20 (Profitable) Online Business Ideas That Anyone Can Start

Profitable Online Businesses

Here’s a BIG myth that needs to be busted… it's impossible to legitimately make money online.

That just isn’t true.

While 20-30 years ago you may have only seen a bunch of scammy ads talking about how you can make money, the reality today is that there are a bunch of legitimate ways to make money online. 

For many of these ideas, you don't even need to have inventory. In fact, and internet connection and knowledge is all you'll need.

If you had told people this 20 years ago, no one would have guessed that starting a business would be so simple and so inexpensive.

Yet today, there are at least 20 online business models that make it possible to make money online.

These businesses include:

  1. Affiliate Marketing
  2. Digital Publishing
  3. eCommerce
  4. Coaching
  5. Consulting
  6. Blogging
  7. Amazon Kindle
  8. Freelancing
  9. Ebay/Craigslist
  10. Live Events
  11. YouTube Personality
  12. Twitch Streamer
  13. Email Marketing
  14. Game Development
  15. App Development
  16. Digital Music Distribution
  17. Digital Movie Distribution
  18. Podcaster
  19. Influencer
  20. Selling Crafts

There is such variety here.

Chances are, anyone can find at least one of these businesses that suits their talents and their interests. For the most part, you don't even need a college education to start any of these profitable online businesses. 

All it really takes is the willingness to read, learn, and hustle your way into success.  

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. 

It's one of my personal favorite ways for people to get started.

In fact, the first $100 I made online was promoting an affiliate offer, and I went on to build my current business on the back of affiliate marketing

The best part about affiliate marketing is that there's no need to create an original product.

The creator of the product does most of the heavy lifting on the product development 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.

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 developing and selling information products. These products include things like eBooks, videos, audio recordings, membership programs, and live events.

And like affiliate marketing, it is open to any niche. 

The best part about digital publishing is these days. In the past, it used to take massive effort to find a published and get your book shipped out and on shelves.

Today, selling 1,000 products requires no more effort or resources than selling one product.

Plus, once the product is created, that’s it. It will always be there.

Even if revisions or updates need to be made, it is a simple matter of making changes to the file.  

(NOTE: Ready to explore how to actually start some of these businesses? Check out the FREE #LurnNation platform to access our exclusive entrepreneurial content that makes starting a business online accessible to anyone. Sign up here.)

3. eCommerce

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.

With the right system, you can start an eCommerce business for less than $500. Compare that with the thousands (or more) it would cost to start a brick and mortar retail store.

You can even get free eCommerce training here with our eCom Bootcamp.

4. Coaching 

Think back to when you were younger and wanted to learn a skill, a sport, or an activity. 

To do that, you likely had a coach. 

Whether it was your softball coach, basketball coach, English teacher, or piano instructor, they were all types of coaches. 

People need coaches to learn new skills and get to where they want to go in life, and you can be that person.

I guarantee that you either have a skill that someone wants to learn or knowledge of how to get to a certain place in life that someone else wants to get to.

Coaching businesses are a great way to earn money AND help people.

5. Consulting

Consulting is similar to coaching in that you're leveraging a specific skill that you have.

However, consulting is less about teaching and more about implementing your knowledge for someone to help them grow their business. 

Take a financial consultant, for example. 

People hire financial consultants to take a look through their books and make a professional recommendation, not to teach them the ins and outs of accounting. 

If you have a skill you can use to provide value to a person or business, you can be a consultant.

6. Blogging

Blogging is one of the most fun types of businesses to start, and it's also one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to get started. 

Bloggers typically start out making money with ads and affiliate marketing, but you can grow into product development (through eCom, digital publishing, or both)as you figure out what types of product your audience likes to purchase. 

The biggest hurdle with blogging is that there is a low barrier to entry, so you'll have a healthy amount of competition. 

To get you started, we have a free course called How To Start A Blog that will teach you the basics. 

7. 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 nice passive income, and it also works as a great lead generation tool for coaches, consultants, freelancers, and other types of entrepreneurs.

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!

Not a writer?

You can easily hire a freelancer to do the writing for you as long as you have a good marketing plan in place.

8. Freelancing 

Speaking of freelancers, anyone who has services to sell can have a great online business as a freelancer. This could be:

  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Design
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Web development
  • Accounting
  • Anything you can imagine

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, but 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.

Plus, it is incredibly inexpensive to get started as a freelancer.

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.

If you want to learn more about how to become a freelancer, you can get started with our free course called Freelance Bootcamp.

9. Ebay/Craigslist

Ever heard of flipping?

Selling physical goods on Ebay or Craiglist is another great online business model. It’s technically under the umbrella of eCommerce, but it has some key differences from the eCommerce model discussed above.

Websites like Ebay, for example, have massive amounts of people searching for physical products.

There is already a giant pool of potential customers, and there are a lot of products that can be sold for a nice profit online.

Some people go to garage sales to find undervalued items. Other people buy products from discount stores and sell them for a profit online.

There are many ways to go about this business model.

Flipping on Ebay, Craigslist, and other similar websites has been a profitable business model for a long time now and will continue to be in the future.

10. Live Events

Our Lurn Masters workshop is a great example of this. Although Lurn Masters is a live event, a bulk of the promotional activities for it are done online.

However, don't forget that live events can be virtual too! You can create a virtual live event for people to attend.

This is much cheaper and easier to create than an in-person event and could be a great place to start.

We also have a shorter version of our Lurn Masters workshop called Lurn Platinum.

During this live virtual workshop, we help students build their own online business in just three days! Live events definitely make for a great online business model.

11. YouTube Personality

Online video has grown massively in recent years, and experts are predicting that it's only going to become more and more popular over the coming years. 

Although YouTube doesn't pay quite as well as it once did, there is definitely still a lot of opportunity out there for people who are comfortable on camera. 

There are personalities out there making millions of dollars per year on YouTube, so even making a fraction of that can set you up with a nice life.

Even if you don't build your entire business on YouTube, it's a great place to do content marketing for whatever business you do choose.

12. Twitch Streamer

What if I told you you could get paid to play video games?

Your parents might have called you crazy when you were younger if that was your dream, but it's now a reality for a lot of people.

Twitch is basically like YouTube for gamers, and you can actually make money by streaming yourself as you play your game of choice.

There are a lot of different ways to earn money as a streamer on Twitch, so don't let old attitudes convince you not to give something a try.

13. Email Marketing

If you know me at all, you know email marketing is my absolute favorite business model. 

It's how I built Lurn!

It's really easy to get started, and here are just a few ways that I use email marketing:

  • 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
  • Sell physical products

Email marketing is incredibly versatile business model that can stand alone, or you can use to complement any other business that you choose.

You can get free training for email marketing in our Digital Bootcamp.

14. Game Development

If you love games and want to do something other than streaming, developing your own games and selling them in an app store is a viable option to earn good money. 

Although you once had to know how to program games yourself (still helpful if you know how), there are options out there now that allow you to develop games without any programming knowledge. 

Some of those tools are:

There's a ton of opportunity out there right now for game developers.

15. App Development

Just like games, there is quite a bit of money in the app market. And you no longer have to know how to code to develop apps (again, more knowledge is better!).

Some tools you can use to develop apps without needing to know how to code are:

Using these tools is a great way to get a minimum viable product to get you to the point that you can bring people onto your team to start scaling.

16. Digital Music Distribution

You no longer have to hold out hope that you'll be signed to a major record label to start making money with your music. 

Today, there are plenty of resources available to you that allow you to sell your music to people online without being on a label. 

You can check out places like:

If you have the drive to make it happen, there are definitely resources to turn your love for music into a business.

17. Digital Movie Distribution

Just like with music, you no longer have to hope that a major production company picks up your movie or documentary to start earning money. 

You can use platforms like:

There's no longer any excuse for you to not use your talent and passion for movies into a full-time business.

18. Podcaster

Podcasts are hot right now, and anyone can start one. 

Although I definitely recommend that you have some high-quality audio gear before you set off on your podcasting journey, it's really as simple as recording yourself and uploading it. 

Some people podcast full-time, while others use it as a content marketing tool for another business that they've grown. 

Either way, people love podcasts (I certainly do), and they're a lot of fun to put together.

We even have a great free course called Podcast Blueprint if you want to learn more about how to start your very own podcast.

19. Influencer

The idea of an influencer is confusing for some people because it's a relatively new business opportunity.

Being an influencer basically just means using your reputation to promote other companies and brands via a social media platform (or IRL).

However, the idea of being an influencer has been around for a while. 

In the past, this was primarily limited to celebrities. Now, with platforms like Instagram, anyone can become an influencer. 

You can learn more about becoming an influencer in Influencer Bootcamp, our free introduction to how to make it happen.

20. Selling Crafts

Millions of peoples out there create crafts as a hobby, but what if I told you can easily monetize that passion of yours?

Etsy is the most popular platform right now for selling crafts, and you can sell anything from blankets to hats to wedding gifts. 

The opportunities are pretty limitless on Etsy. 

Choose One Of These Profitable Online Business Ideas

Profitable Online Businesses


The world of digital entrepreneurship is still relatively new, but it's much more legitimate today than it ever has been in the past, and there are a ton of opportunities out there for you. 

The great thing about these opportunities are that many of them can actually be combined. 

For example, I started out with email marketing but eventually grew into digital publishing, coaching and consulting, and eCom. 

You have a ton of opportunities out there to make money online, so there's no excuse to not get started with one of these profitable online business ideas today.

(NOTE: Ready to explore how to actually start some of these businesses? Check out the FREE #LurnNation platform to access our exclusive entrepreneurial content that makes starting a business online accessible to anyone. Sign up here.)