Career Development

10 Best Online Business Ideas You Can Start On A Budget

Things aren’t what they used to be in the world of work and changes are causing more and more people to consider different ways of making money that they either hadn’t thought of before or that they would never have considered when things were more stable. This is a very smart move because let’s face it, whatever your work situation is right now, the one thing that we’ve all see is how quickly circumstances can change, so having a plan B can only be a good thing.

Now, you might already be thinking that you just don’t want to start a business. Perhaps you don’t feel like you’ve got any great business ideas. Maybe you just don’t feel like the kind of person who can run a business. Or maybe you just don’t know where you would even begin and feel like it’s unrealistic.

In this post, I want to share with you some different options that you should definitely consider when it comes to starting an online business or a thriving online side hustle. These are great online business ideas that anyone can start. So whether you’re thinking of starting a side hustle as a backup in case things go sideways with your job, or whether you’ve decided to use the economic shift as your motivation to finally start an online business, this post is for you. But first…

What this post is not about:

  • How to make money quickly or get rich quick schemes 
  • How to make money online easily and without doing anything 
  • Get rich quick schemes of any kind 
  • Online business ideas that don’t require any effort 
  • I know, this might come as a disappointment, but on this site, we’re interested in real careers and real businesses. And while I truly believe that anything is possible, everything requires a level of commitment and effort. The key thing is that if you’re enjoying what you’re doing, then it will feel enjoyable, and if the effort is towards creating your future success, then it’s worth it. 

So, with that said, let’s dive in. 

Online Business Idea #1 – Teach Live Online One To One Classes or Group Classes   

One of the greatest things you can do is to share the knowledge you already have with someone that could benefit from it. One thing that always amazes me is how much people take their knowledge and skills for granted. Always remember, just because you know something, it doesn’t mean everyone else does and you could be the teacher that someone out there is looking for. 

And you don’t have to make things complicated by creating an online course that you sell – although that could be your next step – you can get started simply by teaching 1:1and to do this all you need is the knowledge you already have and a platform to teach it – whether that’s via teachable, zoom, gotowebinar or another platform. You can even teach group classes. 

In case you’re thinking that you don’t have anything worth teaching think again here are some amazing examples of people who are making money by sharing their knowledge in some very niche and surprising topic areas!  

Online Business Idea #2 – Provide Freelance Services 

Depending on the skills you have, you could be in a  great position to offer your services on a freelance basis. While freelance writing probably comes to mind, this isn’t the only service that people are looking for on a freelance basis these days, remember we are living in the era of the gig economy and there are lots of other services that you could provide. 

A look on Fiverr and you’ll see services offered for 

  • Graphic Design 
  • Podcast art cover design specifically 
  • Personal styling 
  • Video editing
  • Transcription 
  • VA ( If you’re not sure what being a Virtual Assistant involves, listen to this interview with The Founder of Get Ahead VA)
  • Social Media Management
  • Voice over
  • Editing
  • Blog writing 
  • Game coaching ( Yes that’s video game coaching!)
  • According to Fiverr, one of the largest freelance platforms a gig is bought every 4 seconds, with costs ranging anywhere from $5 to $10,000! So clearly people are willing to pay money for the freelance services they need. 

While joining the gig economy may not appear to be a viable method to earn a full-time income, it can certainly be a way to earn some money on the side and is a great way to get started. What’s more, there are plenty of options available when it comes to selecting the best place to offer your services in addition to Fiverr.

Online Business Idea #3 – Create & Sell An Online Course

When it comes to creating online courses, the first thing that most people think is that they don’t have anything they could teach to others, and I’m guessing this is your main worry when it comes to this online business idea. But the truth is, a quick search on some of the e-learning platforms brings up all sorts of courses, here are just a few that might surprise you:

As you can see, the courses are so varied! And the great news is that people are buying these courses because people want to learn new things! Remember, just because you know something, it doesn’t mean that everyone knows it, and assuming they do is the curse of knowledge!

Instead, take an inventory of your life. Not just what you would immediately think can be turned into an online course, but EVERYTHING! All your experiences, everything you’ve gone through all your ups and downs, those are life lessons that put you in a position to teach others who might be going through the same thing. Whether it’s divorce, improving relationships with work colleagues, growing your IG account. What you know is valuable and could help someone else. So why not put it to good use, share it with the world, and let the people who need your knowledge benefit. 

Online Business Idea #4 – Print On Demand 

Merch merch everywhere. So far I’ve talked about services and digital products, but these days getting into the physical product space is a lot easier than it once was with Print on demand. With print on demand, you can create and sell printed merchandise on demand.  

You probably know someone who started a T-Shirt business. Well with POD the costs can be even lower since you only print items once a customer orders. 

And it’s just not limited to T-Shirts either. A quick look around and you can see that you’re surrounded by things you could print on demand. Here’s a list of some print on demand product ideas ( from Oberlo):

  • T-shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Mugs
  • Towels
  • Phone covers
  • Notebooks
  • Stationery
  • Stickers
  • Bags
  • Posters

If you’re a creative soul and you like the idea of getting your designs out there, this could be great way to get started! 

And if you’re worried about where to start, check out this list of the best print-on-demand companies right now! ( According to Oberlo)

  1. Print
  2. Printify
  3. CustomCat
  4. SPOD
  5. T-Pop
  6. Gelato
  7. Gooten
  8. Printy6
  9. JetPrint
  10. 10.the launch

Online Business Idea #5  – Make & Sell Things On Etsy

To continue with the physical product theme with Etsy. Etsy is an American e-commerce company focused on handmade or vintage items and craft supplies. 

You can find all sorts of beautiful crafts there. Personally, I’ve bought handbags and earrings and also searched for a fireplace corbel on Etsy. So, the variety of things you could sell on the platform is very broad. 

In short, if you make something beautiful by hand, or you know someone who does, then Etsy could be the E-commerce platform for you. 

Online Business Idea #6 – Dropshipping 

You might not have heard of drop shipping but you might have bought products that have been dropshipped. The drop shipping model simply means the seller accepts customer orders but does not keep goods sold in stock. 

With this model, when your customers order on your website, the goods go straight from the manufacturer to the customer. 

To get started with dropshipping, you need to decide what product you want to sell, find a manufacturer and negotiate terms then set up your site. 

You can find products and manufacturers on a site like Alibaba and use a platform like Shopify for your online store. 

The obvious benefit is that you don’t need to worry about making trips to the post office whenever an order comes through. 

Online Business Idea #7 – Offer Consulting Services

Getting back to services, if you do have specialist knowledge and you’d prefer to work with your clients directly rather than creating that online course, consulting could be the way to go. 

With consulting, you really act as an advisor to your customers and help them to achieve something they want in their business. 

One example could be e-commerce consulting. If you have already had experience with commerce, whether that’s selling things on eBay, Amazon, or your own website, you could provide consulting services to brick and mortar businesses looking to set up their e-commerce stores. 

Online Business Idea #8 – Affiliate Marketing

If you’re just starting or you just want to earn a little extra money on the side then affiliate marketing is a great option. The good news is, to be an affiliate you don’t necessarily even have to have a website. You just need to have an online platform. While this could be a blog, it could also be your IF account, Facebook, or other social media. 

Affiliate marketing simply means recommending products or services and getting some money either a small fee or a proportion of the sale, when someone buys. 

Done right, affiliate marketing is about recommending things that you yourself use and like and getting some money for it. I mean, if you’re going to be recommending it anyway, then it makes good sense to become an affiliate if that’s possible. 

Many people start with something like Amazon Associates. Obviously, you can promote and recommend all manner of things that are sold on Amazon, the only thing is that the commissions are pretty low so you’ll need to sell a whole lot to make a reasonable amount of money. Still, what’s the harm. 

But beyond Amazon, lots of companies have affiliate programs, you just need to check and sign up. You can use affiliate networks like Clickbank to find affiliate programs. Once you get accepted onto a program you get given your link for people to buy and you can then start sharing it with people who might be interested. 

One thing I would say about this option is that be sure to only promote things that you’ve used and liked, you don’t want to have angry people coming back to you when they hate the product or have a terrible experience with the service!

And if you’re wondering how Legit this business model is then you might be interested to know that Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, founder of makingsenseofcents.com regularly earns $50,000 + a MONTH from affiliate sales!

So, in case you were wondering, yes, you can certainly earn great money from this online business model. 

Online Business Idea #9 – Write and Sell And Ebook 

If you love to write and feel then writing an Ebook could be the online business option for you. There are more and more people writing ebooks now and you can find an ebook on nearly any topic. Remember that list on courses, well, ebooks are no different.

It’s simply a different medium for people to learn and while some people might like to learn by going through videos and workbooks, others prefer to read.

Online Business Idea #10 – Sponsorships

Finally, getting sponsored by businesses and brands is another great online business idea. In a survey of 5000 Instagram influencers, 42% said they charged $200 – $400 per post. And others are charging much more. 

What matters when it comes to brand sponsorship is how engaged your followers are and how relevant. 2000 highly engaged followers are worth much more than 100000 fake ones. 

And it doesn’t have to stop with Instagram. brands sponsor content on blogs ( with sponsored blog posts) Youtube, Podcasts, and more. 

There you have it. This is a high-level list of the 10 best online business ideas you can start right now.  Most of them you can start on a tight budget or even for free. 

What’s more, as you saw, you can think of these as high-level categories, because within each of these categories there are tons of variations so you can tweak each online business idea on this list to create the kind of online business model that works for you! 

 

Antonette Oloo
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