ast year, millions of people were laid off around the world due to the pandemic. Countless people experienced a rude awakening when they realized that their jobs were not as secure as they thought. This lack of confidence in the traditional path of employment has led many people to search for ways to make money online. After all, nobody can fire you from your online business. Not even your customers. But how should these people get started? Well, we've been involved in the e-commerce industry for a few years now, and we have put together this list of what we believe are the best online business ideas for beginners.
But before we dive in to the online business ideas, let's take a closer look at why someone would want to start an online business in the first place:
Benefits of Starting An Online Business
#1 - Online Businesses Produce Income
The most obvious benefit of starting an online business is that it can provide you with a source of income. You'll definitely incur some expenses and start-up costs, but at the end of the day, all of the profits will be yours to keep. Also, you will likely be able to sell the business for a multiple of its yearly net profit. This means that if you have a dropshipping business that makes $1000 per month in profit ($12,000/year) then you'll likely be able to sell it for $21,000-$26,000. Now that's a nice little payday.
#2 - Online Businesses Can Scale
Unlike your job, your online business can be scaled to new heights. While working for someone else, you'll be trading your time for money, and the maximum amount of time you can sell is typically 40 hours per week. You can't work 80 hours even if you want to, nor can you (usually) demand a higher rate of pay. Your potential is stuck underneath a ceiling.
An online business, on the other hand, can be scaled nearly infinitely. Your income will depend on variables such as the number of customers you reach, your conversion rate, your cost of goods sold, and your price. If your store earns $1000 in profit per month, but you find a way to increase your conversion rate from 2% to 3%, then your income will likely increase by 50%! A 50% raise would be nearly unheard of at a job, but it's entirely possible for an online business. Not to mention that your business's value will also increase by ~50% as a result of the increased profits.
#3 - Running A Business Leads To Personal Development
One of the most understated benefits of running an online business is that it can be a tremendous source of personal development. As an employee, you'll generally only be asked to do what you are already good at. You operate within a narrow scope of responsibilities, and you'll likely only learn new skills here and there.
Entrepreneurship is completely different. Entrepreneurs are responsible for their own success and need to understand every aspect of their business. You'll be forced to learn new skills constantly. Even if you fail, employers will see it on your resume and respect you for giving it a shot. It shows a lot more initiative than working for someone else.
The Best Online Business Ideas For New Entrepreneurs
#1 - Start a Shopify Dropshipping Store
Dropshipping has recently taken the e-commerce world by storm and is one of the most popular supply chain models for online businesses. How does it work? Well, it starts with a product supplier who decides to make their products available for dropshipping. Next, a dropshipper uploads those products to their online store and markets them. Once the dropshipper makes a sale, the supplier ships the order directly to the customer, who likely unaware of what just happened.
Dropshipping is what our business, DropCommerce, focuses on. WE help dropshippers find products from North America. Whereas most dropshippers sell cheap products from overseas, DropCommerce focuses exclusively on North American product suppliers. This way, orders ship much quicker, and the products are built to last. If this sounds like something you want to give a try, then come create an account! It's free to get started!
#2 - Start a Niche Review Site
One of the best online business ideas for beginners is to start a niche review site. A niche review site is a website that reviews products of a certain category or niche. These websites have articles that discuss how products compare, and they often only cover products that are available on Amazon. The blog articles will have affiliate links that direct the readers to Amazon, and should the reader end up buying the product (or anything else on Amazon), the review site's owner will receive a percentage of the revenue.
Niche review sites can be a great source of passive income. They are generally built to draw their traffic from search engines like Google, which is free. If you want to see some examples of these sites in action, you can check out Flippa, a popular marketplace where these businesses are sold. You'll see that some of them generate thousands of dollars a month, and can be sold for 2-4x their annual net profit.
#3 - Print-on-Demand Store
Print-on-demand is an inventory model where a store markets and sells merchandise with custom designs. However, the merchandise is left plain up until the point where a sale is made. The design is only applied once someone requests it. This way, hundreds (or thousands) of stores can sell custom products supplied by a single print-on-demand manufacturer.
There are all kinds of products that can be printed on-demand, such as t-shirts, sweaters, mugs, postcards, and more. If you want to get started, you can set up a free account with Printful or Printify and sell them using Etsy or Shopify. You can create awesome designs using PlaceIt, and this software also gives you the license to print products with the designs (this is important - most software doesn't allow for this).
#4 - Start Your Own Branded E-Commerce Store
So far, we've talked about how you can open dropshipping and print-on-demand stores, but these certainly aren't the only options. Both of these business models involve selling other people's products, but you can of course sell your own as well. There are a few ways you can go about this.
First, you can personally make your own products, such as crafts and jewelry. Second, you can place a wholesale order for products that already exist, and add your branding to them (otherwise known as private-labeling). Third, you can have your own products designed and manufactured. If you're looking to have products made for you, websites like Alibaba, Chinabrands, and DHGate will help you connect with suppliers overseas. Either way, if you're looking for online business ideas, this is an option you need to consider.
#5 - Start a Youtube Channel
Did you know that starting a Youtube channel can be a great way of making money online? Youtube channels are excellent for building an audience or community around a certain subject, and they can be monetized in many different ways. Once you unlock Youtube monetization through Adsense (>1000 subscribers) you'll be able to activate ads on your videos. Depending on what your channel focuses on, this can generate anywhere between $4-$10 per 1000 views.
In addition to running ads on your videos, you can take payments in exchange for talking about certain products (known as sponsored content). You can also set up affiliate links to products you know & trust in your video description, and you'll get paid when your viewers purchase the product/service through your links. Lastly, you can use your platform to drive traffic and interest for your own e-commerce store.
#6 - Start an Instagram/Tik Tok page
Creating an Instagram or Tik Tok page is one of the best online business ideas for beginners since it takes very little to get started. You'll want the page to focus on something specific, like pets, sports, business, etc. Next, you'll build a following by creating interesting content and trading shout-outs with similar Instagram pages. Once you have an audience of a few thousand people you can begin promoting third-party products and services, both through one-time payments and as an affiliate (commission-based).
Creating content on social media is fairly easy. Even though reposting other people's content is not entirely legitimate, it's very common. But you'll want to create some of your own content, and build a community of content creators whose work you can repost when you want to.
#7 - Start a Web Design Studio
#8 - Buy and Flip/Hold Cash-Generating Websites
Some people fail to connect the dots, but websites are assets and can generate an income for you just like any other investment. And no, you don't necessarily have to build one from scratch either. There are established cash-generating websites available for purchase on Flippa, Empire Flippers, and the Shopify Exchange. These businesses are usually sold for 2-4x their annual net profit, or more if the app/website shows a lot of potential for growth. If you've been looking to start making money online, but can't seem to get started, this might be the head start you've been looking for.
#9 - Start a Podcast
Starting a podcast might not have been on your radar for online business ideas, but similar to a Youtube channel, a podcast is a great way of making money online. Your podcast can center on any subject you're interested in, but some of the most popular genres are current events, true crime, business, and comedy. You can put your podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Youtube, among other platforms. This will help you build your audience and generate some ad revenue. However, you can also highlight products and services (sponsored content), send listeners to third-party products you recommend (affiliate marketing), or use it as a platform to launch your own product (like a book). The possibilities are endless.
#10 - Create a Mobile Application
Chances are, if you have a smartphone then it is loaded with 20+ mobile applications. Some of these will be made by big companies like Google and Apple, but the majority of them will be made by independent companies, and often individuals. These apps are likely generating passive income for the creators through ad placements and premium features.
But you don't have to know how to program to create a mobile application. You can design your app's interface using one of the many no-code application builders available, and either build it yourself or hire a developer to do it. 81% of American adults now own a smartphone, so it's clear that this is already a tremendous market, and it's only going to get bigger.
#11 - Start a Newsletter
We typically see newsletters be sent out from established businesses, but in this case, we're talking about companies where the newsletter is the business. Some examples that come to mind are Morning Brew and The Hustle, which was just sold to Hubspot for $27 million. These businesses make money by publishing daily newsletters (sent out by email) that cover interesting stories, current events, and sprinkle in sponsored content.
There's plenty of space in the market for newsletters on other subjects like parenting, business, travel, sports, or anything else you're interested in.
#12 - Buy and Flip Domain Names
Domain names are addresses, such as DropCommerce.com, that websites need in order to receive traffic. And, even though we've seen a push towards less-popular domain extensions (such as .biz, .io, .shop), most businesses will still want a nice clean domain name that ends in .com or .co. These names are in somewhat limited supply, especially if you're looking for something short and simple.
You can register a domain name for ~$12 on NameCheap per year, and if it is in demand, you can potentially sell it for tens of thousands of dollars (or more). You can get an idea of what a domain is worth by using GoDaddy's value calculator, but this will only give you an idea. The tough part of domain flipping is in finding a buyer, so you might want to list it on marketplaces like Flippa and Sedo.
#13 - Create a Lead-Generation Business
Lead generation is a tried-and-tested business model that deserves to be on everyone's list of the best online business ideas. Lead generation businesses attempt to intercept consumers in their search for service providers. Once the business has the customer's attention, they can direct the customer to the service provider that best fits their needs (which is usually a partner). For example, if we perform a Google search for "plumbers in Toronto" one of the first results is for HomeStars, a website that reviews local service providers. This website recommends users to plumbers in Toronto that they have a partnership with, and Homestars receives a commission for sending the user to that business.
These lead generation companies exist in nearly every industry. There are sites referring users to mechanics, personal trainers, landscapers, and even doctors. It's a great business model for recurring revenue since the relationships are ongoing, and the primary traffic source is through Google search.
#14 - Write an E-Book
Writing a book/e-book can be a great source of passive income if you're able to market it correctly. While most people will think to themselves "I can't write a book", we would like to ask you "why not"? A book is just a collection of notes on a subject that have been edited and re-written to fit a narrative. It doesn't have to be more than 80-120 pages if you don't want it to be. The nice part is that you only have to write an e-book once, and you can sell an unlimited amount of copies without printing a single one.
To market the e-book and help get it off the ground, we would recommend writing a few guest posts on popular blogs during the week of its release. If you can be featured on a podcast, even better. Start the price off at $1 the first week to get some readers and reviews, and then increase the price until the sales fall off significantly. Then lower it, and you'll likely be able to find the optimal price. You're one project away from being a published author!
#15 - Buy and Flip Broken Mobile Phones
I'm sure by now most of us have either broken our phone screens or know someone that has. While some of us are patient enough to have them repaired, many consumers simply elect to purchase a new phone altogether, getting rid of their slightly-flawed older phones. This provides us with an opportunity to buy, fix, and flip these phones for a profit. Most damage can be repaired by installing a new screen, and you can always work with a technician if you prefer. But, if you buy a broken phone for $200, install a new screen for $40, and flip it for $400, you can see that there are some solid profit margins available.
You don't need to be limited to your friends and family either. There are websites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace where hundreds of broken phones are available for purchase, and hundreds of people are looking for used phones. It's not passive income, but it's income.
#16 - Start A Digital Marketing Business
Nowadays, every business needs a strong online presence, but not every business owner is up to the task of creating one. This is where digital marketing agencies come in. Digital marketing agencies create customized solutions to help businesses reach their customers online. These agencies create and launch ad campaigns, optimize websites and content for search engines (SEO), and create a presence on social media.
There's no shortage of customers, and successful agencies can make millions each year. If you're a bit overwhelmed at everything that goes into digital marketing, you can always specialize in a certain field such as content marketing, SEO, or copywriting. This will allow you to stand out, and go further in-depth than your competitors.
#17 - Create a Free Web Application
You might not have put much thought into it before, but there are thousands of web applications on the internet that people use on a daily basis. Many of these apps are free for users and make their money through upsells or ad placement. Some web apps that come to mind are GTMetrix, which measures a website's loading speed, ShopThemeDetector, which tells you what Shopify theme a website is using, and Compressor, which reduces an image's size in order to optimize a website's load speed.
If you can create (or pay someone to create) a web app like these examples, then you might be able to draw an income from it for years to come.
#18 - Sell Handmade Products on Etsy/Shopify
Contemporary consumers love handmade products. There's something about the idea of a person making your product with care, using some sort of traditional method, that really gets people to open up their wallets. We've seen $15 bars of soap, $50+ candles, and many other high-end handmade products on DropCommerce. Handmade products don't compete on price the same way a big brand does. Instead, handmade products compete on quality, presentation, and the story behind the brand.
What kind of handmade products can you sell? Well, soaps and candles are the first options to consider. But, there's also ceramics (mugs, art), macrame & embroidery, or even woodworking. You can sell your products through as many sales channels as you want, but we'd recommend looking at Etsy and Shopify first.
#19 - Mine Cryptocurrency
By now, you likely have an idea of what a cryptocurrency (such as Bitcoin) is. And, you probably know that the price of a Bitcoin has risen from $0 to over $58,000 USD since its inception in 2009. What does this mean to you? It means that you might want to get involved. But Bitcoin isn't the only name in the industry. There are many other cryptocurrencies that are less competitive, such as Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin.
Mining cryptocurrency is a complex subject that is best left to be explained by the experts, but you shouldn't get intimidated. You can get involved if you want to. Just make sure that the economics make sense since mining cryptocurrency can really increase your monthly electricity bill.
#20 - Create an Online Course
If you're skilled at something (or willing to become skilled at it) then you should consider creating an online course to help others advance their skills as well. Most people assume that you need to be an expert at something in order to teach it, but they're wrong. If you're an 8/10 at something, then you can always help someone who is a 4/10 get closer to your level. Some people will get intimidated trying to learn from someone who is a 10/10, so your 8/10 will come off as more approachable.
There are so many different things you can teach, but here are some general guidelines: first, it should be something you can do remotely. An online basketball course likely won't sell very well, because people will want in-person coaching. Second, it should be something that you're knowledgeable in, and that you'll have some credibility in. Third, it should be something niche or different. If possible, put your own spin on it. Make your course specialized. Be different. And, when you're ready, you can take a look at Thinkific or Udemy, two of the most popular online course platforms.
Hopefully you found this list of online business ideas to be useful! New ways of making money online are sprouting up every single day, but the ideas on this list were chosen because they should be around for years to come.
As you're thinking about getting started, remember that every business started off with an idea! And while the idea is important, it's the execution that really makes the difference. Our advice to you is to just get started and learn while on the way. Whether you decide to start dropshipping with DropCommerce, or you choose any of the other ideas on this list, you can do it! Your life can be completely different in just a few months, and you can make more money than you ever thought possible.
Best of luck!
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