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29 of the Best Online Business Ideas for 2023 – Shopify

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Looking for ways to make more money online? Check out these 29 online business ideas, from starting your own clothing line to selling handmade goods—and everything in between.
Start your online business today.
For free.
Running a small business definitely has its appeal, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. The truth is, starting a business of any kind is hard work, and the first step is thinking of an idea. In this guide we’ll give you several online business ideas for beginners and experienced entrepreneurs alike, as well as steps for setting up an online business.
Countless people have already made the leap to entrepreneurship. And with the right online business ideas and plenty of sweat equity, you can too.
This isn’t about one simple life-changing trick. Starting an online business doesn’t work that way. Instead, to help you find profitable online business ideas, we’ve put together a collection of simple tips on how to start a business without quitting your day job.
How to start a small business online💰
If you have some designs in mind and a little bit of time on your hands, you can get your clothing company off the ground.
If you already own a Shopify store, you can set up your own clothing line using Printify, Printful, or a similar product-sourcing app. Each automatically links your store to apparel printers and clothing manufacturers. They also handle every step of the retail fulfillment process for you, giving you the freedom to design and ship a wide range of pieces right out of the gate.
thinkpupWe used Printful to create THINK PUP, an apparel store for dog owners, and ended up making over $1,200 in just three weeks. With some time and research, you could be well on your way to building a successful t-shirt company, too.

We’ve curated some handy resources to help grow your apparel business at every stage, from crafting your brand’s story to promoting your products with influencer marketing:
Free Course: Build a Print-on-Demand Business
Learn how to easily create and sell your own custom-branded products. Ecommerce expert Adrian Morrison shares his framework for launching a successful print-on-demand shop in our free video course.
Think you need a warehouse full of inventory to run your own business? Think again! Dropshipping is a great way to start a business on a budget. You can hit the ground running by sourcing a pre-existing product from a supplier and having them take care of things like packaging and fulfillment.
This process lets you skip a lot of obstacles that might be standing in the way of you starting your own business. More importantly, dropshipping eliminates the risk of finding out there’s no market for your product after investing in a huge order with a manufacturer or supplier.
💡 TIP: With Shopify, it’s easy to start a dropshipping business and begin selling without the hassle of managing inventory, packaging, or shipping. Orders are sent directly from your wholesaler to your customers, so you can work on what matters.
If you don’t have any online store ideas, here are some resources for narrowing down the perfect product:
Free Webinar: The Right Way to Start a Profitable Dropshipping Store
Learn how to find high-margin products, import them into your store, and start selling—fast.
Whether you’re a painter, photographer, or musician, there are plenty of online business ideas and ways to turn your latest masterpiece into a source of revenue with a beautifully designed ecommerce website.
If painting or photography is your forte, you can sell your art as prints, canvases, and framed posters using Printify or Printful. This is a fantastic way to turn your art into something tangible that people can take home and integrate into their space. Is music your thing? You can sell your beats, songs, samples, and more as digital downloads.
Just take a look at The Drum Broker, the largest online drum sample business in the world. Its founder created a successful and sustainable small business model with the help of apps like FetchApp and ShipStation.
Writers, graphic designers, and developers can start a low-cost business based on their talents. As a freelancer, you’ll be able to put your skills to good use by helping people across the world with their projects (while making some money yourself, of course).
Freelancing doesn’t mean committing to months-long projects that eat away at your free time. You can easily pick up bite-sized tasks that fit your schedule.
To find people that need your help, try freelancing marketplaces, like Upwork and Fiverr.
screenshot of Fiverr homepage
It’s worth noting that Fiverr is a little different from a traditional job board. As the name suggests, a lot of the posted jobs pay $5. The key to making big money on Fiverr is carefully setting up your offers so you can easily upsell the client.
For instance, you could offer to write a 150-word introduction for a blog post as your initial $5 service. As an upsell, you could charge another $10 for every additional 150 words. You can tweak your services until you’ve found a combo that makes it worth your while.
If you want total control over how much you charge, create a Shopify store. You can list your services as products and disable shipping, since you won’t actually be physically delivering anything to your customers. You can even use apps like BTA: Appointment Booking App and Events Calendar to give your customers the option to schedule appointments.
If freelancing sounds like it might be a good online business idea for your lifestyle, we’ve put together some great articles that can help you make the most of your time:
Teaching an online course is a low-investment online business idea for generating passive income. All you need to do is put together a video walkthrough explaining a subject you’re familiar with and then host it on your own personal website.
Although it requires effort up front, if you manage to design a popular high-value video tutorial series, you can make money on an ongoing basis as people continue to enroll in your course.
To start creating your first online course, brainstorm a topic you know well enough to teach someone how to do from scratch. This can be anything—music production, social media marketing, web development, you name it.
Next, you’ll want to grab a screencasting app, like ScreenFlow, to record your screen and voice while you walk your students through your tutorial. ScreenFlow also comes with a built-in video editing suite, so you can shoot and cut your videos all on the same platform.
If you love hitting up thrift stores and hunting down great deals, then one great online business idea is selling your second-hand treasures online.
Your potential customers want to buy cool stuff, but they don’t want to dig through old soccer jerseys and braided belts to get their hands on that one amazing find. Take advantage of this by positioning yourself as a trustworthy curator who can go out and uncover those great vintage pieces for others.
Want to turn your cool stuff into pizza money? Take a look at these guides to making your products look great in photos:
It’s OK to admit it: you’ve thought about publishing your own book someday. While seeing your name on a list of bestsellers might seem like a pipe dream, it’s actually not that far out of reach.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a science-fiction novel, a marketing guide, or a children’s picture book, there are now plenty of options for successfully self-publishing your work. These include releasing your writing as an ebook with the Digital Downloads app or using on-demand printing services like Blurb.
screenshot of Digital Downloads Shopify app
To sell ebooks through your online store, install the Digital Downloads app and you’ll instantly be able to stock digital files as products. Once purchased, your ebooks will be sent to your customers via email or as a direct download link.
If you choose to sell physical copies of your book, you’ll just need to place an order whenever your work is purchased. They’ll custom print your book and handle the entire storage and fulfillment process.
Ready to live out your dreams of being a published author? This resource will help you on your way to the top:
Blogging has come a long way since its inception. What was once a virtual journal has now turned into a marketing and a monetization tool.
Whether you make money from publishing sponsored posts, hosting third-party ads, or selling your products, a blog is a great online business idea you can start at home.
The key to starting a successful blog is to focus on building an engaged, loyal audience. When you start with an audience-centric approach, you’ll cultivate a community that trusts you. And when you can earn trust, you can start to drive revenue.
That’s how Mr. Money Mustache started his popular personal finance blog. What began as a movement has turned into a successful business that’s earned national media coverage.
screenshot of Mr Money Mustache blog
For more information on getting started, check out these articles:
Are you super organized and love working behind the scenes? If so, you might be the perfect candidate to start a virtual assistant (VA) business.
A VA helps entrepreneurs, businesses, and executives organize their personal and professional lives. There’s a broad spectrum of duties, ranging from appointment scheduling to basic marketing management and everything in between. And everything is done online.
Influencer marketing has exploded on the marketing scene, and though consumers are becoming more savvy, there are still plenty of business opportunities to be had.
Because influencers have gotten in hot water for dishonest practices, there’s been a movement toward micro-influencers—profiles with smaller but more engaged followings. Good news: you don’t need millions of followers to earn money on Instagram.
Here are our inspiring tips and stories to get you started as an influencer:
If you’re tech savvy, acquire some coding skills and start building. Whether it’s mobile apps, Shopify apps, or websites, you can create digital products for purchase or as a service provider.
For example, you can create a custom Shopify theme template and sell it to merchants looking for an affordable DIY approach to designing their website. Or work with clients directly to build websites and apps tailored to their specific needs.
If you like the sound of your own voice, consider recording it for a podcast. Podcasts are a great home business idea with multiple monetization options, similar to starting a blog.
Here’s what you need to start your podcast:
To promote your podcast, consider collaborating with prominent figures as guests on your show. Encourage listeners to leave reviews and share your podcast with their friends and family.
Get some inspiration for your own podcast with these best business podcasts for entrepreneurs.
Affiliate marketing is when you recommend a product or service by sharing it on your blog, social media, email list, website, or other channel. You earn a commission each time someone converts through your unique referral link or code.
Find an affiliate program that suits your interests, personal brand, and target audience. Affiliate Future, ShareASale, and FlexOffers are a few examples. Amazon has its own affiliate program, and you can also check out the Shopify Affiliate Program.
Once you’ve signed up, start sharing. Create social media posts, blog articles, emails, and other content about how great the product or service you’re promoting is. Don’t oversaturate your audience with ads, otherwise you risk coming across as spammy or inauthentic.
Subscription boxes are themed packages of various products. There are subscription boxes in pretty much every industry, from meal-prep kits and craft snacks to fitness products and makeup. You can curate subscription boxes around virtually any theme of your choice.
Bokksu, for example, curates Japanese snacks and sends them to customers each month.
screenshot of Bokksu homepage
When you curate subscription boxes, you work with brands and artisans to purchase and resell their products in a bundled offering. Typically, consumers expect to be surprised by what’s in the box, though there are some (like meal prep kits) where the customer chooses what they receive.
If you recognize an opportunity in a certain niche, you might be on to your next successful online business idea. Niche products cater to a unique audience. When done well, they serve a specific community.
Niches could be based on industry, demographic, price point, geography, values, product attributes, and more. Really, a niche could be anything specific enough to target a small group of potential customers. For example:
If you’re particularly crafty, selling handmade products would be a great online business idea for you. Whether you make jewelry, picture frames, or furniture, one way to monetize your craft skills is to sell products online. Handmade goods is a great industry for creatives and even an achievable business idea for kids.
While you can use platforms like Craigslist or Etsy, your own online store will give you more control and make it easier to track and fulfill orders.
Ready to find new homes for your handcrafts? Get started here:
Effectively managing and growing social media accounts is a skill. If you have the chops, consider becoming a social media manager or a consultant for brands.
You’ll be responsible for maintaining a company’s social presence online, developing its social marketing strategy, managing campaigns, and other related tasks. It’s a solid online business idea with plenty of demand, with jobs in social media expected to grow by 10% through 2031, and it doesn’t take that much startup capital to begin.
To start, get a website, your own social media profiles (grow them and use them as social proof to win clients!), and a payment processing system. As you gain more experience, you can start catering to a wider array of social media needs, like profile growth, outreach, or brand sponsorship management.
Ready to start your own social media management business? Brush up on social media know-how with the following resources:
It might sound scary when you hear it, but investing in real estate isn’t hard to break into once you’ve done your research. Depending on the market, getting your hands on opportunities like accessible FHA loans can be the kickstart you need to ensure a cash-flowing business from the start.
With real estate, you don’t have to worry about stocking inventory or supply chain troubles. Instead, you can scout properties from the comfort of your couch. There are startup costs and purchase requirements to account for, but you can get loans to help cover them.
The cash flow you establish with your first property can be reinvested into buying your next. Do this enough times and you can start making some serious revenue.
The ability to sell your goods on marketplaces isn’t new. Yet it’s still a very lucrative way to start a sustainable online business. Seller platforms like eBay, Bonanza, Etsy, OfferUp, or Facebook Marketplace make the process of listing products, capturing contact information, and receiving payments easy.
The best part? These massive seller platforms already come with built-in traffic. As the seller, it’s your job to get strategic with your listing and keep track of what sells and how well so you can optimize your efforts. You can do all of this from the comfort of your home, too.
Knowing more than one language can make you money. Along with internet access and a laptop, you can be well on your way to starting an online translation business. The translation industry is booming—it doubled in size in the past decade.
As a translator, you can apply your skills to translating content, meetings, résumés, books, or even online conferences. As you refine your skills, you can charge by the hour or by the project. Either way, the bottom line is that a translation business can be both flexible and lucrative once you get started with your first few clients.
Take advantage of the steady market demand for accounting and bookkeeping by going freelance and offering your services to clients looking to outsource this part of their business. Granted, the more experience and education you have in the field the better your chances of success.
You can bootstrap an accounting or bookkeeping business with access to software like QuickBooks, some word of mouth, and some tenacity. As you begin to gain clients and deliver great work, referral clients start coming your way. As a service-based business, the hardest part about starting an accounting or bookkeeping venture is getting started.
Fitness trainers like Kayla Itsines are making a killing online through memberships, fitness apps, and ebooks. If you’re naturally adept at being active, starting an online fitness business might be a no-brainer.
screenshot of Kayla Itsines website
As you get started, don’t forget to leverage social media—fitness is a visual industry. Being present on social media platforms can be a great way to build an audience and win clients. With a digital fitness business, you can also create several streams of income that can be set up passively (think digital guide books or PDFs of workout plans).
Creating and selling NFTs is one of the newest ways to start an online business. There is a passionate niche market worth tapping into if you leverage community building and manage to sell NFTs on platforms like OpenSea.
If you’re an artist already making physical art, translating those skills into marketable NFTs can prove to be a solid pivot into the online business world. First, get informed on what NFTs are, where their value really lies, and what tools you need to get started generating NFT art on the blockchain and developing a brand.
Have coaching skills? Join the online coaching industry and start coaching clients in your niche. How? Start by getting clear on what you offer and the results clients can expect from your coaching efforts.
Online coaches like Simone Seol use Instagram to access clients who want the results she offers. If you’re going to go the coaching route, social media marketing is a must. Taking the time to get certified in your particular area of expertise can help establish you as an expert in your field and increase credibility.
You can become a voiceover artist from the comfort of your home once you’ve built a voiceover brand producers can trust. There’s no telling what you can voiceover after you’ve set up your own home recording station.
You can voiceover audiobooks, YouTube videos, internet commercials, webinars, coursework, and more. To start, consider recording a demo reel, establishing a professional website, and establishing a social media presence that will attract potential voiceover customers to you.
Keep in mind that the voiceover industry is creative, which means you might need to be creative in how you attract clients and generate revenue.
Ads are everywhere. Why not be the one who gets to make a consulting fee from businesses looking to optimize their ad strategy? Yup, that’s a business you can run fully online. Ad consultants like Monica Louie are already doing it (and doing it well!).
Ad consultant example
Pick the types of ads you want to specialize in—whether that’s PPC ads on Google, Instagram ads, Facebook ads, or even display ads—and then start marketing your services with a professional website and different service offering packages.
Keep in mind that consulting isn’t for everyone. You want to have plenty of experience under your belt to ensure you can deliver results to the clients seeking your ad expertise. If you’re brand new to ad strategy, you might want to hold off on consulting until you gain more experience.
The only obstacle standing between you and building niche websites as a service-based business is a learning curve. Not only are there tons of free resources online you can tap into to learn the ins and outs of web development, you can also learn website builder platforms like Shopify to gain marketable skills clients are actively looking for.
While learning to build niche websites isn’t hard, it’s the marketing part that might take more legwork. Consider finding your first handful of clients on platforms like UpWork, Indeed, or Fiverr. As you get the ball rolling, don’t forget to collect testimonials from past clients so selling your services to new clients becomes easier.
Building niche ecommerce sites with Shopify? Here are a few guides to help you along:
Can you say recurring monthly payments? That’s exactly what a membership business idea can do for you. Membership business ideas are limitless.
You can create content and set it behind a paywall, or create a members-only community that gets access to your niche expertise on a monthly basis. Check out membership communities like Peak Freelance or Superpath for inspiration.
As you decide on a membership business model, get clear on your value proposition. You can deliver value in the form of written content, video content, exclusive group coaching, PDFs, guides, courses, or downloadable workbooks. It’s also possible to provide a monthly physical product to each member—though keep in mind this means dealing with mailing, more overhead expenses, and inventory logistics.
instagram sponsored posts
Instagram accounts in all kinds of niches are making bank through sponsorships. Here’s a quick rundown of how it works:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as reported by Forbes, the following niches had the most growth and success in 2022:
Online businesses that operate in those industries had lots of potential for success in 2022. This includes SaaS companies, online stores that sell home improvement products or materials for construction, and anything else related to the list above.
Once you’ve decided on an online business idea, you’ll want to do your due diligence and, eventually, give it life. Here’s how to start a business online, step by step.
It might sound harsh, but it’s true: just because you think you have a great idea doesn’t mean there’s a market for it.
Before investing your time and energy into starting your business, research how feasible it is and whether there’s any potential buyer interest. You can hire an agency to conduct market research for you, but if you’re on a shoestring budget, you can also take the DIY approach:
After conducting market research, write a business plan to clarify your ideas. Having a business plan will help you stay organized and focused as you go through the ups and downs of starting a new business.
You’ve validated your idea, now it’s time to turn it into a reality. Whether you’re selling a product or service, you need to create it. Find a manufacturer to bring your product to life, create packages of your service offerings, or write your book and identify a self-publishing option to bring it to fruition.
If you go the dropshipping route, the product has already been developed for you. It’s up to you to choose the products you’re passionate about or that you’ve identified a hot market for. To help you, we’ve put together a guide to finding the best products to dropship.
“How do I open a business bank account?” is a common question for many new entrepreneurs. After you’ve officially registered your business with your local government, you should have the tax identification numbers and other information required to open a business bank account.
As you grow, you might need funding for future endeavors, be it a new product launch or marketing and advertising spend. Having business bank accounts makes it easier for you to manage that capital, as well as track your revenue and expenses.
Having a bank account is also helpful when it comes to tax preparation, since your business-related transactions will be in a single place. As your business finances get more complicated, hiring a professional accountant or tax professional could be a viable option.
💡 TIP: Want to simplify your business finances? Shopify Balance is a free financial account that lets you manage your business’s money from your Shopify admin. Pay no monthly fees, get payouts up to four days earlier, and earn cashback on eligible purchases.
Further reading:
Product-based online businesses in particular may require lots of business relationships. For example: a manufacturer, a dropshipper, or a third-party logistics coordinator. When identifying which partnerships you want to move forward with, it’s best to shop around and compare your options to make sure you’re getting the best solution for your needs.
Other online business ideas may require different relationships or contractors. If you’re writing a book, for example, you may want to hire a professional editor and book designer.
If you want to start an online business, you need to have a website. And to make money online, you’ll need to incorporate payment processing functionality.
First, come up with a business name. You can use a business name generator to help you if you’re stuck. You’ll need one to start building your website.
Then choose a domain name and verify that it’s available. You can purchase a domain name for less than $20 a year in some cases. From there, you can build your own store on a platform like Shopify and start accepting payments from customers right away.
Here are a few other resources to help you get started with your ecommerce site:
Getting your first paying customer is a huge milestone for a new small business owner. Now that you’ve got your store set up, you’ll want to start getting your business out there. But finding new customers and creating convincing promotions takes time and energy.
There are so many channels to choose from—email marketing, Messenger marketing, mobile marketing, etc.—it’s hard to know the best way to grow your online business. It’s easy to get caught up in the wrong tactics and invest your time and money in the wrong places.
If you’ve been thinking about starting an online business, it’s time to get out there and embark on your new web startups ideas in your spare time. You don’t have to go all in. Start small with a part-time side hustle and scale from there. Or, keep things small. The beauty of learning how to start a business online is that you can take whatever path you choose.
Have questions about how to start an online business? Let us know in the comments below.
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