25 Best Online Business Ideas [Profitable & Low-Cost]

Are you stuck at identifying online business ideas that are profitable and budget-friendly? We got your back. We have a list of various business ideas that work for startups as well.

The Covid 19 pandemic has brought about so many uncertainties around the world. Businesses have come to a standstill, and people lost their jobs. However, this does not mean that you give up on your business ideas. 

The growth in technology and social media platforms gives you more reasons to take the risk. But before you take the bold step, you need to have SMART goals and identify a business niche. 

Start by asking yourself, why should I proceed with a specific idea? Who is my target audience? Which business ideas offer value to the target audience? Can I start an online business while working from home?

With such questions, you are able to come up with a plan on how to achieve your online business objectives.  With a vast online audience, you need to have a strategy that will help you tap into this opportunity. 

So, roll up your sleeves because you’re about to explore the best online business ideas to work either full-time or part-time. 

Let’s get started!

Profitable Online Business Ideas to Start In 2021

In 2020, businesses were not ready for the sudden disruption. Most people ended up losing their jobs, and brands shut down. Job seekers had a difficult time securing jobs.

Despite the uncertainty, this led to an increase in online businesses. According to statistics, there’re over 24 million stores globally, while eCommerce contributes to $4.5 trillion of retail sales.  

With the covid 19 restrictions, social distancing, and reduction in job opportunities, online jobs, and entrepreneurship has become the new trend. 

If you’re not sure of an online business to proceed with, you can borrow from the ideas below. You can run some of them without quitting your day job. 

Let’s dive in!

1. Content Creation

The Covid 19 pandemic has affected businesses, and people lost their jobs. As a result, it has led to an increase in content creation on online platforms.  

It is free to create a social media profile. With the rise of Tiktok, a social media platform, there is more visual content for entertainment and online marketing.

Content creation is about publishing content in various forms. For instance, with YouTube, you can create and share video content with your subscribers.  

In addition, you can use blogs to create how-to content and other informative guides that give value to the readers. Content creation is one of the online business ideas that most people are adopting to use. 

It does not require a heavy budget, and with time, you will start realizing profit from it. Social media, that is, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, are the most engaging content creation platforms.

2. Start a Podcast

The number of active internet users globally as of January 2021 was 4.66 billion. As more people continue to embrace technology, this figure is likely to rise. 

With a podcast, you do not need a studio to record. First, it is flexible as you can run it from home. Before you begin the podcast, make sure you have identified a niche.  

What you need is recording software and a microphone. You may also consider having a camera, but that’s if you want to go live. 

Second, identify the target audience. Next, look for engaging topics that will attract people to listen to your podcast. According to Nielsen, 50% of homes in the US listen to podcasts.

To attract the audience and drive traffic, you may consider hosting influencers to your podcast. For instance, if you choose a topic like social media marketing, you can host successful influencers to offer insight and solve specific challenges. 

3. Affiliate Marketing

With affiliate marketing, you promote a brand’s products and services. In return, you receive the agreed commission from the successful conversion.

For instance, you can choose to promote a product on your social media platforms or blog. Interested customers will click on the link for more information about the product. Others may end up converting to customers.

The most popular form of affiliate marketing is Amazon. The eCommerce store has so many products to select, promote and earn a commission. 

If you’re looking for online business ideas from home, affiliate marketing is worth considering. 

4. Become a Freelancer

Freelancing has become a source of income for a broad bracket of people. You can freelance as a student, part-time, or full-time. There are various online freelance platforms to work with, like Fiverr and Upwork.

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Source: Upwork

With these platforms, you can make a sustainable living by working with various brands. For instance, you can choose to be a freelance writer, create content, academic content, or journals. 

Freelancing is very broads. To make the best out of it, begin by choosing a field that you have experience in. It is profitable and does not require a high cost to start. For example, if you’re a design expert, you can make extra dollars by creating visuals.

Freelancing is a broad field. You begin by selecting a specific niche before you start bidding. 

5. Virtual Assistant

As more businesses continue to work from home and maintain social distance, you can offer services as a virtual assistant. For example, you can be a virtual assistant for a marketing agency. 

A virtual assistant is a person who offers services through the internet. Hence, you can be working with an organization that is miles away from your location. 

6. Start a Dropshipping Agency/Services.

You may have come across the word dropshipping as you’re exploring profitable online business ideas. As a beginner, you need to know what dropshipping is and how to go about it before you try the eCommerce field.

So, dropshipping is about selling products online from a third-party merchant. It’s a top trend in the eCommerce space where a seller does not need a store to stock up products to sell.

With dropshipping, it requires a minimal budget to begin. What you need to have is a laptop and an eCommerce website. Next, identify the products to sell. 

Before you market the products to the buyers, identify suppliers who will deliver the products to your customers. If you master the art of dropshipping, it is profitable and flexible to manage.

However, there are drawbacks to using dropshipping. As a beginner, it can be hard to convert clients to your online store. It can be a challenge if you have to deal with multiple suppliers. 

Despite the challenges, dropshipping is worth looking into, especially if you are looking for small online business ideas for a startup. 

To create a dropshipping website, you can use Shopify, Bigcommerce, or Woocommerce platforms. 

7. YouTube Content Marketing

Although lightly mentioned earlier, content creators are publishing videos on the YouTube platform. Businesses as well are using it to promote, market, educate and attract customers.

To make money from Youtube, start by growing the number of subscribers. You can monetize it through sponsored ads. For example, you can market a travel destination or a tour agency.

From the platform, you can make money by advertising or affiliate marketing. Besides this, you can vlog and post the videos on YouTube. 

Viewers will subscribe to a YouTube channel if they find the content engaging. If you’re consistent in posting and attracting subscribers, it increases your eligibility to earn from YouTube. 

8. Start blogging

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Source: WordPress

There is so much untapped potential from blogs. To start with, select a platform to publish your work. For a business, publish blogs that give insight to your audience.

Some of the blogging niches are – eCommerce, affiliate marketing, digital marketing, and online courses. The objective of a blog is to provide more information and offer insight.

To publish content, you need a blog section. You can create one using WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, or blogger. To make money from it, you can publish affiliate articles, sell products and display third-party ads.

Blogs are easy to manage from home. Tricks to writing successful blogs are to make use of keywords, images, and user-centered content. 

Before you start writing, research the topic to blog about and identify the key points. Blogging is a powerful tool that helps drive traffic and attract the audience for conversion.

9. Start an Online Course

One of the benefits of an online course is the ease of accessibility. You can access learning materials without attending a class physically.

To make a profit from an online course, design a website or create a forum to upload learning materials. For members or subscribers to have access to the resources, you can charge them a minimum fee.

For instance, you can have online courses about cooking various types of foods. You can upload the content to your website, but members have to pay a subscription fee to access detailed information.

10. Consider Being a Micro-Influencer

How many followers do you have on your social media profiles? It could be on Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, or YouTube.

To be a micro-influencer, you need to have expertise within your niche. To get started, begin by establishing a follower base. The next step is to identify a topic and start working on it. 

Consider investing in a quality camera, microphone, and editing software to enhance the quality of your videos.

Tiktok is a fast-growing social media platform. You can use it to create high-quality and engaging videos that promote a brand, product, service, or destination.

For example, for a makeup artist, social media is the best platform to advertise your work. You can as well collaborate with brands within your niche to market their products. This way, you’re likely to make a commission by advertising their products. 

11. Membership Forums

With a membership forum, you can charge people a certain amount to access your resources. If you’re creating content on YouTube or publishing a blog, you can ask your audience to subscribe to your platform to access detailed information.

If you’re using a WordPress website, use a membership plugin to create a forum. Interested members can create accounts using their credentials. 

12. Web Development

Web development is an on-demand skill because of the shift in online businesses. Designing a website requires minimal funds to start. What you need is a computer and internet connection.

Most people will search for a product or service online before visiting a physical shop. Besides designing a site, you can also manage website content for your clients. 

13. Sell Products

Do you have unique products that you want potential buyers to see and buy? With so many DIY ideas, you can craft custom, hand-made products and start marketing them online. 

You may consider starting with the social media platforms before upgrading to websites and paid media-like ads. An example of a web-based platform to sell such products is Etsy.

14. Offer Online Services 

Technology has brought about new opportunities that did not exist before. For instance, it has led to various online services like social media marketing, web development, paid promotions, and search engine optimization.

With such services, you can earn interest without having to worry about startup capital.

15. Print on Demand

It means that you print a design when a user requests one. As a creative designer, you work on a design and sell it online.

For example, you can design a shirt, mug, or diary, then work with a printing firm to print and deliver the item to the client. As the designer, you do not have to worry about product delivery. 

Brands and clients can request custom-made designs from you. To create awareness for your products, you may consider working with influencers or marketing on social platforms.

16. Offer Graphic Design Services

Visuals attract and engage with the audience online. Examples of graphics are infographics, flyers, banners, ads, logos, and business cards. 

Brands want to stand out from their competition. Graphic design can be a low-cost business idea, especially if most of your clients are online.

Make sure you promote your services and link your portfolio to attract potential clients. One of the sources of graphic design clients is the freelance platforms.

17. Copywriting

Copywriting is publishing long-form or short-form content that is original and plagiarism-free. Companies need copywriters who can deliver quality copies for their blogs, ads, and social media posts.

Unlike other online business ideas, copywriting requires a smaller budget. What you need is a computer, stable internet connection, grammar checker tool, and plagiarism software. 

To get started with copywriting jobs, you can join content writing groups, freelancer sites, and social media platforms. 

18. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services

SEO is optimizing a website to meet the search engine requirements. SEO services are broad and low-cost to get started.

Yoast, an SEO optimization tool, is free to use with a WordPress website. As organizations continue to embrace technology and shift to online marketing, an on-demand skill is SEO.


Source: Yoast

Optimization is not only about websites but social media posts and ads as well. You can choose to offer services in on-page, off-page, or technical SEO. 

SEO is essential for ranking and visibility on search engines like Bing or Google. With SEO, you can make a couple of dollars from it while working from home.

19. Fitness and Gym Instructor

Are you passionate about fitness and health? As a fitness trainer, it is not a must for you to have a physical room to train people. With online platforms like YouTube, you can monetize the platform and make money out of it.

Besides, online forums like Facebook groups can attract potential clients to register and make payments to access training videos. 

With online training, you are able to reach clients from different locations. In addition, you can also sell gym equipment to your clients. 

20. Manage Social Media Platforms

Social media management is a broad category that has a couple of online business ideas. For instance, high-profile individuals and job seekers need help with setting up LinkedIn profiles. 

As part of the role of a social media manager, you have to research and set up attractive profiles for your clients. 

Besides this, you can also work with organizations to drive traffic and manage social media profiles. It means that you have to publish posts, engage with clients, drive conversion, and run campaigns.

With social media management softwares, it becomes easy to carry out online tasks. Examples of social media tools are Hootsuite, Facebook Creator Studio, Hubspot CRM, Buffer, and Social Pilot. 

While some of these tools are free, you may also consider the premium versions to access the advanced features.

21. Email Marketing 

With so many online business ideas, our list cannot be complete without email marketing. Organizations no longer rely on physical mail delivery. 

Email marketing is fast and a source of conversion. The softwares to use are both free and premium. To earn profit from it, make sure you have several clients that you’re working with to deliver engaging emails.

For a business, email marketing helps to send personalized messages to your subscriber’s inbox.

22. Distribute Creative Content

As a creative content creator, you can entertain people online and ask for minimal pay in return for watching your content. For example, you can share a website link with your audience to access the content.

With entertainment being the most affected by the pandemic, online platforms seem to be the most probable solution. Having a website makes it easy to reach an audience that is miles away.

Therefore, you can create and publish creative content, then charge your audience a minimum fee to view. 

23. Write an Ebook

As an author, it is not always easy to convince people to buy your book, especially if you are selling in a book store. However, it is not the case with online selling.

The online platforms make it easy to reach a broader audience without location restrictions. Isn’t it interesting how you can market to people who are miles away? 

Your publication should give value to your readers to sell. A platform to list your ebook is Amazon. 

24. Video Editing

60% of businesses are using videos for marketing purposes. Video marketing is an effective way of engaging with the audience and generating a conversion.

Internet users prefer watching a video rather than reading text-based content. Therefore, if you have video production and editing skills, working with brands will help you make money out of it.

When it comes to videos, you need editing software and a computer. Video editing is a low-cost business idea that can connect you with potential clients.

25. App Development

Technology is changing fast. With the evolution of mobile devices, the app development skill is also growing in demand. A majority of internet users use mobile devices to access services online.

For example, when it comes to transport, you need a mobile app to request an Uber ride.

Also, when it comes to the food industry, most clients order food delivery using the mobile app. 

Mobile apps are an online trend for most people. For app development, examples of softwares to use are Appy pie, Appian, and Zoho Creator. 

Consideration Before Implementing Online Business Ideas

Before you implement the online business ideas, there are factors you will have to consider.

Before you quit your job or set aside funds to begin, make sure that you have clear goals and objectives as to why you should have an online business. 

With this in mind, let’s look at the factors to consider before implementing online business ideas.

1. Target Audience

The online platform has various categories of audiences. To identify who your target audience is, you need to create a buyer persona. That is, what they do, where they live, their age, and who they are.

Having an idea of your target audience makes it easy to formulate goals and run your business.

2. Have a Working Budget

Before you proceed with an online business, have a working budget in place. Well, you need money to buy softwares, register your agency, or pay for advertising.

Online business is not free to run and manage. You may require help from freelancers, which means that you’ll have to pay for the service. 

You’ll also need to pay taxes, and therefore, you need a plan to manage the finances. 

3. Identify a Profitable Business Idea

Before you continue to set up your business online, take time to figure out if it will benefit you or not. 

Although there is so much potential for businesses online, analyze your ideas carefully and proceed with one that works for you.

As you take the risk, make sure that you have a return on your online investment. 

4. Do You Need a Website?

With online businesses, having a website makes it easy to reach out to people. Your online store will be the first thing that your customers will engage with before making a conclusion.

With the current trends in marketing, most people start by searching the internet for a solution. Not all online businesses will require a website.

However, having a ready website builds trust with your customers and legitimizes your business. With so many online tools to design a website, you cannot miss out on having one. 

5. Is It a Part-Time or Full-Time Business?

Once you identify a business idea, the next task is implementation. So, is it something you want to pursue full-time or part-time?

Remember, whichever option you choose, an online business will require your time and effort. If you’re doing it part-time, you need to add extra effort for it to be successful. 

6. Understand Your Target Market 

You’ve thought about several online business ideas, and now, it’s time for implementation. Before you begin, find out whether you have a target market.

How will you market your products? Which are the social platforms to use? Also, find out your customers’ pain points.

With the above questions, it will be easier to create a marketing strategy for your intended audience. 

7. Identify a Niche

To succeed online, begin by identifying a niche. It helps you deliver the best results and handle challenges. 

Working on a specific niche helps you identify and stand out from the competition. For example, if you want to start a dropshipping business, you will have to find out the ins and outs of this field. 

Besides, it helps you realign your goals and make better business decisions. 

Final Thoughts

Have you been searching for online business ideas for beginners? Well, there you have it. Before you implement any ideas you have, make sure you understand your target market and audience first. 

Although some of the ideas are not easy to implement, you can consider working with a professional to help you get started.

The online space has a lot of untapped opportunities. Whether you are a student, an employee, or looking for ways to make extra money, consider implementing the online business ideas above.  

Not all will require capital to start. Start with a single idea before you proceed to the next one. As you make use of the online platform, remember to keep up with the changes in technology. 

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