41 Small Online Business Ideas That Are Cheap and Easy to Start 

online business ideas

Last Updated on June 20, 2024 by Katie

If you’re tired of working for someone else and want to be your own boss, these small online business ideas that are easy to start might interest you!

Starting a work-from-home business can be a profitable venture, even on a budget. You can turn simple concepts into successful enterprises with the right idea and a bit of entrepreneurial spirit.

You don’t need a lot of money to get started, just a solid plan and dedication.

But, which small online business idea is right for you and makes the most money?

To help you get started, I’ve put together a massive list of small business ideas you can try out from home with minimal startup costs.

Take a look below!

 


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41 Small Online Business Ideas for Beginners

Best Small Online Business Ideas

These mall online business ideas are practical, cost-effective, and ideal for anyone looking to start a business with minimal investment.

Each idea caters to different skills and interests, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

 

1. Virtual Assistant Business

A virtual assistant business involves providing administrative support to clients remotely.

This could include scheduling, email management, customer service, data entry, website research, blog and social media management and more.

It’s perfect for organized individuals with strong communication skills.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low, mostly requiring a computer and internet. Earnings can range from $15 to $50 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Managing emails
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Conducting research
  • Handling customer inquiries

Get experience with these legitimate virtual assistant jobs hiring.

 

2. Freelance Writing Business

Freelance writing involves creating written content for blogs, websites, and publications and this type of work is ideal for those with strong content writing skills and creativity.

Take the time to learn how to become a freelance writer so you know what’s expected of you in the industry.

Put together a strong freelance writing portfolio, and market your writing business to find potential clients.

And,frequently check popular freelance writing websites to find paid work.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Minimal costs with earnings starting at $0.05 to $0.30 per word.

Daily Tasks:

  • Writing articles and blog posts
  • Conducting research
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Communicating with clients

 

3. Editing Or Proofreading

As an editor or proofreader, you’ll improve and correct written content.

This type of work is suitable for people with a keen eye for detail and excellent grammar skills.

If you are interested in this online business idea, check our guide on how to become a proofreader with no experience.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Very low costs. Rates can be $20 to $50 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Reviewing and correcting errors
  • Ensuring consistency
  • Communicating with writers
  • Providing feedback

Pick up your first paid gigs in this guide showing proofreading jobs online no experience.

 

4. Starting a Blog

Blogging involves writing articles on a specific niche or topic such as making money, Mom and baby, crafts, beauty, finance, product reviews, and more.

It’s suitable for those with good writing skills and the ability to produce engaging content.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low initial investment. Earnings vary widely based on traffic and monetization methods.

Daily Tasks:

  • Writing and publishing posts
  • Engaging with readers
  • Marketing your blog
  • Managing ads and sponsorships

 

5. Start an Etsy Business

Selling handmade crafts or vintage items on Etsy is perfect for creative individuals who enjoy making and selling unique products.

One plus is that you can start an Etsy shop with no money as Etsy only takes a listing fee from you when an item sells.

If you need ideas for what to sell, check out these guides on how to sell t-shirts on Etsy and how to sell digital planners.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low to moderate, mainly material costs. Earnings depend on product demand and pricing.

Daily Tasks:

  • Creating products
  • Managing orders and inventory
  • Marketing your shop
  • Handling customer service

 

6. Create a YouTube Channel

Creating a YouTube channel involves producing video content on various topics.

It’s ideal for those who are comfortable in front of a camera and can create engaging videos.

A few ideas for niche channel ideas to start that are currently popular include cooking, video games, travel vlogs, fitness, ASMR, unboxing reviews, and tutorials.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Initial costs for equipment. Earnings come from ads, sponsorships, and merchandise.

Daily Tasks:

  • Planning and scripting videos
  • Recording and editing content
  • Engaging with viewers
  • Managing ads and monetization

 

7. Sell Online Courses

If you know a certain subject that could help others, you can make passive income by selling courses online.

This is great for educators and specialists in any field and once you have your courses ready, it can be sold on platforms with ready-made audiences such as Skillshare, Podia and Udemy.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low to moderate, mainly for course creation software. Earnings can be substantial depending on course demand.

Daily Tasks:

  • Creating course materials
  • Managing platform accounts
  • Marketing the course
  • Engaging with students

 

8. Affiliate Marketing Business

It’s possible to start affiliate marketing with no money, making this a great online business for beginners.

Affiliate marketing involves promoting products and earning a commission on sales through your referral.

This suits those with strong marketing skills and an online presence, as you will need to take time to build up a niche audience to promote products to.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Zero costs. Earnings vary widely based on traffic and conversion rates.

Daily Tasks:

  • Promoting products
  • Managing affiliate links
  • Analyzing conversion data
  • Engaging with your audience

 


Learn more in these affiliate guides:


 

9. Write and Sell E-books

If you’re looking for a simple and profitable online business idea, writing eBooks for passive income is a great one to start.

Choose a niche topic for your eBook that you are knowledgable about such as how to make money on Pinterest, how to pick up girls, how to declutter your house, or anything else!

There is literally an audience for all different subjects!

This is ideal for those with strong writing skills and expertise in specific areas.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low start-up costs. Earnings depend on sales volume and pricing.

Daily Tasks:

  • Writing and formatting e-books
  • Marketing and promoting books
  • Managing sales platforms
  • Engaging with readers

 

10. Monetize a Podcast

Best Small Online Business Ideas

Creating and monetizing a podcast involves producing audio content on various subjects.

It’s great for those with good speaking skills and interesting topics to share and you can host your podcast for free on sites like Podbean, Podomatic, and Buzzsprout.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Moderate, mainly for equipment. Earnings from ads and sponsorships.

Daily Tasks:

  • Planning and scripting episodes
  • Recording and editing audio
  • Promoting the podcast
  • Engaging with listeners

 

11. Start a Drop Shipping Business

Drop shipping allows you to sell products without holding inventory and isuitable for those with good marketing skills and an interest in e-commerce.

To get started you need to build a store on a platform like Shopify, research competitors, select a niche, source suppliers, and start marketing your business.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low, mainly for website setup. Earnings depend on product pricing and sales volume.

Daily Tasks:

  • Managing product listings
  • Handling customer orders
  • Marketing your store
  • Coordinating with suppliers

 

12. Social Media Consultant

This type of online business involves advising businesses on social media strategies and managing their accounts.

Ideal for individuals with strong social media skills and marketing knowledge, you can get started without official qualifications as you can build up a portfolio of successful projects to prove your worth to clients.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Very low costs. Rates can range from $50 to $200 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Creating social media plans
  • Managing accounts
  • Analyzing performance data
  • Engaging with followers

 

13. Offering Graphic Design Solutions

Graphic design is one of the best online business ideas for those with creative and artistic skills.

Work includes providing graphic design services for logos, brochures, and other visual materials.

Find freelance graphic design jobs by setting up profiles on Fiverr and Upwork or search dedicated job boards such as Dribbble and Design Jobs Board.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Moderate, mainly for design software. Earnings of $25 to $75 per hour or per project.

Daily Tasks:

  • Creating visual content
  • Communicating with clients
  • Revising designs
  • Managing project timelines

Check more ways to profit from your artistic skills:


 

14. App and Software Development

It’s possible to make money creating apps and software for various needs, even without any experience.

However, this type of online business is suitable for those with programming skills and a knack for problem-solving.

Check out these free, no-code app builders to get started with: Appy Pie and Flipabit.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Higher start-up costs for development tools. Earnings are project-based and vary widely. Money can be made from in-app adverts and purchases.

Daily Tasks:

  • Researching app ideas
  • Creating your app in an app builder
  • Designing user interfaces
  • Updating software
  • Communicating with clients

 

15. Remote Transcription Services

Transcription is one of the best online business ideas for beginners as it has little barrier to entry and work is abundant.

Transcribers listen to audio files and type out what is being said, so you’ll need excellent listening skills and typing ability.

To get your first clients, check out these best remote transcription jobs for beginners and set up profiles on freelancer platforms detailing the services you offer.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Minimal. Earnings start at $3 – $11 per audio hour for beginners and can go as high as $40 per audio hour for high-paid medical and legal transcription jobs

Daily Tasks:

  • Listening to audio files
  • Typing out what you hear
  • Submitting completed projects
  • Searching for new clients
  • Interacting with clients

Learn more in our detailed guide on how to become a general transcriptionist from home.

 

16. Influencer Business

As an influencer, you promote products and services on social media.

This is perfect for those with a significant following and strong engagement with their audience.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low start-up costs. Earnings from sponsored posts and partnerships.

Daily Tasks:

  • Creating and posting content
  • Engaging with followers
  • Negotiating with brands
  • Analyzing engagement data

 

17. Online English Teacher

If you enjoy nurturing young minds, you can make money online teaching English to non-native speakers.

This online business can be set up and run from anywhere and is suitable for people with teaching skills and strong English proficiency.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low costs, primarily for teaching materials. Rates can range from $15 to $30 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Conducting lessons
  • Preparing teaching materials
  • Assessing student progress
  • Providing feedback

 

18. SEO Consultant

Offering SEO consulting services to improve website rankings is an excellent online business with high profitability.

While it’s ideal for those with expertise in search engine optimization if you don’t have the experience, you can learn online for free on platforms like Hubspot and Semrush.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Zero startup costs. Rates can range from $50 to $150 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Analyzing website traffic
  • Implementing SEO strategies
  • Monitoring keyword performance
  • Consulting with clients

 

19. Sell Print On Demand (POD)

Print-on-demand involves selling custom-designed products without holding inventory.

This business is perfect for creative individuals with an eye for design and you can get started quickly by uploading your designs to sites like RedBubble and Printful and they will take care of printing and delivery when you make sales!

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low costs, mainly for design software. Earnings depend on sales volume and pricing.

Daily Tasks:

  • Designing products
  • Managing online listings
  • Coordinating with suppliers
  • Promoting products

 

20. Event Planning Business

Best Small Online Business Ideas

If you have a knack for planning and coordinating, you could make money with a home-based event planning business.

Decide on what type of events you want to plan such as weddings, birthdays, social events, or baby showers, and make a business plan.

Once you have your idea, you need to start getting the word out there about what you do on social media, a dedicated website and talking to your friends.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Moderate costs for event materials. Earnings depend on the scale of events and client budgets.

Daily Tasks:

  • Planning event details
  • Coordinating vendors
  • Managing client expectations
  • Overseeing event execution

 

21. Gaming Business

There are multiple gaming business ideas you could start to make money such as remote game testing, game development, video game rentals, creating gaming apps, and more.

This is one of the best online business ideas for those with programming skills and a passion for gaming.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Higher start-up costs for development tools. Earnings vary widely based on game sales.

Daily Tasks:

  • Designing game concepts
  • Coding and testing games
  • Marketing the game
  • Updating and maintaining games

 

22. Become a Life Coach

Offering life coaching services to help clients achieve personal goals is ideal for individuals with strong interpersonal skills and a desire to help others.

Life coaching can be done online and you can promote your business and find clients with your own coaching blog and social media accounts.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low to moderate costs. Rates can range from $50 to $200 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Conducting coaching sessions
  • Setting client goals
  • Providing support and resources
  • Marketing your services

 

23. Start a Scoping Business

Providing transcription services for legal professionals is another top business idea as this type of work is in demand and highly paid.

Suitable for individuals with fast typing skills and keen attention to detail.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low costs for transcription software. Earnings can be $20 to $50 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Transcribing legal documents
  • Reviewing and editing transcripts
  • Managing client deadlines
  • Communicating with legal professionals

 

24. Be a Virtual Fitness Trainer

Personal training has evolved from just face to face sessions to now being one of the best online business ideas you can do virtually.

Thanks to apps like Trainerize and My PT Hub fitness professionals can now train clients from any location.

This is perfect for certified fitness trainers looking to expand their client base allowing you to train multiple clients at a time.

Market your services and find clients on social media and make extra money by creating workouts, setting goals, and providing nutrition plans.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low to moderate costs for marketing and equipment. Rates can range from $20 to $100 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Conducting virtual workouts
  • Creating fitness plans
  • Tracking client progress
  • Providing dietary advice

 

25. Make Money as a Grant Writer

This type of work includes writing grant proposals for non-profits and other organizations.

This suits individuals with strong writing skills and experience in fundraising and you can learn how to become a freelance grant writer in our expert guide.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low costs, mainly for research materials. Rates can be $25 to $100 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Researching grant opportunities
  • Writing proposals
  • Communicating with clients
  • Submitting grants

 

26. Try Out Music Ghostwriting

The life of a music ghostwriter revolves around writing songs or music for other artists.

If you have musical talent and songwriting skills you can become a music ghostwriter and build a business around this passion.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low start-up costs. Earnings depend on the complexity and number of songs.

Daily Tasks:

  • Writing and editing music
  • Collaborating with artists
  • Recording demos
  • Marketing your services

 

27. Pinterest VA Business

Working as a Pinterest VA is another one of the best online business ideas for those with experience and knowledge of Pinterest and building an audience.

A typical day in this line of work includes managing Pinterest accounts, creating pins, and promoting content for businesses to improve their online presence.

While this is a job you can get without a degree, you will need a strong portfolio of successful projects to show prospective clients.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Zero start-up costs. Rates can range from $20 to $50 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Creating and scheduling pins
  • Analyzing performance metrics
  • Engaging with followers
  • Updating boards

 

28. Facebook Ads Specialist

Managing Facebook ads for businesses is an ideal online business for individuals with digital marketing experience and analytical skills.

If you don’t have experience, check out these Facebook ad courses from Facebook and Hubspot and build up a portfolio of projects to show to prospective clients.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Very low costs. Rates can be $50 to $200 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Creating ad campaigns
  • Monitoring ad performance
  • Adjusting ad strategies
  • Reporting metrics to clients

 

29. Website Design and Development

Creating and managing websites for clients is suitable for those with web development skills and design sensibilities.

Just about every business and brand in the world has a website and will pay good money to have a good one created for them.

Take the time to learn web design skills on free learning platforms such as Codeacademy and Webflow University.

Once you know what you’re doing, advertise your services on freelancer platforms and search for web design projects on dedicated job boards.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Moderate for software and tools. Rates from $500 to $5000 per project, depending on complexity.

Daily Tasks:

  • Designing website layouts
  • Coding and testing features
  • Communicating with clients
  • Updating and maintaining sites

 

30. Video Creation and Editing Business

video editor

Another top contender on this list of online business ideas is video creation and editing.

Producing and editing videos for clients is ideal for those with video production skills and creativity.

There are many free tutorials online to learn how to edit videos and this service is in-demand due to the high volume of videos posted every day.

Reach out to creators on YouTube to offer your video editing skills and it’ll help if you start your own video channel to show off what you can do.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Moderate for equipment and software. Rates can be $25 to $100 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Shooting video footage
  • Editing and adding effects
  • Collaborating with clients
  • Producing final cuts

 

31. Photography Business

If you have a keen eye for a great image you can offer photography services for events, portraits, and products.

Start by building up a stunning photo portfolio that you can share online and with clients.

And, start a photography blog to show off photos and give clients another way to find and hire you.

Plus, you can even get paid to take pictures with your phone for a little extra side cash.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Higher costs for camera equipment. Earnings depend on project types and client budgets.

Daily Tasks:

  • Shooting photoshoots
  • Editing photos
  • Meeting with clients
  • Marketing and advertising services

 

32. Start a Bookkeeping Business

If you understand numbers well, bookkeeping is one of the best online business ideas to start that will make good money.

This type of work is ideal for individuals with accounting knowledge and attention to detail as you will have to spend long hours reading financial receipts and reports.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low to moderate costs. Rates range from $20 to $50 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Recording financial transactions
  • Preparing financial reports
  • Managing client accounts
  • Communicating with clients

 

33. Online Dating Consultant

It’s possible to get paid to date online by helping people improve their dating profiles and find matches.

To succeed, you will need strong interpersonal skills and knowledge of online dating.

Start by offering this type of service to friends to build up testimonials and then move on to promoting your business on social media and via a dedicated website.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Very low start-up costs. Rates can be $50 to $150 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Reviewing client profiles
  • Offering dating advice
  • Helping with messaging
  • Coaching on online interactions

 

34. Translation Business

If you speak more than one language, you could offer to translate documents for brands and businesses.

This type of service is ideal for bilingual or multilingual individuals with strong language skills because businesses know the value of their content being available in different languages.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low costs for software. Rates vary by language and complexity, typically $20 to $50 per hour.

Daily Tasks:

  • Translating documents
  • Reviewing linguistics accuracy
  • Communicating with clients
  • Managing deadlines

Learn more in our guide on how to become a freelance translator.

 

35. Home Based Travel Consultant

Working as a home-based travel consultant is perfect for those with a passion for travel and strong organizational skills.

It’s a good idea to get experience in the industry and then you can break away and start your own travel consultancy business.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Low to moderate start-up costs. Earnings depend on commissions and client volume.

Daily Tasks:

  • Researching travel plans
  • Booking flights and accommodations
  • Providing travel advice
  • Managing itineraries

 

36. Fulfillment By Amazon

If you’re looking for online business ideas that can make some serious cash, Amazon FBA is worth checking out!

Selling products through Amazon’s FBA program, where Amazon handles storage and shipping is suitable for individuals with an interest in e-commerce.

You’ll need to do your research into which products are profitable to sell and once you decide on a niche you’ll have to source products by contacting suppliers.

The good news here is that once you have your products listed, Amazon takes care of delivery and customer care so you can enjoy the profits.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Moderate, mainly for initial stock and fees. Earnings depend on product demand and pricing.

Daily Tasks:

  • Sourcing products
  • Managing listings
  • Monitoring sales
  • Replenishing inventory

 

37. Sell Items on eBay

Selling products on eBay is one of the best small online business ideas for beginners.

It’s cheap and easy to start, just create a seller profile on Etsy and you’ll get a monthly allowance of free listings – you only pay a transaction fee when an item is sold.

Plus, you can sell almost anything on eBay and source products from car boot sales, garage sales, second hand stalls, and even old items from your own home!

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Minimal, you just pay for initial stock and sell for a higher price. Earnings depend on the type of products you sell and the monthly sales volume.

Daily Tasks:

  • Sourcing items to sell eg; flea markets, vintage stores
  • Creating and managing listings
  • Replying to customer queries
  • Posting items to customers when sales are made

 

38. Subscription Box Service

A subscription box business is a fun way to make money from a passion you have.

For example – if you love beauty, you can make and sell beauty subscription boxes or if you enjoy healthy treats, you could package up healthy treat boxes for sale.

This business will come with higher startup costs, as you have to purchase the items to fill your subscription boxes, but you could make it more affordable if you have the skills to make the items such as baked treats or crafts.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Medium – must buy items to fill your boxes and packaging. Having a website to sell your boxes on may also be helpful.

Daily Tasks:

  • Souring products
  • Making your subscription boxes
  • Advertising your subscription service on website and social media
  • Answering customer questions
  • Posting out ordered boxes

 

39. Product Testing Business

There are many product tester jobs from home and if you get good at it, you could turn this into a profitable business.

And, it’s one of the best online business ideas for those who enjoy testing products and voicing their opinions.

The majority of people in the world read reviews online and watch product review videos before they buy an item – I know I do!

You can help out, by starting a product review channel on YouTube or a product review blog.

It will help if you review products you have a familiarity with eg; if you are a Mom, reviewing Momand baby products is a god idea as other Moms will relate to you.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Minimal. Can start a YouTube channel fro free and a blog for very cheap. earnings may take a while to roll in as you need traffic to monetize.

Daily Tasks:

  • Creating review articles/videos
  • Promoting your content across social media
  • Monetizing your content with ads and affiliate partnerships

 

40. Website Flipping

website flipping

Website flipping is a profitable business model if done well.

First, you need to find a website to buy on sites like Flippa or Motion Invest.

When you see one that you can add value to, purchase it and make it better by adding new content, improving the SEO, adding affiliate links/adverts and/or getting more traffic from Pinterest.

Now, you can resell it for a profit.

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: Most starter sites cost between $100 – $600. Earnings depend on how much value you add to the site and how much money it is making when you sell.

Daily Tasks:

  • Searching websites for sale
  • Negotiating a price and buying the site
  • Add more content, improve SEO and improve monetization
  • Re-list the site and sell for profit

Learn more in this guide on how to make money flipping websites.

 

41. Sell Low-Content Books on Amazon

Selling low-content books on Amazon is an easy way to get yourself started in the online business world.

Low-content books are easy to make and include items like notebooks, coloring books, planners, prompt journals, and activity books.

The inside pages can be purchased on sites like Creative Fanrica and you can design the book covers for free on graphic design tools like Canva.

Once you have a book ready, you can list it for free on Amazon KDP and when sales are made, Amazon prints and delivers your books!

Start-up Costs and Potential Earnings: A few dollars per book to purchase book interiors. Earnings are dependant on your price strategy but will range from $2 – $5 per book after Amazon takes their cut.

Daily Tasks:

  • Researching book keywords on Amazon
  • Designing and creating your low-content book covers
  • Uploading your books to Amazon KDP and optimizing the descriptions

Learn more in or guide on how to sell low-content books on Amazon.

 

Final Thoughts on the Best Small Online Business Ideas

After reading this list of the best small online business ideas, it’s over to you to choose one that takes your interest and make it happen!

Just remember that any new venture takes time to grow and don’t expect to be rolling in profits right away.

Spend a few spare hours each day building and promoting your new online business and give it time to grow.

And, with a little patience and consistency, your new business may allow you to quit your job and work for yourself so you can live the dream!

 

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*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

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