If a nine-to-five office job is not for you, an online business of your own may be just what you need. Starting a business can be exciting, and it can pay off, but you need to invest time, effort, and money.
However, you may not need as much money as you might think. These online business ideas allow you to focus less on upfront investments and logistics and more on building a business.
1. Affiliate Marketing
Many online business trends come and go, but affiliate marketing is here to stay. It is one of the most straightforward ways of making money online.
The principle is simple—as an affiliate marketer, your job is to recommend services or products of other businesses to your target audience. When you make a successful referral, you earn a commission. The products you recommend could be anything from cosmetics to software.
Sometimes the shopper you’ve referred to your partner doesn’t even have to make a purchase for you to earn a commission. The qualified action can be a simple sign up for a free trial.
You don’t have to have lots of money to get started. Most affiliate vendors are free to join and the barrier to entry is usually minimal. Amazon’s affiliate program and ShareASale are some of the best and most popular options.
To become an affiliate marketer, you need to have a platform of your own. Most affiliate marketers use websites and vlogs to recommend products. Depending on the vendor you partner up with, you may even be able to use an email list.
The key is to build your target audience. You need to be a reliable source of information to your site visitors if you want them to purchase products and services via your links.
You can gain the trust of your audience by offering honest reviews and product recommendations. Affiliate marketing is different from traditional marketing models, so you don’t have to come at your audience with a sales pitch.
Opening up a retail store is a great idea, but you need to invest money into buying and managing inventory. It requires a lot of time and effort, on top of being a large financial commitment. If you are starting a business on the side, this is probably not something you can dedicate yourself to.
The best way to forego obstacles that come with brick and mortar shops is to start an online business, and dropshipping is a perfect example of that. Dropshipping doesn’t require you to sort out shipping, pay for packaging, and budget for warehousing.
Dropshipping is an order fulfillment model where a merchant (online seller) uses a third-party product supplier, such as a wholesaler or manufacturer. So, if you decide to go the dropshipping route, the product supplier will store and ship the product instead of you.
But, even though the supplier is the one who stores and ships your products to your customers, the customers are buying the merchandise from you, and it appears like the orders are coming directly from your shop.
Since you don’t have a warehouse and a brick and mortar store, your site is your shop. Shoppers make an order on your site, you pass on the info to your third-party supplier, and the rest is their responsibility.
You can easily sell a variety of products from multiple sellers since you don’t have to physically handle the order. However, billing, marketing, customer service, and everything else is still your responsibility. And, since you won’t have a physical store, you will have to invest a lot of effort into building an online presence.
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Similarly to dropshipping, this business model involves a third-party supplier. Your business will rely on them to handle order fulfillment, shipping, and inventory.
However, unlike dropshipping, you decide how the products will look like. Custom designs are what make print-on-demand a great business model for artsy individuals. Popular print-on-demand products include:
- Tote bags
- Phone cases
No matter which of these items you want to customize, chances are you’ll quickly find the right print-on supplier for your business. Even if creating interesting designs and artwork is not your thing, you can still profit from this business model—provided that you have a clear idea of what you are going for.
You can commission creatives or artists to do the designing for you. Freelance sites such as 99Designs, Dribbble, Upwork and Fiverr are great places where you can find talented artists. You will likely find someone who can produce high-quality designs for a more-than-reasonable price.
However, do know that making orders in bulk is unlikely to be an option since most print-on-demand services require customers to pay per unit.
While there isn’t as much room for markups as there is with dropshipping, there are still no upfront costs when it comes to inventory. Moreover, you don’t have to pay for an item if it doesn’t sell.
For seamless order fulfillment, Shopify allows you to integrate your store with a variety of print-on-demand services. To save money on photoshoots, you can use t-shirt mockup templates. If you have an eye for cool designs, this may be the best low investment business idea for you.
Author Bio: Michael Deane
Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit.