Starting an online business is a dream for many people because they’re so flexible, and the best online businesses can be incredibly lucrative. Being your own boss, working from anywhere, and making extra money — who doesn’t want that?
To help you start your journey toward entrepreneurial independence, we’ve researched the best online business ideas of 2023. If you’re ready to be your own boss and experience the flexibility of working online, keep reading.
What Are the Most Successful Online Businesses? 29 Ideas for 2023
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. It’s a low cost business idea because you don’t need a degree or specialized training.
There’s a lot of demand for bookkeepers because you’re helping businesses organize and manage payroll, record payments, record financial transactions, run monthly reports, and more.
Make up to $5,000 as a bookkeeper
Learn the skills and strategies necessary to start a successful bookkeeping business from the comfort of your home.
If you love reading and constantly notice grammar and punctuation errors, working as a proofreader is an excellent online business idea. Proofreaders are responsible for putting the finishing touches on print and online content. This includes grants, government contracts, ebooks, RFPs, blog posts, web copy, emails, and so much more.
Want to learn more about how to start a freelance proofreading business? Check out Proofreading Clarity. In this free e-book, you'll learn:
- How proofreaders earn money online
- Where you can find your first client
- How to begin working with clients (even if you've never done this before)
Want to make money proofreading?
Click below to discover how to make money as a proofreader.
3. Freelance Writer
Has someone told you that you’d make an excellent writer? Then leverage that talent to become a freelance writer! 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.
Learn how to make $1,000 to $5,000/month as a freelance writer
Go from "I don't know what I'm doing" to landing your first paid clients.
When you start a blog, there is tremendous growth potential, but it can take months before you see your online business take off and make money. Here’s what the first year of running this site looked like, and many bloggers have had the same experience.
That’s less than $20,000/month to $155,000+!
Being in complete control of your business is one of the reasons you stick with blogging despite the slow start. You get to decide what you blog about, how to monetize your blog, and when you work. You’re in total control!
5. Run Facebook and Instagram Ads
Running Facebook and Instagram ads is simply digital marketing through two of the world's largest social media platforms, which continue to be some of the best platforms for small business owners to reach new customers.
You don't need a degree in marketing or have a background in advertising either — these are skills you can learn, and you can make around $1,000-$2,000 per client running Facebook and Instagram ads.
Sounds like the kind of online business idea you're interested in? 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 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
6. Sell Etsy Printables
Etsy is known as an online marketplace for all things creative, and one of the best things to sell on Etsy in 2023 are digital 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.
The free ebook, Seasonal Products Secrets, gives you the inside scoop on what to sell on Etsy throughout the year.
7. Virtual Assistant
Learning how to become a virtual assistant is an incredibly flexible way to make money at home with an online business. Business owners rely on virtual assistants (or VAs) for bookkeeping, project management, inbox management, data entry, calendar management, and more.
You don’t need expensive or formal training, but it requires someone who is 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.
8. Create an Online Course
Before you brush past this online business idea because you don’t think you’re qualified to teach anything, stick with us 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 for help with their 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.
Online course creators leverage their talents and skills to make money online.
Finding an online course platform that fits your needs is one of the first places to start (after you decide what to teach!), and our list of Best Online Course Platforms explains the best options on the market.
One of our readers has been teaching online graphic design courses for a few years, and has been sharing her progress in our free M$M Facebook group. She’s gone from earning a few thousand each month to more than $80,000/month! Here’s one of her recent payouts:
9. Dropshipping on Shopify
Shopify is a platform for setting up and running your own e-commerce 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 the manufacturer.
Ultimately, you can turn your Shopify store into a somewhat passive online business because all of the inventory and shipping are 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.
10. Pinterest Virtual Assistant
Love Pinterest? Business owners, both online and brick-and-mortar, need Pinterest virtual assistants (VAs) to help them promote their businesses via Pinterest. You’re not pinning all day long, but you will spend a ton of time on Pinterest:
- Designing pins
- Creating Promoted Pins (Pinterest’s version of digital ads)
- Collaborating on boards with other business owners
- Tracking analytics
11. Online Tutor
BookNook is an online tutoring platform that connects K-8 students with tutors who can help them develop critical math and reading skills. Tutors make $15-$22/hour and must meet at least one of these requirements:
- 3+ years teaching or tutoring or
- One year of teaching or tutoring and at least a bachelor’s degree or
- One year of teaching or tutoring and current enrollment in a teaching credential program
You also must be a U.S. citizen to qualify. The tutoring sessions last 30 minutes, and you will work with 1-4 students at a time. There's no lesson planning involved — BookNook handles this part for you.
12. SEO Consultant
If you’re familiar with SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, and have experience getting websites to rank on Google and other search engines, working as an SEO consultant is a very lucrative online business idea. Ranking high in searches is so important because 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines!
A good SEO strategy is something many businesses struggle with, and there are a lot of things an SEO consultant can do to help. They can teach business owners how to use analytical data, advise on which keywords to use, run on-site SEO audits, and so much more.
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.
13. Social Media Manager
This was a non-existent online business idea not that long ago, but now social media managers are necessary for businesses to manage their online presence. You’d be responsible for developing an online brand identity that helps businesses connect with customers and grow their businesses.
Social media management is a 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.
14. 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 spending time online, 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.
15. Business Consultant
Consultants are experts in their field, and they’re paid to give advice to other people in their area of expertise. We’ve already mentioned SEO consultants, but there are many fields you can work in, like sales, technology, legal, small business, marketing, and more.
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.
Ten years ago, many people had never heard of the word “podcast,” but now it’s estimated that over 160 million Americans listen to podcasts. That equals half the American population over the age of 12!
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. There are various podcast apps where you can upload your content, like Buzzsprout and Lisbyn, and you’ll want to work on developing a social media strategy to promote your podcast online.
17. Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate marketing is when you partner with businesses and share links to their site with your audience. You make money when someone clicks on a link enters their email address, makes a sale, or has some other agreed-upon action.
Brands pay good money because they understand the power of word-of-mouth marketing, and this is a great online business if you have a website or a large social media presence. You can learn more in the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course from Michelle Schroeder-Gardner. She’s a blogger who regularly earns $20,000-$50,000/month from affiliate marketing.
18. Graphic Design
Graphic designers create logos, banners, book covers, advertisements, brochures, and more. This is an excellent online business idea because there are freelance websites dedicated to helping you connect with clients, like 99 Designs and Toptal.
Graphic design is a skill you can learn in college, but because this skill takes natural artistic talent, it’s something you can develop on your own.
Copywriters write words that sell, educate, and engage customers. And some of the highest-paid copywriters are direct response copywriters — they write words that convince people to take a specific action.
Chris Orzechowski is a teacher turned email marketer who’s netted over $100 million in sales with his copywriting skills, and now he’s teaching others in his course, The Email Copy Academy.
20. Online Sales
Selling is one of the oldest skills, and skilled sales people will be needed well into the future. I mean, if you’re a business owner and you want someone to buy something, then you need a good salesperson — that’s why this is an excellent online business idea: The demand is there!
The sales niche is broader than you might think, and it can include skills like lead generation, raising capital, and creating partnerships. It’s also a skill necessary to virtually every industry: media, real estate, healthcare, insurance, media, politics, and much more.
21. UI/UX Design
Here are some incredible statistics about the importance of UI/UX design:
- For every $1 invested in UX design, there’s an ROI between $2 and $100.
- Good UI can raise a website’s conversion rate by up to 200%.
- About 75% of consumers form an option about a website’s credibility based on aesthetics alone.
UI/UX designers are responsible for creating a positive user experience, and anytime you open an app and move around in it, you’ve experienced their work. For example, a personal finance app that can logically connect the different facets of your financial life – like your net worth, account balances, debt, etc. – from screen to screen. That’s what UI/UX designers do.
22. Writing eBooks
If you’ve ever dreamed of being an author but are apprehensive about the publishing process, self-publishing ebooks could be the way to go. With websites like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), you can write, sell, and market your book online.
The great thing about ebooks is that you don’t have to design, print, or ship your work. You get to choose the people who help you edit and market your book, or you can do it all yourself.
If you’re fluent in another language, working as a translator is one of the best online business ideas. You can find translation gigs on freelance websites, and there’s work in so many different niches — publishing, business, medical, and more.
24. Freelance Research
In-depth research takes time and skill, and it’s beneficial for business owners and marketers. For example, helping a business owner uncover data about their target market is incredibly valuable!
This is a smart online business idea for detail-oriented and dedicated people who want a flexible, remote job.
Stock photo sites like Shutterstock and iStock pay you a commission when you sell photos on their site, and this is a great online business idea if you want to share your passion for photography. See, business owners like me need stock photos for blog posts, sales pages, ads, and more.
If you’re willing to do in-person work, you can snap pictures at weddings, engagement shoots, newborn and family photos, headshots, and more.
26. College Admissions Consulting
We all know about the college admissions scandal that charged 57 defendants and sent celebrities to prison. What that taught everyone is how much people are willing to pay to give their kids a leg-up in college.
What a legitimate college coach does is advise families about how to get their kid into their dream school. It often includes helping with applications and essays, and it can even cover financial aid planning. Private consultants make approximately $200/hour! Talk about a high-paying online business idea.
27. Fitness Trainer
Not all online business ideas involve sitting at a computer — online fitness trainers coach and motivate their clients to better health and fitness. You can visit people in their homes by creating videos and doing Zoom training sessions.
28. Domain Flipping
Domain names are like online real estate, and the market is just as hot! The idea is that you try to buy popular domain names at a low price and sell them high. There are online marketplaces and auction sites, and it takes some creativity and foresight to make the most of this online business idea.
29. Travel Planning Services
If you love planning your own vacations, why not get paid to plan vacations for other people? An online travel planning business involves planning every aspect of a trip, from transportation, hotel stays, day trips, and dining. It’s a smart online business idea if you love to travel because that’s one way to build relationships and grow your business.
Which is the Best Online Business to Start?
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. We wholeheartedly agree with 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 a lot of 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. 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.
Our top three picks for best online business ideas are:
1. Proofreading: This is a very flexible option for people who love to read, and all you need is a laptop and internet connection. Read more in Make Money Proofreading.
2. Blogging: This is the most scalable option, and bloggers make money online with sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, display ads, digital products, and so on.
3. Digital marketing: The digital marketing space is constantly growing with every new social media platform. There will always be a need, and this is a very scalable business.
The most successful online businesses are ones that you can scale over time, have low overhead, and are in-demand. Digital marketing, freelance writing, virtual assistance, blogging, and so on — all fit those requirements.