Are you looking for online business ideas to make extra income on the side?
The internet offers a lot of opportunities to start a business or find fulfilling careers.
In this article, we will show some of the proven and easy-to-start online business ideas that actually make money.
Why Start an Online Business?
Technology is often blamed for killing traditional businesses and jobs. However, at the same time, these new technologies are creating tons of new jobs and business opportunities ready to be taken by anyone.
Starting an online business is easier than ever. You can do it from the comfort of your home with just a computer and an internet connection. There is no need to invest huge amounts of money to get started.
Caution: If someone tells you that you can invest A LOT of money and take a shortcut to get rich quickly, then it’s likely a scam. Stay away from it.
The ideas we’re sharing in this article are about building legitimate online businesses, and you’ll still have to work hard to succeed.
That being said, let’s take a look at some of the proven and easy-to-start online business ideas that actually make money.
1. Start a Blog and Make Money From It
Blogs are one of the most successful ways to start an online business. Bloggers like Darren Rowse, John Lee Dumas, and Pat Flynn are making six-figure incomes, and they are not alone.
Our founder, Syed Balkhi, has built an eight-figure online business that started with a blog. There are also thousands of bloggers running very successful blogs as their full-time online business.
While you can start a blog in less than 30 minutes, you will need to work on it to make it a success. You will have to offer useful, entertaining, and engaging content to your audience regularly (see our step-by-step guide on how to start a blog).
Luckily, there are tons of blog post ideas that you can use to create content consistently. As your blog grows, you will be able to monetize it using other strategies as well.
You can also use it as a platform to launch other online businesses. Once you start to drive traffic to your blog, you’ll see that it’s one of the easiest businesses to start.
2. Become an Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate marketers make sales commissions by recommending other people’s products or services. It’s the best online business to start and make money online.
Most affiliate marketers recommend these products and services by running their own blogs, websites, and email lists. They need to learn different online marketing strategies like SEO, email marketing, social media marketing, and content marketing to build an audience.
There are lots of affiliate programs that you can sign up for and start recommending products. To get started, follow our ultimate affiliate marketing guide with step-by-step instructions for beginners.
On the other hand, you can even build an Amazon affiliate store using WordPress. Simply list products from Amazon on your website and earn a commission when someone clicks the link and completes a purchase.
3. Create and Sell Online Courses
If you are particularly good at something, then why not teach others and make a career out of it? Selling online courses is another popular way to start an online business.
A lot of users prefer to quickly acquire skills and knowledge by joining online courses. Creating an online course has become a lot easier with the help of LMS software. These platforms allow you to create interactive courses with easy-to-manage tools for classes, students, course material, and more.
The best part is that you don’t have to write a single line of code to build a course website.
To get started, see our guide on how to create an online course with WordPress.
For reference, people creating membership sites and courses on MemberPress earn over $600 million each year.
4. Build an Ecommerce Store
Selling things online had never been easier. Anyone can easily create an online store in minutes and start selling products.
These products can be physical goods (things that need shipping) or digital downloads like eBooks, music, software, and more.
Before getting started, you need to do your research. Here are some tips to help you brainstorm ideas:
- Find a niche with high demand and low competition
- Think of ways to make your eCommerce site stand out by doing things other eCommerce businesses are not doing.
- Think of the costs involved in getting products from the manufacturer to customers. Choose a pricing model, so that your products can compete and offer great value to your customers. Last but not least, your profit margins must be reasonable enough to ensure that your business can sustain and grow in the long run.
You also need to choose a platform for your eCommerce business. The easiest way to get started is by using WooCommerce or Shopify. They are both great platforms, but we recommend WooCommerce. We’ve created a comparison with their pros and cons (see Shopify vs WooCommerce to learn more).
To get started, see our step-by-step guide on how to create an online store in less than 30 minutes.
Once your shop is up and running, check out these brilliant eCommerce marketing ideas.
5. Build a Membership Website
Membership websites make money by selling subscriptions with access to premium content and community features. Instead of relying on advertising revenue, you can allow users to directly support your website with paid memberships.
There are many types of membership websites. For example, some membership websites give users access to exclusive members-only content. Others give users access to community features like a forum, Facebook group, or Slack group.
You will need to find a suitable niche for your membership website. It needs to be valuable enough for users to pay for it.
There is plenty of membership software that can help you easily build any kind of online community. You can choose different subscription models, manage users, receive online payments, and more.
See our ultimate guide to building a WordPress membership website with step-by-step instructions for beginners to learn more.
6. Make a Drop Shipping Website
Drop shipping combines affiliate marketing and eCommerce. Basically, you create an online store to sell other people’s products for a commission. You will be running an online store without managing the inventory or shipping.
The biggest advantage of running a drop shipping startup is the low barrier to entry, minimum investment, and little to no hassle. However, one disadvantage is that you will be working hard to sell other people’s products at a smaller profit margin.
Most drop shipping businesses eventually start selling their own products to diversify their business and increase their profits.
7. Make an Online Job Board
Another way to make money online is by building a job hunt website. A job board website helps connect job seekers with employers for a small fee.
There are plenty of online job search engines, which means you will need to find a particular niche to make your job board stand out. For example, you can create a job board specifically for app development, designers, content writers, or pet sitters.
You can charge a small fee for each job listing posted by employers, offer companies packages to post multiple listings, or charge job seekers to upload their resumes.
There are plenty of job board plugins for WordPress, allowing you to efficiently run your own job board business.
8. Create a Micro-Job Website
A micro-job website allows you to make money by connecting employers to freelancers and contractors. This will enable you to make money based on the overall price of the job listed. Popular micro-job posting websites like Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, UpWork, and others generate millions of dollars annually.
Basically, you will be acting as a middle-man between the employers and freelancers. You will be paid by employers for each job, and after taking your commission, you will pay the rest to the freelancers upon completion of the job.
To get started, see our beginner’s guide on how to start a micro-job website like Fiverr with WordPress.
9. Become an SEO Specialist
SEO or Search Engine Optimization helps website owners get more visitors from search engines. It is a skill that requires continuous learning and keeping up with the latest trends. SEO specialists can run their own agencies, work as freelancers, or join a company as full-time employees.
You can become an SEO consultant by running your own successful websites or by getting certifications online. You can find clients on freelancing websites like UpWork and Freelancer.com.
SEO is a very competitive industry, and you will need to make the most out of the best SEO tools available on the market. You would also need to learn the basic WordPress SEO techniques, keyword research tools, and content marketing tools.
10. Make a Food or Recipe Blog
Food and recipe blogs are a lucrative blogging niche and a great online business opportunity.
Food and recipe blogs use a variety of business models to generate revenue, like using Google AdSense, affiliate marketing, selling recipe books, or running an online store.
You will need to be passionate about food and cooking. It is a competitive niche, so you will need to think of ways to make your food blog unique and interesting.
To get started, see our step-by-step guide on creating a food blog and making money from your recipes.
11. Become a WordPress Developer
WordPress is the world’s most popular website builder. It powers more than 43% of all websites on the internet. This means that there are millions of businesses around the world using the platform.
This massive usage means there is a huge demand for WordPress developers in the market. WordPress is open-source software, which means anyone can write code for it, create themes, and make WordPress plugins.
12. Build an Online Marketplace
Another proven and easy-to-start business idea is to make an online marketplace website. These websites make money by allowing users to create their own mini-stores and sell products.
To attract sellers, you can choose a high-demand niche with lower competition. Make your platform unique and attractive to both sellers and customers by offering a better user experience and support.
To get started, see our step-by-step tutorial on how to make an online marketplace website using WordPress.
13. Become a Graphic Designer
Graphic designers make money by creating images, business logos, website designs, sales pages, and more. This is a massive industry with tons of business and career opportunities.
To become a graphic designer, you will need to learn how to use professional design tools like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, etc. There are tons of vocational training schools, colleges, and universities offering courses to help you get started.
To promote your graphic design career, you will need to make a portfolio to showcase your work and skills.
14. Start a Fashion Blog
Do you have an interest in the latest fashion trends and news? Why not use it to make a fashion blog and make money from it.
Fashion blogs attract tons of advertisers, top brands, and promoters. They not only allow you to make money, but you can also become an influencer and get other perks/benefits like free apparel, invites to exclusive shows, and more.
To get started, see our complete step-by-step guide on how to start a fashion blog and make money from it.
15. Become a Content Marketer
Content marketers help businesses promote their products and services by generating useful and highly engaging content. All businesses need content to attract customers. There is an increasing demand for content marketers that are not expected to slow down anytime soon.
Content marketers are good at writing content, but they are not just bloggers. They specialize in finding content ideas that will bring more visitors and use copywriting to convert users into potential customers.
To learn more, see this ultimate content marketing guide with step-by-step instructions for beginners to get started.
16. Become a PPC Expert
PPC is short for Pay-Per-Click advertising, where advertisers pay for their ads when users click on them. However, not all business owners know how to effectively run these campaigns to get the maximum benefit.
PPC Experts help businesses run pay-per-click advertising campaigns on platforms like Google AdWords. They help find the right keywords and attributes to maximize the ROI on ads.
You can learn PPC by running your own advertising campaigns and by reading the material available on the internet. There are online certification programs that you can take to showcase your skills.
To find PPC jobs, you can use popular freelancing websites where businesses actively seek PPC experts.
17. Start a Podcast
A podcast is an episodic series of audio files which users can subscribe to, download, and listen to. Podcasts are a great way to make a successful online business with many opportunities for growth.
Podcasts make money through advertisements, sponsorships, partnerships, and affiliate marketing. You will need to find a topic for your podcast that is interesting and engaging, so you can make your podcast unique and the right podcast plugins and tools to get started.
We have created a complete beginner’s guide on how to start a podcast with step-by-step instructions.
18. Make a Reviews Website
Making a reviews website is another good online business idea. One of the most popular review sites, TripAdvisor, is considered to be worth more than $12 billion.
However, it is a highly competitive industry, so you will need to find a niche with low competition. You can make money through affiliate marketing, displaying ads, or publishing paid reviews.
To get started, see our beginner’s guide on how to make a niche reviews website.
19. Buy and Sell Domain Names
Domain names are required to make a website. However, once you register a domain name, you are authorized to use it for as long as you want. Many entrepreneurs register domain names hoping to sell them at a higher price, very similar to real estate.
This online business requires investment and a lot of patience because you will be holding onto those domain names while waiting for an offer. This is a highly competitive business, and you will need to read as much about it as possible before getting in.
Here’s our comparison of the best domain name registrars.
20. Buy and Sell Niche Websites
Making websites and monetizing them has become a lot easier. This has enabled many entrepreneurs from around the world to create successful websites and sell them like you would sell any other business.
Websites like Flippa are a great source to buy and sell established websites. Make sure that you do your research before making any investment. You will find tons of resources on Flippa to help you learn the basics.
There are a lot of opportunities to buy an underutilized website, optimize its revenue/growth, and then resell it for a higher multiple.
21. Make an Auctions Website
Creating an eBay-like auction website is another easy-to-start online business idea. Basically, you make a website that provides users a platform to buy and sell products via online auctions.
You can add products for auctions by yourself or allow other vendors to run their own auctions. You can charge vendors a flat fee or a percentage for each auction item.
To get started, see our step-by-step tutorial on how to build an auction site like eBay using WordPress.
22. Become a YouTuber
If you like making videos, then becoming a YouTuber is an excellent business opportunity. YouTube is the world’s largest video hosting platform, the second most popular search engine, and a massive global community of content creators.
It allows anyone to upload videos, create channels, and make money from advertisements, sponsorships, and deals. Some YouTubers make millions of dollars each year, and thousands of YouTubers earn a six-figure income.
You can create videos on any topic. You can upload personal vlogs, educational channels like WPBeginner, video reviews, a cooking channel, or almost anything you can think of.
23. Become an Instagram Star
If you like taking photos and making videos, then you should consider Instagram to start a lucrative online business. Instagram users make significant money through sponsorships, product placements, endorsements, and more.
You will need a camera, some basic photo editing skills, and creativity to get started. After that, you need a consistent strategy to regularly post new content. You should master the art of using hashtags to promote your Instagram posts and share them on your website to reach audiences beyond Instagram.
You will also need a website with a contact form page, so advertisers can reach out to buy placements.
24. Become a Video Editor
If you like making videos and editing them but don’t want to start a YouTube channel, then you can still use your skills to help other businesses. Due to the immense popularity of YouTube and Facebook videos, businesses around the world need professionals who can edit their videos.
You can start by looking for gigs on freelancing websites. At first, you will be working with random clients, but shortly after, you will have a few regular clients offering you enough work to cover your time. You can then grow your business to start an agency or hire other freelancers to help out.
Don’t know how to make or edit videos? Don’t worry there are plenty of online resources offering free and paid tutorials and courses. You can invest some time in learning the basic skills and start working right away.
To get started, see our expert picks of the best video editing software.
25. Become a Narrator
Narrators provide voice talent to video creators, filmmakers, and other digital content producers. A lot of YouTube channels are actively looking for people to narrate videos. Some basic voice training can help you easily start a profitable career.
You will need a good quality mic (We recommend Samson Mic or Rhode Podcaster) and audio recording software to record your voice-overs. You can then send the audio files to the client so they can use them in their video.
You can find jobs on freelancing websites, and very quickly build a steady stream of clients.
26. Offer Technical Support
Do you like helping out people on tech forums? If you do, then you can explore opportunities to get paid for that. A lot of online businesses are actively looking for technical support providers to help their customers.
Basically, you need to familiarize yourself with the product and start answering questions. Many companies use live chat or a support ticketing system to answer customer questions. Often these jobs are remote, which means you can work from your own home.
27. Become a Lead Generation Expert
Lead generation experts help businesses find potential new customers or leads. They do this by using professional tools like OptinMonster to capture leads or boost conversion rates.
To learn more, see our beginner’s guide on how to do lead generation in WordPress like a pro.
We hope this article helped you find the best and easy-to-start online business ideas that actually make money. You may also want to see our step-by-step guide on how to make a small business website and the best free website hosting.