Will 2018 be the year you will finally create a profitable online business?
You’ve thought about it every year. You’ve gone over countless online business ideas in your head and imagined what your life would be like if you could quit your job and generate money on the internet.
You could travel the world with ease, create a comfortable lifestyle for yourself and your family, and achieve financial freedom. You could finally escape the constraints of the 9-5 lifestyle and own your time completely.
But then, what happens? Usually, you spend some time considering the ideas but ultimately resort back to your comfort zone.
The steady income of your secure job, the ease of having somebody else tell you what to do every day (instead of trying to figure it out from scratch), and the consistent schedule.
You tell yourself, “You know what? This year is a little too crazy. I’ll start that online business next year!”
But “next year” never comes.
I’m here to tell you that 2018 is the year you should start your online business. There’s more opportunity than ever, and you should take the advantage!
To help you get started, I’m going to lay out 27 online business ideas. Read through them, see which you connect with, and start doing your research. Then get started with one, it’s that simple!
27 “Easy to Start” Online Business Ideas
(P.S. If you need a website for your online business, consider using this step-by-step guide for beginners.)
1. Start a Blog and Monetize it
I talk a lot about how to start a blog on this website, and for good reason. In 2018, it’s easier to start a blog than ever before, and your blog can also be a big potential source of income (if you know how to monetize it).
Keep in mind that you don’t just start a blog and expect the money to roll in. You need to create content consistently, and it also needs to be content that educates, informs, or entertains people. In other words, it needs to capture their interest in some way.
What’s more, you need to sell something through the blog. This can be ad space, products, digital products, sponsored posts, coaching, ebooks, etc.
But if you’re willing to put in the work and you’re in it for the long haul, blogging can be extremely profitable (some bloggers make $50k per month or more).
Here are some resources to help you get started with your first blog:
- How to Customize WordPress Blog
- How to Install WordPress Blog on Bluehost
- How to Increase Blog Traffic
2. Get Started With Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is basically the process of earning a commission by promoting somebody else’s product.
There are two main ways most people do affiliate marketing:
- Information products. You promote products like ebooks, membership sites, video series, etc. This type of affiliate marketing can earn you up to 50% or more in commission, has relatively low barriers to entry, and it’s easy to find products to promote.
- Amazon partners. Many affiliate marketers have success with Amazon. There are literally millions of products to choose from, and it can be quite profitable. For more information, you can check out the Amazon Associates Program.
Quick side note: Before you start affiliate marketing, it helps to have at least a basic knowledge of SEO and copywriting (more on each of these later).
That being said, you can read a few copywriting books and look through the beginners guide to SEO from SEO Moz to help you get started.
3. Set Up an E-commerce Site
One of the best ways to earn online income is through setting up an e-commerce store. Here’s the plus side: if you try to go the route of affiliate marketing, the best affiliate marketers are focused on 3 main niches; dating, weight loss, and making money online. You would have to compete with the best of the best, and it’s not easy.
With the e-commerce route, in many markets, you’ll be competing against old-school business people who may or may not have any internet marketing experience. Many of them have glitchy, out-of-date websites, which leaves you a lot of room for improvement, and you can capitalize on their shortcomings.
It’s still not easy by any means. It requires hard work, and you need to stand out amongst the hundreds of thousands of ecommerce websites and online stores. But by filling a unique niche and executing the right marketing techniques, you can make your ecommerce store a profitable success.
Here are some tips to help you get started with your ecommerce store:
- Find a profitable market. Brainstorm some ideas, do keyword research, and try to get as specific as possible. For example, there is probably a lot of competition for selling surfboards. But if you narrow it down to surfboard racks, you may have a better chance of standing out in the market.
- Ask yourself, “Is the product expensive?” There are costs associated with manufacturing, distribution, reselling, etc. If your product isn’t expensive (at least $50 or more), there may be no profit left by the time you sell the product.
- Ask yourself, “Is the product in a growth market?” If your market has already passed its peak (i.e. the VCR market) and is on the down slope, you probably don’t want to get involved. Instead, you want to get into an industry that’s on the upswing – that’s where you’ll have the most profit and growth potential.
- Consider building a Shopify store. Shopify is a system built for ecommerce. With some basic web knowledge, you can set up a good-looking store very quickly, with a low-cost investment and with no coding needed. Shopify has a 30-day free trial too, so you can get started without spending a dime.
Here are some additional resources for creating a successful online store:
- How to launch online store – WebsiteSetup.org
- The Tropical MBA Podcast by Dan Andrews and Ian Schoen
4. Self-Publish a Book on Amazon
Have you ever thought of writing a book, but didn’t know where to get started? All the publishing nonsense, the editing and formatting, the marketing, etc.?
With Amazon, you can self-publish a book fairly easily, and really make money from it. There are some simple and inexpensive guides like this one to help you write your book AND have it generate consistent income.
Here’s the secret sauce: If you can launch your book and get a few hundred sales in the first week, Amazon will take over and start promoting it for you. This way you can make some real money from it. It’s actually easier than it sounds, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Here are a few tips for writing a book:
- Validate the book by giving a survey to friends, an email list, and/or survey sites like Pickfu. By validating your idea before you write the book, you’ll improve the odds of people willing to buy your book (and you’re not wasting your time by writing it.)
- Create an outline and stick to it if possible.
- Set aside at least 30 minutes to an hour each day to write.
- Format the book according to Amazon’s standards.
Once the book is written and formatted, you can head over to KDP.amazon.com. Log in with your Amazon account, then under “Create a New Title”, select “Kindle eBook.”
Here’s a good strategy for your book’s launch week (to get 100+ sales):
- Set the price at 99 cents for the first week.
- Run a 99 cent promotion with sites like Buck Books and Robin Reads.
- Post a book excerpt on a relevant subreddit and link to your book page at the end.
- Post 1-2 guest posts during the launch week that link back to your book page.
- Blast your email list multiple times.
- By the end of the week, hopefully, your book has eclipsed the top 5,000 or 10,000 overall paid ranking. From there, raise the price to $2.99, and continue raising the price $1 at a time every few days until it stops selling (then, lower it back by a dollar). This will tell you the optimal price for your book.
(Here’s a case study of a book that used this strategy to launch successfully and consistently bring in $3-$4K a month in profit.)
5. Create a Digital Product or Course
Creating a digital product or course is similar to writing an ebook. You’re monetizing your expertise by teaching it to the others.
That being said, you don’t have the benefit of Amazon promoting your course. You have to do the promoting yourself through your own website, your email lists, and possibly through affiliate partnerships. You also need to create a compelling sales page that will convince visitors to buy from you.
If you don’t already have an audience, it might be better to self-publish on Amazon first. That way, you can validate your course idea, grow your email list (just make sure to have an email opt-in at the front and back of the book!), and more or less create a rough draft of the course (since it will probably be similar to the book).
Here are some additional resources to help you with an online course creation:
- TheRiseToTheTop.com – David Siteman Garland’s website that’s helped thousands of entrepreneurs launch profitable online courses.
- Monetize Your Expertise Podcast – Helpful episodes by online course expert Grant Weherley to help you start your fist online course.
6. Become a YouTuber
Videos are becoming more and more popular. From Instagram and Snapchat Stories to Facebook Live video, videos will only continue to grow. If you’ve always loved the thought of being behind the camera, now is the time you can take an advantage.
Whether it be starting a vlog and getting ad revenue/selling products to your audience, or building a YouTube channel to drive more traffic to your website – 2018 is a great time to get started.
Not only will making YouTube videos help you tell better stories and provide more valuable content to your audience – it can also help you get profitable speaking opportunities.
The best part is, you don’t even need to go out and buy an expensive new camera – as long as you have a smartphone with a quality camera lens, you can start filming your first video right now!
7. Start App Development
Mobile apps are getting more and more popular by the year. If you have an idea for a cool, useful, and/or fun app for a phone or a tablet, this may be the way to go.
It helps to have some coding knowledge, but it’s not an absolute necessity. There are plenty of software developers looking to collaborate with people on app creation.
Word of caution: the app market is saturated right now, so make sure you validate your app and do your research before investing lots of money in your idea.
Here are some resources to help you in the app development process:
- How to Build Your First Mobile App in 12 Steps by Forbes
- 3 Must-Use Ways to Find an App Developer by Entrepreneur
8. Learn Facebook Advertising
Facebook continues to expand and grow. Therefore businesses are spending more on Facebook ads. But here’s the problem: a lot of old school businesses don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to Facebook ads. Even newer companies don’t have the time it takes to learn the ins and outs so that they get the most return on their Facebook ads investment.
Consequently, they’re looking for Facebook ad specialists to step in and do it for them. Luckily, this is something you can learn fairly quickly. Once you do, you can reach out to businesses and offer to help create profitable Facebook ads.
Here are some Facebook Ad resources you can learn from:
- How to Create a Facebook Ads Funnel: 2 Strategies by Jon Loomer
- The Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Advertising by AdEspresso
9. Learn and Master SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to getting a website to rank higher for certain “search terms” in search engines like Google. When a website ranks higher, it gets more relevant traffic and in turn, can make more revenue.
This is another highly valued skill in the internet marketing world. That being said, it can be a bit difficult because Google is always changing its algorithms. With it, some of the rules of search change. You always have to be on the leading edge, learning and testing new strategies.
If you can master SEO, companies will always be willing to pay you for your help.
10. Become a Copywriter
Copywriting is the art and science of strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action. It can range from anything to sales pages, to email marketing, to even quality blog content.
If you have a natural inclination and passion for writing, copywriting may be your ticket to earning online income.
It’s a great way to achieve freedom in your life. Not only does copywriting allow you to work remotely, but it also allows you to control your schedule. Plus, learning the skill itself will help you in many areas of online business (i.e. building a blog, affiliate marketing, etc. – when you can write in a compelling way, all of these become much easier!)
11. Skype Coaching
Do you have an expertise that you’d like to help people with? Then Skype coaching may be a potential option for you. Basically, you hop on Skype and provide assistance to your coaching clients. This can come in the form of daily, weekly, or monthly calls.
There are Skype coaches for just about everything – life coaches, health coaches, dating coaches, etc.
Note: It’s much easier to market your coaching services when you also have a blog on your coaching topic.
12. Buy and Flip Domains
You’ve probably heard of people who buy and “flip” real estate, right? They buy a house for a relatively good price, fix it up a little bit, and then resell it for a nice profit.
It’s the same idea for buying and flipping domains. Whether it’s your own domain, or whether you’re looking to buy somebody else’s site and flip it, this can be a good source of online income.
You can use resources like Empire Flippers to both buy and sell your domains.
13. Start a Podcast
Here’s an in-depth guide on how to start a podcast. This can be a great revenue generator.
As you grow your podcast, you can offer paid sponsorships and sell your own products and services. Through the podcast, you’ll be able to earn the trust of your listeners, which makes them that much more likely to buy what you have to offer.
14. Drop shipping
Drop shipping is when you create an online store to sell other people’s products (i.e you don’t do any of the manufacturing or shipping). Then, you get a commission for each sale.
The benefit here is that you don’t have to risk buying up stock in a product and losing money if it doesn’t sell. The entry barrier is lower and you don’t have to invest nearly as much to get started.
If you’d like to learn how to drop ship, Drop Ship Lifestyle is one of the best resources to help you get started.
15. Freelance Pay Per Click Consulting
(These are PPC ads)
You ever saw those sponsored ads at the top of your Google search results? That’s Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising in action.
It’s a form of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads are clicked. Put simply, it’s a way of buying visits on your site.
If you can master this skill, you can offer the service to other businesses.
16. Sell Products on eBay
Sure it’s a bit old school, but people are still making lots of money on eBay. To start selling, you can do something simple like head to a local clothing store and buy some clothing on sale.
Then, you can list it on eBay for a higher price, and if it sells, you can reinvest the profit in more clothing and continue making more profit.
It requires some strategy and planning but is surely a profitable way of online business.
17. Become a Web Developer
A web developer is someone who knows how to build a website from the bottom up. In order to do this, you need to learn coding, which will take time and hard work. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, it can pay quite well.
Here are some tips for learning to code and getting started with the web development.
18. Invest Your Time in Graphic Design
Ever saw a beautiful sales page or a website design that really jumps out at you? That’s all due to a graphic designer.
Graphic designers are basically visual communicators. They design web pages, sales pages, logos, and really anything else that needs to look sharp.
To be a great graphic designer, you don’t need to be great at drawing, you don’t need a college degree, and you don’t need to buy a fancy expensive computer. But you do need to be a visual thinker, you do need to specialize in something, and you definitely need a portfolio.
19. Build Niche Sites
The idea behind a niche website is to target a specific niche (for example, a specific kind of photography), rank on Google for the keywords related to that niche, and then turn that traffic into earnings through affiliate offers or through selling your own products.
A lot of research goes into this – you should be ready for a bit of workload. If you create a good niche site, it can bring you an extra $500 a month or more.
For further reading, check out this post from Sean Ogle: How to Build a Niche Site in 2018 that Brings in $500 a Month
20. Start a Consulting Business
Do you have tons of knowledge in a specific field? Then you may have what it takes to be a highly paid online consultant.
As a consultant, you simply must apply the knowledge, skills, and experience you have in a specific field to help clients solve a problem or issue they have in that field.
For further reading, check out this post from Next Avenue: How to Become a Highly Paid Consultant
21. Start a Paid Private Facebook Group
A paid private Facebook group provides you with the chance to create a highly engaged community.
It gives you a place to deliver your content, allows your community members to interact with each other, allows you to limit access to qualified members, and also allows you to moderate and control the group.
Note: If you already have a website and an email list, it’s easier to create a paid private Facebook group, but it’s not an absolute necessity.
22. Assist with Lead Generation
Businesses are always on the lookout for ways to create new leads. Leads, after all, are the lifeblood of businesses.
When you assist with lead generation, you basically play the matchmaker. You connect business with the leads for whom they can solve the problems.
23. Instagram Sponsorships
Do you love taking photos and dream of building up a great Instagram following? As you grow your following, more sponsorship opportunities will become available. For example, if your account is focused on fitness, you may be able to sponsor products like protein powder, supplements, etc.
24. Create SaaS (Software as a Service)
Google Apps, Dropbox, Leadpages – these are all SAAS.
SAAS is any kind of online software that you pay to get access to.
For this, you first must brainstorm/find an online service that people are willing to pay for on an ongoing basis. Once you create it, the challenge is to maintain it, which is not an easy task. That being said, it can be quite profitable if you can make it work.
25. Technical Writing
Ever wondered who wrote the instruction manual for that new TV? That’s the job of technical writers.
If you have a love for writing and like the technical side of things, then you may have what it takes to be a technical writer.
Here’s a resource that can help you get started: Starting a Technical Writing Business from Scratch
Here are some sites where you can find work:
26. Resume/Cover Letter Writing
People will always be looking for jobs – they’ll need help with their resumes and cover letters.
That’s where you can come in and help them create a stellar resume to get them hired.
27. Tech Support
With online tech support, you basically offer your skills as a tech whiz. You can work with bigger companies or even one-on-one clients.
Tech support jobs can also regularly be found on Upwork.
It’s a new year and a new chance for you to start an online business and create an absolute financial and lifestyle freedom for yourself.
2018 is all about taking action. With this big list of online business ideas, you have plenty of options to get started with. Don’t wait any longer, and definitely, don’t put it off until next year!
Take a few ideas and run with them – by this time of the next year, you very well may have your own successful and profitable online business! Just be sure to report back here and let me know your results!
If you have other online business ideas you think are worth mentioning, be sure to drop them in the comments below!