Technology and the internet has changed our lives in many ways. One of its biggest impacts has been in terms of opening up new ways to earn money on internet.
Gone are the day when doing a 9-5 job or running a brick-and-mortar business were the only two options available to most people to earn a living.
These days there are several options for starting an online business, which if executed well can generate a handsome income and fast track your financial independence.
While there is no one-size-fits-all route to starting an online venture, I have listed below the 7 basic rules followed by most successful online businesses.
How to Start an Online Business in 7 Easy Steps
- Identify a need and provide a viable solution to fill it.
- Design and build an attractive but easy-to-use website.
- Write compelling copy that attracts potential customers/buyers.
- Leverage popular search engines & SM platforms to drive traffic to your site.
- Work on establishing an expert reputation for yourself.
- Regularly follow up with your customers and subscribers via email.
- Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling.
Now that you know the guiding principles behind the setting up of any successful online business, it’s time to decide on the nature of your online business.
Admittedly with the sheer number of options available today, the choice can get pretty difficult – but the best approach would be to first identify your core strengths and then to weave your business idea around it.
For example, if you love writing you could try your hand at blogging or freelance writing online. If technology is your forte then you have options like website/app development.
If you follow a healthy lifestyle and flaunt a fit body you can try starting on online fitness coaching venture, similarly if you possess great people skills starting an online education/career guidance consultancy seems like a good option.
In a nutshell, there is something for everyone when it comes to kick starting an online venture or business.
But if you are still confused take a look at the 25 best online business ideas that I have hand-picked below. If you find something you like or your good at – just go ahead with it.
25 Successful Online Business Ideas
Are you a talented writer with some expertise/experience in a niche domain (finance, technology, business, investment, cooking etc.)?
If yes, blogging can be great medium for you not only to share your experiences online but also make money from it using proven methods like Google AdSense, affiliate marketing and paid advertising.
The amount of money you make is directly proportional to the amount of work you put in.
There are some bloggers who work sparingly and make just enough cash to meet their living expenses, while others have made it their full time occupation and earn a handsome living.
2. Language Translation
If you have a flair for languages, starting a language translation business online is another option you could look at. You could start by browsing online platforms like Fiverr or Upwork for assignments.
Once you have built up your confidence and a portfolio of work, contacting popular bloggers directly to check if they would like to have their blog – translated into another language – is one way to do it and make good money with your linguistic talents.
3. Online Store
The e-commerce sector is booming in India and you could be a part of it. Now you have two options here.
You could choose to start selling online on popular marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, ShopClues, Paytm or opt to open your very own e-store online.
In the first option, you just have to upload your products and the websites will take care of the rest – for a hefty commission of course.
If you decide to open your own online store, you get to create your own brand and you will be responsible for everything from inventory, marketing to end user experience.
If that sounds like a bit much you could use online platforms like Shopify to help you set up your own store online.
4. Data Analyst Consultant
Do you have strong background in subjects like mathematics, economics and/or finance? If yes, then this could be a great online business option for you.
In the digital age, companies and large corporation are increasingly on the lookout for professionals who can analyze large chunks of big data for them. This is where you come in.
As a big data consultant you will help them decode tons of data to reveal crucial information about buyer behavior, spending habits, geographical preferences and more, which they incorporate into fine tuning their business strategies.
And given the fact that the supply has just not been able to keep pace with the demand for data analysts in India, you should be able to make enough money to lead a fairly extravagant lifestyle by providing your services to a large corporation.
5. Digital Marketing
Digital marketing involves the marketing of various products or services using digital technologies on the internet and digital platforms. If it’s something that you have done or at good at, you may be holding the key to a potential money-spinner here.
While large companies already have dedicated teams to take care of their digital marketing needs or outsource it to external agencies, smaller companies and old school businesses most often don’t enjoy the same luxury.
By outsourcing their digital marketing requirements to you, they can save on costs and be assured of competing on an equal digital platform with their larger rivals, while you get to handpick your clients and make some serious money as a DM consultant.
6. Image Consultant
In today’s competitive world projecting the right image is everything for professionals, celebrities and companies alike. Which is why they are ready to fork out big bucks to hire someone with a proven track record at image management.
If you have already worked in the PR and/or celebrity management industry before, it shouldn’t be difficult for you drop a few famous names and flaunt your knowledge of that industry to impress potential clients.
The most in-demand image consultants are those with a proven success record and an updated, insider’s knowledge of the latest news and trends in that particular domain.
7. Bookkeeping Services
Meaning you enjoy the flexibility of working with clients virtually, minus the usual commuting hassles.
It’s a trend that is fast catching on in India with many companies seeking the services of virtual bookkeeping professionals to keep their accounts in order for a fixed fee.
It’s a great option for finance and accounting professionals feeling trapped in an office environment and longing to work on their own terms.
8. Freelance Writing
If you have a natural inclination and talent for writing, freelance writing could be your ticket to starting a freelance writing business online.
As a freelance writer you will be expected to deliver customized content ranging from blog posts and news articles to marketing-driven content that gets people to take some form of action.
As a role integral to a company’s digital marketing efforts, freelance writers with the ability to write quality, search engine optimized copy are in great demand today.
It’s not just a lucrative business idea but you also get to work remotely and help companies consolidate their market position.
Finding relevant freelance writing assignments is also not so difficult. You can start by registering on dedicated websites like;
9. SEO Expert
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a critical area for any business with an online presence. It involves using keywords in content which are in sync with the most-searched terms on popular search engines like Google.
Accordingly the website with the best SEO optimized content usually features among the first few pages of a related search conducted on a search engine.
While larger companies have the benefit of dedicated SEO teams which ensure their website stays atop search engine ranking parameters, most smaller outfits don’t or can’t afford this expense, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage vis-à-vis their bigger rivals.
As an SEO expert you could get in touch with such companies and offer your services as a SEO consultant to even the odds a little.
For companies this could be a great way to level the playing field while you make money and add more clients as you go along.
10. Start a YouTube Channel
Did you know that starting your own YouTube channel is an excellent online business idea which can make you rich?
All you need to do is launch a free video sharing channel using the YouTube Partner program. Next, shoot unique/creative videos on a topic or theme you are good at.
Lastly, follow this up with some strategic promotion on popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
If some of your videos goes viral or manages to garner the minimum number of subscribers, Google (it owns YouTube) will pay you to display ads in your video.
They may even flash ads on your channel and you stand to get paid every time one of your subscribers clicks on them.
In short the better your content, the more subscribers you will attract and the higher the subscribers the more you make from YouTube.
11. Personal Shopping Consultant
Are you a huge fan of online shopping, know all the latest fashion trends, colours and styles of the season. Can you tell the difference between a Versace and a Jimmy Choo?
Well if you do, you could easily start your own online business of being a personal shopper and make some good cash.
So what is a Personal Shopper exactly?
Well a Personal Shopper is a person who has a team of expert shoppers who shop on behalf of a client, who is too busy to do it himself.
Or alternately he/she shares their expert recommendations online on what the client should buy based on their specific requirements.
In return for your fashion sense and shopping expertise you could expect to be paid quite handsomely by your clutch of grateful clients.
12. Online Teaching/Tutoring
Unlike a regular teaching job, becoming an online teacher doesn’t need you to have a teaching degree or even teaching experience.
All you need to have is some degree of proficiency in any academic subjects (like Maths, English, Science, Hindi etc.), a laptop with a stable internet connection and a way with kids.
The timing can be pretty flexible too and the money is not bad either with some veteran online tutors charging upto $20 for a 40-minute online session.
You can begin by checking out some of the online tutoring sites mentioned below;
13. Business Tutoring
India sees a huge number of start-ups every year, but few survive the initial couple of years.
There are many reasons for this ranging from the lack of sufficient domain knowledge, financial mismanagement, wrong marketing strategies and not being able to gauge customer preferences.
If you are a senior industry professional with extensive skills/experience across any key business function you could capitalize on this trend by providing business tutoring – online.
Start-up founders and inexperienced business executives will benefit and readily pay for your rich expertise across a range of key functions including, sales & marketing, financial management, product management, human resource management and customer relations – done through video conferencing and tutorials.
14. Online Transcriptionist
Transcription involves converting audio files into text and has been around for many years. However recent years have witnessed a spike in demand for transcriptionists from rapidly mushrooming online transcription services.
What’s more it doesn’t require any formal experience besides a keen ear and an excellent typing speed.
Payments are usually based purely on the quality of your work and timely delivery. In other words the more files you can convert the more you stand to make.
15. Web Developer
In a world proliferated with websites, a web developer is a person of critical importance. It won’t be wrong to say that as long as there are websites being launched, the demand for a quality web developer will never cease.
A web developer is someone who knows how to design a website from scratch. But to make this online business work, you need to know coding which takes time and lots of hard work.
Any web developer who wants to get into the business of web development needs to be familiar with the latest technologies, supporting framework and design trends.
But if you’re ready to put in all the hard work needed – it can pay you quite well.
16. Fitness Instructor
Everybody wants a fit body and a healthy lifestyle but few people have the time it needs or the inclination to follow through. This is where you come in as the online fitness guide for people on the move.
You can begin by starting your own fitness channel on YouTube and uploading fitness videos regularly. These could range from exercises – beginner to expert level, diet tips, how to do a full workout in 10 minutes, do’s and don’ts of exercising and other fitness-related information.
Once your channel gains traction, you can sign up with the YouTube partner programme to earn from ads posted on your videos/channel, place paid ads from private companies and even start a by subscription only service for sharing exclusive content.
17. Mobile App Development
Let’s face it, a mobile phone without any of its entertainment and gaming apps is like a fish out of water.
Mobile apps are the single most important reason for the increasing popularity of mobile phones and people/companies are ready to part with good money for new ideas.
So if you happen to have a cool, fun idea for a new app and also know coding, you can create the app yourself.
Alternately if you just have an exciting idea, you can consider collaborating with software developers who are always on the lookout for the next big app idea for a phone or tablet.
In simple terms podcasting is the term used when distributing audio files using the internet. A podcast can be defined as an audio file (most often in MP3 format) that can be downloaded from the Internet.
Once downloaded it can be listened on any computer or portable device like an iPod or mobile phone.
Podcasting is still a relatively new concept in India. In 2006, there were only an estimated 3000 podcasters in the country. Hubhopper, available for both Android and iOS users, is India's largest podcast directory.
It was ranked number one nationally on both the Google PlayStore and the IOS app store and was also rated the 40th Best Social Platform globally on the Google Play Store.
Some of the other popular options in India’s podcasting domain that you can checkout include
Headfone– where users can record their voice to share stories or upload pre-recorded content to create a new podcast altogether.
Indus Vox Media– a podcasting company which produces a number of shows on topics ranging from pop culture to style and sports to public policy.
19. Technical Writing
Now this one is not to be confused with freelance writing mentioned earlier in this article. A freelance writer is mostly a creative writer who writes blog posts, news articles and other items for light conversational reading.
A technical writer on the other hand, requires a totally different set of skills. In addition to being a good writer you will need to have a strong technology/technical background to write specialized content like user manuals, presentations, company reports and trouble-shooting guides.
This business option offers the chance to make good money, since companies in technology, BFSI, manufacturing and engineering are always on the lookout for specialist technical writers who can service their custom content requirement.
20. Pick & Drop Services
A pick & drop service is basically an online platform which automatically pairs clients with suitable pickers who complete small errands for them – like delivering a package or picking up the groceries – for a fee.
All it takes is setting up a simple website, some smart promotions on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and you’re good to go. From this point on, it’s all about completing the client’s assignments as you receive them.
This can be easily accomplished by hiring a small team – preferably with two wheelers and GPS-enabled phones – who can be directed to complete the tasks, while you act as the central coordinator between the clients and your team.
21. Buy & Flip Websites
Did you know that at an average there are thousands of new websites added to the worldwide web on a daily basis. Now obviously, all of them don’t work (or make money) and a majority go defunct or are put up for sale in a matter of months or a few years.
Buying and flipping websites involves buying (loss-making websites for cheap) and reselling them for a nice profit after a bit of re-fixing and fine tuning. It’s like the online avatar of a realty agent who flips homes to book a tidy profit for himself.
You could begin with your own website (if it’s not working out) or somebody else’s – regardless it’s a great way to make good money online.
22. Resume/Cover Letter Writing
With more than 12 million Indians entering the workforce annually, as per government figures, there is never a dip in the supply of people on the lookout for quality employment in India.
In addition to the basic qualifications and work experience finding a job also mandates an updated Resume and a Cover Letter – written in formal yet impeccable English. Unfortunately fluency in English is not a given for many of the country’s job aspirants.
This is where you come in as a professional Resume/Cover Letter writer – assuming of course you have the required pedigree in the Queen’s language and are updated in the latest Resume styles/ formats – to get the job done.
Needless to add if you’re good at this you can expect a never-ending stream of clients knocking on your doors to get their professional Resumes authored by you – which also means a nice, steady source of income for you.
23. Career Consultant
Now since we are on the topic of jobs, this is another option that you can actively consider. Every year lakhs of students enroll in popular streams across colleges and universities in India.
While many have already charted out their career plans, there are perhaps an equal or greater number of students who are genuinely confused, anxious and depressed with a multitude of doubts and questions regarding their career choices.
As an online career consultant, you get to be their savior – in terms of helping them see issues in the right perspective, guiding them on how to make the right career choices and generally clearing all their doubts and questions with sound, unbiased advice.
But do remember as a career consultant you need to have the knowledge, skills and experience in career counselling, recruitment and best industry practices to make a success of this option.
24. Business Broker
This online business idea needs a person who has extensive corporate work experience and is fluent in his knowledge of the many rules and regulations that govern business practice in India.
If you do than you fit the bill of a business broker. So what exactly is a business broker? Well a business broker is a specialist sought by both – buyers and sellers – of privately held businesses to assist in the buying and selling process.
You will be conduit between both parties and ensure the transaction goes through smoothly, ironing out any differences (if any) tactfully along the way. In return for your professional services you can expect a handsome commission once the deal goes through.
25. Online Tech Support
If you are an IT expert looking to set up your own business online, this could be a very profitable option for you. Often called, remote IT support – online tech support services are more affordable than setting up a team in-house.
Online tech support providers are trained to handle a range of IT-related issues remotely – from computers, networking to security threats.
Using online tech support services, small and medium sized businesses can access the full range of IT support services without having to invest time and money in hiring one.
For a tech professional, this options has all the hallmarks of a lucrative long term business opportunity with an unlimited potential for growth – if handled correctly.
With the internet rapidly making inroads into homes and offices globally, it makes good business sense to start thinking in terms of starting an online business for yourself.
While some of the above-mentioned ideas may require specific skills or experience there are many others which require only a laptop and an internet connection.
The key however lies in making the right choice – one which is in sync with what YOU want to do and aligned with your professional skills and experience.
So think carefully before making your choice for online business idea but once you do, don’t look back.