The 4 Least Expensive Online Businesses You Can Start Today and in 2019!
Are you looking for an online business to start but feeling the pinch of the wallet? We were too, so we collected the 4 least expensive online business models that you can start going into 2019!
Each of these items have a relatively low cost to startup and some of them are completely free to start, at least at the beginning. We’ll go through the benefits of each model, as well as provide resources to help you get started, expected upfront cost, and the cost of improving each model as you start to grow it.
Now I want to make sure that I give a little disclaimer, these are not “get rich quick” businesses. Period. These take work to get started but the benefit of each of these is over time, they can easily turn passive in nature and help you leave the grind of the 9 to 5 job. Each of these below will require some general skills that you may need to learn along the way so we’ll include those as well so you know what to expect.
I challenge you though to take the time and research each of these if you’re interested in starting an online business and don’t be afraid to develop the new skills you’ll need to be successful. We see in our world today that business is moving away from the standard brick and mortar and moving online. It’s time to jump on the train or risk being left behind.
With that, let’s jump into our list and start figuring out which online business model is right for you!
1. Create a Blog or Niche Site
This is what the internet is built from. As you go to Google to search for anything and everything you can possibly think of, someone was there to build that website and create the content that you’re looking for. When you go to that site, you may make a purchase, or gain information that helps you lean towards a purchase. Or you may search for an answer to a question you may have. When you land on those websites, the owner earns ad revenue just for you visiting. I’m earning ad revenue, just from you reading this.
But did you know that you can build your own blog or niche site and receive just the same. Along with that, it’s never been easier to build a website from scratch. Online tools such as WordPress makes it extremely easy to plug and play, you’ll just need to come up with the content itself.
What you need to get started
- First you need an idea for your website! These idea’s can really be anything but I recommend you niche it down to be very specific. A great piece of advice I’ve heard from many blog and niche site coaches is to go small in order to grow big! The further you niche it down, the more likely it is to be found by search engines and therefor drive more traffic to your website. An example might be instead of a “How to Lift Weights” website, instead go further like “How to Lift Weights for People with Back Pain”. This becomes a targeted market that easily defines your demographic.
- Get a Domain and Hosting – This is where you make the commitment to purchase and register your website. There are a ton of web hosts and website builders available out there. For us, we use HostGator.com and WordPress tools to build our websites. I believe they have the best suite of tools and extremely inexpensive startup cost to get going. Additionally, WordPress is used literally on the majority of websites currently online and have tons of free themes for you to choose from. The only way to really figure this out though is to just start.
- Add your logo and content – This is the part that takes the time investment from you. For your logo, you can use websites like Canva.com to get free graphic designs that you can use and it’s a page we use a lot. When it comes to the content, that is where you’ll need to put the most of your time. Uploading at minimum 1 blog post per week will help your site start to grow authority and reaching new viewers consistently.
We took the time to pull some of the different plans available from HostGator so you can see what the expected startup costs are. Now some of these may charge you for the year up front so expect on a starter plan for it to go for about $71.40 for the first year. You can always upgrade as well so don’t be afraid to simply start and give it a shot!
How it makes money
Blogs and Niche sites can make money in a few different ways, and in my opinion, it’s necessary for any online business if you want to be serious about it. You can make money from Ad revenue. WordPress inserts ads like what you see at the bottom of this page. Also, you can include Google Adsense to run smart ads on your page, but it may take a certain plan to allow some of those to work.
You can also make money through affiliate marketing which we’ll go through below as well by promoting and selling other people products. You can also sell your own physical or informational products. Coming up with a high value PDF based on your niche’s content is a great way to make passive income through a blog or niche site.
Don’t just follow my 3 steps above to get started on your website. There IS more to it than that. You’ll need to figure out some new skills such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), basic coding skills, graphic design, link building and other such skills that do take time to cultivate. I’ve linked some other great books to help you really get started on building your new blog. Click on the books to get more information
Summary and Startup Cost
Blogging really can be an inexpensive way to start an online business and can become the foundation for your overall strategy. And as I said above, you’re really looking at the world moving itself online.
You can expect your overall startup cost to be roughly between $150- $200
2. Create a YouTube Channel
YouTube isn’t just for funny cat videos and pranks. This can be a powerful online business that generates money in so many different ways. When you listen to influential YouTuber’s discuss their channels, most of them don’t worry about the ad revenue that YouTube pays. Instead they focus on other monetization methods such as affiliate marketing, direct marketing, sponsored videos, or even simple things like free products.
YouTube also is a powerful way to create and communicate with a community of people that are interested in what you have to say and promote. Again however, you don’t want to make a channel that is too broad. You need to niche it down so you can hit that target audience and be found. A great tip from the channel VideoInfluencer, they say that if you make content for everyone, you’ll be seen by no one, so be ready to niche it down.
What you need to get started
- Setup your YouTube Channel – This is an easy process in itself, but there are a few tips and tricks you’ll need to learn to be found by your target audience. Simply go to YouTube.com and you can create your channel in the top right corner. Come up with a catchy name that hits your niche, and upload some channel art to get started. Again, I would use Canva.com to create your channel art.
- A simple camera to get you started – This can easily be your cell phone if you have a decent camera on it. Remember, we’re looking to get started on the cheap so we don’t have to go crazy with expensive equipment yet. That can come later as you choose to invest in your business.
- Lighting and Microphone – Again, this doesn’t have to be a crazy investment at the beginning, but I would recommend some sort of lighting to give your videos a clear picture of you and a decent microphone that will help you come through clearly. A quick way to deter your viewers is if you’re cast in a shadow and we can’t really hear you. I have linked some inexpensive tools below to help you with this.
- Editing software – This was a skill I had to learn on my own when I started my channel. It takes some getting used to but if you go with the right software, it can make it really easy. OBS Studio is a great place to start as it’s 100% free, but I also really like Filmora by Wondershare. It’s free to download, but you’ll need to purchase in order to remove the watermark off your videos. They also have a ton of effects packs that will help your video look professional without having to have a ton of experience to do it.
How it makes money
There are several ways you can make money from your YouTube channel. This can come from selling personal merchandise through companies like TeeSpring.com. Also, you can do product reviews and provide an affiliate link for your viewers to purchase. Once you have a decent following, you can do sponsored videos that companies pay you to do.
Trick of the trade note, when you are doing your videos, drive your viewers to your blog or website for additional content, ad revenue, or additional product links. These first two go hand in hand extremely well.
If you go onto YouTube there are a ton of great content creators that go in depth on how to start and ramp up your YouTube Channel. One channel I follow is Video Influencers. They have a great library of how to videos with great ideas on how to get your first 1000 subscribers and how to “level up” your video content with ease. They recently published a new book that I personally just started reading but so far so good. I’ll be doing in depth review on this one in the coming weeks.
Summary and Start up Cost
YouTube has so many opportunities waiting to be captured by those that are willing to just simply start. It’s a great way to market your business, or even BE your business. I highly suggest doing more research and listen to the tips and tricks of the experts.
Remember though, this doesn’t happen overnight, and your first videos won’t be seen by really anyone. But over time with consistency and quality content, your channel will grow to be a significant part of your online business.
Estimated Startup cost including book –$35-$50
3. Affiliate Marketing
For me personally, I think this is my favorite online business model. There are so many ways to do affiliate marketing and so many different venues in which to market products for commissions. Again, this takes time to get up and running, and there are some tips to getting this actually rolling well into a decent stream, but once it’s up and running, it can be a great passive income stream.
Another way you can do this is to be more active with it in social media or on YouTube and actively promote new products within your niche. The options are really endless. Now since we are discussing how to build these online businesses on a budget, I’m going to give the cheapest way to do this, and provide some examples of other ways as well.
What you need to get started
- Sign up for an affiliate program- There are so many affiliate programs out there to choose from. When I first learned of this concept I was blown away by how many companies offer affiliate programs. From Amazon Associates, Clickbank, to C.J. Affiliates, I was really surprised how common it was to find affiliate programs. The easiest to start for you however, is Amazon Associates. They do ask for a website to put in, but you’re approved so quickly. You’ll need to maintain a few sales within the intro period to keep it though so make sure to sign up only when you’re ready to get started!
- Set up an online Facebook niche group – Now I’m going to be honest with you about this, it’s not the best venue to do affiliate marketing, but it works, and you’re reading this because you’re on a budget. We actually started a “bargain bin” group in Facebook and then share affiliate links for items that go on sale on Amazon. It’s not the passive part we were looking for, but it’s generating income and it cost us literally nothing to set up. And since it’s our own group, we can set our own rules.
How it makes money
This is the best part, especially when it comes to Amazon. Once someone clicks on the link that you provide, that customer has 24 hours to make A purchase. It doesn’t have to be the product you listed, they just have to make a purchase. They could click on the link for your $2 product you put up, but if they suddenly buy a big screen, you make the commission for that. Amazon pays out anywhere from 2.5% to 10% commission depending on the product category as well.
There is so much information out there on affiliate marketing because it’s such a huge opportunity. Google is a great friend for this and there are a lot of coaching programs that go deep on this category. However a lot of the free content is only going to get you so far. Most top level marketers have coaching programs that save most of the nuts and bolts for those willing to pay. However there are numerous books available on amazon as well. I took the time and listed out the book below, which is the top ranking book on affiliate marketing for you to check out.
Summary and Start up Cost
Really what I gave above was about as much of a summary as I can give. I’ll be doing a bunch of posts on affiliate marketing alone as there are so many things we can discuss on it, but this will at least let you get in, play with amazon links and figure out how to navigate within this realm. In all honesty, affiliate marketing works better with a website you create, so your startup costs are going to be fairly similar, but you can also do this completely free of startup costs.
Estimated start up cost – $0 – $200
4. Start Freelancing Online
This is one form of an online business that I personally have not undertaken yet so I won’t be going quite so deep as I did on the first 3, but I have used a few freelancers in the content that I’ve created. If you have a talent for web design, writing, SEO, graphic art or countless other skills you may have, then there is so much opportunity out there for you to earn a living from home online.
Websites like Upwork.com and Fiverr.com act as marketplaces for freelancers to set up shop for their particular skills and work with people like myself who may not be the best at graphic design. In fact, many people who start the type of businesses I’ve listed above tend to go and outsource portions of their projects to those who market themselves on these marketplaces. Let’s dive in on what you need to get started.
What you need to get started
- Sign up to be a merchant on these websites – Again, this is the easiest step to sign up, however you want to make sure that you take the time to give yourself a great listing. I know when I’ve shopped for freelancers, the best written and most engaging listing tends to be the one I look at first.
- Set yourself up a portfolio of your work – This may seem like common sense, but it’s worth saying. Put together a book of work that you’ve done in the past so that you can show off your skills. You need to WOW potential clients so you set the stage to get good reviews. Which leads us to #3
- Get Yourself Some Reviews – Just like anything else we look at online, when we are shopping, we are looking at reviews. This is also why it’s so imperative that you deliver on what you say you’re capable of doing. A bad review or two can kill your future business. Additionally, if you have nothing BUT great reviews, you’ll be able to start raising your prices over time as you’ve shown the ability to put out a great product.
- Whatever tools you’ll need to complete your freelance projects – Most likely if you’ve done these types of projects before you already have what you’ll need. However if you were doing this for a standard company prior, you may need to invest in your own tools or software in order to put up quality work. That’s going to be up to you!
How it makes you money
This one is good and simple, someone pays you for your service. While this is not a passive income stream at all, it does allow you the freedom to live the laptop lifestyle. You’d be able to do this job from the beach, the mountains or wherever life takes you. Goodbye cubicle.
As I said above, this is one online business model that I personally haven’t done, but if you have a skill to freelance with, you’re more likely needing information on just getting started more than anything. And with freelancing being such a wide category, there are a million places to start. However when it comes to using the tools online and how to build your listings, I have found two books that may be able to help you out!
In this book, author Adam Sinicki explains the impact of the gig economy and the forces that led to it as it relates to technology and working online. You will understand how to make a living supplying tech skills on a “per gig” basis.
In this book, it discusses how to use your freetime more effectively to earn that extra side money using UpWork.com
Summary and Start Up Costs
This is really taking the skills you have and marketing it to the world. For those who are OK with keeping up with a more “active” income model, this is a great way to shift your job from the standard 9 to 5 into a model that allows you to work from where ever your imagination takes you.
Estimated start up costs – $0 – $1000 (depending on what you may need)
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