Considering that the digital economy makes up 15 percent of the world economy, the internet offers near limitless potential to make money.
However, it can be hard to figure out what to do with all of that potential.
The following are just a few of the more common and effective ways to start an online business with very little investment.
The most common online business that you can start with no money is a blog or website. Pick a topic that you are knowledgeable about, and write topics and opinions that you think other people would find interesting.
As your blog grows, you will attract visitors from around the world (hopefully in large numbers). There are several ways you can turn a profit using a blog, the most common of which is advertising. Having display ads showing on your website or blog will earn you money each day through clicks and impressions.
Beyond earning from advertising fees, you can also flip blogs or websites. There are sites like Flippa that let you list and sell your website, and buyers can pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a high-traffic URL.
Another great way to make money online without paying anything is by signing up to test websites. You can get paid to test websites for bugs and dead links.
The beauty of website testing is that you don’t need any special skills or coding knowledge. You’re supposed to replicate what the average user will do on a website, and get paid to browse normally.
Website testing usually pays a high hourly rate, so if you can get a string of assignments together you can make some serious money.
Drop Shipping Online Businesses
Drop shipping is the equivalent of running an online business without handling the inventory yourself. Instead, you run an online storefront and process orders. Once those orders come in, you order the product from the manufacturer and ship it to the customer.
There are a variety of t-shirt printing companies that use this business model, like Teespring and Redbubble. All you have to do is design a graphic that you upload to the site, and you get a part of the sales.
The major benefit of starting an online business that makes use of drop shipping is that it takes no overhead. You don’t even have to create a marketplace if you don’t want to. Starting social media profiles and branding yourself as a designer and then linking to your drop shipper can be enough to get sales rolling.
If you have a talent for making your own merchandise – like necklaces, bracelets, or other crafts – you can sell them yourself. While large marketplaces like Amazon are hard to break into, sites like Etsy offer a more targeted marketplace.
Like most other forms of making money online, a large part of selling your crafts online is marketing yourself. Sharing your posts on social media, creating a brand and even taking out ads online can help increase your sales.
Affiliate marketing is the process of selling other people’s products in exchange for a fee on every sale. Like drop shipping, affiliate marketing lets you make money without having to handle the inventory and design of products.
There are many different websites out there that offer a referral or affiliate programs. Amazon Associates is likely the largest marketplace that you can take advantage of. The best way to make money from affiliate marketing is to include links on a website, YouTube or social media channel that you already have up and running.
You can shop around to find the best product for you – pick an industry that you have knowledge and connections in, and that your audience would be interested in. For example, if you run a beauty blog, makeup and jewelry are good categories. Non-physical goods like software, books, and music are also popular categories that you can find an audience for.
Affiliate marketing can take quite a lot of time and money to set up, however. This is because you have to develop an online presence or spend money on internet advertising to drive sales. Without taking these steps to generate traffic, you won’t be able to make any money.
You don’t have to sell anything to make money with a YouTube channel. In fact, the only thing you really need is yourself. Tons of people make videos about their lives or their thoughts and get ad revenue from viewers.
The tricky part is figuring out what your niche is, and getting people to watch you. Since creators upload 300 hours of content every minute, you’ll have to make yourself stand out somehow – and it can take a while for that to happen.
Since you will be building an audience along the way, YouTube channels are a great way to expand your affiliate or drop shipping businesses as well.
The internet is a great way to connect to clients around the world if you have an in-demand skill. Being able to write well, knowing a coding language, or working as a graphic designer are all examples of jobs that you can do from home. This is growing more common: about 5 percent of all Americans work from home.
There are a variety of ways to get started as a freelancer. You can connect to a range of freelancing websites, like Freelancer.com or UpWork, which serve as marketplaces for clients and contractors.
Once you have a reputation and portfolio of work, you can move to email companies directly. You may also want to run a website that serves as your online resume).
Rent Out Property
If you have an extra room or apartment in your home or have a summer property you don’t use, you can start renting it out online. While it can be expensive if you don’t own real estate, this is a good way to take advantage of space that you do already own. Many sites will connect you with people on vacation, offering you a large marketplace of customers.
Collecting extra revenue from your rentals can help pay down your mortgage. It can also serve as a way to renovate your existing space or buy more properties.