Online Business Opportunities That Are Legitimate
The Internet is a great leveler and it allows people to work from home or while they are on the road, competing with much bigger companies as long as their knowledge and capabilities are up to scratch. The barrier to entry for online business opportunities is minimal. All you need is to have a computer with an Internet connection, and the motivation to get some work done.
Many people start with small, simple task-based work, and then build up some funds to grow their business into something bigger, reinvesting a portion of their income until they actually have something sustainable – maybe even a semi-passive income that can support them. Let’s take a look at some options for online business opportunities, to suit most skills, abilities and time commitments.
1. Micro Jobs
Micro-jobs are one of the easiest things to get started with. There are services such as MTurk that allow people to do small jobs using their computers, tablets or phones. These tasks are usually menial things such as entering prices from a receipt or checking contact details on a website.
Pay is tiny – a few cents per task, but it is something that can be done in your spare time, therefore it’s a way to earn money that you would otherwise not have. If you normally play clicker games on your phone, or sit and mindlessly watch TV, then why not spend that time making a small amount of cash? Set that cash aside in a Paypal account, and use it to do more lately.
Blogging is something that takes time to get started with. To do it well you will need to have hosting and your own domain – those free services are not usually up to scratch and you’ll struggle to make money on them. You’ll need to post regularly, and to engage with other people who run websites in your niche, so that you can get visitors.
Set up advertising with Google Adsense, and with affiliate programmes based on your subject, and slowly build up a revenue stream. Blogging isn’t going to make you rich quickly, but if you use a combination of social media and good content on your blog you will likely be able to make some money from it, and it could lead to other opportunities too.
Speaking arrangements, the chance to publish books, the chance to review products. If you enjoy writing and there’s a subject that you’re passionate about (Games, crafts, travel, nutrition, sports…) then you have a good chance of getting something back from that hobby if you work on writing.
Dropshipping is the practice of running an online store without actually holding inventory. You list the products online, and let someone else post them out for you. Dropshipping reduces the risk of setting up an online store because you don’t have to pay the upfront cost of holding the stock. In addition, you don’t have to worry about cluttering up your home with stock while you wait for it to sell.
Dropshipping doesn’t quite carry the profit margins of buying stock in bulk and then reselling it, but it is a lot lower risk, which means that it’s a good option for people who want to test the waters of running an online store, without having to put down a large amount of money. Most people who start with dropshipping will gradually expand their offerings and start looking at other options as their brand grows.
For example, after doing dropshipping, the next option could be to move into Fulfillment By Amazon – with this, you buy products and ship them to Amazon’s warehouse. Amazon will then handle storage, packing, and shipping for orders that you sell via Amazon’s website.
One of the downsides of dropshipping is that a lot of the time the dropshippers are located abroad, so shipping times can be slow. In addition, returns processing can be cumbersome. This means that you are running the risk of damage to your brand, or chargebacks and negative feedback on an eBay account, if the dropshipper turns out to be unreliable.
For this reason, it’s important that you research the dropshippers carefully, and manage expectations for the products that you sell. Don’t promise fast shipping if you know that the products are delivered by sea/land from a long way away.
4. Online Marketing
Online marketing is another low risk, relatively easy sector to enter, but it is one that takes patience and research. With online marketing and affiliate programs, you will pick a product made by someone else and promote it, taking commission for each lead you generate or product that you sell.
This kind of business opportunity can be a good option for people who are good at networking and good at writing sales pages and putting forward a persuasive case. The beauty of affiliate marketing is that it is even lower risk than dropshipping since the merchant is the one that has to handle charge backs, complaints and returns. All you need to do is refer people to the sites in question.
Affiliate marketers can use social media, blogs, and networks of marketing sites to funnel visitors to the products that they are trying to sell. It is something that takes months to build up but it can be successful. Most people who try affiliate marketing fail because they don’t invest enough time, consistently, into building up their networks. Those who do persist for several months have the best chances of success.
5. Online Training
If you’re skilled in a particular area, whether that is cooking, a specific popular video game, programming, or something even more niche, and then why not use those skills to make money and grow your business? Online training can come from a few different approaches.
You can make your own videos and sell them directly, make courses for sites such as coursera, or offer training via Skype and email. Many personal trainers do this – selling their services as a coach and a motivation partner, and arranging regular skype calls with their clients. If you decide to go this route, then it’s important that you think carefully about the type of client that you take on and how much you charge.
One mistake that a lot of trainers make is to take on their first few clients, and out of eagerness to please they offer too much availability – they’ll answer questions 24/7 on Facebook messenger, they’ll not charge people for missing appointments, and they’ll let the clients waste their time by asking things that really are out of the scope of the service being sold.
This eagerness to please can quickly backfire, because if you offer a service then take it away it creates more of a mental block with that client than if you had set boundaries at the start of the arrangement. You clients will be more likely to respect your time if you set professional boundaries. Of course, you will need to show that you respect their time too, by being reliable and offering good service.
Online training is often used by those who are time poor, but are willing to pay premium prices for good service. The more expertise you have, and the more personalized the service you give, the better. You can scale this kind of service quite well if you work to the basis of doing online consultations then sending out email courses, reminders, and checking in periodically throughout the month.
There will be a limit to the number of clients that you can take on, but if your service proves so popular that you run out of time to service more clients, that’s probably a sign that you could be charging a lot more for your services.
Selling ebooks is another great way to make money, and you would be amazed at how easy it can be too. If there is a subject that you know a lot about, and you feel confident in writing a book, then sit down and write! As a guideline, Amazon expects Kindle ebooks to be an absolute minimum of 2,500 words. You should aim to make your book significantly longer than that.
After all, 2,500 words is more like “A couple of blog posts” than a proper book. Really, for a non-fiction book a better guideline would be making each chapter 2,000 words, rather than the whole book a specific length. This will ensure that your book actually gives the subject a fair and proper treatment, and has enough depth to satisfy your readers.
Once you have written your book, you should leave it for a couple of weeks and re-read it. Send it to beta readers as well, and see what they have to say. Edit it. If you can afford to do so, pay someone else to edit it as well. Then get it laid out and illustrated (if appropriate), and saved into a Kindle format. Set up your author page, and publish the book. You’ll need to market it to sell it. Send out a few free copies to bloggers to get them talking about it and perhaps pay for some adwords listings as well. Set the price competitively, but not so cheap that it just doesn’t sell.
Publishing ebooks is a great way to test the waters for a bigger book idea. If you have something that you are convinced will sell really well, and that you want to see in print, and then don’t put your best work online. Many publishers want first rights and by putting your ebook out there you could make it harder to get it published in print.
It is worth using part of your idea online to prove that the market is there, but tread carefully. Consider contacting an agent, or, alternatively, get the first few chapters of your book done and then submit those to publishers that do invite unsolicited submissions. Use your ebook and your blog as proof of interest, and keep on working until you find a publisher that likes the idea. Most published authors have to go through a huge number of rejections before their ideas are picked up by a publisher, so don’t give up.
Another popular way of making money online is to trade. To do this you will need some money behind you. Some people trade forex, some people trade shares or commodities. Crypto currencies are another popular option, although these are exceptionally volatile. Trading is a high risk activity, and because of this it is not for everyone.
If you have some disposable income and want to experiment, then treat depositing money onto an online trading platform as “going for an expensive night out”. Consider that money lost. If you end up making a profit, then great, you have some extra money that you did not have before. If you lose the money, at least you haven’t lost the funds that you were going to use to pay your rent.
Trading takes discipline and research. The people who promise to help you get rich trading stocks, shares or currencies cannot guarantee that they will do that. If anything, those people are making money by selling you membership to a trading platform or a signals provider.
You might find that you make money on any given day, you might lose money. Most people who try trading things like forex lose money in the long term. A small percentage does end up making a steady income from it, and it is as much down to luck as it is to knowledge. Only you can decide whether it will work for you.
Cryptocurrencies are a form of digital money. You have probably heard a lot about blockchain and Bitcoin in the news. Some cryptocurrencies are traded, some are mined. If you have a good graphics card then you may be able to ‘mine’ for cryptocurrencies using a program that you run on your computer.
Whether or not mining for cryptocurrencies would be profitable for you will depend on how much electricity costs in your area and the type of graphics card that you have. Mining for cryptocurrencies involves running a program on your computer that performs a series of complex calculations.
Doing this consumes computing time (usually the processes use the power of your graphics card, but some do also consume a lot of CPU time as well) and will mean that your computer will be consuming more electricity as well. If you live somewhere which has cheap electricity, then you may make a net profit. If you do not, then you could end up losing money.
Mining cryptocurrencies is, if you can do it without spending a fortune on electricity, something that offers a lot of return, however cryptocurrencies are volatile in value and you will need to find a way to sell them to unlock cash.
9. Avoiding Scammers
There are a lot of scammers out there. There are also a lot of legitimate business opportunities that are hard to succeed at. Common scams include ponzi schemes, MLM businesses that sell a “business idea” which is really just “sell this business idea to even more people”, and online opportunities that simply sell people a document full of freely available information. There are also scams that see people being asked to hand over huge amounts of personal information, and then falling victim to identity theft.
Another kind of scam involves “free training” to join a business which then sees the trainee forced to meet near-impossible targets. If they burn out and leave the business, they are charged for their training. They may be given non-compete clauses that forbid them from working for other companies for excessively long periods of time.
Those who take the training are forced to sell and work hard for a company for very little pay themselves – the training may actually be legitimate, but the only people who benefit from it are those at the upper levels of the company.
As with anything in life, if you want to succeed and avoid getting ripped off then you will need to think critically. If an idea seems too good to be true, then there probably is a catch. If someone is promising to make you rich, then wonder why they would share a business idea with a stranger when they could just get rich themselves. There is no option that will make ‘everyone rich’ – wealth has to be redistributed, and for you to make money someone has to be willing to spend it. Where is that money coming from?
There are legitimate business opportunities out there. You can build a business online and it will give you more freedom and more flexibility than working for someone else in an office – but you will still have to work, and it is important that you accept that consistency and accountability is just as important a part of growing an online business as it is an offline one.
What is Your Idea?
If you’re motivated, there are lots of options out there for making money. The challenge is finding something that you like and enjoy, and that will provide you with stable returns. The dream of passive income is an amazing thing, and it is something that a lot of people have managed to achieve through creating large networks of websites.
Whether it will work for you depends on both persistence and luck. Don’t be afraid to try and fail several times – because every attempt at building a business is a learning process, and who knows what you will get out of it at the end.
If you’re struggling for ideas or motivation look at joining a support group on Facebook, or try attending networking events at your local business incubator. Look for business hashtags on Twitter, and get involved with all the great networking that is going on. Once you’ve found some quality connections you can start building a business idea.
At first, you will be doing a lot of the work yourself. Over time, however, the most successful people will get others to do a lot of the day to day work for them while they take more of a management role in the business. This is an area where a lot of founders struggle because they are unwilling to delegate.
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to do everything yourself – it’s not sustainable and it will end up leaving you in a difficult position if you fall ill or are unable to work for a while. If you have others that are able to carry on the basic tasks in your business, then you will be in a much better position to succeed and to stay afloat even if things aren’t quite going according to plan.
Most online businesses can be built on a tiny budget, but there are grants out there and there is some free assistance offered in the form of hosting, domains, tools and discounts from a lot of companies that are eager to help people.
This is especially true if you are young, a student, unemployed, or working in sectors that could be considered to be not for profit or “social enterprise”. The social enterprise angle is well worth considering, because social businesses take a sustainable, ethical stance that encourages more people to support them, and that could be hugely beneficial to your business in the long term.
Whatever you decide to do, and whatever starting point you are at, good luck with your online business idea. Be patient, keep on doing a little bit each day, and don’t give up. As long as you keep on trying, you have not yet failed. That’s the bit that so many people fail to realize, and what sets the success stories apart from the failures. If you keep on trying, then knowing that one day you will hit your breakthrough, and you will become the “overnight success” that you have always dreamed of.