Here’s a BIG myth that needs to be busted…
Starting a business costs a lot of money.
That just isn’t true anymore.
Starting a business does NOT have to cost a lot of money. Not these days.
Yet people still have the misconception that it does.
Massive opportunity exists on the internet right now and it’s like nothing we have ever seen. In fact, the internet has completely leveled the playing field.
An individual working out of their living room can now compete with the big players—and they can start their business for less than $500.
Not only is the start-up cost low, but the potential to earn is incredible.
And that’s not all. Because the internet has opened up the entire world, there are so many other advantages to operating an online business:
- The ability to run a business from ANYWHERE.
- Access to consumers from across the globe.
- The ability to sell 24/7, which means making money while sleeping!
- Potential to run multiple businesses at the same time.
- Automation, freeing up the business owner’s time.
There is no other form of business that offers the benefits of an online business.
And all that is needed to start many profitable online businesses is a computer and an internet connection.
With a few basic tools, like web hosting and an email autoresponder, there is no limit to what can be achieved. And these tools are available for less than $30/month.
What can be done with these tools?
There are seven profitable online businesses that are simple to start up for less than $500. And each of these has huge earning potential.
Spoiler alert: I’ve personally used several of these models, and I grew one of them to over $10 million!
The key is to find the right model.
After all, I believe it’s important to start a real business that can last for the long haul.
A business like that has 3 important traits…
- It Offers Value – If a business doesn’t add value to customer’s lives, then it’s not going to last – and it’ll be a miserable experience trying to keep it going.
- It’s Scalable – The best online business models (including these 7) can be started on a small scale, even as a part time “side hustle” and eventually grow into a large business.
- It’s Possible To Systematize – We’re looking for freedom here, not a new job with more responsibility. The best online business models can break the link between time and income, which means more free time for the owner.
The 7 business models below have all 3 characteristics, as long as the right system is implemented.
7 Profitable Online Businesses You Can Start For Less Than $500
Twenty years ago, no one would have guessed that starting a business would be so simple and so inexpensive. Yet today, there are seven online business models that make that possible.
These businesses include:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Digital Publishing
- Coaching and Consulting
- Amazon Kindle
- Freelancing and Creating an Agency
There is such variety here. Chances are, anyone can find at least one of these businesses that suits their talents and their interests. There is at least one they will enjoy.
So, let’s go through each one in detail and see what these online business opportunities are all about…
1. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is perhaps the easiest, quickest, and best way to start an online business.
Affiliate marketing is basically selling other people’s products and getting a commission for every sale.
I personally recommend getting into affiliate marketing by building an email list. In fact, that’s exactly how I made my first money online.
The first $100 I made online was promoting an affiliate offer. I’ve never been more excited than I was after making that first sale.
Today, I make over five million dollars a year just through affiliate marketing—and affiliate marketing is only a secondary part of my business.
One of the courses I help sell costs $999 and I get a 50% commission on each sale I make. That means that for every course I sell, I take home $499 of pure profit!
It’s also possible to sell affiliate products with a blog, Youtube videos, niche websites, and more.
The best part about affiliate marketing is that there’s no need to create an original product
That means the creator of the product does most of the heavy lifting on the front end. They create the product, the sales pages, delivery for the product, and more.
The role of the affiliate is to simply get new leads to the product’s sales page.
It’s easy to scale— Instead of having to spend a bunch of time creating new products, all affiliate marketers have to do to scale is find new products to promote.
The possibilities for growth are tremendous—There is no limit to the number of affiliate offers that can be promoted. The number of people that can be targeted is staggering.
It doesn’t get any better than that. And I have developed a system anyone can use to get started with affiliate marketing…
3 Simple Steps to Get Started With Affiliate Marketing
Step 1 – Build an Audience
Email marketing is the best way to build an audience. Create a free gift, set up an opt-in page, and drive traffic to that page. These subscribers can then be marketed to for this affiliate offer and any future offers.
Other ways to build an audience include creating a blog or building a following on social media. Building a relationship with followers will make it possible to attract them to the affiliate offer.
Step 2 – Find a Product and Sign Up
To promote a product honestly and genuinely, it is best for an affiliate to actually like and/or use that product.
All the best affiliates search out these types of products and promote them. Because when they like it, they can truly talk about how great the product is. They can sell it with 100% confidence.
Once the ideal product is found, simply sign up for the merchant’s affiliate program. There are marketplaces like Clickbank and JVZoo that make it easy to find and promote affiliate programs.
Step 3 – Sell and Earn
Once an affiliate is signed up with the merchant’s program, it’s time to sell that product to the audience. A commission will be earned on each sale. And depending on the affiliate program, that commission could be as high as 50%, 60%, or even 70%.
But there are some additional things to know that will help bring success to any affiliate marketing efforts…
Keys To Affiliate Marketing Success
These are just a few last tips that will help ensure an affiliate marketing campaign is successful:
Pick the right niche—Pick the most popular niches. These are areas where a lot of people are actively looking for information to solve their problems.
The best niches also have a lot of products to promote. For example, personal development is a niche rich in affiliate products, while politics is not, even though politics excites people’s emotions.
Here are some niche ideas:
- Personal Development
- Pet Training
- And pretty much anything else you can think of!
Build an audience—The best way to build an audience is through email marketing. Create a free gift, create an opt-in page, and bring traffic to the site.
Promote the chosen offers—Develop strong sales copy skills. These skills will allow anyone to write in a way that gets readers to take action.
Affiliate marketing is one of the best (if not the best) ways for somebody who is brand new to online business to get started.
It’s where I started, and it works just as well today as it did back then.
To achieve awesome success in affiliate marketing, start with our FREE Digital Bootcamp.
2. Digital Publishing
Digital publishing is another very powerful online business.
In fact, this is the largest part of what Lurn does!
Digital publishing is about developing and selling information products. These products include things like eBooks, videos, audio recordings, membership programs, and live events. Digital publishing is incredibly flexible. And like affiliate marketing, it is open to any niche.
And it is so much more accessible today than it used to be.
In the past, it was difficult to get into the publishing business. To create information products and ship them was a vast undertaking. It cost a lot of money and took a lot of time to:
- Produce the product (i.e. type setting and printing)
- Market the product
- Mail it out
- Make corrections if needed (which meant reprinting the product)
These days, the whole process is digital and automated. Selling 1,000 products requires no more effort or resources than selling one product. And that means an increase in profits without an increase in effort.
Plus, once the product is created, that’s it. It will always be there. Product creation is a one-time effort. Even if revisions or updates need to be made, it is a simple matter of making changes to the file.
However, when getting into digital publishing, it is important to go about it the right way…
3 Basic Steps of Digital Publishing
There are three steps anyone starting out in digital publishing should take:
- Choose a niche—As with affiliate marketing, it is best for the digital publisher to choose something they are passionate about.
- Create a product—This can be created by the digital publisher or outsourced.
- Sell the product—Sell to an email list, through a social media following, and through advertising.
Here is an example of the kind of niche and product someone could create. Say they are interested in the dog training niche. This person could:
- Record a few videos that show them training a dog
- Edit these videos using free software
- Package it all into a $37 course
Yes, it really is that simple!
Plus, there are plenty of services these days that will handle payment processing, tracking sales, processing refunds, and anything else associated with selling a digital product. Again, this is so simple.
In fact, the hardest part of digital publishing is the marketing. And for this reason, it is crucial that any digital publisher—and any online business owner—learn copywriting.
Now, before we move onto the next business, I want to stress the massive profit potential of digital publishing. I have created more than 20 seven-figure products using digital publishing.
How awesome is that? And the only expenses associated with digital publishing are:
- Web hosting, such as HostGator or Bluehost
- A website on which to sell the digital product
- A website that delivers the digital product
- An email autoresponder like Sendlane, Aweber, MailChimp or GetResponse
The earning potential with digital publishing is phenomenal. And there is absolutely no reason NOT to do it.
Digital Publishing is a great complement to Affiliate Marketing. They can actually make each other more effective!
Here’s why. Both Digital Publishing and Affiliate Marketing involve selling information products and building an email list.
With an online brand and an audience, anyone can sell their own digital products, have affiliates promote their products and even promote other people’s products!
For example, someone in the fitness niche might have an online course (their digital publishing product). They can also have other fitness professionals promote that course as affiliates. And since it’s not optimal to promote one product 24/7, they can promote relevant affiliate products to their list as well.
Another super effective blend of Digital Publishing and Affiliate Marketing involves tripwire offers. Tripwire offers are low-ticket offers that get customers in the door. And from there, more expensive offers can be sold.
It’s really hard to get new customers. But it’s easy to turn customers into repeat buyers. Tripwire offers let prospects buy something really inexpensive, to get in the door, and turns them into customers. After taking action with a tripwire offer, people are much more likely to buy something else! That’s the key.
Here’s how it all fits together. An original information product can be a tripwire offer. Then higher ticket affiliate products (and more original products) can be sold to these customers as well.
See the incredible amount of opportunity here?
It is also incredibly easy to sell physical products online.
And this is precisely what an eCommerce business does. Just think of Amazon and Ebay. They are the largest examples of eCommerce out there.
In fact, during the last quarter of 2016, Amazon generated over $47 billion in revenue! Just think about that. It just goes to show how big eCommerce is. People ARE shopping online.
But the giants aren’t the only ones making big money from selling products online.
There are many entrepreneurs that make millions of dollars every single year through eCommerce. There are different levels of eCommerce businesses. Some of these people have quite extensive websites, but many of them have simple websites and still make a lot of money.
And some even don’t have their own website! They simply use an eCommerce platform, such as Shopify. Through this platform, they can sell anything and have it shipped right to their customers.
And it has never been easier to start an eCommerce business.
With the right system, an eCommerce business can be started for less than $500.
Compare that with the thousands (or more) it would cost to start a brick and mortar retail store.
That said, I don’t talk as much about eCommerce because launching an eCommerce business will be more expensive than the other business models because we’re dealing with physical products.
Why? Because physical products need to be produced, warehoused, and shipped. Yes, there are companies that handle all of this, but the profit margins aren’t that big.
For example, after deductions are made at different points in the supply chain, a business owner might only make $3 off of a $20 product.
Other models like digital publishing and affiliate marketing have much larger margins.
That means to be profitable, eCommerce is a straight up numbers game. The good news is that people LOVE buying physical products.
Having said that, this is a business that can be extremely profitable for someone who knows what they’re doing. Honestly, eCommerce can be one of the highest earning online business models when done correctly. My wife actually runs a profitable eCommerce store.
Of course, there are some general principles to keep in mind. Like with every other online business model, it’s so important to pick a profitable niche. A niche will make or break a business. Also, it’s crucial to sell the right products.
Do some research on Amazon and Ebay to see what products are selling well in a niche. With the foundation of a good niche and good products, chances of success are much higher.
For an even more detailed guide about some common mistakes to avoid, read our article 7 Big Mistakes People Make With eCommerce.
With that in mind, here is the easiest way to get started in eCommerce:
- Use a built-for-you website platform like Shopify—This way, all the heavy lifting is done by them and all that is left is to choose the products and sell.
- Choose a niche—This is just like choosing a niche in affiliate marketing and digital publishing.
- Find products—The best place to do this is through AliExpress. This is an online shopping site that takes care of the shipping. All products are sent directly from the manufacturer or distributor, which means no inventory and no warehousing needed.
Up to this point, we have talked a lot about different types of products—other people’s products, digital products, and physical products.
However, it is also easy to set up an online business that sells services. Let’s take a look…
4. Coaching and Consulting
Services are in high demand!
Anyone who has knowledge or skills that can help others can easily launch a successful coaching and consulting business.
And this is an ideal business for anyone who likes working with people.
Coaching and consulting are not new concepts. They were around long before the internet showed up on the scene.
But as with any other type of business, the internet has made it much easier to connect with potential clients in ways that were not available in the past.
First and foremost, coaches and consultants now have access to a global pool of consumers. And this means there is massive potential for success.
Again, the right niche must be chosen, one the business owner is passionate about. And some niches are immensely profitable. This is particularly the case with any type of business consulting.
Regardless of the niche chosen, working as a coach or consultant will build expertise like no other online business. When we work with others, we are always learning.
Plus, this is a business that can benefit from one-on-one work or can be scaled. Rather than working one-on-one, a coach or consultant can easily work with groups of people. This can create a massive increase in profits.
But remember, a coach and a consultant are not the same thing…
The Difference Between A Coach And A Consultant
It is easy to mistake the coach and the consultant as the same thing. But this really isn’t the case. The difference between them is subtle, but there is a difference.
A consultant works with someone to find solutions in some area of life, like their career or business. An example of a consultant is a marketing consultant. This is a person who will go into a business and give their clients specific strategies on how to improve marketing.
A coach is a little different. Rather than telling people what to do, a coach helps create a framework that allows their client to figure out for themselves what they should be doing. Then the client can execute their plan.
In other words:
- The consultant tells the client what to do.
- The coach gives the client guidance so the client can figure out what to do.
Coaches and consultants are absolutely incredible people.
I honestly don’t know where I would be without them.
I have personally paid thousands of dollars a month to be able to work with amazing marketing consultants, business coaches, and more. That is all money well spent, because by getting that individual attention, I was able to make real breakthroughs in my life.
Over the past year, I have been working with an entrepreneur coach, and it has been one of the most profound experiences of my life. This coaching has been incredibly valuable to me as a business leader, it has been great for my company, and it has even been great for my soul!
Perhaps the most beautiful thing about coaching and consulting is the opportunity to work with people in just about any area of life. No matter the niche, there are opportunities to coach and consult with people.
I have personally met people that do coaching in:
- Health and nutrition
- And more…
It’s Easier Than You Think
Coaching and consulting might be the easiest online business to start.
Everyone has some type of skill that other people would pay to learn. Yes, everyone. Even if someone’s only skill in the world is Excel spreadsheets, there are A LOT of people who are willing to pay to learn those skills.
Coaching and consulting requires less technical knowledge than the other business models. It can be started with just a phone and an internet connection. That’s it!
There’s one more thing that keeps people from taking advantage of this awesome business model: Selling!
Selling can be scary to some people. But it doesn’t have to be.
A lot of people don’t feel comfortable promoting themselves. With coaching and consulting, there’s no need to be pushy or “salesy.”
All it takes is for someone to be themselves and have a skill that helps people. Then, the coach or consultant can just start conversations with potential clients and show how they can help them. That’s how almost everyone gets started.
If coaching or consulting sounds like a fit, the good news is it is easy to launch a coaching or consulting business…
Simple Steps To Starting a Coaching or Consulting Business
- Choose a niche—There’s that niche again. Except this time, the key is to choose a niche in which the coach or consultant already has experience and skill. After all, it isn’t possible to direct and guide people without having the proper knowledge and experience.
- Start reaching out to ideal prospects or run ads—Advertising is one way to attract clients. It is also possible to attract clients through other channels, such as LinkedIn, social media, or even contacts through business colleagues.
- Have a way to speak with clients—When working with clients, whether one-on-one or as a group, there needs to be a way to speak with them directly. Be sure to set up a method of communication, such as phone, conference call, or Skype.
Here’s an inside tip: One of the most IN-Demand coaching/consulting services right now is Facebook Advertising.
Many of our students at Lurn are booking clients at an exceptional rate. And they all started with our Free Facebook Ads Bootcamp. Sign up today to really leverage the coaching & consulting business model: Free Facebook Ads Bootcamp
Blogging can become a lucrative business.
For those who have been living under a rock, blog is short for web-log. It’s basically a type of website that has articles posted instead of only static pages.
Honestly, every website should have a blog. They’re that important. And they can really accelerate online business success. There’s a reason why every major company in the world now has a blog. They know the potential.
Blogging is a great online business to start all by itself. But it’s even better when used in combination with some of these other businesses.
There are so many benefits to blogging:
It leverages SEO—This is a HUGE advantage. All the written content makes the blogs rank high in search engines. This has the potential to attract a lot of organic traffic, for FREE. In fact, this is more possible with blogging than with any other business models we have discussed.
Works well with other businesses—Blogging can easily be combined with any other of the businesses we are discussing here. It is so easy to implement affiliate marketing on a blog simply by adding banners with affiliate links. It is just as easy to link a blog with digital and physical products or with services offered.
Blogging is a great option for writers—Writers can take special advantage of blogging, expressing their knowledge in a way that works best for them. But those that don’t feel confident writing can still use blogging as a tool by outsourcing it to a freelancer.
Blog content is sharable—Blog content can easily go viral because it is highly sharable. It can be shared on any social media account, by the blogger and by the readers.
It is suitable for any niche— It is incredibly easy to blog about any niche under the sun. Sharing information about a specific niche is a great way to generate a following and show the skills and knowledge of an expert.
Finally, blogging is just plain fun!
The key is to post content regularly. It is important that the followers of a blog know what to expect. They must be able to rely on the fact that they will learn something new at predictable intervals.
And above all, make sure the content is valuable! People won’t come back if they don’t think the content is useful.
Content Is King
Blogging is all about content.
A blog with high-quality content is one of the best assets in the online business world.
We’re in the Information Age. People are actively seeking out information. And a blog will make any online business A LOT more visible.
And if the blog has amazing free content, people are going to be hungry to pay for whatever else is offered.
For example, someone with an excellent blog about natural health will find it very easy to sell any products related to natural health (ebooks, online courses, consulting services, health products and more).
Plus, starting a blog is pretty simple.
The Simplest Way to Start a Blog
- Choose a niche—Like always, start with selecting the niche that will work best in terms of passion and monetization.
- Install WordPress— Buy hosting and install WordPress, which is 100% free. Most web hosting providers now have 1 click WordPress installation, which makes this step a breeze!
- Start writing posts!—Just get going. And remember, planning blog content in advance will help ensure the content is always good and consistent.
Ways To Monetize a Blog
Of course, a blog will only be a business if it is monetized. Otherwise, it is just—well—a blog. Here are some ways to monetize a blog to start earning an income:
- Affiliate marketing
- Digital publishing
- Selling eCommerce products
- Selling coaching/consulting services
- Ads on the site
Next, let’s talk about publishing books…
6. Amazon Kindle
It is SO easy to self-publish a book thanks to Amazon!
Amazon Kindle is the largest eBook marketplace in the world. In fact, it’s so big that today Amazon sells more eBooks than physical books.
This is a great option for writers. Writing eBooks and selling them can generate a lucrative income. And if someone isn’t a writer?
They can still take advantage of Amazon Kindle!
Anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable writing a book themselves has another option.
They can outsource the creation of their eBooks. Again, there are freelancers out there who are experts when it comes to writing. Simply find a writer, provide them with an outline for the book, and watch the magic happen.
One of the major advantages of publishing via Amazon Kindle is that the customers are already there! It is easy to have direct access to an audience that comes to the “store” looking for eBooks.
When I published my first edition of The Circle of Profit on Amazon, I was able to get 64,000 customers in under a week!
I did this by simply tapping into the amazing resources that Amazon provides. It’s all right there!
And publishing on Amazon is incredibly simple. Here’s how to do it:
- Write a book on a desired topic—Again, it is easy to outsource the writing. Freelance platforms such as Upwork or iWriter are great places to find talented freelance writers.
- Create a nice cover—Amazon has a cover builder. Another option for making a cover is to use Canva. Or it is possible to outsource the creation of the cover to Fiverr.
- Create a free account on Kindle Direct Publishing—This is easy and only takes about 5 minutes.
- Write good copy on the eBook’s sales page—This copy will help entice people to buy the book.
But remember, publishing an eBook via Amazon does have its drawbacks…
While it does have incredible potential, it isn’t nearly as profitable as digital publishing or affiliate marketing. This is because eBooks are so cheap on Kindle and the author only gets a percentage of the sale.
The only way to make a lot of money through Kindle is to publish A LOT of books. That, of course, is not going to be appealing to everyone to say the least.
Another disadvantage is being at the whim of Amazon. Amazon can make changes overnight that can be devastating to sellers. They can also shut anyone down whenever they want to.
The best plan is to combine publishing through Amazon Kindle with other forms of online business. This way, Amazon Kindle can be used as a lead magnet for those businesses. For example, an eBook could lead people to a coaching program or an online course.
This will provide a well-rounded approach that promises the highest profits.
And now on to the final online business model…
7. Freelancing and Creating an Agency
In many of the businesses listed above, I have talked about outsourcing.
Hiring someone to write or do graphic design or some other aspect of your business is a great way to create products.
But what about the people who have those skills themselves?
Anyone who has services to sell can have a great online business as a freelancer.
But the goal isn’t just to offer freelance services. The ultimate goal should be to create an agency that offers high-quality services.
I have used agencies for a lot of different services, such as graphic design, writing, and programming.
These agencies are all real businesses that someone built. The owner isn’t doing all the work. They’ve built a team and the right systems for getting new clients.
There’s high demand right now for all of these services.
After all, for most companies, it makes more sense to contract out to these agencies as opposed to hiring somebody to do the work in-house. This way, they can avoid hiring permanent staff and paying a full-time salary with benefits.
Plus, it is incredibly inexpensive to get started as a freelancer.
It costs almost nothing. In fact, some websites, such as Upwork and Guru, have a basic membership that is free. Anyone who wants to can sign up and start bidding for jobs immediately. They can literally find work overnight.
The trick is not to simply create a job as a freelancer. Rather, the goal should be to build a business—an agency.
Ideally, a freelancer takes on enough clients and does great work so they can make a good income for themselves. But if they take on more clients than they need or can handle on their own, they can then hire other freelancers to serve those clients.
The business then becomes an agency.
With the internet, it is easier than ever to go out and get clients. As with other forms of online business, freelancers can market their services through advertising, social media, and blogging. But they also have freelance platforms through which to find clients.
Plus, there is a lot of demand for freelancers right now in many fields, such as:
- Graphic design
- Web design
- Video editing
- Virtual assistant
- And more…
These are all services that can be immediately monetized for a whopping $0! And they can all start earning profit literally overnight.
Plus, anyone who works as a freelancer can also enjoy any of these other businesses. For example, a freelance writer can do the following:
- Build an agency as described above
- Coach others in how to launch and maintain a freelance career
- Write books—in the freelancing niche or another familiar niche— that they can sell on Amazon Kindle
- Write books and create other information products they can sell through digital publishing
- Blog about their freelancing career
- Add affiliate marketing to their business portfolio by integrating it with any of the above business models
- Sell products on the side
Yes, as a freelancer, it is easy to engage in ALL SEVEN of the business models we have discussed here!
And when it comes to freelancing, there is one service that is in EXTREMELY HIGH DEMAND right now: Copywriting. With so much business being done online, copywriting is possibly the most valuable skill someone can have.
That’s why we’re offering a free copywriting workshop to help anyone become a great copywriter: Free Copywriting Bootcamp
At this point, we have talked about each of these online businesses—how each of them can become a massive success. Yet, in order to accomplish that success, an online business owner must build a solid foundation…
The Foundation Of Success With ANY Of These Businesses
None of these online businesses will earn a dime if people don’t know about them. Marketing is critical.
And the CORE to the success of any online business is email marketing.
I mentioned above that I have actually created most of these types of businesses. And the unifying force behind each of these businesses is my email list.
By building up an email list, I’m able to:
- Sell affiliate products
- Sell digital information products of my own
- Drive traffic to my blog
- Sell coaching and consulting services
- Generate sales on Amazon Kindle
- And even sell physical products
This has ALL been possible because of my email list. It truly is the greatest business asset I have!
And this is why I always emphasize (in most of the articles you read on this website) the power of email marketing. There is nothing more powerful. With email marketing, it is possible to:
- Have complete ownership of the list, making it an incredible and valuable business asset
- Have full control over all marketing campaigns—no one can shut you down
- Market to the same people over and over again without paying any additional money
- Send out valuable content to subscribers on a regular basis
- Automate the entire process
- Build a relationship with the people on the list—this is so important because with a relationship comes trust and that’s what makes people buy
If you are serious about starting an online business, you need to become a master of email marketing!
There is no denying that building an online business is profitable. It is also one of the smartest things anyone can do.
It is simple and quick to build any of the following online businesses for less than $500:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Digital Publishing
- Coaching and Consulting
- Amazon Kindle
- Freelancing and Creating an Agency
Each one of these businesses offers massive potential for success on its own. But when combined, these online businesses have the power to be truly unstoppable.
There is no limit to the earning power of these businesses!
And for such a small start-up cost that anyone can get started today. There is absolutely NO reason not to do it right now!