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9 Types of Online Businesses and How They Work


For the past decade and a half, online businesses of all kinds have presented unique opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. And it seems like those opportunities are not ending anytime soon. Nearly 2 billion different people bought something online last year. While that is a massive number, only 36% of all businesses operate solely online.

That means that there is plenty of room for new online businesses to start and grow. But if you’re new to the world of online businesses, how do you select which is the best type of online business you should pursue?

In this article, we’ll outline some of the most common types of online businesses you can start.


1. E-Commerce

E-commerce, or electronic commerce, is simply buying and selling over the internet. It isn’t complicated, as almost everyone has either bought from or sold to people online. 

To launch an e-commerce business, you must first decide what you want to sell. It’s best to pick a product with an already existing market. Most times, what you sell also determines the online platform to sell on. You can build your platform using sites like Shopify or WooCommerice. You can sell on an existing platform Amazon or eBay. 

Here’s how to start:

  • Select your niche so you will have a specific reason for what products you’re about to sell.
  • Do a competition search. That way, you will have a comparison when it comes to your pricing.
  • Find a supplier where your products will be coming from.
  • You can now build an e-commerce website to post your products for sale.
  • Promote your website so that people will see what you have to offer.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Have you ever recommended a product you liked to someone that they eventually purchased? That’s the core idea behind affiliate marketing. But instead of just getting a “thank you” from your friend, you would get a commission. With affiliate marketing, you can recommend products and services that you have used or tested to an audience. 

Unlike e-commerce, affiliate marketing isn’t capital-intensive. You can even start at no cost. Many businesses have affiliate marketing partnerships you can plug into. 

To become a successful affiliate marketer, you would need to build an audience. You can use any platform, such as social media, YouTube, podcasts, etc., to connect with the right audience. After successfully building your brand, you can begin reaching out to bigger brands to affiliate with. You can also find affiliate marketing deals on Amazon associates, eBay Partner Network, ClickBank, JVZoo, Fiverr, etc. 

3. Blogging

You’ve most likely gotten a large chuck of your information from the internet from blogs. As of 2022, there are over 600 million blogs on the internet. With blogging, you have an opportunity to share your experience, expertise, and passions with the world through the written word.

Blogs make money through advertising, affiliating marketing, and sponsorships. Bloggers also have the option of launching their own products and services and selling them to their audience. These products can be physical products such as nutritional supplements or digital products like a course. 

To start blogging, you need to find a good host platform and the niche you wish to blog on, follow best SEO practices, provide high-quality content and consistently and strategically show up at what you do. 


4. Influencer Business

Influencer marketing is becoming a big part of the advertising landscape. In the early days of influencer marketing, influencers were primary celebrities like Kim Kardashian. Now, an influencer can be anyone who can influence an audience of followers or subscribers to purchase products.

As an influencer, you must consistently and continuously engage your followers, so they have a reason to remain on your page and trust you enough to buy whatever you promote.


5. Freelancing of All Kinds


Finally, you can explore the freelancing world, where you simultaneously offer your skills to different people. Freelancing works for any digital skill, including website development, content writing/editing, graphic designing, etc. If you don’t already have a digital skill, learn one. You can sign up on various freelance platforms to get clients – Upwork, Fiverr, TopTal, PeoplePerHour, Freelancer, Flex Jobs, Behance, Aquent, etc.- and begin your freelance business. 

However, these platforms take a cut of every sale you make. If you don’t want this, you can connect to clients directly through social media platforms and cold-emailing. The good thing about freelancing is that you decide when and where you want to work and whom you want to work with.

Freelancing Includes the following types of businesses:

  • Graphic design
  • Writing
  • Video Editing
  • Web developing
  • Social Media Management
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Photography


6. App Development

You can start an app development business if you are well-grounded in coding, programming, and software design. You could develop smart apps for smartphones by joining their tech development teams or work as a freelancer for businesses that need apps, and you’ll be paid for your efforts. You can also build apps to solve people’s problems, and you earn as people use your apps through mobile advertising, in-app purchases, etc. 


7. Youtube Creator

If you have much knowledge that many people will find useful about a particular niche and aren’t camera-shy, then you should try becoming a YouTube creator. It allows you to earn money while talking about what you love. YouTube pays its video creators, but you need to get a certain amount of views to start getting paid. 

You can also run ads for other businesses and work as an affiliate marketer. You can develop your products and sell to your YouTube audience too. To start Youtubing, pick a niche you want to focus on; be sure that the niche you choose is one you are highly knowledgeable in and is meeting a need/want.



8. Online Consulting

If you have enough experience in any area, you may be able to start an online consulting business. You determine the worth of your expertise. Your expertise will help them achieve their desired results. One of the benefits of this type of online business is there are several different kinds of online consultant businesses to choose from.

 If you are leaning towards this online business model, you need to start by deciding the niche you want to consult for. Your choice must align with your expertise and passion. This will also determine your target audience and guide you in developing a business plan for your growth.

9. Online Tutoring/Teaching

Online tutors are essentially online teachers. Similar to online consulting, online tutoring is a type of online business where you teach students skills directly. These skills can range from educational subjects like math or English to teaching musical instruments. 

You can choose your hours, which will be outside of your working hours, as your students are in a completely different time zone. Tutoring can be a very lucrative online business. It is not uncommon for online tutors to charge $50 per hour for their services.

Thomas Martin
Tom is a member of the Editorial Team at StartUp Mindset. He has over 6 years of experience with writing on business, entrepreneurship, and other topics. He mainly focuses on online businesses, digital publishing, marketing and eCommerce startups.

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Tom is a member of the Editorial Team at StartUp Mindset. He has over 6 years of experience with writing on business, entrepreneurship, and other topics. He mainly focuses on online businesses, digital publishing, marketing and eCommerce startups.

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