There are countless online business ideas out there, that can make you a full-time income with only a little investment. That means you don’t even need to leave your house anymore, to start a business and you most certainly don’t need to invest much money.
Let’s look at some of the most popular and most profitable online business ideas that you can start today.
Table of Contents
Cheap Online Business Ideas
The following online business models can be started with a small budget.
1. Work as a Freelancer
If you don’t want to work as an employee but don’t want to build your own company either, then being a freelancer could be the right choice for you. You specialize in any skill, for instance, content writing, translating, or virtual assistance, and offer your expertise to clients.
How much money do you need to start working as a freelancer?
As little as nothing! All you really need is an internet connection. There are plenty of free remote job platforms on the internet, that bring together freelancers and clients, for instance, Upwork or Fiverr. You only need to set up your portfolio and apply for gigs.
If you want to invest a little bit of money, you could also do online courses or participate in workshops to improve your skills.
Or you can build a portfolio website to show your past projects, experiences, and the services you offer. This comes in very handy if you want to approach potential clients outside of freelance platforms. You can send them to your website where they can find more information about you.
How much money can you make as a freelancer?
This is completely up to what you agree on with the clients you work for. If you are charging USD 40 an hour, then that is your income. This also depends on the industry you are in, your skill level, and your negotiating skills.
Check out this blog post to learn more about how you can calculate your rates as a freelancer.
2. Start a Blog
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be very tech-savvy to start your own blog. Luckily, there are many platforms out there today that make it very easy to build a beautiful website as a beginner, e.g. WordPress and Divi Theme.
On top of that, there are endless topic ideas. You can write about business, finance, pets, travel, food, nutrition, gardening – everything!
You can then make money by selling advertising space or using affiliate products (i.e. you promote a product or service and if someone buys it because of your recommendation, you get a commission).
How much money do you need to start a blog?
Building a blog is a great low-budget online business idea. All you need is a hosting plan, a domain name, and a building system. Although there are free options out there, they are very limited in terms of customization or monetarization.
Siteground is great for beginners because you get hosting, a domain, and WordPress included for less than USD 5 per month! Perfect for someone who is just starting to set up a professional website with endless opportunities to make money with it later on.
How much money can you make with blogging?
Blogging needs time to make money. In the first couple of months, you are very likely not going to make anything. But once Google acknowledges you, you have a nice little following on social media and have built a community, your income opportunities are almost endless.
3. Start a Podcast
If you like the idea of starting a blog but prefer talking instead of writing, you can also consider starting a podcast. Very similar to running a blog, you should focus on a specific niche and educate or entertain people who are interested in your topic.
You can make income by placing ads, promoting products, or offering a paid plan, where people pay a couple of dollars every month to listen to your podcast.
How much money do you need to start a podcast?
You might be tempted to use your phone or computer microphone to record your podcasts. But the audio quality will very likely not be good enough. That’s why I recommend you to buy a proper recording microphone to get a crisp clear sound.
Budget ones are available for around USD 50. After a while, you can upgrade and get additional utensils like a pop filter or boom arm if needed.
You can host your podcast on free platforms, e.g. PodBean, and move on to paid plans once you need more features.
How much money can you make with a podcast?
This depends on how many people listen to your podcast and how you want to monetize it. According to Lime, Tim Ferriss makes about USD 3 million a year. Pat Flynn earns around USD 3,000 per episode.
While those two are definitely extremely successful exceptions, it shows that with podcasts, similar to blogs, everything is possible.
4. Make YouTube Videos
Another great way to make money online by creating content is via YouTube. Again, similar to blogs and podcasts, you focus on a certain niche and present informative or entertaining videos to your audience.
You can use the usual ways of making money like presenting sponsored products, affiliate earnings, or ads. But again, you need to have a rather big audience to make enough money to live of it.
How much money do you need to start earning on YouTube?
YouTube is another online business that you can start for free. Most smartphone cameras will do in the beginning. There are also many free editing programs out there you can use, e.g. VSDC.
The only thing I recommend buying is, again, a microphone. Audio quality is so important and a decent micro makes a huge difference to your sound quality.
How much money can you make as a YouTuber?
It’s the same with every content-based business model: If your content is unique, solves relevant problems, or is entertaining, you get more views and thus earn more money.
To break it down, your income from ads will be about USD 0.5 to USD 1 for 1,000 views. That shows that it will take at least a couple of months (for most people a couple of years) to make a full-time income with it.
But if you stick to it, your income can exceed everything you ever earned as an employee. According to Influencer Markting Hub, this is what popular YouTube stars made in one year:
- PewDiePie: USD 12 million
- Fine Brothers: USD 8.5 million
- Michelle Phan: USD 3 million
- Rosanna Ransino: USD 2.5 million
5. Make Money with Instagram
Chances are, you spend quite a bit of time on Instagram every day anyway so why not make money with it? If you post interesting photos and stories frequently and engage with your followers and other Instagrammers, you can grow your impressions.
The more people you can reach, the more opportunities you have to monetize your content with sponsored or affiliate products.
You can either market your own life and promote products like jewelry, tea, cosmetics, or anything you use in your everyday life, or you focus on a certain niche. For instance, you can become a fashion, food, fitness, or mom influencer.
How much money do you need to start making money on Instagram?
Instagram is a fantastic online business idea for those with little to no budget because you don’t need any money to start!
You can take your photos with your smartphone and edit them with free editing tools, such as InShot.
Extra Tip: Never make the mistake of buying followers or likes! Instagram can see this and it will hurt your account in the long run.
How much money can you make as an Instagram Influencer?
According to Petal:
- If you are a micro-influencer, which means you have between 6,000 and 10,000 followers, you can expect to get around USD 90 per sponsored post.
- If you have between 50,000 and 80,000 followers, this rate increases to USD 200 per post.
- More than 250,000 followers can get USD 670 and more.
This, of course, depends on how engaged your audience is, what type of products you promote, and what deal you have with the sponsor.
To add to your income, you can also use affiliate products in your stories and posts to earn commissions as well.
6. Work as a Consultant
This one seems to be very similar to working as a freelancer. However, as a consultant, you don’t do tasks for your client. Instead, you analyze their current situation and give very specific advice or strategies on how they can improve.
Whereas there are many entry-level positions for freelancers, as an online consultant you need to be very experienced and highly skilled. That’s why you should pick a niche and become an absolute expert in that.
How much money do you need to work as a consultant?
This is very similar to being a freelancer. You can theoretically start it for free. Maybe you have some business connections from former jobs that you can contact and see if they currently need help in your area of expertise. Or you can reach out on social media or LinkedIn.
Again, it helps a lot if you have any kind of portfolio website to show your skills and experience.
How much money can you make as a consultant?
Consultants are usually paid better than freelancers due to their oftentimes higher qualifications. You are in charge to set your rates, may it be hourly or project-based.
On the downside, many jobs for consultants are short-term. That means you constantly have to look for new clients, probably even more often than as a freelancer.
7. Make Money Selling eBooks
The advantage of selling eBooks: You don’t need to find a publisher or deal with any type of logistics, like storage, distribution, or returns.
You can simply sell it as PDF documents on your own channels, e.g. your website, or you can publish it through established self-publishing shops, such as Amazon.
You are also free to write about whatever you are an expert in and what you think is going to sell. That can be novels, marketing guides, picture stories, or personal development books.
How much money do you need to sell eBooks?
Technically, you can do everything yourself on free tools. Depending on your skills and time, you might get someone to help you with things like designing an appealing cover or marketing, e.g. creating ads.
How much money can you make by selling eBooks?
That depends on your niche, how much you charge per eBook, and your marketing strategy. To give you a few examples: Steve Gillman made $2,000 from one ebook and Nathan Barry made $12,000 in just one day.
8. Make Money Selling Online Courses
The great thing with any type of online product is that you only have to create it once and can then sell it over and over again at no additional production costs. That’s why I’d like to recommend to you another popular online product to make money with: Online courses.
If you are an expert in a certain field that is high in demand, you can create an online course either based on written text or via videos. You can sell this course to your audience on your website or on specialized online course platforms, e.g. Udemy.
How much money do you need to sell online courses?
How much money you need to create an online course depends on how you want to create it. If you want to make videos, then you need a camera (your phone might do) and a microphone.
If you want to integrate the course on your website, you probably don’t have any additional costs. If you want to go for a professional online course platform, you either pay a percentage on every course sold or you pay a monthly fee, e.g. on Podia.
Talking about which, do you already know my latest online course “Zero to Remote Work Success” that teaches you how to make a full-time income online? Check it out!
How much money can you make by selling online courses?
This depends on your course, audience, and how well you promote your course. For instance:
- Joseph Michaels makes about USD 100,000 a year teaching people how to use writing software.
- Digital Nomad Girl Louise also made USD 100,000 selling various courses on Udemy.
- Michelle Schroeder-Gardner made even USD 1 million from one course.
Of course, these three have been in the business for quite a while so don’t expect to make that much money from the very beginning. But it is most definitely possible.
9. Make Money with Website or Domain Flipping
Similar to real estate flipping, you can also make money by flipping websites or domains. What you need to do is buy a website that has potential, improve it (SEO, more content, rebranding, etc.) and then sell it again at a profit.
The same goes for domains. If you think that there is a topic trending and in high demand in the future, buy a domain name that is related to that topic. Once people are requesting names like that, you can sell it at profit.
How much money do you need to invest to flip websites or domains?
Websites can be bought and sold on platforms such as Flippa. If you go for a small or new website, you can get that for a couple of hundred dollars. If you prefer buying bigger ones that have much content and popular branding, you can also spend a few thousand dollars.
How much money can you make flipping websites and domains?
Again, this completely depends on the niche, how much you have improved the website, and if there is a strong demand for it.
10. Start a Dropshipping Business
The good part about dropshipping is that you don’t need to have a warehouse filled with inventory or an actual store to sell your products. All you need is an online shop and a reliable supplier.
Once a customer orders a product, this order is automatically sent to the supplier who ships the product straight to your customer.
You don’t have to deal with the logistics. That saves you a lot of money and time. You are “only” responsible for marketing and sales.
How much money do you need to start a dropshipping business?
You need two things:
- An online store, which you can easily set up with Shopify at only USD 29 a month.
- A marketing budget in case you want to run ads on Google or social media or to pay influencers to promote your products.
Maybe you already have an existing customer base, a big newsletter list, or many followers on social media? If so, you might not need to spend too much on advertising.
How much money can you make with a dropshipping business?
According to Unrivaled Review, dropshippers make about 10-40% profit margin per sale. So it depends on what kind of product you sell and at what price. If you find a viral product, something, that everyone needs to have, opportunities are endless.
One of my clients made about USD 95,000 per month with dropshipping. There are plenty of other success stories from people who made USD 295 in their first month to people who made USD 13,087 in their first month.
Click here if you want to start a free two-week trial with Shopify!
11. Make Money as a Personal Coach
If you are an expert in any type of area, for instance, fitness, nutrition, or finance, you can also start your own online business as a personal coach.
Help people get out of debt and stay within budget. Prepare meal plans with them and create personalized workout plans. You can also work as a life coach and help them in different areas, such as finding their passion in life.
Advise your clients on how to get started and coach them through the entire process or help them get on track so they can get along without you in the long run. All this can be done entirely online with calls, video meetings, messaging, and worksheets or lists.
How much money do you need to start working as a personal coach?
This one is a very cheap online business to start if you already have the necessary knowledge and qualifications.
The main thing you need is a website to show your services and experiences. You can use hosting services such as Siteground and WordPress to create one for less than USD 5 a month.
Apart from that, you need to find ways to attract clients. You can use social media for free or, if you want to, create ads on Google or Facebook.
How much money can you make as a personal coach?
It is completely up to you what you charge your clients. You can either work on an hourly basis or sell packages, whatever works best for your services.
For instance, the average income of a life coach in the USA is about USD 30,000 – 40,000. Approx. 10-20% make a six-figure income.
The same goes for personal fitness trainers: One in five trainers make about USD 75,000 a year, and one out of every 10 makes six figures and above.
It’s all about your skills and how you position and sell yourself.
12. Design and Sell T-Shirts & Co
Are you a talented designer or have creative ideas for attention-grabbing statements or images? Then you could get your designs printed on products, such as t-shirts, hats, mugs, pillows, and much more, and sell them.
You can register with websites like TeeSpring and Printify where you only need to upload your designs and they get printed on-demand as soon as someone orders them. The products get then automatically shipped to the customers and you get paid.
This process is similar to dropshipping except for the fact that you create the designs and don’t source your products completely from another supplier.
How much money do you need to design and sell t-shirts?
Most of these platforms are free to join for designers so you don’t have to pay in advance. They will usually charge you a percentage or fixed price for each item sold.
How you create your design depends on you. You can use free programs such as Canva (although the paid version for about USD 10/month gets you better features) or go for more complex software, such as Adobe Photoshop.
How much money can you make from designing and selling t-shirts?
If you are very creative or manage to design something that hits the nerve of a current trend, you can be very successful. Benny Hsu made USD 100,000 in 5 months selling on TeeSpring. Or check out pastor Carlos Rodriguez who made USD 200,000 using Printify.
13. Make Money with Affiliate Marketing
Simply put, as an affiliate marketer, you recommend other companies’ products or services and get paid a commission if someone buys them because of your efforts.
First, you should focus on a niche, let’s say travel gadgets. Then you join affiliate programs (check the website of a company you’d like to promote) and get a customized link or code.
You can then promote this link or code on a platform, where you reach many potential customers, e.g. Instagram, Pinterest, or your blog. If someone buys a product using that link or code, you get a commission.
How much money do you need to start as an affiliate marketer?
Joining affiliate programs is usually free. So you don’t need to spend anything to get your links or codes.
However, you may need to spend money to build a platform where you can promote them. Think of costs for building a blog, a budget for Facebook ads, or maybe hiring a virtual assistant who helps you build up your social media profiles.
How much money can you make with affiliate marketing?
This depends on many factors. One would be how much money you get per item. For instance, if you get 10% on each product sold but the product costs only USD 10, you have to sell many thousands of items to make a decent income.
Tom from Online Media Master, for example, went from USD 20,000 to USD 80,000 in 2 years with affiliate marketing alone. Jeff and Ben from Breaking the One Percent managed to make about USD 100,000 in one month alone.
But of course, rather than just throwing your links and codes around, you need to be very strategic and build an audience that trusts your recommendations.
Extra Tip: Financial products usually pay higher commissions.
Start Your Online Business Today
As you can see, there are plenty of ways how you can make money online without leaving your house and without having an employer. Be your own boss!
You can easily start all of these online business ideas on a small budget and do your first steps. However, if you want to scale your business, you will ultimately have to invest more money. May it be for additional tools, advertisements, or employees or freelancers to help you grow.
That’s the same with any business. But as long as your income is still higher than your expenses, you’re still making a profit.
Pick one business model and focus on that. If applicable, pick a niche, do your research, and learn from others who have done what you want to do. All you need is the motivation to learn and persistence.