The internet changes so fast that one year online equals about five years in the real world. But the principles of how to start and grow a successful online business haven't changed at all. If you're just starting a small business online, stick to this sequence. If you've been online awhile, do a quick review and see if there's a step you're neglecting, or never got around to doing in the first place. You can't go wrong with the basics.
Find Your Niche and Set Goals. Start by choosing a strong niche for your website. It should be a subject with which you’re personally familiar. Identify and research potential competitors’ content strategies, traffic figures, and monetization efforts. Next, set basic goals and parameters for your flip, including length, traffic target, revenue target, and target sale price.
Best of all, unlike a brick-and-mortar business, you don’t need a lot of startup capital. In fact, you can get many internet businesses up and running with no money at all because so many free services facilitate the possibility. For example, you can set up a website or blog for free using WordPress. Or you can leverage a third-party site like Amazon or eBay to sell goods with no inventory costs. You use their selling platform in exchange for giving them a cut of your sales.
If you’ve got a way with words and expertise in a niche, there are plenty of sites that will pay for articles and content you write. Think of the sites you read regularly. What can you contribute to them that would be interesting? Research your niche and then look for ways to pitch articles. Many sites will simply have a submission or contact link in the footer. To get started, check out my full guide to becoming a freelance writer on the side and then submit your articles to places like Listverse, A List Apart, International Living, FundsforWriters, and Textbroker.
But first, a caveat: Meal sharing platforms operate in a legal gray area. The food service industry is heavily regulated, and many jurisdictions make it all but impossible for home cooks to profit from their passions. At a minimum, you need to make sure you comply with all local health department directives and obtain all applicable licenses before you begin inviting diners into your home.
To get started, create a listing by filling out a description, take and upload photos of your space, and set a price. Your listing helps guests get a sense of what your place is like. Then, set the dates the space will be available and draft your house rules. Once your listing is live, guests can book their stay at your home, and you start earning money.
The question then becomes, how can you take advantage of this massive surge of spending happening every second of every single day online? The truth? Whether you're looking to start a simple online business as a side hustle, or you're quite literally looking to get rich and make an exorbitant amount of money online, there are 7 businesses that simply can't be overlooked.
If you hook up with a for-hire car parking service (the type hired out for fancy neighborhood parties) you can make some nice cash tips in just a few hours at night and on the weekend, when parties are held. The key here is to do a great job by showing hustle and being super friendly. This was one of the most enjoyable jobs I had during graduate school. Who doesn’t like to drive nice cars?
Are you skilled at a few special recipes or are your friends going crazy over your cakes? You know who you are. It might be time to take your talents to the making some extra money. People love to buy homemade goods, especially when you have a signature item or a story behind it. You can contract your items out for parties, meetings, etc. Or, consider holiday sales for local Christmas parties, birthdays and more.
Mechanical Turk is Amazon's take on micro-jobs. These are small miniscule-jobs that you can do for other people, which they call HITs, or Human Intelligence Tasks. These are super simple tasks that anyone can do. Some examples are listing off some URLs with certain kinds of images for one cent, or recording a few phrases with a microphone for 6 cents.
Similar to writing reviews, you can become a freelance writer and make extra money writing articles and website copy. While you don’t have to be a professional journalist to write for a website, it helps if you’ve blogged or had your own website where you blog regularly. Even better is showing that you have some experience in the niche in which you’re trying to find a job.
Work as an online interpreter or translator. If you’re fluent in a foreign language, it makes sense to look for work as an online interpreter or translator. Depending on your individual skillset, you could find work translating blog posts or eBooks, transcribing recorded lessons or speeches for clients, or translating through Skype or another online video service. And, thanks to the increased use of foreign languages in the United States, getting started could really pay off. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for interpreters and translators is expected to increase 17% nationally through 2026.
26. Services – You can offer a paid service, such as life coaching, blog coaching, goal setting or financial planning. Just be sure to investigate all the legal implications and make sure you’re not claiming to be a professional if you’re not one. With a service like this, you’re basically using your blog to sell yourself. You’ll need to convince people that you’re worth buying and then be able to back up your claims once they purchase your service.
Be Consistent and Professional. Even if you’re just trying to earn a few extra bucks per week, approach your freelance writing gigs with the same consistency and professionalism you’d apply to a career-track position. Clients respect diligent, reliable writers who do what they say they’ll do, when they say they’ll do it, and regularly produce work that exceeds expectations. If you keep up your end of the bargain, clients should reward you with more work. As you get busier, you can safely leave the ones that don’t appreciate your efforts in the dust.
These businesses may have a Facebook page, but most aren’t getting anything out of it (i.e., they aren’t getting more customers or sales). That’s where you can come in: the Facebook ads specialist. The best part about this home-based business is that learning the art and skill of Facebook ads isn’t impossible — anyone can pick it up and secure their first client within a month.
If you’ve got experience and expertise in a specific area of business, there are hundreds if not thousands of business owners who would love to jump on a phone call and pick your brain. This can be an easy way to make extra money online and to hone your skills to use in your consulting or freelance business. Sites like Clarity.fm let you create a profile where entrepreneurs and business owners can pre-pay to book a phone call with you for a set amount of time. Whether you’re an expert in raising money for startups, building apps, or running a restaurant, you can make extra money selling a few minutes of your time to people in need.
The music industry might not be as strong as it was in the 80s, but there are still plenty of ways to make money online as a musician. Sites like SoundBetter let you sell your services as a songwriter, producer, or session musician to thousands of customers a month. While Musicbed, Music Vine, Marmoset, and SongFreedom are perfect for licensing your music to TV shows, movies, and web series.
Have you heard of peer-to-peer lending? It’s a financial system that matches borrowers with investors that are willing to fund their loans. As an investor, you act as the bank and fund projects that have promising potential returns. Using a service like Lending Club takes the guesswork out of determining who is a potentially good fit for your money. They screen potential investments, determine your risk, and assign a percent expected return on your investment.
A service like Paribus or Earny will help you collect refunds you’re owed from stores. This is a great way to potentially put some extra earnings on autopilot because you’re using an innovative tool to get a refund you deserve. When you make an on-line purchase at a Paribus monitored store. Paribus engages with the retailer on your behalf and files a claim requesting a refund.
If you have the expertise or a passion or interest for a subject, you're ready to start making money with a blog. With a service like Blogger (www.blogger.com), you can start up your blog totally free. You can also create your own site and secure your own hosting for a low price, which is generally the route I recommend, as many free blogging sites have restrictions on what you can say or do, including making money or advertising.
How it works: Simply swipe up, down, left or right to unlock your phone. If you’re interested in what you’re seeing on your lock screen, just tap the “learn more” button. In exchange for allowing S’more to rent your lock screen, the apps awards you points every day. You can redeem those points for gift cards to places like Amazon, Google Play, Starbucks, and more.
You won’t make a ton of money fast, but that doesn’t make Digit any less of an awesome app. Digit’s purpose is simple: the app analyzes your spending and automatically saves the perfect amount every day, so you don’t have to think about it. From the site, “Share what you’re saving for and Digit does the rest. It can budget for your next vacation, pay off credit cards, or put money away for a rainy day.”
Turn your photographs into cash via sites like Fine Art America, which lets you upload your images to sell as prints, t-shirts, phone cases and more. Other marketplaces for photographers include SmugMug, 500px and PhotoShelter. Some sites require a subscription but may provide features ranging from cloud storage to password-protected galleries and a customized website.
Sites like Cookening, EatWith, and MealSharing are to restaurants what Airbnb is to hotels. Sign up as a host to earn dough by cooking and serving meals to guests in your home. It's up to you what you want to cook and how many people you can accommodate. Cooks are paid directly through the site, so no cash ever changes hands. The earning potential for becoming a cooking host is $50-$100 per meal.
If you have a knack for creating unique images, there’s no need to fuss over your own inventory. If your creations can be easily printed onto a product, then you can make money. Upload your designs on a variety of websites like CafePress. If someone likes them, the company prints them up and ships the product. You could create unique designs for calendars, books, T-shirts, bags, hats, greeting cards, or posters and get a commission for each one sold. Some of these sites include Zazzle, Teespring and Lulu.
The cornerstone of your affiliate business is about setting up a website that’s focused on a specific niche. You research low competition keywords for that niche, with the aim of ranking on page one of Google for those keywords. People visiting your site then click on a referral link, and if they make a purchase at the destination store, then you get paid a commission. That’s why some people call it “referral marketing”.
Moreover, one has the freedom of dressing and can work in casual clad, not necessarily suiting up. For the parents who have to split between home chores like childcare responsibilities, are able to create balance between work and home. One does not have to commute thus saving on gas and also commuting time. Convenience for example in sales where one is closer to clients than when at work. Finally, there is access to a wider pool of applicants for example the disabled who prefer to work from home.
You could also opt to use existing websites for making money. These include both active income and passive income methods. For example, you could sell some used items or invest in creating some digital designs that then can be sold on merchandise. Again, devote a sizable portion of your time to passive income so that you can slowly build up earnings that will arrive on autopilot without any extra added effort.
If you’re looking for inspiration, my friend Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of the website Making Sense of Sense has become the expert on all things affiliate marketing. Michelle earns more than $100,000 per month from her blog and the bulk of her income comes from affiliate sales. Michelle has had so much success with affiliate marketing that she even has her own course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
Gig economy jobs have quickly changed the way Americans earn money. They’re not always the highest-paying opportunities, but they do offer a more flexible means of earning than your traditional 9 to 5. As a Postmates courier, you can capitalize on this trend and make money delivering things like groceries, takeout food, or even alcohol depending on the state.
People are always looking to have their cars washed and detailed. You could be a mobile car washer and detailer without having a permanent location. Reach out to people you know or make some flyers and put it in your neighbors' mailboxes. If you want to get serious about it, prop up a one-page website or give out business cards. You can make money quickly doing this.