Ranking the best online business ideas

Here’s the brutal truth about online business ideas…

There are WAY too many people promising boat-loads of money if you just dabble in an unproven “opportunity.”

The truth is, an online business is still a business.

You need a proven opportunity—meaning a real one, that’s already been used to make decent money for lots of people.

And you need to be prepared to work hard. There’s no easy button for building a business, online or otherwise. It takes work… and time… and sometimes a learning curve.

But the good news is there are plenty of good opportunities out there.

In fact, today, I’m going to show you 21 of the best online business ideas available today.

I’ve tried a few of these methods myself, and my friends have too. I can promise you they’re great ways to build a solid online business that brings in a good income.

You only need to find one that fits your personality, skills, and experience, and you’re gold. So let’s get started, shall we?

1. e-Commerce and dropshipping

Today, it’s easy to set up shop online and grab a piece of the $2.3 trillion pie that is e-commerce. With 1.66 billion people worldwide buying their goods online, there’s plenty to go around.

Most e-commerce stores are set up on Shopify, but other popular options are WooCommerce, Magento, and BigCommerce.

And it’s easy to get started.

Step 1: Create an e-commerce website with a unique collection of products.

Step 2: Run Facebook or Google ads to it.

Step 3: Fulfill orders and make sure your customers are happy with their experience.

Example:

Best place to learn:

2. Information marketing

When you’re good at doing something that others want to learn how to do, you’ve got the makings for a strong information marketing business.

Essentially, instead of sharing your know-how one-to-one, you package your information and sell it—as books, reports, video tutorials, and training materials.

Step 1: Create authority content that teaches people how to solve a common problem no one else is solving (or solving well). Think PDFs, video training, or a membership site.

Step 2: Run traffic to landing pages or webinars where you sell your solutions.

Step 3: Profit from repeat customers who think you’re the bomb.

Example:

Best place to learn:

3. Coaching

online business idea - coaching

Want more of a human touch? Coaching allows you, not only to share your expertise but also personalize the information and support clients as they learn from you.

You can set up shop as a personal coach, say, helping people lose weight or find happiness, or a professional coach, helping your clients achieve a business goal like setting up a small business or becoming more productive.

As a coach, you can offer group or one-on-one sessions by telephone or video conferencing. And you can offer a set number of sessions or ongoing support. It largely depends on what information you’re sharing and whether clients expect to achieve mastery or to receive ongoing mentoring.

Be aware, it may help to get some extra training to round out your skills. A good place to start is leadership training.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Use blogging and social media to establish yourself as an expert in a niche like marketing, personal branding, or homeschooling.

Step 2: Sell a range of coaching packages, from 1-on-1 to group coaching, that help your clients succeed in a specific way.

Step 3: Promote your client success stories, and use them to attract more clients.

Example:

Best place to learn:

4. Blogging

You may think blogging is just a hobby. And if all you’re doing is recording your thoughts about motherhood or your love for stamp collecting, that may be true. But blogging can also bring home anywhere from $1k to $40k a month or more—while still writing about the things you love.

The key is to find a micro-niche that has a strong (and loyal) following, then monetize it.

Step 1: Start pumping out in-depth, high-quality blog posts related to a narrow niche.

Step 2: Drive traffic to your blog with email, social media, guest posts, SEO, and paid promotion.

Step 3: Monetize your blog with sponsorships, product sales, ads, lead generation, premium content, and paid reviews.

Example:

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5. YouTubing

YouTubing - become a YouTube influencer

YouTubing (or vlogging) is just like blogging, but instead of written content, you’ll produce videos and become YouTube famous.

Your content will be hosted on YouTube (though you can republish it on a blog if you want), but you’ll monetize it pretty much the same way you would a blog—with ads, sponsorships, selling your own merchandise, or promoting other brands’ merchandise.

As a bonus, if you do build a companion blog, you can monetize both your blog and your vlog. How’s that for creating multiple streams of income?

Step 1: Start creating entertaining videos related to a narrow niche.

Step 2: Drive traffic to your YouTube channel through SEO, social media, paid promotion, mentions, and endorsements.

Step 3: Monetize your channel by becoming a YouTube partner, using Google AdSense, or making product placements.

Example:

Best place to learn:

6. Copywriting

If you want to make money from your writing, there’s no better option than copywriting. Copywriting can be every bit as creative as fiction writing, but the odds of making six figures as a copywriter is fairly high—whereas fiction authors typically average $5k a year.

Why the difference? Because if you aren’t Stephen King, the profits on fiction are depressingly low. But businesses live or die on the quality of their ads, landing pages, and web content—so they’re willing to pay for good writers.

Bottom line, if you can write highly persuasive copy and content, you’ll be in high demand. Guaranteed.

So how do you get started?

Step 1: Choose an industry that you’re comfortable writing for or a type of project you’d like to specialize in—like landing pages, website copy, or case studies.

Step 2: Build a website promoting your copywriting services, including portfolio pieces that show off what you can do.

Step 3: Build name recognition and credibility, so clients are eager to work with you.

Example:

Best place to learn:

7. Graphic Design

online business ideas - graphic design

Maybe words aren’t your thing… you’re more into drawing and design. In the same way businesses need writers, they need designers who can make their products shine and their communications stand out.

To succeed, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign (the industry standards for graphic design) and possibly others. But once you’ve mastered them and have a few portfolio pieces under your belt, you’re set. Simply knowing the software puts you miles ahead of other newbies.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Choose an industry you want to work for or a type of graphics project you want to specialize in (think logos or annual reports).

Step 2: Build a website promoting your design work, and be sure to include portfolio pieces for each type of project you work on.

Step 3: Create graphics that stand out online, so clients see what you can do and are eager to hire you.

Example:

Best place to learn:

8. Building websites

If you love tech and are comfortable with (or willing to learn) HTML, CSS, and Javascript, you can succeed as a website developer.

As a web developer, you’ll build and maintain websites, which includes a variety of tasks: writing web pages, creating wireframes (mockups of your designs), building WordPress sites from scratch, optimizing the user experience, and making a site look as good as it works.

The good news is that these skills will keep you in demand for years to come. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the job outlook at 15%, which is double the average. And even without formal training, you can earn $68k a year or more.

Step 1: Build a website that shows off your talents and promotes your website-building services.

Step 2: Get the word out through email, social media, advertising, and guest posts.

Step 3: Collect testimonials from your happy customers and feature them on your website to attract a steady stream of happy clients.

Example:

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9. SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the secret to making a website and its most important pages rank at the top of search engines. And since 75% of people never scroll past the first page, page-one ranking is life or death for online businesses.

But SEO is both strategic and technical, which means many small to medium businesses aren’t comfortable doing it themselves—making this a great online business opportunity.

And fortunately, it’s not hard to break in. Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Pull out all the stops on optimizing your own website. Make it rank on page one in Google for your target keywords.

Step 2: Promote your SEO services through email, social media, advertising, and guest posts.

Step 3: Work your magic on client websites and ask them to refer you to their friends.

Example:

Best place to learn:

10. Conversion rate optimizer

conversion rate optimizer CRO

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is about making sure the traffic from SEO and ads stays on a web page and takes the action they’re asked to take. Like SEO, it can be a bit technical, but in most cases, you can improve results simply by focusing on the basic.

As a CRO, you’ll work with clients on their entire website or specific pages. And you’ll use A/B testing, user testing, and other techniques to get better results over time.

It’s a long game, not a quick fix, which means you can land a few retainer clients and do very well for yourself.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Build a funnel selling a webinar or report that teaches people how to optimize for conversions.

Step 2: Optimize your funnel until it’s pulling in leads and giving you a steady stream of clients.

Step 3: Make your clients so happy they jump at the chance of keeping you on retainer.

Example:

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11. Software or app developer

Software developers design and build computer programs, apps, and games that people use every day, using programming languages such as Java, C, C++, Perl, and Python.

To be successful, you’ll need to know more than computer languages, though. You’ll need to know design, web development, and project management, user-interface design, and more—so your software is easy to use and intuitive.

If you like working on computers and are willing to learn programming languages, this is a terrific online business opportunity.

Step 1: Build an app or software that solves a problem for your target audience.

Step 2: Share it with influencers and thought leaders who could promote it to their audience.

Step 3: Do ongoing promotion to keep your sales high.

Example:

Best place to learn:

12. Stock market trading

stock market trading

While it’s a bit risky, it is possible to make a living trading stocks. Of course, to succeed, you need to treat it like a business, not a game. But that’s true of any online business opportunity.

The key is to find your trading style and learn the rules for trading in that style, so you have a 75% success rate. Perfectly doable if you’re strategic and disciplines.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Develop a sound trading methodology that manages risk and volatility.

Step 2: Select a trading website like Scottrade or Schwab.

Step 3: Monitor the markets daily—and remember to buy low and sell high.

Example:

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13. Affiliate marketing

If you want to sell products online but don’t have products of your own, affiliate marketing is for you. You can sell info-products, physical products, training, or services using the same digital marketing tactics you’d use for your own products—and take home a commission on every sale you make.

Your income will depend on the type of products you sell, since some products pay a bigger commission than others. But if you’re able to drive traffic and sales, you can make a good living without ever having to deal with product development or customer support.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Build an authority website in a popular niche.

Step 2: Sign up with affiliate networks and affiliate programs.

Step 3: Start promoting products and pulling in the affiliate checks.

Example:

Best place to learn:

14. Online auction business

online auction business

Online auction sites offer a different way to shop…

And a great way to build an online business. Think eBay, Yahoo! Auctions, Amazon.com Auctions, and uBid.

The key is to find a steady source for quality products you can sell on auction sites, and provide good customer support, so your ratings remain high.

Step 1: Choose a niche for the products you’ll sell, like cookware or party favors.

Step 2: Set up your office: computer space, storage space for your products, and a place to photograph your products.

Step 3: List your auction items on your favorite auction site and rake in the money.

Example:

Best place to learn:

15. Domain flipping

In a digital world, a great domain name is pure gold.

That’s no exaggeration!

GoDaddy reports that Cars.com is the most expensive domain name—setting its owners back $872 million. Even boring industries are willing to shell out for domains like insurance.com ($35.6 million) and hotels.com ($11 million).

Which is why you can run a successful online business flipping domains. And it’s easy to get started.

Step 1: Buy good domain names that are currently underpriced. In most cases, that means they’re short, memorable, have a strong extension (like .com), and are likely to be popular in the near future.

Step 2: Move it to your registrar, then make it clear your domain is for sale by listing it on a domain marketplace, building a landing page, parking it, or redirecting it to an auction site.

Step 3: Negotiate with potential buyers and pull in the profits.

Example:

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16. Website flipping

Profitable websites are just as valuable (possibly more valuable) than domain names. Just as house flippers by an old house, fix it up, and sell it for profits, you can do the same thing with websites—without straining your back or budget.

Here’s how you do it.

Step 1: Buy a site for an in-demand product or service that’s not getting the traffic and conversions it should be getting.

Step 2: Renovate the site with a fresh design and search/conversion optimization—and boost the site’s income.

Step 3: List the site on a good website trading site, and collect your profits.

Example:

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17. Author, Writing ebooks

author writer

If you love to write, this is the business for you. As a self-published author, you can make a good living from your writing if you can turn out lots of popular, niche books.

The key, of course, is to build a loyal reader base, so you need to learn how to market your books. You’ll also need to learn the basics of self-publishing. Fortunately, it’s not rocket science, so you can easily learn it when you’re ready to publish your first book.

Here’s what you need to know.

Step 1: Find your niche. Look for a publishing space with lots of avid readers, such as romance, science fiction, or self-help.

Step 2: Write your books, and upload them to a self-publishing site such as Amazon Kindle or Nook.

Step 3: Promote and sell your books through advertising, speaking engagements, and social media.

Example:

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18. Course creator

Writing books isn’t the only way to share your ideas and expertise. By creating courses, you can teach skills and share your knowledge without writing a single word.

You’ll need to know how to create high-def videos. But most smartphones have a high-enough quality camera to do the job…

Which means you just need to start teaching to build a profitable course.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Choose the topic you’d like to teach and the problems you’d like to solve in your courses.

Step 2: Create written and video lessons that teach one topic or solution and share a step-by-step process for mastering it.

Step 3: Upload your course to a course site like Udemy or put it in a membership area on your own website—then promote it through blog posts, ads, and social media.

Example:

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19. User testing

You’re not going to make a lot of money doing user testing, but you can still set up shop and bring in some extra money.

You’ll need to be comfortable navigating the internet and have a computer with a microphone, an updated web browser, and a high-speed internet connection.

Here’s what you need to do to get started.

Step 1: Sign up to as many testing sites as you can. UserTesting.com is a good one to start with. Make sure you have the equipment you’ll need: a microphone and webcam are a must.

Step 2: Review the assignments and go through the screening for the ones you like.

Step 3: Invest 5 to 20 minutes completing the assignment, and get paid the next day.

Example:

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20. Data entry

data entry

A simple online business that doesn’t require any advanced training or experience is data entry. And there are lots of sites where you can find work, such as Cass Information Systems or freelance bidding sites like UpWork.

Step 1: Look through freelance project websites and job boards for remote data entry jobs.

Step 2: Make sure you have a good work station set up. You’ll probably need fast internet and two monitors.

Step 3: Wow your prospective employer in a phone screening and interview. Then get to work on the projects they give you.

Example:

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21. Language translation

Are you fluent in multiple languages? If so, you can build an online business as a language translator.

Translators may do simultaneous translation, meaning, they translate a speaker as they’re talking. They may also translate written works for publication in another language, marketing materials for expanded markets, and the like.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Get certified by the American Translators Association or take a proficiency test through the Defense Language Institute or ALTA.

Step 2: Build a website to promote your services, including samples of your translation projects. And market yourself to law firms, police stations, hospitals, government agencies, language agencies, and publishers.

Step 3: Get testimonials and referrals from your clients, and add them to your website as social proof.

Example:

Best place to learn:

There you have it!

The 21 best online business ideas I’ve seen today. All of them valid. Most of them able to give you a good, living income once you’ve got your business rolling.

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Which online business ideas from today’s post are you ready to try?

Have you tried something else that’s working great for you?

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

Meet the Author

Kathryn

Kathryn Aragon is a copywriter, content strategist, and author. She writes about marketing, success, health, and living the good life. Follow her on KathrynAragon.com.

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