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Top Internet Business Ideas to Start Online with No Money

Matthew Levy Updated: June 26, 2023 • 7 min read
man working online remotely

The world seems to be brimming with an influx of online business ideas. Every day, entrepreneurs are minting money online by monetizing their skills or selling products or services on the internet. The United States alone recorded 4.5 million new online businesses in 2020. Interestingly, according to a recent KPMG report, 55% of potential customers today look at a business’ reviews and recommendations online before making a purchase.

Even more interesting is that 47% of such customers prefer to visit the business website as opposed to 26% who wind up checking out the physical store/shop. In short, consumers are dependent on online purchases now more than ever. As a young entrepreneur, you could consider legitimate, easy to run profitable online business ideas to supplement your income. This guide shares the 10 easy to start online business ideas.

Top 10 Easy-to-Start Online Business Ideas

You may develop some skills or monetize your existing skillset. The following are some ideas for an online business:

1. Selling Digital Products

Your biggest investment in this line of business is time, internet access, and a dependable computer.

Digital products are intangible items that can be downloaded online. These include audiobooks, online courses, e-books, music, software, document templates, videos, apps, logos, recipes, and more.

To sell digital products, you will need to pick a niche and set up an online store where consumers can access the products. The products you sell may either be your own or other peoples’ creations. The beauty of these kinds of goods is that you hardly need any capital to generate them. They are also fairly cheap, and once uploaded, their sale can be replicated among different clients.

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2. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is yet another small business idea online with huge growth potential. It is a set-up where you collaborate with brands with the aim of helping them boost web traffic and purchase of the brand’s goods. To achieve this, the marketer asks their audience to purchase the merchant brand’s goods through an affiliate link.

Typically, affiliate marketers have an online presence and audience. That may be through a website, blog, YouTube channel, or other social media accounts. As a content creator, the marketer then partners with brands whose products resonate with the kind of content their online channel produces. Under the partnership, the marketer is supplied with an affiliate link by the brand. Any purchase done via that link yields a commission for the marketer.

In the course of delivering content, the marketer makes mention of the brand’s product and sells it to their online audience. Any purchase of the product through the link results in a percentage of the sale revenue for the marketer.

3. Online Research and Writing

If you are proficient in the written word, you may try your hand at online research and writing. Unlike some other online business ideas, writing covers a wide scope and may either result in passive or active income.

Among the active revenue ventures that come from writing is the penning of articles, recipes, and other pieces of literature, which result in a one-off sale. That means you sell the piece once and get paid for it.

However, writing may also be converted into a passive revenue stream. For instance, you may write an e-book or online course. Once published, these become digital assets that may be a recurring source of revenue with every purchase/ download. No matter the type of writing you opt to venture into, it is imperative that it is well researched, fresh, and informative to your audience.

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4. Freelance Designer

Design apps and software such as Adobe Photoshop have revolutionized the world of design. If you are a designer who wishes to work remotely and independently, joining the world of freelance design has never been easier. Set your daily work hours and area of specialization within the digital space.

You may consider marketing your skills through online marketplaces such as Upwork, or Fiverr where potential clients within your niche come to source for talent. Based on the platform you pick, the terms of the agreement are laid out, and the platform may act as an arbitrator in case of a dispute.

Once you have a client, you can work on their design and deliver it within the agreed timeframe. Your pool of clients might grow further depending on the number of positive reviews you receive from past clients on the platform.

graphic designer

5. Arts, Crafts, and Photography

Artists, craftspeople, and photographers also have an opportunity to market their skills or products digitally. You may do this directly on your own website or through secondary marketing platforms. For example, as an artist, photographer or craftsperson, you may choose to have your paintings, carvings, photos, and other forms of arts and crafts listed on Etsy or Squarespace.

These are two examples of online platforms that allow you to operate an online shop on their domain in exchange for a small commission. These platforms provide you with the web builder tools and templates you need and save you from the hassle of having to build a website from scratch. Also, for beginners, sites such as Etsy promise plenty of online traffic, thus making your products easily visible.

Photographers may also consider placing their curated and compelling photos on a stock photos platform which then sells them to users and pays the photographer on a commission basis.

6. Accounting Services

People and businesses are always searching for a CPA to handle their taxes and bookkeeping.

If this is your forte, you could consider rendering those services to clients online. Virtual accounting services may have the potential to become a profitable online business idea if handled by a well-qualified professional.

It is thus necessary for you to ascertain the certification credentials required within your target jurisdiction.

Consider starting it as a small business idea online by targeting firms and businesses you are familiar with and then take it on from there.

7. Creating YouTube content

The creation of a YouTube channel and enriching it with entertaining and informative content is yet another idea for an online business. More than 2.3 billion people access YouTube each month with some channels with +500k subscribers averaging $3857 payment per video. While some focus on video content, some YouTube content creators also carry podcast content on their channels.

You may need a dependable camera, decent videography skills, and useful content to start a YouTube channel. However, for a channel that stands out and generates a decent income, you might want to do in-depth research into which niches attract the most Ad revenue. Some influencers also partner with brands and offer affiliate marketing within their content. Where possible, consider engaging the services of an expert videographer and editor for a sleeker, more professional look.

The versatility offered by the platform makes it easy to package content on a broad range of subjects.

Depending on your message and audience, you may choose to have animated videos or real-life shots. Also, you may choose whether you wish to be in the video as a narrator. There is a whole lot of creative freedom to express your ideas.


8. Tutoring and Coaching

If you are proficient in a subject, you may offer tutoring and coaching services online. As is the case with writing and generation of content, tutoring, and coaching can also cover an array of areas.

You may, for instance, be an English teacher to grade school kids in China. You may also choose to be an online yoga instructor.

If you are gifted in the culinary arts, you may consider running an online cookery class where you take learners through a step-by-step practical process to mouthwatering cuisines. While at it, consider the affiliate marketing options you could explore. As a culinary expert, that may include marketing the flour you are using or the yoga mat brand you find most dependable as a yogi.

9. Create and Sell an Online Course

In the same spirit, you may formulate an online course on pottery, painting, and writing (pretty much any skill under the sun). Examples of such offerings are those run on the Skillshare platform.

No matter your area of focus, the most important elements are your level of knowledge, how you package/ deliver it, and the level of demand such content has within the marketplace.

Besides selling it on Skillshare, entrepreneurs with a large online presence and audience also offer a Masterclass where people pay an agreed premium to learn from the expert. Alicia Keys is an example of a celebrity who leveraged this.

online workshop recording

10. Social Media Management

Although social media has not been seen as a business opportunity in the past, it has recently shed some of that flippant image to emerge as one of the profitable online business ideas today. As most businesses and brands embrace digital presence as part of their PR, sales, and marketing strategy, the need for social media consultants continues to grow.

These are experts who handle the structuring and tone of a business brand online. Social media management may include developing and fine-tuning a brand’s marketing, handling the brand’s online content presentation, catering to clients’ queries online, etc.

Some seasoned social media gurus even handle their client’s sponsorship management and the growth of their online profiles. For this kind of role, some working knowledge of PR, marketing, and social media optimization tools would be useful.


An online business can be a great way to supplement your income or even become your primary source of income. The above ideas are just a few examples of the many opportunities available in the digital space.

When starting an online business, it's essential to do your research, identify your niche, and create a solid business plan. You'll also need to understand digital marketing techniques to help promote your business and reach potential clients.

Overall, with dedication, hard work, and perseverance, you can turn any of these online business ideas into a successful venture.

Written by Matthew Levy

Matthew is a freelance financial copywriter with 14+ years in financial services. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics with business and finance options and is a CFA Charterholder. He is from Vancouver, Canada, but writes from all over the world.