29 Best Online Business Ideas (for 2024)

  • Brandon Boushy by Brandon Boushy
  • 9 months ago
  • Blog
  • 5
smiling man with a laptop and money on the table

Are you spending too much time on social media? Why not use it to your advantage? Check out these profitable online businesses that we hope will inspire you.

After you’ve chosen a business idea, learn how to start an online business.

The 3 Most Profitable Online Business Ideas

beautiful young woman holding a laptop

As you’ll see from this list of the best online business ideas, there’s a lot of variety in how much you can earn with any of these business ventures. A lot of it comes down to your skills and how much time you want to devote to growing your revenue. Having said that, though, here are three online business ideas that are consistently at the top of most profitable business lists. 

#1. Voiceover Business

voice over business

  • Average Annual Revenue: $50K-$110K
  • Average Profit Margins: 19.8%
  • Startup Cost: $3K-$5K
  • Time To Revenue: 1-6 months 
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 0.7%
  • Best for: Strong readers and performers

If you’ve ever been told that you have a great voice for radio, this could be an ideal online business idea for you. Voiceover artists get paid to read scripts, audiobooks, or other written materials. You don’t need to have acting skills or training to do this, either, just the ability to clearly and correctly read a written text aloud. Sites like Backstage and voices.com make it easy to start building your experience and client list.

Pros of Becoming a Voiceover Artist:

  • Can be a full-time business or a side-hustle
  • Easy to do from home with a flexible schedule
  • Low money and time investment to start
  • Get paid to contribute to creative projects 

Cons of Offering Voiceover Services:

  • Will need to invest in a high-quality microphone and recording equipment 
  • You might not get accredited as the voice of Siri

#2. Accounting and Bookkeeping

accounting and bookkeeping

  • Average Annual Revenue: $244K/employee
  • Average Profit Margins: 18%
  • Startup Cost: $500-$2.5K
  • Time To Revenue: 3-12 months (plus accounting degree)
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 1%
  • Best for: Certified accountants, entrepreneurs with strong math and financial skills

This is one of the few online business ideas on the list that you will need a degree or some kind of formal training and certification to get into.

Breaking into the virtual bookkeeping space can be a challenge even with these credentials since you’ll be competing against large, well-known corporations who provide these services. For someone who has accounting experience and wants the flexibility of being their own boss, though, this is an online business that pays well. 

Pros of Accounting or Bookkeeping:

  • Relatively high earning potential
  • Low initial financial investment
  • Can be scaled by growing into an agency
  • Work is largely flexible and independent

Cons of Accounting or Bookkeeping:

  • Will need CPA or similar certification
  • Competition from large firms for the best clients

#3. Start a Blog, Podcast, or YouTube Channel

  • Average Annual Revenue: $712K/employee
  • Average Profit Margins: 14.6%
  • Startup Cost: $100-$200
  • Time To Revenue: 1 month to 3 years
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: -1.5%
  • Best for: Content creators, people with unique, in-demand, or niche interests and knowledge 

It seems like everyone and their brother has a blog, podcast, or YouTube channel–but there’s a reason for that. These are among the top online business ideas if you’re looking for a low barrier to entry, both in terms of costs and the difficulty of getting started.

Not only can each be a profitable business on its own, but they work well together or as a secondary income stream for a different small business, such as an affiliate marketer, social media manager, e-commerce store, or similar internet business ideas.

Now, the flip side of this is that, because these are such popular formats for sharing ideas, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. Having social media marketing expertise can help bring in the traffic to make blogs, podcasts, or YouTube channels into successful online businesses. Having a defined target audience in mind can help, too, especially if it’s in a niche that’s not yet oversaturated. 

Entrepreneurs on Fire is among the most popular and profitable business podcasts, with nearly 4,000 episodes, more than 142 million listens, and an average revenue of more than $150,000 a month. Hear the EOFire team’s tips for starting a podcast in this interview.

Pros of Starting a Blog, Podcast, or YouTube Channel:

  • Very low start-up expenses
  • No specialized skill or knowledge required
  • Works well with other online business ideas
  • Can work anytime and from anywhere

Cons of Starting a Blog, Podcast, or YouTube Channel:

  • High initial time investment with no guarantee of a return
  • Can take a while to build into a profitable venture

Brandon’s Picks: 3 Reliable Business Ideas

Here at UpFlip, we had an extensive discussion about what the most profitable businesses are. There are three industries that every business relies on to make money. These industries are:

  1. Software Developers (9.3% of GDP)
  2. Marketing (20% of GDP)
  3. Web Design (23% Expected Growth through 2031)

We included them next because they are the ones that have their hand in almost every part of the economy.

#4. Software Development

  • Average Annual Revenue: $400K-$1M+
  • Average Profit Margins: 14.5%
  • Startup Cost: $100-$50K, depending on size and scope
  • Time To Revenue: 3 months to 2 years
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 3.1%
  • Best for: Programmers, developers, and software engineers

Developing software can be a very lucrative online business venture. Just ask Pace Ellsworth, who started App-to-Exit as an automation tool for other entrepreneurs and has grown it to an average revenue of $45,000 every month. Pace shared his story in an UpFlip podcast interview. Have a listen if you want more advice on how to start an online business developing software.

A similar niche of online businesses is mobile app development. This could mean creating apps to sell in the Apple app store or Google Play store, or designing cloud-based SaaS applications that function as an online service business.

That’s what Ed Warren did when he pivoted his mobile detailing business into an app for service businesses during the Covid pandemic. Today, Zippity is one of the top mobile business software providers in the United States (hear our interview with Ed to learn more). 

Development Pros:

  • Low investment at startup
  • Lucrative business with potential for passive income
  • High demand and growth potential
  • Easily scalable
  • Don’t need programming skills if you use no-code/low-code platforms

Development Cons:

  • Requires a lot of time invested before you start making revenue
  • Low code tools make people think software development is easy

We’ve done another interview with Jason that you can check out below:

#5. Digital Marketing

  • Average Annual Revenue: $817K 
  • Average Profit Margins: 6.9%
  • Startup Cost: $1,800-$16K
  • Time To Revenue: 1-6 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.3%
  • Best for: Entrepreneurs skilled in social media, marketing strategies, data analysis, and similar areas 

Many small business owners are experts in their niche, but not necessarily in how to find customers—and most small businesses lack a budget for a dedicated social media manager or in-house marketing team. This means there are lots of eager customers for digital marketing experts.

Eric Berman started his digital marketing agency, Brandetize, in 2001, and it now makes an average revenue of $400,000 every month (hear UpFlip’s interview with Eric).

If you’re skilled at attracting potential customers to a business by using social media, influencer marketing, or similar strategies, a digital marketing agency can be a very profitable business. 

You can also specialize in a specific niche, like starting a social media management business, a marketing consulting business, or opening a firm to conduct market research on behalf of companies. 

Digital Marketing Pros:

  • Relatively low startup costs
  • High average profit margins
  • Easy to scale and automate
  • Great way to leverage social media expertise to become your own boss

Digital Marketing Cons:

  • Can take a while to build a reputation and attract clients
  • The tools are constantly changing
  • Industry is time-sensitive and you need to keep up with trends

#6. Web Design and Web Development

website design and development

  • Average Annual Revenue: $239K+
  • Average Profit Margins: 5.3%
  • Startup Cost: $100-$1K
  • Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.4%
  • Best for: Designers, programmers, or anyone with website-building skills 

There are lots of platforms for people to make their own website, but that can be a long, involved process that many entrepreneurs and business owners don’t have time for. At the same time, having a website that’s attractive and easy to navigate is a must for business owners across industries today. That makes the web design and development niche one of the most in-demand online business ideas, especially for those who want to work with other online business owners.

Web design and web development are similar but distinct skill sets. Web development means building and maintaining the behind-the-scenes coding and framework that makes a website functional. Web design is how the website looks, including its layout, graphics, text, and other elements on the page. 

Some online businesses handle both areas, while others focus on one or the other. Consider your skill sets and interests to decide which of these makes the most sense for your life. Both can be very profitable business ventures that don’t require much beyond an internet connection and knowledge of how to make your own website.

Design and Development Pros:

  • Affordable and quick to get started
  • High demand
  • Easy to scale by growing into an agency
  • Can be started and run from home by a solopreneur
  • Required skills can be learned for free online

Design and Development Cons:

  • Fast pace of change can make it tricky to keep up with the latest trends
  • Can take a while to build a reputation and secure clients

Top 9 online businesses you can start quickly

top nine online businesses

Do you want (or need) to start bringing in income as soon as possible?

Some small business ideas can take a while to get up and running, and not everyone has the luxury to wait for them to generate revenue. With that in mind, here are ten ideas for online business ventures that require little time and effort upfront, and can easily go from idea to first earnings in a month or less. 

#7. T-shirt Printing and Custom Apparel

  • Average Annual Revenue: $147K/employee
  • Average Profit Margins: 3.2%
  • Startup Cost: $1K-$200K, depending on size
  • Time To Revenue: 30-90 days
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 3.3%
  • Best for: Those with graphic design or marketing expertise

A custom apparel business is a great way to start your own online store without needing to worry about inventory. Graphic designers are especially well-positioned to start an online apparel company, but you don’t need impressive design skills to launch a successful business. Here are some resources if you want to learn more about starting a t-shirt printing company:

  • UpFlip blog: How to Start a $41K/Month T-Shirt Business  
  • UpFlip podcast: How to Start a $500K/Month T-Shirt Printing Business
  • UpFlip podcast: How to Start a T-Shirt Printing Business and Scale It to 7 Figures

Check out another interview we’ve done with Sanford Booth below:

Custom Clothing Pros:

  • Minimal resources required to start
  • Flexible schedule and capability to work anywhere
  • Can use automation and other software to make it mostly passive
  • Doesn’t require any specialized knowledge or skill set

Custom Clothing Cons:

  • Lots of competition from other sellers
  • Work can be repetitive and less creative than expected

#8. eBay Reselling

ebay reselling business

  • Average Annual Revenue: $60K-$120K
  • Average Profit Margins: 5-15%
  • Startup Cost: $100-$1K
  • Time To Revenue: 30-90 days
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: -9.3% (Based on eBay annual reports)
  • Best for: Thrifters and collectors

An eBay store is fast and inexpensive to open. Once that’s set up, all you’ll need to start an online store is the inventory you’ll sell. When Mike Wilson opened Golden State Picker, he started by selling items he already had, then used those profits to get more inventory from thrift stores, storage unit auctions, and online marketplaces. He explains how he grew that into a $30,000-a-month business in this podcast interview.

Pros of Selling on eBay:

  • No specialized skills or knowledge needed
  • Easy and affordable to start
  • Can be run from home by a solo entrepreneur
  • Platform comes with a built-in audience of potential customers

Cons of Becoming an eBay Seller:

  • Will need a space for your back inventory
  • No guarantee the items you buy will turn a profit

#9. Affiliate Marketing

affiliate marketing business

  • Average Annual Revenue: $60K-$160K
  • Average Profit Margins: 8%
  • Startup Cost: $500-$2K
  • Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 10.5%
  • Best for: Bloggers, YouTubers, those with a large social media presence

Affiliate marketers promote products or services on behalf of other businesses and get a commission on each sale that’s made through their efforts. This makes affiliate marketing an excellent extra revenue stream for a blog or YouTube channel, but it can also be a lucrative stand-alone business—and you don’t need to be a social media influencer to make a living with affiliate marketing. Just ask Matt Diggity, an SEO specialist who started a 7-figure affiliate marketing business (hear Matt’s story and insights in this podcast).

Affiliate Marketing Pros:

  • Low startup costs and time investment
  • No need to store or manage inventory
  • Potential for a mostly-passive income
  • Wide range of niches you can match to your interests
  • Profit from recommending products and services you like and use

Cons of Affiliate Marketing:

  • Need to reach a large audience to see significant profits
  • The niche is considered to be dishonest because many people suggest the product that pays them the most

#10. Online Tutoring Business

online tutoring business

  • Average Annual Revenue: $30K-$50K
  • Average Profit Margins: 13.1%
  • Startup Cost: $100-$1K
  • Time To Revenue: 1-6 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 8.5% 
  • Best for: Educators, experts in a particular skill or knowledge area

Tutoring is a great way to start an online business by sharing your knowledge and expertise with others, without the significant upfront time investment it takes to start online courses. 

Online tutors typically work one-on-one with students and usually earn a minimum of $30-$40 per hour, or more if the subject you’re teaching is complex or in high demand. Since that knowledge is all you need to get started, you can start looking for students and earning money pretty much as soon as you decide to start an online business. 

Finding students is often the most challenging part of starting a tutoring business online. The good news is there are plenty of apps and websites out there that can help, like Stride Tutoring, Preply, or Varsity Tutors.

Pros of Becoming an Online Tutor:

  • Low startup costs
  • Help others learn while you make income
  • Easy to start and run from home
  • Doesn’t require inventory or equipment
  • Full control over when and how much you work

Cons of Starting an Online Tutoring Business:

  • Lower income potential than other online business options
  • Can be tricky to find students as an independent online tutor

#11. Dropshipping

Screenshot of dropshipping business from upflip website

  • Average Annual Revenue: $36K-$50K
  • Average Profit Margins: 5%
  • Startup Cost: $150-$500
  • Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 25%
  • Best for: Those with marketing and eCommerce skills

Dropshipping is one of the best online business ideas that has both a low upfront time and money investment and can potentially bring in a big profit. In this business model, the dropshipper partners with suppliers whose products they sell online. 

The main challenge of dropshipping is how to connect with those customers, and knowledge of SEO, social media platforms, and other digital marketing strategies will be very helpful in creating a successful online business.

The potential income from a dropshipping business varies widely. Ryan Hogue started his online business dropshipping through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and has grown it to more than $50,000 in revenue every month (find out how in this interview). 

It can take a while to build your earnings to that level, however. You can find advice on how to grow an FBA business quickly in this blog post

Pros of Dropshipping Businesses:

  • Low startup costs and upfront time investment
  • No need to manage inventory 
  • Potential to be a mostly passive income stream
  • Flexible schedule and low ongoing time commitment

Cons of Drop Shipping Businesses:

  • Need strong marketing skills to find and land customers
  • Per-product cost is often higher than when you buy and store

#12. Become a Virtual Assistant

  • Average Annual Revenue: $35K-$50K
  • Average Profit Margins: 10.5%
  • Startup Cost: $100-$200
  • Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.9%
  • Best for: Detail-oriented people, those with administrative, clerical, or similar experience

A virtual assistant works with other entrepreneurs and business owners, taking care of day-to-day clerical tasks so their clients can focus on the higher-level responsibilities of running their business. This can include responding to emails, scheduling meetings and appointments, managing their social media accounts, or similar logistic, marketing, and administrative duties. Depending on your skill set, you can earn anywhere from around $23 to $60 or more per hour as a virtual assistant. 

VA Pros:

  • One of the cheapest online business ideas to start
  • No specialized skills required
  • Doesn’t require equipment or inventory
  • Great for a small online home business

VA Cons:

  • Lower earning potential than other online business ideas 
  • Competition with overseas talent

#13. Translation

  • Average Annual Revenue: $75K-$200K
  • Average Profit Margins: 12.4%
  • Startup Cost: $100-$200
  • Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.2%
  • Best for: People who speak more than one language

This is a great online business idea for people who speak more than one language. A wide range of people need translation services, from content creators to marketers, small business owners, and educators. The most in-demand languages to and from English include German, Mandarin, Arabic, French, Japanese, and Spanish—and you can earn even more if you’re multilingual and capable of translation between three or more languages. 

Pros of Offering Translation Services:

  • Minimal startup costs and setup time
  • High demand with lots of work available
  • Work on your own schedule from home
  • No need to create or promote your own content

Cons of Offering Translation Services:

  • Requires fluency in multiple languages to succeed
  • Regional dialects may vary

#14. Writing and Content Creation

  • Average Annual Revenue: $712K/employee
  • Average Profit Margins: 14.6%
  • Startup Cost: $100-$200
  • Time To Revenue: 1 month to 3 years
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: -1.5%
  • Best for: Creative entrepreneurs with strong communication skills

There are a lot of ways you can make creating content into a viable business online. Many people start by ghostwriting or writing copy for other people or businesses. If you have ideas you think others will be interested in, you can also start your own blog, ebooks, or other content and either sell it or monetize it through affiliate marketing or sell ad space to other businesses. 

That flexibility is one of the main advantages and reasons to start an online business as a writer. However, it’s also very appealing to others with these skills and something to say, so there is quite a bit of competition for readers and well-paying assignments. 

Pros of Writing (Not To Be Mistaken with Prose):

  • Work on your own schedule from anywhere
  • Only need a word processor and internet connection to start
  • Straightforward and simple business model
  • Can choose the topics and type of writing you like to do

Cons of Being a Writer:

  • Crowded field with a lot of competition
  • Writer’s block
  • You don’t always get to pick your topics

#15. Photography

photography business

  • Average Annual Revenue: $50K
  • Average Profit Margins: 7.3%
  • Startup Cost: $1K-$10K
  • Time To Revenue: 1-6 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 0.3%
  • Best for: Visual artists and other creative entrepreneurs

Every photo you see in an ad, article, or blog post was taken by someone, and that someone can be you if you start a photography small business online.

There are a lot of ways you can go about starting an online business as a photographer. You could take photos on assignment for clients, sell the photos you’ve already taken through a gallery or online store, or take and sell stock photos on a site like Shutterstock or Getty Images.

Learn how one photographer makes $2 million per year:

Pros of Becoming a Photographer:

  • Flexible job you can do from anywhere
  • Quick to get started 
  • You choose when and how much you work
  • Great online business idea for visual artists and designers

Cons of Photography:

  • Equipment can be costly to get and maintain
  • Low barrier of entry
  • This is a low-growth field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Ideas for online store businesses

E-commerce stores are among the most popular small online business ideas and often the first thing people think about when they consider creating an online business. In truth, the sky’s the limit when it comes to shop ideas, and you can sell anything you can find customers for. Here are some online stores ideas to get you started if you think an eCommerce store is the right business venture for you. 

#16. Handmade Products eCommerce Business 

  • Average Annual Revenue: $50K-$100K
  • Average Profit Margins: 15%
  • Startup Cost: $100-$1K
  • Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: unknown
  • Best for: Crafty and artistic entrepreneurs

Handmade, artisan goods are a unique and thoughtful gift for friends and family, and selling them through an eCommerce site rather than a brick-and-mortar store both expands your potential customers and cuts down on overhead costs. You can also easily run this online business from home and can start off making items to order, cutting down on the costs of buying and storing a big inventory.

You don’t have to build your eCommerce store from scratch, either. Sites like Etsy and Shopify are easy to use and come with built-in audiences to jumpstart sales and growth for an online selling business. 

If you already have a crafty hobby like knitting, woodcraft, or jewelry making, you can leverage those skills to start an online home business. You don’t even need any experience with crafting to start. Jazmin Richards had only made a few candles for fun before she started her business Blk Sunflower and made $300,000 in her first 18 months. You can read this blog post or watch our YouTube interview with Jazmin to hear how she did it. 

Pros of Opening a Handmade Product Store:

  • Fast and affordable to start
  • Low overhead and ongoing costs
  • Flexible schedule and easy to start as a side hustle
  • Make money doing things you enjoy 

Cons of Opening a Handmade Product Store:

  • Can’t be scaled as easily as other online business ideas
  • Quality control is difficult with products made by hand

#17. Clothing eCommerce Business

clothing ecommerce business

  • Average Annual Revenue: $147K/employee
  • Average Profit Margins: 3.3%
  • Startup Cost: $2K-$10K
  • Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 3.4%
  • Best for: Entrepreneurs with an interest in fashion

Unique and fashionable apparel is a huge seller in online stores. One great thing about clothes is that they’re not something people just buy once. Many people change up what they wear with the seasons and are always looking for exciting new pieces to add to their wardrobe. This is what makes starting an online clothing shop such a profitable business idea. 

There are a few ways you can go about this kind of online store. You could find and resell vintage clothing, sell the latest fashion trends from well-known designers, or create your own unique clothing line for customers.

This doesn’t need to be an either/or choice. Entrepreneur Katie Echeverry started her online business, Unique Vintage, reselling vintage apparel, then later evolved into a manufacturer of new vintage-style clothes (hear advice from Katie in this interview).

You don’t need to stick to just clothes, either. Other apparel like shoes, purses, jewelry, or similar accessories can also be big sellers for a fashion-oriented online store. Afshan Abbas is one entrepreneur who’s had success in this space, starting her own shoe line, Fuchsia Shoes, and growing it to $60,000 in monthly revenue. The UpFlip blog post featuring Afshan can be a great source of inspiration and information for other fashion-focused entrepreneurs. 

Pros of a Clothing eCommerce Business:

  • High potential for repeat customers
  • Can be a source of passive income
  • Easy to scale with high revenue potential

Cons of a Clothing eCommerce Business:

  • Will need to store, manage, and ship inventory
  • Trend-driven industry

#18. Flower Delivery Website

flower delivery website

  • Average Annual Revenue: $4.5 million ($3.6 million when you subtract the top 2 companies)
  • Average Profit Margins: 6.9%
  • Startup Cost: $10K-$50K
  • Time To Revenue: 3-9 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 8.8%
  • Best for: Gardeners, designers, and others with a green thumb and creative eye

Flowers are a great thing to sell online because they’re often something people order to have delivered. You don’t need experience as a florist to do this, either. Dylan Capshaw was just 16 when he started his online flower shop Stemistry, and he grew such a successful online business he’s now expanded to a brick-and-mortar (hear Dylan’s story in our podcast interview).

Pros of a Flower Delivery Website:

  • High demand around holidays 
  • Relatively high profit margins
  • Doesn’t require tons of space
  • No prior experience or specialized skills required

Cons of a Flower Delivery Website:

  • Business can be seasonal
  • Can end up with high waste from wilting or damaged flowers

#19. Pet Products

Dog sitting on the floor with pet food product beside

  • Average Annual Revenue: $16.58 million
  • Average Profit Margins: 4.35%
  • Startup Cost: $5K-$30K
  • Time To Revenue: 1-2 years, including product development 
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 3.4%
  • Best for: Animal lovers, inventors, graphic designers

Pet care is a massive industry with a variety of popular potential niches for entrepreneurs, and this is why a pet supply store is among the top online business ideas for people who love animals. Pet owners need a lot of different types of products, and most are willing to spend a bit more to get the best for their furry (or feathered, or scaly) friend. 

Your skill set and experience can help you decide which pet care niche would fit you best. For example, Vlad Kuksenko drew on his graphic design experience to start TagPup, now the #1 pet supply store on Etsy (listen to his podcast interview). 

For Casey Walters, it was his pet St. Bernard that inspired him to start Shed Defender, an invention that earned him a spot on Shark Tank. He talked to UpFlip about his experience in a YouTube interview.  

Pros of Selling Pet Products:

  • Wide variety of niches, many of them underserved
  • Potential for passive or mostly-passive income
  • Revenue can be scaled easily
  • Can help fellow pet owners while making a profit

Cons of Selling Pet Products:

  • Higher cost to start than other online businesses
  • Need to manage, ship, and store inventory

#20. Self-Publishing Books and Guided Journals

self publishing books online

  • Average Annual Revenue: $444K/employee
  • Average Profit Margins: 6.7%
  • Startup Cost: As little as $500
  • Time To Revenue: Varies based on book length
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: -1.9%
  • Best for: Writers, educators, and innovative thinkers

Self-publishing lets you create books to sell online without needing to go through a traditional publisher or other gatekeeper. This makes it a much faster process, for one thing, and also means you keep a higher percentage of the profits. 

The flip side is that you’ll need to get the book in front of customers yourself, and it helps to have search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing skills—though you’ll find plenty of successful self-published authors without this experience. 

Keep in mind that self-publishing isn’t just for fiction writers, scholars, and journalists. Case Kenney is a prime example. He had an online business idea to create guided mindfulness journals–and they were a hit, bringing in more than $5 million in revenue in his first two years of business (hear his story in this interview). 

You can also self-publish things like puzzle books, how-to books, pattern books for crafts, or anything else that comes in book form that customers will buy.  

Self-Publishing Pros:

  • Higher profit margins than traditional publishing
  • Print-on-demand can reduce inventory costs and storage needs
  • Lower average initial investment than other online stores
  • Potential for passive income

Self-Publishing Cons:

  • High upfront time investment before you can start earning revenue 
  • Need to do your own marketing

9 More Online Store Ideas

You can sell just about anything in an online store. The trick is identifying and finding your target audience and knowing how to get your product in front of those eager buyers. This makes skills like market research and marketing through social media handy for eCommerce shop owners across all sectors and niches.

The personal grooming and beauty industry is popular with eCommerce businesses. The only issue with this niche is that you can face a lot of competition. One way around that is to target an underserved customer base. 

For example, Charmaine Nicole started Black Hair and Skincare after her own experience of having difficulty finding products designed for melanated skin and hair. From a $20 investment, she’s grown to an average revenue of $75,000 a month (hear more in this podcast interview). 

Portland Razor Company took a similar approach with their line of handcrafted straight razors and shaving equipment. They talked about how they grew their business in an UpFlip YouTube interview

Other profitable online store business ideas include:

  • Tech products and accessories
  • Unique or educational toys for kids
  • Collectables and antiques
  • Craft and art supplies
  • Home decor and furnishings
  • Board games or video games
  • Books, comic books, or magazines
  • Domain names or websites

While shipping can be a concern for larger or more delicate items, the truth is anything that can be sold in a brick-and-mortar store can also be sold in an eCommerce store. Conducting market research and considering your own interests and areas of expertise is the best way to decide on the right niche for you.

Best online business ideas with a low investment

One reason online businesses are so appealing is that they tend to have a lower startup cost than buying a retail space or other brick-and-mortar location. Here are some small business ideas that don’t require a large initial financial investment. 

#21. Retail and Food Delivery

food delivery business

  • Average Annual Revenue: $133K/employee
  • Average Profit Margins: 6.7%
  • Startup Cost: $100-$9.5K
  • Time To Revenue: Less than 1 week, including background check
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 3.6%
  • Best for: Logistics-minded entrepreneurs

Delivery is an excellent online business idea for those who want their own business at home but don’t have tons of space or cash on hand. All you need is a system for customers to schedule delivery and a vehicle to get the item to them. It’s also an easy business model to scale if you do have more financial resources.

Adam Haber invested $200K to start Trellus and has made more than 35,000 deliveries through nearly 300 merchant partners in his first 2 years (find out more in Adam’s podcast interview).

Delivery Business Pros:

  • Potentially low startup costs
  • No need to buy inventory or equipment
  • Minimal space requirements
  • Easily scalable

Delivery Business Cons:

  • Requires a lot of time spent on the road
  • Lots of competition from larger businesses

#22. Music Recording 

  • Average Annual Revenue: $65.4K/employee
  • Average Profit Margins: 11%
  • Startup Cost: $50-$5K
  • Time To Revenue: 3-12 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.1%
  • Best for: Musicians, sound engineers, and other creative entrepreneurs

For a musician, recording and mixing songs is an online business idea you’ll both enjoy doing and can make a lot of money with. This is also a business idea with surprisingly low potential startup costs if you use the free or low-cost recording tools that are available.

Graham Cochrane started Recording Revolution with just $50 and has grown it into a 7-figure business that’s mostly passive income (hear how Graham got started in his podcast interview).

Music Recording Pros:

  • Fun and creative work
  • Gives musicians full creative freedom over their own tracks
  • Can be cheap to start if you get the right equipment
  • Potential to be a very profitable online business

Music Recording Cons:

  • Requires knowledge of or a background in music recording tech
  • Lower average income than other options

#23. Create an Online Course 

online business course

  • Average Annual Revenue: $234K
  • Average Profit Margins: 5.8%
  • Startup Cost: $150-$1K
  • Time To Revenue: 3-12 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.1%
  • Best for: People with unique or in-demand skills

Selling online courses can be a very lucrative business on its own, or as a supplemental revenue stream for an e-commerce site, consulting business, affiliate marketer, or other small business owners. Like other content creation businesses, an online course can take a lot of time and effort to get started, though platforms like Kajabi and Teachable make it easy to get your course to students once you’ve developed it. 

Online courses also don’t require much ongoing work or time investment, so this is a great online business idea if you want a mostly passive income stream and have good ideas to sell that either have broad appeal or are of niche interest to a particular audience.

Jacques Hopkins took the latter approach when he started Piano in 21 Days, turning his hobby into a $40,000-a-month business (hear Jacques’s story in his podcast interview).

Online Course Pros:

  • High profit margins and potential revenue
  • Can be mostly passive once the online course is live
  • Doesn’t cost much to get started
  • No need for technical or specialized skills

Online Course Cons:

  • High up-front time investment before you can start making revenue
  • Lots of competition can make it a challenge to get customers

Online business ideas for beginners

There are many types of online businesses that anyone can start, even if they don’t have any previous training and have never run their own business before. Here are a few options that are very accessible for beginners to start. 

#24. Data Entry

data entry

  • Average Annual Revenue: $35K-$50K
  • Average Profit Margins: 10.5%
  • Startup Cost: $0-$500
  • Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.9%
  • Best for: Detail-oriented entrepreneurs

Data is everywhere in the modern world, and companies need people who can gather and organize the data they use to inform their business decisions. This makes data entry one of the most reliably in-demand online business ideas. While it’s not the best-paying option out there, you can increase your earnings per hour by integrating AI and other tech tools into your work process. 

Pros of Data Entry:

  • Can work when and where you want to
  • Consistent and reliable demand
  • No advanced skills or specialized equipment required
  • Low startup costs and time investment 

Cons of Data Entry:

  • Lower earning potential than other online business ideas
  • Work can be boring and tedious

#25. Travel Planning

  • Average Annual Revenue: $189K/employee
  • Average Profit Margins: 3.7%
  • Startup Cost: $100-$6K
  • Time To Revenue: 3-6 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 2.2%
  • Best for: Frequent travelers, people who love research and problem-solving

The internet makes it easy for anyone to plan and book travel, but some people don’t have the time to do it themselves or simply don’t want to go to the effort of researching the best deals and destinations. Travel planning is an especially great internet business idea for digital nomads or others who have extensive travel experience to draw from, though anyone who’s a skilled researcher can grow a successful business in this niche. 

Travel Planning Pros:

  • Can be run from home or while you’re traveling
  • Don’t need any certifications or specific skills to start
  • Low initial investment and ongoing costs
  • Can get travel perks for yourself as you grow

Travel Planning Cons:

  • Relatively long sales process
  • Working with clients can be stressful

#26. Transcription

transcription business

  • Average Annual Revenue: $25,197
  • Average Profit Margins: 9%
  • Startup Cost: $0-$5K
  • Time To Revenue: 1-3 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.9%
  • Best for: Fast typers with strong listening skills

Not only is a transcription business easy and fast to start, but it’s also an online business without financial investment requirements. The main startup investment will be for any advertising and marketing you want to run, though you can also find jobs on sites like TranscribeMe for free. All you need to do this job is a computer and an internet connection, and there is free or very low-cost software to make it easier. 

The types of things you’ll transcribe will depend on your customers. You might create captions for TV shows or YouTube videos, create text files to accompany interviews and podcasts, or transcribe things like focus groups and meetings for businesses. If you can type at least 60 words per minute, transcription could be the best online business to start. 

Transcription Pros:

  • No specific background or experience required
  • Low cost and time investment to start
  • Work from anywhere on your own schedule

Transcription Con:

  • Not a fit for people who type slowly
  • Lower profit potential than other online businesses

#27. Telemarketing and Market Research

  • Average Annual Revenue: $235K/employee
  • Average Profit Margins: 10.7%
  • Startup Cost: $1.5K-$3K
  • Time To Revenue: $2.5 billion
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 2.2%
  • Best for: Outgoing entrepreneurs with a knack for research and data analysis

Many businesses outsource sales, customer service, or data collection roles to third-party companies or freelancers. The variety of work you can take on in this area is why it’s the best online business for beginners who are good conversationalists and excel in areas like organization, data entry, and data interpretation and analysis. 

The type of work you take on will determine both how flexible this job is and how much you can earn doing it. Outbound sales calls and surveys tend to be the most flexible, while roles in customer service may have set hours you need to stay near your phone. In either case, though, it’s work you can do from home, and you’ll be in control of how much work you take on. 

Telemarketing Pros:

  • No specialized training or equipment needed
  • Can be scaled by starting an agency 
  • Wide variety of work, depending on the clients
  • Easy to start and run from home

Telemarketing Cons:

  • May need to base work hours on your client’s needs
  • The work can be boring or stressful

Other online home business opportunities

For those who do have unique and in-demand skill sets, the options for online business ideas from home are even broader. The four ideas below are among the most profitable businesses to start from home, though they do require specialized training, degrees, or certifications before you can get started. 

#28. PR Consulting

  • Average Annual Revenue: $179K/employee
  • Average Profit Margins: 13.2%
  • Startup Cost: $0-$1K
  • Time To Revenue: 1-6 months
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 1.4%
  • Best for: Experienced business owners, marketing and branding experts

PR consultants help businesses establish or grow their brand so they can reach more customers. This often includes helping them manage their social media presence, creating press releases, writing content for blogs, articles, and advertisements, securing affiliate marketing deals, or advising clients through ongoing marketing campaigns and other PR initiatives to establish or improve their public image. 

A public relations consulting firm is the best online business to start for those who have experience in advertising or branding. It can be a great first business for those pivoting out of a corporate role or an additional revenue stream for influencers and entrepreneurs with a track record of marketing success. 

The bottom line is that clients will want to see some proof of your skills before they hire you, which can make it a difficult field to break into as a complete beginner.

Pros of PR Consulting:

  • Low cost to start
  • High earning potential that can be scaled down the line
  • Wide variety of clients you can work with

Cons of PR Consulting:

  • Need a portfolio of successful PR work to be successful
  • Can take some time to build a reputation and get clients

#29. Online Therapy

online therapy business

  • Average Annual Revenue: $74.5K/employee
  • Average Profit Margins: 10.2%
  • Startup Cost: $100-$2K
  • Time To Revenue: 3-9 months (plus degree)
  • Annual Market Growth Rate: 3%
  • Best for: Licensed therapists and mental health experts

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for more accessible mental health care and prompted the expansion of telehealth platforms and services around the world. This opens up online business ideas for those with the training and certification as a therapist, psychiatrist, or other mental health expert.

You can search for prospective clients on your own, though it can often be a challenge to earn people’s trust when you’re just starting out, even as a licensed therapist or social worker. One way to build a client list faster is to join a community like BetterHelp or TalkSpace that connects therapists, counselors, and prescribers with people who need their services. 

Pros of Online Therapy:

  • Low upfront financial investment
  • You set your own schedule and workload
  • Can work from anywhere
  • Help others live better lives while making a profit

Cons of Online Therapy:

  • Need to be a licensed mental health provider before you start
  • Work can be emotionally draining

Online business ideas FAQs

Coming up with online business ideas is just the beginning of the process. Check out some of the most common questions about how to start a business online.

How to start online business from home

To start a home-based business, the first thing you need to do is make sure it is allowed in the area you live. Some cities and homeowners associations don’t allow people to bring prospective clients to their homes. After that, you’ll want to:

  1. Perform Market Research
  2. Conduct Market Validation
  3. Develop a Business Plan
  4. Choose a Business Name
  5. Fund Your Business
  6. Choose a Location
  7. Choose a Business Type
  8. Register Your Business
  9. Get a Business License
  10. Open a Business Bank Account
  11. Get Insurance For Your Business
  12. Market Your Business
  13. Serve Customers

Find out more about each of these topics in our guide on how to start an online business.

How to market an online business

Young woman showing a mobile phone

Marketing an online business will use techniques like:

  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Creating Content
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Paid Ads
  • SMS Marketing
  • Loyalty Rewards Programs 

Which online business idea will you choose?

Starting a business is hard work, but ultimately it’s the most likely way to achieve your goals. We’ve provided you with thirty-three of the best online businesses for you to start. Now it’s up to you. 

What will you choose? Will you start planning your own business? Will you follow through?

Tell us about your aspirations and how we can help in the comments below.

Join The Discussion

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5 thoughts on “29 Best Online Business Ideas (for 2024)”

  • Charles C. Anderson

    This article on the 29 best online business ideas for 2023 is a goldmine of inspiration! The digital landscape offers countless opportunities, and it’s exciting to explore the potential for online entrepreneurship. One key factor that can make or break an online business is a well-crafted business plan. It serves as a roadmap, outlining goals, strategies, and financial projections. Seeking help with business plan can be a game-changer for aspiring online entrepreneurs. Professional assistance with a business plan brings expertise, industry knowledge, and a fresh perspective to the table. It helps refine ideas, conduct market research, and develop a solid foundation for success. By enlisting the support of business plan professionals, entrepreneurs can navigate the complexities of the online world with confidence.

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