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5 Online Businesses You Can Start From Home

Whether you are looking for ways to generate extra income during these economically difficult times, or want to find a full-time occupation that you can do regardless of a lockdown, we have selected five popular options that you can start from home today, if you so choose.

It couldn’t be a better moment to start an online business, since nowadays:

  • About 1 of every 4 people in the world shops online – that’s almost 2 billion people. (Source)
  • E-commerce represents 16% of all retail sales in 2020. (Source)
  • 62% of online buyers shop online at least monthly. (Source)

We hope they inspire to work on your passions or dreams and bring about results that help you end this year in a high note!

1. Freelancing

A gig-based activity can range from something as simple as getting paid to complete a single task, to being involved in a large scale project for a big company. People who work in this way are typically known as freelancers, even if they only do it part-time, while having another principal occupation. For instance, many people have a 9-5 job while working late hours at night regularly. Such people are also known as moonlighters. There has been a growing trend in the past decade for this type of work. In the UK, an estimated 14% rise in the last decade has been reported.

Pros
  • You can choose your clients
  • You manage your own schedule and decide your own working hours
  • You can decide on your own rates
  • You can develop specific skills more quickly than in a regular job, by choosing to work exclusively on the projects that require those skills
Cons
  • Depending on the volume of your activity, you may need to register as a self-employed to legally work as a freelance on a continued bases
  • Competition is international. That means that competing in price is often a losing battle between wealthy and developing countries.
  • Even if you are often working on your own, you will likely require help covering your weak spots to manage your business
Where to get started
  • Task Rabbit – a popular service in the US and more recently in the UK. Get paid to do chores and tasks for other people.
  • Fiverr – do you have a particular skill others often ask you for help with? You can turn it into a gig and earn!
  • Freelancer – one of the largest freelance marketplaces in the world. Create your profile and look for projects you can complete.
  • Upwork – a popular outsourcing destination for businesses worldwide.

2. Affiliate marketing

Selling other people’s products and earning a commission per sale or subscription. This is a popular choice for people with a background in sales since it is similar to working on a commission-based scheme. But whether you are a salesperson or not, you can still earn a good income as an affiliate if you have an engaged audience, lots of content, a respectable volume of traffic to your website, or a decent amount of followers on social media.

Pros
  • Very easy to get started
  • The registration process can often be completed in one day
  • Many popular brands use affiliate marketing to promote their products, meaning a lot of the advertising effort is already done for you
Cons
  • Creating content is very time-consuming and you can wait a long time (months or even years) before you see a regular flow of people interacting with it
  • Modern browsers often include ad blockers, which means that your affiliate advertisements on your website may not be visible for these visitors
  • Commissions can be very small on cheap products. This makes it hard to make a profit from them without a huge volume of visitors.
Where to get started
  • Clickbank – one of the most popular affiliate marketplaces for information products
  • Shareasale – a well-established marketplace with diverse products
  • Fiverr Affiliates – invite people to join Fiverr and get a commission per sale
  • CJ (CommissionJunction) – one of the largest affiliate marketplaces in the world
  • Amazon Associates – get a commission for recommending products on Amazon

3. Dropshipping

You sell physical items in your own shop but hold no stock. The stock management, shipping, and handling is done by the suppliers – who can be virtually anywhere in the world! You earn a percentage of every product sale. You can often set the price above the minimum required by the suppliers.

Pros
  • You don’t need to have your own product to sell.
  • No need to manage stock, shipping, or handling
  • Quick to set up and start selling
  • Can be a good addition to a normal business model
Cons
  • Depending on the products you sell, the profit margins are usually low after advertising and tax expenses are considered. Popular products are typically easier to sell but also have stronger competition.
  • Having no stock is considered risky by some payment gateways, such as PayPal, which can result in restrictions on your account and access to funds
  • You still need to check that a product is in stock, otherwise, it can result in unexpected delays, wasted advertising money, a poor customer experience, and even a bad reputation
  • You depend entirely on the supplier’s price changes and its supply chain
How to get started

4. Selling second-hand items

When eBay was first launched in 1995, no one was expecting the incredible variety of things people would sell there. The first item sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer. Who bought it? A collector of broken laser pointers! Since then, many more unusual items have been sold, including Pope Benedict XVI’s car. For most people, though, auction sites like eBay have been a great avenue for earning extra cash by selling second-hand items.

Pros
  • You can sell anything you can imagine (within reason)
  • Give a new life to your second-hand items. It’s good for the environment!
  • You only pay a small fee for listing and selling the item
  • You can combine it with dropshipping to sell appealing items, like gadgets or clothing accessories
Cons
  • Difficult to scale the business and can take some time
  • You operate within the marketplaces’ constraints
  • People buying second-hand are typically looking for bargains, which reduces the profit margin for sellers
Where to get started
  • eBay – the most popular C2C marketplace in the western world
  • Gumtree – one of the largest websites in the UK for listings
  • Craigslist – a very popular listings website in the US and growing in the UK
  • Facebook Marketplace – Facebook’s tool to list your items

5. Selling your products or services

If you create your products, there are many avenues where you can sell them. It naturally follows that this is a broad category, which includes, among others:

  • Handcrafts
  • Artwork
  • Software as a service (SaaS)
  • Manufacturers
  • Food producers
Pros
  • A great outlet for creative people, craftspeople, and inventors
  • You control the price and often have the greatest profit margins
  • You may be able to sell at a large scale, depending on the product
Cons
  • It typically requires a high level of expertise to produce something, valuable, rare, and in demand
  • Labour-intensive. Developing a product can sometimes take years of testing before it is proven to be viable.
  • In some cases, you may need to patent your product to protect it from being copied. This can be expensive, depending on things like the territory where you want to cover it.
Where to get started
  • Amazon – to sell your products at a large scale
  • Etsy – for craftspeople making unique products
  • Artstation – for graphic artists: painters, illustrators, 3D modellers, etc.
  • Adobe Stock – for photographers, video producers, and graphic designers
  • Github – for software producers
  • Unity – for game developers

In summary

Whichever way you decide to go, there are common aspects that every business needs to be able to perform to be successful.

These include: developing your own brand and a visually consistent experience, being on the right channel, reaching the right people at the right time through a sound marketing strategy, having the right tools to sell and charge for what you’re selling through e-commerce.

The Internet has turned the economy on its head, making tools that once were only reserved to an elite few, now accessible to many. It made it possible for billions of people across the world to collaborate and trade faster than ever. It is a time of unprecedented opportunity if you can find the right people to help you with your project.

You can find more about it on the official Fiverr Guide, which you can download here.

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