshare help you bring your knowledge to the masses – and charge accordingly. When it comes to developing online courses, you can think about what combination of active and passive income you want to earn. For example, you can create a course and sell it to customers (which is passive income). Then, hold live Q&A sessions to help your viewers learn even more (which is active income).
11. Online Recruiting
Some of the best online business ideas are the ones that are practically at your fingertips. If you’ve been in your field for a long time, you may have contacts that specialize in certain services. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, you may know other freelance writers or maybe graphic designers, marketers or website designers. If you have a full address book, you can work as an online recruiter, pairing businesses with candidates.
12. Personal Training and Nutrition Consulting
If you’re a personal trainer – or have always hoped to become one – you can do quite a bit of training online. Bonus: there’s no need to open your own gym or even meet clients in person. As more people get used to staying inside, they’re looking for alternatives to going to the gym and even working out outdoors in public places. Develop custom routines and nutrition plans for individual clients. You can also hold or pre-record classes that groups of people can participate in from their living rooms. Whatever you choose, you can coach and earn without having to leave your house.
13. Podcast Online Business Ideas: Editing, Transcription and Show Note Writing
There are a few online business ideas that revolve around podcasting – and you don’t even have to become a host yourself. If you love podcasts but don’t want to start your own, consider getting into podcast editing. For this, you’ll need experience with podcast editing software like Audacity.
Another podcast-related option is to be a podcast transcriber. Many podcast hosts want a text version of each episode, but they don’t want to take the time to listen to the episode in full and transcribe the entire thing. Yes, there’s transcription software available, but it’s not foolproof. Using it can mean spending even more time trying to get an accurate and error-free version of the text.
P.S. Transcriptionists work on all sorts of content beyond podcasts, such as YouTube videos and recorded audio from business meetings. To get started with transcription, check out the program from Rev.
In addition to or aside from transcription, some podcasters like to have show notes that they offer in the podcast app and/or on their website. Show notes include recaps of each episode, links to resources mentioned, clarity on certain points (like corrections from the previous episode), etc.
If you’re a copywriter or copyeditor for your regular job (or if you’re just good with words), consider an online gig as a proofreader. Every type of content needs proofreading, from social media ads and marketing landing pages to blog posts and full novels.
15. SEO Consulting or Management
SEO is a somewhat-easy skill to learn, and it doesn’t have to cost you anything as you expand your expertise. There are three basic pillars to this type of business:
- Knowing how to conduct SEO research. You’ll likely use the same method(s) each time you get started with a new client.
- Designing a custom SEO plan on a per client and project basis.
- Conducting an audit of the client’s current SEO to edit it, update it and get it up to speed.
Every business needs SEO, so once you’ve got it down pat, you shouldn’t have trouble finding clients – you may even have to turn a lot of them away.
Have an idea for a book but get hung up when you think about publishing it? Consider this: Amazon allows you to self-publish and then sell your work on the platform. Yes, you have to have some marketing savvy to get those initial sales. But, if you’re able to make a splash in the beginning, Amazon will begin promoting your book on your behalf – and that can mean serious income.
The key to writing a book that will sell is vetting the idea early on. Send out surveys to find out if people would buy a book on the topic you plan to write about. Oh, and also, make sure you follow Amazon’s eBook Manuscript Formatting Guide.
17. Social Media Consulting or Management
Every type of business is constantly reminded that they need a social media presence. That doesn’t mean they know how to go about it, though. If you have a knack for social media, consider a consulting or management gig for in-need businesses. The key to this type of job is to always be on top of the latest changes. Social media platforms often switch up algorithms, rules and best practices, plus trends and features. That means you have to always be in-tune with the latest information to continue delivering quality services to your clients.
When it comes to social media, you don’t need to know everything about every platform. You can specialize in an aspect of a platform instead. For example, Facebook Advertising takes a lot of skill to master, and there are brands that hire people with that specific expertise. You can niche down instead of being a jack of all trades when it comes to offering social media services.
18. Streaming Online Business Ideas: Gaming, Cooking, Crafting, Etc.
Love video games? If you tend to be entertaining as you play – making funny quips, throwing out wicked insults or having hilarious temper tantrums – stream your gameplay on Twitch. Gamers earn an income by selling merchandise or offering paid subscriptions. You’ll want decent gamer equipment to make this worth your effort, like a quality chair, microphone and webcam. If you want to earn like a gaming pro, you have to look like one.
You can apply that approach to anything you love, too. If it’s not gaming, it may be cooking, crafting, etc. So long as you’re somehow entertaining as you go about your hobby and can talk to your audience along the way, you should be able to engage an audience. And when it comes to equipment, the same gaming rule stands true no matter what you’re engaging in: opt for high-quality equipment to look like a pro.
If you’re an expert in some type of curriculum, like high school English or SAT math prep, work with students. You can help them ace their class or get into the college of their dreams. Tutor from the comfort and safety of your own home thanks to videoconferencing. That also means you can market to students around the country instead of sticking to only those in your area.
Tutoring can go beyond traditional education curriculums, too. You can be a virtual coach for pretty much anything you’re an expert in, whether that’s freelance writing, dating, cooking gourmet meals, etc.
20. Video Editing
Today, brands repeatedly hear that they need to add video to their content library. That doesn’t mean they know the first thing about shooting or editing video, though. That’s where you come in. You can film video for brands, or you can take raw footage they’ve already shot and create high-quality content from it. This gig requires a decent amount of investment when it comes to the equipment you use. For example, you’ll want solid software like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro instead of relying on freebie software.
Also, keep in mind that you don’t need to focus on brands when it comes to video editing. You can connect with brides-to-be or documentary filmmakers instead, for example.
21. Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants handle practically anything and everything for clients. That ranges from copywriting, marketing and SEO research to bookkeeping, making travel plans and tracking personal appointments. You can offer any skills you want and combine them into a service package that caters to the type of client you want to work for.
More Online Business Ideas and Resources
We tried to cover several online business ideas you may not have thought of yet (and a few you probably did, but a reminder never hurts). However, there were a handful of ideas we purposely left out because we’ve always covered them on our blog. Here are some resources to fill in those gaps:
- 7 Ways to Create Your Own Freelance Opportunities
- An Introduction to Dropshipping With WooCommerce
- Blogging Trends for 2020 You Should Know About
- Shoppable Posts: What They Are and How to Use Them
- Why It’s Important to Showcase Your Web Design Projects on Dribbble and Behance
Final Thoughts About Online Business Ideas
There’s a lot to love about being your own boss, whether you’re in charge of your entire career or you’re self-managing a side gig. And so many at-home, online business ideas don’t require much investment at all, if any. Your at-home job can remain small if that’s what’s most fulfilling to you, or it can grow, evolve and rake in more money than you expected.
We didn’t get into it in this article, but another option for earning money online is to get involved in the world of affiliate marketing. It can take a long time to build up a website or social media account that encourages steady affiliate marketing traffic, but it’s proved possible for a lot of people. Check out this article with the 16 best WordPress affiliate programs to consider.
Featured Image via elenabsl / shutterstock.com