Last Updated on Apr 15, 2020 by James W

Starting an online business can be very easy these days, and can be a way to earn yourself a good side income, or even, if you grow things enough, replace your normal job! It can also be a very good way to learn about running a business without a lot of the capital investment required to start other types of business, so can be a good starter project if you want to be an entrepreneur but don’t yet have any business experience to draw on.

There are countless online businesses that you could get involved with, but here we are going to look at three of the most popular, all of which require very little in terms of costly resources to begin working on.

Running a Monetized Blog

The easiest type of business to start if you want to build an online business, and the one with the least requirement in terms of up front spend, is a blog that is designed to make money. Not all blogs make any money, for example some people just write about something they are interested in as a hobby, or to show off their writing skills. They don’t have any advertising, paid guest posts or affiliate links on their sites, and just do them for fun. If you have a profitable or very popular niche in mind that you think you will be able to get good traffic to, however, then you can successfully run a blog for money, and it can be about just about anything that there is a market for.

Blogs make money, on the whole, in three main ways. There are others, but we will focus on these first. The first is to have paid advertising on the website. Almost any site can do this, for instance using things like Google AdWords, but the more traffic you have and the more niche your content, the easier it will be to find people who want to put more lucrative ads on your site. Banner ads, for instance, can be a good source of income for your blog, but you will need to achieve a good page rank before you will be able to attract advertisers. To do this, you’ll need good content, and to learn about SEO. There are plenty of resources to help you with this, and so you can learn as you go if you want to get started and create your blog right away!

Another way blogs can make money is by posting paid guest content. Again, a site will need to be reasonably established and popular before people will want to do this, but once you have the required level of traffic for a given advertiser, they will create content that includes backlinks to the site they are trying to promote and pay you to publish it. This is great, in that it can give you more content to draw in readers, as well as an income, but you should be careful to only accept content that is up to your own standards in terms of writing quality, and which is relevant to your readers. While it may seem OK to take the money and post any old thing, content that will make your blog seem low quality or off message will only harm your longer term earning prospects and your blog’s brand.

A third way to earn money from a blog is to join one or more affiliate marketing programs, the best known of which is Amazon’s. You then post links to products in your content, for instance by mentioning them in your posts or writing reviews of them, and are paid commission when somebody buys them. This can be a great way to monetize a blog, but of course, isn’t appropriate for all blogging niches.

Starting A Freelancing Business

The type of online business that will earn you the most money with a fairly short ramp up time is doing online freelance work. This means using existing skills you have, for example writing, graphic design, or web development, and taking jobs for clients. You can find freelancing sites that can let you find people who are looking for people with the kind of skills you have, and it is really optional as to whether you need to set up an online portfolio, though you will need some samples of your work to send when you apply for freelance jobs.

Naturally, freelancing is something where you have to deliver on every job you commit to, and so this is something that can end up being full time work pretty quickly if you want it to be, but you will need to have a solid skillset that people are looking for in terms of remote workers.

Another thing you can do is become a virtual assistant. This is also working on a freelance basis, but doing administrative rather than creative tasks, such as data entry, customer service, marketing and managing email. This is something you can do part time or even full time, and can be a great option if you are looking to start an online business because you are out of work and need to replace the income from a regular job. It can also be a good choice for people who want to make a solid income and keep using their skills while being a stay at home parent.

Starting an Ecommerce Business

The third of the most popular types of online businesses you can start fairly easily is an ecommerce business. The amount of investment this will take will depend on what you want to sell, as you will need to either buy the stock you want to sell on your site, or make it yourself, and this may mean you need to buy materials. The cheapest type of ecommerce business to start in terms of capital needed to start is one that sells digital products, for example ebooks or software, which you need time, but not necessarily expensive materials to create. However, you can start an ecommerce business selling physical products too, whether they are crafts you have made yourself, things you are trying to resell for a higher value (for instance by investing in secondhand items at local sales and selling them for more on online auction sites), or new products you are selling as a retailer.

All of these types of ecommerce business present the same initial choice: do you want to build your own ecommerce site, or sell through existing platforms like eBay, Amazon or Etsy? While it can be fairly easy to start an ecommerce website with full functionality and the ability to process secure payments, even using open source, free platforms, you need to ask yourself which method is best for reaching the most potential customers. There is no right or wrong answer to this, as both methods have their pros and cons, so it will depend on your long term plans for your business and what you are selling. Typically, you can get more eyes on your products by putting them on a platform with millions of customers such as eBay, but in this case your products will also be side by side with a lot of competition, and so you may in some cases be better off building a brand with your own site. You will also avoid having to pay any fees to the platform you are using by taking this approach, so your profit margins will be higher.

There is nothing stopping you from having both an ecommerce site and a store on eBay, however, though this will mean you’ll have to do some extra work in terms of being sure not to advertise a product that has already sold through your other channel as still being available. It really depends how much of your time you want to or can spend on your new online business as to whether this is a good idea.

As you can see, these three styles of online business actually cover a very broad range of opportunities, as within freelancing there are a huge array of different jobs you can do, with ecommerce you can use a lot of different business models, and with blogs you have a lot of freedom in terms of what kind of content you want to write and how you want to monetize your pages.

You can get started very quickly with any of these types of online business, and depending which you choose, quickly be on a path to an income made from working from home. The most profitable in the short term is definitely freelancing, however this is also the most time consuming. Ecommerce takes more set up than the others, but has the biggest potential for growth, and blogging offers a good happy medium, being cheap and quick to start but taking a while to really start giving you returns, though having a high income ceiling after that.

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Founder and chief editor of Blogger, Affiliate Marketer, Tech and SEO geek. Started this blog in 2011 to help others learn how to work from home, make money online or anything related to business and finances. You can contact me at