The internet has opened up countless new opportunities to build location-independent online businesses without needing extensive startup capital or technical skills in recent years. This comprehensive guide explores 13 highly practical ecommerce and service-based online business models regular individuals can launch on their own along with real examples, required tools, keys to success and common pitfalls for each idea.
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Table of Contents
1. Affiliate Marketing Business
Affiliate marketing remains one of the most straightforward digital businesses to start since it simply involves earning sales commissions promoting third-party brands and products you actively use and recommend to others through links without handling logistics or customer service.
Bloggers reviews of web hosting services, VPNs or project management software earning rev-share on signups. Social influencers sharing clothing outlet purchase links in their Instagram Stories. Niche hobby publications recommending gear.
- Niche Content Site Or Engaged Social Followings
- Affiliate Links And Promo Tools From Merchants
- Traffic Sources To Drive Conversions
When done systematically, affiliate marketers can earn anywhere from $500 to well over $50,000 monthly depending on vertical profitability and audience reach allowing part time side revenue to full time viable online businesses through passionate content creation and community building alone promoting brands you genuinely like.
- Cluttering Content With Excess Links
- Promoting Services Unfit For Audience
- Not Disclosing Affiliate Status
CJ Affiliate, Shareasale, Clickbank, Amazon Associates, RewardStyle, Awin, Impact, Share-A-Sale, Rakuten Marketing.
So if you consistently engage audiences through blogs, videos or social media around topics you’re knowledgeable and passionate about already, supplementing those conversations with affiliate product recommendations relevant to their needs translates into earnings over time.
2. Blog Monetization Business
Launching a commercial blog generating advertising or affiliate revenues from in-depth, useful content on underserved hobby topics has proven a sustainable living for bloggers. Choosing a niche you enjoy that has online search demand turns regular publishing into scalable income.
Personal finance tips site monetized via affiliate offers and programmatic display ads. News publication on recent electric bike models making affiliate commissions on gear and parts sales as well as targeted native ads. Beauty trends and cosmetics review blog earning display ad placements, brand sponsorships as well as ecommerce affiliate cut from recommended products lists to drugstore options driving reader purchases.
- High-Intent Niche Content
- Posts Optimized For SEO
- Ad Placements Or Affiliate Links
Profitable monetized blogs generating $5,000+ per month working full-time hours on content, audience building and advertising aren’t uncommon for bloggers passionate about chosen topics with business-minded tech optimization. Even at more modest part-time levels, $500-$2000 monthly is feasible.
- Inconsistent Content Publishing
- Poor Site Speed Or Responsiveness
- Aggressive Ads Placement Fatigue
WordPress CMS, Google Analytics, Ezoic, Mediavine, Adthrive, Amazon Associates, ShareASale, Google Adsense, BuySellAds.
If you love writing, have knowledge of an underserved area and the ability to author in-depth posts systematically over months, then a monetized blog matching your skills allows income tied to ownership of a digital media asset you build versus more rigid office roles.
3. SaaS Web App Business
Building niche software-as-a-service (SaaS) web apps that charge monthly subscriptions has turned into a bustling small digital business model courtesy of code-free platforms enabling creating functional customer-facing web tools without technicalComplex Business Models..
HR SaaS portal helping companies manage employee documentation. Web form building app for client intake and lead capture. Social media analytics dashboard for Pr agencies to showcase client reporting.
- Identify Underserved Commercial Need
- Code-Free SaaS Creation Platform
- Sales And Marketing Competencies
By directly serving other companies, B2B SaaS services command $50 to $500+ in monthly licensing fees translating into healthy revenues aggregated across yearly contracted client bases allowing bootstrapped founders to eventually earn over $100,000 annually.
- Prioritizing Features Over Client-Focused Benefits
- Underpricing Value Compared To HR Cost Savings Powered
- High Client Acquisition Costs Early
Bubble, AppMaster, Gearheart, Webflow, Carrd, Gumroad, Zapier, Stripe, Typeform, Carrd.
SaaS Allows Entrepreneurs To Turn Specialized Knowledge Into Code-Free Web Apps Serving Commercial Needs Forgoing Engineering Heavy Lifting Through Emerging No-Code Platforms Reducing Friction.
4. Influencer Marketing Business
Social media influencers collaborating with brands on sponsored campaigns, social ads and UGC content partnerships based on existing niche followings they’ve grown represents a scalable online income stream if audiences built exceed 50k+ targeted followers.
Travel vlogger getting booked for commercials in tourism boards. Celebrity chef earning revenues promoting new kitchen gear. Fashion model influencing clothes and accessories purchases through style posts. Fitness influencer paid to advertise upcoming health events to their followers.
- 50K+ Niche Specific Followers
- Existing Original Video + Image Content
- Brand Relationships And Campaigns
Depending on follower count, influencer rates span from $100 to $5000+ per sponsored post, ad collaboration or brand ambassadorship allowing individuals to monetize Instagram, TikTok or YouTube audiences similar to minor media personalities through consistent branded content partnerships with those looking to positively engage target demographics. Top names break 7-figures.
- Losing Follower Loyalty Through Excess Commercialism
- Diminished Organic Visibility
- Platform Algorithm Changes Impacting Reach
Instagram, TikTok, Youtube, Cameo, Patreon, Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn.
If you’ve grown notable followings already for your creativity, insights or knowledge on channels like YouTube or Instagram – further cultivating brand tie-ups introduces monetization allowing quitting 9-5 jobs if managed strategically preserving organic fan connections amidst commercial endeavors.
5. Digital Products Business
Selling specialized knowledge, instructional materials or productivity tools as online downloads has become a popular “digital products”-based business model making bank leveraging existing expertise into marketable training guides, video courses, membership communities and productivity software people find useful.
Selling downloadable knitting patterns to niche crafts market. Producing online woodworking video training series for hobbyists. Hosting a paid membership site for property investors helping evaluate deals. Releasing downloadable homeschooling lesson plans & workbooks for teaching kids specific topics.
- Topic Expertise Or Teaching Skills
- Content Production Abilities
- Marketing Funnels And Payments Integration
The beauty of digital download products is how income scales exponentially without one-to-one labor given small teams can serve thousands of automated customers. So independent experts use their knowledge to build six-figure online businesses from $10 to $200+ premium guides, video trainings or software.
- Expecting Blockbuster Launches Without Nurture Marketing
- Undervaluing Knowledge Worth Against Income Goals
- Launching Before Validating Ideal Customer Wants
Teachable, Podia, Learnworlds, Gumroad, Kajabi, Thinkific, ClickFunnels, Teachery, Fedora, Mighty Networks, Circle, Discord.
Online Marketplaces Like Sidetrain Also Offer Existing Platforms Where Individuals Can Sign Up Easily As Coaches To Sell Digital Instructional Products Or Mentoring Aligning Personal Expertise With Commercial Gain.
6. Print-On-Demand Ecommerce
By leveraging various print-on-demand (POD) platforms now individuals and artists alike sell customized physical products online without inventory or manufacturing logistics headaches often associated with traditional consumer goods ecommerce.
Selling uniquely designed artsy face masks or mobile cases by uploading illustrations for production when customer orders to minimize risk. Creating t-shirt lines for niche fan bases through platforms printing and shipping on-demand worldwide as purchases occur. Independent publishers selling print books via POD removing upfront printing costs. Entrepreneurs branding everyday products from notebooks to hoodies with custom logo designs appealing to target segments.
- Design Capabilities
- Print-On-Demand Platform Accounts
- Traffic Sources To Market Creations
POD allows bootstrapping ecommerce ideas cost-effectively. Popular personalized product designers earn over $60,000/year given 25%+ profit margins on volumes exceeding 2500+ units monthly when priced attractively allowing part timers to full time businesses.
- Assuming Build It They Will Come Without Promotions
- Simply Selling Generic Products Without Unique Selling Points
- Not Appreciating Logo Licensing Opportunities Early
Printful, Printify, Etsy, eBay, Shopify, Wix, GearBubble, Teespring, Redbubble, Zazzle, CafePress, Merch By Amazon, Spreadshirt.
Print-on-demand ecommerce eliminates financial risks allowing bootstrapped yet creative entrepreneurs turn existing digital design talents, licensing opportunities or hobbies into standalone product lines promoted for passive income levels at meaningful scale.
7. Resale Ecommerce Businesses
Resale based online stores remain massively profitable if sourcing strategy nails down reliably obtaining discounted products in-demand shoppers seek and solid margins exist reselling items after verifying market prices.
Thrift store items resold on eBay. Clearance electronics and toys resold on Amazon. Sports memorabilia bought at auctions for fans. Closeout apparel and footwear resold into streetwear niche. Trading cards and collectibles resold to enthusiasts. Returns pallets from big box stores.
- Access To Heavily Discounted Inventory
- Online Sales Channels
- Shipping & Logistics Processes
Full-time sellers regularily gross over $5000+ in net margins monthly focusing efforts on bestselling evergreen generalized or niche categories shoppers buy allowing significant resale businesses to develop flipping products for 2-4X returns.
- Attempting To Compete As Undifferentiated Generalist
- No Strategy Behind Acquiring Inventory
- Excess Item Condition Misrepresentations
eBay, Amazon FBA, Shopify, Square, Etsy, PayPal, USPS, Thermal Printers, Accounting Software, Inventory Management Systems, Sourcing Tools.
If your superpower lies in finding discounted offers faster, niche items overlooked by masses or inspecting returns for resale potential – ample infrastructures exist to scale online stores earning sizable margins today.
8. Dropshipping Businesses
Dropshipping enables entrepreneurs to run full-fledged online stores across popular ecommerce channels without holding or shipping actual products by instead sourcing goods from wholesalers who directly dispatch units to customers when purchases occur.
Pet toy niche web store ordering and customizing label branding but suppliers handle fulfillment direct to shoppers. Multichannel sporting goods shops with just digital presence dropshipping items from manufacturers to mass marketplaces enabling arbitrage income sans overheads and storage.
- High Intent Brandable Niches
- Contracted Dropship Wholesale Suppliers
- Tuned Targeting And UA Strategy
Attractively branded dropship stores in unsaturated verticals leveraging platforms like Shopify and effective influencer collaborations reach 6-figure years within 12-18 months benefiting from minimal operational frictions to scale growth faster. Top merchants break past 7-figures.
- Relying On Suppliers With Unreliable Delivery Times
- Picking Overly Competitive Niches
- Poor Checkout And Cart Abandonment Rates
Shopify, Oberlo, Spocket, AliExpress, US Suppliers Database, Google Trends, Facebook Ad Analysis Tools, HotJar, Privy.
By strategically identifying inelastic niche segments dropshipping via contracted suppliers owning logistics – location-independent ecommerce brands unlock global reach absent costly overheads.
9. Amazon FBA
A proven resale ecommerce model involves buying discounted clearance or wholesale items for selling on Amazon leveraging their Fulfilled By Amazon infrastructure handling product storage in warehouses and fast shipping for shoppers enabling impressive margins from volume throughput.
Sourcing generic commodities like phone accessories in demand with good sales velocity for reselling to mass market. Specialized category arbitrage flipping say gaming merch or fitness gear spotted below retail. Reselling discounted toys and baby supplies found anywhere locally. Selling and shipping arts, crafts or literary works produced through Amazon publisher services suite direct to buyers.
- High Intent Brandable Niches
- Contracted Dropship Wholesale Suppliers
- Tuned Targeting And UA Strategy
Attractively branded dropship stores in unsaturated verticals leveraging platforms like Shopify and effective influencer collaborations reach 6-figure years within 12-18 months benefiting from minimal operational frictions to scale growth faster. Top merchants break past 7-figures through optimizing replenishment automation.
- Account Suspensions From Policy Violations
- Inventory Damages Without Proper Prep
- Amazon Algorithm Changes Impacting Rankings
JungleScout, AMZScout, Helium10, Amazon Seller App, FeedbackWhiz, RevenueBot, Keepa, ZonBlast, Splitly, Feedback Genius, Fetcher.
FBA lowers operational effort through Amazon’s fulfillment backbone saving substantial logistics overheads allowing savvy pickers build volume reselling ecommerce brands today around in-demand manufacturer products.
10. Service Arbitrage Businesses
Service arbitrage involves identifying popular highly demanded services, purchasing them wholesale from gig economy freelancers compared to typical retail rates charged to end clients allowing sizable profit margins from bridging the gap while focusing purely on sourcing and sales.
Offering done-for-you business plan development services by outsourcing projects to finance professionals on Upwork purchased at 25% to later sell completed plans at 100% margins to startups willing to pay 4X for the convenience. Similarly building link packages, web scrapers, explainer animated videos or outsourcing contracts using arbitraged talent pools.
- Identify In-Demand Outsourced Services
- Reliable Freelancers Suppliers Pipeline
- Sales And Client Service Handling
Mid-five figure monthly net profit service agencies possible when optimizing arbitrage models, service pricing and focusing sales on highest willing-to-pay customers first with outsourced delivery scaled through contractor training and management.
- Quality Control Around Outsourced Delivery Inconsistency
- Margin Erosion Issues Over Time
- Team Communication Breakdowns Impacting Client Experience
Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, Guru, PeoplePerHour, LinkedIn, Alignable, Facebook Groups, Slack, Airtable, Pipedrive, Calendly, HelpScout.
Web platforms and breadths of skilled talent pools digitally reachable today enable lean entrepreneurs to coordinate specialized services at wholesale costs delivered by dedicated partners pocketing wide profit spreads.
11. App Development Businesses
With over 5 billion smartphone users globally, building mobile or web apps fulfilling consumer or commercial needs presents sizable audience opportunities for user-friendly utility solutions underpinned by the relentless rise of daily digital lifestyles.
Gamified language learning apps leveraging subscription monetization exceeding minimum viable utility levels. Fitness training and dieting apps with personalized program generation. Mobile expense reporting and invoices processing improving daily business workflows. Custom social community apps aligned with niche superfans wants. Hyperlocal services discovery and requests based solutions.
- Identifying Underserved Needs Or Utility Gaps
- Validated App Creation Through MVP Testing
- Go-To Market App Store Optimization
By directly serving consumers, B2C app income potential through user base monetization at just $1 per download or $5 monthly subscriptions aggregated across modest engagement of 25,000+ MAUs enables multiple six figure revenue app development businesses.
- Prioritizing Engineering Over Marketing Distribution
- Attempting Cluttered Multi-Feature Bloatware Early
- Not Appreciating True Addressable Market Size Realistically Early
Bubble, AppMaster, Thunkable, PhoneGap, React Native, Xamarin, Android Studio, Xcode, iTunes Connect, Google Play Console, App Figures, App Annie, Apptweak, SensorTower.
As mobile continues influencing wider aspects of consumer journeys the still early app ecosystem lifecycle offers underappreciated opportunities for founders taking simple utility solutions to market fitfully.
12. Micro SaaS App Development
An emerging digital sub-sector gaining notice involves developing micro-SaaS web apps solving very specific small business problems paying a few hundred dollars monthly for the automation or productivity boost justifying spends against direct operational ROIs achievable.