27 Low Cost and Easy Online Business Ideas that Make Money

Starting an online business is easier and more accessible than ever before thanks to modern technology. With just an internet connection and basic skills, anyone can start a business from home and make money online.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore 27 of the best low-cost online business ideas that can realistically make money in 2023 and beyond.

Why Start an Online Business?

The internet has opened up a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurship and flexible income. Starting an online business provides unmatched advantages compared to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses:

  • Low startup costs: Online businesses can be started with very little capital. You don‘t need commercial space or inventory. Basic website hosting costs less than $10 per month.

  • Global reach: Your online business can be accessed by anyone in the world with an internet connection. No longer limited by geographical constraints.

  • Passive income potential: Well-run online businesses can generate income passively with less hands-on time required from the owner.

  • Flexibility: Manage and operate your online business from anywhere with an internet connection. No long commutes or rigid schedule.

  • Scalability: Online businesses can scale infinitely with automation and outsourcing. Your reach is not limited by physical constraints.

  • Market research: It‘s easier than ever before to conduct market research, analyze trends, and validate your business idea before launching.

While starting an online business still requires consistent effort and hard work, the barriers to entry are lower than ever. If you have the motivation and a valuable skill or service to provide, the possibilities are endless.

1. Start a Blog

Blogging remains one of the most accessible online businesses to start. All you need is a website, quality content, and a bit of search engine optimization.

Focus your blog on a specific niche you‘re knowledgeable and passionate about. Provide useful information that solves people‘s problems or entertains them. The most successful blogs target underserved niches with strong demand but little high-quality information available.

Once you build an audience, there are several ways to monetize your blog:

  • Display advertising (Google AdSense)
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Sponsored posts
  • Digital products (eBooks, online courses, etc.)
  • Consulting/freelancing services
  • Membership subscriptions

Many bloggers are earning 6-figure incomes from blogs that started out as side projects. With a systematic approach to content marketing and traffic growth, you can turn your blog into a full-time business.

2. Become an Affiliate Marketer

Affiliate marketing is one of the fastest and simplest online businesses to start. As an affiliate, you earn commissions promoting other companies‘ products or services on your website.

When one of your readers clicks your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you receive a percentage of that sale as commission. The best part? You don‘t need to handle customer service, returns, or fulfillment.

Affiliate programs are offered by Amazon, ClickBank, ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, and countless other retailers and SaaS companies.

To succeed as an affiliate marketer, focus on providing genuine value to your audience rather than hard selling. The most profitable affiliates build loyal audiences that trust their recommendations.

3. Create and Sell Online Courses

The rise of digital education platforms like Teachable, Thinkific, and Kajabi make it easy to create and sell online courses. Online courses provide passive income potential from an audience hungry to learn new skills.

Choose a topic you have expertise in that people are willing to pay to learn about. Break down your lessons and knowledge into a structured video course curriculum.

Pricing your course above $100 allows you to maximize earnings per sale. Promote your course on your website, email list, social media, and affiliate partnerships.

Many course creators are earning well into the six figures from their educational content and becoming full-time entrepreneurs.

4. Start an Ecommerce Store

Starting an online retail store is easier and more affordable than ever thanks to turnkey ecommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce.

With dropshipping, you can sell products to customers without purchasing inventory upfront or handling logistics. The products are shipped directly from the manufacturer or wholesaler after you make the sale.

To maximize success, thoroughly research your niche using tools like Google Trends. Choose products with proven demand but low competition. Provide excellent customer service and focus on the user experience.

For most retail ecommerce stores, Facebook and Google Ads are essential to drive traffic and sales. As your store grows, you can expand your product catalog, brand, and marketing channels.

5. Build a Membership Website

Membership websites feature premium content, tools, or access available only to paying subscribers. Revenue comes primarily from monthly or yearly membership fees.

Determine the membership benefits you can provide that are worth a recurring fee. Online courses, forums, coaching calls, discounts, and masterminds are common membership perks.

Software like Memberful or MemberPress make it easy to accept memberships on WordPress. Offer tiered pricing plans to appeal to a wider range of your audience.

Memberships are extremely effective at building loyalty and recurring income. Many membership site owners are able to leave full-time jobs and focus on their site as their primary business.

6. Start a Podcast

Podcasting continues to grow as a lucrative online business model. It provides a platform to share your ideas while building a loyal audience.

Choose a podcast topic you‘re knowledgeable and passionate about. Record episodes sharing your insight, telling stories, and interviewing interesting guests.

Once you build an audience, there are several ways to monetize your podcast:

  • Sponsorships and advertisements
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Premium content for subscribers
  • Digital products
  • Live events

Podcasters use websites and email lists to further engage with their audience and drive revenue opportunities. If you consistently produce high-quality content, your podcast can become a thriving online business.

7. Offer Consulting/Freelance Services

Offering professional skills and expertise as a consultant or freelancer remains highly profitable. Top freelancing skills include:

  • Copywriting
  • Graphic design
  • Video editing
  • Voice over
  • Bookkeeping
  • Web development
  • Search engine optimization

Determine what high-demand skills and services you can offer online. Having specialized knowledge or qualifications can increase your earning potential.

Freelancing platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer can provide initial clients as you build up your reputation and portfolio.

8. Sell Informational Products

Creating informational products is a great way to earn from your knowledge while building authority. These are some of the most popular informational products:

  • eBooks
  • Online courses
  • Video tutorials
  • Cheat sheets/checklists
  • Audio lessons
  • Software/templates
  • Guidebooks

Determine helpful, in-demand information you can package to sell. Use sites like Selz, Gumroad, or Shopify to sell your digital products online.

Informational products provide potential for passive income. Outside of the initial time investment to create them, they can continue earning residual sales.

9. Become a Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants provide administrative and clerical tasks for clients remotely. Common VA services include:

  • Calendar management
  • Email management
  • Data entry
  • Customer service
  • Social media management
  • Event planning

VAs enjoy location flexibility while building transferable business skills. This is an accessible online business that only requires basic software and organizational abilities.

Sign up for sites like Zirtual and Fancy Hands to gain initial clients. As you build experience, aim to find higher-paying clients directly.

10. Teach English Online

Teaching English online has become a popular way to make money from home, especially for native speakers. The demand for ESL instructors continues growing.

Platforms like VIPKid, Cambly, Qkids, and Outschool allow you to teach English online to students abroad. Lessons typically take place over video chat software.

This online business has flexible hours and provides the chance to become immersed in new cultures. Most platforms only require a bachelor‘s degree and ESL certification.

11. Start a Niche Blog

While general blogging is saturated, launching a niche blog still provides massive opportunities. Find a specific, profitable topic that aligns with your interests and expertise.

Some examples include gaming blogs, outdoors blogs, web development blogs, personal finance blogs, RV blogs, and food blogs. Dig deep into topics people are passionate about.

Become an authoritative voice by providing well-researched, in-depth content. Use targeted keywords and SEO to drive organic search traffic.

Monetize your niche blog through affiliate marketing, digital products, and advertising related to your niche. A thriving niche blog can produce multiple income streams.

12. Launch a YouTube Channel

YouTube presents major money making potential for creators of all sizes and niches. YouTube channels can be monetized with Google AdSense or sponsorships.

Study your niche to identify underserved video topics and styles. Consistently upload high-quality, optimized content to build your following. Leverage YouTube SEO and community engagement.

Once your channel grows an audience, you can diversify income through affiliate links, merchandise, fan funding platforms like Patreon, and outside business opportunities.

Many YouTubers are earning well into the six figures solely from ad revenue sharing. Even smaller channels can easily monetize their expertise through YouTube.

13. Become a Social Media Influencer

Social media provides the ability to make money by monetizing your audience and influence. Brand sponsorships represent big money making potential.

Build a large following on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. Partner with brands relevant to your niche to promote their products.

You can also make money with affiliate links, digital products, and advertising. Teaming up with other influencers and remaining authentic helps growth.

Top influencers command 5 and 6-figure deals from brand sponsorships. But you can start small and work your way up in your niche.

14. Sell Photos Online

Several stock photo sites like Shutterstock, iStock, Adobe Stock, and Alamy allow you to sell photos online and receive royalties.

Take high-quality photos that appeal commercially for blogs, advertisements, magazines, merchandise, and more. Upload your photos and get paid when they‘re downloaded.

To maximize earnings, leverage platforms like ViewBug that provide feedback from professional photographers. Check photo licensing terms for how your work can be used.

This online business turns your photography hobby into residual passive income. With enough quality photos, your royalties can add up substantially over time.

15. Start an Etsy Shop

Arts and crafts make for great online business opportunities, especially on a site like Etsy. You can sell handmade products without managing an entire ecommerce site.

Etsy allows you to set up a shop for free to sell your handmade crafts, artwork, jewelry, clothing, home decor, and more. They handle payment processing, shipping, and customer service.

Focus on creating unique, high-quality products. Smart SEO and marketing of your Etsy shop can attract buyers. Successful Etsy sellers earn well into the six figures.

16. Become a Web Designer

Expert web design skills remain in steady demand for online businesses of all types. Everyone needs a professionally designed website to succeed online.

Learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, responsive design, page speed optimization, and Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Build a compelling web design portfolio highlighting your skills.

Many web designers earn well into the six figures. You can offer web design services on a freelance basis or build an web design agency with contractors.

Recurring website maintenance contracts provide steady income. Companies will pay more for custom sites versus cookie-cutter templates.

17. Start Fashion/Style Blog

Launching a fashion, beauty or style blog allows you to turn your passions into profits online. These topics attract dedicated audiences.

Share your best tips, product reviews, style advice, DIY tutorials, and trend analysis. Use high-quality photos and videos to showcase your content.

Monetize your blog through affiliate marketing, advertising, sponsored posts, and your own product lines. Growing social media and selling digital guides or courses also provide income.

With consistent blogging and social media engagement, you can establish yourself as an influencer in your niche.

18. Tutor Students Online

If you have teaching skills, becoming an online tutor allows you to set your own hours and rates. This is one of the most accessible online businesses to start.

Tutoring platforms like Varsity Tutors, Chegg Tutors, and TutorMe provide instant access to student clients. You can tutor K-12, college, or adult learners in your expertise areas.

Focusing on standardized test prep for SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT scores can be especially lucrative. This helps pay off your own educational background.

19. Start a Resume Writing Service

Offering professional resume and cover letter writing services can be a profitable online business. These skills are constantly in demand by job seekers.

Familiarize yourself with principles of modern resume writing and optimizing for applicant tracking systems. Stay up-to-date on trends.

A professional website with strong writing samples helps attract clients. Allow clients to order services and submit information through online forms.

Offer tiered packages from basic resume edits to complete resume writing. Expand over time into LinkedIn profile optimization and career coaching.

20. Become a Copywriter

Copywriting involves writing compelling marketing content like ads, emails, landing pages, articles, social media posts, and more. These skills are hugely valuable for online businesses.

Study direct response copywriting principles and read books/courses. Learn from top copywriters and constantly sharpen your skills. Develop a portfolio of writing samples.

Many freelance copywriters earn 6-figure incomes. You can start small with individual clients and progress to contract or full-time copywriting work.

21. Start a Recipes Blog

Launching a recipes blog allows you to blend your cooking or baking skills with content creation. Recipes remain one of the most shared types of content.

Share your best original recipes focused on a specific cuisine or dietary niche. Use high-quality photos and videos to showcase your recipes.

Monetize your recipes blog with affiliate links, advertising, branded collaborations, cookbooks, online cooking classes, or your own food products.

There remains massive demand for high-quality and unique recipes content. Position yourself as an expert creator in your niche.

22. Become a Bookkeeper

Bookkeeping is a recession-proof online business that will always be in demand. You can get started with just bookkeeping qualifications and accounting software.

Offer general bookkeeping services to small businesses and entrepreneurs. This includes tasks like reconciling accounts, tracking income and expenses, processing payroll, preparing financial statements, and more.

As your client base grows, consider specializing in a specific industry like ecommerce, healthcare, real estate, or construction.

Bookkeepers can make $30 – $60 per hour. You gain flexibility to work from anywhere while helping businesses succeed.

23. Start a Podcast

As highlighted earlier, podcasting presents a highly scalable online business if you consistently produce high-quality content. Choose a niche you’re passionate about that builds a targeted audience.

Come up with creative podcast content formats beyond basic interviews, including narrated stories, solo lessons, Q&As, case studies, and more.

Maximize discoverability by pitching to other shows for cross-promotions. Get reviews on iTunes. Promote episodes through your website, email lists, and social media.

Once you reach 1,000+ downloads per episode, advertising and sponsorships become more accessible. Leverage your audience creatively.

24. Create Online Courses

Developing your own online courses allows you to generate sales 24/7/365 of focused educational content. Courses can be hosted on your own site or platforms like Udemy.

Identify high-demand skills you can teach online. Break your lessons down into a series of video modules for better absorption. Bundle printable resources for higher perceived value.

Use social media and content marketing to find your first students. Seek out affiliates and influencers to help promote your course. Consider discounted launches or bundle pricing.

Information is now being consumed online in all niches. Position yourself as a thought leader by developing authoritative online courses.

25. Start a Service Business

Offering local services like house cleaning, junk removal, mobile pet grooming, lawn care, and errands run remains a steady online business model. These skills are always in demand.

Determine services you can provide that solve problems for people and businesses in your area. Estimate costs and define your rates and packages.

Create a professional website showcasing your services, about page, and contact information. Market yourself on local directories and social media using targeted keywords.

Provide 5-star customer service and competitive rates to stand out. Slowly expand into more premium service offerings over time.

26. Become a Virtual Assistant

As outlined previously, virtual assistants help clients handle administrative tasks so they can focus on higher priorities in their business.

Common skills VAs provide include email and calendar management, data entry, customer service, project management, social media marketing, and more. You can niche down over time.

Many new VAs get started on sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer to build their profile. Then you can progress to higher-paying private clients.

This online business has massive flexibility. You gain great transferable skills while controlling your income and schedule.

27. Start Reselling Products

Sourcing and reselling products for a profit represents a scalable, low-cost business model if done right. You don‘t need your own physical products.

Some popular reselling approaches include liquidation/wholesale, thrift stores, clearance arbitrage, Alibaba imports, and auction/estate sales.

Utilize platforms like eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, and Depop to list products. Handle customer service and fulfillment yourself.

Experiment to determine the most profitable niches and products. Maintain lean operations and solid margins. This business can be grown indefinitely.

Written by Jason Striegel

C/C++, Java, Python, Linux developer for 18 years, A-Tech enthusiast love to share some useful tech hacks.