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Online Business Ideas to Start Your Business in 2021


With a major shift in consumer behavior following 2020, now is an exciting time to start an ecommerce business as more buyers choose to shop online.

How can you start one? What ecommerce business idea is right for you?

If you’re ready to join in on the digital revolution, our list of 20 online business ideas should give you the inspiration you need to get started building your ecommerce brand:

What is Ecommerce?

Having a business in a traditional sense means that you provide consumers with goods or services, and successful businesses typically either serve a certain niche, fill a gap, or meet a need in a market that’s trending.

Ecommerce is the same concept, only adapted for online audiences and target customers.

Ecommerce is still commerce—you have to research, implement your plan, and develop your online business idea into a reality. Reputation is one of the keys to the success of a business, and reviews spread quickly online. Social media posts can go viral, and these posts can either work in your favor — or work against you. Cultivating a good reputation is key to the success of your online small business

Location is not necessarily important or relevant to your online small business. You might have customers or clients who live across town or thousands of miles away from you. Following and getting ahead of market trends offers entry into the possibility of incredible success with your online small business.

If there’s a product or service that you are passionate about you might find yourself steadily growing your online small business, but deciding on what type of ecommerce business you want to start is entirely up to you.

How Do You Decide What Type of Ecommerce Business to Start?

Your first step involves assessing your skills and interests.

What are you passionate about? What skills do you currently have, and what are your areas of expertise? Are you willing to add more skills to your toolkit?

A second step involves researching products and online business ideas, so here are 20 to get you started thinking.

Your first step involves assessing your skills and interests.

What are you passionate about? What skills do you currently have, and what are your areas of expertise? Are you willing to add more skills to your toolkit?

A second step involves researching products and online business ideas, so here are 20 to get you started thinking

1. Get into Dropshipping

There are a wide range of ecommerce products and opportunities. You might consider selling a product that you create, or you might create a dropshipping store.

Dropshipping is where you find products, curate them on a website, and find customers who want to buy from you. The difference with dropshipping is that you’ll need to partner with certain suppliers who’ll handle shipping orders direct to customers.

Acquiring customers and facilitating purchases is all you have to do, meaning you won’t have to deal with shipping or managing your product inventory and paying overhead for warehousing. Dropshipping can be a very effective and low-cost way to get a start in ecommerce.

2. Create a Clothing Line

Have you thought about starting a clothing line, but weren’t sure how to make that happen?

With product-sourcing apps, you can connect with apparel printers and clothing manufacturers who handle the retail fulfillment process for you. You design your items, market to your customers, and ship your products out.

3. Become a Podcaster

Digital products, such as podcasts, often use both affiliated marketing and subscriptions as their sources of revenue. You can set up ways for your viewers or listeners to subscribe through platforms such as YouTube, Patreon, and through your website. You might consider setting up some free content as a teaser to encourage potential customers to subscribe.

4. Create an Online Course

Do you have a passion for teaching? In the age of information, people have a wealth of knowledge right at their fingertips. People crave instruction and want to learn from the experts which is why creating an online course is a great online business idea.

For example, cooking courses are very popular. Many people who develop cooking courses online take a particular angle—perhaps they bake desserts, bake bread, offer nutrition advice, or talk about the history behind a particular dish. With a specific approach to connect you with your target customers, you can produce content that these customers will enjoy.

5. Sell Your Music Online

If you’re a musician, the Internet has made it easier than ever to get your work out there. Like podcasting, musicians can set up subscription opportunities on a website. Musicians can also self-produce their music, and make it available for download to create revenue. In addition, like other websites, musicians can make use of affiliated marketing and banner advertisements.

6. Become an App Designer

If you’re a developer, why not create your own apps and sell exclusive rights to them? Alternatively, you could monetize your expertise by selling your time on your website through consultation hours or for certain project offerings.

7. Become a Website Builder

Use your skills to create plugins that help your clients have faster, more flexible, and more responsive websites. Or maybe you have a library of pre-built website themes you know people will love and be willing to buy.

8. Become a Writer

Writing content is a great skill to have that often may go underappreciated. Not everyone can write and there’s a world of freelancers who specialize in the craft.

Connecting with people online to do contract or freelance work can give you more flexibility and help you get experience in a wide range of industries. You can create an online portfolio, and even connect your portfolio to a blog or podcast about your work.

9. Sell Your Art

Connecting with customers online is easier than ever. If you’re a painter or photographer, and wondered if selling your art is a good online business idea, establishing an ecommerce website is the perfect way to be compensated for your keen eye and creativity

10. Sell Your Crafts

For craftspeople who devote their energy to their work, selling your unique products is another online business idea worth considering. With online commerce, you can sell this product to interested buyers around the world. While many will still turn to Etsy when it comes to selling crafts online, creating your own website means you can dictate pricing and give shoppers a better deal without having to deal with other selling platforms taking a cut.

11. Sell a Niche Product

Are you a hobbyist who’s frustrated because you can never find that one part that you’re looking for? Imagine how many other niche hobbyists are in your position. With ecommerce, you can connect with others around the world who have the similar interests as you.

Your niche product might be a sustainable bag to purchase groceries, or a green replacement for cling film, or parts for an antique train set. Whatever you’re into, chances are that you’ll find someone who loves the same things you do on the Internet.

12. Become a YouTuber

YouTube continues to be one of the biggest video platforms in the world, and that likely isn’t going to change anytime soon. Creating YouTube videos means expressing yourself creatively, but it also means understanding how to sell stories and how you might film these stories. You’ll need equipment to film yourself and to edit these videos — and you’ll need to develop some expertise in storytelling, filming, and film editing. Many Youtubers rely on affiliate marketing and ad revenue to support their video making.

13. Become an Influencer

Maybe YouTube isn’t for you, but other social platforms are more your style. While finding success as an influencer has become harder than it was just a few years ago, being on social media — Instagram, Snapchat, and especially TikTok — provides a great opportunity to connect with an audience. By building a community that loves everything you do, you become very desirable for brand partnerships.

14. Flip Your Finds

If you love shopping, you might as well put that hobby to good use. Whether you’re a pro thrift store shopper or yard sale enthusiast, you could flip your finds for a nice markup by selling to folks who want those valuables. Your unique picks can find a new home, and you can put your shopping addiction to work.

15. Become a Blogger

Blogging is a great way to educate, inform, and entertain. You’ll need to be passionate about this online business idea — audiences usually like to see new content from bloggers a few times a week to keep their attention.

Blogging requires strong writing skills as well as in-depth knowledge about content promotion through search and social media. And keep in mind that millions of new websites pop up every year, so the competition will be steep. This path may involve including advertisements on your website or promoting products in your content to create revenue.

16. Become a Twitch Streamer

Did you know that users consume roughly 70 million hours of live streaming content on Twitch every day? With continued growth and emerging as the leading platform for this kind of content, Twitch streamers can earn compensation through ad revenue, paid subscribers, and brand partnerships.

Although gaming is the most popular category of content the average Twitch user watches, many Twitch streamers find success as artists, political commentators, and more. But just like everything else mentioned in this list of online business ideas, it will take dedication and passion to make this path work for you.

17. Get into Affiliate Marketing

With affiliate marketing you can create a website with an editorial lean and promote specific products in your articles. For every sale of the products that originated from your site, you’ll earn commission. Amazon uses affiliate marketing through the Amazon Associates Program. To be successful at affiliate marketing, you’ll want to have a basic understanding of SEO and copywriting so that you can effectively promote eBooks, videos, and other products.

18. Write a Book

Writing a book means that you have a passion for writing. You may have thought about writing a novel or a children’s book, but why not sit down and do it? You could create a print book through services like Blurb or write an eBook to sell on a digital store.

19. Become a Virtual Assistant

Assistants help others organize their lives, and with the rise of remote work becoming so common after 2020, virtual assistants are in demand. You might be answering emails, making appointments, or planning events. You could be making restaurant reservations or plane reservations, and you might be working for someone in your town or across the world. Network with current VAs to both get an idea of what type of clients you’d like to work with and to find opportunities.

20. Offer SEO Services

All of these ecommerce business ideas need to be promoted online. While marketing can help, understanding SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, can take a website, an influencer, or a producer of content to the next level, and help connect this person with their audience.

You can create that connection by understanding and making use of SEO. Becoming an expert in SEO means that you can help others make their websites more visible to search engines like Google. With increased visibility, these websites will have more traffic and more revenue. You’ll be key to others’ success.

Creating Your Ecommerce Website

Your storefront is your brand, and StoreBuilder can help make your brand stand out. When you build an online small business, understanding how you can best approach selling your product or services — and what that approach might include — will help you make choices when it comes to creating your website.

You don’t need to know how to code. With the WooCommerce customizable platform built on top of WordPress, you can create the site that best meets your needs.

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