The idea of creating your own online business can be exciting. These days, it is common to have a venture on the internet. For some, such a venture is a full-time investment, and for others, it is a side-hustle to make a bit of extra income.
Whether you plan to follow a full-time or side-hustle approach should not be your concern early on. What you want to emphasize instead are:
- Creating a business plan you can carry out
- Building a solid foundation that will help scale the venture
- Having a backup idea in case the first one does not work out
Now, with that said, it does not mean that starting an online business is that simple. If anything, the whole thing is an ordeal, and treating it like a walk in the park is bound to backfire.
The risks involved are quite off-putting. Even if someone dreams of achieving financial independence from an online business, having to invest money with no guarantees of getting it back puts a stop to the idea.
If you are not experienced with making money on the internet but still believe that it is worth the effort, you can take the approach of trying your luck with low-investment ideas.
Even if you do not make it, you will not feel as upset because of how little money you spend and how much experience you gain. And if you do make it, then it is a win-win situation.
Below, you will find 3 online business ideas that require low investments. And keep in mind that just because these are cheaper to start, it does not mean that they are not profitable. If anything, you can scale either of the five as much as any other online venture.
Print on Demand
Let’s start with print on demand. According to Statista, the global custom t-shirt print market value is expected to reach more than 3 billion USD by 2025. That is just for t-shirts. Other merchandise, such as hoodies, sneakers, caps, and most recently, face masks, have their place in the market as well.
Some of the key factors behind the rise of custom merchandise include:
- Branding — Whenever a new company launches, it will have its logo, name, and other branding elements stand out from the rest. A company-made merch is common.
- Fandoms — Be it video games, movies, TV shows, or other mediums, fandoms from around the world purchase merchandise to support creators and express their love
- Team Spirit — Boosting team spirit has become a common practice in workplaces, and it is easier to build a sense of camaraderie by adding company merchandise.
- Politics — From stickers and flags to t-shirts and caps, political campaigns are another major player that utilizes custom merchandise.
- Marketing — Last but not least, marketing. Brands invest money to create merchandise and use it as prizes in giveaways or rewards to loyal customers to raise brand awareness.
Since you can find a supplier and run your print-on-demand business using the dropshipping model, you do not have to worry about warehousing, inventory, and other costs. Your primary job will be on the customer experience.
So, what else do you need to start a print-on-demand business besides the website and a marketing plan?
#1 – Niche
The first thing that comes to mind is the niche. Some entrepreneurs start with t-shirts or another single product and add new categories later. It is easier to promote such a store when you are not aiming to target different demographics with multiple product categories.
The product category itself is not the only thing you need to mind. The design is just as crucial, if not more.
To avoid competition, try to narrow your niche as much as you can. For example, if you plan to create political satire, pick a specific political party, location, or individual politician.
You need to make sure that there is demand for your merchandise. Check Google Trends, social media, and other channels to help you determine how profitable your niche could be.
#2 – Design
It is likely that you will not have graphic design skills, though that should not be a reason to abandon print on demand. You can hire a freelance graphic designer on Fiverr, UpWork, 99Designs, to name a few platforms.
Running a joint venture would make it easier to run the business. A dedicated graphic designer would mean more time to focus on promoting the merchandise store.
#3 – Printing Method
Choosing a printing method is also important because it determines your costs, turnaround times, product quality, and so on.
For instance, if you check dtg vs screen printing, both are high quality, but the latter is more efficient for bulk orders and optimal for less detailed designs.
One thing to note, though, is that since you are not going to manufacture the merchandise yourself, you need to find a reliable supplier who offers quality goods. Otherwise, there will be complaints from customers and your business will not last too long.
One might be a bit skeptical about e-books. After all, can they really replace physical books?
Well, the word “replacement” might be a bit of a stretch. Many readers still prefer to hold an actual book in their hands while reading it. Not to mention book collectors who like to decorate their homes with books.
Physical Books vs. Digital Books
At the same time, one should not underestimate e-books. Digital books account for roughly 20 percent of all book sales, and the number is growing.
And why should the number not grow? E-readers, such as Kindle, are great to use because they allow you to enjoy reading without cluttering the home with physical books.
For someone who wants to write and make money, it makes sense to go the digital route because of the convenience.
Ever since the introduction of Amazon’s self-publishing program back in 2007, writers no longer need to deal with traditional publishing agencies if they want to make money selling books.
No more rejection letters. Instead, you can publish a book straight on Amazon and promote it to generate sales
Promoting Your E-book
Before you commit to writing an e-book, make sure that you create a proper marketing plan. The contents inside the book are important but do not expect to sell it as an unestablished writer.
Discard the idea that people should not judge a book by its cover. Potentially interested readers who browse through e-book categories skim and pay attention to covers. As such, invest however much you can to hire a graphic designer and have them create an appealing book cover.
Next, focus on getting as many positive reviews as you can. Social proof plays a crucial role in digital marketing, and e-books are no exception. The more reviews you have, the more likely your book gets picked over the rest.
Collaborating with influencers is worth a shout as well, particularly if the contents of your book align with their interests.
For instance, if you write about health and diet, you can ask for a shoutout from established social media influencers in the same niche.
Making money from a single e-book is highly unlikely. The odds of creating a masterpiece and becoming a successful author are slim, so you need to plan ahead early on and decide what you are going to do next.
You could write and publish more e-books. If you get the hang of it and get into the rhythm of writing regularly, then producing new content should not be an issue.
Some writers take the approach of creating outlines for their book and separating it into multiple short e-books. Or, if they write a story, it is common to do a series and prolong the plot.
Different approaches work for different authors and content types, so you will need to test that yourself to determine the right formula.
Podcasts have become a popular pastime. If you were to check Spotify, you would notice that podcasts are often promoted on the platform’s front page.
Some hosts also publish their podcasts on YouTube and other platforms. Ultimately, the goal is to get as many listeners with the hopes of making them regulars and even monetizing these listeners.
A podcast should offer interesting content to its audience. Ultimately, running promotional campaigns will not cut it, especially if you wish to make money.
Thankfully, you do not have to invest that much to start a podcast yourself. A high-quality microphone is pretty much all you need besides. You might also want to have a video feed, but that is not necessary, particularly when you are just starting.
For monetization, there are a couple of different approaches to consider:
Relying entirely on your audience to support you takes a bit of courage, but you can consider starting a Patreon page.
For showing their support, you can reward your patrons by providing them with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, teasers of upcoming episodes and guests, custom merchandise, and other perks.
Having guests on a podcast is one of the most common ways to monetize an audience. You let a guest promote their goods or services for a bit and get money for it.
Shoutouts to sponsors are also popular. Many podcasts have brands backing them up. Hosts provide referral links or discount codes and drive customers to their sponsor’s website.
Putting podcast episodes or other content behind a paywall is risky because it can backfire. You need to consider whether your audience is willing to spend money to access such stuff, particularly if it is not connected to Patreon.
Locking content and making it exclusive is not a monetization idea for new podcasts, but it is an idea to consider for the future.
Transferring your episodes and streaming them live on Twitch TV could be a good way to earn an extra buck or two.
Many content creators have their own Twitch TV channels that they use to grow an audience and make money via donations and subscriptions.
To sum it all up, these three low-investment business opportunities should give you an idea of what you can do to make money on the internet.
Work with a mindset that you will plan to scale the venture to attract a bigger audience and profit from it.
Do not rely just on social media and influencer marketing to attract new leads. No, invest in email marketing and SEO too.
It is a given for print on demand, but if you plan to host a podcast or become a self-published author, you ought to build a proper website to get yourself more noticeable.
For that, you can check Ecommerce Booth and see their detailed reviews for choosing the right platform for your needs.
Lastly, remember that no online business is easy to crack. Even if you struggle, you should still persist and treat each hardship as a positive experience that will help you in the future.
If one idea does not succeed, you can always try something else and repeat it until you find one that works.
Co-founder & CEO: GetFound XL. Catch up with Justas on Twitter.