Are you looking for online business ideas without investment?
There are a plethora of businesses you can start online and make profits. Thanks to the Internet that has given us so many opportunities.
Unlike a brick and mortar business, you don’t need a lot of investment upfront to start an online business. In fact, there are so many online business ideas that require zero investment.
So if you’re someone who is looking to start an online business with zero or less investment, this post is exclusively for you.
Here’s what you’ll learn;
- 11 of the most practical business ideas that you can implement online
- Tips and strategies to make profits from those businesses and
- Some practical examples along the way
So are you ready to find out the zero investment business ideas? Let’s get started.
Top 11 Online Business Ideas Without Investment To Try In 2021
1. Start A Blog
There’s a reason why we put starting a blog #1 in the list of best online business ideas. The reason is this: it’s the BEST way to create a brand and make profits online.
Although you can start a blog for free, we don’t recommend that. If you’re starting a blog as a business, you need to invest in the essential things like;
- Domain name
- Web hosting
- Few tools such as email marketing, SEO tools etc
Let’s break down the above things so you’ll know how much investment you need to start a blog.
- Domain name (cost $10 to $15 a year)
- Web hosting (shared hosting plans usually cost you under $70 per year)
- Tools (depending on your budget, they can go from $10/mo to $100/mo or even more)
In fact, I’m a live example as I’m a full-time blogger who is earning more than $10K per month from this blog Bloggers Passion. You can read my Bloggers Passion journey where you can find all the details.
Here’s the earning report of Bloggers Passion for the year 2019-20
Within 10 years of my blogging journey, I went from $0 to earning $10,000+ each month.
Thanks to blogging. Even you can do the same if you are consistent enough and looking to build a successful blog in the long run.
So how to start a blog that actually makes profits for you in the long run?
Here are some useful tips that helped me build a profitable blog which earns $10K+ each month.
- Pick a niche (your blogging success mostly depends on your niche so make sure to pick a niche that’s both profitable and evergreen)
- Choose your monetization strategy (find out how you’re going to make money from your blog and try to use passive income sources like selling your own products, affiliate marketing etc as they help you make money even while you sleep)
- Create great content (you can’t build a successful blog without creating great content so learn how to create great content that’s helpful for your target audience)
- Learn and implement SEO (SEO is the key to building a money-making blog so learn how to do keyword research, find better content ideas, build backlinks etc)
2. Create A YouTube Channel
Are you looking for a profitable online business idea without investment? Start a YouTube channel.
All you need is a free Gmail account to get started. There are millions of people launching new YouTube channels and killing it with their subscribers, views and profits.
Did you know that an 8 year old kid Ryan Kaji is last year’s top YouTube earner with $26 million? He’s one of the highest YouTube earners according to Forbes.
That’s a ton of money, right? Do you know what he does on YouTube to earn such an insane amount of money? He reviews toys and does experiments with them.
Sounds crazy, right?
Not just Ryan Kaji but there are so many other YouTubers who are earning huge money with YouTube. You can read our detailed post on how much top YouTubers earn to find a lot more interesting details.
The key here is to find the RIGHT monetization strategy if you want to make more profits with YouTube in 2021 and beyond.
Although there are a gazillion ways to make money from a YouTube channel but let’s discuss the most preferred ways for beginners.
AdSense: One of the widely used monetization strategies for YouTube is to use AdSense ads. But you can’t show these ads right from day one. Why? Because your YouTube channel needs at least 4000 watch hours in the last 1 year along with 1000 subscribers.
Once you hit those numbers on your channel, you can start showing AdSense ads and your earnings depends on various things such as;
- Cost per view (CPV): In this type of ads, you get paid for views and a view for an advertiser means someone watches ads for more than 30 seconds.
- Cost per click (CPC): In this type of ads, an advertiser pays you money based on the number of clicks.
- Your subscribers (including their country of watching)
- And several other things
Sell your own stuff: This is the BEST monetization strategy for YouTube. You don’t need to rely on AdSense anymore as you can sell your own products. You can sell anything that’s related to your channel including;
- Online courses
Brand collaborations: Another popular monetization strategy used by most YouTubers is to collaborate with others including brands, people, software companies etc. A brand collaboration is a strategic partnership between a brand and you where you promote their products or services in exchange of money.
You can use influencer marketing platforms like FameBit which gives you access to over 400 active sponsorship opportunities worldwide.
3. Start Dropshipping
Dropshipping is a booming online business. If done right, it can be the most profitable online business idea that needs minimal investment upfront with high profit margins.
Dropshipping is all about selling products to your customers without actually storing the inventory of items by yourself.
That means, when a dropshipping store sells any product, it purchases the item from a 3rd party and ships the item directly to the customer.
To put it simply, dropshipping is all about “buy a product, store it, pack it and ship it”.
The good thing about dropshipping is when you find a product to buy from a third party vendor, you don’t even need to store, pack and ship it as the third party supplier does all those things.
The reason to start dropshipping as an online business is because it involves less risk as you’re not creating any product by yourself.
That way, you can not only make money selling useful products but you can also validate ideas to sell profitable items for more profits in the long run.
There are a ton of people using marketplaces like AliExpress to start dropshipping as a profitable online business.
If you’re looking to start dropshipping as a business, you should definitely check out AliExpress as it makes it easy to find products to sell on your store without having to worry about inventory or shipping.
Did you know that you can earn up to 2000% profit with AliExpress dropshipping business?
In fact, they offer an exclusive market platform called AliDropship to sell products.
Here’s how the dropshipping at AliExpress works;
- Add the products you would like to sell from AliExpress onto your store
- Set a price with markup, and whenever you receive an order, you pay for that product at wholesale cost
- Finally, AliExpress seller ships the orders directly to your customers
That being said, here are some of the practical ways to get more out of dropshipping business.
Free shipping products: No matter what platform you’re using (such as AliExpress), you should find products with free shipping. If you’re targeting an international audience, it’s the best way to make more profits. Otherwise, you’ll have to bear the shipping costs or you’ll have to increase your product prices.
Find products with more orders: If you’re just getting started with dropshipping business, it’s always a better idea to find products that are already selling like hot cakes. Try to find products with at least 500 or more orders. Also keep an eye on the average product ratings from customers so you’ll know whether they are worth selling.
Find low price and high profit products: This is the KEY to making more profits with dropshipping: always find products with high profit margins. For instance, you can find $20 worth shoes and sell them later for $50, which gives you a solid 60% profit margin before accounting for your marketing costs.
4. Sell eBooks
Did you know that we generated over 250 sales within the first 20 days after launching our first ever premium eBook?
Here’s an earning screenshot which is taken from Instamojo (payment gateway) where you can see the transactions.
If you’re looking to create a passive income source online, selling eBooks can be a great idea. Are people still paying for premium eBooks?
Of course, yes. In fact, 38% of daily sales of ebooks on Amazon go to self-published titles. People are spending millions of dollars every year on purchasing eBooks.
So yes, if you’ve some expertise in any field, you can start creating useful eBooks to sell.
Here are some useful tips for you if you want to make money online by selling eBooks.
Research your popular topics: If you want to create and sell an eBook, you should find topics that are performing well in your niche. If you already have a blog or website, go to Google Analytics to find which topics are generating you the most traffic. That way, you can easily validate eBook ideas.
Or you can also use blogging forums, Facebook groups, Twitter chats, your email lists etc to take surveys and ask others what type of premium eBooks they are looking to buy. You can also use popular platforms like Amazon Kindle, Udemy etc to skim through the popular eBooks and courses in your niche.
Write or outsource: You can either create your own eBook from scratch (it takes time but if you don’t have any budget, it’s the only thing you can do!) or you can outsource the writing part to others. Make sure to spend some money on the writing part so you get what you give!
Sell directly: Instead of selling your eBooks on other platforms such as Amazon Kindle, you should sell your eBooks directly from your website. There are a ton of platforms such as Gumroad, Shopify, WooCommerce etc that allow you to easily sell your eBooks directly from your website.
Useful resources: We’ve published two in-depth guides around eBooks publishing.
5. Create And Sell Online Courses
Did you know that Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income earned over 1 million dollars in revenue from online courses alone (in 2017)? Ever since his earnings are only growing year after year.
If you want to build an online business that grows every year, creating and selling online courses is the best thing to do.
The best part about creating online courses is that they give you an opportunity to teach what you know and make profits at the same time.
But here’s the thing: you need to make a solid investment in time and effort upfront. Your premium courses should be worth every single penny. Only then, you’ll be able to build a solid passive income stream.
So if you want to build an online business around creating online courses, here are some useful tips for you.
Sell the outcome instead of features: One of the key things to remember while creating an online course is to sell the outcome, don’t focus on the features.
For instance, Pat Flynn’s Power-Up Podcasting course teaches his audience how to launch, market and maintain a successful podcast.
So make sure to focus on what your target audiences are going to achieve once they finish your online course. That’s how you build successful online courses that actually sell.
Validate first: You must validate your idea first. Don’t waste any time creating an online course unless you have a solid email list ready to buy it.
You can use Facebook ads, take surveys or your blog posts to see what your audience actually wants. Launch your online courses when they start asking for them.
Take action, don’t wait: Most people procrastinate. They wait for the perfect time to launch their online courses. They consume a lot of information about creating and selling their online courses. Stop doing it and start taking action. Come up with an idea, test the idea, and just launch!
6. Offer SEO Consulting
Offering SEO consulting and building an online business around it can be profitable.
Did you know that SEO is an 80 billion dollar industry? The whole Internet world revolves around search engine optimization as everyone wants more traffic, leads and sales.
What do most SEO consultants do?
An SEO consultant job is to analyze, review and improve websites in order to improve their search engine rankings. Their job also includes several things such as;
If you are looking to build an online business around SEO, check out this amazing guide from Kaiser The Sage where you can find plenty of useful details.
Here are top 3 ways to get more customers to your SEO consulting business.
- Speak at conferences (attend local events and seminars)
- Start blogging (as it’s the #1 way to get customers from online)
- Help out brands, bloggers and companies (help out for free in the beginning and charge as you start building a solid portfolio)
Useful resources around SEO: Here are some highly useful SEO resources that you can go through to hone your SEO consulting skills.
- Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO (highly recommended resource for every SEO enthusiast)
- Ahrefs Academy (if you want to know how to grow your blog past 100K monthly visitors, this free resource is a great choice for you)
- Backlinko’s How to Learn SEO In 2021 (if you’re a beginner and looking to learn SEO fast, you should definitely check this out)
7. Make Money Through Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is probably the best online business idea to make passive income online.
It might take some time to build a solid foundation but once you lay a foundation, you’ll make a ton of money.
Starting an online business around affiliate marketing can be cheap too. All you need is to pay for web hosting, some SEO tools and you’re good to go!
Did you know that we made over $250,000 selling one affiliate product? Have a look at the earning screenshot.
That’s a solid number, right?
Affiliate marketing works like a charm.
Now if you’re curious about how you can use affiliate marketing to make thousands of dollars in passive income, here are few excellent tips for you.
- Build trust (trust is the most important factor when it comes to affiliate marketing, so find ways to build trust or forget about it!)
- Establish yourself as an expert in your niche (people buy from experts, not strangers)
- Learn how to sell online (without sounding like a sales guy)
8. Start A Digital Marketing Agency
Starting a digital marketing agency looks similar to starting a website on your own. Yes, a marketing agency also needs a website but it offers various services.
So the investment needed to start your own online marketing agency depends on various factors including;
- Website setup cost (such as a domain, hosting, email marketing etc)
- SEO tools (you need all in one SEO tools like Semrush to grow your business)
- A team (which typically consists of writers, designers etc who can take care of your projects)
If you don’t have a huge investment, that’s okay as you can start small.
Start a website, offer one or two services, hire someone to do the job for you. Once you start delivering amazing work to your clients, you can increase the price or ask them for referrals.
Once your marketing agency starts growing, you can start hiring more people and build a solid team who can finish more projects for you. That way, not only you’ll be able to make more money but you can actually help others to earn a decent income every month.
There are a ton of companies, brands and startups investing a lot of money on digital marketing services including;
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Social Media Optimization (SMO)
- Content Marketing
- Guest Blogging
- Site Audits
- Website Design
- Email Marketing
- Conversion Optimization
- App Store Optimization
- Paid Ads (PPC)
If you can provide any (or all the above) services by launching a digital marketing agency, you can attract a wide range of clients worldwide to make consistent profits every month.
You can charge $5000 per month for your services from each client. The money you make from your digital agency depends on what services you’re providing and what ROI you’re bringing to the table.
We have created an in-depth guide around launching a successful digital marketing agency from scratch. Make sure to check it out to know more details around it.
9. Become A Udemy Instructor
Teaching online is always a great way to make money. If you’re looking to start an online business with zero investment, you should try selling courses on Udemy.
Udemy is an online learning platform that has more than 30 million students and 42,000 instructors teaching courses in over 65 languages.
Did you know that there are currently over 100,000 courses and 30 million students with over 190 million course enrollments?
Yes, Udemy is such a huge online learning platform which can be used as a great platform to earn money by becoming an instructor. Udemy is definitely one of the best zero investment business ideas you can try in 2021.
Here’s a solid plan to create an online business around Udemy to make more profits.
- Choose and validate a topic (this step is extremely important and make sure to evaluate the competition to find course ideas that are worth paying for)
- Know Udemy requirements (you can read this page to learn how to become an instructor on Udemy and know their course requirements)
- Learn how to create Udemy courses (make sure to analyse popular selling courses in your area of interest for course creation)
- Make useful video tutorials (almost all the trending Udemy courses include a ton of video tutorials, so you should include them too)
- Creating your sales funnel (you can use email lists, offer freebies, use your website or social media to drive traffic to your Udemy courses)
10. Become Social Media Manager
Did you know that many social media managers who are new to the field charge around $20 to $30 an hour to start, typically between 10 or 20 hours per month per client.
So even if you’re spending 2 hours a day per client, you can easily earn around $600 to $1000 a month. That’s just from one client!
If you’re planning to start an online business that deals with social media management, you can hire more people to do the work for you. Your job is to find prospects who are interested in your social media services.
What are the things to do as a social media manager?
Here are some of the regular tasks you will handle;
- Managing social media profiles of brands or companies that you’re working with (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc)
- Responding to the comments
- Managing content and posting something regularly on social profiles
In a nutshell, a social media manager is responsible for managing all the social media profiles, creating regular content and growing presence on social platforms.
How to find new prospects as a social media manager?
You can use platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, LinkedIn etc to find prospects who need social media services such as managing social profiles, replying to comments etc.
Apart from that, we HIGHLY recommend you to create a list of 50 to 100 full-time bloggers or social media influencers across various niches. You can use Twitter, Google search, blogger roundup posts etc to filter the full-time bloggers.
Then, find a list of a couple of people or brands whose social media strategy looks bad to you (or social media engagement is weak).
Then, you can outreach to those bloggers offering your services for free at first. That way you can build a solid portfolio which you can use to attract more clients in the long run.
11. Become a VA (Virtual Assistant)
Did you know that you can set up your own VA business online by just starting a website?
Yes, it just costs you the hosting fee and domain costs to create a website and you can start offering VA (virtual assistant) related stuff to your customers.
The fun part is, you don’t have to be an expert to become a virtual assistant. You can offer a wide range of services ranging from;
- Posting frequently on social media sites (like Twitter, Facebook etc)
- Uploading videos on YouTube
- Optimizing images
- Setting up WordPress sites
- Managing emails
- Uploading new blog posts on WordPress sites
- Commenting on other sites
- And the list goes on
All the above tasks can be done by almost anyone who knows how to operate a laptop, so you don’t need any special skills.
You just need to find a team of 3 to 5 (more or less depending on the tasks) people who can take care of your virtual assistance business.
You’ll have to reach out to agencies, brands and full-time bloggers (or marketers) who are looking to outsource small tasks like blog post publishing, editing, managing emails, social media etc.
So where to find work for your VA (virtual assistance) agency?
If you want to find work as a VA, you can use the following platforms online.
- VA Networking (It is the largest network online for VAs and also the market leader in the Virtual Assistant Industry since 2003 where you can find a ton of VA jobs)
- Upwork (UpWork is a huge platform with millions of jobs posted annually and freelancers are earning money by offering over 5,000 skills)
- PeoplePerHour (PeoplePerHour is another popular platform for freelancers which was started in 2007 and they have huge network access as around 1 million businesses are using their platform)
- Zirtual (This is another specific platform for virtual assistants for entrepreneurs, professionals and small teams)
- Remote.co (Another fantastic platform where you can find remote jobs including the best virtual assistant jobs)
1. How can I start a business with zero investment?
There are lots of businesses you can start with zero investment such as a YouTube channel, Dropshipping, Freelancing, selling eBooks, online courses, etc.
2. What are the top 10 online businesses?
Blogging, YouTube Channel, Dropshipping, Selling eBooks, Online Courses, SEO Consulting Services, Affiliate Marketing, Digital Marketing Agency, Become Social Media Manager, Become a VA (Virtual Assistant), are some of best online business you can start.
3. What business can I start from home?
Most of the online businesses like Blogging, YouTubing, Freelancing, Dropshipping, etc., you can start from home with minimal investment.
4. How much does it cost to create a blog website?
To create a blog website you will need around $50/year with a self-hosted platform like WordPress.
5. How to make money blogging?
Advertisements, Affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, selling eBooks, online courses, offering consulting services are some of the best ways to make money blogging.
Final thoughts on best online business ideas without investment
From starting a blog to teaching online, there are plenty of online business ideas that require zero or minimal investment.
You just need to find one idea and start working on it. Don’t wait for the perfect time, start today!
So what do you think about the online business models which are listed on this page? Which one are you going to pick? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Anil Agarwal who owns Bloggerspassion.com, is a full-time blogger and SEO expert who has been helping people build profitable blogs for over a decade. Bloggers Passion has been featured on premium online sites like Forbes.com, Huffingtonpost, Semrush, Problogger, Crazy Egg, The Next Web and so on.