Starting an online business is appealing for many reasons - from being your own boss to controlling cash flow, it seems like an ideal situation. And while it does takes a lot of initial effort to build up your reputation through marketing, referrals, and word-of-mouth, the end result is worth every minute spent.
And thus, once you have established yourself, you can maintain your business as a profitable part-time addition to your regular job, or build it up into a full-time career. The choice is yours.
Consider these six businesses that you can start and run entirely over the internet.
You don't have to go in to an office in order to be an office assistant. You can work for one or more small businesses who want to outsource tasks that detract from their core activities, like office work.
Virtual assistants can remotely perform a wide variety of office tasks over the phone and computer, like answering phones, responding to emails, maintaining databases, making appointments, and coordinating travel arrangements.
- Tip: Many businesses are looking for someone with actual office experience; be sure this comes through your resume.
Just as many businesses want to outsource tedious or distracting office tasks, they may also need to source someone to perform online research -- the kind that can't be completed through a simple Google search.
For example, an online retailer may ask you to research and compare the product pricing of their three closest competitors and present that information in a spreadsheet or graph. As an online researcher, you can make a business out of finding information for companies, bloggers, writers, and more.
- Tip: If you have experience researching particular subjects or niches, this is likely where you want to start.
Do you have education or experience that makes you a potential authority in your field? You can leverage your training, work history, and core competencies to establish yourself as a professional blogger.
By writing interesting and informative blog posts, you can write posts for established blogs and charge a flat per-piece fee. Or you can create your own blog on which to publish articles. Building a following and monetizing your own blog takes more time, but enables you to keep complete control over your writing and content.
- Tip: You can take this outside the online world and start speaking at conferences and events.
When you buy a domain name at a low cost -- often just $10 -- you can then resell the name at a higher price when it comes into demand. To increase your profits, you can add value to the domains you acquire.
Use SEO to increase the domain's search rankings, active subscriber base, and monthly income. When a buyer comes along for that name, the value you've attached to the domain will be reflected in the final purchase price -- potentially hundreds or thousands of dollars.
- Tip: This would be ideal for an SEO marketer -- you need to build value in the domain, and having those skills is necessary.
Social Media Consultant
More and more customers are reaching out to businesses through social media, but many businesses don't have the time or knowledge to effectively engage them. According to a report by Bain & Company, customers who engage with companies over social media spend 20% to 40% more money with those companies than other customers.
As a social media consultant, you can help businesses promote their brand on social media. This includes posting engaging content, working to increase follows, monitoring the business's social accounts for comments and complaints, and providing appropriate customer service as needed.
- Tip: There are few college students coming out of school with a degree in this field, giving you a leg up if you have experience.
The online store has become the mainstay of internet-based businesses. You can build your own ecommerce website, or take advantage of retail platforms like Ebay, Amazon, or Etsy in order to sell products. The key to a successful online store? Differentiate yourself from your competitors, find your niche, and market extensively within that niche.
- Tip: Be sure you have knowledge in marketing; that is critical for the success of an online store.
Whether you're looking for freelance work or building an online presence, starting an online business is a great way to boost your income, get you through a period of unemployment, or help you take your first step on the road to entrepreneurship.