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5 Types of Online Businesses You Can Start Today

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Earning money online doesn’t have to consist of trading lots of time for very little return. There’s many ways you can make money online without filling out surveys, writing 500 word reviews for less than $1 or completing web searches to earn rewards that can take months to add up to $5.

Anyone can start an online business and earn money. You don’t need to be tech savvy or even know anything about running a business. It doesn’t matter where in the world you live, with the internet you can reach thousands of people in your target audience.

Unlike a brick-and-mortar business, you don’t need a lot of money for start-up expenses. You can start many types of online businesses for less than $100.

Set up a website for less than $4/month today and start earning money online. By leveraging affiliate programs like Amazon Associates, ShareASale and Rakuten (Linkshare) you don’t even need your own product to sell.

Here are 5 online businesses you can start for cheap.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is when you promote a product/service to your audience and earn a commission for every referred sale. There is no additional charge to purchasers and you get to share products you love. This is one of my favorite ways to earn money online.

This type of online business works best when you pick a profitable niche and find affiliate programs that offer products related to that niche. Some of the most popular affiliate programs are Amazon Associates, ShareASale, Clickbank and Rakuten (Linkshare). These affiliate programs offer both digital and physical products for just about every niche.

Create a website (you can create one for less than $4/month here). Your website doesn’t have to be set up to accept payments as you’ll be directing traffic to the seller’s site where the payment will be made. Remember, you’re the middle man, promoting the product then earning a commission for each referred sale.

Choose a niche to focus on then do your research on various affiliate programs to see which ones offer products specific to that niche. Apply to the affiliate programs you’ve selected. Once you’re approved you can start promoting your unique affiliate links on your website. You can do this through a regular blog post. Upload an image of the product you’re going to promote and add a call to action such as ‘click here to purchase’. Write a post about the product; this can be tricky if you’ve never used the product which is why I often recommend you only promote products you’ve used. If you promote products you’ve never used and something goes wrong your reputation could be on the line.

When someone clicks on your link and completes the purchase the sale is recorded and you receive a commission. Commissions range from 5-25%, some are even 40% or higher for digital products. Commissions are typically paid out monthly but be sure to read the affiliate terms for each program to understand how and when commission payments are made.

For this type of business to be successful you’ll want to learn as much as you can about online marketing. You don’t have to be a marketing guru but understanding how to promote your posts and affiliate links on social media is going to be helpful.

Benefits:

  • No investment in inventory
  • No storage space required to hold inventory
  • Payments, shipping, returns and customer service is all handled by the seller
  • Work from anywhere there is internet connection
  • Don’t have to have your own products to sell

Blogging

If you have a skill, knowledge in a particular area or a passion for a certain topic you have all you need to start a blog. Many people think that to be a successful blogger you need to be a good writer. But, you could post photos, videos, links to other sites, repost other people’s articles (in the original format). There’s so many options that don’t involve writing content. You could even hire someone else to write for you.

I’ve met many people who are earning 6 figure incomes from their blog and you can too. It takes time to build up but can have a huge payoff.

If you want to be able to monetize your blog don’t start with a free blog platform such as blogger. These free platforms often limit your ability to earn money.

To get your blog started check out my step-by-step tutorial.

The content you provide will be completely dependent on your niche. One piece of advice around niching, you can always change this as you go. Many bloggers start out focusing on one thing then find the more they write/post the more they want to talk about something else. Switching niches or having a multi-passionate site that has different blog categories is completely possible. That’s the nice part about blogging, it’s flexible.

Need a little more proof that blogging can earn you a full-time income? Michelle Schroeder-Gardner earns over 100k monthly from her blog Making Sense of Cents.

Benefits:

  • Share your knowledge and/or express yourself and your passion
  • Provide a solution to other people’s problems
  • Build authority in your field
  • Numerous ways to monetize your blog such as advertising, sponsored posts, affiliate links
  • Inexpensive and easy to start

Information Products

Monetize your expertise by teaching others. Digital products are very popular and probably one of the best ways to earn passive income online. There’s many types of digital products you can easily and quickly create.

  • Webinars (these can be live or pre-recorded)
  • E-courses
  • E-books
  • Stock photos

Digital products are an excellent source of passive income. Once the product is created, you can automate the delivery and earn money while you sleep.

Selling digital products will also help you build your email list. When you collect email addresses from your customers, you can then send an email to your list announcing new products they may be interested in. If they were satisfied with the first product they are more likely to purchase more products from you.

The best part, you don’t even need to have a fully launched website before starting to sell your digital products. Set up a landing page and payment process for your product and you’re good to go. You can sync your digital product to be delivered via email when someone purchases or use a company like SendOwl to take care of the payment and delivery process for you.

Check out how Natalie Bacon tripled her business income in one year after she created 6 digital products.

Benefits:

  • Greater profits if you don’t use a third party site to sell the digital product
  • Build your email list
  • Minimal start up costs
  • Excellent source of passive income
  • Can easily offer content upgrades

YouTube

If you enjoy being in front of the camera this one’s for you. It works much the same way as blogging expect is specific to uploading videos to your YouTube Channel.

Once you’ve started gaining a consistent number of views on your videos you can choose to monetize your account. This will allow Google to start showing ads on your videos. When someone clicks on one of those ads, you’ll get paid.

When you’re following starts to reach a certain level brands may start reaching out to you for sponsorships. Brands will pay you to promote their products in your video. But, don’t wait for brands to reach out to you. Pitch yourself to brands you want to work with…you may be surprised which companies say yes.

To be successful in this field you’ll want to work on creating professional-looking videos with good audio quality. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and invest in expensive tech equipment. You can use your smartphone to record.

  • Shoot in good lighting. With a Neewer tripod which comes with a ring light you won’t have to worry about lighting or shakiness in your videos.
  • If the audio quality on your recordings is poor, consider using a microphone such as the Blue Yeti
  • Use simple editing software such as iMovie or Lightworks

Dropshipping

The basic idea behind an online dropshipping business is that you sell products that another company ships. You don’t have the products in your possession. Instead, you purchase products from a wholesaler (at a discounted price), list them on your e-commerce website, or sites such as Amazon or Ebay. When someone purchases the item from your website, you notify the wholesaler then they ship the item to the customer. You never have to handle the product.

Example: You create an e-commerce website and list various t-shirts for sale. You purchase these t-shirts from a wholesaler at a cost of $4/per shirt. You list the shirt at a retail price of $20. When someone purchase the shirt you keep $16 profit, provide the shipping information to the wholesaler who then ships the item to the customer.

Benefits:

  • You don’t need to invest thousands of dollars in inventory
  • Many wholesalers don’t require payment upfront meaning you only pay for the items you sell
  • No storage space required to hold inventory
  • Don’t have to worry about packaging and shipping items
  • You can work for anywhere you have an internet connection

Wrapping It Up

There’s so many ways you can start making money online today. To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed choose one type of revenue source and get going. Once you’ve mastered one you can add more revenue streams. The amount of income you earn is up to you and the work you put into it. People are making small fortunes online every day, it’s time for you to get a piece of the pie.

For more ideas and success stories check out Chris Guillebeau’s The $100 Startup. Chris shares the stories of 50 people who had no special skills yet discovered aspects of their personal passions that could be monetized. Many of these individuals started their businesses for less than $100 and now earn over $50k/year.

>Five types of online businesses to start for less than one hundred dollars

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