How to Start A Small Business Online at Home

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start a small business online at home

There are various ways you can start a small business online right from the comforts of your home.

Each day, there are probably millions of people around the world who “start” an online business. Unfortunately very few of those who “start” will actually succeed. Notice that I emphasize the keyword “start” because a lot of people “start” but they never follow through.

That statement of course is in no way whatsoever meant to deter you from actually starting your own online business. In fact, the whole purpose of this article is to ignite the entrepreneurial fire in you so you can start and build a successful business online.

The number one reason why so many people fail at building a successful business online is that they start with the wrong mindset. Most people want to start… yes, they just start but they don’t necessarily follow through.

Instead of just starting, you have to commit to building and you have to keep at it consistently. This is what separates those who are successful from those who aren’t.

According to MJ De Marco, “starting a business is a process, not an event”.

That statement is especially applicable to starting an online business.

Online, you don’t put up a storefront in a nice corner location with ample traffic and wait for customers to come in, with most online businesses, you have to attract traffic to whatever it is that you plan to offer.

Signing up for affiliate marketing (or network marketing) doesn’t mean you’re in business. You need to attract leads and convert those leads into real paying customers.

What I’ve learned so far in the last 8 years of being self-employed is that as an entrepreneur who makes a living out of selling stuff (or service), we technically only have two functions:

  1. Prospect (attract potential customers)
  2. Motivate potential customers to take action

The first step is to prospect. Online, that equates to the ability to attract traffic of potential customers to your offer; and there are generally three ways to do it, and they are as follows:

  1. Paid Ads
  2. Content Marketing
  3. Join a Marketplace

Paid Advertising

Paid Advertising is the fastest way you can attract traffic to your business, and just like a double-edged sword, it’s also the fastest way to lose your shirt online, and while paid traffic isn’t entirely bad and is in fact lucrative (if you know what you’re doing), it requires skills to make money from paid ads. The tricky part with paying for ads online is that they don’t necessarily work the first time, you have to collect and analyze data and adjust your ad copy as well as your landing pages accordingly. 

Content Marketing

Content marketing is free but too many people don’t have the necessary patience to make their online businesses work with content marketing. If you’re someone searching for information on how to start an online business from home, you might not have a lot of budgets to invest in paid advertising, which means that you need to have the patience to learn and more than enough sweat equity to invest in content marketing.

Join a Marketplace

By joining an already successful marketplace like Amazon, Etsy or eBay, you leverage their traffic of ready-to-buy audience, armed with credit cards, whose sole purpose of visiting these marketplaces is to find products and services they need or want.

In most instances, joining an already popular marketplace is a shortcut to putting your products and service in front of buyers without having to generate your own traffic, the only drawback, of course, is that you don’t own the platform but then this is something you can take advantage of while you’re building and generating traffic to your own platform.

Types of Online Businesses You Can Start from Home

Just as there are a humungous amount of people trying to start online businesses every day, there are also many types of online businesses that you can start, and they are as follows:

  1. Start a Blog
  2. Start an Ecommerce Store
  3. Sell on eBay
  4. Sell on Amazon
  5. Start a YouTube channel
  6. Start a Marketplace Business
  7. Affiliate Marketing
  8. Sell Services Online
  9. Sell Courses Online
  10. Teach Online

From eCommerce to blogging, to creating a brand. Your options are actually unlimited but the chances of success, just like in the offline world can be pitiful.

I have been dabbling with internet marketing since 2009 and have successfully sold a small online business (niche website) that I first started way back before migrating to Canada.

The sad reality of trying to start an online business is that the internet is filled with fake gurus who tout get rich quick online businesses, as such, this is the main reason why people fail to build successful online businesses. The mindset just isn’t right.

The beauty of utilizing the internet to catapult a successful business is that it allows you to reach a bigger audience than you would with an offline business. Think of the internet as more of a marketing channel than a business in itself.

If you already have a small offline business, you may want to use the internet to grow your existing business, instead of starting another business. Say, you’re a consultant or someone who offers services as your main product. You can build a website or blog that’s specifically designed to attract an audience who are actively searching for your services online. This, of course, is easier said than done. The competition in online search results can vary on how competitive your industry is but ranking a local website to attract customers to your business isn’t as hard as when you’re targeting a global or national audience.

I have a couple of lead generation websites that I “rent out” to a client who is in the home services space. I also have a local lead generation website for my practice as a financial consultant. I find that it was easier to rank in the home services niche than in the insurance and finance niche, that’s because there’s lesser competition with offline service providers than in the finance industry.

Start A Blog or a Niche Website

start a small business online - blogging

A blog or a Niche website is a slow online business to start, well, starting, as you may have heard is the easy part, making it successful is another story. If you’re a small business owner and you have a 5-page website, did you ever wonder why no one ever stumbles on your website despite the many years it’s been online? That’s because the pages that you have on your website don’t necessarily attract your target audience. You need more content than that, ideally, you should publish content that your target audience is actually searching for on the search engines.

A successful blog or niche website is a well-oiled marketing machine, it can attract customers to your existing offline business or it can be a business on its own.

A blog or a niche website is a platform, it’s your communication channel, one that allows you to deliver your message to your target customers. If you’re starting a blog as a business, something that you’d like to monetize through affiliate marketing, ads, or by selling your own digital or physical goods, don’t’ get disheartened when you don’t see any sales in two or three months. Blogs grow organically, and you have to keep on pumping out quality content at the start of your journey, without getting paid for the time and effort that you’re putting in. This is a hard lesson learned for me. I was trapped into the idea that most get rich quick blogging gurus tout. In reality, it takes a lot of time and effort to build a successful blog.

More or less a decade ago before this writing, a 250-page website is considered small by Google, so don’t expect to become a millionaire with 12 blog posts. You have to be in for the long haul. 

Starting a business, any business for that matter isn’t for the lazy. Don’t quit your job and start a business because you don’t want to work, most businesses are jobs that you own, you still have to work, it will just be more flexible than when you’re working for someone else. Don’t start a business, instead focus on building one.

I’ve started so many businesses as a young adult way back, I’ve also “joined” a lot of businesses, all were doomed to fail because I was treating starting or joining a business as an event. Many people start but they never follow through, I used to belong to this crowd. Jumping from one business idea or opportunity to the next. I’m actually a chronic entrepreneur, with a lot of business ideas but as I mature I realized that ideas mean nothing, it’s the grunt work that makes the difference.

Most wanna-be entrepreneurs are lazy, no offense but in reality, we’re all lazy bums, that’s why we have that itch. Quite honestly, I don’t like the idea of sitting at a cubicle or being told what to do for eight hours at least 5 days a week, and I believe you don’t like that either that’s why you’re finding ways on how you can start a small business that you can run from home.

Blogging requires hard work and you need to have at least an inkling with writing because you can’t outsource everything every time. If you’re planning to start a blog and you don’t know how to write, it’s like opening a restaurant without ever knowing how to cook.

Sure you can hire a writer for your blog but it can be tricky, that’s because no one will ever care more about your blog and business than you. Most writers would research and rewrite the same content they find online in their own words. These kinds of articles no longer rank on the search results, you have to write and publish original stuff.

When starting a blog, you have to focus on building your traffic first. A lot of people focus too much on the money stuff without building first the engine that will attract the right audience to their offer.

A successful blog or website can get customers to your offline business and it can be monetized in many different ways so it can make money on its own, just like a real business.

What I like the most about a blog or niche website publishing is the opportunity to earn passive income. You don’t always have to be there or pay someone to tend to physically tend to customers. As long as you do your part in building the traffic, it can pretty much fare on its own once you’ve built enough traffic. 

Monetizing Your Blog

As a new small online business owner, someone who’s starting a blog is eager to see profits during the starting phase of their blogging journey, that’s what being in business after all, right? Well, blogging is a different kind of business, in most instances, you wouldn’t be paid for the time and effort you’re churning into building your blog. The fact of the matter is, your blog may not actually make anything in its first year but disappointing as it is a blog or a niche website for that matter is one of the best businesses you can start online.

It’s cheap to start, all you need is a domain name, a web hosting service, a cms platform, and a cheap theme. It also has unlimited income potential but one of the many reasons small online business owners fail with building a blog is that most of us are programmed to get paid right away for the hours of work we put in. As a result, we dilly dally when it comes to content production, it’s just so hard to move our assess and write the necessary blog posts to build our blog.

When you’re publishing a website or a blog, you’re most likely to depend on organic traffic, and to attract organic traffic, you need high-quality, niche-relevant content that your target audience is searching for on the internet. Then and only then, your blog will be profitable.

There are many ways on how you can monetize your blog, once your traffic is there but the main priority of building a blog is to drive traffic to your products or services, traffic of people who are interested in your offer.

As I mentioned, there are two ways to attract prospects to your business, 1 is paid ads and the other organic. Paying for traffic is tricky because it’s like going to a casino and betting on chances, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. This means that even paid ads do not guarantee that you’re going to be profitable right away and it may take the same amount of time and effort learning media buying as actually getting down and writing those juicy content for your business.

When you’re starting a blog (or a YouTube channel), understand that it’s not your business but a marketing channel. Your business could be anything, you could be selling physical products off your blog, you could be linking to affiliate merchants, sell your own digital products, or even leverage your blog to promote your offline business or practice.

Content marketing is a slow way of bringing an audience to your offer but it’s one of the best marketing platforms you can create to attract consistent traffic of hungry and ready-to-buy prospects to your home-based online business.

Sell Services or Consulting Hours

One of the fastest ways that you can monetize your blog traffic is by offering services. What is it that you’re good at? Can you offer advice on that specific niche? If so, you can monetize your blog that way. Once your blog has an ample amount of traffic, attracted by your blog posts or articles, you can add a service(s) tab in your blog’s menu or call to actions toward your services on your blog’s homepage and sidebar to let your audience know that you can actually help them with their specific problems by calling for an appointment, booking your calendar, or filling out a form.

They say that everyone is an expert at something and if you’re not sure as to what products to sell online, you can step back and consider your talent, skills, and experience from past work or educational background. Can you offer something that others are willing to pay? If so, build your online business out of something you already know. The service may be something you can offer digitally like writing, graphic design, voice-over, web design, and development, etc.

It could also be something that you can deliver locally like handyman services, oil change, mobile auto repair, wellness, piano lessons, dog walking, babysitting, etc.

Aside from selling your services off your blog, there are also service marketplaces wherein you can market and sell your freelance services such as ThumbTack (if you’re in the US), Fiverr, Upwork, or Freelancer. I’ve published a full list of service marketplaces where you can promote and sell your talent and skills here. Again, you can list your services in these marketplaces while you’re building your own marketing and communications engine so you can start selling fast.

Sell Physical Goods

Once you have an audience to your blog, there are unlimited ways on how you can successfully monetize it. You can sell physical goods or even create your own print-on-demand products to sell to your audience. The difference with other entrepreneurs who sell on Amazon or starts Shopify dropshipping websites, with blogging, you actually own your audience because you own the machine that drives traffic to your offers. Once you have the traffic, you can link a Shopify shop to your blog and sell whatever-related products you may want.

Just like a blog, building a Shopify store doesn’t mean that you already have a business, you have to attract traffic to your store, and by working on your marketing platform first and focusing on traffic before putting up the shopping cart, you ensure that there’s an audience to buy your stuff.

Sell Print on Demand Physical Goods

Selling physical products is a profitable venture but there are a lot of moving pieces with a physical product eCommerce business and if you don’t want to deal with lost inventories and returns, you may want to sell print on demand products on your blog instead. Remember, the whole idea of having a blog is to have your own online marketing engine that attracts a bunch of people toward your offers on a daily basis. So, you can basically monetize your blog any way you want.

With print on demand, you don’t buy your products outright, print on demand service providers like Printful, prints your design on merchandise goods on a per order basis. What you prepare instead is your design. You can display unlimited products on your blog’s physical goods shop but you need not stock on any physical items, it’s much like dropshipping but if in case there are any returns, it gets returned to your suppliers, not you.

Display and Pay Per Click Ads

One of the easiest ways of monetizing a blog is through pay-per-click ads, these are the ads that you see on most websites you visit. In most instances they’re related to the niche or topic of your website, sometimes they’re interest-based. Whenever someone clicks on an ad, you make a percentage of what is paid to the ad network.

Income from display ads can be frustrating, especially if your blog isn’t that popular yet. To make a full-time income from display ads, you need to attract a humongous amount of traffic to your blog. So again, focus on building your traffic!

Display and pay-per-click ads pay either on impressions or action taken by your audience, which in most instances is a “clickthrough” from your website to the offer’s landing page.

Affiliate Marketing

There are three usual ways on how you can promote affiliate marketing offers on your blogging business. One is through display advertising, this is where you display ad creatives either on your website’s header, sidebar, or within your blog posts. The second way is through in-content links, where you link to your affiliate partners’ websites. The third way is through email marketing, this is where you put a link on affiliate offers on your email communication with your email subscribers.

Being an affiliate marketer is like being an agent to companies you represent in the offline world, you just do it online. So in most instances, you get a commission whenever someone buys something through your affiliate link. Another variant of affiliate marketing is called CPA marketing, this is where you get paid when your audience commits to a certain action, like submitting their contact information or by filling out a survey form.

Sell Digital Products

Once you’ve built your blog to appoint where it attracts a consistent flow of traffic who are searching for the information that you put out (hopefully related) to the products or services that you’re going to offer, there’s no limit to what you can sell to monetize your traffic.

The most common blog monetization strategies for big bloggers are digital products, which can be an ebook, software, or a course. The advantage of offering digital goods is that it has a very high ROI compared to physical products the only disadvantage is that it takes time to develop, and not everyone has the patient to build something that doesn’t make money right away, such as the case with building a profitable blog or a YouTube channel because you just don’t get paid right away.

Start an Ecommerce Store

start an ecommerce store

Ecommerce has been all the rave these past few years. If you’ve ever turned on YouTube, you see a lot of Ecom gurus telling you how easy it is and that they’re making overnight riches by starting an eCommerce store or by selling physical goods on marketplaces. 

The fact of the matter is, 99% of these gurus don’t make their money from selling physical goods online, they actually make most of their money selling course. They apply the same business model that most real estate gurus use. Flip one or two properties then teach others to do the same.

Nowadays, whenever I encounter these get rich quick gurus, I always remind myself to take everything they say with a grain of salt. You may have heard great things about starting an eCommerce store, and it is a great small business to start but just don’t expect to make those many thousands of dollars your YouTube hero makes in 24-hours, as most of those screenshots are fake and many of those who claim they make millions from their eCommerce stores does make hundreds of thousands in gross income dropshipping physical goods from China but the keyword here is “gross”. 

There’s a slim profit in a retail business and since these gurus never show their net before-tax profit, then they’re not actually being completely honest with their audience. Their goal is to invest heavily in ads and sell as much as they can, regardless of whether or not they make a profit, because they’re going to recoup all those costs from their real product, the course(s) that they’re going to sell you.

Just like any other online business, you attract traffic to your offers by either paying for ads, generating organic traffic through content marketing, or joining a marketplace.

If you’re building your own online store, the fastest way to get customers to your store is by paying for ads, which can be a bit tricky because you have to convert this audience, an ad click doesn’t mean that you’re going to make a sale. It only means that you caught your prospect’s interest and it’s up to your landing page (or online store) to do the selling. Does this mean that paid traffic doesn’t work? Not at all, what I’m trying to say here is that starting an eCommerce store isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, it works but you have to make it work. By that, you have to either learn media buying (paying for ads), tracking and optimizing your shop’s conversion rate.

There’s a learning curve to paid advertising, you can’t just pay for traffic and expect the dollars to roll in. In fact, you will lose money at the start because you’re still testing your creatives. Investing time and effort in developing your advertising or media-buying skills is the key to any paid traffic success and if you don’t have the budget, you may want to take the slow and steady approach and invest more sweat equity into building organic traffic to your eCommerce store.

With that said, you may want to start a blog or a YouTube channel with lots and lots of content focused on a niche that your eCommerce store will serve, once you have the traffic, launch the shop and expect the dollars to roll in.

Organic traffic takes time to build but it can give you the highest ROI compared to any other marketing campaigns you’re going to invest in.

Paid vs Free Traffic

As mentioned above, if you’re planning to start your own eCommerce store and not rely on marketplace traffic, you either pay for traffic or build an organic marketing platform through content marketing. The latter takes time to build but can be a passive way of attracting free traffic from a virtual super-highway, paid traffic, on the other hand, can drive traffic fast to your start but you have to keep on paying for traffic, once you stop paying, your shop’s traffic stops.

If you have the budget and you want results fast, you should definitely learn how to buy traffic for your eCommerce shop, as I mentioned before, buying ads is a bit tricky as it doesn’t mean that you’re going to make a sale for each ad clickthrough, so you have to make sure you’re actually attracting the right audience for your offer. Otherwise, you’ll be losing money on paid ads. 

In any case, building a successful eCommerce store relies on being able to drive traffic of people who may be interested in your products. Your store’s job is to convert those prospects into actual paying customers.

A lot of people get lured into building eCommerce stores without giving much thought to how they’re going to drive traffic to their online stores. Whether you’re dropshipping, or fulfilling customer orders yourself, you have to plan on how you’ll drive traffic to your store first. Online, you either put in the sweat equity required to drive free traffic to your store or you pay for traffic.

Traffic is the currency of the internet, in fact, it’s also what drives offline businesses, without leads, you’ve got nothing to convert.

Start an Affiliate Marketing Business

affiliate marketing small business idea

Affiliate marketing has been around since the early days of the internet. This and digital product creation is perhaps the first-ever internet marketing monetization business model. You don’t have to ship anything, you just sell! That’s the internet marketing dream in early 2000.

What lured people in is the idea of being able to deliver products digitally and in the case of affiliate marketing, you’re technically selling other people’s products, without ever creating any products.

You’re basically just a matchmaker, connecting people who are most likely to buy an offer.

Comparing this to offline transactions, affiliate marketing isn’t anything new, you’re technically a sales rep or agent for merchants you represent, you just do it all online.

Back then, people didn’t like the idea of having to ship products to customers. Imagine being able to build a business “on autopilot”. No shipping, no customer service, you just drive and convert traffic. That’s the affiliate marketing dream.

Affiliate marketing still works up to this day, gone were the wild west days when it first came out but there are still hundreds of thousands of people making a good living out of promoting other people’s products online, you just sign up as an affiliate and promote the offers.

As you may know by now, there are generally two ways of driving traffic to an offer:

  1. Paid traffic, and 
  2. Free traffic

Paid traffic gets you to market fast but it does require you to already have capital as you’re technically media buying here. You pay for ads and in most instances, your first few ads may not convert as you would hope them to, which means that you have to be open to losing money because you can.

If you’re a bit of a conservative affiliate marketer, you have to be willing to do the hard work of actually building a traffic platform through content marketing. Your startup costs are low as you only need a domain name, Webhosting, a content management system like WordPress, and a theme to dress up your website.

As you know, building a blog or a niche website takes time, this means that it doesn’t make you money right away. Starting is the easy part, making it successful is another story.

As an affiliate marketer, you basically have two functions, one is to drive traffic, the second is to convert that traffic. If you’re successful in doing those functions, you’ll be a successful affiliate marketer. Of course, it’s easier said than done but it can be done!

What affiliate business model you decide on is really up to you and your specific financial situation. If you have money to invest, paying for ads will make money faster than content marketing but you have to keep on paying each time you want to play. If you stop paying for ads, traffic stops, but as I said you can be making money in months not years. Investing in free traffic by building content is slow but you’re building a real business asset that you can eventually sell.

If you’re serious about building an affiliate marketing business, I suggest that you do both, that if you want to see results fast and you have the advertising budget, if not, you should stick to building a niche blog, website, or a YouTube channel that you can monetize through affiliate marketing partnerships.

Dropship on eBay

ebay dropshipping homebased business idea

I have tried dropshipping physical goods on eBay before, which I stopped because I was already busy running my existing business. You may have read somewhere or watched YouTube channels where people promote drop shipping both on eBay and Amazon. eBay allows dropshipping from other online retail stores and is a common practice, Amazon does not. 

Amazon does allow dropshipping but you can not source your products from other retailers but there are a lot of sellers who actually bypass this rule, anyway, which I don’t agree with as you’re not building a solid business since you’re breaking the marketplace’s rule.

The most obvious advantage of an eBay dropshipping business is that you can start it basically free, without having to build your own platform, and without buying inventory but it isn’t a failproof business and as opposed to what most dropshipping gurus tout, the profits are very slim but if you’re just looking to start an online business, which has the potential being profitable fast, eBay dropshipping is a good business to start without a lot of capital.

The beauty of dropshipping on an existing marketplace is that it already has an audience of ready-to-buy consumers, and with a global reach. You don’t have to pay for ads, you just have to find profitable products to sell using tools like Zik Analytics.

Aside from low margins, dropshipping business in general, whether you’re dropshipping from your own eCommerce store or a marketplace like eBay is that it requires a lot of work both in finding products to sell and in fulfilling customer orders. If you’re dropshipping using Shopify, order fulfillment is easier though as it only takes a couple of clicks. With eBay, you have to manually copy and paste the customer’s details when ordering the products for them from your source, this can also be automated if you’re using Zik Analytics.

Sell on Amazon Marketplace

sell on amazon small business idea

With a reliable supplier and fast-moving inventory, selling on Amazon can bring you the fastest ROI when it comes to starting an online business from home. The challenging part is in finding profitable products to sell. You can basically automate the rest with Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), they take care of warehousing your goods as well as order fulfillment, your job as an Amazon seller is to “feed the beast” with your selected inventory.

There is a variant of ways on how you can supply Amazon with inventories because technically, you can buy your inventories from virtually everywhere. You can buy goods from garage sales, retail stores, online retailers, wholesalers, or even private label products from manufacturers.

Like any other online business opportunity, selling on Amazon is a real business and requires a lot of real work. Real businesses take work, even if they’re online. As an Amazon seller, you’re technically in a retail business since most of Amazon’s customers are consumers, so whether you’re manufacturing your own products or buying from wholesalers or retailers, you’re selling to consumers, which makes you a retailer, an online retailer at that.

I still sell on Amazon as of this writing. What I observed is that my wholesale supplier has been experiencing logistics challenges as most of my best-selling items are usually out of stock, this slows down inventory turnover since you can’t sell what you don’t have but the opportunity is still lucrative. As of the moment, I’m actually researching products to sell as a private label seller since it’s easier to sell your own products than be approved for wholesale accounts.

I use Egrow as a product research tool, this is the most affordable Amazon product research tool I found that actually works. Most Amazon product research tool charges you an arm and a leg on a monthly basis and it’s a disadvantage to new entrepreneurs who are looking to sell on Amazon.

Start a YouTube Channel

start a youtube channel small business idea online

Nowadays, virtually everyone and their grandma wants to start a YouTube channel. One thing you have to keep in mind is the fact the YouTube isn’t your business. Your business could be anything, and you can use YouTube as your marketing and communications channel. Most people who start a YouTube channel think that YouTube is their business, it’s not! It’s your marketing platform.

With that out of the way, you can monetize your channel any way you want. This means that you’re not limited to activating Google Adsense on your channel as most people do. This also means that you don’t have to wait for the minimum required views and subscribers to start monetizing your channel. Like a blog, you can link to affiliate offers, print on demand, your own eCommerce store, sell courses, digital products, or even offer consulting services through your YouTube channel.

As a content marketing platform, you may observe that it’s going to be slow to pick up but just like a blog, you have to be willing to work for free, at least until your channel picks up. That said, you have to focus on building your audience first in the early months of your channel. That means you have to put out as much high-quality content as possible and focus on topics that people are searching for online.

Start an Online Marketplace Business

start an online marketplace small business idea

Another online business idea that you can start from home is an online marketplace. Marketplaces match products and services to people who need them, much like an affiliate marketing business, you (and your website) act as connectors or matchmakers.

There is a huge opportunity in the marketplace space, you can build either services or an eCommerce

Another online business idea that you can start from home is an online marketplace. Marketplaces match products and services to people who need them, much like an affiliate marketing business, you (and your website) act as connectors or matchmakers.

There is a huge opportunity in the marketplace space, you can build either services or an eCommerce marketplace where vendors or service providers can sign up to take advantage of the traffic that your marketplace gets. 

Just like any other online business, the key to building a successful marketplace is to focus on certain niches that have demand and that service or product providers are willing to pay for.

In most instances, it’s best if you’re able to build your own unique platform but this route is a tall order for most budding online entrepreneurs. There are out-of-the-box marketplace software providers that help you get to marketing fast, companies like ShareTribe, Arcadier, and Marketplaces offer marketplace solutions to help you launch a minimum viable offer and test your market by promoting both to vendors and buyers.

Marketplace experts say that building a 2-sided marketplace is harder than building a 1-sided eCommerce store because you have to promote to two different audiences. 

Since a marketplace is a website, just like a blog, an eCommerce store, or a niche website. You basically attract traffic in the same manner, you either pay for traffic or produce juicy content to attract traffic to your online marketplace.

I’ve been studying marketplaces in the last year but haven’t really gone into actually building one since I’m pretty much loaded with work on my existing business activities but there’s a good opportunity in the marketplace realm for anyone looking to start an online business.

Sell Services Online

sell services online-small-business-idea

They say that a skilled person never goes hungry, I believe that a highly-skilled person can get very rich if they know where to sell their skills and are able to offer their services to a large pool of client base.

The best way to build a service marketplace business is through an online platform. You can build your own lead generation website, blog, or YouTube channel to drive traffic to the services that you offer. If you have your own marketing platform such as a website, you either pay for traffic or build content, a faster way of attracting leads to your offer is by joining existing marketplaces such as Thumbtack, Fiverr, or Upwork. The marketplace you’re going to join depends on what type of service you’re offering, if it’s something that can only be delivered offline, you should join local services marketplaces but if your service is something that you can offer remotely, then, you can join the many marketplaces for online freelance services.

While joining marketplaces can bring you customers, faster, I would still suggest that you focus on building your own platform so you can build your own audience and establish yourself as an expert in your field by providing valuable content that your prospective customers are searching for on the internet. This can be done through a blog or a YouTube channel, which you can then monetize through other means aside from offering your services.

Sell Courses Online

The best products to sell online are digital products. This gives you the highest ROI on product development, say if you create and sell an ebook for example; every time someone buys your product, it gets “shipped” to them virtually, from the internet into their hard drive. You don’t need to have the book physically printed or a product manufactured in the case of other types of physical goods.

And while you can make good profits selling ebooks, you can get the highest ROI for your efforts by developing and selling online courses. There are a lot of platforms that allow you to develop, host, and sell your courses, and you can develop any course for virtually anything that you know based on your skills, work experiences, and education.

The easiest way to start selling courses is by joining platforms like Udemy, Teachable, and Skillshare as an instructor, you can also host your own course by using WordPress plugins such as MemberPress, LearnDash, and S2 Member. Joining course marketplaces like Udemy can give you a bit of a leg-up when promoting your courses because it comes with some sort of “network effect”, especially when you start building your reputation through student reviews but as part of a network (pretty much like selling on Amazon), you partake your profits with the house, which in all fairness, could be one of the reasons why your course is successful.

If on the other hand, you want to promote your course independently or you already have a strong following, you can host your own courses by using any of the self-hosted platforms mentioned above. As a WordPress user, all the self-hosted options mentioned above are plugins you install in your WordPress site to give it the membership functionalities.

Teach Online

Love teaching? There are a lot of teachers who struggle financially in the real world, there are also a lot of teachers who make a good living by teaching online. By leveraging the internet, you can expand your reach to many, many students from around the world, and if you’re a teacher or someone who loves teaching, what better way to reach more students by teaching online?

Easier said than done, right? But over the last couple of years, there are marketplaces that were launch specifically to help connect teachers to students. Websites like TutorMe, VIPKid, and TakeLessons pay you to teach real students online. Unlike Udemy and Skillshare, students actually book their calendars for live “in-person” lessons.

As an online teacher, you offer your time and teaching skills as a service to students from around the world, hence allowing you to work from home as a self-employed small business owner.

Final Words

Whew! This is one long article, I agree. If you’ve made it this far, I hope that I was able to spark some entrepreneurial ideas that you may take home and work on to finally start your home-based business journey. We all were shocked by the effects of a pandemic and realized that we should be doing something that can allow us to work remotely. If you’ve been financially affected by the pandemic, now is the time to pursue business ideas that allows you to work from home, or at least remotely.

If you’ve found value in this article, please don’t hesitate to share it with your network to spread its value. I’ve worked hard in putting out these ideas with the aim of helping people like you who are looking for alternative ways of making a living without necessarily going to and from a work location.

Taking advantage of the technology we all have access to is a smart way of working, if your current job or career doesn’t allow that, I suggest that you seriously consider your options.

If there are some ideas that you may want to share, please feel free to share them in the comments below!

As always, keep safe, and do business from home.


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