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How to Start an Online Business: Top 30 Ideas [2023]


Starting an online business is one of the best ways to supplement your income or make a career switch. With the rise of the internet, there are myriad ways to make money online. However, you need a profitable online business idea and a well-thought-out strategy to drive conversions.

This guide will help you understand why you need to start an online business and how to start an online business from home. We’ll also suggest numerous online business ideas you can get started with.

Why start an online business?

Compared to a traditional brick-and-mortar business, an online business is significantly easier to start because you don’t need to rent a physical store. But that’s not the only reason why you should consider starting an online business. Here are a few more.

Low barrier to entry

Online businesses have a significantly lower barrier to entry than physical businesses. You can sell products online without handling any inventory. You only need to find a reliable supplier to package products and ship them to your customers. Alternatively, you can sell digital products such as software and ebooks.

As we already mentioned, an online business doesn’t require a physical store. Physical stores are notoriously expensive, especially in prime locations with high traffic.

For an online business, your ecommerce website is your store. If you have the technical skills, you can build a website and save yourself the cost of hiring a web developer.

High earning potential

An online business significantly increases your earning potential. One of the main reasons is that you don’t incur the same operating expenses as a traditional business.

For instance, a traditional business requires spending money on rent and maintenance. Most of these expenses are not required in an online business, helping you save more money.

Additionally, an online business gives you access to a global audience. You can advertise your products to people anywhere in the world. A large audience provides many leads, which translates to more sales.

You can run your business from home

Flexibility is perhaps the greatest benefit of starting an online business. You can work whenever you want, wherever you want — even from home.

More time spent at home means you get to share most of your time with your family. It also means less stress because you don’t work in a high-pressure environment with a boss constantly breathing down your neck.

How to start an online business from home

Having the right information and tools at your disposal simplifies the process of starting an online business. Read on to learn how to start an ecommerce business from the comfort of your home.

Carry out market research

Market research involves collecting key information about your target audience. This stage is crucial for lowering the risk of failure and identifying ecommerce trends in your niche.

Your online business is more likely to succeed if you understand your customers’ needs and stay updated on market trends. Here are fundamental questions to help you determine who your customers are and what they need:

  • What is the age bracket of your ideal customers?
  • What is their purchasing power?
  • Where are they located?
  • How important is your solution to them?
  • What is the size of your audience?

Market research helps you understand how much your ideal customer is willing to pay for your products or services. Pricing affects the overall profitability of your business.

If you price your products too low, you may struggle to cover operating expenses. On the other hand, high prices deter potential customers from making a purchase. Market research helps you set the right prices for your products or services.

Create a business plan

A business plan is a roadmap that helps you analyze the viability of your business idea. When you have an online business idea, it’s easy to get carried away by the possibility of making huge profits.

Overexcitement may cause you to overlook the critical stages of starting a business, and this leads to failure. A business plan allows you to:

  • Assess the practicality of your solutions.
  • Set meaningful goals for your business.
  • Identify and curb potential risks.
  • Build a team to achieve your goals.
  • Develop a marketing strategy.

Determine your branding

Branding is crucial because it makes your business recognizable online. Your branding must reflect your personality and communicate your values to your target market.

You can build a powerful brand by selecting colors that resonate with your audience and set you apart from the competition.

When developing your brand, ensure consistency across all marketing channels, including social media platforms, as this can help you build trust with your customers.

Launch your website

Your ecommerce website is your digital storefront where you display products for sale. The cost of building a website generally depends on the complexity of the website — it can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

To get started, buy a domain name and hosting from a reliable hosting provider with iron-clad security, 100 percent uptime, and 24/7 customer support. Ensure your domain name aligns with your brand, as this can help you create a recognizable brand identity.

Next, choose a reputable website-building platform, like WordPress. Once this is done, you can start customizing your website with themes and plugins.

Even if you’re new to web design, you can design a professional website by following online tutorials.

The 30 most popular ideas for online businesses

Now that you know how to start an online business from home, let’s review the most profitable online business ideas to consider.

1. Launch a clothing brand

Launching a clothing brand online has many benefits. You’ll have lower startup and operating costs due to being online. When you sell online, you have more control over the customer experience. You can create a website that reflects your brand and values, and offer a variety of payment and shipping options.

Plus, you can showcase your products in a visually appealing way. Online stores allow you to use high-quality photos and videos to showcase your products in a way that is both informative and engaging. Being online also allows you to offer a wider range of clothing products.

2. Dropship products

Dropshipping is a form of retailing that allows you to sell products online without holding or managing any inventory. This makes it a less expensive business as you don’t need any warehouse or storage unit.

Starting a dropshipping business means you assume the role of a middleman. It involves sourcing high-quality products from suppliers on digital marketplaces like AliExpress, adding a markup to the actual price, and listing the products on your website.

To run a profitable dropshipping business, ensure your markup is enough to cover your advertising and logistics overheads. When you receive new orders, forward the shipping details to the supplier, who then delivers the goods to your customers.

3. Buy and sell second-hand clothing

A second-hand clothing business is easy to start. Due to this, competition is aggressive. Despite the surging competition, you can still start a profitable second-hand clothing business from home.

To boost sales, offer irresistible deals. For example, you can offer a two-for-one deal or a 50 percent discount on certain items. Deals are an excellent way to foster brand loyalty and increase conversions in a competitive market.

4. Write a blog

Blogging is an underrated but lucrative business you can start from home. If you’re an expert in any field, you can write blog posts that help people solve their problems.

However, for your blogging business to be profitable, you must generate sufficient traffic. You can drive organic traffic to your blog by optimizing your posts for search engines through search engine optimization (SEO).

Sign up with a reliable ad network like Google AdSense, which displays targeted ads on your blog. Each time a reader views an ad displayed on your blog, you earn money.

5. Be a freelance graphic designer

This business idea requires some graphic design experience. Freelance marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork are great places to get your first clients. You can either create gigs or bid for work.

Your target market can find you on these websites and pay for your services. You can take your freelancing career to the next level by building a website dedicated to selling your services. This gives you more credibility and allows you to charge more for your services.

6. Write and sell ebooks

Ebooks are like normal books — except they only exist digitally. You can write an ebook on any subject, from cooking and workout routines to marketing strategies.

Once your ebook is ready, you can sell it through platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). The best part about selling ebooks is that the only investment you need is your expertise. You don’t have to worry about printing, warehousing, or shipping.

And, with free graphic design tools like Canva, you can design captivating book covers using customizable templates.

7. Become a podcast host

Podcasts have been on the rise in recent years. A podcast is an audio recording hosted on platforms like Podbean, Buzzsprout, and Spotify. A typical podcast is often a conversation or monologue around a certain topic.

When you consistently host high-quality podcasts, your following grows. Once you gain popularity, you can earn passive income through sponsorship deals. Alternatively, you can get paid by promoting other businesses to your audience.

8. Sell your art

If you’re a skilled artist, you can earn a decent amount by selling your art. While creating your own characters is more profitable, it may be challenging to make sales when you’re just starting out. This is normal; most businesses require initial effort before you can start making sales.

While you may be tempted to sell on marketplaces, the best way to sell your art is on your own branded ecommerce store. Anyone who likes your art can buy directly from you through the platform, and you can even promote it through ads, driving more visitors to your site.

9. Sell jewelry and handicrafts

You can source jewelry from a manufacturer, mark up the price, and sell it to make a profit. Or, you can source materials and make your own jewelry.

Unlike other products, the perceived value of jewelry may be influenced by emotional connection and brand reputation, making it challenging to set a fixed price.

The price you set for your jewelry depends on the strength of the brand you’ve built. If customers perceive your brand as being high-value, they’ll be willing to pay more for your products.

10. Design websites

Website design is one of the best online businesses to start from home, as long as you have the requisite skills. You can use popular website builders, such as WordPress, to create professional-looking websites without coding.

But as with everything else, web design poses unique challenges — the competition in this field is fierce. Additionally, it may be difficult to stand out from the crowd when you design your website using a pre-built template instead of designing it from scratch.

However, you can build a brand and market your services through a personal website — which you can use to showcase your skills to visitors.

11. Become a translator

If you’re multilingual, consider becoming a translator. The best part about being a translator is that you’ll have fewer competitors. While your earnings largely depend on how much your clients are willing to pay, complex languages like Mandarin or Japanese typically attract more money, as these languages have fewer translators.

You can create a steady flow of income from translation services because customers are more likely to return if they like your services. Satisfied clients can even refer you to their friends or colleagues, growing your portfolio quickly.

12. Become a paid ads consultant

Paid ads involve using complex advertising systems like the Meta Ad Library or Google Ads. Becoming a paid ads consultant also requires social skills, as you need to build relationships with clients.

Customers may have an idea of what they want to achieve but don’t know how to go about it. Your job is to help them achieve what they need in exchange for a fee.

The best part is that you can charge different rates depending on the perceived value of your services. For instance, the cost of teaching someone how to set up an ad on Google Ads should differ from that of troubleshooting an existing ad.

13. Develop your own product

Developing a custom product is one of the best online businesses to start. It allows you to target a specific audience and offer unique products that set you aside from the competition.

Here are five steps to follow when developing your own product.

  • Brainstorm ideas: Collect all profitable business ideas and assess them to find the best option.
  • Develop a prototype: Build a basic version of your product and test it for flaws, usability, and safety issues.
  • Build and test the real product: Build the actual product and test it with real users to ensure it serves its intended purpose.
  • Test the market: This step allows you to receive feedback early in the development process so you can fine-tune your product to meet market needs.
  • Launch the product: Officially launch the product and market it to your target audience.

A custom product gives you a competitive edge because buyers can only get it from you. You can earn more from a custom product than a similar generic product.

14. Become a freelance SEO consultant

Search engine optimization (SEO) is vital to the success of every online business. As a freelance SEO consultant, you’re not tied to any organization. This allows you to work from home, set your work hours, and work for multiple clients simultaneously.

You can take on as much work as you need to meet your financial goals. Freelance SEO consultants earn an average of $132,000 annually and an average of $64 per hour. However, these figures vary based on skills, experience, and location.

15. Sell an online course

The internet is a major source of knowledge for most people. As an expert in your field, you can tap into the knowledge economy, share your expertise with others, and earn passive income.

Your success as an online instructor largely depends on your teaching style and the value you provide. An online course can cost anything from $10 to $5,000. It all depends on the content, your expertise, and the elearning platform you choose. What’s more, you can create and sell as many courses as you want.

If you have a background in entrepreneurship, consider teaching people how to start a small online business from home.

16. Get into affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a revenue-sharing marketing model where you receive a commission for each sale generated through your marketing efforts.

For instance, if you own a blog, you can refer people to a merchant website using a unique link with a tracking code. Once anyone makes a purchase through your link, you get a commission.

To get started, you need to join an affiliate program like Amazon Associates. Each program offers different rates, but the general rule is that the more customers you refer, the more sales you make, which translates to higher earnings.

17. Buy and sell websites

Websites can be bought and sold like any other ecommerce product. Online marketplaces like Flippa and Empire Flippers are great platforms to buy or sell websites. The price of a website is determined by the monthly revenue it generates.

If you’re interested in selling websites, you can visit these online marketplaces and find cheap websites with high earning potential. Then, you can invest more resources in them, raise their monthly revenue, and sell them at much higher prices.

18. Do voice-overs

A voice-over is a production technique where an actor records dialogue off-camera for use in movies, documentaries, commercials, and other media. All you need to get started is a high-quality microphone, which you’ll use to record audio.

To get started as a voice-over artist, sign up on a freelance platform like Fiverr or Upwork. Customers can seek you out and hire you to record voice-overs for them. The customer provides you with a script to read from.

After gaining enough experience, you can raise your prices and build an independent brand, which helps you find high-quality clients who are willing to pay more for your services.

19. Become a social media manager

Many successful online companies or public figures have a social media presence. However, most of them neither have the time nor skills to manage their social media accounts.

As a result, they hire professional social media managers to help them analyze online trends, plan promotional campaigns, and create content that resonates with their brand. You can fill this gap by managing their social media accounts at an agreed rate.

20. Become a virtual assistant

A virtual assistant is a high-value asset for business owners and other time-constrained professionals. Most individuals hire virtual assistants to organize daily activities and oversee light administrative duties.

For instance, virtual assistants respond to emails, make travel arrangements for executives, make phone calls, and schedule appointments.

All of these tasks are done remotely. You never have to show up in an office anywhere. What’s more, you can work for multiple clients simultaneously.

Typically, these jobs are compensated for every hour of work you put in. So, the more you work, the more you earn, regardless of your rate.

21. Set up a tutoring business

Online tutoring online is the same as offline tutoring. The only difference is that you never have to meet your students in person. You can tutor students via video chat platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet.

This service is typically compensated for each hour of work provided. You can charge as little as $10 to as much as $35 per hour. The more students you tutor, the higher your earnings.

22. Write cover letters and CVs

Cover letters and CVs are crucial for job seekers. People occasionally revamp their CVs to add their newest experiences or impress a potential employer. Cover letters go hand in hand with CVs to help job applicants showcase their skills and experiences and convince employers that they’re the perfect fit for a job.

If you can master the art of writing professional CVs and cover letters that sell a job applicant to a potential employer, consider offering it as a paid service. Each client has unique requirements, so the pay for each job may vary significantly.

23. Sell your own NFTs

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are digital assets stored on a blockchain. Even though they’ve been around since 2014, it wasn’t until 2017 that they gained global popularity. Each NFT is identified by its unique code.

While you can sell these digital assets for a huge sum of cryptocurrency, it’s worth noting that the value of an NFT can fluctuate depending on its popularity. So, if you want to start selling NFTs, it’s best to build up your popularity on social media or partner with a well-known NFT seller.

24. Become an online personal trainer

If you’re a fitness enthusiast with a passion for helping others stay in shape, you can become an online personal trainer. This involves creating personalized workout plans for each client and offering live training.

Alternatively, you can create paid videos for every set of workouts, which allows you to earn more. Either way, becoming an online personal trainer is an amazing opportunity to start a business from home. The only requirement is that you must be passionate about working out.

25. Become a virtual bookkeeper

Every online business needs to keep financial records organized. This task gets more complex as businesses grow. Consequently, most business owners hire virtual bookkeepers to offload these tasks.

As a bookkeeper, your job is to record daily financial transactions, manage payroll, and reconcile banking records. You also manage accounts payable and receivable and process independent contractor payments.

26. Create subscription boxes

Subscription boxes are a relatively new way to earn money from home. Most subscription boxes are branded and curated for a specific use. A subscription box business can exist in many niches. For instance, you can start a subscription box business in the skincare or groceries niche.

Customers subscribe to a particular “box” and make recurring payments every week or month for a specific set of products. In the grocery niche, you could offer subscription boxes for fresh commodities like tomatoes, potatoes, and onions.

These boxes are sent out to customers regularly depending on their consumption needs. This business model is great because it provides you with recurrent income.

27. Develop an app

Developing apps is similar to creating a custom product. First, you need to identify a problem in the market and determine whether customers would be willing to pay for a solution.

Here are the steps you need to follow to build and launch an app successfully:

  • Create a business plan.
  • Scout out your competitors.
  • Create mockups of your app.
  • Create a graphic design for your app.
  • Write your marketing plan.
  • Build your app.
  • Submit your app to an app store.

While most best-selling apps are free, they have built-in stores where customers can buy premium features.

28. Create a YouTube channel

YouTube is a popular video-streaming platform where you get compensated based on the number of views on each video you upload. However, to become eligible for monetization, you must gain 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours.

You also earn by displaying ads to people who watch your videos. The more views your videos and ads get, the more your earnings.

Other factors, like the location of your primary audience and the length of your videos, also affect your earnings. To get the most views, focus on creating content that appeals to a specific audience and delivers value.

29. Buy and sell domain names

Buying and selling domain names is a risky yet profitable business. A domain name can sell for millions of dollars depending on its perceived value. For instance:

  • Voice.com sold for $30 million.
  • Tesla.com is worth $11 million.
  • Hotels.com is worth $11 million.

Even though you might not sell a domain for that much, there is a good chance you can sell a domain whose value runs into thousands of dollars.

The risk in this business model lies in not knowing which domains will sell and which will not. While it’s possible to hold on to several domains without making a sale, you can ensure profitability by choosing trending domains with short, memorable names.

30. Become a copywriter

As long as a business has an online presence, it needs copywriting services. Copy is the information on a website and other marketing materials like brochures, emails, and SMS that a company uses to drive conversions.

Most copywriters charge per hour, and others charge per word. The secret to success in this field is finding and onboarding multiple clients. When you get several clients, you get a consistent flow of work that gives you a sustainable income.

Start an online business today

Unlike traditional businesses, most online businesses require little to no capital. In some cases, all you need is a computer and a reliable internet connection.

With millions of entrepreneurs embracing ecommerce businesses, the digital space has become aggressively competitive. You can stand out from the competition by creating a navigable website that increases conversions, all powered by a host that keeps your site

Managed WooCommerce hosting from Nexcess is safe, secure, and easy to set up and get going quickly with an online store. By utilizing open-source WooCommerce for your online store, you won’t have to cut into your hard earned money to pay any transaction fees.

Managed WooCommerce comes with:

  • Automated maintenance and updates
  • Beautiful, customizable designs
  • 24/7/365 support
  • And much more

Check out our fully managed WooCommerce plans to get started today.



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