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30 Ideas for Online Business Ideas You Can Start in 2024

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updated: May 28, 2024

Are you tired of the daily work grind? Do you want to find a way to make money without leaving the comfort of your home? The best online business ideas allow you to use skills that you already have to generate profits. To jump-start your business imagination, read through this list of businesses that could launch you on a new venture and a new life.

30 top ideas for launching an online business

1. Start an e-commerce site

An e-commerce site is relatively easy to set up: You just need something to sell and a place to call home on the internet. You can purchase a domain name and set up hosting through a platform such as Squarespace, create some listings for your products, and spread the word about your new business on social media to start driving customers your way.

2. Become a drop-shipper

Drop-shipping can be a simple way to make a lot of money with minimal effort. It works like this:

  • You set up an e-commerce website and advertise products that you purchase from a third-party company at wholesale prices.
  • Customers buy those products from you at retail price.
  • The wholesaler ships the items to the customers for you, while you keep the difference between the wholesale and retail price as profit.

You don't have to keep inventory in your home, which is a plus. The key to successful drop-shipping is finding in-demand items you can sell at a decent profit.

3. Teach an online course

Online course creation can be a good way to create passive income. You can create a course and offer it for sale on a platform such as Teachable or Udemy. Each time someone buys the course, you make money.

You may need to update the course every now and then, but otherwise you could earn a steady stream of passive income from something you create just once.

4. Get paid to write

Freelance writing might be a good online business idea if you like writing and have some specialized knowledge. Depending on your background, you might make money writing:

  • Blogs.
  • White papers.
  • Press releases.
  • Grant proposals.
  • News articles.
  • Case studies.
  • Newsletters.

Social media, freelance writing job boards, and remote work job boards are all great places to find your first paid writing gigs.

5. Become an online proofreader

Proofreaders are paid to review written content for typos, spelling errors, and mistakes in grammar. If you have a keen eye for detail, you might consider launching an online proofreading business. You'll need a laptop and an internet connection to get started. An online proofreading tool couldn’t hurt.

6. Start a blog

A blog can take some time to build momentum, but it offers many ways to make money. Some of the options for making money with a blog include:

  • Running ads on your posts.
  • Selling digital or physical products.
  • Offering a service, such as consulting.
  • Affiliate marketing.
  • Memberships or subscriptions.
  • Brand-sponsored content.

Similar to starting an e-commerce site, you'll need a domain and hosting. Squarespace is an affordable option for blogging beginners who are trying to learn the ropes. You’ll also have to build up a large-enough audience to earn money on your products or interest advertisers or marketers.

7. Become a blog flipper

Don't have time to start a blog of your own? You could buy and sell existing blogs for a profit.

Blog flipping involves buying sites that might be dormant, sprucing them up with a new design or content, then selling them to a buyer ready to grow the site. You can also find other types of sites for sale here, including e-commerce businesses and affiliate sites.

8. Buy and sell domains

A domain name is simply where a website lives online. It's what you see in the search bar when visiting a website.

Domain flipping works like blog flipping: You buy domains at one price, then sell them for a higher one. There are several marketplaces that offer domains for sale, including NameCheap and Sedo.

9. Offer freelance services

In addition to freelance writing, there are other services you might offer to make money online. Businesses may be willing to pay you for a variety of tasks, such as:

  • Video editing.
  • Graphic design.
  • Coding.
  • Web design.
  • App design.

You can find freelance jobs on remote work websites and virtual job boards. You can also set up your own website for your freelance business or use LinkedIn to connect with people who may need your services.

10. Become a social media manager

Social media managers get paid to manage social media accounts for other business owners. Some of the tasks you might handle can include:

  • Creating written or video content for social media.
  • Scheduling content designated for various social media platforms.
  • Moderating comments on posts.
  • Checking analytics to see which content is or isn't working.

You might consider this online business idea if you know different social media platforms inside and out and want to help other businesses grow.

11. Get paid to be a Pinterest expert

Pinterest is a visual search engine that can be a powerful tool for driving traffic to an e-commerce site or blog. There are plenty of people who are willing to pay someone else to manage their Pinterest accounts for them, which can include:

  • Creating new pin images.
  • Writing Pinterest descriptions and pin titles that are search engine optimized..
  • Managing Pinterest ad campaigns.
  • Setting up new accounts.
  • Reviewing Pinterest analytics.
  • Researching Pinterest trends.

You'll need to know your way around Pinterest, obviously, but this is another low-cost online business idea you might start.

12. Start a virtual event-planning business

Virtual event planners work with clients to help them plan special events. The key to success lies in choosing a specific niche to target.

For example, you might decide to work exclusively with corporate clients who need help planning large-scale events, such as virtual conferences or workshops. Or you might cater to influencers in the self-improvement space. Specializing allows you to fine-tune your skills, so that you can better serve your clients and charge higher rates for your expertise.

13. Design and sell printables

Printables are items that can be bought online and either downloaded and printed or used online. Examples include stationery, a coloring sheet, an art print, a worksheet, an email template, or a résumé. This can be a highly profitable business if you're creating products people want to buy and making it easy for them to do so.

For example, you might use an online tool such as Canva to create printables for busy moms who need help organizing their homes. You can list those printables for sale on Etsy or your own website, if you've got an e-commerce shop. Each time someone buys one, you make money.

14. Start a print-on-demand shop

Print-on-demand (POD) is another possibility for creating passive income. You create a design then list it for sale through a POD marketplace. When someone buys your design, they can get it printed on an object they wish to feature, such as a T-shirt, coffee cup, or tote bag.

The POD company prints the design and ships the item to the customer. You are paid a royalty for the design. It's a low-cost way to make money using your creative skills.

15. Sell your artwork online

If you're artistic, you might consider starting an art business online. There are different ways to make money selling your art, including:

  • Accepting commissions.
  • Creating digital prints or original artworks to sell on Etsy.
  • Listing your art for sale on eBay.
  • Selling on art-specific marketplaces such as Fine Art America.
  • Starting a Patreon account and offering exclusive art content for a monthly fee.

You can also set up your own site to display your artwork for sale and explore other ways to monetize it. For instance, you might create art-related courses to sell, or you could set up a Paypal account to collect donations from people who are fans of your work.

16. Become a virtual assistant

Virtual assistants make money by helping other businesses. There are a variety of tasks you might get paid to do as a virtual assistant, including:

  • Email management.
  • Creating Excel spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations..
  • Managing databases.
  • Responding to phone calls.
  • Scheduling appointments.

If you have any experience working in an office setting—or you're just a highly organized person—you could have a promising career with a virtual assistant business. You can market yourself through your professional or friend network and also search for companies seeking virtual assistants.

17. Try online coaching

Online coaches offer support to people who need help navigating challenges. The kind of coaching you do will depend on your background and expertise. You can meet with clients virtually or communicate through email, and you can use social media to promote and market your businesses to people who need the kind of coaching services you provide.

18. Start a YouTube channel

People love watching videos, and if you have something interesting to say, YouTube could be a natural choice. You can monetize a YouTube channel with ads once you reach a certain number of subscribers and viewing hours. You can also make money through sponsored content, affiliate links in your post descriptions, and exclusive subscriber content behind a paywall.

19. Write and sell e-books

E-books can generate a steady stream of passive income because you only have to create the product once. You can sell e-books on Amazon or through your own website with minimal startup costs. The key is to choose a topic for your e-book that people are going to want to read about.

20. Sell low-content books

Low-content and no-content books are what they sound like: books with very little content on the inside. For example, think composition notebooks, blank sketchbooks, or recipe books. You can find lots of these books for sale on Amazon; some sell thousands of copies. You'll need an Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account to list your books for sale. And you can use a tool such as Canva to create your low-content books.

21. Launch a podcast

If you'd like to get paid to talk about subjects that interest you but don't necessarily want to go the YouTube route, you might start a podcast instead. You can monetize your podcast by selling branded merchandise, creating sponsored content, accepting donations from loyal listeners, or recommending affiliate products.

22. Build niche websites

Niche websites focus on a specific topic, such as backpacking, container gardens, or grilling. These sites can make money by running ads or selling affiliate products, and they may have a linked YouTube channel or podcast that generates additional income streams. If you're considering a niche site, pick a topic that can hold your interest and attract others who share it.

23. Become an affiliate marketer

Affiliate marketing simply means recommending products or services to others and then getting paid a commission when someone purchases that product or service. For example, if you start a niche website about gardening and build up a large-enough readership, you might seek partnerships with companies selling relevant products, such as gardening tools. When you recommend a particular type of gardening tool to your readers and someone buys it, the company that's selling it pays you a little money for sending the customer their way.

You don't need a website to do affiliate marketing; you can also do it through social media or email. Just keep in mind that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has strict rules that enumerate what you're required to disclose to people, so they know that you're earning money from the products you recommend.

24. Invest in real estate

Real estate investing is a proven way to build wealth. If you don't want to own a property outright, you might try investing online instead. Crowdfunding websites, such as RealyMogul, allow you to pool your money with other investors to own properties, getting the benefit of dividends in return. It's a simple way to reap the upsides of property ownership without having to deal with renters. Of course, carefully investigate both the website you use and any potential deals that might be offered.

25. Become an online translator

If you read and speak multiple languages, you might consider working as an online translator. You can get paid to translate written texts from one language to another without having to leave home. The more languages you know and the more proficient you are, the more opportunities you might have for landing such a job..

26. Do online transcription work

Transcriptionists are paid to turn audio files into written ones. For example, medical transcriptionists listen to dictated recordings and type out what they're hearing using transcription software or a word-processing program. You might specialize in a particular field, such as medical or legal transcription, or offer general transcription services.

27. Develop an app

If you have a great idea for an app, you could turn that into a successful business. Before you start doing any coding, you'll need to do some market research to find out what people are looking for in an app. From there you can research the competition, figure out which features you'll need to include, and start development. Keep in mind that this process can take months or even years if you need to take your app through multiple testing rounds to work out the kinks.

28. Start an online bookkeeping business

Starting an online bookkeeping business is something you might consider if you want to offer a service rather than a product and enjoy crunching numbers. You can work with business clients to manage their books remotely. The startup costs are low.

You don't need to be a certified public accountant (CPA) to start this type of business, though that can be helpful. At a minimum you'll need to have solid knowledge of bookkeeping practices and requirements, experience as a bookkeeper or employees with those skills), good bookkeeping software, and a website or social media accounts to promote your services.

29. Become an online tutor

A tutoring business might appeal to you if you enjoy teaching and have specialized knowledge. You might work with an online tutoring service to connect with clients, or you could offer services yourself through a website or social media. If you're considering signing up with a tutoring website, take time to review the requirements, as you may need to have a certain type of degree to get started.

30. Become a voice-over artist

Voice-over artists make money by lending their voices to commercials, TV shows, movies, and other types of media. You'll need a good microphone and sound equipment to start this type of business, and you’ll probably benefit from taking some voice acting classes if you don't have any previous acting experience. Once you're ready to start finding clients, you can use a site such as Voices.com or Backstage.com to look for open auditions.

How to choose an online business

With so many online business ideas to consider, it might be a little challenging to decide which one to pursue. The trick is to narrow down the list of ideas you want to try. Here’s how to go about it.

Start with what you know

The easiest way to start an online business is to put the skills, knowledge, and expertise you already have to work. Make a list of all the things you know how to do.

Such a list might include writing, editing videos, and navigating social media. Those are three potentially high-income skills that you could leverage to start an online business.

Remember, no skill is too small to leave off the list. The more things you can jot down, the more opportunities you might have to use those skills to make money.

Find out what interests you

Making money online is exciting, but that excitement can turn into tedium or boredom if you're disconnected mentally or emotionally. In other words, if you want to find the best online business idea for you, it needs to be something that's going to hold your attention for the long term.

Go back to your list of skills. Is there anything there that you especially enjoy doing? If so, circle it.

Now make a second list of things you'd like to learn how to do. Again, don't edit yourself here; add all the ideas that come to you. Once you've got lots of ideas down on paper, you can go through and select three to five that pique your interest the most.

Consider the earning potential

By this point you may have an idea of what you want to do. The next step is to consider which business ideas on your list both reflect things you enjoy doing and have the potential to make money.

There are two things to consider:

  • How much money you believe you can earn.
  • How much money you have to invest.

For example, let's say you want to start an Etsy shop where you sell handmade crocheted stuffed animals. Figure out how much it would cost you to make each one, then set a realistic sales price. This will allow you to determine your idea’s profitability.It will also allow you to compare your price to competitors to see how viable your idea is.

With something such as freelance writing, on the other hand, startup costs and ongoing overhead are likely minimal. You just need a laptop and internet access to get going, which are probably things you already have.

Of course, money is only one reason to start an online business. If you're more interested in doing something that you love, earning potential might be secondary. And aside from money, you also have to think about how much time might be involved.

Look at your schedule

Some online businesses take more effort to start and maintain than others. Making crafts by hand to sell, for example, is a lot more time-consuming than printing on demand. The former is labor intensive, while the latter generates largely passive income.

Look at how much time you have daily, weekly, or monthly to work on your business, then consider which of the ideas would be the most realistic fit for the time that you have available.

More about online business

What is an online business?

An online business is an enterprise that you can operate solely via the internet and often from home. You might sell products or services, and the income you generate can be active (requiring repeated effort) or passive (requiring only an initial effort). Online businesses can be run by just one person and may have low startup costs. Certain online businesses don't require any special education or work experience to start.

Benefits of starting an online business

There are plenty of good reasons to start an online business. Some of the main ones include:

  • Freedom and flexibility when it comes to scheduling, as you can decide how to set your working hours.
  • Significant earning potential if you're able to choose the right idea.
  • An opportunity to be creative and do work that you find fulfilling and enjoyable.
  • Low startup costs.

An online business can help you create supplemental income on the side or replace the money you're earning from a full-time job. Online businesses can be a great option for stay-at-home parents, single parents, college students, retirees, or anyone who wants to make money on their own terms.

What to consider when starting an online business

One thing to know about starting an online business is that success usually doesn't happen overnight. You should consider how long you're willing to commit yourself to a business idea to see if it's actually going to work.

Remember that the money you're earning online isn't tax free. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) expects you to pay taxes on business income just as you would when you get a paycheck from a regular employer. Read up on business tax rules and requirements to stay on the right side of the government.

TIME Stamp: Online businesses offer numerous possibilities for making money

Making money on the internet is easier than it's ever been. Thinking about what you hope to accomplish with an online business, evaluating the costs, and considering the time investment can help you decide which kind of venture makes the most sense to start.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What businesses make the most money online?

Businesses that make the most money online typically have low overhead costs and high earning potential. Being a freelance writer or virtual assistant, for example, can be lucrative, as the startup costs are low and you may not have a lot of ongoing expenses. The more skilled you are at what you do, the more you can charge for your services.

What online business can I start?

A wide range of online business ideas could be successful. Choosing the right one comes down to your skills, interests, and how much time you have to work on it. Online businesses generally either sell a product or a service. Finding ways to generate passive income with minimal work helps to maximize profits.

How do you start an internet business?

You need to estimate your startup costs and list the action steps required to begin operations. If your idea seems viable, then take the plunge. Depending on the kind of business, you may need to register with your state and get a federal taxpayer identification number (TIN).

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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