12 Low Effort Online Business Ideas
In this increasingly technological society, more and more people are turning their entrepreneurial leanings to the internet.
The good news is that there are a plethora of online opportunities available to those of us who desire to earn an income from the comfort of our home. And most of them require little to no effort to start. Are you ready to start working from home running your own online business?
Check out this guide to discover how to find the right online business idea. I have detailed 12 of the best ideas here for you to get started.
Online Business Idea Comparison Table
Here's a summary of the different online business ideas you'll find in this post.
Start A Blog
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1) Start a Blog
If you are passionate about a subject and feel you have a wealth of knowledge to offer others on it, why not start a blog? All you need to begin is an idea and an audience. You don’t even need any technological savvy to make it happen. There are free hosting platforms such as WordPress and Blogger that have easy-to-use interfaces. Once you create an online presence with your blog, you can turn it into a legitimate online business by:
- Selling banner advertisements
- Becoming an affiliate to sites such as Amazon and Ebay
- Utilizing AdSense
- Offering premium related services or membership options?
The only potential caveat to starting your own blog would be the time commitment. In order for a blog to become a truly profitable business, it will require frequent updates, posts, maintenance, and patience. It takes
2) Become a Coach or Consultant
Why not put your vast experience and knowledge to use helping others? Many start-up or fledgling businesses could use your guidance to obtain success in your area of expertise. The best way to begin would be to start a simple website detailing your services and experience. Again, no need to be tech savvy as platforms such as SiteBuilder and WebsiteBuilder have user-friendly templates and little to no start-up cost involved. To build a roster of clients, you might want to offer your services at a discount at first, but would quickly build business through word of mouth and an impressive portfolio.
3) Affiliate Marketing
We all have products that we like and rave to others about. Stop doing it for free! Get paid to tell others about products or services through affiliate marketing. There are different ways to take advantage of affiliate marketing. Though not necessary, it helps to have an established platform, such as a website or blog already, so this business idea can easily go hand-in-hand with starting a blog or becoming a coach or consultant.
Best of all, it doesn’t require any effort on your part other than posting a link or giving an honest review. Google, Amazon, Ebay, and CommissionJunction are all great companies that offer affiliate programs. Some people have been known to earn thousands of dollars per month through affiliate marketing, making it one of the best online businesses to start.
4) Write/Edit Resumes
If you have a gift for creating stand-out resumes and have a pretty good idea of what potential employers are looking for, you can launch a successful online business by doing it for others. With high unemployment rates, people begin looking for an edge on the competitive job market, and you could provide them with such an edge by helping them build a resume that stands out from the crowd.
You could list your services on sites like Craigslist or visit freelance sites like
5) Become a Virtual Assistant
As a virtual assistant, you would help web-based businesses with a variety of tasks such as email correspondence, blog posts, research, and website maintenance that online entrepreneurs may simply not have the time or resources to accomplish on their own.
Because of its flexibility, you could potentially have multiple clients at once to increase your earning capability. Sites such as
6) Freelance Professionally
Many companies are turning to part-time contract workers to fill certain gaps in their workforce. Depending on your skill sets, you could work for numerous companies in a variety of fields. There is a high demand in areas such as tech services, web design, article and blog writing, cover art, ghost writing, and proofreading. You can upload your resume onto Freelanced and
Another great option is Fiverr, where you can start with $5 gigs and move up in price from there. Freelancing could end up being one of the best online business ideas on this list, depending on the amount of time you have to commit and your marketable abilities.
7) Recruit/Head Hunt
Not every business has a huge human resources department capable of casting a wide net for potential employees. Many businesses seeking incredibly skilled individuals to fill specific positions in their company will turn to a recruiter or head hunter to help. Your duty would be to scour the internet for potential candidates and link them up with these companies. If one of the candidates that you found is hired, you are paid a recruiting fee. If you wanted to start such a business, I recommend specializing in an area that you are familiar with from your previous experience (like marketing, hospitality, or IT). You will understand what skills potential employers are looking for in that field and be better able to screen potential job candidates.
You would need to create a simple, business-like website (again, platforms such as SiteBuilder and WebsiteBuilder have user-friendly templates and little to no start-up cost involved), get business cards printed (Vistaprint is inexpensive and easy to use), and start building a client roster. As with coaching or consulting, you may have to start offering your services at a discount to build a good reputation with clients, but over time would be able to increase your fees.
8) Review Products or Services
Perhaps one of the best ideas for online business is to review goods and services. There are a few different methods to go about it: mystery shopping, survey sites, and consumer product testing panels.
One of the higher paying ways to make money reviewing products or services is to do “mystery shopping”. Mystery shopper companies will pay you (and reimburse any expenses) to pose as a regular customer, complete a transaction or task, and then provide feedback about your experience. A few of the legitimate companies that offer mystery shopping services are Best Mark, Market Force, Intellishop, Sinclair Customer Metrics, and Experience Exchange. All are free to join and pay a range of $5-25 per job. Some bigger jobs may pay several hundred dollars! I was once paid to stay at a resort, visit each of their bars and restaurants, and write a review on each one. Not only was everything paid for, but I also received $200 for a nice weekend getaway. Once you gain experience, you can generate quite a good monthly income.
Survey sites also allow you to make money without breaking a sweat. Survey Junkie, Swagbucks, MySurvey, and YouGov are some of the best sites to get paid for filling out surveys and reviewing products. Most pay anywhere from $1 to $5 for just a few minutes of your time. Not a huge income generator, but it can add up depending on how much time you have to dedicate to it.
Consumer product testing panels are sometimes difficult to get into, but once you’re in, you can really reap the benefits. They may send you free products to review or just have you review products that you already use on a regular basis in exchange for cash or gift cards. VIP Voice Panel, National Consumer Panel, ProductReportCard, Toluna Panel, and I-Say Panel are some of the most popular and rewarding panels to be a part of.
9) Write an eBook
If you are gifted in writing and have the time, you could become an eBook author. From self-help and cooking to erotica and fantasy, these days it is incredibly easy to publish your own eBooks on any subject. The best platform for self-publishing eBooks is Amazon Kindle. The negative with Amazon is that you would give up 30% of your profit to them, but you would reap the benefits of publishing with the largest distributor of eBooks and tap into their huge customer base. You set your own listing price though, so you can control how much of the sale from each book makes it into your pocket.
10) Sell Stuff
There are plenty of people all over the world who make a great living from selling items online. You could start small selling items in your home that you no longer want or need on sites such as Craigslist or Ebay, or using apps like OfferUp and 5Mile, then work your way up to having your own online store. If you are particularly crafty, you could sell your handmade goods on sites like Etsy or ArtFire. You set your own prices, so the sky is the limit on profitability.
11) Become a Travel Agent
If you have the patience to sit doing research for hours, a nose for a good deal, and great networking skills, then becoming a travel agent would be a great online business idea for you. This requires a little more effort than some of the ideas on this list as you will need to obtain specialized certifications to operate. The good news is that almost all travel agent training and testing can be done online. The first step to becoming a travel agent would be to find a host agency that would help you obtain the proper tools and training needed. From there, you can start your own agency from your home, or work for companies such as Disney Vacation Planner, Cruise Planner, and Cruises Inc., all of whom employ agents to work from home.
There is quite a market for training/tutorial material in written, video, and course formats. If you have advanced knowledge in a subject, one online business idea would be to create your own material for it. Sites like Udemy, Odijoo, and Litmos offer the opportunity for an instructor to upload and charge for a course in any subject that they please. It would require some work up front, but once your course is completed, it requires little to no further effort to draw income.
Another option would be to create your own website and offer your own course or tutorials on whatever it is you are passionate about. A few websites offer a free mini e-mail course as a teaser, then ask the consumer to purchase a membership plan or extended course for further materials. You could even write a companion eBook to offer for sale with your course. Again, the initial effort might be greater than some ideas on this list, but once the legwork is done, you have to do very little to maintain it.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many more lucrative online business opportunities, including many that are already started for you, but I felt that these small online business ideas required the least amount of effort with the greatest earning potential. The internet offers a world of possibilities for entrepreneurs with determination, creativity, and the right idea for a business. This list of 12 such ideas should get you started in finding the perfect online business to marry with your own unique set of skills and experience.