Online startup ideas: our top 5 ideas for new online businesses

Fancy trading in the office job and starting an online business this year? Online businesses are where the future’s at, and depending on what you want to do, they can be very simple to set up.

Here’s our top five online startup ideas for 2018, and there’s also our article on how to start an online business or shop, if you’re looking for more how-to guides.

Online business startup ideas – which suits you?

1. Copywriting, ghostwriting (or any sort of writing)

Professional writing is a skill, and if you have it, one of the easiest things to turn into an online business. You don’t need bags of experience to get going, just a set of examples that show what you can do, and ideally a few published pieces of content.

Setting your day rate and time estimates (how long you expect to take to complete a piece of work) can be nailed down as you go, but the key thing is attracting those first few jobs. LinkedIn is a great place to get your profile noticed by would-be clients. The more you can build in, the more interest will come your way. Network with other established writers you know – many will have more work on their hands than they can handle, and may be keen to recommend you, or team up.

Are there any businesses you’ve spotted whose blog is pretty limp? Helping out with business blogging can lead to a great reputation and repeat work. Send them your ideas and a proposal and see if you can set up a call.

Starting small and simple is often easiest, so if you really rate your spelling, grammar and detail skills, why not offer your services as a proofreader? It can be extremely lucrative if you build up a large client base, but you’ll need to have the ability to back it up – one missed typo and you risk losing the client.

2. Become a researcher

If working from home appeals and you like a steady project, online research could be a great option. In fact, many people find they’re born researchers, without having opened up professionally.

Organisation, diligence and attention to detail are all great indicators that this could be a niche for you, along with the healthy satisfaction that comes from submitting your client’s research pack. Plenty of companies hire freelancers to do research, from PR companies and publishers to financial services companies and law firms. With quality online content being so valuable, it makes sense for publishers to invest in solid research, especially if they don’t have the resource in-house.

Not sure how it could pay out? Check out our seven top tips for making money from your freelancing.

3. Set up as an assistant

With billions of people across the globe setting up businesses, working two or more jobs, juggling priorities or just feeling the to-do list strain, there’s never been a better time to set up as an online personal assistant (PA).

Becoming a PA could be as simple as offering your services to someone you know, for a small fee, and building from there. As you grow, you could branch out and advertise your services, specialising for example in dealing with email inboxes, diary organisation, business admin, invoicing, etc.

Once you’re established, are there any more niche areas you could branch into? For example, maybe you have an eye for style and could offer online shopping for a client? Or perhaps you’re an experienced first-time parent and could set up nursery and new baby shopping lists, hospital to-do plans and prenatal class research. Whatever your area of expertise, someone might be very happy to pay for you to take it off their hands.

4. Consulting (from finance and SEO to nutrition)

When it comes to consulting, you already have the skills, experience and expertise in your field of work. The key is branding up your services, and finding the clients to pay for them.

From IT, SEO or finances to more lifestyle-focused nutrition, health and life coaching skills, you can consult in just about anything, and success will depend on the quality of what you offer. This is a business you can take offline too if you want, and in the early days, face-to-face consultation might help you get started. You’ll then have the freedom to move purely online, once you’ve built up a regular customer base and solid reputation.

Being a successful consultant all depends on reputation, and referrals between your current and future clients. Focus on providing a competition-smashing service, and you’ll be in business.

5. Get paid to do social media

Businesses know that they need to be present on social media. But with baby boomers slow to find their voice on platforms like Twitter and Instagram, it can slip down the priority list. Which is a big missed opportunity, for them and for talented people who could manage it for them.

This is more than posting great pictures and witty updates. Professional social media management involves everything from responding to customer queries, complaints and comments to setting up paid advertising opportunities and building engagement. You could pick an area you’re interested in – food and drink, for example – and offer your skills out to local pubs, cafes, bars and restaurants. Or you could show flexibility and get started with a few different clients.

Why not sharpen your skills with someone you know, if they have a business, or you could even build an early client base with personal friends and family, crafting LinkedIn profiles.

Social media isn’t just about helping out businesses and clients of course – have you thought about setting up as a YouTuber, for example, posting curated videos about topics you know about? From how-to bike and kitchen gadget fixing videos to beauty, fashion or parenthood, YouTube is a powerful place to build a fan base, and dip your toe in the advertising opportunities that it brings.

Get inspired with our how-to guide to becoming a social media influencer.

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