10 Proven Online Businesses Anyone Can Start in 2021

If you’ve been trying to figure out how you can make some extra money online, then I’ve found some great tried and tested solutions. 

Maybe you want an escape plan from your 9-5 job or maybe you’re looking for a new side hustle. Either way, I’ve got you covered. Here are 10 proven online businesses that anyone can start in 2021. 

Don’t worry, taking surveys isn’t one of them (yup, I’m sick of hearing that one too). 

Just to let you know, this post may contain affiliate links (meaning if you buy from one of my links I make a little money at no extra cost to you). Find my full disclosure here.

The Rundown: 10 Proven Online Businesses Anyone Can Start in 2021

  1. Freelance Writing
  2. Start a Blog
  3. Start a Niche Website 
  4. Sell on Kindle
  5. Become a Digital Assistant 
  6. Start a Niche YouTube Channel
  7. Become an Influencer
  8. Start Dropshipping
  9. Start an Amazon FBA Business
  10. Start Day Trading 

10 Proven Online Businesses Anyone Can Start in 2021

1. Freelance Writing

Freelance writing is my favorite online business because that’s how I started making money online. Plus, you don’t have to have any experience or any money behind you to start a freelance writing business! 

💸 Start-Up Costs: None

😍 Earning Potential: £20,000 – £60,000 ($26,000 – $79,000)

⌚️Time Dedication: 4-5 Hours Per Day 

🏝Passive Income: ❌

If you’re looking for an online business that will start making you money immediately then freelance writing is definitely something to consider. Freelance writing was the first business I started!

It allowed me to quit my 9-5 job and start living the “laptop lifestyle” so I’m a huge fan. The best part about freelance writing is that anyone can start; you don’t have to be a great writer or anything like that!

Blogs are massive money makers for online companies but, let’s be honest, they take a lot of work to run. Most business owners prefer to outsource the time-consuming work to a freelance writer. So, it’s incredibly easy to find freelance writing work as long as you’re willing to put some effort in.

I’ve written a couple of blogs that teach you exactly how to get started as a freelance writer (even if you’ve got no experience), you can read them here! 

Pros
  • Make money instantly (within 24hrs)
  • No start-up costs
  • You don’t need a niche
  • Easy to get started 
  • High-income potential
Cons
  • You need to work full-time to make good money
  • No passive income 

2. Start a Blog

Starting your own blog is a tried and tested method for making money online (and yes, you can still make money from blogging in 2020). It takes a little hard work and effort but blogging is definitely worth it in the long run!  

💸 Start-Up Costs: £84/$110

😍 Earning Potential: Unlimited 

⌚️Time Dedication: 1-3 Hours Per Day 

🏝Passive Income: ✔️

Obviously, I think blogging is one of the best ways to make money online (because I’m doing it right now). Honestly, starting a blogging business is WAY easier than people make it out to be. All you need is enough money to get your WordPress subscription and Bluehost hosting, and you’re pretty much good to go. 

Don’t get me wrong, making a substantial income from blogging takes a lot of hard work and dedication so if you’re looking for a get-rich-quick scheme, this isn’t it.

To make money from a blog, you need to upload good quality content consistently. So, to make an income, you need to have some time on your hands. If you want to make a real income from blogging (you know, enough to pay your bills) you’ll need to dedicate at least 1-3 hours per day to your blogging business.  

You’re probably wondering how the heck bloggers make money, so let me clear things up! Usually, bloggers make money from ads, affiliate marketing, or online products (like courses or e-books). 

Blogging Business Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Unlimited earning potential
  • Small start-up costs
  • Potential to create passive income 
  • It’s easy to monetize 
  • Can be a side-hustle
Cons
  • It’s hard work
  • You have to be consistent 
  • It takes time (3-6 months) to make an income

3. Start a Niche Website 

If you have a very specific interest (like knitting, bread making, or kick-boxing) this could be the best online business for you to start! 

💸 Start-Up Costs: £84/$110

😍 Earning Potential: Unlimited

⌚️Time Dedication: 1-3 hours per day

🏝Passive Income:✔️

So, what’s the difference between a niche website and a blog? Well, with a blog, you can write for a much larger audience (e.g. lifestyle, fashion, parenting), whereas a niche website targets a specific part of the larger audience. 

Rather than blogging about beauty, you could focus your site on vegan skincare, or where a blog might focus on dog training, a niche website would target the Rottweiler training niche; if that makes sense?

Niche websites tend to harness the power of affiliate marketing by writing reviews or recommending products. People who make niche websites tend to build their website until it’s making a profit and then sell – so it’s a shorter-term business plan than blogging.

Niche websites tend to sell for around 20 to 40x their monthly profit. So, if you managed to get your niche website making 1,000 p/m you could sell it for anywhere between 20-40,000. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. 

This article from Smart Blogger explains how you can start a niche website from scratch! 

Niche Website Business Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Passive income potential
  • Unlimited earning potential
  • Can sell website for a lump sum 
  • Short-term business plan
  • Can be a side hustle
Cons
  • Startup costs
  • Need to be VERY passionate about a particular subject

4. Become a Digital Assistant 

This is another of my favorite online businesses! Anyone with a laptop and wifi connection can become a digital assistant. It usually takes a little more time but digital assistance is a great option if you want to work from home! 

💸 Start-Up Costs: None

😍 Earning Potential: Average US Salary – $26-36K, Average UK Salary – £18-24K

⌚️Time Dedication: 16-35 Hours Per Week

🏝Passive Income:

The majority of the clients I work with also have digital assistants, so there’s a lot of potential in this field. More and more online businesses are sprouting up every day, meaning more and more people need help to run their websites! 

Things like customer service, replying to emails, and just general website maintenance are tasks most business owners can’t be arsed doing themselves. All you have to do is set up a Fiverr or Upwork account, brand yourself as a digital assistant and you’re good to go.

You don’t necessarily need any experience to start a digital assistance business but general knowledge of admin or customer service would probably work in your favor! That being said, anyone can easily become a digital assistant if you’re willing to work a little extra. 

I think starting up as a digital assistant could be the perfect way to get started working online! You could use this business plan to save the money you’d need to start one of the other online businesses in this blog as a side hustle (here comes the money)!  

Digital Assistance Business Pros and Cons

Pros
  • No experience needed 
  • No startup costs
  • 9-5, Monday to Friday schedule 
  • Can usually find clients fast
  • Would allow you to quit your day job
Cons
  • Longer working hours
  • No passive income potential
  • Limited income potential 

5. Sell on Kindle

Selling on Kindle is another great online business if you know a lot about a certain topic. To be honest, it’s a great side-hustle idea even if you don’t! Here’s why…

💸 Start-Up Costs: None (can use paid ads for more traction)

😍 Earning Potential: Average $377 (£285) Per Month

⌚️Time Dedication: 3-4 Hours Per Day

🏝Passive Income:✔️

Okay, selling on Kindle isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme but I’d say it’s a worthwhile side-hustle. I mean, it’s pretty self-explanatory; you just have to either write a book yourself or pay a freelance writer (like myself) to write it for you. Then, you can sell it to a captive market on Kindle.

A Kindle e-book business doesn’t have to have any startup costs, however, you can use paid ads to see faster profits. Although it takes a little bit of time to get going, once you have a good few books up on Kindle, you will start to see a passive income. 

It will probably take a while before you’re making a decent income from Kindle but it’s a great side-hustle idea. An extra couple of hundred dollars or pounds every month makes a massive difference! That could pay your rent, utility bills, or anything else you hate spending your wages on. Project Life Mastery has great tips and tricks for selling on Kindle!

Kindle Business Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Little to no start-up costs
  • Passive income potential
  • Small amount of time dedication needed
  • Harness Amazon’s market
Cons
  • Competitive market 
  • Smaller income potential (unless you write a best-seller)
  • Have to be slightly more skilled on the writing front (unless you hire a ghostwriter)

6. Start a Niche YouTube Channel

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t want to get in front of a camera and film myself”. Don’t worry, that’s not what I’m suggesting! Believe it or not, there are ways to make money on YouTube without ever being in the video yourself…

💸 Start-Up Costs: None

😍 Earning Potential: Unlimited

⌚️Time Dedication: 1-3 Hours Per Week

🏝Passive Income: ✔️

Have you ever listened to those “relaxing music” videos to help you go to sleep? You know, the ones where they play waves lapping on a beach or birds chirping in a forest? Funnily enough, the person who made those videos wasn’t sat in their bedroom playing the panpipes. They most likely just made it on iMovie by making a slideshow of sunset stock photos and adding free sound effects then raked in the Adsense commission…

Alternatively, if you’ve got a pet you could easily make a couple of hundred a month just by uploading videos of them. Let’s be honest, we’ve all lost at least an hour of our lives watching dog videos (well, I have, at least)… 

If you don’t have much time to run a side-hustle and you just want to make some extra cash, starting a niche YouTube channel could be the ideal business model for you. I’ll link some videos that teach you how to do it! 

Niche YouTube Channel Business Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Hardly any time needed
  • Unlimited earning potential
  • Passive income potential
  • You barely need any skill
  • You don’t have to be in the video yourself 
Cons
  • You’ll have to rely on YouTube’s algorithm

7. Become an Influencer

Again, I know what you’re thinking… “Surely you can’t just become an influencer”, right? Well, it’s not as hard as you think. You only need around 50K to make a decent salary (and it’s not as hard as you’d think to get there). 

💸 Start-Up Costs: None

😍 Earning Potential: Average UK salary £29,000 – Av. US Salary $30,000 

⌚️Time Dedication: Full-time (35-40 Hours Per Week)

🏝Passive Income: ❌

The only difference between you and that influencer you follow on Instagram is that they have the confidence to put themselves out there. If you want to go down this route, it’s perfectly possible! You just have to post quality content consistently (I’m talking 2-3 Instagram posts and stories per day). 

I’m not going to lie, being an influencer sounds a lot easier than it is. I mean, the more followers you have the less work you’ll need to do but, if you’re starting from zero, you’re going to have to HUSTLE, babes. 

If you’ve got A LOT of time on your hands, becoming an influencer could be the best online business for you. There’s no reason why you couldn’t start making an income as an influencer within a year! 

Influencer Business Pros and Cons

Pros
  • No startup costs 
  • “Influence is the new oil” – long-term stability
  • Fun, creative work 
  • Can become an influencer in any niche
  • No experience needed
Cons
  • Takes a lot of work
  • High competition 
  • Have to “put yourself out there”

8. Start a Dropshipping Business

Okay, if you’re researching online businesses to start then you’ve probably already heard of dropshipping. If you’ve got a little bit of money behind (for ads etc) you then dropshipping could be the best online business for you.

💸 Start-Up Costs: £2-400 ($3-600)

😍 Earning Potential: Unlimited

⌚️Time Dedication: 16-40 Hours Per Week

🏝Passive Income: ✔️

You’ve probably seen the videos of 16 yr old wee boys making tens of thousands from Shopify, right? I fell into a YouTube hole a couple of weeks ago and watched way too many, lol.

If you’re not sure what dropshipping is, essentially it’s an eCommerce business model that allows you to sell products without holding inventory yourself. You can ship straight from places like Amazon and Alibaba (there’s more to it than that but I’ll leave some videos below that go into more depth).

The dropshipping business model is a massive moneymaker for lots of entrepreneurs. Although it’s less risky than buying and selling stock, it’s still riskier than some of the other online businesses in this post (that don’t have any startup costs).

You’ll have to learn how to conduct product research and design a profitable website. That being said, these are skills anyone can learn with a little effort. 

I mean, it takes hard work to get a dropshipping business off the ground but it does have the potential to make you a lot of money in the long run. 

Dropshipping Business Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Unlimited earning potential 
  • Passive income potential 
  • Less risk than buying and selling stock
  • Allows you to learn new skills
  • Can run as a side-hustle 
Cons
  • High start-up costs
  • Have to be willing to lose a little money when testing products
  • Takes a lot of time to run (if you plan on managing your online business yourself)

9. Start an Amazon FBA Business

One of my favorite online entrepreneurs, Tatiana James, made her riches from starting an Amazon FBA business. This is probably one of the most “tried and tested” business models that’s guaranteed to make you money if you can cover the startup costs. 

💸 Start-Up Costs: £2,500 – £4,000 ($3,000 – $5,000)

😍 Earning Potential: $12,000 (£9,000) average per month 

⌚️Time Dedication: 16-40 Hours Per Week

🏝Passive Income: ❌

FBA stands for “Fulfilled by Amazon”. Starting an Amazon FBA business is basically like starting an eCommerce business but rather than finding your customer base, you advertise to Amazon’s market. 

It’s a great business model because the majority of people price-check Amazon before buying a product BUT it takes a lot of work. Although anyone can use this business model (if you’ve got the startup capital), there’s a lot to learn before starting an Amazon FBA business. 

You’ll have to find manufacturers to make your product, buy stock, pay for advertisement and, most likely, take a course to learn the ins and outs. 

I love this business model because I’ve heard so many success stories from young entrepreneurs like Tatiana. The only reason an Amazon FBA business isn’t higher up my list is purely because of the money you need to start-up in the first place. Don’t let that put you off though! Saving up to start your business isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it will probably give you some added motivation to make your new business work.

Pros and Cons of Starting an Amazon FBA Business

Pros
  • Tried and tested system
  • Huge earning potential
  • Great courses available (make sure you do your research)
  • Long-term business model
  • Use Amazon’s market
Cons
  • Pretty big start-up costs
  • It’s quite a saturated market nowadays
  • The business will take a lot of effort to run

10. Start Day Trading 

If you’ve seen The Big Short then you might have been inspired to start day trading by those guys who “started off in their mom’s garage” (not going to lie, I was tempted as well).

💸 Start-Up Costs: At least 500 ($ or £) 

😍 Earning Potential: Unlimited

⌚️Time Dedication: 35 Hours Per Week 

🏝Passive Income: ❌

 Okay, this one’s last on my list because if you want to make a full-time income from day trading you’ll need two things; money to invest and A LOT of time on your hands. If you’ve got that, day trading could be your ideal online business.

Day trading is the last online business on my list because it’s far riskier than the other options. There are tonnes of day trading success stories from online entrepreneurs but, if you don’t have any experience, then you’ve got a lot of learning to do before you can start. 

Please don’t go throwing your hard-earned money away before you’ve figured out how day trading works! You can start with paper trading (that’s basically trading with monopoly money) to get the hang of things before you start making any real money moves.

You can potentially make a fortune from day trading but you’ll have to work full-time hours and never take your eye off the ball. Here are some great videos about day trading for beginners to help you get started! 

Day Trading Pros and Cons

Pros
  • You can make fast returns
  • Unlimited earning potential
  • Learn new skills
Cons
  • High risk 
  • Need money to startup 

Just Start Your Online Business Today

First of all, thank you for making it to the end if this post (phew, it was a long’ un). If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably researched hundreds of ways to quit your day job. I used to spend hours watching videos and reading blogs about making money online!

The only reason I’m living the laptop lifestyle now is because one day I just decided to start. Think about it, if you just started an online business the first time you researched it, you’d probably be sitting on a beach in Bali, sipping a mojito right now rather than reading this blog post!

So, the best advice I can give you is to just start today. You’ll thank yourself (and me, lol) for it later!

Published by Fiona Eilidh

Hey! I’m Fiona A couple of years ago, I decided to drop out of university to become a freelance writer. In all honesty, it’s been a pretty bumpy ride but FINALLY, I feel like I’ve figured it all out. So, I’ve (re)started this blog to help people like me (basically anyone who wants to be their own boss) start making money online. My goal is to help beginner freelance writers make a living online and eventually become their own client by starting a profitable blog. So, if that sounds like something you’d be interested in, click “start here” for all my tips and tricks! Speak soon, Fi

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