Imagine yourself sitting comfortably at home while running your online business. Not having to answer to anyone, you begin your day at the time you choose. You decide how long you work before taking breaks to attend to your kids or pets. You also take 10-minute walks around the block to refresh your mind. This is how I spend my typical day.
The good news is it won’t take you too much time to achieve the lifestyle described above. Setting up an online business is much easier now compared to a decade ago. You can launch from scratch in 10 minutes. (As long as you have all the requirements ready!)
Also, you have the advantage of automation that was only available relatively recently. Generating leads and making sales while you sleep was unheard of before. Third, you can now outsource more tasks than you ever thought possible, due to the evolution of outsourcing platforms.
So, if you still dream of working for yourself, I suggest you start right now. But, hey, don’t quit your day job yet. Maybe sometime soon. Setting up a shop is different from running one full-time.
Take That Leap Of Faith
Entrepreneurs are a special breed of people. They fully believe that their dreams will become real. They spend enough time laying the groundwork for their future success. Many unknowns deter the faint of heart. However, those who triumph have faith in their abilities to make it work.
Even though ninety percent of small business startups fail, per the SBA’s 2019 report, don’t listen to the naysayers. Instead, believe in your skills. So, stop speculating what could go wrong because there’s only one way to find out if you’ll make it – take that leap.
Find Your Online Platform
In a recent article, we discussed the importance of finding the right platform for your online business. Shopify is an excellent choice if you sell physical products. A website is not necessary for freelancers or consultants, though it definitely helps. A social media account is definitely recommended.
Facebook launched Facebook Shops to compete with Amazon. Together with Instagram, it can be the perfect platform for your ecom business. Social media continues to evolve and you should keep abreast of developments that might affect you.
I also suggest using social media to promote your business. Here’s a good read that can guide you on this.
Businesses you can start from scratch.
Are you familiar with all the online opportunities available to you? Maybe you’ve got your heart set on what you want to do. But, here are other options worth considering. Before you read on, I suggest you check out this article to help you decide on what business model is right for you.
- Affiliate marketing
You’ve got a choice of linking your website, blog or social media account to a seller or e-Commerce site. You, as an affiliate, promote products or services to your audience. Every time a customer clicks your link and buys, you earn a commission.
Your primary focus is creating appealing content that will drive people to your site or account. I prefer being honest with readers if I get paid when they buy through the links. Customer service is not your responsibility, but your reviews are. Consumers contact the retailers and manufacturers you refer them to, making this business truly passive, with no products, no customers and no headaches! Your main customer base will be your email list and anybody who finds you through advertising and organic search.
This option requires a significant monetary investment. The amount depends on the product types you wish to sell online. Many companies offer payment plans that allow you to pay for goods after 30, 60 or 90 days. If you’re new, be prompt when making payments. It’s a way to build trust and credibility with suppliers.
Wholesaling allows you to enjoy volume discounts. You’ll need storage space unless you can make arrangements with a manufacturer or a warehouse. Also, purchasing raw materials at lower costs benefits you and your customers. You’re able to price your end products at competitive rates.
Sell and take orders of products without keeping inventory. Instead, your suppliers or a third party serve as fulfillment hubs. They receive orders, pack and ship goods. But they remain invisible to your customers.
What products would you likely sell? Manufacturers worldwide are searching for entrepreneurs like you. Before you settle for the best offer, physically check out items that you sell. Don’t rely on videos or photos alone. Poorly made products will reflect badly on you.
Once you get the hang of both, you can combine wholesaling with dropshipping. You get the best of both worlds. But customer service remains your responsibility.
- Sell your art and crafts.
Do you like to sell products you make? Arts and crafts are sources of income for many home-based businesses. You might be one of the budding artisans that can produce masks, caps, mittens, keychains, pet supplies, etc.
Etsy is always known as the platform for handmade and digital products. You can transform your hobby into a money-maker in minutes. Many sellers say that opening their shop on Etsy was as easy as pie. Also, they get to benefit from an active seller community that supports those who need help.
- Start your clothing line. (Print on Demand)
Do you want to design and sell clothing like T-shirts, leggings or caps? POD is a fast-growing industry as people demand more customized products. You don’t have to keep inventory. You can forward orders to a third party who will print and ship products.
If you’re concerned about quality, you can also make products yourself. You will have to invest in equipment that will cost you at least several hundred dollars. Another advantage of taking this route is you can offer various shipping options and guarantee prompt delivery. However, we’ve never had to go this route, as our print on demand suppliers are U.S.-based and high quality.
I suggest you read this article, which has many suggestions on where to find design and product ideas, as well as quality POD suppliers.
Do you prefer conversing instead of writing content? In a previous article, we stated that more than half of Americans have listened to a podcast. These downloadable files can be accessed while driving, commuting, exercising, studying and working.
Successful podcasters attract sponsors and advertisers. There is no limit on what topics you can discuss. Of course, choose subjects relevant to your audience. Invite guests or a co-host to enliven each session.
- Freelance writing and designing.
You might possess the talents companies worldwide need. Skills like website development, content writing, engineering design and accounting are in demand. All you have to do is create an account with Fiverr, 99designs, Upwork and Freelancer. These are platforms that connect you with potential employers.
Choosing the right site will improve your chances of getting freelance work. Fiverr and 99designs, for instance, focus on IT-related jobs. Conversely, Upwork and Freelancer cover more general job categories.
Build a good reputation and client base before asking for higher compensation. Most freelancers start at the bottom, accepting jobs for meager pay to gain valuable experience. Expect stiff competition from others unless you have unique skills and a portfolio of accomplishments.
- Teach online courses.
If you’re good at something, I’m sure your knowledge will be relevant to many people out there. What areas of your expertise would you like to share with the world?
Many people make money by teaching others how to start a business, groom pets, use various software, etc. Most of them began with only one purpose in mind – help other people solve problems.
Visit Udemy, Teachable and Skillshare to give you more ideas on how you can teach online. Learn how you can create a course, set it up and encourage people to enroll. Ask for feedback so you can continuously improve and fine-tune online classes for your audience.
- Create and sell digital products
You can also sell sewing designs, embroidery fonts, templates for invitations, planners, stickers and coloring pages on Etsy. You could also check out Clickbank, a global retailer of products delivered digitally, and an affiliate marketplace.
Online courses, plug-ins, apps, music and videos are also digital products. Production costs are low, but your competitors might be offering similar products for free. It’s best to research your industry before you sell digital items.
- Online consultant
You can be a marketing, legal, or technical consultant. You can provide advice or run specific operations of a business. Also, social media consultants are in demand now because many corporations recognize the significance of these social platforms.
You could provide support remotely from home to individuals and companies alike. Or, you can coach via Zoom how to fix cars and other machinery in real-time. You need proof of your expertise before you can sell your services. Reviews and testimonials greatly help.
It takes time to develop blogging into a business. First, you have to create content that will appeal to your audience. Second, like successful bloggers, you have to publish at least two articles a week. Begin by building your website with a platform like WordPress.org.
Once you have enough followers, you can sell products and online courses. You can sign up with Google Adsense, which places ads on your site. Manufacturers can ask you to review their products or pay you to write about them.
Post content that is relevant to your audience. If you need ideas on keeping your blog fresh, visit our copywriting article for article ideas and general writing tips.
- Social influencer
You can become a blogger and an influencer simultaneously. When you have gained enough followers, businesses will approach you to promote their brand. You don’t need a million members. You only need to have at least 1,000. But don’t wait for them to call you. Let them know you’re open to partnerships.
More influencers are found on social media today. It’s best to switch to a business account on FB, Instagram and Twitter once you’ve decided to monetize your presence. Focus on your niche and be consistent with your content.
- Virtual assistant
Answering calls, e-mails, preparing letters, setting up meetings and organizing files are some of the tasks a virtual assistant does. Some can earn $100/hour. But according to Don’t Panic Management, hiring a VA costs between $15 to $75 per hour. ($3 – $10 per hour overseas.)
How much you earn depends on your experience, skillset and efficiency. You can focus on freelancing as a VA by signing up with Upwork or Taskrabbit. Companies prefer long-term arrangements that could lead up to a steady stream of income for you. Instead of negotiating short-term deals, ask for a retainer.
- One-on-one teaching.
In real-time, you could teach a new language or help students. Online courses are usually impersonal unless live. As an online tutor, you could charge $25/hour on average.
Individualized instruction benefits students. You can monitor their progress after each session. Also, you can tailor-fit your material to your student’s needs. On the other hand, students feel more confident when others aren’t around to watch them commit mistakes or ask questions.
- Publish e-books.
Have you ever tried to write a book? Not having to worry about finding an agent, editor and publisher, why not sell your book directly to your audience? Let them be the final judge on whether your work is worth the money.
Among the top-selling genres are Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Inspirational, Biography, Health and Children’s Fiction. As a new author, Kindle is perfect for your first literary production. Publishing is free and you get to reach millions of readers worldwide.
- Start a membership site.
Instead of selling individual products, why not sell memberships? Your customers can download recipes, e-books, online courses or content whenever they want in exchange for a set fee. If they pay annually, they get bonuses in the form of physical products or additional digital products. Also, a membership site can create a community around your brand. You also provide forums for people with shared interests, expanding your reach and increasing your revenue.
What idea will drive your target market to your site? Aside from brainstorming, research your competition. Lastly, look at platforms like Podia and Kajabi, which are suitable for starting membership sites.
- Online Tech Support.
If you are tech-savvy, you could offer your services to businesses that don’t have IT departments. You can fix most software problems remotely. Some tools allow access to a remote PC or laptop, but many find these invasive. It’s best if you only used these as a last resort. You can find IT support jobs on Upwork.
Your next step after making a choice is making your business grow. This is where the real fun begins. For now, which of the above suggestions interest you? Please let us know in the comments below. Happy launching!