I started my first online business over 5 years ago, and it’s grown into multiple businesses, plus I was able to leave my day job to do something I love. That’s the potential with the best online businesses.
Starting an online business is a dream for a lot of people because it’s so flexible. There’s also the added benefit of being your own boss, working from anywhere, and financial security. But to find success you’ve got to know what kind of online business ideas are worth your time.
I’m going to share with you the best online business ideas to start in 2022. They all have low start-up costs, a low barrier to entry, and you can start them on the side of your day job.
If you’re ready to be your own boss and experience the flexibility of working online, keep reading.
17 Best Online Business Ideas You Can Start Now
Do you nerd out for grammar? Are you constantly noticing punctuation errors? If that sounds like you, then working as a proofreader could be one of the best online business ideas to start this year.
Proofreaders are responsible for putting the finishing touches on print and online content. They take written content and put the finishing touches on it to turn it into a professional piece of writing.
While blogging is a great online business idea, it’s a slow business model overall. I just want to be clear on this in the beginning.
When you start a blog, there is tremendous growth potential, but it can literally take you months before you start earning anything. You can see what my first year was like below, and most of the bloggers I know have had the same experience.
The reason you start a blog and stick with it despite the slow start is because you’re in complete control of your business. You decide what you blog about, how to monetize your blog, and when you work.
Bloggers make money in a variety of different ways, and here are some of the best ways:
- Affiliate marketing: You work with brands to promote this products, and when someone clicks on one of your unique links and makes a purchase, you earn a little money from that sale.
- Sponsored posts: Brands pay you to write blog, social media, and email content that promotes their products or services. Here’s an example, and it’s important to only work with companies you believe in.
- Display ads: I took them off my site, but these are the little ads that pop up on websites. You’re paid either by click or impression.
- Courses: If there’s a skill you can teach others, you might want to consider developing an online course. Course sales can have a massive impact on your readers’ lives and it can generate semi-passive income.
- Printables: You can create and sell planner pages, budget spreadsheet, checklists, educational content, and more.
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3. Pinterest VA
If you love Pinterest, this could be the best online business to start this year. See, Pinterest VAs are virtual assistants that help businesses use Pinterest’s platform. That means you’re:
- Designing pins
- Creating Promoted Pins (Pinterest’s version of digital ads)
- Collaborating on boards with other business owners
- Tracking analytics
This online business isn’t only pinning all day, but you will be spending a ton of time on Pinterest, so it’s great for anyone who is already familiar with it.
Pinterest virtual assistants can work for multiple clients at a time, and most of them earn around $500/month per client.
4. Sell printables on Etsy
Etsy is known as an online marketplace for all things creative, and one of the best things to sell on Etsy in 2022 are e-printables, like:
- Planner pages
- Shopping checklists
- Holiday or party decorations
- Thank you cards
This is one of the best online business ideas because it can turn into a fairly passive business. You’re creating and selling digital files, so there’s no manufacturing or shipping involved.
You’ll have to set up your shop and market yourself to get customers, but the rest of it can be fairly passive.
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5. Start an ecommerce site
Shopify is a platform for setting up and running your own ecommerce store, which can sell anything from t-shirts, posters, costumes for dogs, watches, home decor, and so much more.
What’s unique about Shopify shops is that you can set up a dropshipping business, which means your site is the middleman between the customer and manufacturer. This ultimately means you’re running a fairly passive business once you’ve built your site and start running traffic to it.
Shopify makes it easy to start an ecommerce site with over 70 customizable themes and a drag-and-drop editor. And all of the inventory storage and shipping is handled by the manufacturer.
If you want to learn more, this article teaches you how to build your shop and get started: Shopify for Beginners | How to Create & Launch your Site.
If you’re detail-oriented and good with numbers, bookkeeping may be the best online business for you.. Bookkeepers are often confused with accountants, but bookkeepers record transactions whereas accountants interpret those records.
Accountants analyze things, prepare tax documents, and do financial forecasting, among other things. They also typically need a bachelor’s degree. Bookkeeping is a low cost business idea because you don’t need a degree or specialized training.
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7. Facebook ads manager
After I quit my job as a high school band director to run this site full-time, I needed to supplement my income. I did that by learning how to run Facebook ads for small businesses in my area.
You can realistically expect to make around $1,000-$2,000 per client each month. My first client was the jeweler who made my wife’s engagement ring, and I was quickly out earning what I was making as a teacher after adding a couple more clients.
Big companies and brands have been running Facebook ads for a while, but it’s taken a little longer for small business owners to understand that they can leverage Facebook’s massive reach. And many simply don’t have the time it takes to learn how to run an effective ad strategy.
From my personal experience, this is one the best online business ideas to start. There are low start-up costs, you don’t need previous marketing experience, and it’s an in-demand skill.
Sounds like an online business? I teamed up with my friend Mike Yanda (lawyer turned digital marketer who’s now bringing in $30k/month) and created the Facebook Side Hustle Course. We’ve created this course to teach you how to master the three most important phases of this online business:
- How to set up a Facebook ads system for a local business
- How to find clients that are willing to pay for this kind of service
- Exactly what to say to get these clients to say “yes” and agree to move forward with your services
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8. Freelance writer
If you’ve got a natural writing ability, you might want to leverage that talent to start a freelance writing business. What’s cool about freelance writing is that it can encompass so many different writing niches, like:
- Marketing campaigns
- Blog posts
- Email newsletters
- Online and print articles
- Catalog descriptions
- Web copy
- Grant writing
- Technical writing
- Content mills
Having some experience or knowledge in one of those niches can help you start, but your strongest asset will always be your ability to write. You’ll need to know how to write clearly, understand how to speak to your client’s audience, and research when necessary.
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9. Flea market flipping
Flea market flipping is a very different online business idea than others on this list because it requires more in-person work, meaning you’re not working from your laptop all day. This job involves finding things for sale at flea markets, garage sales, online auctions, Facebook Marketplace, thrift stores, etc. and then reselling them for a profit.
This can be a pretty lucrative side hustle or full-time gig because you’re sourcing your products from people who are getting rid of things for cheap or even free. It’s kind of amazing what people get rid.
In one year, Melissa and Rob of Flea Market Flipper made $42,000 reselling things online, and here are a few of their recent flips:
- Hiking backpack purchased for $10 and sold for $135
- Collectible ornaments purchased for $8 and flipped for $127
- Frigidaire stove they picked up on OfferUp for $200 and then sold for $2,800
- Cement griner bought for $200 and flipped for $1,700
10. Online tutor
You might be surprised to learn how much online tutors can make per hour — $30-$60/hour for subject specific tutoring and upwards of $35-$100/hour for test prep.
This is an online business idea that can be a good fit for teachers, but you don’t need to have a background in education to make money online as a tutor. Many successful tutors have a natural ability with some subjects and know how to connect with younger learners.
11. SEO consultant
If you’re familiar with SEO, or search engine optimization, and have experience getting websites to rank on Google, working as an SEO consultant is one of the best online business ideas to start in 2022.
A good SEO strategy is something many businesses struggle with, and there are a lot of things an SEO consultant can do to help. You can use your marketing knowledge to teach business owners how to use analytical data. You can advise on which keywords they should focus on. Or you run on-site SEO audits for websites to help them develop a plan.
There are some really great free resources online for getting to know SEO if it’s something you’re interested in learning more about. And it’s an online job that requires continual education because Google algorithms are always changing.
This was a non-existent job a little over a decade ago, but now social media is such an important part of our lives that businesses and brands need someone to help them manage their online presence.
Social media managers are responsible for developing a brand identity online that helps businesses connect with customers and grow their business. It involves tasks like:
- Setting up accounts
- Scheduling and creating posts
- Replying to comments
- Creating images
- Running reports and analyzing data on traffic, reach, engagement, etc.
- Creating ads
- Ensuring brand consistency
This is a really fast-paced online business because the social media landscape is constantly changing. You’ve got to be aware of up-and-coming trends, social and political movements, and the changing needs of your client’s audience.
13. Web developer
Web developers use coding skills to build and maintain the websites we use on a regular basis. And as more of us are working online and living more digital presences, there’s an increased demand for web developers.
You used to need a degree in computer technology to work as a web developer, but companies have started hiring freelance web developers who are self-taught or have learned through coding bootcamps because they teach hands-on experience in specific coding languages.
If there’s a certain area of web development you’re interested in, like front-end work, it only takes a little research to find out what coding language and skill set you need to learn.
14. Virtual assistant
A virtual assistant, or VA, is such a valuable asset for business owners. I’ve got a few VAs working for me, and I lean on them to help me run this site. They do everything from schedule blog posts, bookkeeping, project management, inbox management, data entry, and more. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I couldn’t run this site without them.
Working as a virtual assistant is one of the best online businesses for 2022 because so many business owners like me need help running our businesses.
You don’t need expensive training or formal training because it requires that you’re detail oriented, highly organized, good at time management, and has strong communication skills. Many VAs leverage skills from previous jobs in HR, customer service, and executive assistance to start their career.
15. Create an course online
Before you brush past this online business idea because you don’t think you’re qualified to teach anything, stick with me for a second.
You don’t have to be an expert or a top professional in your field to successfully create and sell online courses. Yes, you need to know a lot about a subject, but most people are more qualified to teach a course than they realize.
For example, if you’re an awesome graphic designer, if your friends go to you to help write resumes, if you have amazing time management skills, or if you’re great at baking bread — these are all skills you can organize into a course and teach it online.
The simple way to look at it is that you are leveraging your talents or skills.
How well your course sells will depend on the demand for what you’re teaching, and courses with marketable skills tend to do better. Like, if you can teach someone something that can help them make more, there’s some inherent value there.
One of my readers has been teaching online graphic design courses for a few years, and has been sharing her progress in my free M$M Facebook group. She’s gone from earning a few thousand each month to more than $80,000/month selling courses on different course platforms.
Here’s one of her recent payouts:
16. Online consulting business
A consultant is a person who is an expert in their field, and they’re paid to give advice to other people in their area of expertise. I’ve already mentioned SEO consultants, but there are many fields you can work in, like:
- Sales: A consultant would help businesses improve their sales performance, develop sale processes, and provide sales training
- Technology: Technology experts are paid to help implement and/or improve technology solutions
- Legal: A legal consultant would be a lawyer or other legal professional who advises businesses on legal matters
- Small business: Provide guidance to new business owners who want to get off to a good start
- Marketing: A marketing specialist who can help organizations or businesses implement marketing strategies and generate leads
This is an online business you can start by leveraging your contacts, working on your Linkedin profile, through social media, and promoting yourself on a website.
17. Start a podcast
Ten years ago many people have never heard of the word podcast, but now it’s estimated that over 144 million Americans listen to podcasts. That’s the equivalent to just over half of the population over the age of 12.
Podcasts are so popular because humans naturally love listening to people tell stories. It doesn’t hurt that you can listen to podcasts anywhere on your phone.
Starting a podcast begins with picking a topic, and you can really choose anything. It’s more about developing your voice and personality. It doesn’t require expensive gear when you’re first starting, but I would recommend a decent microphone, like this one.
There are various podcast apps you can upload your content to, and you’ll want to work on developing a social media strategy to promote your podcast online.
The final word on the best online business ideas
You’ll hear a lot of people talk about how starting an online business changed their life. They can work from anywhere, it’s so flexible, etc., etc. I’ll stand by that, but the reality is that starting an online business is hard work like any other business. Sure, the start-up costs are generally lower, but it’s still work.
But don’t overlook ideas like freelance writing, blogging, or virtual assistance. They might take a little more time to set up a solid business, but you can leverage your experience to get started. They also have
The point is, there are a lot of options available. They all take some hustle, so be ready to work, and then the sky's the limit.