It’s very possible that you have a great idea for an online business, but don’t have a lot of extra money to invest in materials or inventory.
However, if you take a minute to reconsider, you might find that you have a lot of tools and assets at your disposal that you can use today to help build a successful business online.
Not every great online business idea needs to involve a heavy investment into inventory or necessitates taking on cumbersome debt. In fact, many of the best online business ideas involve very little monetary investment and instead are making use of skills that a person already has and can easily learn.
This article will showcase 13 online business ideas that don’t require a ton of startup capital. Ideas for online businesses with a low initial investment are ideal for people looking to supplement their primary income or change jobs, as well as young professionals who may be having a hard time finding their footing in the professional world. Read on to learn more.
13 Great Low-Cost Online Business Ideas
Many readers may be wondering how to start an online business or looking for unique online business opportunities. To give readers some inspiration, we’ve collected 13 great online business ideas that don’t have high start-up costs.
Because the initial investment is so low, would-be entrepreneurs can experiment with different platforms until they find a great idea that they can potentially monetize.
1. Create YouTube Videos
The advent of the camera phone has given almost everyone the ability to create videos and media content. YouTube is the world’s largest video media platform, and self-producing content for YouTube is a fairly inexpensive start for an online business idea.
YouTube videos can be leveraged in a number of different ways. A person could use YouTube content to drive traffic toward a small business website, or eventually generate advertising revenue from related businesses.
A YouTube channel based on fitness, for example, could potentially get ad support from apparel or supplement companies, if the content was high-quality and the number of hits was sufficient.
As an additional perk, being in front of a camera will rapidly improve a person’s public speaking skills. This is a high-value side benefit that a person can pick up for only the cost of their time and a smartphone itself.
2. Write an E-Book or Start a Blog with an Aim on Monetizing It
You may or may not have strong writing skills, but if you’re reading this then there’s a good chance that you have a laptop with word processor software on it. Again, at the cost of your own time, you could launch a business by starting a blog, or even writing your own e-book on a topic you know well.
If you are not a natural writer, this could seem daunting. And if you are naturally more artistic, visual, or media-savvy, platforms such as YouTube or Instagram likely present better forums for your creativity.
But if you have even average writing skills, you can cultivate them by starting a blog on a subject that you have a passion for, such as restaurants or travel.
Eventually, you may even be able to compose your own e-book, which you could then use to promote a small business or even sell as the online business itself.
3. Create an Online Course
Much like writing an e-book, a potential entrepreneur could create an online course on a skill such as speaking a foreign language. Video or coaching via Skype would likely be a better platform for this type of online business.
The content of a course is limited to the skillset of the person creating it, as are the ways in which a person could potentially monetize it.
For example, someone who speaks fluent Russian could create a number of basic language courses and put them on a YouTube channel, with an eye toward charging a fee for more-advanced instruction.
4. Buy an Online Business for Sale
For those with a bit of startup or investment capital to play with, investing into or purchasing a pre-existing online business is a straightforward way to make extra money online, assuming that the business is profitable or well on its way.
Potential investors can look for online business opportunities on websites such as Exchange Marketplace, in which online businesses are regularly bought and sold.
If nothing else, scouting sites such as this might give people an idea of what an online business could potentially be worth after an owner develops it a bit.
5. Investigate Affiliate Marketing
If you aren’t familiar with the term affiliate marketing, you should first know that it’s an interesting way for someone without a lot of startup capital to potentially make money.
Affiliate marketing is based on the concept of revenue sharing, and it works in two distinct ways: if you own a product, you can pay out a portion of profits to have someone else advertise the product for you.
Alternately, if you’re looking for another passive revenue stream, you can offer to promote or advertise a product and potentially earn a commission from sales on the product.
Amazon, especially, is known for affiliate marketers. If you have nothing but time, this may be an effective way to make a bit of money and jumpstart other online business ideas without investment.
6. Understand and Utilize Facebook Advertising
Facebook has become the world’s largest and most used social media platform. Consequently, Facebook advertising has never been more profitable or had a greater presence.
Thankfully, Facebook advertising is quite simple to learn, and many established companies do not know how to fully take advantage of Facebook ads.
After educating yourself, you could bring a lot of value to companies (and earn income) by offering to upgrade or write Facebook advertisements.
7. Work on Developing an App
For those with tech-savvy skills, developing an app is a great way to work on earning extra income.
While the app development space is becoming increasingly more crowded, if you have a good idea for an app – or better yet, some experience or ability in coding – then app development can be one of the better online business ideas from home offices or remote locations.
8. Gain an Understanding of SEO
SEO – search engine optimization – is absolutely critical. Even if the content is exceptional, it’s almost pointless if the content is the 64th highest-ranked result on Google.
Entrepreneurs focusing on the written word – meaning blogs or e-books – will want to utilize search engine optimization to their advantages in order to drive traffic to their respective sites or products.
Moreover, once you have a familiarity with SEO, you can then offer to help businesses and sites improve the SEO of their own content for a fee. This is another strong work-from-home online business idea.
9. Trade Website Domains
If you have any familiarity with the stock market, then you know about active trading and penny stocks. Website domain names are traded in this speculative way, with investors buying up potentially intriguing domain names and flipping them for quick, tidy profits.
As many small business owners know, a good domain name can mean the difference between thunderous web traffic and a prolonged uphill battle to drive traffic to a site. If you can obtain a strong domain name at a minimal cost, there’s a good chance you can later sell the name to an eager buyer at a significant profit.
If the idea of buying and trading domain names appeals to you, check out some of the sites that host domain name trading, and see if this is an online business idea that you are possibly interested in pursuing more.
10. Start a Podcast
If you have an area of expertise or interest – or even just the gift of gab – starting a podcast can be a great way to begin building an online business.
Much like YouTube videos, a podcast can be leveraged in a number of different ways. Most often, podcasts generate revenue via advertising and sponsorship.
Creating a podcast can be one of the best online business ideas for beginners, as there is almost no cost investment involved. While it will take some time and effort to monetize a podcast, in most cases, a quality podcast is something that an entrepreneur can start working on immediately.
11. Create a Niche Website
One way to separate yourself online is to be a big fish in a small pond. If you can establish a strong niche – for instance, a very specific type of exercise training or videography – and develop a corresponding website, you have a good chance of standing out from the crowd and potentially developing a dedicated customer base.
The key components to developing a niche website are to rank high on Google in keywords attached to the website or niche, and to stay firmly in your lane. There may be a temptation to branch out and include more diverse content, but the goal is to be one of the very top experts on a very specific topic.
If you can master a given niche, you stand a good chance of monetizing a niche website with affiliate sponsorship.
12. Write Resumes and Cover Letters
If you have writing know-how but are still looking for a great online business idea, then resume writing or producing cover letters can be a viable avenue to potentially solving both problems.
Alternatively, you could consider technical writing if you have a gift for grammar and sentence structure but don’t consider yourself to be especially creative.
13. Consider Consulting
Lastly, if you have a particular area of expertise, monetizing your experience or knowledge and working as an online consultant could be a great work-from-home or remote business opportunity.
While the term “consultant” seems overly sophisticated, the reality is that a consultant simply advises a business or person on a given topic. There are many ways in which a person can add value to a business or improve a person’s life via online consulting, limited only by one’s imagination and relative expertise.
As a consultant, your role is to solve problems for a given business or individual. In exchange, a consultant can charge a fee for their services and time, usually dependent on the level of expertise needed.
The advent of services such as Skype allows for online coaching and personal interaction across the globe. If you own a laptop or even a good smartphone, you could begin offering your services as a consultant almost immediately.
People who think they have potential as an online consultant can learn more about the process before deciding if it’s an online business idea that suits their personal strengths.
Start Today with These Great Online Business Ideas
The ideas listed above are just a take-off point for potential online business owners.
To recap, here are a few great online business ideas that you could try:
- Beginning a podcast
- Buy a pre-existing online business
- Buying, selling, and trading domain names
- Creating a course such as a foreign language course
- Creating and monetizing a niche website
- Consulting for businesses you already understand
- Developing an app
- Investigating Facebook marketing opportunities
- Learning about SEO
- Looking into affiliate advertising options
- Making YouTube videos
- Writing an eBook
- Writing resumes and cover letters for others
Much of the business conducted today has a heavy footprint online, and there are myriad ways in which a clever person can add value to an existing business or begin an online business of their own.
Which of these online business ideas are you going to try?
Share in the comments below!