8 Small Online Businesses You Can Start Without Much Capital or Code
Internet penetration has reached historic heights, and in a couple of decades, a majority of the world's population will have access to the internet. Every minute, your internet audience online increases, which makes now the perfect time to start your online business. Whether it is to remotely serve your community or reach people far and wide, there is something for every kind of entrepreneur.
1: Start a Paid Newsletter with Revue or Substack
Great for recurring revenue from a dedicated community of readers
Paid newsletters are premium email campaigns that people pay you for. Most people charge either a monthly or yearly subscription fee and can be a great way to supplement your income.
What should your paid newsletter be about? Everyone has some kind of niche knowledge that they can leverage to attract a community of readers. It is just a matter of finding your own unique voice.
The benefit of a subscription model is that you can get a recurring revenue without cluttering your email with ads and sponsors and even start making a serious amount of money early on - it is just about finding your first 100 customers that are willing to pay you as little as $10 per month to achieve a monthly revenue of $1000!
There are plenty of ways to get started in this day and age. Substack is one such newsletter platform that lets you create a premium newsletter that readers can pay you for. They take care of logistics like a landing page, handling mailing lists and payment processing, but will charge you ten percent of your subscription price.
Another up-and-coming option (and one we highly recommend) is Revue. Revue has all the features of Substack (and more!), but also costs less, only taking five percent of your subscription price which effectively reduces your cost by half! It was also recently bought by Twitter, which means that Revue is not only here to stay, but also backed by a tech giant!
Related: How To Start a Paid Newsletter
2: Teach an Online Course with Teachable, Udemy or Outschool
Great for when you have any skill that you can teach and for building a passive income stream
As more and more people turn to online learning and working, there is a trillion-dollar industry taking shape in the form of e-learning. Over the past couple of years, online learning portals have seen a massive boom in numbers and growth.
While in the past, one needed to be a certified teacher to impart their skills and knowledge (in most cases), this has now changed dramatically. Anyone with an internet connection, marketing skills and a proven track record can create and teach a course online. This is also a great way to generate passive income because once a course is created, it only requires occasional maintenance to be kept up to date.
Several peer-to-peer platforms enable people like you and me to create and distribute our own courses. Here's a breakdown of each to help you figure out what might work for you:
Good For: Beginners looking to build a passive income stream
Teaching Medium: pre-recorded classes
Udemy is great for beginner online teachers who are just getting started with building their brand and business. The barrier to entry is fairly low and all instruction is pre-recorded which means that with Udemy, once you are up and running, you can expect to earn a passive stream of income. Since the barrier to entry is so low, there can be a lot of not-so-great courses on Udemy. This means that if you're willing to put in the hard work and produce quality content, you should be easily able to rise above the ranks and get a loyal student following which might also help you branch out to other platforms.
Good For: To build your own brand or school
Teaching Medium: Live and pre-recorded classes
Teachable is by far the more comprehensive of the teaching platforms, and perhaps the least user-friendly. However, Teachable is great if you are trying to set up a whole school and not just a class. They have everything you could need to create and build your brand as an educator online.
Teachable is a bit more expensive, you have to subscribe to one of their plans depending on your requirements. Plans can range anywhere from $29 to $240 per month. However, you do also get a lot of bang for your buck. With Teachable, teachers get to keep all of their class earnings. They also get access to courses in marketing, one-on-one mentoring, and Teachable’s affiliate program which can serve as an additional source of income.
Good For: If you have K-12 teaching experience
Teaching Medium: Live classes
Teaching on Outschool is a bit more involved than other platforms. Classes are live and our conducted over zoom. While on other platforms you can market your courses to any audience, Outschool is limited to kids ages 3-18. The topics covered are wide, ranging from classes on learning rock bass to creative writing.
Having said that, nothing is stopping you from uploading your course content to Udemy and Teachable as well as taking live classes on Outschool. This can be a good way to gauge and understand what works for you, so you can hone in on that platform later.
3: Sell Your Crafts On Etsy (Or Go Independent with Shopify!)
Great for creatives looking to sell physical products
If you're a hobbyist looking to make an extra buck from your creations, Etsy is just the platform for you! Etsy is one of the world's leading marketplaces for handmade goods which have been carefully crafted by their creators.
While e-commerce might seem like a saturated market, it is the present and the future! In today's day and age, every business needs to have an online presence. The global e-commerce market size was valued at USD 9.09 trillion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.7% from 2020 to 2027. This means that there is space for all kinds of players, big and small!
While e-commerce giants like Amazon seem to be predominant, consumers are turning to small businesses to add uniqueness to the things that they buy, and Etsy is thriving because of it!
If you want to move past Etsy and build your own brand, you can take a shot at setting up your own e-commerce store and brand using something like Shopify. Shopify is a great tool that handles the technicalities of e-commerce stores and payment processing for you, all in exchange for a nominal fee! People are selling all kinds of things on Shopify - from setting up online bakeries that are making more than 6 figures a month to homegrown pottery brands. There's room for everyone!
Related: How To Start Your Own Online Baking Business
4: Start a Blog
Great for introverted internet enthusiasts looking to build an almost passive income stream
"Blogging is dead", is a statement I've heard since I was in university, some 5ish years ago. Yet, year after year new blogs continue to rise and old bloggers continue to post their income reports which have shown immense growth over the years - some even making over 6 figures per month! The truth is, the internet and google search and blogging are not going anywhere. They're here to stay and bigger than ever. More and more people get access to the internet every day.
With the rise of social media like Instagram and Twitter, the general public seems to think that social media is the next big money-making opportunity, and they're not wrong! However, the one big benefit of having your own blog is that you own it completely. It is the only piece of internet you will ever own 100%. Owning a social blog on Instagram or YouTube means that you are always at the discretion of their algorithm. With having your own blog, your own little space on the internet, you can use any number of ways to drive traffic to your content - the biggest one being search engines!
There are so many topics under the sun that you could write your blog about - from dog food to personal finance, and all of these have the potential to make big money.
5: Start Your Own Print-On-Demand Store
For e-commerce enthusiasts who are interested in the income potential, but not in the logistics
If you're one of those people who have been actively trying to find ways to be more financially independent by starting your own online business or side hustle, you've probably heard of drop shipping. While dropshipping in itself is branded as a lucrative business opportunity with tons of pros like not having to manage inventory and low startup costs - it's fast fading away from being the go-to choice for first-time e-commerce entrepreneurs.
Related: Liquidation Pallets - How To Source Discounted Overstocked Merchandise
Print-on-demand is a low-cost and easy-to-set-up way of offering custom-made merchandise like mugs, clothing, magnets, diaries, and other printable items to your customers. It's a great way to monetize an existing blog by selling your printed merchandise, but you can also set up a full-fledged e-commerce store if you have the right niche. You create your designs and then outsource them to any one of many suppliers who then handle everything, from printing your designs on the merchandise of your choice to shipping it to your customers.
Once you have your e-commerce website set up, you will need to select a print provider. A print provider is a third-party business application that will help you print and ship your orders. Many of these print-on-demand suppliers integrate directly with e-commerce platforms like Shopify, so you will be able to handle order processing from within just one application. Some of the most popular ones that integrate directly with Shopify are Printful, Gooten and Printify.
Interested in knowing more? We've written a full guide on how to get started setting up your own print-on-demand store!
6: Bring Your App Idea To Life Without Knowing How To Code
For tech-savvy entrepreneurs with a unique idea or solution to a problem
Do you have a stellar website or mobile app idea that you think could be the next big thing? There's only a slight hiccup, you don't really know how to code. Now, you have a bunch of options - you could either outsource the development to an engineer, which could cost you tens of thousands of dollars, or you could learn how to code, which would probably take you a couple of years. That doesn't sound entirely great, does it?
What if I told you that there is a solution and that it involves neither of those two options? Over the past couple of years, there has been a rise in what has come to be known as the "No Code" movement. These are tech startups that have been built without writing much or sometimes any code at all!
What is "No Code" development? A No-Code framework is a development platform that uses a visual development environment to enable non-technical users to build apps by dragging and dropping application components to create a fully functioning app. There are plenty of No Code Tools out there to choose from, each offering its own suite of capabilities. We will dive into these a little bit later.
No Code isn’t just a fluffy term being thrown around. The No-Code Movement is well and truly underway and is positioned to take the world of tech startups and entrepreneurship by storm.
So what are you waiting for? Read more about this in our guide listed below and start your journey towards becoming the next big name in tech today!
7: Sell Digital Products with Gumroad
For content creators and marketers who want to sell their products or services online
Creating, marketing and selling digital products can be very different to having a physical product band. Unlike physical products, digital products cannot be held or touched, but everyone consumes them. From online courses to ebooks - you name it!
More and more entrepreneurs are turning to digital products and building entire brands and businesses around intangible goods. There are many benefits to having a digital product over a physical one. For one, you can sell the same piece of media over and over again to a wide audience and second, the ease of distribution is incomparable! You can easily sell your product to anyone, anywhere in the world who has access to an internet connection.
There's plenty of different types of digital products you can sell online. Some of these include,
- Educational products like ebooks or courses - if you have subject market expertise in anything under the sun, you can create an online course or ebook to distribute your knowledge to a wide audience.
- Digital templates and tools - People hate starting from scratch and are willing to pay a small fee for someone doing the initial legwork for them. As a result of this, entrepreneurs have created whole businesses out of the building and selling templates. You could sell website templates (if you know how to code), resume templates for job seekers or icon and font kits (if you have some graphic design know-how).
Platforms like Gumroad make it easy for creators to sell and list their digital products in an all-encompassing marketplace. It is a web-based platform that enables creators to list digital products like software, courses and ebooks. What's more, you can also sell recurring memberships to let your customers access your product!
Gumroad comes with plenty of advantages. For starters, it gets a huge amount of organic traffic to everyone which means that you don't have to extensively market your product. It has a built-in affiliate program which means that you can allow marketers to promote your product for a percentage of the profits. It's also ridiculously easy to set up and extremely budget-friendly - the highest pricing tier stands at $10 per month!
Related: Digital Product Ideas To Generate a Passive Income
8: Start a Social Media Empire
Great for all kinds of skillsets but more so if you want to put yourself out there and be a recognisable face in your field
Being a "Social Media Influencer" is a job category that our ancestors would pretty much frown upon. This job category was virtually non-existent 10 years ago, but today, it is where a lot of the big money is going. Influencers earn money (and a lot of it!) by promoting brands and products on social media. Influencer income can be divided into three broad categories, free products, brand sponsorships, or affiliate marketing.
How Much Money Can You Make as an Influencer?
There's no hourly wage that you can expect to make as a social media influencer. A variety of different things will come into play to determine your average pay rate. These factors include:
- The number of followers you have
- Engagement received on your posts - more people engaging (liking, commenting etc.) on your posts, the more money you can expect to make
A general rule of thumb is that the larger and more engaged your following is, the more you can expect to make. People with smaller audiences that are highly engaged also have an opportunity and are known as "micro-influencers". Ultimately, even if you have 1000 followers with a high engagement rate, it is more desirable for companies to work with you than with a bigger influencer with a lower engagement rate.
Starting your own business is by no means an easy task. It requires tons and tons of effort and takes up a lot of hours of unpaid work. Ultimately, though, being your own boss is a liberating experience. You can own back your time and work from anywhere and everywhere, which is a great feeling in itself!