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20 of the Best Online Business Ideas for Beginners

We all know the myth of eCommerce moguls and software wizards: they all started with an idea, a garage, and then poof — overnight success! This gets you raring to get started on your online business journey because it probably makes you think, “It’s not that hard… right?”

But let’s be real. Building an online business as a beginner is like climbing Mount Everest without ever setting foot on a hiking trail. Some businesses require an upfront investment, hunting for products to sell, or need advanced technical skills — all of which aren’t ideal if you’re just a beginner. 

So, where should you begin your online business journey? There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and here’s how I can help you:

With a #1 New York Times best-seller and a popular Netflix show, you can trust that I’ll guide you toward realistic business ideas that are well within your grasp. So, here are 20 of the best online business ideas for beginners that you can get started on today. 

Let’s begin!

20 Online Businesses for Beginners

1. Freelancing

Are you a talented writer? Do you have a knack for graphic design? Maybe you’re a wizard with SEO or a coding connoisseur? 

From writing captivating copy to crafting eye-catching graphics, there’s no shortage of opportunities to flex your skills. The beauty of freelancing lies in its versatility — you can offer your expertise on a project-by-project, ongoing, or long-term basis, making it an ideal choice for beginners who want to dip their toes into the business.

When you’re just starting out, platforms such as UpWork and Fiverr provide a launchpad for your business, connecting you with clients eager for your services. What’s more, you can even start freelancing as a lucrative side hustle before committing full-time. It’s a low-risk, high-reward path that lets you get started with minimal time and cost.

Freelancing comes in many forms, each with its own rewards. For instance, copywriting lets you wield the power of words to persuade and inform. Graphic design, where your visuals breathe life into brands. SEO services, where you boost websites up the Google ladder. Website development, where you bring digital dreams to life. 

2. Content Creation

Content creators produce a number of informative and engaging content and share them across digital platforms. The point is to keep your target audience entertained, with the ultimate goal of turning them into a dedicated following, fostering community, and — of course — monetizing your work.

Content creation is remarkably accessible and cost-effective, making it the perfect online business for beginners to start with. For example, to kickstart your blogging career, you only need a domain name and web host. On the other hand, if you want to make a splash as a social media influencer, you can launch your content for free or leverage existing accounts. 

The beauty of content creation is its adaptability; you can tailor your content to a specific niche related to your expertise and interests. Essentially, you’re tapping into the talents and knowledge you already possess, making it an ideal starting point for budding entrepreneurs.

There’s a whole list of content creation avenues to explore. Apart from blogging and social media influencing, you can create captivating visuals for YouTube, contribute to the social chatter with a podcast, or whatever path that lets you harness your creativity in profitable ways.

3. Subscription Boxes

Subscription boxes are like delightful surprises delivered to your doorstep, often filled with curated goodies tailored to your interests. The goal is simple: provide subscribers with unique, personalized experiences that keep them coming back for more.

Creating a subscription box business doesn’t take an arm and a leg to start, and you can often launch with minimal resources. The key is in crafting a compelling niche or theme for your box, something that resonates with your target audience. 

From there, it’s about sourcing or creating the products to include, which can be done with relative ease and within a budget. When it comes to marketing and sales, online platforms like Cratejoy or even your own website can help you reach your audience effectively.

Subscription boxes have a broad spectrum of offerings, from beauty products to gourmet snacks, books, or even pet supplies. For instance, Birchbox is famous for its beauty samples, while BarkBox brings joy to furry friends everywhere. These examples showcase the versatility of the subscription box model, where the possibilities are as vast as your imagination.

4. Online Courses

Online courses are like interactive textbooks. These digital classrooms have transformed how we learn by offering a structured path to acquiring new skills or knowledge, often accompanied by videos, quizzes, and assignments.

Creating an online course is an accessible option for those looking to share their expertise. It doesn’t require a massive upfront investment. In fact, you can often start with just a good idea and some recording equipment. 

Many successful course creators began with a simple camera and a vision. You can post them on platforms like Udemy, Teachable, or your own website so they can reach your audience faster. You can also market through social media, email lists, or collaborations with influencers to get the word out.

Look at Coursera, which offers courses from top universities, or MasterClass, where experts like Gordon Ramsay teach cooking. These platforms highlight the variety of subjects you can explore, from academic to creative to practical skills. 

So, if you have a passion or expertise to share, creating and selling online courses is a beginner-friendly online business idea that could turn your knowledge into profit while making a difference in the lives of your students.

5. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the art of earning a commission by promoting other people’s products or services. It’s like being the trusted middle-person connecting eager buyers with valuable offers.

Now, why is affiliate marketing such a hot prospect for beginners? First, the entry barrier is delightfully low. You don’t need a stash of your own products or a fat wallet for inventory. All it takes is a computer and an Internet connection. Plus, there are numerous affiliate programs across various niches, from health and wellness to technology and finance. This means you can find an industry that aligns with your interests or expertise.

Consider Amazon Associates, one of the largest affiliate programs globally. You can promote everything from books to gadgets to furniture. Or dive into the world of digital products with affiliate apps like ClickBank, making it a prime choice for those passionate about niche topics. 

Affiliate marketing allows you to ride the wave of established businesses, and with the right strategy and persistence, you can turn those commissions into a thriving online income stream. 

6. Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art of fine-tuning web content to please both search engines and human readers.

SEO is a versatile skill that’s in constant demand. Every business, from mom-and-pop shops to tech giants, wants its website to shine on the front page of Google. And here’s the kicker — you don’t need an Ivy League degree to get started. Plenty of free and paid resources are available to help you learn the ropes. 

Plus, the SEO world spans countless niches. Whether you’re into fashion, food, finance, or fitness, there’s a niche with hungry readers waiting for your SEO-optimized content.

Take the healthcare industry, for instance. Hospitals, clinics, and private practitioners are constantly on the hunt for SEO experts to boost their online presence. Or consider the vast world of eCommerce, where businesses rely heavily on SEO to outshine competitors. You can start by learning the basics and offering your services to local businesses, gradually expanding to a broader audience. 

7. Website Design and Development

Website designers and developers are the architects behind the online world. These professionals create the virtual storefronts, company websites, and personal blogs we interact with daily. It’s all about crafting an engaging, visually appealing, and functional online space.

In today’s digital age, every business, regardless of size or industry, needs an online presence, making website design and development a great starting point for beginners. And the best part? You don’t need a computer science degree to get started. Numerous user-friendly website builders and online courses make it accessible for newbies.

Plus, website design and development can cater to a vast array of niches. From creating eCommerce sites for budding fashion entrepreneurs to building personal branding sites for solopreneurs, there’s a niche to suit every interest.

Consider the booming wellness industry. Yoga studios, wellness coaches, and nutritionists all need an online platform to connect with clients. Or delve into the world of local businesses. Restaurants, boutiques, and service providers often rely on web designers to bring their brands to life online.

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8. Social Media Management

Social media managers are the ones responsible for curating engaging social media posts, growing followers, and fostering a brand’s online community. It’s a skill set that’s in high demand in our social media-driven era. 

From small local businesses to global brands, everyone wants to harness the power of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The goal? To build a strong online presence, connect with customers, and boost sales. And here’s the catch: social media management is something you can master without needing a marketing degree. You only need a talent for digital networking and some creative flair.

Imagine diving into the booming eCommerce sector. Online stores dealing in fashion, electronics, or unique handcrafted goods are eager for social media managers to help them reach a broader audience and boost sales.

Think about it: in today’s digital landscape, everyone wants to shine on social media. If you’re a beginner with a penchant for digital networking and content creation, social media management could be your ticket to a profitable online business venture. 

9. Publish an Ebook

Publishing an ebook is your gateway to becoming a digital author. Your goal is to share your knowledge, stories, or expertise with your audience in a well-packaged, easily accessible format.

Now, why is this a fantastic option for beginners? Because, unlike its traditional counterpart, you don’t need a publishing deal or a large budget to make this your reality. With the right tools and skills, you can write, format, and publish your Ebook without leaving your home. 

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and other self-publishing platforms have democratized the world of publishing. You can set your price, keep most of the royalties, and, most importantly, maintain creative control.

So, how do you get started? Think about niches that you’re passionate about. Perhaps you’re a fitness enthusiast, a travel junkie, or a personal finance guru like me. These niches are ripe for eBook authors. Fitness lovers might pen down workout guides or healthy recipe collections. Travel enthusiasts could share their adventures or offer detailed guides to exotic destinations. Financial wizards might craft eBooks on budgeting, investing, or paying off debt. 

The options are endless, and your ebook can be a digital asset that can keep generating income for years to come. Plus, you’re not just limited to one; you can create an entire library over time. 

10. Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a business model where you sell products to customers without holding any inventory. Instead, you partner with suppliers who can directly ship products to your customers. Your goal is to build an enticing online store, select winning products, and attract customers.

It’s refreshingly low on the financial and logistical hassles that often deter newcomers. Unlike traditional retail, you don’t need to invest in a warehouse full of inventory. You only purchase the product from the supplier when you make a sale, which significantly reduces your upfront costs. Plus, you don’t have to worry about packing and shipping orders. The supplier handles all that.

Dropshipping offers flexibility in choosing what you sell. You can tap into the evergreen markets like fashion, electronics, or home decor, or niche down into specific hobbies or interests. 

For example, you might explore the world of pet lovers, selling unique pet products, or venture into the eco-friendly niche, offering sustainable alternatives. As long as you do thorough market research, pinpoint your target audience, and provide exceptional customer service, you can find success in numerous niches.

11. Consulting 

Consulting is all about leveraging your expertise to help others succeed. It involves providing professional advice, guidance, and solutions to individuals or businesses facing specific challenges or seeking improvements. It’s about tapping into your knowledge and experience and offering actionable insights to your clients.

Consulting only requires minimal upfront investment. Unlike some businesses that demand substantial capital for inventory, equipment, or marketing, consulting mainly relies on your skills and expertise. You can even start from your home office to limit overhead costs.

Consulting spans across various industries, and you can tailor your services to your passions and skills. For instance, if you’re a marketing whiz, consider becoming a digital marketing consultant. If you excel in finance, you could offer financial planning or investment consulting. The tech-savvy might delve into IT or software consulting. Health and wellness enthusiasts can explore nutrition or fitness coaching.

The options are endless, allowing you to match your consulting business with your expertise and interests.

12. Life Coaching

Life coaching involves working with clients to help them identify their personal and professional aspirations, develop strategies to achieve them, and overcome any obstacles that may be holding them back. It’s about providing guidance, motivation, and accountability to support clients in their journey towards a more fulfilling life.

This venture requires relatively low startup costs. You don’t need a physical office or extensive equipment. Your investment lies in your training and certification, which is essential for building trust with clients.

Life coaching is also incredibly flexible. You can conduct sessions online, making them accessible to clients worldwide. This flexibility extends to your schedule as well, allowing you to start part-time if needed. 

As your business grows, you can transition into full-time coaching and specialize in areas such as career coaching, relationship coaching, health and wellness coaching, or even executive coaching for professionals. Tailoring your services to your passions and expertise will not only make your coaching more enjoyable but also attract clients who resonate with your niche.

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13. Handmade Crafts

Are you looking to make some money off of your unique, artisanal products online? 

Handmade crafts are an excellent online business option due to their low startup costs, flexibility, and potential for creativity. Crafting can be pursued at one’s own pace, making it accessible for beginners with busy schedules.

It’s a passion-driven endeavor that allows individuals to monetize their hobbies. Online marketplaces like Etsy provide ready-made platforms to reach a wide customer base. Handmade crafts often boast high profit margins. And as your skills improve and customer base grows, it can become a sustainable source of income. 

Moreover, the authenticity, sustainability, and customizability of handmade products appeal to today’s consumers, making it a rewarding online business choice. Handmade crafts make up a wide range of one-of-a-kind, handcrafted products, from jewelry and candles to home decor and clothing. 

To succeed in this path, the key is to align your craft with your interests and target a niche that resonates with your style. 

14. Virtual Assisting

Virtual assisting is a versatile online business that involves providing administrative, creative, or technical support to clients remotely. It’s a beginner-friendly option as it requires minimal startup costs — a computer and a stable Internet connection would suffice. This business allows you to leverage your existing skills, making it accessible for beginners. 

For instance, as a virtual assistant, you could offer general administrative support to small businesses by managing emails, scheduling appointments, or handling data entry. Alternatively, you might specialize in social media management, content creation, and audience engagement to boost online presence. These services cater to various industries, from eCommerce to coaching and consulting.

Virtual assisting offers the potential for a steady income both part-time and full-time, making it an excellent choice for aspiring online entrepreneurs to gain experience and grow their client base gradually.

15. Tech Support

Tech support as an online business involves providing technical assistance and troubleshooting to individuals or businesses facing technology-related issues. The primary goal is to help clients resolve technical problems efficiently. This is a beginner-friendly option because you can start with minimal investment in tools and software, especially if you already possess technical skills. 

Starting a tech support business can be as simple as setting up a website and advertising your services. You can specialize in niches like home IT support, helping individuals with computer or network issues. Alternatively, you might target small businesses, providing IT solutions for their software or hardware problems.

With the rise in remote work and reliance on technology, tech support services are in high demand across various industries. This makes it a viable choice for beginners seeking a stable online business opportunity. Plus, as you gain experience, you can expand your services and cater to a broader clientele. 

16. Stock Photography

Stock photography involves capturing and selling generic images to be used by businesses, websites, publications, and more. The goal is to create a portfolio of high-quality photos that cater to the diverse needs of potential buyers.

This business is highly beginner-friendly due to its low startup costs. All you need is a decent camera or even a smartphone and a good eye for photography. You can shoot a wide range of subjects, from nature and travel to lifestyle and business, making it accessible to various interests and niches.

Stock photography provides an opportunity to generate passive income as your images can be sold repeatedly to different buyers. With dedication and the right marketing strategies, beginners can gradually build a substantial portfolio and income stream in this thriving online business.

17. Digital Marketing

Digital marketing includes various online strategies to promote and grow businesses. Its primary goals include increasing brand visibility, attracting leads, and ultimately driving sales. With companies increasingly outsourcing these tasks to digital marketing firms, starting your own can be a lucrative venture.

With digital marketing, you can begin with minimal resources; a laptop, Internet connection, and some digital marketing skills are all you need. There’s a wealth of online resources and courses available to hone your skills further, too. Plus, you can work with clients from virtually any industry — including content marketing and social media management — allowing you to choose a niche that aligns with your interests and expertise.

Digital marketing is a dynamic field with substantial income potential. By staying up-to-date with the latest trends and continually refining your skills, you can establish a thriving online business that helps other companies succeed in the digital landscape.

18. Resume and Cover Letter Writing

In a competitive job market, a well-crafted resume and cover letter can make all the difference.

Resume and cover letter writing services cater to job seekers looking to craft compelling job application documents. The primary goal here is to help individuals secure job interviews by presenting their skills and experiences effectively.

What makes this business idea especially appealing for beginners is that you only need a computer, word processing software, and a knack for crafting persuasive content to get started. And if you want to kickstart your business faster, you can even offer your services on freelancing platforms.

As a resume and cover letter writer, you can specialize in different industries, from tech and healthcare to finance and creative fields. Alternatively, you can focus on specific career levels, such as entry-level job seekers, mid-career professionals, or executives. By tailoring your services to a particular niche, you can effectively target your ideal clients and provide specialized, high-value assistance.

19. Event Planning

Event planning involves coordinating and organizing various aspects of events, from weddings and parties to corporate meetings and conferences, with the goal of ensuring they run smoothly and successfully.

For beginners, event planning is an attractive option because you can start small by partnering with established wedding, corporate event, or social event organizers or offering your services for local events and then gradually expand your reach. 

Basic event planning software and good organizational skills are your main tools. Plus, with the rise of virtual events, you can tap into a growing market by offering your expertise in online event planning. Simply choose a niche that aligns with your interests and expertise so you can help clients create memorable experiences while building on your financial future.

20. Sell on eBay, Etsy, or Other Marketplaces

Selling on platforms like eBay, Etsy, or other online marketplaces involves listing products for sale and managing transactions through these platforms. The primary goal is to reach a broad audience of potential buyers and generate revenue by selling various items.

This is an excellent online business idea for beginners because most of their inventory is already in their closets or storage rooms. You can start by decluttering your home and selling items you no longer need. These platforms provide user-friendly interfaces and tools to create listings easily. Moreover, they handle payment processing and offer a built-in customer base, reducing the complexity of starting an online business.

On eBay, you can sell anything from vintage clothing to electronics. Etsy specializes in handmade crafts, vintage items, and unique art. Amazon, another popular marketplace, offers opportunities to sell new or used products. You can choose a niche that aligns with your interests and explore trends to find profitable products to sell.

Become a Business Owner Today!

Every business owner has to start somewhere. With today’s abundance of online opportunities, taking that step has never been easier.

By selecting a beginner-friendly online business idea that aligns with your passions and expertise, you set the stage for a fulfilling and profitable venture. So, whether it’s freelancing, content creation, e-commerce, or any of the other realistic online businesses for beginners we’ve explored, take that leap into business ownership today! 

Want to build a business, but have no idea where to start? Get my FREE guide on finding your first profitable idea.

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