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Curious about how all these people are making income online? You’ve come to the right place.

It’s an exciting thought, to start an online business of your own and cash in on all the hype, but where do you even begin?

Well, we want to share 7 successful online business ideas that you can start this year. Once you’ve read through them, we encourage you to pick one that resonates with you and take it out for a test run!

7 Successful Online Business Ideas You Can Start This Year

1. Affiliate Marketer

2. Ecommerce Store

3. Social Media Manager

4. Freelancer

5. Writer or Blogger

6. Virtual Assistant

7. Teach Online

successful online business ideas from Selz advertising services

Successful Online Business Ideas with Low Investment

1. Affiliate Marketer

Are you struggling to figure out what to sell or how to sell products online?

Affiliate marketing could be a successful online business idea for you. Put simply, you sell other people’s products or services online for a commission.

This is great practice if you eventually want to sell your own products or services, and it eases you into the world of digital marketing. You’ll have to hone your skills to push traffic to a partner’s product through a unique affiliate link.

When you become an online affiliate, you get paid for each product you are able to sell, and the commission share can increase as you sell more.

It may start slow, but as you get better at marketing and setting up websites for products, you can generate some serious cash flow.

Become an Affiliate Marketer

To start your online business as an affiliate marketer, first, pick a niche. Something where there is money being spent online, something that you are somewhat interested in, and something you would be comfortable writing content for and setting up a dedicated website.

Be sure to check that there are affiliate programs available for your niche and also check to see the demand for the products you want to sell.

There are tools like the Google Keyword Planner that let you check search volumes for your product(s) and can help you get an idea of the competition. The ideal search topic would be something with high traffic and low competition.

Once you’ve settled on your focus, grab a catchy domain name and set up a website to feature product reviews, post blogs, and start driving traffic to convert into sales for affiliate programs.

A young professional gets organized to sell online and with point of sale with Selz headless commerce

2. Social Media Manager

By now, it’s become apparent to business owners that no matter the size of the company, a social media presence is essential for a successful online business. Some people have even been successful in completely running their entire online business through social media.

Whether a business is online or a brick and mortar store, social media is a time-consuming necessity that often becomes an additional task that small business owners don’t want to tackle.

While many large companies hire out agencies, smaller companies will often hire individuals on a part-time basis to run their accounts and come up with a strategy for content.

You Need to Be a Social Media Pro

Going this route for your online business idea is easiest when you first put together several package options and have a solid plan for creating personalized strategies and not just simply posting.

Once you’ve worked with a few clients, gather referrals that you can showcase on your own website and use to grow your online business. With a site set up through Selz, people could purchase social media packages and services directly from you.

Be sure to get familiar with scheduling tools like Buffer and Hootsuite before you start tackling strategy and content calendars. These will be helpful when you are pitching to a client and getting an idea of how many hours you will be spending working with them.

Read more: How to Sell a Service: A Complete Guide to Communicating Value

3. Freelancer

Got skills? Most everyone is at least halfway decent at something that could benefit someone else. Maybe you didn’t even realize it, but you have an amazing voice for online videos, or maybe your doodles would be great for someone’s children’s book they are writing.

Almost any skill you can come up with could be valuable to someone, somewhere.

There are plenty of online platforms to connect you to people looking to pay for the things that you are good at. The great thing about successful online business ideas like this is if you pick something you love doing, you’ll gain experience the more you hire out your freelance services.

Want to learn more? Check out 5 Steps to Write Cold Email Templates That Convert (Plus Free Templates).

Learn the Marketplace

To get an idea of what online business you could start that people are hiring for, take a look at UpWork where both individuals and companies post job listings for contractors. You can get a better idea of where the demand is for services you might be able to provide by working online.

Before you start working with clients, it’s extremely important to have a solid contract in place. Here’s a great post (and a free template) from our good friend, Ryan Robinson, that outlines 9 freelancer contract template essentials that will protect you as a freelancer!

A blogger shows off jewelry for a video for this article about online business ideas from Selz  headless commerce for business growth

4. Writer or Blogger

One of the great things about businesses living online is the massive amounts of blogs and written content needed to drive traffic to websites.

There are loads of opportunities out there to write blog content for someone else’s business or even start your own blog that eventually leads to selling products to your readers. It can be difficult in the beginning to gain enough traffic to your site to monetize it, but in the meantime, you can get paid to write for others.

As with many of these successful online business ideas, a good place to start is by finding a specific niche you want to tailor your work to and promote.

There are so many travel bloggers to be inspired by, but maybe you want to be THE go-to for cooking how-to’s or you may be the pack leader when it comes to sneaker releases.

Pick the Right Topic

What topics interest you most and would be easy for you to write about? Then you can promote yourself to those markets and find websites that may need your specific written content. Then start building that writing portfolio!

If you aren’t confident in your writing skills or have not had the experience you would like to get started, you can always edit others’ writing. Again, stick to a niche type of writing, like a novel editor, scientific paper editor, or English grammar and language editor.

There are so many topics and opportunities. What are some of your specific interests that you could potentially get paid to write or edit?

Read: WordPress Ecommerce: Start Selling on WordPress in 9 Simple Steps

5. Virtual Assistant

Have you used a computer in the last 5 years? Know how to schedule appointments and manage emails? Book flights and build travel itineraries?

There are loads of tasks that are too time-consuming for entrepreneurs and businessmen and women, services that are being outsourced to virtual assistants online.

These “VAs” usually work part-time for clients from the comfort of their homes and either work for a virtual assistant company like Zirtual or have their own successful online businesses through which they can book clients.

You would probably want to put together a skills-based resume and detail experience that would be relevant to administrative tasks. Show off those software “nerd skills” and your organizational skills.

Successful online business ideas like this benefit heavily from collecting references and reviews from clients as you start building your business.

Then once you get a few clients, set up a website and build a personal brand for yourself to market to new clients.

Successful Online Business Ideas for Beginners

A video cooking tutorial is great online business idea for anyone with any skill set

6. Teach Online

The demand for online educators is fast growing. Whether you feel more comfortable doing private tutoring sessions or working through an online virtual classroom, there are tons of options for people to pay for access to education online.

Read more: Sell Online Courses from Your Own Website: How to Succeed

Research what tutors charge hourly and you could set up your own tutoring services online.

With so many accredited programs being released digitally through private institutions and universities alike, a need for teachers opens up opportunities to build your own online business as a for-hire educator.

Once you gain some experience and grow your network, then perhaps you could launch your own platform!

Teaching English for Online Business

Another online teaching route would be to take a course to get an English as a Second Language, or ESL, teaching certificate. One of the more recognized certificates is the TEFL/TESOL and you can register for a course online or in person.

Having this certificate opens the doors for you to work online teaching English through several companies.

Companies like VIPKID hire native English speakers to teach online for an hourly rate. Through services like this, you can pick up classes and set your availability for when you want to work.

Read: How To Sell Your First Online Course Or Program On Selz

7. Ecommerce Store

As far as successful online business ideas go, setting up an ecommerce store is becoming one of the easier options, with services like Selz and other platforms requiring little to no web or design background. The tricky part is coming up with a product you want to sell.

Typically products fall into 3 categories; physical products, digital products, and services.

Physical products

These types of products can be something you personally hand-make, or maybe a brand you want to get designed and printed on apparel or other goods.

For these types of products you will need to factor in shipping costs, the cost of making your product, and packaging costs. Physical products are fun to promote and you can easily snap your own photos of your product for social media and store images.

Digital products

Products that you upload digitally can be anything from music downloads to eBooks, written guides to video tutorials. Given your skillset, what is something that you can create digitally and upload to your ecommerce site?

You might need to be a little more tech-savvy for these products, creating graphics to promote them- i.e. album or ebook covers. This makes your product feel more tangible for your customers.

If you can navigate a program like Microsoft Word decently, you could put together a How-to Guide or some other PDF-format product. What experience do you have that you could easily share within a guide?


Selling your services online is a great digital business because you might have spent time in a specific industry that allows you to sell some experienced in-person time.

If you have a background in something like waiting tables and bartending, you could offer out your services and book private events.

Do you find yourself constantly giving out good advice to friends and family for free? Maybe you should try selling life coaching sessions and start promoting to those closest to you.

Do you have a passion for photography, nutrition, or sewing? Take your hobby to the next level by selling online coaching sessions!

Spend some time brainstorming about your skills and experience, then write down a handful of successful business ideas you could build using them.

The key to selling services online is to take what you already know and find the market for your particular skill set, passion, or hobby, and then build it into a package.

As with many successful online business ideas on this list, you will need to promote yourself, so think of ways to get the word out about your store.

More than Successful Online Business Ideas

As you can see from these 7 successful online business ideas, the possibilities are almost endless for what you can do to get an online business started this year.

The hardest part is picking a creative business idea and finding your niche.

From there, you can start researching your market and figure out where the demand is for your products or services. Many of these ideas require you to set up an online presence through a website and there are many solutions out there to reach this milestone.

For tons more options, check out our 105 side business ideas and this fantastic collection of ways to make money online.

Selz is the ecommerce platform for growing businesses…we’re so sure about this that we want to give you a free 14-day trial to kickstart your online business idea.

About the author

Bryce Patterson

Bryce is a writer and content marketer for tech companies including Churn Buster and Evergreen. He gives ecommerce business and non-profits a more human, relatable voice. He has written a novel, worked on a comic book, and played in a handful of bands. Bryce lives in Colorado.

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