Online Business Ideas: 16 Best Low-Cost Ideas and How to Start (Part 4 of 4)| Mark Hayes

13. Become an affiliate marketer

Affiliate marketing is when you recommend a product or service by sharing it on a blog or social media to your email list, on your website, or on other channels. 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 FutureShareASale, and FlexOffers are a few examples. Amazon has its own affiliate program, and you can also check out the Shopify Affiliate Program

Depending on your niche and interest, you can also look at the following: diet & weight loss, tummy trimming, health and fitness, natural rapid weight loss program, ebook publishing amongst others.

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. 

Why do affiliate marketing? 

  • It’s easy: you likely already promote the products and services you use. Now you can get paid for it! 
  • Affiliate marketing is a great source of passive income. With the Shopify Affiliate Program, affiliates earn an average of $58 for each user who signs up for a paid plan and $2,000 for each Plus referral.

14. Curate subscription boxes

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. 

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. 

Why curate subscription boxes?

  • It’s a viable seasonal business. Ironically, “subscription” boxes are purchased as gifts more often than for the buyer themselves. So if you’re only interested in running your online business for part of the year, this could be a model worth checking out. 
  • It’s a growing industry. Subscription commerce sales grew from $57 million in 2011 to more than $2.6 billion in 2016.
  • You don’t need to create your own products. Instead, you can use proven, successful products and simply put them together in a nice package. 

Interested in finding out how to start your subscription box business? Learn from these resources: 

15. Develop a niche product

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: 

  • Conscious consumers: think vegan, sustainable, and eco-friendly products and brands. 
  • Pet owners: you could even drill down by pet type.
  • Remote workers: these professionals have specific attributes different from the traditional office worker.

Why develop a niche product?

  • Niche products are unique and thus buzzworthy. Early success can be all you need to drive press coverage with zero budget
  • Though niching down might be scary to some, choosing a specific target customer makes it easier to create marketing and messaging that resonates. Rather than trying to speak to a broad, diverse group, you’re talking to a group of individuals with lots of shared characteristics. 

16. Create handmade goods

If you’re particularly crafty, selling handmade products would be a great ecommerce business idea for you. Whether you make jewelry, picture frames, or furniture, one business idea is to monetize your craft skills and sell products online. 

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. 

Why sell handmade goods?

  • Devote as much or as little time as you want. It’s your choice on how big you want to grow. 
  • Create on your schedule. Make your handmade goods on a set schedule, when you have spare time, or whenever you want. 
  • Turn your passion into income. Like many of the online business ideas on this list, an entrepreneurial endeavor backed by passion leads to a more fulfilling experience. 

Ready to find new homes for your handcrafts? Get started here:

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