I have been working exclusively online, primarily as a small business owner and freelancer for close on seven years now. I have also telecommuted as a web developer in a full-time position (I worked from the comfort of my own bedroom).
While the internet is rife with “home based business” plans promising thousands, if not millions in returns with little effort required, these are nothing but scams. This leads people to think that you cannot really run a business solely on the internet. The truth is, you can start an online business and profit, no matter which walk of life you are coming from; it just takes time, effort and an open mind to learning new things.
Here are some genuine business ideas that you can start. Bare in mind that some of these will have a learning curve, but there is nothing here that you cannot first learn how to do using the internet as your resource.
#1 Jewellery and Craft Creator
The internet is has a tonne of resources on jewellery and art creation. Youtube, for instance, has thousands of video tutorials detailing how to create jewellery items using affordable materials such as wire and beads.
My mother is actually doing this herself and has close on R15 000 worth of quality jewellery stock ready to be sold. Sites such as Etsy.com are great platforms and resources for this line of work. You don’t need to sit in the sun at flea markets to sell crafts, you can do it all from home.
#2 Specialist Freelancer
This works best for anyone currently in a professional position, such as a lawyer, accountant or programmer. Sites such as Upwork.com and Freelancer.com provide platforms where you can search through hundereds of people looking for skilled work to be completed. You then bid on jobs and get paid once the work is complete. These sites usually use an escrow system for payment, so you are protected from not getting paid once the job is complete.
You can also create your own website to market your services and provide them without using a middleman, invoicing your clients directly.
I personally have used both approaches and continue to do so, while also building my own product offerings on the side.
#3 Specialized eCommerce Store
There are many people, such as myself, that prefer to shop online for just about anything. I have bought books, health supplements, computers, phones, clothes and even an engagement and wedding ring. Few of these purchases were from large online retailers, but rather smaller online stores.
I suggest researching for products that aren’t adequately covered by existing online store, such as gardening equipment. You can then search the internet or yellow pages for a supplier. You will need to have some capital to purchase an initial stock. You can start with a smaller range of products and work your way up as you make more sales.
#4 Blogger, writer and affiliate marketer
I left this one for last, as it is the most overdone online business venture due to its low entry barrier in terms of skill. The idea is to create niche sites that interest you and write articles on those topics. You can then display ads on your site using Google Adsense and enroll in affiliate programs to generate revenue.
While I do think this is actually a hard market to break into due to the abundance of skilled writers and bloggers, it has nearly zero startup costs and you can start right now without quiting your day job just yet. You will need to work hard to perfect your writing and learn about Search Engine Optimization in order to gain lots of visitors.
The point I am trying to drive home with this article, is that just about anything that involves money can be done online, from home. You only need to open your mind to doing things in new ways, where you will likely not be meeting people face-to-face, but rather doing things through a lot of textual communication and skype voice calls.
With that, I highly suggest that you continue to research online business ventures to find an avenue that seems appealing and exciting for you.