Starting their own business is the ultimate goal for many people who begin making a bit of side online income. These people often wonder about one very crucial aspect of moving forward – what kind of online business is most profitable?
Some of the most profitable online businesses are pretty obvious. They come with low setup cost and they have a huge monetization potential (as long as you’re willing to put the work in).
Assessing the most profitable online businesses before getting started is vital. You should, however, also look for a startup opportunity that falls within your area of expertise. Picking a business model you like, you feel comfortable with and are knowledgeable of will ensure long-term consistency.
Your ability to stick with the idea day after day, even when things get rough (and they usually will, sooner or later) is dependent on doing something you like and seeing sufficient returns.
Here are some of the most profitable online businesses to get started with in 2019 and beyond. Obviously, these aren’t the only ones that can help for successful growth and there are many examples of online businesses that don’t fall within the framework and that still thrive.
The list of the most profitable online businesses is simply intended to serve as an inspiration and a guide for those who are absolutely clueless and who need a starting point.
- Online Blogging Business
- eBook Writing Business
- Online Service Provision (Freelance Business)
- Start an Affiliate Marketing Business
- Digital Product Creation Business
- Sell Products on eBay and Other eCommerce Platforms
- A Few Additional Tips and Suggestions on the Most Profitable Online Businesses
Online Blogging Business
Blogging is a great choice for those who know how to write and who also have niche knowledge about a topic that people are interested in.
Having knowledge in more than one topic is an added bonus because you can launch a series of blogs and monetize all of them. The bigger the number of blogs you launch, the better your income generation is going to be.
Your blogs can be monetized in several distinctive ways:
- Hosting ads
- Affiliate marketing
- Pay per click or in-text advertising
- Featuring promotional content (paid reviews, for example)
- Limited access, paid-for content
- Using a blog to promote other products you create and sell (courses, ebooks, podcasts)
The most important aspect of starting this online business is choosing the right topic for your blog. Some niches are much more profitable than others.
~ Difficultly level: Medium (you need some knowledge of online content creation, SEO and digital marketing)
~ Investment required: Minimal (domain, hosting, a small advertising budget)
~ Needed skills: copywriting, SEO, some website development, WordPress, digital marketing
~ Revenue generation potential: from a few hundred dollars per month to a lot more
~ Other opportunities: A well-developed blog or a series of blogs can eventually be sold to generate even more money
eBook Writing Business
eBook writing also ranks among the most profitable online businesses because the income generation potential is limitless.
If you like writing, whether you’re into fiction or non-fiction, you can generate some really nice cash by launching an ebook series.
Self-publishing has made it easy for many people to enter the niche and to even become millionaires.
The trick here is to create a portfolio of books and to use each one for cross-promotional purposes. You should again choose a niche you like and you feel that you can thrive in. writing multiple books about a topic you don’t really enjoy will be painful or downright impossible.
For successful ebook distribution and monetization, you should also rely on multiple channels.
I use both of those and while Draft2Digital does charge you for distribution and management, you get access to a wide array of online stores like Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, Scribd, Playster, OverDrive, Bibliotheca and others.
~ Difficultly level: Medium
~ Investment required: Minimal (text processing software, costs linked to setting up your website for promotional purposes, a small advertising budget, paying other professionals like an editor or a graphic designer to create covers for you)
~ Needed skills: writing skills, editing and proofreading, digital marketing , text formatting (knowing a bit about graphic design can also be helpful)
~ Revenue generation potential: limitless, some self-published authors have become millionaires after their books went viral
~ Other opportunities: eventually, you can develop your own website and sell ebooks through it so that you don’t have to give a share of your royalties to distribution platforms
Online Service Provision (Freelance Business)
Are you a knowledgeable website designer? Do you know how to create mobile apps? Are you a legal professional, an accountant, a marketing expert or a small business consultant?
Your professional skills can easily turn into a profitable online business.
Freelance professionals who have niche skills can quickly grow from basic service provision to offering expert, highly-paid services to clients interested in outsourcing specific processes.
I began my online income generation journey as a freelance copywriter. This is the biggest part of my business and it still generates most of my income today.
To see what services the market needs and to get started, you can do a bit of research on websites like Upwork and Freelancer.com. This type of research will also give you a relatively good idea about how much professionals in the respective field charge for their services.
The best aspect of starting an online service provision business is that you set your own prices and choose the clients to interact with. In addition, satisfied clients will come back for future service provision (loyal customers are the heart and soul of every company) and they’ll also do a lot of word of mouth promotion.
~ Difficultly level: Medium, the market is already saturated and you will face stiff competition from other service providers
~ Investment required: Software and hardware, launching your own website, a small promotional budget, accounting and bookkeeping
~ Needed skills: Niche professional skills, communication skills, marketing, multi-tasking, presentation skills
~ Revenue generation potential: from 10 dollars per hour for newbies (depending on the niche) to 150-200 dollars per hour and even more for senior experts
~ Other opportunities: you can eventually grow the company to employ other freelance professionals in the same niche and operate your own agency
Dropshipping has revolutionized the ecommerce world, which is why it needs to be included among the most profitable online businesses.
Here’s how it works.
You need to set up an ecommerce website within a niche and for products of preference. The key here is that you don’t have to buy the products wholesale, look for a warehouse or handle shipping to a client.
BigCommerce offers excellent opportunities for the establishment of an efficient and functional ecommerce/dropshipping website.
You can test out BigCommerce for 15 days without having to provide credit card information. Choose between multiple packages, picking the features and price that are in line with your needs.
Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method. You partner up with a producer or a wholesaler. When you generate a sale, your partner will be responsible for shipping the product to the client and checking the delivery status. In a sense, you act as an intermediary between the end client and the producer/wholesaler.
Shopify has a thorough Dropshipping guide you can check out to acquaint yourself with the concept.
~ Difficultly level: Medium
~ Investment required: Small, about 500 dollars for setting up a website, dealing with administrative essentials and marketing
~ Needed skills: marketing, content creation, ecommerce, some basic website development skills, communication skills
~ Revenue generation potential: massive, depending on the niche you choose and the types of products you sell (as well as the wholesale/distribution partner you select)
~ Other opportunities: launching several dropshipping websites within different niches, complementing the business with a website selling digital products (your own ebooks and courses, for example)
Start an Affiliate Marketing Business
Affiliate marketing is definitely one of the most profitable online business ideas because the income generation potential is limitless.
Many people believe you need a website to get started with affiliate marketing but this isn’t necessarily the case.
If you have a well-developed Instagram profile, for example, and you’re followed by thousands of people, you can easily do affiliate marketing through the social network.
Links in forums and online communities can also be monetized when you make referrals and these convert.
Affiliate marketing does require serious traffic, regardless of the communication channel you choose.
Thus, bringing multiple channels together will increase the odds of earning commissions for your referrals and the sales generated through them.
~ Difficultly level: Medium
~ Investment required: Some get started without investing anything
~ Needed skills: Social media marketing, content creation
~ Revenue generation potential: From a few bucks per day to thousands of dollars per month
~ Other opportunities: apart from looking for affiliate networks, you can also check out individual service providers within the respective field and sign up for their affiliate marketing programs
Digital Product Creation Business
Digital products are easy to create and they necessitate minimum investment if you have the knowledge and the skills to go through the process on your own.
If you focus exclusively on this opportunity, digital product creation can quickly turn into one of the most profitable online business ideas out there.
Digital products include:
• Courses and digital lessons
• Video series
• Artwork and graphics
• Audio books
• WordPress themes and plugins
Digital products can be sold via a network like ClickBank to reduce the investment required but I suggest setting up your own website.
This way, you’ll be in full control of the process and you’ll also get to keep all of the profit generated through the sale of your products.
~ Difficultly level: Medium
~ Investment required: Minimal to none
~ Needed skills: Content writing, Content creation (audio, visual), website development, marketing, communication skills, sales skills
~ Revenue generation potential: Unlimited (depending on the number of digital products in your portfolio)
~ Other opportunities: Use a blog to write a content on the topic and to refer traffic to your ecommerce product – you will be benefiting from both promotion and multiple revenue generation opportunities this way
Sell Products on eBay and Other eCommerce Platforms
Do you own a big collection of items you can sell? Are you in the habit of visiting local markets, acquiring interesting items cheaply and selling those for a profit? Or maybe you make jewelry, art or handcrafted clothing items?
You can sell products for profit without launching an ecommerce website.
eBay offers wonderful opportunities because it gives you a chance to connect to potential buyers from all parts of the world. It’s up to you to decide if you’re going to list an item at a fixed price or use an eBay auction.
Decluttr is another great platform to try when selling your own things.
You can use Decluttr for the sale of electronics, games, books, CDs and DVDs.
Through Decluttr, you’ll get a free shipping option and a valuation based on the specific characteristics of the item you have for sale. If the condition corresponds to what you’ve offered to sell, you will receive the amount estimated in the valuation.
~ Difficultly level: Easy
~ Investment required: Minimal to none
~ Needed skills: some entrepreneurial and communication skills
~ Revenue generation potential: Dependent on the number of products you decide to offer for sale on a monthly basis
~ Other opportunities: you can eventually build your own website that will make you free from the dependence on another platform for the sale of items
A Few Additional Tips and Suggestions on the Most Profitable Online Businesses
All of the above mentioned online business ideas are solid and effective. They’ve been tested out by numerous online entrepreneurs and they do deliver excellent results… on one condition.
You have to put the work in. Even the most profitable online businesses will fail when owners are relying on inertia to move forward.
While a digital business does demand a very small investment in comparison to a brick and mortar enterprise, you’ll still need to put in the hours.
In the beginning, it will be a lot of work with very little reward.
Take ebook writing as an example. Chances are that you’ll sell very little when you launch your first book. You may even have to offer it for free on Amazon to generate some buzz and get your name out there.
When you put together a second, a third and a fourth book, the situation will start to change. You’ll begin selling a few copies here and there. When you start doing marketing, you may even go viral. To accomplish the goal, however, you will have to work hard and you’ll have to be patient.
There are fads and trends when it comes to online business ideas.
Some people are successful launching such business. Most, however, will fail.
The subscription box business is one excellent example.
It has grown exponentially over the past few years. If you’re familiar with this concept, you’ve probably heard of the Dollar Shave Club. It’s one of the most successful subscription box business examples that got sold to Unilever for one billion dollars.
To be this successful, you need an original concept and you also need to go viral.
There are so many subscription box services out there already that finding your niche and being successful could turn into a mission impossible.
Trendy isn’t necessarily better than something true and tested.
Stick to a concept you’re familiar with and you know how to execute. This concept can eventually be changed. If you evolve to meet the fickle and constantly altering consumer demands, you’ll stay on top of the online entrepreneurship game.