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The internet is chock-full of online business opportunities and even more packed with blogs touting 50 online business ideas that will make you rich while you eat bonbons in your pajamas. While many of those ideas are dubious at best and scams at worst, there are a few that actually can work if you put time and attention into them. We’ve cut through the noise and compiled some of the best and most time-tested here.
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1. Search Engine Optimization Businesses
Nearly every company on the planet has moved online now and traditional advertising — television spots, radio ads, billboards — only go so far to snag customers in the digital age. That’s why getting to the top of the search engine heap is becoming more and more important. It’s a feat that’s easier said than done and specialists who can do it are in high demand.
The most attractive thing about SEO businesses is that they offer low startup costs. There’s no physical product so you just need a website, some marketing skills and, of course, the ability to write and organize content that soars to the top of the rankings (or hire people who can). According to Indeed, SEO specialists make $53,500 per year, while SEO managers bring home $72,400 annually.
2. Software Development
Software developers write code for applications that are used on computers, tablets and smartphones. Hit on a new or marketable idea and the income potential is quite high (without a huge buy-in). Of course, this requires learning software programming languages. If you’re of a certain generation, you probably got a foundational education in programming languages in school or were exposed to it.
If you’re part of an, ahem, older generation, you’ll need to learn it. With all the inexpensive, flexible degrees programs available online these days, doing that is easier than ever.
How much can you make as a software developer? That’s going to depend on all sorts of factors. If you have an idea that catches on, you can make millions. If you create a niche program that sells a bit, you might make just enough to live on. That said, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a healthy median annual salary for software developers across the board: $105,590.
3. Online Coaching
Are you an expert at something? Do you hold a degree in a discipline that people want to learn? Are you good at teaching people? If so, you may be able to charge people to learn from you. There are two ways you can go with this low-startup-cost business model: coaching or courses. Coaches mentor clients, usually one-on-one, and they can charge a premium if they have a highly desirable skill.
With classes, you may not be able to charge as much per student, but you can charge more people overall. In fact, you can give live classes and charge a low rate for 30 students and come out on top. Or for even more potential income, you can also create content (course materials, video lectures, etc) that students pay to access. This is a passive income that can multiply exponentially.
There you have it — those are three of the best options for starting an online business for yourself. Which one do you pick? That might depend on your marketable skills, the things you enjoy doing and how much capital you have to get started. Many entrepreneurs try their hand at a few things, keeping their eggs in several baskets and then pick the one that feels right.