22 Most Profitable Online Business Ideas

Are you looking for a business idea that doesn’t cost much to set up, that’s relatively low risk, and quick to set up too?

While we can’t promise you that setting up and running an online business will be the easiest thing you’ll ever do, we can give you ideas that are highly likely to succeed.

Though it comes with unique pressures and obstacles, the versatility of the internet means that there’s almost no limit to the online business ideas you can try your hand at.

It’s just a matter of choosing the right path for you.

When starting an online business, you’ll need to consider your own interests and skills, the market demand, your budget, and time constraints.

If you need some inspiration to kickstart your online enterprise, just check out some of our ideas below.

We’ve split 22 great online business ideas into 5 sections: Get creative, Sell stuff, Sell your skills, Dive into tech, and Sell your personality.

Just pick the section you think best suits your skills, then explore the online business ideas within it.

Get creative

Online businesses don’t have to be all business all the time.

If you’ve got a passion, it can be relatively easy to transform it into your career using the magic of the internet to start a business.

So, this first group of online business ideas focuses on the ways you can turn your favorite creative outlet into a revenue stream.

1. Start a blog (and monetize it)

Blog page
Blog page

Earning money with your words is possible, just ask. Nomadic MattNerd FitnessLifehacker, and even Huffington Post.

The blog market is pretty saturated, but for good reasons. There are many ways to monetize a blog or website, from displaying Google Ads and selling merch to leasing ad space and writing sponsored posts.

However, earning a real income from blogging takes dedication and hard work. The key is content consistency; frequency alone isn’t enough, the quality of your content matters too.

Not only does pumping out consistently engaging content in a timely manner show dedication, but it will also result in better SEO.

You have to decide on a timeline that you can stick to, figure out the style, tone, and voice that represents your project, and determine the posting schedule that works for your website.

With Zyro’s website builder, you can create your dream blog in no time. It’s free, packed with gorgeous templates, easy-to-use, and most importantly, optimized for search engines.

2. Write an ebook

kindle direct publishing page

Not only is writing ebooks a great way to establish brand authority on a subject, but you can also make money out of this online business idea.

Ebooks have the potential to be discovered by a broad audience since you’re not bound to physical limitations.

There are platforms that allow you to self-publish free of charge. However, some platforms do charge royalty fees for their service.

Not sure how to start writing your book?

  • Come up with a unique concept – find a central topic or idea you want to write about.

If making money is your top priority, you might want to follow trends to improve the odds of selling your work.

  • Set an outline and a deadline – after you find the best topic or idea to write about, devise an outline, and set a deadline.

Make sure to dedicate at least a few minutes a day to work on your book, and keep going even if you’re stuck.

  • Proofread, edit, typeset – once you’re done with your ebook, the last thing to do is to polish it. Don’t rush, make sure it’s up to standard before publishing.

3. Sell photos

Alamy home page

If you’re a photographer, you can sell your photos online by licensing them via third-party picture libraries or by creating your own stock packages for sale.

There are many types of photos you can make a profit off, such as stock photos, commercial photos, food photos, or travel photos.

Selling photos online is cost-effective. As with any other online business, the internet makes this venture relatively inexpensive.

It’s also convenient. Your customers can browse and purchase your works easier and quicker. You will have the advantage of being able to target a broad range of markets.

The internet is heavily dependent on graphic content, so you will always find a market willing to purchase your photos.

Sell stuff

Having an online store is much less expensive compared to brick-and-mortar shops because there is no physical location to rent and maintain.

You can reach a wider audience by utilizing SEO practices and effective branding. Bear in mind 87% of shoppers start their product research online.

If you’re ready to open an online store to sell your wares, consider signing up for a Zyro eCommerce plan. You’ll have all the tools at your

4. Sell online courses

adobe home page login

Research and Market projects that the online learning industry will grow to be worth $325 billion by 2025.

A successful online course can generate over $75,000 according to Teachable. Plus, it encourages you to improve on your skills and expertise, while establishing yourself as an authority on a topic.

To do that, first, you have to determine common issues your potential students are struggling with, and establish how your expertise can help them.

  • Conduct a survey – if you already have an email list or a following on social media, you can ask your followers to fill out a survey on the subjects they have an interest in learning.
  • Gauge public interest – you can do this by using analytics tools like Buzzsumo or Ahrefs to gain insights on the topics most frequently searched by people.
  • Validate your idea – once you pinpoint a promising niche you can teach, test the water to see how the public reacts.
  • Keep study outline engaging – avoid info-dumps and design courses with natural progression in mind, one step at a time.

All you have to do then is host a website on Zyro, make it appealing, and promote your online course to your target audience. Then kick back and watch the sign-ups flow in.

5. Sell 3D printed products 

Just a few short years ago, 3D printing was the domain of big business and dedicated geeks with too much time and spare money on their hands.

Today, you can pick up a decent, professional 3D printer for just a couple of thousand dollars, and benefit from the simplified software that’s now available on the market.

Since the global 3D printing industry is due to be worth over $35 billion within the next decade, this is a futureproof service niche to get yourself into.

With the cost of startup and production on the decrease, the profit margins in this industry are steadily opening up.

Within the 3D printing niche, online business ideas include:

  • Selling your own art designs
  • Print designs sent to you by customers
  • Create specialist parts
  • Print scans of people, pets, or objects

6. Try dropshipping 

If you’re worried that dipping your toe into the world of eCommerce means spending huge amounts on stock and warehousing, just wait until you hear about dropshipping.

Instead of taking on the burden of purchasing and storing goods before you make a sale, dropshipping allows you to sell to customers, then ship individual items directly from suppliers to the end-user.

In most cases, you never even handle the goods yourself.

Dropshipping can be done with basically any product in any niche, so if you have a particular interest, or have identified a gap in the market you think could be profitable for you,

If you create a dropshipping online store with Zyro, you can make your first sale with as little as $14.99 investment for your eCommerce plan.

Practically none of the other online business ideas on this list are so cost-effective.

Getting started with dropshipping, is as simple as:

  • Choosing your product(s)
  • Connecting with a supplier
  • Setting up your eCommerce store
  • Marketing to your target audience
  • Making sales which will be shipped directly to customers

7. Sell your handmade goods 

Creativity meets eCommerce in this online business idea.

Are you amazing at sewing shirts and dresses? Are your paintings out of this word? Do you baked goods make people smile?

While big business may have ensured that most online transactions involve mass-produced products, there’s a huge market out there for niche, artisan, and homemade products.

Platforms like Etsy popularized the idea of selling homemade and handmade products online, but there’s no reason why you can’t set up your own online store to offer the same kind of goods.

The process to get started selling handmade products is the same with any other products, but in this case, you simply have to put in the time to create the product beforehand, or when customers order them.

This kind of small business relies on you being able to message the extra quality and ethical value of people buying handmade over factory-made.

8. Sell prints and t-shirts

Sure, there are literally thousands of people selling printed goods and t-shirts online, but there’s good reason for that. This evergreen online small business idea has almost constant demand, and if you hit upon a successful design, can represent a great source of income.

While basic t-shirt and items like tote bags and mugs might not be premium items, customers are more than willing to pay if there is an attractive printed design included.

You might begin by thinking up some design ideas you can start off with, or you might decide to allow customers to upload their own designs for you to print on their behalf.

If you’re not ready to invest in a ton of inventory for your t-shirt company, don’t worry. There are plenty of suppliers who will print items on demand for you, and often ship directly to customers.

Sell your skills 

Goods are not the only thing it’s possible to sell online; selling services is an incredibly fast and cheap way to start a business online.

One of the best things about selling your skills as a services is that all you need is a laptop and internet connection, and you can do your work from anywhere, whenever you like.

You can take advantage of your freedom to travel, or simply stay home and save money.

Unfortunately, unlike other entries in this list, selling your skills usually don’t open IP the opportunity to have passive income.

9. Become a graphic designer

If you’ve got an eye for design and know your way around Photoshop, there’s a good chance you’re set up to start a business offering graphic design services.

If you spend 5 minutes on the internet, you’ll release that the place leans heavily on visual elements. Companies are always in need of people with design skills to create logos, banners, website elements, and other visuals.

Obviously, being a graphic designer does require some amount of education. As well as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver, you should probably also have an understanding of how HTML, Javascript, and CSS work.

Most graphic designers use social media heavily to drum up new business, and you must ensure your website looks fantastic. Check out Zyro’s free portfolio website templates for inspiration.

10. Sell your SEO or advertising skills

Do you know your SEO from your PPC, and do you know the secret of doubling traffic in a matter of days? Well, companies and individuals would love to apply your skills to their digital marketing needs.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the key to success for most companies that do business online, and marketing skills in areas like PPC, content marketing, or email marketing are always in high demand.

If you have the right knowledge or experience, it’s easy to market your skills out to the highest bidder.

These skills are also applicable to pretty much all the online business ideas in this list, and are especially helpful for things like affiliate marketing, so getting familiar with them is helpful whatever small business you decide to start.

11. Manage other people’s social media

Here’s a little secret: most celebrities and many companies don’t actually manage their own social media accounts.

Whether because they don’t have the time or skills to make a success of it, there are loads of people willing to hand over their Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram login credentials to people who know what they’re doing.

Social media management isn’t just about taking cute photos of food and coffee. It requires someone with strategic thinking, photography, and copywriting skills.

If this sounds like you, you can start making money this way relatively easily.

To get started, you need to make sure that your own socials are up to standard, then you just need to start reaching out to people you think might be interested in your services.

12. Become a translator

Can you speak two or more languages fluently? Firstly, lucky you. Secondly, why not put those skills to use and make money as a translator?

Google Translate will only get you so far online, and companies are always on the lookout for people who can help them get their message across in different languages.

There are different ways you can put your translation skills to use online:

  • Simultaneous translation. This might involve you sitting on a Zoom call with two or more people who don’t speak a shared language. You would translate what someone says into another language the other party understands.
  • Copy translation. This simply means you’d take a piece of text in one language and convert it into another language.
  • Localization. This involves taking a holistic look at a company’s online presence, and changing all the elements which will make it more familiar to people who live elsewhere and/or speak a different language.

13. Become a copywriter

Need and article home page

If you like writing but don’t need the hassle of managing a blog, copywriting is a way to make money online worth considering.

Copywriting, in the most conventional sense, is the act of writing to advertise. It often overlaps with content writing’s main focus which is to inform.

Regardless of the specific context, copywriting entails working with written content, which is constantly in demand. As long as we need to communicate via writing, a copywriter will never run out of jobs to do.

The content can range from blog posts, emails, industry reports, white papers, social media captions, and of course, marketing copy.

Other perks of copywriting include a flexible work schedule, opportunities to learn something new, a chance to be creative, and most importantly, everyone can do it.

14. Become a virtual assistant

upwork homepage

A virtual assistant is a freelance contractor who offers remote service to a company.

Virtual assistants are always sought after by companies, as they can save them up to 78% on annual operating costs, according to OutsourceWorkers.

It’s cheaper than hiring a full-time employee, as virtual assistants are only paid based on how many hours they work. Plus, the contractual nature of this job means that they’re only hired when needed.

Typically, virtual assistants have experience in secretarial positions, although it’s possible to be one even without such qualification.

As long as you’re tech-savvy, able to do basic administrative tasks like using word processors, and have some knowledge in marketing and graphic design, you can apply for the role.

It’s reported that in 2018 the value of outsourced services was worth $85.6 billion, with its compound annual growth rate predicted to reach 4.4% between 2018-2022.

Dive into tech

Though not for everyone, entering into a more technical field is ideal for those who can code or know a thing or two about web design.

Whether you have been struck by inspiration for the next big tech product, or simply want to sell good versions of existing products, there are a number of ways your tech skills can help you get started with an online business.

One of the best things about starting a business in tech is that, if you enjoy success, it’s relatively easy to scale a small business into a much larger one over time.

Below you’ll find a number of tech business ideas you can start immediately.

15. Join an affiliate program

amazon associates affiliate page

Affiliate programs let you promote a product, service or merchant in exchange for commissions on sign-ups or sales.

In general, there are three models:

  • Pay-per-sale – the most common affiliate program, in which you’re paid according to how many sales you’ve sourced for a business.
  • Pay-per-lead – the money you earn from this format is based on how many conversions you can generate from leads. Leads in marketing are basically prospective buyers.
  • Pay-per-click – as its name implies, you’ll get paid for the number of clicks (visitors) you drive to the merchant’s website.

Regardless of which kind of program you choose, affiliate marketing is a lucrative business.

Affiliate marketing spending will hit $8.2 billion by 2022. Google Trends shows that the keyphrase “affiliate marketing” is growing in popularity too.

This online business idea is flexible and convenient for affiliates. They can do it anytime, anywhere, and they don’t need to have special expertise. Overall, it’s a great way to earn passively on the side.

Interested in becoming an affiliate? Consider joining one of the popular programs such as ShareASaleAmazon AssociatesShopify Affiliate ProgrameBay Partners, or Rakuten Marketing Affiliates.

16. Create an app

Do you have an idea for an app that will solve a problem no one else so far has been able to overcome? Apps are the perfect way to turn great online business ideas into reality, since they’re relatively quick to make, and can bring you huge returns.

Of all the ideas on this list, building your app could prove to be the most profitable. Since the global mobile app industry is worth over $106 billion annually, there’s certainly room in the market for you to get started.

Despite being one of the most potentially profitable online businesses, app development does cost a good amount of money if you need to hire developers, or will eat into your time and resources if you try and go it alone.

If you plan to make money from an app, you’ll also need to invest time and money in app store optimization (ASO) and other marketing efforts. In such a competitive market, this can prove a challenge.

17. Trade domains 

Yes, you can actually make money buying and selling domain names for websites online.

As online business ideas go, this is a risky one. It involves quite a lot of investment in time and money to find domains you think might be desirable, and you always run the risk of losing money if you can’t sell your domains again.

There are two main approaches to trading domains:

  • You could buy up domain names which you think lots of people might want. These tend to be one-word domains which could apply to a number of different companies or individuals, The value comes from the competition.
  • Alternatively, you could buy up longer or more specific domains only one or two companies or individuals might be interested in. You then keep hold of the domain and offer it at a mark up to the parties you think may be interested.

In case you’re interested in purchasing your first domain, you can search and buy domains with Zyro.

18. Create SaaS

Software as a service (or SaaS) are some of the most essential tools we use every day. From project management tools like Asana or Monday, to office suites like Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, it’s likely you’ve used SaaS products today.

This is another business where you definitely need to be a developer or have the resource to hire developers to be able to turn your idea into a reality.

With SaaS, your customers are just as likely to be other businesses as they are end-users.

Common types of SaaS include:

  • Customer relationship management tools
  • Email marketing applications
  • Cloud storage services
  • Project management tools
  • Online office services

19. Create a digital product

Products don’t have to be physical, and if your customers can simply download your goods, your profit margins can be a whole lot bigger than if you have to manufacture physical goods.

Digital products are among the best business ideas for those who want to guarantee a passive income, but still have a valuable commodity to share.

You’ll definitely need to be able to put some amount of creativity and expertise into your digital products, but this is usually a one-time effort.

Great examples of popular digital products include:

  • Art prints. Graphics which customers can print themselves at home.
  • Themes. Layouts for beautiful websites.
  • Templates. Which customers can use for emails, resumes, or anything else that needs to be designed.
  • Printables. Anything from workbooks to calendars that can be printed at home.
  • Swipe files. Guides which share your expertise.
  • Stock music. Tunes you can earn money on the royalties from.

Sell your personality 

20. Become an influencer

Instagram kyliejenner page

Instagrammers and Youtubers serve as brand ambassadors and content and product promoters and much more.

An influencer, as the name implies, is someone who has influence within a niche or a community. Because of that, they have a say and power in affecting trends and other people’s buying decisions.

An infographic made by Invespcro shows that 40% of people purchase products used by influencers. An astonishing 94% of respondents claimed that they trust influencers more than their friends or relatives when making a purchase.

Generally, influencers can be divided into four categories:

  • Celebrities – pretty self-explanatory. These are people in the showbiz like models, actors or musicians.
  • Industry experts – this type of influencer gains notoriety due to their professional qualifications and experience in the industry.
  • Content creators – bloggers and YouTubers fall under this category. When they’re more niche-driven, they can overlap with the last type of influence.
  • Niche influencers – also known as micro-influencers. These are the everyday people who wield influence within a specific niche because of their knowledge and expertise.

Aside from monetary gain and free goods from merchants, being an influencer offers the opportunity to connect to your audience in a more authentic way.

21. Become a YouTuber 

Yes, vlogging might feel like something out of 2005, but it’s now a legitimate business idea.

The top YouTube stars earn up to $22 million per year. While it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to be able to reach up into those kinds of numbers, thousands of people make a decent living from the platform.

The secret is finding a niche that is specific enough that your content has a clear theme, but broad enough to have mass appeal to a big audience.

You can make money on YouTube in a number of ways:

  • Revenue from the ads that play before or during your videos
  • Subscriptions for premium content
  • Selling merch to your fans
  • Taking sponsorship deals from related companies
  • Recommending other companies and taking commission for sales (affiliate marketing)

Often, companies will have a YouTube channel in addition to their regular business as an extra revenue stream and as a marketing channel.

22. Start a podcast

Until relatively recently, podcasting wasn’t taken very seriously as a profession, but podcasts with mass appeal like Serial and The Joe Rogan Experience have really put the medium on the map.

In 2021, the entire podcasting industry is expected to be worth $1 billion.

The revue models are pretty much the same as with YouTube, but of course, it’s usually just an audio file rather than a video.

The beauty of podcasts is that they can be about pretty much anything. As long as you have an interested audience, you can talk about anything from news and current affairs, all the way to music, art, TV, or just whatever’s on your mind.

Since there are tons of podcasts out there, it helps if you have a very specific focus which lots of people are going to find interesting.

Recap

While it is ultimately down to you which path you choose to take, our picks for potentially profitable online business ideas are:

  • Start a blog (and monetize it)
  • Write an ebook 
  • Sell your photos
  • Sell online courses
  • Sell 3D printed products 
  • Try dropshipping 
  • Sell your homemade goods 
  • Sell prints and t-shirts
  • Become a graphic designer
  • Sell your SEO or advertising skills
  • Manage other people’s social media
  • Become a virtual assistant
  • Become a translator
  • Become a copywriter
  • Create an app
  • Trade domains 
  • Create SaaS
  • Create a digital product
  • Join affiliate programs
  • Become a YouTuber 
  • Start a podcast
  • Become an influencer 

Your journey to a successful online business starts with a representative website. You will need something that can leave a strong impression while showing off your brand, skills, or experience.

With Zyro website builder, you can build a stunning website to fit any type of niche in just a minute.

Ready to start your successful online business today?

Written by

Author avatar

Duncan

Duncan is obsessed with making website building and eCommerce accessible to everyone. He explains the best tools and the latest digital marketing trends in ways that are clear and engaging. His focus is on supporting the sustainable growth of small to medium-sized enterprises. When not writing, he enjoys deep sea fishing and endurance cycling.

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