5 Online Businesses You Can Start with No Money Upfront

Contrary to popular belief, there are actually many online business opportunities available that don’t require a significant investment of money upfront. In fact, some of the most successful internet businesses were started casually as a hobby or side-project.  

All you have to do is find a niche that you are passionate and knowledgeable about – and be willing to put in the time and effort to make the venture succeed.  

Here are five lucrative online business ideas that you can start quickly and cheaply (often for free). 

Blue background, speech bubble, hashtag inside pink speech bubble, online business, Online Business Ideas with no Money Down | Business Ideas | entrepreneurs | Small Business | Girl Boss | female entrepreneurs

1. Social Media Strategist: Online Business Idea #1

Are you a social media guru? If so, you should consider starting a social media consulting business. A growing number of brands are outsourcing many of their digital marketing tasks to freelancers and consultants. That includes a lot of their social media tasks as well: 

  • Scheduling content to be posted according to a content calendar. 
  • Creating engaging posts. 
  • Producing incredible graphics and infographics to use across social platforms. 
  • Provide regular analytics for clients to monitor social post-performance. 
  • Engaging followers and responding to comments and direct messages.  

All you need to do is promote yourself as a social media expert on major social media platforms that can give you a lot of exposure, as well as the opportunity to show off your skills! 

If you are looking for a mentor to help you create and launch your very own social media management business, look no further than Rachel Pedersen – The Queen of Social Media. Rachel has a highly successful course SMU for anyone looking to pivot their career by becoming an expert at managing social media accounts for clients. 

What Social Platforms Do Social Media Consultants Manage? 

  • Facebook 
  • Instagram 
  • Pinterest 
  • Twitter 
  • TikTok 
  • YouTube 
  • LinkedIn 

FAQ’s About Becoming a Social Media Strategist 

How do you stand out as a Social Media Manager? Focus on a narrow niche in which you are an authority and create your packages around that niche. You can sell your services as a unique and professional strategist in your chosen niche to stand out. Exploring a smaller niche will help you to reach potential clients and create perfect bespoke packages for them.  

What is the best way to decide on pricing? – Consider offering clients a selection of pricing packages, basic marketing to VIP advanced with well-defined hours of service, and additional add-on services too. Once you shine and demonstrate your fantastic work, clients will see the value of upgrading to your higher-value packages. You could even offer a discounted month of a higher-tiered service for your client to road test before fully committing to a more extended contract. 

How to get your first clients? – Start your social media consulting business by gaining social proof of your services. Aim to get positive social proof to highlight on your website and share on your social networks so potential clients can get an idea of your work. You could do this by offering free or heavily discounted rates for clients to exchange honest reviews of your work. These testimonials will be vital to showcase your work and entice future clients. 

Desktop, iMac, Speakers, chair, windows with blinds, wooden accessories, online business, social media, Online Business Ideas with no Money Down | Business Ideas | entrepreneurs | Small Business | Girl Boss | female entrepreneurs
Photo by Gabriel Beaudry on Unsplash

2. Affiliate Marketer: Online Business Idea #2

Many people mistakenly think that they need their own products to sell if they want to start a business. The truth is you can earn money (commissions) by promoting someone else’s products as an affiliate marketer.  

The great thing about an affiliate marketing business is that it doesn’t require investing money upfront to get started. In fact, many successful affiliate marketers use free social networking and blogging sites to promote offers to their audience.  

The key is to find a niche that you are knowledgeable about so your audience will view you as an authority. That way, when you recommend a product or service to them, your recommendation will be considered to be more trustworthy. You can find affiliate marketing programs for practically every industry. Most affiliate programs are free to join. 

FAQ’s About Becoming an Affiliate Marketer 

What simple steps are there to start as an Affiliate Marketer? Promoting services or products you love and find beneficial to your business is the lifeblood of being a successful affiliate marketer. Once you have decided upon what products you want to promote, choose your social platform to host your affiliate link. You can share your unique link anywhere you wish to promote it, your social networks, emails, blog posts, or even within the eCourses you sell. The unique link the merchant provides you with gives you the flexibility to promote as you wish. 

How easy is it to become an affiliate marketer? As an affiliate marketer, you will promote a product or service that you have knowledge of. If you have social platforms, an email list, or a blog to add your affiliate links, you can quickly begin. Ensuring you have researched the affiliate product or service (and tested it) is the best practice before promoting it to your audience. You will earn a commission each time someone clicks through on your unique link and makes a purchase. 

Should you always disclose if you have affiliate links within your marketing strategy? You must always disclose that a link you provide to your audience is an affiliate link. Ensure that you make it clear to your audience that you will receive a commission if they purchase through your link. Having an affiliate disclosure whenever you use affiliate links ensures that you are transparent and honest to your audience. 

white desktop, glasses, cup and saucer of lack coffee, earbud headphones, apple keyboard, green leaves, Miranda camera, open book, stapler white, online business ideas, social squares image, Online Business Ideas with no Money Down | Business Ideas | entrepreneurs | Small Business | Girl Boss | female entrepreneurs

3. Virtual Tutor: Online Business Idea #3

Do you like the idea of helping others learn English or other subjects? If so, you could start an online tutoring business. There are a growing number of tutoring sites (just do a quick Google search) that you can join to connect with students in need of a tutor.  

Most of these sites are free to join. Make sure you fill out a complete profile highlighting all of the subjects that you can tutor.  

While some might specify an hourly rate you can earn, others are more flexible, allowing you to negotiate rates with your students. 

FAQ’s on Being a Virtual Tutor 

How do you become a virtual tutor? Sharing your knowledge or expertise on a subject can be fulfilling as well as lucrative. You do not necessarily need to have extensive qualifications in the topic you wish to teach. Having passion as well as experience in your chosen subject is the first step. You can promote via social media, tutoring websites, or niche-specific groups. 

What subjects are the most popular to teach online? Here are a few of the most in-demand subjects to teach: Mathematics, English, Science, Languages, and Special Education Needs. 

How do you deliver your online lessons as an online tutor? Having a stable internet connection is a must. You can provide your lessons via Zoom, and additionally, you could use a digital pen for a more interactive learning experience.  

white desktop, iPad, greenery, apple keyboard, glass tumbler with ice and mint, online business, social squares image, Online Business Ideas with no Money Down | Business Ideas | entrepreneurs | Small Business | Girl Boss | female entrepreneurs

4. Sell an eCourse: Online Business Idea #3

If you have a lot of knowledge and passion about a particular topic, then you could create an online business selling your expertise to others in the form of an eCourse.  

Subject matter experts create online courses on nearly every topic imaginable. For example, let’s say that you are an accountant. You could start your own eCourse teaching individuals and small businesses how to file their income taxes.  

While many learning platforms do charge a fee for creating and selling online courses, some platforms like Udemy are free for instructors. Instead of paying a monthly subscription, they just take a percentage of your sales. 

You could combine a niche subject to start a blog and an eCourse and share your knowledge with the world.

FAQ’s on Selling An eCourse 

How do you create an eCourse? After deciding on the topic of your eCourse, the next step is to create your lessons. You can have video lessons, screen-recorded lessons, or you could have the entire eCourse in text form. Some platforms even give you the ability to drip the content (your lessons), ensuring students complete each section before moving on to the next section. 

Where can you host your eCourse? There are many platforms you can host your eCourse once you have lovingly created it. They include: 

  • Teachable 
  • Teachery 
  • Udemy 
  • Thinkific 
  • Kajabi 
  • Skillshare 
  • Podia 

What are popular subjects to teach on an online eCourse? There are so many niche topics to create a popular eCourse. Some of the most popular are: 

  • Creative Arts & Craft 
  • Computing and Technology 
  • Course Creation 
  • Personal Development 
  • Health and Wellbeing 
  • Photography & Videography 
  • Content Creation and Writing 
  • Food & Nutrition 
  • Business & Entrepreneurship 
White linen on ed, open laptop , blogging, online business, social squares, Online Business Ideas with no Money Down | Business Ideas | entrepreneurs | Small Business | Girl Boss | female entrepreneurs

5. Blogging: Online Business Idea #3

Lastly, many people who enjoy writing earn money as a paid blogger. Blogging offers you a couple of different options for making money. For example, you could get paid to write guest posts on other blogs.  

You can search online for paid blogging gigs. Another option is to start your own blog. You will need to establish yourself as an authority in your niche and build up a decent following before you can likely expect to earn money from your blog.  There are many online tools you can implement to improve your blog.

Many successful bloggers get paid to write promotional posts for a brand. You can also monetize your blog by placing ads on it. For instance, Google AdSense will pay you a fee (to be determined) each time one of your visitors clicks on an ad. 

FAQ About Becoming a Blogger 

What does it mean to be a blogger? A professional blogger is someone who creates content and shares it on their own blog. Bloggers monetize their blogs by using affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, or paid advertising.  

How to become a blogger? Starting your own blog means you can create valuable articles your audience will find value in. Bloggers can produce content on WordPress, Tumblr, or Medium and build the trust of their audience by becoming an authority in their niche. Choosing a niche-specific blog name adding relevant categories, and having a cohesive, easy-to-read blog theme will help construct a good site structure. 

Can you make money as a blogger? Bloggers make money in a variety of ways. Monetizing your blog could mean you add sponsored posts to your blog, use affiliate marketing, have paid advertising, or you could create your own course to help others in your niche. 


In short, there are many ways to make money online as an internet entrepreneur. You just have to figure out how to offer a valuable service to customers they are willing to pay you for. You also have to figure out how to promote your online business to prospective customers. 

Where To Now?

Top Four Online Tools For Your Blog in 2021

201 Best Blog Post Ideas For Every Blogging Niche

3 Easy Ways To Improve The SEO of Your Blog Posts