woman working on online business

Where do I begin setting up my online business?

Setting up any business with little money is very difficult and will usually take a long time to grow. However, it’s not impossible to create a steady income out of one good online business idea. The pandemic has taken its toll on a lot of individuals and businesses. It can never hurt to find a way to top up your income, especially in a Covid-safe online way.

Now, not all online business ideas will work. It’s estimated that around 90% of internet start-ups will fail. However, if you’re coming at this with a low or non-existent financial investment, all you have to lose is time.

Minimum equipment is necessary if you want to set up an online business with no money. As a result, it would be best to start with ideas that only require a laptop and an internet connection.

To call it a success, you will be looking for a return on investment with a little profit. With a no-cost start-up, the moment you make even a £1 profit, you can pat yourself on the back.

So, where do we begin? Here are some low-risk, low-investment side hustles and business ideas.

Video Editing & Graphic Design

As a video editor or graphic designer, there are many opportunities for setting up an online business. This can be advantageous for professionals with their own equipment. If you do not already have the necessary hardware, start-up costs can be high. Similarly, you must consider the cost of business licences for relevant software.

While you can operate through your own website, you can also use websites like Fiverr. These platforms can be great for reaching customers ready to buy on that day. They also mean low start-up costs as you will not need to build a website or invest in marketing. Every day, potential clients visit these sites to find creatives for their logos and more.

If you are an artist, marketplaces like Etsy allow you to sell digital downloads of your art online. This allows your customers to print them themselves to their liking. A benefit of selling art as a Digital Product is that it eliminates printing costs and shipping fees. If you can generate profit from your art, you can then reinvest this in materials to sell framed work.

To start, look at the current trends on the platform you’re selling on. What is performing well? Is it minimalism? Pop Art? Photography? Consider this when creating art for your store.

Ebooks and Publications

Like Etsy’s digital downloads, you can offer digital downloads of e-books as part of an online business. While they will require a lot of work to produce, once published on a platform like Amazon, they can serve as a way of generating income in the future.

However, ebooks are not for everyone. This is only really an option for people who already have notable success in their fields. To see if ebooks could work for you, consider these things:

  • Are you an expert in something others would be interested in reading about?
  • Do you know how to solve a problem few do?
  • Do you know a lot about a subject very little is written about?

For example, if you are a qualified nutritionist, you could use your qualifications to reach a large target audience. Similarly, you can use these tools to generate potential customers for your consulting business.

You could also use an e-book as a lead-generation tool for your existing business. For instance, promoting an e-book as “gated content”. Which your potential customers need to enter their email addresses to download a free ebook or piece of content.

Writing Services

Professional copywriters or amateur writers can find opportunities online. Businesses are looking for freelance writers to produce content from website copy to blogs and more. While clients are not guaranteed, putting yourself out there to build a portfolio can create opportunities. You can offer your writing services through Fiverr or PeoplePerHour.

Online Personal Trainer

Since COVID, the way we have worked out has changed. While gyms are once again open, many people are open to online experiences that are more convenient. For some people, a recording of an instructor is not enough, and they want a PT to keep them accountable or give them advice on their personal goals.

There are now personal trainer platforms like Truecoach to connect you with potential clients without the limitations of a gym.

YouTube Channel

Youtube can be a great platform if you have a specific interest or business that would benefit from more awareness. However, simply posting on YouTube does not guarantee an audience.

If you have a subject that people are keen to know more about and you’re passionate about – this could work for you. However, do your research. How many people are searching for information on your topic? What questions are they asking? Are there any similar channels that are doing well? Are you trying to break into a niche market that is dying, or is this area thriving at the moment?

Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for seeing what trends and content people are searching for and whether there is a demand for your information.

Remember, only once you receive a certain amount of views will you be able to monetise your videos.

Setting up an Online Store

One of the most popular options but will indeed take some physical assets and monetary investments to get off the ground. There are a variety of options for online marketplaces, including:

  • Your own website, using platforms like WordPress combined with Shopify. This will require purchasing the domain name, which comes at an expense.
  • An Amazon store. You can manage this yourself and ship your items. Alternatively, you can take on an FBA (fulfilled by Amazon) arrangement where you send your stock to Amazon, and they ship it for you.
  • An Etsy store or similar if you are selling art, handmade, vintage or similar items.
  • Or eBay, the old classic.

Affiliate marketing & Affiliate Programs

Affiliate marketers are a sort of independent sales and marketing agents for brands. As an Affiliate Marketer, you receive a commission on the products you sell. Often this is 5-20%; however, in rare cases, this is as high as 75%. Usually, your partner will give you an affiliate link to send customers to.

In 2016, Business Insider found that around 15% of all e-commerce revenue was attributed to Affiliate Marketing.

An Affiliate Program is not a guaranteed source of income and solely depends on how much you sell. However, it is relatively low risk with next to no start-up cost. You might also find it useful to run your own business and promote brands with a similar target audience to you.

For example, as a beauty business owner, you may use your social media presence to promote a brand you love and have an affiliate marketing deal with.

Find out more about Affiliate Marketing here.

Virtual Assistant Services

Yes, it’s exactly as it sounds. Using sites like PeoplePerHour, you can advertise your services for everyday administrative tasks. As a VA, you can undertake a wide range of tasks. These might include:

  • Regular admin tasks
  • SEO
  • Content Writing
  • Research
  • Document Formatting
  • PowerPoint Presentations
  • Transcribing Recordings

Online courses

A career as an online instructor can be fruitful, with more and more people turning to online learning. If you have the qualifications, why not create an online course and, once created, sit back and allow it to generate a passive income?

This can be a great way to generate extra income for lecturers, academics, business owners and creatives.

There are now several platforms to share your course with potential students, including Udemy or Skillshare. You only need to choose the one that is right for you.

You could also take up a role as an online tutor. Platforms, such as MyTutor, are suitable for university students looking to pick up flexible work around their courses.

How can I promote my new online business?

You don’t need to spend a fortune on an online marketing campaign or hire an SEO consultant when operating small online businesses. However, some knowledge of SEO techniques (Search Engine Optimization) is required to run your own website. If you are running a small online business, don’t overcomplicate things. A solid social media page that shows your followers what you’re about showcases your products or services and serves as another channel to direct customers to your online service.

Similarly, if your profile is set up correctly, the internal search engines on your platform should work their magic and direct people to your page. For instance, Etsy offers a guide on SEO for your Etsy shop on their website.

As your business grows, you might choose to reinvest some of your profits into Facebook or Google Ads. However, remember to research best practices before spending money.

What about Insurance when setting up an online business?

It wouldn’t be an Insync article without a little business insurance talk.

While you will often not need cover by law, it is something that you should consider in the long term. In some cases, the platform you use may insist you have some form of cover as part of their seller agreement.

The level of insurance you do or don’t need will depend on your business. Factors like income and the value of your equipment will impact your premium. If your business becomes your only source of income, insurance becomes more important. Policies like Business Interruption to cover losses following an insured loss are key.

Products Liability When Setting Up An Online Business

Products Liability cover is always a good one to consider if you sell physical products. It will cover you if someone claims physical injury or property damage due to a product you have:

  • Supplied
  • Designed
  • Manufactured

Product Liability is indispensable if you make your products. Certain products will increase risks, such as those intended to use on the skin.

Professional Indemnity When Setting Up An Online Business

Professional Indemnity is suitable for businesses offering professional advice or designs. Professional Indemnity insurance will cover you financially for claims of:

  • Copyright infringement
  • Negligent Professional Advice
  • Faulty Designs

For example, you design a logo for a small business, and they receive a claim for copyright infringement from a similar company. You are found liable for the financial losses of that claim. With a PI policy, both the legal fees and any compensation awarded will be covered by your insurer.

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