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Top 9 Online Business Ideas for Beginners

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Have you figured out what you are good at and passionate about? If so, you most probably have a vision for yourself and just need to find the perfect business area that suits your skills. Here, we’ll show you the pros and cons of 9 great ideas that hopefully help you create an online business which stands out from the crowd.

1. E-commerce site

To launch an e-commerce site, first you need a product to sell, right? It’s either your own product or a product that you resell. Once you have a product, you have various options when it comes to the business models such as dropshipping, wholesaling and warehousing, white-labeling, manufacturing, etc. (You can find a detailed description of the different models here.)

What do you need?

Most importantly, a platform to sell your products. You can build your own platform from scratch with the help of a developer or a developer team. Or you can use an existing platform like Shopify, Squarespace, or a 3rd party platform like Etsy.

What are the risks and challenges?

Before you jump into operating an e-commerce site, you need to be aware of the common dangers, like online security, privacy issues, credit card fraud, taxation, warranty and return of goods, or warehousing and logistics. It’s good to consult a legal expert before you begin – they will be able to explain your obligations in details and tell you about any requirements which are specific to your location.

Tips to stand out from the crowd:

  1. Create a great user experience: Simplify your e-commerce site and the purchase process so your customers can easily navigate your site. Write detailed and informative (and also SEO friendly!) product descriptions so your customers can have all the information they need. Include photos, how-to guides, or brief videos to highlight certain details which help your product stand out. Simply put: make shopping fun!
  2. Provide exceptional customer service: Your customers need to know they can trust you and your store (which will result in more returning buyers). Make sure you reply to any questions as soon as you can. Even if you don’t have a concrete answer, it is reassuring to let the customer know that you are working on it. When you encounter a problem, put the customer first – a good reputation is worth a lot more than any single transaction.
  3. Build a unique brand: Find your brand’s uniqueness and emphasize it in your communication. This can be anything from handmade items, environmental friendliness, or even your personality. The simple truth is, there’s a lot of competition out there. For that reason, you need to differentiate your product. Find what makes you stand out and build your marketing strategy around it. You can even work with a designer and incorporate that trait into your logo.
  4. Get social proof: Encourage your buyers to leave reviews of your products so newcomers would have a trusted opinion about the goods and be more likely to make a purchase. Offer discounts to customers who leave a certain number of reviews or give special deals to anyone who promotes your store through their own social media. You can even offer benefits to customers who record a short video talking about your product. Edit these into a compilation and show potential buyers that real people enjoy what you offer.

2. Online advisory / Consulting / Coaching

Becoming a freelance consultant is easy, but to become a well-paid freelancer takes deliberate strategy from day one. It’s a good business opportunity if you have the expertise in a field that can be used to help others reach their goals. This can be anything from taxation to mindfulness coaching.

What do you need?

  1. Pick a niche target group: If you want to provide a valuable service, you need to pick a niche territory where you have real expertise. A niche target group, for example, would be mindfulness coaching for working moms.
  2. Set up a platform where you can present your service and clients can find and reach you easily. Make sure you reply to any questions as soon as possible and offer to give live presentations about your services using a webcam.
  3. Promote your service: Start networking by sending out emails to your friends or signing up for online communities related to your industry.
  4. Choose a rate that is worth your knowledge and can pay your bills.

 

What are the risks and challenges?

Freelance consulting, just like any freelance work, comes with the risk of unstable income, bad clients who are hard to handle or are reluctant to pay, or the fluctuating workload.

One way to lower your risks in the beginning is to start your business by signing up to pages like Coach.me or Evisors and recruit clients there. You can also find consultancy projects in Upwork, where you can test your abilities on real client projects.

Tips to stand out from the crowd:

  1. Have a bulletproof sales pitch about yourself: You will have a lot of competition, so you need to sell yourself very well. Make sure to emphasize what makes you qualified to give advice – formal education or courses you’ve completed, relevant life and work experience, etc.
  2. Be transparent about your work: Clients will appreciate if you are transparent about how you work and why you do what you do. And when the clients are satisfied, word of mouth spreads.

3. Blogging / Vlogging

If you have knowledge and experience to share with the world, blogging (or vlogging if you are not quite the writer) can be a great business opportunity for you. And how to make money with this? You can do affiliate marketing, promote products, or even grow your channel to a point where you can create your own products.


What do you need?

  1. Find your niche topic: Figure out what you want to blog about, or the better option is to use what you know. If your background is finance, then use that knowledge to get your blog on the right track.
  2. Qualifications: Anyone with a webcam can start a vlog. Therefore, it is important for your visitors to immediately know what makes you qualified to talk about a given subject. Mention your education or relevant life experience, your successes, or your failures – people love to learn from the mistakes of others.
  3. Choose a domain: You need to choose a domain name that is strongly related to the topic you blog about, while it also differentiates from others.
  4. Set up a platform: we suggest choosing an existing one, like wordpress.org to start your business. This way you will have an existing infrastructure in place and plenty of resources to help you in the beginning, allowing you to focus on your content.

What are the risks and challenges?

  • A distraction-filled workspace: If the area you write in is filled with distractions like your phone, books, fidget spinners, TV and stuff like that, procrastination is inevitable. Use do not disturb on your phone and computer, use apps like RescueTime and keep your work area organized. This is particularly relevant if you have a vlog. There is no way you will be able to focus on your delivery if the TV is blasting in the background and your phone is ringing every 20 seconds.
  • A disorganized personal and content calendar: Consistency in blogging is essential. Cluttered and messy calendars will result in missed publish dates and forgotten meetings.
  • Limited social media presence: A blog without promotion is basically a nice journal. If you want to make a business out of your blog, you will need readers and lots of them. Join online communities, build up your presence, and promote your content. If you can, try to get involved in cross-promotion with other contributors. Find people who publish related content but are not your direct competitors and offer to collaborate and promote one another.

Tips to stand out from the crowd:

  • Tell stories: People love stories and when it comes to reading, this is even truer. Whenever you can, include a short story relevant to your content so people can relate more. You can even turn this into a regular feature and give it a special name.
  • Let your personality shine through your content: Letting your charisma show in the content what you create will make your readers or subscribers feel like they personally know you and create a stronger connection with your blog. Show your personality quirks and pet peeves. When your reader can guess in advance how something’s going to make you react, it creates a bond.
  • Utilize SEO tactics: Incorporate keywords in your posts, make sure your site is search friendly, write compelling headlines and meta descriptions for your content. If you plan to make a career out of blogging, taking an online SEO class is a great investment and will pay off handsomely in the long run.
  • Keep a consistent publishing schedule: Always publish on a specific day or in a set period so your readers will be ready for your next piece. This creates consumer habits and will make your readers look forward to your next piece.
  • Make your site visually appealing: A simple and elegant website indicates expertise and authenticity. On the other hand, few things will drive people off more quickly than a cluttered design. The simple truth is that a visitor will turn elsewhere if they can’t immediately find what they’re looking for.

4. Amazon or eBay reselling

If you have a product to sell but don’t want to create your own platform, then you can sell or resell products on Amazon or eBay.

What do you need?

  1. You need an item that’s worth it for you selling. It needs to be either something that can earn you a lot from a single transaction or a product with a wide appeal.
  2. Competitor analysis: Check your competitors’ products and how they market themselves – then do something unique.
  3. Follow Amazon’s & eBay’s rules. Also, pay special attention to how those rules pertain to the country you live in. Make sure there aren’t any special restrictions that can cause problems down the line or limit your options.
  4. Get familiar with the site and its potentials. The fact that you’re using the same platform as your immediate competition means you need to know how to make the most of it. Before you start, thoroughly research each site and look for hidden options and possibilities.

What are the risks and challenges?

  1. There are some fees when you sell a product. Carefully research all hidden costs and consider them when you think about the profit margins. Don’t be afraid to contact Amazon or eBay to get any clarification you need. Also, you may need to talk to an expert to see how everything fits in with your local legislation.
  2. They can delete your product anytime. This means you need a backup plan to minimize downtime and get your business back on track as quickly as possible. For example, you can have multiple accounts or advertise on Amazon and eBay simultaneously.
  3. You get your money belated (on Amazon every two weeks). This means you need to plan your business strategy accordingly. Make sure you don’t run into cash flow problems as it can create problems with your suppliers.
  4. There’s a lot of competition and it is difficult to set yourself apart.

Tips to stand out from the crowd:

  1. Choose the right category for your item so your potential buyers wouldn’t get confused
  2. Conduct a keyword research for your product to find keywords that people look for, and use these keywords cleverly in your product title and description
  3. Minimize “pushy” words like cool, amazing, etc. Instead, focus on creating an honest image. If your product has an obvious downside, address it yourself and explain how to avoid it. Customer ratings mean a lot on Amazon and eBay and people appreciate honesty.

5. Creating online courses

If you have comprehensive knowledge of a subject, you can create an online course and sell it to others. You can do email courses, video courses, or even interactive courses, whichever suits your style and personality best.

What do you need?

  1. First and foremost, you’ll need to create a killer course on a topic that you excel in. Draft your course, show it to your friends (or even better to show people in your target audience) and perfect the material based on their feedback.
  2. Also, you need to decide in what form you will teach: email course, a video course maybe an ebook. Decide on this early on as different platforms have different requirements. If you’re comfortable on camera, then video courses should be great for you. If you’re more comfortable with writing than choose ebooks or emails.
  3. You need to specify your target audience and sometimes ask for feedback about their learning desires.
  4. Identify your unique value proposition. It explains why your online course is better than your competitors’. By listing specific benefits and the concrete results of the course, customers are more likely to choose you over the others.
  5. You also need to sell yourself. By this, we mean that you need to clearly demonstrate what makes you qualified to instruct others. Whether it’s your formal education, personal experience, or professional accomplishments – make them known. If you can, list accomplishments your potential students can easily verify.

What are the risks and challenges?

The market is very saturated so you will need to work hard to stand out from the competition.

Tips to stand out from the crowd:

  1. Create a professional design. Choose the fonts, colors, images carefully. The overall picture of your website should be clean and demanding for your visitors, thus the primarily the focus is on your content.
  2. Offer something unique. It can be a special course material that you’ve personally designed or something like various payment options (installments or discounts). Research your competition and try to find something no one else offers.
  3. Support your clients after the course ends. Create a mailing list and inform them about any business opportunities where they can put what you’ve taught them to practical use.

6. Starting a freelance business

You don’t want to sit in an office all day long? You think that you can sell your knowledge without having a full-time contract? If you are the creative type with an entrepreneurial attitude, then freelancing is a great way to build up your own business.

What do you need?

  1. Define your goals and your profitable niche
  2. Identify your specific target group and market to it. Create a specialized marketing strategy that addresses the issues of your target audience.
  3. Calculate your costs: know what are your expenses so you will know how much you need to earn to not be at a deficit.
  4. Sell yourself as an expert in the territory
  5. Promote yourself on social media or through a website
  6. Create references of your previous work
  7. Choose clients you can co-operate with

What are the risks and challenges?

  1. You will have a hectic income. You’ll hardly be able to predict how much you’ll earn in a given period, so you’ll need to have a savings account in case of income drops.
  2. Acquiring new clients can be challenging. You need to get your own clients, and for this, you have to pitch yourself sometimes, do regular sales and brand yourself. Learning about sales techniques and self-branding can be a big help at this.
  3. Clients can be hard sometimes. You will need to have excellent communication skills and sometimes extra patience to deal with your clients. Invest in some assertive communication training so you will have some go to techniques up your sleeve when dealing with difficult clients.

Tips to stand out from the crowd:

  1. Offer free consultations to possible clients, so you can build trust and show your professional skills
  2. Create special payment plans and options. Allow your clients to pay you in installments and give them benefits if they refer you to new customers.
  3. Be ready with your work by the agreed deadline. Also, have a clear plan to compensate your clients if you are late without due justification. Promote this as a way to give your customers an added sense of security.
  4. Improve yourself with courses in your field. You need to stay up-to-date with the latest developments and apply what you’ve learned in your own work. Display any certificates you earn and use them as a marketing tool.
  5. Make yourself visible on multiple platforms. Be proactive and look for potential clients. Join online communities and contribute to forums. Also, attend as many meetings and professional seminars as you can.
  6. Be honest and transparent with your clients and use your best professional knowledge to help them. If there is something that’s beyond your expertise, admit it. Offer to reduce your rate or compensate them in another manner. People will appreciate the truthful approach and you can contain any damage.

7 Creating a web or mobile app

Everyone can have great ideas, but it takes an effort to make them real – especially in the digital world. If you have an idea that would help people make their lives easier, you can start thinking about bringing it to life in the form of a mobile or web app.

What do you need?

  1. You need a good idea, and you have to check if it already exists or not. If it does exist, see if you can give it a twist to make it stand out. You also have the option of combining two existing products into a unified package.
  2. You need to validate your product/service on the market.
  3. If you are not in a product team yourself you’ll need a team that can help in creating the app. This means getting the right personnel, equipment, and a host of other things. Make sure you take everything into account and come up with a realistic budget. This is particularly helpful if you need to take out a loan in order to get the wheels in motion.
  4. When you’re ready, you need to sell the app and promote it with marketing. You can do this on your own, but you can also hire a specialized agency.

What are the risks and challenges?

  1. Every day there’s a new app, so be prepared for fierce competition. Try to stand out from the crowd, by offering something unique, even if it’s “just” excellent customer care, user experience or a really fun design.
  2. Need for investment: At the very least, you will need to supply the initial capital to create the product. If your pocket is not so deep, you need to get an investor who believes in it. If you are getting the funds from someone else, make sure you work out all the details and have an independent lawyer look over any agreements before you sign them. You can pay the money back directly or agree to give your investor a share of future profits – both are valid options and are worth considering.
  3. Creating a product without real user need. We tend to fall in love with ideas that WE think will help others. And we tend to believe we know how we can solve others problems. But you need to understand your user’s needs to create a product that answers a real problem. Try conducting a poll on social media to get some direct opinions. You can also hire an agency to carry out a validation process for your idea.

Tips to stand out from the crowd:

  1. Give a recognizable identity to your app! Create a beautiful logo and give it a cool name! Do not be afraid to turn to outside help for this. Marketing agencies specialize in this sort of work and their fees can pay off handsomely in the long run. You can also turn to the internet and hire a freelance artist to do the design work.
  2. Promote your app on several channels. Again, social media is your friend. You can also sponsor a YouTube video and generate some buzz that way.
  3. Create detailed screenshots about the features of the app. And don’t stop there. Record videos of the app in action, write comprehensive instructions and make sure you cater to novices and experts alike. Explain what your app does in simple terms so anyone can understand but also offer more details to those who are interested.
  4. Cherish your users. You’d be surprised how much can depend on a quick email answer or a nice welcome email. Talk to your users regularly, put them in first, make them feel that they are special and that you (and your app) is always there to support them.
  5. Get as much feedback as possible to be able to continually improve your app. Set up a way for users to contact you directly with their issues and do your best to address them.

8. Virtual assistant

Anybody who loves to work from home or on the move has a passion for organization, and works quickly and effectively can be a freelance virtual assistant. If you think you could help a project manager by taking over some tasks, offer your services!

What do you need?

  1. Decide what industry you want to join or what service you would like to offer. It is best to go with something you know, although you can also opt for whatever is currently in demand. Since you are a virtual assistant, location is not a barrier.
  2. It does not require a certificate or a license, however, there is a catch. You need to demonstrate what makes you a good choice. Whether it’s formal education or previous experience, make sure you advertise it.
  3. You have to create your own time-management and pricing strategy. The nature of this work gives you a fair bit of freedom, but it also means you have greater responsibilities.
  4. You need to get your own clients. Since you are a virtual assistant, you cannot rely on word-of-mouth to propel you forward. However, there are plenty of job search websites out there and you should make use of them.

What are the risks and challenges?

  1. Getting your first clients is a challenge. Promoting yourself to your first clients can be challenging. In the beginning, you need to rely more heavily on your formal skills and education because you won’t have previous experience. Therefore, preparation is key. Research your potential clients thoroughly and show that during your interview.
  2. Hectic income, especially in the beginning
  3. You don’t know where your clients will be from so you need to be prepared to work unusual hours.

Tips to stand out from the crowd:

  1. Create your personal website, and ask your clients to write you testimonials about your work, so you’ll have social proof on your experience.
  2. Specialize in a market so you’ll get a higher expertise on topics, which will give you a competitive advantage on general VA’s. (Also this will help you do your tasks more efficiently as you’ll have routine)
  3. Promote your business in relevant social media groups and online forums.
  4. Brand yourself with a logo and with a unique email signature. You can hire someone to design them for you if you are not of the artistic nature.
  5. Advertise yourself on social media
  6. Use Twitter and LinkedIn to build your network and gain new inspiration. These platforms may help you acquire clients, start conversations with industry professionals, while they also open up new topics and opportunities.

9. Translator Service

If you are fluent in a specific language and think you can be fast and efficient in translating, either in spoken or written form, then translation may be the perfect business idea for you.

What do you need?

  1. Naturally, you need to be fluent in the chosen language. Otherwise, you can lose clients quickly if they need to work after you.
  2. A certificate (but it’s not a must). However, you will have a lot of competition when it comes to the more popular languages, so it’s a very good idea to have a formal certificate to give you credibility. Check with language institutes in your area and see what options you have available.
  3. A computer to work on
  4. A silent and calm place, where you can focus
  5. Translation software can help you be faster (but sometimes those programs don’t translate well). You can start off with manual translation and slowly work in translation software as you get more comfortable in your role.

What are the risks and challenges?

  1. Translation work is all about the details and it is important to give yourself enough time to address them. However, deadlines can be short so there is always the danger that you’ll need to work long hours.
  2. You need the appropriate technology (computer, internet, audio players)
  3. It takes time to build up the business
  4. Hectic income at the beginning. For this reason, you can consider the option of starting off as a part-time translator until you develop a reasonable client base. You can also give language lessons to supplement your income.

Tips to stand out from the crowd:

  1. Promote your business through networking. Visit translation conferences, lectures, and similar events. Also become a part of online communities.
  2. Advertise yourself on social media
  3. Publish online posts/blogs to have a reference. A strong online presence can be a valuable tool for attracting customers. This is particularly true when you’re just starting off and don’t have a lot of experience to call on.
  4. Always use the right language. Adapt your work to the client. From humorous to strictly professional, make sure you always have the client’s particular needs in mind.
  5. Work experience in a specific field is a major advantage when it comes to translating. Therefore, if you used to be employed in a particular industry, make sure to advertise that as it will attract specific customers.

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve offered 9 online business ideas that are easy to start with, it’s your turn! Find your passion and use it to drive your business so that you won’t lose your motivation. Don’t forget to start with research and see what the needs and paying ability of your target group are. But most importantly, be aware of external factors like laws and regulations. Good luck and have a happy business life!