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When you dream of opening your own business, you might envision four white walls and a mess of boxes to unpack in a commercial space. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. With today’s technology, you can start and run a business online, often with little to no cost.
By focusing on your strengths, you’ll be able to build a client roster and get your online-based business started. Here are 15 great ideas you can run with.
1. SEO consultant
Do you know the ins and outs of search engines and have skills in platforms like Google Analytics? The owners of a lot of smaller companies don’t realize how much of an impact search engine optimization (SEO) can have on their business. Educate those business owners on the power of SEO to help transform their websites into a more SEO-friendly property. Use your skills to show business owners how to read and use their analytics data the right way, and how to properly use keywords and structure content to get more traffic.
2. Start an ecommerce store
At the forefront of the internet revolution has been ecommerce stores. Nowadays you can get an easy to use, fully functional ecommerce store design for as little as £500; then you just need a domain and hosting. Of course, how much you profit depends on your methods and effectiveness of marketing which might include:
- Print media
- PPC (pay-per-click)
- SEO (search engine optimisation)
- Event sponsorship
- The list goes on…!
SaleHoo is a great resource when it comes to finding suppliers and learning how to sell online!
Example – Zappos
You might not have even heard of Zappos, an online shoe store. Well, that goes to show how big the internet really is and how big your online business could be. Maybe it might even come to close to the acquisition of Zappos by Amazon for a reported $900,000,000.
3. Earn Cash From Blogging
Starting a blog isn’t as hard as you think. All you need is hosting and a domain. To make money online from a blog you need to gain large amounts of traffic from a specific niche. See how I do it here. You can earn cash using:
- Selling banner advertisements
- Offer premium services or member areas
Example – TechCrunch
TechCrunch is a popular Web 2.0 blog and makes a reported $200,000 per month. Originally started by Michael Arrington, it was eventually acquired by AOL for a reported $25,000,000. There is money to be made by blogging and it’s cheap one of the cheap and easy home based businesses to get started with.
4. Sell on eBay
Selling on eBay successfully is not easy. You need to be able to able to target a niche where the profit margins are high and competition is low. If you pick the right product (particularly unbranded products) you have a chance to import items and make huge profit margins. SaleHoo is awesome for finding suppliers.
Example – Linda’s Stuff
There are some extremely large sellers on eBay. Take “Linda’s Stuff” as an example, with around 150,000 items online and nearly 350,000 confirmed sales.
5. Social Media Consultant
Who doesn’t love Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Fancy yourself to be a bit of whiz but don’t have any formal training? Twitter and Google, among other platforms, offer complete professional courses with recognized certifications that require little to no money. Social media is also a business that has unlimited potential with a client base that can span across the world. This trend is unlikely to die soon, if ever, and new platforms are being released every year, making the possibilities for expansion limitless. You can use social media management tools to make your job easy.
6. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is extremely easy to get into and involves you earning a commission by promoting other companies’ products and services. Basically, you choose a product you like, promote it, and make a profit on each sale that stems from your marketing efforts. An affiliate marketing business is especially easy to start if:
- You have a blog or website of your own
- You can prove your success through visitor statistics
- You have already successfully undertaken affiliate marketing and can show this to your potential clients
Related: The Affiliate Marketing Model: A Blueprint for Success in the Gig Economy
7. Tester or Reviewer
Individuals or startups often look for people to review their products to encourage others to buy them. You can either get started with a profile on freelancing websites or approach companies directly, offering them a review in exchange for a monetary reward by becoming an influencer. Even better, if you have your own website or blog, you could write entire posts about their products, thus allowing you to charge more money in the long run and build a portfolio with tangible results to show future clients.
8. Secretarial Services
Similar to virtual assisting, remote secretarial services require little to no experience. All you need is:
- Strong organizational skills
- Good communication skills
- Good time management
- A high level of autonomy
Your day-to-day tasks as a freelancing secretary will typically include:
- Booking meetings
- Organizing calendars
- Replying to emails
- Putting together presentations
- Answering phone calls
9. Online Dating Consultant
Have you got a way with words? Or have you found your Mr. or Mrs. Right and want to share how you got there? You can become someone’s wingman or woman and help them find love by becoming an online dating consultant. This type of consulting comes with a large level of responsibility, as you will be guiding someone’s love life. Daily tasks include:
- Acting as an account manager on dating sites
- Writing profiles
- Offering telephone updates on their matchmaking status
10. Ebay Assistant or Seller
An Ebay assistant or seller is similar to being a marketing affiliate. The key difference is that instead of marketing the product, you are selling it directly to the customer. When selling for others on Ebay or any other platform, you will sell the product and keep a commission as compensation.
Unfortunately, this type of job comes with risks. Commonly, scam artists attract Ebay sellers and use fake shipping papers to convince them to send payments. Unfortunately, even if you are scammed, you will be held responsible for your customers not receiving their items. Always remember to:
- Get to know the distributor
- Keep all payments in your e-wallet until the customer confirms having received the parcel
- Report any suspicious activity
- Do not share any of your banking details
11. Application Developer
New applications are launched on a daily basis and if you believe you have the skills to create your own and a unique enough idea, you should do it! Aside from the fact that you will have to invest little to no money to get started, it is far less time consuming than the average 9 to 5. Once you have created your application, couple it with the right marketing strategy and you’ll be making money in your sleep. The best part about developing applications is that you can do it from anywhere in the world.
Related: 11 Ways to Make Money While You Sleep
12. Website Developer
We live in a digital world where every business needs a website to drive their traffic to in order to make sales. If you have the skills, you could enter an industry that will never die. You can also start small by creating websites on platforms such as WordPress. If you want to take your web-building skills to the next level, you can learn the language of website creation through Codecademy.com, where you will be able to learn how to incorporate personalized:
- Shopping carts
- Product pages
- Services pages
- Feedback forms
13. Internet Security Consultant
Hacking, scamming, and viruses are just some of the security threats on the web today. If you know your stuff, you could make very good money consulting businesses, especially those who handle sensitive customer information and want to keep it as safe as possible.
14. Write Awesome Emails For Every Customer Interaction Scenario
Plan your emails to engage, inform and bring customers to the next step that will lead to their satisfaction.
Email Marketing is Almost Too Easy
Email system like Mailchimp and Aweber make it so easy to automate communications with customers and build a relationship over time. Forms you can embed in your website can then get the right emails to customers.
Your business customers can hear about your corporate gifts. Consumers will separate from your consumer foods or services.
Avoid Email Overload
Give customers a heads up on how often you’ll be contacting them. When someone unsubscribes, you really don’t need to send them an email saying they unsubscribed. We have faith.
Really don’t do this: Some e-commerce / email systems let you send an automated email to visitors who have browsed but not not bought. Don’t. It’s creepy and invasive. Sort of like a store staffer chasing a customer into the parking lot.
It’s all really commonsense.
A Marketing Copywriter Can Help
One of my clients ordered some packaged food online for her parents. What did the confirmation email say? “Your order has been flagged as possibly fraudulent!” FAIL.
Automating such a message without a human reviewing the order was a big mistake. This order was shipping within the same state to people with the same last name. Freaking out the customer led her to cancel and, worse yet, tell everyone the story.
Creating a customer experience and writing copy that you would enjoy will lead to a lot more sales than bells, whistles and strange messages.
Key Steps In Online Experience Planning
- identify customers and their shopping scenarios
- review your online buying and service policies
- identify customer touchpoints during the marketing and sales process
- create a hierarchy of messages on the website and within the emails
- figure out the next step a customer may want to take, online, in mobile shopping and in emails
These are the steps I take to help clients plan messaging / positioning, write their website copy and automated emails.
A little planning to thrill your online visitors and customers is a smart investment that keeps paying off, once the systems are all automated.
15. Publish Your Own Book
It’s okay to admit it: You’ve probably thought about publishing your own book someday. While seeing your name on a list of best sellers might seem like a pipe dream, it’s actually not that far out of reach.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a science fiction novel, a marketing guide, or a children’s picture book, there are now plenty of options for successfully self-publishing your own work.
From releasing your writing as an ebook with the Digital Download app to on-demand printing services like Blurb and CreateSpace, there are many different ways for you to become a published author and sell your book online.
To sell ebooks through your online store, install the Digital Downloads app and you’ll instantly be able to stock digital files as products. Once purchased, your ebooks will be sent to your customers via email or as a direct download link.
If you choose to sell physical copies of your books, you’ll just need to place an order with Blurb or CreateSpace whenever your work is purchased. They’ll custom print your book and handle the entire storage and fulfillment process.
Why Publish a Book?
- Printing, storage, and delivery is taken care of thanks to services like Blurb and CreateSpace
- What’s the point of writing if there’s no one to read it? Self-publishing is the quickest way to get your books into the hands of potential readers.
- Creative writing is your passion and you deserve to be able to make money while doing something you enjoy.
Ready to live out your dreams of being a published author? These resources will help you out on your way to the top:
- The Malcolm Gladwell Guide to Starting a Business
- Hacking the Press: Clever Ways to Get Free Press Coverage with Zero Budget