With many businesses cutting back on hours or changing their business models because of limitations for how they are able to operate, individuals are looking for different ways to make money from home. The great thing is, there are plenty of opportunities to make money online, right from your home and on your own schedule. And, there are lots of advantages to running your business online. Depending on whether you are looking to completely replace your income or supplement your existing income, there are different options for starting an online business to earn money online.
The internet has opened up endless opportunities for ideas you can start to create and grow a successful and thriving business online. Let’s take a look at some business ideas for real ways to earn money from home that you get started on right away, for little or no investment.
How to make money online from home?
No matter what type of business you are looking to start and run, there is almost certainly a way you can do part or all of it online. Even if all you have is a smartphone, there are still lots of options for how to make money from home and run a successful online business.
Deciding on what type of business to start will depend on a number of factors, from what your skills are to how much capital you want to invest. Here are a few things you will want to consider before getting started:
- What are you good at? If you have a particular skill set or you are immensely passionate about something, why not think of business ideas you can start around this? Doing something you love and making money at the same time – what could be better?
- Will this be replacing or supplementing your income? Whether you are planning on making your online business a full time gig or a side hustle will have a substantial influence on how the business is structured. Perhaps the plan is to start off as a side hustle until the business starts to grow.
- What are you selling online? Depending on what you plan to sell online, a number of other factors will be influenced. If you want to create and sell digital or information products, such as graphic design, this can all be done virtually without the need to create, source, stock or ship physical products. If the plan is to sell physical products, you have a few options for business models available, including drop shipping, affiliate marketing, or creating your own custom products.
- How much do you want to invest to get started? If you are bootstrapping your business startup costs, you will want to consider how much of your personal capital you are willing to invest. There are also different funding opportunities you can explore both for startup costs and to finance your business growth.
- What is the long term plan? Is the plan for the long run to remain solely online, even after restrictions are lifted, or will some elements of your business be done in person? Thinking about the future, take a look at options for business models, what your business looks like and start building with this future picture in mind.
What types of businesses can be run online from home?
There are endless types of businesses that can be run from home! Depending on how you answered the questions above, and how you envision your business will influence the type of business you start. Let’s take a look at a few examples of how to make money from home:
Facebook – Not just for sharing funny memes and viral videos! Facebook is a great way to promote your business and make money! You can run a business solely on Facebook buying and selling through Marketplace or your own business page, or you can use Facebook as another platform to promote your online business and direct traffic to your online storefront.
Self-publish a book – Long gone are the days of having to convince a publisher to take on your project. These days, if you’ve got something you want published, you can easily do it yourself. Using a design platform, like Canva, along with Amazon’s digital Kindle platform, you can write, design and start selling your digital book for Kindle readers. Want something printed in hard copy? Canva and Amazon have got that covered too, with Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), where you can print on demand, so there is no need to invest in pre-ordering any number of copies in the hopes that they will all sell. Just create an account, and start self-publishing!
Affiliate links – The opportunity to act as an affiliate and sell other companies products makes for a great online earning opportunity. And, there’s no limit to the products that can be included! If you’re a recipe blogger, for example, you can link to your favourite baking tools or other products you frequently use. Acting as an affiliate has become popular across platforms such as YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, where you will see products being demonstrated or promoted, with affiliate links below. When followers click through the links and purchase anything, a portion of the sales goes to the affiliate. Affiliate programs, such as CJ.com let you sign up as an affiliate, so you can start promoting products and making money!
Podcast – Hosting a podcast is a great way to run a business, while spending the day talking about something you are deeply interested in. Podcasts typically are centered around one topic, where they delve into more detailed discussions, have guests with expertise in the subject and provide ongoing information on a regularly scheduled basis. Your podcast can be monetized as a business itself, or it can provide supplementary information and promotion for your online business.
Virtual Assistant – With the influx of businesses moving online, the demand for support for these businesses is also naturally rising. A virtual assistant works remotely, providing whatever administrative support a business needs. It’s also possible that you can provide multiple companies with your services, depending on the needs of each. A virtual assistant must have great time management and organizational skills, as well as be a pro at customer service and communication.
Google AdSense – If you are posting content online, no matter whether in blog posts or videos, you have the opportunity to earn additional income through a secondary revenue stream provided by Google AdSense. In a nutshell, Google AdSense lets you sell part of your online space to advertisers. Based on the content you are providing, advertisers will be matched to you and can bid on having their promotions appear amongst your content. It’s a great way to generate extra income without really doing any extra work!
Work for Amazon – Well, sort of! Amazon Mechanical Turk lets businesses hire remote workers to do tasks that they haven’t yet figured out how to get computers to complete. There are any number of tasks you can sign up to do, such as writing product descriptions, answering questions, and more.
Create an Online course – Sharing your knowledge or skills can be done in the form of creating an online course. Learning online has become the norm over the past year, so students and teachers have learned to adjust to this new virtual platform. You can create a course that is purchased and consumed at the student’s leisure, or an ongoing and interactive course, where you are guiding students through their learning in real time.
Translation services – If you know more than one language, you’re equipped with a unique skill set that can translate into a lucrative online business idea for you! As a freelance translator, you can find clients throughout the world to offer your services to. You can take on as much or as little work as you want, making it a great full time gig or profitable side hustle. There are freelance websites, such as Gengo and Smartling, that are specifically centered around offering translation services.
Print on Demand Store – Increasingly becoming a popular business idea, printing on demand allows you to offer semi-custom products for order. You create the designs and provide the options for which products the designs can be ordered on. Most commonly, this is done through a supplier, where you upload your designs to their platform and customers can easily select from any of their available options to print onto. There is no need to invest in inventory, or storing and shipping products, making it a great online business idea to start up with very little capital investment!
What can you do for free?
If your startup budget is limited, you can still think of ways to start, grow and promote your business that cost little or nothing. This is especially the case for online businesses, where you do not have a brick and mortar store and other associated costs. Here are just a few things you can do for free to get your business launched:
Social media – Start creating a strong online presence by setting up your social media accounts and linking them together. These platforms have become one of the easiest ways to promote your business and stay in contact with your customers, and for the most part you can register social media business accounts for free. You can add in paid Facebook ad content and more when you are ready, but to start just get the accounts set up.
Website – An important part of establishing your online presence is setting up a website that acts as your online store. There are a number of free website builders, where you drag and drop your text and images into a pre-designed template. These website builders are incredibly simple to use, where even someone with no graphic design or technical experience can easily navigate and create their own website. There are options on most of these website builders to register with paid subscriptions, with additional features available, when you are ready to make that change. The fee to register a domain is inexpensive to secure the domain for your website. Ontario Business Central offers domain name registration together with your business registration or incorporation, or you can register the domain name on its own.
Content – No matter whether your business is selling digital or physical product, having informative, helpful and interesting content is essential to building a strong online business. It helps establish you as an authority in the field, provides great information for your customers and is key in improving the SEO for your business. Your content can come in the form of blog posting, YouTube videos, social media posts, and even links to other businesses with helpful information.
Google My Business – One of the most frequently missed opportunities for businesses is the free promotional tool Google My Business. If someone Google’s your business name, they’ll instantly get all of your information including a link to your website, phone number, hours of operation and reviews from other customers. Keeping your information updated makes it easy for customers to know when you are available and how they can get a hold of you.
Support local business – It’s not always just about the competition. There are a number of great benefits that can be had through business partnerships. Even though you are operating online, there are still plenty of opportunities to help promote and support local business through sharing their promotions, collaborating on projects together and expanding your reach through a mutually beneficial relationship. This past year has reinforced just how much we love to support local business, so showing that you are helping to strengthen other small businesses can significantly improve the image of your business and your standing as a leader in the community.
Ads – When you are ready to start advertising and need promotional materials, you can create professional looking ads with the help of platforms like Canva and PicMonkey. Canva offers a free version of their program, as well as a Pro version that has many additional features. PicMonkey does not offer a free version, but their plans start at $7.99 per month, which is significantly cheaper than hiring a designer!
Apps and business tools – Get yourself organized, and ready to start selling and growing with the help of some great apps and business tools – many of which you can download to your computer or phone for free! You can find everything from scheduling apps to mileage trackers and logo makers.
What can you do now?
Aside from the above free things you can get started on to establish your business, there are a number of other actionable items you can get checked off of your list today:
Register or Incorporate the Business
First thing’s first – in order to operate using your business name, you will need to either register or incorporate your business. There are some differences to each type of business structure, so understanding these differences is important in deciding which is best for you. Perhaps starting out as a small business registration makes more sense for you now, or it may be that incorporating the business from the start is more beneficial. Speaking with an accountant or lawyer can help provide insight and expert advice on whether your business should be registered or incorporated. When you are ready to get things started, Ontario Business Central can get your business registration or incorporation completed on the same day, so you can move onto the next item on your list!
You may want to consider opening a business bank account to keep all of the business income and expenses separate. This may also be needed if you are sending or receiving payments under the business name, and the bank will first want to see the business registration or Articles of Incorporation before opening a business bank account, issuing a credit card for the business or approving a business loan or line of credit.
If any tax accounts are needed with Revenue Canada, you can get started with registering those right away. You can either include them with your business registration or incorporation and Ontario Business Central can complete them on your behalf, or you can complete them directly through Revenue Canada by calling 1-800-959-5525. For small business registrations, you will first set up a business number (BN), through which you can then register any other accounts required, such as Payroll, HST and Import/Export. For incorporated businesses, Revenue Canada automatically issues your BN for the corporation after you are incorporated. This number is sent by mail within about 2 weeks of incorporating, but if you want to get the accounts set up quicker, you can get the BN by phone within 1 or 2 days of incorporating.
As the online business world continues to grow and thrive, the opportunity to start and build a successful online business and make money online is alive and well. Take your skills, knowledge and entrepreneurial drive to the internet and start building your online business today.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our staff for additional information and assistance.
Office Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Friday E.S.T.
Ontario Business Central Inc. is not a law firm and cannot provide a legal opinion or advice. This information is to assist you in understanding the requirements of registration within the chosen jurisdiction. It is always recommended, when you have legal or accounting questions that you speak to a qualified professional.