13 easy online businesses to start today
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Online businesses are really popular because you can run them as a solopreneur in your spare time, bringing extra income at the same time. Some of the following businesses are super easy to start, but there are things you should look out for. I’ve tried almost all of these with different levels of success.
There are many more types of online businesses you could start, but I’m focusing on the ones that are easier to implement in a short time.
The steps to start a blog can be very easy and you can find thousands of sites that will give you instructions on how to set your blog up. I won’t say in a day, but perhaps in a week. It seems simple enough and then you just have to start writing articles, right?
Well, technically, that’s correct, but there are a lot of steps in the journey where you will be stopped and have trouble starting back up. Examples are choosing a niche for your blog or deciding which domain you want to buy. Then there is the technology of your site, Wix, Squarespace, WordPress? (Always WordPress my savvies!).
When I started this blog I did alright with all those little details but when it came to writing my first article I was frozen solid! I believe in my ability as a writer but, I was still paralyzed.
You will see that these little obstacles will be the ones you will be fighting against when building an online business, no matter how easy it might seem to start.
You can start your YouTube channel with just a Gmail account. Heck, you can start as many channels as you want under that account. You can use your smartphone to record your videos or if you want to record your desktop use online software like Loom.
Many people get stuck with the technology side of making videos for YouTube. Mirrorless cameras? DSLR? Blue Yeti microphone? All expensive solutions for something that is not necessary. When you start your online business, you need to be resourceful and be mindful of every penny invested.
Perhaps it will help you to know that the first videos are really bad, no matter what you do. So your focus should be on finding interesting topics in your niche and getting those videos published.
Teaching online courses
Teaching online courses as an online business model is great. It is so much fun. All you need is to record yourself or your desktop/slideshow and help others understand a subject. Similar to a YouTube video, but instead you have to organize content properly so that you lead your student through their transformation.
I was just part of an event by Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi where they wanted to help others thrive, by packaging your experience and selling it as a digital product. Their main offer was a course platform but you could also do ebooks or workshops/webinars as well.
I made my first online course in 2021. It was a short 1 hour course that helped others install their ConvertKit forms inside their WordPress website. It took some guidance from Sarah Cordiner who is a famous edupreneur. But in less than two weeks I had that course done and uploaded into Udemy.
Here is the problem with online courses. No audience, no sales. You need to have at least an email list with some subscribers to have someone to sell it to. Unless you are already known online for your work, it’s going to be a bit of a struggle to find someone to sell your courses to.
Selling handmade crafts
I think handmade crafts were the original ideas in which marketplaces like Etsy were based on. With handmade crafts anything is possible, all you need is to let your creativity loose. There’s jewelry making, beading, quilting, sewing, woodworking and many more. Just get some materials and go crazy.
After the product is made, all you have to do is package it securely and ship it to its final destination. This might be one of your first obstacles. Depending on where you are in the world it can be quite expensive to mail something overseas.
Another big obstacle is scaling up your handmade business. It took me about 40-80 hours to make a beaded necklace with earrings. Exactly how much was I supposed to prize that piece to be able to actually make money from it? How many could I make a month if I had a big order of say a dozen?
Certainly you can hire others to help you mass produce a piece of jewelry, but that changes things from being a side hustle to a big enterprise where you’d need to guarantee you have buying customers ready for you.
Selling digital products
Digital products are a blast to create and these days you don’t even have to make them from scratch. So many creators are selling commercial license templates that you can customize and then sell the final product, cutting your production time from weeks to days.
I made my first digital planner (Romantic Chick Digital Life Planner) using a template by the girls from Secret OWL Society, Michelle and Aimee. (Check out the template here – Affiliate link)
All I had to do was pick out a theme and buy some assets from Creative Market (you could use Creative Fabrica as well) and give my planner an original look and feel.
The problem, once again, with this business model is that you need to find customers to sell your products to. So my advice is that you spend less time making the products and more time on learning digital marketing strategies that can get you customers.
Web design and development
I’ll sum this up in three “words”, premium themes, page builders and starter templates. Making a website is 100X times easier than it was 20 years ago.Back then, you had to code everything by hand. There were always “What You See is What You Get” editors but each had their advantages and disadvantages.
Many times people only need a one page site to have an online presence, where they offer their services, talk about their expertise and perhaps showcase some of their work. Either that or a small website of 3-5 pages.
What’s more, the more experience you have the more you can start offering services like VIP Days where you build a small site in 1-2 days and charge anywhere from $1,200-$3000.
But you need to be really organized in order to run a web design business profitably. A project that was going to take one month can then turn into a six month nightmare where you lose money. Making sure your client has all the information and media you need is one of the biggies that push back delivery of a project. Another is not making sure both you and your client know the scope of the project.
Finding out mid project that the client thinks you were going to input all 500 of his products in the online store you are building for them is a sure way to end up with a bad review.
Virtual assistants are all the rage right now. They can perform miracles in your business if you find the right one. They can be generalists or specialized in web design or in social media marketing. They can be Tech VA’s that setup workflows for your business in softwares like ClickUp or Dubsado.
If you are able to start your own VA business, you could bring a lot of value to your customers while making a good income for yourself. The key is in the contracts. Some VA’s get paid in advance and they have packages that they offer because charging per hour can be a losing proposition sometimes.
Also there are services that have to be treated in a different way like Web Design where you charge by project and ask for a 50% down payment before starting work. Otherwise you run the risk of the customer being dissatisfied because you’ve been making changes in their site for 6 months and you still haven’t finished the work.
The most important skill for a VA to have is to be able to “figure things out”. I recommend the book “Everything is Figureoutable” by Marie Forleo.
Social Media Marketer
Being knowledgeable in social media is a very valuable skill. These days we depend largely on social media for traffic, promotion and sales. You’ll start doing the entire work yourself – not just devising strategies for your client’s growth but also carrying it out by posting for them and engaging with their clients, every day, sometimes several times a day.
It can be difficult work the more clients you sign up for your services. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to automate posting in social media with software like Hootsuite, Later, etc.
The key here is project management. The more organized and prepared you are with your work the better the results you will get.
Remote Customer Service
Customer service positions are very important in growing businesses. If they are selling a product or service they will most likely need things like onboarding customers to their new product/service and/or help with issues like pre-sales questions and billing.
A lot of companies will even train you for these types of roles. However, depending on how big the company is, the work could be fast paced and stressful. You might need to be juggling two to four people at the same time, some in chat or phone.
The key here is not just the desire to help others but also your capacity for being kind instead of being right. Some customer service reps don’t even read properly what the customer is asking of them and it takes shuffling the customer through several representatives to get one that gets to the bottom of the problem and helps the customer.
Knowing a second language is a huge asset and can help you make money offering your translating services. You can translate documents, books, brochures, websites or even software. Some documents will need you to be a licensed/certified translator like school and college transcripts or legal documents.
There are some downsides to translating. Your client might have a large contract to be translated or a book which can be a lot of work. There is software that can help you with these types of projects. The software helps keep libraries of commonly used terms and phrases and more advanced tools that help you finish your project faster.
Depending on where you offer your services, pay can be fair or low. Places like Fiverr can be cutthroat and it will be hard to make visible progress with your side hustle.
My recommendation is that you specialize in a specific type of language. For example legal documents, medical terminology or technical jargon.
Print on Demand
If you have a talent for art or just a knack for putting together graphical assets in beautiful ways you can have a print on demand side hustle. Some people have said they have had a lot of success with this type of online business but I think it has more to do with their reputation and authority in the art world.
Cat Coquillete is very successful with Society 6 and Red Bubble but she also has other income streams like licensing of her art to big stores. She has several courses on the topic on Skillshare.
You can also use assets from Creative Fabrica or Creative Market and modify them enough to be able to sell your designs. Just make sure you read the licensing restrictions that come with each asset. Some people even go as far as contacting the stores and asking in specific detail what the changes have to be to offer your designs with print on demand.
I think in this instance social media like Instagram can help you market your artwork and bring customers to your stores. Remember they only allow one link in your bio but you can use a free service like Linktree to add several at a time.
Writing a book, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, is a dream for many of us. I just checked on one of my favorite authors and her latest book has 1,700+ reviews and my thought was, why can’t I do that?
There are a lot of factors that are involved in publishing your book. From getting a viable idea to outlining then writing, to formatting and getting book covers. Maybe even get some paid ads to promote your book.
I’ve published two books in Amazon.com and it’s always a process where I have to push myself to get my product out there. And that is what your book is, a product. And guess what, you can publish/sell your book in other venues making you quite a bit of money, depending on your expertise. You have choices.
I will say, as a reader, I prefer my Kindle. But you can make lovely ebooks with software like Canva or just a plain export from Word/Google Docs to PDF.
Affiliates have been around for a long time and many companies don’t have any requirements at all for signing up. The power of this type of side hustle, though, is in how savvy you are about digital marketing and ways to reach the customer.
Amazon used to be one of the biggest names you could sign up for but you have to suggest big ticket items to be able to see some income coming in from their referral fees 3%-4%. Also in order to accept you fully you need to make at least 3 sales in six months.
Your best bet is to become an affiliate for software companies or subscription services that pay a recurring fee as long as the client uses the service. These seem to bring out the best results for affiliate marketers.
Being an affiliate marketer can be tied to blogging or having a YouTube channel, both places where you can share your thoughts/reviews about the different products you represent.
The best thing you can do before starting an online business is invest a little time researching the pro’s and the cons of each. You don’t need to spend hours doing this but you at least need to know:
- How much does it cost to start?
- What skills do you need to make it work?
- How much is the average person earning from this type of business? (Not the outliers)
- What big obstacles have others found with this business?