Dropbox, Airbnb, Twitter – all these succesful companies have one thing in common: they became successful using the lean startup model. This method questions traditional business concepts and procedures, and instead promises greater flexibility and innovation. But what do lean startups mean for product development and company culture, and how can you benefit from these new ideas?
Like any business, most online business ideas don’t hit big success overnight. However, many of the following ideas for an online business can be started as a side hustle - and expanded into a main business as your success grows. Find out what makes these ideas stand out and why a good website often tips the scales in your favor.
- Idea 1: Drop shipping via online stores
- Idea 2: Providing courses online
- Idea 3: Become a virtual assistant
- Idea 4: Become a blogger
- Idea 5: Produce a podcast
- Idea 6: Try to become an influencer
- Idea 7: Manage influencers
- Idea 8: Sell your crafts
- Idea 9: Sell 3D prints
- Idea 10: Design, take photos, make art…
- Idea 11: Unleash your inner writer…
- Idea 12: Online business ideas for the linguistically talented
- Idea 13: Become a programmer
- Idea 14: Website services
- Idea 15: Use affiliate programs
- Online business ideas: Important basics
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Idea 1: Drop shipping via online stores
One of the most apparent ideas for your own online business is, of course, setting up an online store. If you don’t make any products yourself or don’t have the space to store large quantities of goods, there is still an option for you. This is where dropshipping comes into play. You present the products in your online store and then when they’re bought, the actual producer - a regional retailer, for example - takes care of the shipping.
- No need for large investments
- No storage space needed
- Often producers even take care of shipping
This method is particularly suitable for those who are not yet quite ready for the big e-commerce business, do not sell their own products online, and first want to see how online stores, sales, and marketing work.
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Idea 2: Providing courses online
Are you an expert in a particular field, or have a special skill? Then you’ve already got the best foundation for the next idea: providing online courses. Once planned, recorded, and made live, you generate an almost passive income - with each new student you earn money without having to do anything extra for it.
- As an expert, you already bring the knowledge to your course.
- Once produced, you can distribute the course over and over again.
Everyone can do something well – online courses are among those business ideas on the Internet that anyone can create!
Idea 3: Become a virtual assistant
Virtual assistants are the secretaries of the digital age. Help customers from a wide range of industries with organizational tasks, such as managing appointments, and paperwork. Previous training in this area is not required, but basic knowledge of office software and daily business life are. Anything else you can do (technical, creative, linguistic) will expand your field of application and your chances of success.
- No special prior training required.
- No cost to start.
Just keep in mind that it may not always be the most exciting and challenging tasks you are given. You may encounter difficult customers and requests at inconvenient times.
Idea 4: Become a blogger
Do you have a passion for a particular subject? Whether cooking, traveling, or photography - there are no limits when it comes to ideas for online businesses. On the contrary, the more unusual, the better. To make money with a blog you ensure you get an appropriate reach, so that it becomes interesting for advertising and cooperation partners to invest. Blogging, by the way, is also good for combining with other online business ideas, such as selling online courses or a podcast.
- You do what you love - it often feels more like a hobby than work.
- Combines well with other online business ideas.
One drawback with this idea is that there are now unfortunately very many bloggers on almost all topics. To gain a foothold here and earn money with it is therefore often a matter of luck. Only start with this idea if you’re ok with operating the blog long term only as a hobby.
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Idea 5: Produce a podcast
If you’re more into the personal approach, a podcast might be an even better idea than a blog because people hear your voice. You can talk about what you really care about. The best way to do this is to regularly invite famous figures (or influencers) from your field to raise your profile and offer variety.
- Produced relatively quickly with simple resources.
- Telling (and listening) is easier for many than writing (and reading).
If you’ve always been able to get other people excited about new things when you talk and are on fire for a topic, a podcast may be what you need to start a new business.
Idea 6: Try to become an influencer
This is in a similar vein as blogging or producing a podcast, only it is clearly more public. As an Influencer you present yourself and your passion for a topic on Instagram, for example. The more people who follow you, the more attractive you become for brands that let you use their products and pay you for postings.
- No special training required.
- No costs to start in business.
- Very high revenues are possible with appropriate reach
Admittedly: Here, too, there is no guarantee of success – becoming a successful influencer on cue is almost impossible. If you still want to try, you should have no inhibitions about publicly sharing private things.
You are already an influencer and now want to sell online? You’ll benefit from the Social Buy Button for your social media profiles, website, or blog.
Idea 7: Manage influencers
You yourself don’t care for fame, but you know exactly how Instagram works? Then try your hand at being an influencer manager. You mediate between influencers and companies that want to do influencer marketing. With the right candidates on board, you can expect to earn good money.
- No costs to start your business.
- You profit from the success of others.
If you’re good at organizing and dealing with a wide variety of people - plus have a great marketing and social media knowledge - influencer management is certainly one of the ideas that could result in a successful online business.
Idea 8: Sell your crafts
If you’re an artist or craft-maker, sell your homemade products through an online store. Social networks offer artists and craftspeople lots of options for selling.
- You turn your hobby into a profession or money.
- Many sales opportunities.
You probably won’t get rich with selling homemade products online - if only because scalability is limited and, of course, as demand increases, you’ll have to produce more. However, as a side hustle and if you like to give others a special treat, this idea is definitely suitable.
Idea 9: Sell 3D prints
3D printers are now also available for non-commercial use at affordable prices. Not only can you implement creative ideas, but you can actually enter an exciting growing industry: the low-cost production of spare parts, tools, etc.
- No special previous knowledge necessary.
- Exciting industry with a lot of potential.
Above all, people with an affinity for technology who have a creative streak will get their money’s worth here.
Idea 10: Design, take photos, make art…
Unleash your creativity: whether you are a trained graphic designer who earns money with commissioned work in the advertising industry, or an artist. It doesn’t have to be on the level of a Van Gogh or Banksy - if you like painting, photography, or designing other things, you can sell your art for example online via photo portals or online stores for prints.
- Low cost to get started.
- You earn money with your passion.
Since art is a matter of taste and the competition is hot, success is not guaranteed. Especially on photo platforms, you’ll generate a small side income in the best case.
Idea 11: Unleash your inner writer…
Become a copywriter or even write your own book. There is a difference between the actual profession of “copywriter” and life as an author. The latter are much freer and can now self-publish their work via self-publishing. Again, of course, success is hard to predict. Copywriters usually find their clients online via advertisements or special platforms.
- Low cost to get started.
- You earn money with your passion.
Have you always been good with words or dream of a life as a writer, locking yourself in a house on the beach for weeks at a time to write? Then by all means, give the writing life a try. However, writing regularly can quickly become a tough job - discipline is paramount.
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Idea 12: Online business ideas for the linguistically talented
Are you fluent in speaking and writing several languages? Then translator might be perfect as an Internet business idea. The good thing: your own creativity is not so much required, because you translate already existing texts.
- No costs to start.
- You already bring the most important prerequisite with your language talent.
If you are looking for a regular side or main income and are lucky enough to speak several languages, you will always be needed as a translator - even though translation software like Google Translate is getting better and better, it never replaces human insight and our sense for language.
Idea 13: Become a programmer
There is hardly a job that is as in demand as that of a programmer. Whether websites or apps, preferably both - if you know one or more programming languages, many doors will open for you, especially at startups. If you didn’t learn programming as a profession, there are plenty of online tutorials and crash courses to get you started.
- No cost to start.
- Extremely in-demand skill with high earning potential.
You should have a certain affinity for technology if you want to start your own business as a programmer. Since technology is also developing at breakneck speed, having an interest in new things is helpful, and always continuing to educate yourself is needed.
By the way: startup ideas are in high demand. Get inspired by our article!
Idea 14: Website services
You can do a little bit of everything in digital life (and or know the right people)? Perfect, then offer the all-round carefree package. Set up online stores or websites, for example with website builders like IONOS MyWebsite, and take care of graphics, text, SEO, and marketing. Good target groups here are small and medium-sized businesses that can’t afford or don’t want a full-blown agency.
- No cost to start.
- Diverse activities and industries.
Do you love variety and enjoy learning about new topics all the time? Then this idea definitely belongs to the attractive ideas for your online business. Thanks to website builders, tutorials, and possibly partners, a basic understanding is often enough. You do not need detailed expert knowledge.
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Idea 15: Use affiliate programs
Last but not least, here’s a little idea if you are already established with one or more online set ups. Sign up for affiliate programs and implement the appropriate links to products or services on your website or blog. Depending on the compensation model, you’ll get paid on a click-by-click basis for each click or purchase.
- Very easy to implement.
- No special knowledge required.
To make any money at all with affiliate marketing, owning one or more websites is essential. Don’t underestimate the potential here though. Especially if your sites are about niche topics, the integration of affiliate links can be worthwhile.
Online business ideas: Important basics
You have chosen one of our online business ideas and want to get started? Then here are the most important tips to begin:
- Write a business plan. A business plan is important to put your own idea to the test and to convince potential investors of your idea. Whether the business plan is for an online store or for a job as a programmer or designer is irrelevant - even though there may be special requirements for services and online retail in each case.
- Take care of the necessary bureaucratic steps, such as registrations with offices, insurance companies, and associations.
- Think about a convincing website idea. For some of the online business ideas described above, an online store or website is indispensable, but if you are a copywriter or designer, an online presence is your digital business card. If you lack the creativity for it yourself, you can also have your website created by a Website Design Service.
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