Ultimately, starting an online business is similar to starting a business with a physical storefront. You’ll still need to do business planning and you’ll benefit from making sure you understand your tax obligations from the start. Just don’t underestimate the importance of putting together a functional website and getting it in front of your target market.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Most of the software and apps you use on a regular basis are made by massive companies or established development studios. Well, yes. But many successful apps, particularly those in the Apple and Google stores, are created and marketed by individuals and small businesses. In fact, independent developers made $20 billion in the App Store in 2016 alone.
Crafty people tend to shy away from technology, but Etsy is where you’ll find a happy medium. Etsy is an online marketplace for just about anyone who wants to sell their hand-crafted goods. If you knit, paint, weld, carve, sew, mold, or shape something, you can probably sell it on Etsy. Spend ten minutes poking around different Etsy stores, and you’ll find people from all over the world, and all walks of life, selling their wares. And you don’t have to stop at having a side hustle; there are many people who have turned their small side business on Etsy into a full-time gig. Etsy provides an easy template and lots of how-to guides, so you won’t get overwhelmed with starting the online portion of your business. If you have even the slightest bit of creativity or artistic talent, Etsy is a no-brainier for making some side income online.
A blog highlights your technical ability and showcases your ability to write blog posts. Your blog can be about different topics than those you write about for your clients. In fact, it should be on a topic that interests you. Visitors will see that you can not only write, but you can also build an online community. A good blog has the potential to earn you many referrals for more clients.
Offer to watch children or pets. If you know anyone who has children or pets, you could easily begin a side gig as a babysitter or pet sitter. To let people know you’re interested, send out a group email describing your services, post an ad on Facebook, or tell friends and acquaintances about your availability in person or over the phone. You can also create a profile on a babysitting referral site like Care.com.
My next self-funded business hit $160,000 in revenue in its first year alone. After that first taste of self-made success, I’ve gone on to sign consulting contracts worth tens of thousands of dollars with startups like LinkedIn and Google, launch profitable online courses, and build a following of hundreds of thousands for this blog and my podcast series.
Virtually every small business needs help running their day-to-day administrative tasks, but they may not particularly want to pay a full-time in-house employee to do it. Virtual assistants perform a variety of tasks that a traditional assistant or secretary would normally do, including making travel arrangements, paying bills, or managing expense reimbursements.
Starting a podcast, like making a YouTube channel or blog, comes down to telling interesting stories and building an engaged audience. I’m probably sounding like a broken record by now, but you need a niche that you’re interested in and there’s already a demand for. Come up with a list of topics you’d like to talk about and then search iTunes charts, Google Trends and other podcast research sites like cast.market to see what’s currently out there and popular.
The internet changes so fast that one year online equals about five years in the real world. But the principles of how to start and grow a successful online business haven't changed at all. If you're just starting a small business online, stick to this sequence. If you've been online awhile, do a quick review and see if there's a step you're neglecting, or never got around to doing in the first place. You can't go wrong with the basics.
Now, if you don’t know people who might want your coaching services, there are a number of online tools and communities that make it incredibly easy to find clients and teach, on just about any topic area you can think of. Community driven platforms like Savvy.is, Clarity.fm, and Coach.me provide you with a network of potential clients to interact with, as well an integrated payment solution.
Need help deciding which business structure is right for you? Try our handy business structure comparison chart. LegalZoom’s business formation services include filing your paperwork with the state, obtaining your EIN from the IRS, and connecting you with independent lawyers and tax professionals through our business legal plan to answer any questions you might have.
Write pitches. If you have located a client for whom you want to write, send pitches, which are topic ideas for articles. Write pitches that not only show your expertise, but also demonstrate your enthusiasm for the topic. First, read the publication to which you are sending pitches to familiarize yourself with what they publish. If applicable, identify a specific section and send our pitch to the appropriate editor. Also, include a brief summary of who you are.
But don't make the mistake of thinking this will be a passive source of income—you're on call whenever you have a guest and you'll always need to keep the place clean for incoming visitors. On top of just renting on Airbnb, consider offering your guests paid add-ons, like Lauren Gheysens', Royal Day Out in London, England—where she gives visitors a local's only tour of the city, complete with bespoke 18th century costumes.
If you want to exchange the product you ordered for a different one, you must request this exchange and complete your replacement order within 60 days of purchase. The purchase price of the original item, less any money paid to government entities, such as filing fees or taxes, or to other third parties with a role in processing your order, will be credited to your LegalZoom account. Any payments made directly by you to attorneys affiliated with our legal plans or attorney-assisted products are not eligible for exchange or credit. Any price difference between the original order and the replacement order or, if a replacement order is not completed within 60 days of purchase, the full original purchase price (in each case less any money paid to government entities or other third parties) will be credited to the original form of payment. If you paid for your original order by check, LegalZoom will mail a check for the applicable amount to your billing address.
Start a bed and breakfast. If you live in a popular resort area or own a historic property, a B&B might be the perfect side hustle. Not only can you work at home with this career, but you’ll also score some tax write-offs in the process — although most innkeepers caution that the profession requires a lot of hard work and is more of an attractive lifestyle than a money-making pursuit.
These mega-sites make it easy to set up shop so customers can browse your products, and there's no need to build your own website. Also, you’ll find a built-in search feature so that interested buyers can easily find your online storefront. Plus, you get to use the site's shopping cart. In short, you avoid a lot of the expense and hassle of setting up an independent e-commerce website.
You can set up a website, gradually build up the content (articles, videos, podcasts, etc.), then eventually monetize the site through advertising, affiliate marketing, or even the direct sale of specific products or services. Even better, you can generally find whatever services and technical assistance you need online and free of charge. Later on, when your site develops a reliable cash flow, you can begin working with paid providers who can take your blog to the next level.
The set-up works like this: Once you sign up for Swagbucks, you’ll download their search bar onto your computer. From there, you’ll earn points for shopping online, watching targeted videos, searching the web, and taking surveys. Once you rack up a ton of points, you can exchange them for gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon.com and Walmart.
With drop shipping, you’re effectively partnering with a manufacturer or wholesaler to sell their products. This way, you don’t pay upfront costs to buy inventory, aren’t sitting on unsold items taking up expensive warehouse space, and don’t have to deal with shipping the products yourself. You simply create your site, fill it with drop shippable products, and drive in customers, with almost everything else done for you.
Whether it’s an important consumer application, a specialist app to solve a particular niche problem, or even a time-wasting game you can play on your phone, you can create a massively successful business if you build software that helps people. (Look at the rise of Slack—the team communication software that went from side project to billion-dollar company in just 2 years.)
If you want to clear some space out in your house and have a big stack of books you’ve been holding onto for too long, you can make money selling your books and textbooks online. Stores like Half Priced Books and others will give you cents on the dollar for each of your current books while you can check what your book is worth by simply entering the ISBN number on Book Scouter.
In 2017, there were almost 90 million pet dogs in the US. Which has opened up a huge opportunity to make money online as a dog watcher or sitter. Specialized sites like Rover or Care.com connect pet owners with pet walkers, sitters, and boarding houses to help look after their best friends when they’re at work or on a trip. If you’re an animal lover, you can make extra money and get to spend some quality time with a furry friend.
Once you have that problem or need nailed, the next step is to validate that idea and make sure you’ve actually got customers who will pay for it. This means building a minimum viable product, getting objective feedback from real customers, incorporating updates, testing the market for demand, and getting pricing feedback to ensure there’s enough of a margin between your costs and what consumers are willing to pay.
20. Etsy – If you like to create arts and crafts, you can sell them on Etsy.It’s completely free to open an Etsy store. You simply sign up, post pictures of your creations and starting selling. You can choose your payment option, but PayPal is generally the easiest. Etsy makes it easy to sell and keep track of your inventory. There is a small listing fee and they take 3.5% of every sale you make.
Another seemingly free site you can make money from is Wikipedia. People who say it’s easy to edit Wikipedia have clearly never tried editing Wikipedia – it’s a pain. Thankfully it’s a pain for companies as well, so many of them are willing to pay editors to assist them in the editing process. You’ll become a bounty hunter in a way, choosing your own lines to cross and keep. If editing is something you like to do, and you’re willing to put in the work it takes to learn Wikipedia’s dispute process, roll up your sleeves and try this one out.