Find the Best Online Businesses to Start This Year

Starting an online business has become a popular way to earn money by being your own boss. There are several top online businesses that can get up and running in just a day and with minimal money up front.

As people spend more of their time online, finding the best online businesses for a new small business venture is smart. According to, Internet users have increased tenfold from 1999 to 2013, and reached three billion users globally in 2014.

In fact, with the advent of the World Wide Web (WWW) and social media, many successful online business ideas simply take offline selling online. For example, selling goods at a local craft fair has now moved into more efficient online marketplaces.

People unfamiliar with how to start an online business might wonder, which ones are the most successful online businesses to start and how much will it cost to get started. In many cases, the start-up cost is zero to minimal, but you may need to advertise to be successful.

Even the best online business needs to be found to be prosperous. With search engines like Google and Bing, you can advertise for just a few dollars a day. Also many options to start a business online offer a platform that already has built in traffic.

In this article, we will review the best online businesses to consider, give you tips on how to start a business online, and take a look at several different types of online business ideas that have something for everyone, whether you’re a tech geek or artist.

See Also: Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard® vs. Hilton American Express vs. Hilton HHonors American Express vs. BB&T Spectrum Rewards®Card

AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Online Business Ideas

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the business website names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that business website):

Top 6 Best Online Businesses | Brief Comparison

Top Online Businesses

Potential Earnings Estimate

Fees Involved

ArtFire: Sell Handmade Goods$0–$10,000+ per month$0.23–$40.00, valuation fee 3%–9%
Envato: Design Website Themes$0–$20,000+ per month12.5%–55% author fee
fotolia by Adobe: Sell Photos & Illustrations$0.99–$3.30 per product sold up to 33% of sale priceN/A
Guru: Social Media Manager$5–$15 per hour4.95 %–8.95% transaction fee
TextBroker: Article & Content Writing0.7–5.0 cents per wordN/A
Wealthy Affiliate: Affiliate Marketing$8–$1,200 per sale$0–$49 per month

Table: Top 6 Best Online Business to Start | Above list is sorted alphabetically

How to Start an Online Business | Tips for Success

There are certain tried and true business practices that also translate into successful online businesses. Researching your market, advertising, and nurturing your leads are all vital parts of the best online business ventures.

People that tend to fail at an online business are typically missing one or more of those best practices when they start a business online, so their results suffer. The good news is that there are several tips you can use for starting an online business successfully.

Many of these tips might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people starting an online business miss the important ones. For example, just setting up an email newsletter can greatly boost your sales. Email has an average ROI of $38 for each $1 spent.

Below are some tips you can follow to give you the best online business chance for success:

  • Research your market in advance
  • Study those who are doing well for ideas
  • Make a business plan before you start
  • Know how much you need to make before you start a business online
  • Create a spreadsheet of your costs and potential profits
  • Invest in online advertising through social media and search engines
  • Create an opt-in email newsletter and send it out regularly
  • Find your niche to make yourself stand out from the crowd
  • Don’t neglect SEO tactics for your site
  • Make time to work on your online business ideas every day
  • Ask for testimonials and referrals from happy customers

Don’t Miss: TD Ameritrade Client Rewards Card vs. Commerce Bank Special Connections® vs. TD First Class Visa® vs. Fifth Third Truly Simple Credit Card

Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an Online Business

The enthusiasm level is usually high when someone first learns how to start an online business. The idea of being able to make a good living or pick up some extra part-time income from the comfort of your home sounds great.

There are many stories out there about successful online business ideas making people thousands per month, but enthusiasm can quickly wane when fast money doesn’t come quite as easily as you may have expected from starting an online business.

You can have a better chance for your online business ideas to succeed if you avoid some of the common mistakes that people make. The most successful online businesses take time to understand what to do and what to avoid.

Online Business Ideas

Image Source: How to Start a Business Online

Going in with Unrealistic Expectations

If you find your best online business to start and expect to begin making the same money right away as people who’ve been at it for years, you’re going to set yourself up to fail. Be realistic going in, and you’ll have a better chance of meeting and exceeding your goals.

Being Lazy with Your Research

A big mistake with any top online businesses is jumping in with that sign-up form before you’ve done any research. Take the time to research your market, look for tips from others, and fully understand everything before you start a business online.

Lack of Commitment

Today, you’re totally into the best online business to start, but tomorrow you’ve become bored with the whole idea. Be sure you’re completely committed and take time to mull over the successful online business ideas you’ve found to make sure it’s really what you want to do.

Expecting People to Magically Find You Online

When you read about a best online business, it can sound like with just a few clicks money will be rolling in from all the people searching for what you have to offer. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting marketing. All successful online businesses need it.

Giving Up

Nicki Minaj put it eloquently, “Your victory is right around the corner. Never give up.” This has been true for business owners since the beginning. Many people give up when things get too hard, but the best online businesses dig in, adjust where needed, and don’t give up.

All-in-One Change Management Tools

Top Rated Toolkit for Change Managers.

Get Your Change Management Tool Today...

Detailed Review—Top Ranking Best Online Business Ideas

Below, please find a detailed review of each website on our list of best online business to start. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these top online businesses to score so highly in our selection ranking.

ArtFire: Sell Handmade Goods Review

If you are creative and love making handmade crafts, then selling on ArtFire could be the best online business to start. It offers a platform to advertise and sell a variety of handmade crafts and it takes just minutes to open a shop there.

The company began in 2008 and is headquartered in the heart of the Tucson Arts District. It was founded by John Jacobs, who has been involved in gem and mineral shows since he was a kid. The platform offers crafters a great place to start a business online.

Best Online Businesses

Image Source: ArtFire—Best Online Businesses

Key Features That Led to Our Ranking of This Site as One of the Top Online Businesses

Artfire is a competitor to Etsy and has been fast becoming the best online business for those selling handmade goods. Some of the advantages noted are that they allow you to show more product photos and that shoppers do not have to sign up on the site to purchase.

Fees Involved

When reviewing how to start a business online selling handmade goods, the fees that you pay are a key consideration for calculating your retail price and profit. The fees on ArtFire are pretty straightforward, and they have three main plans to consider when you chose them for your best online business.

  • Standard Shop ($0.23 per listing, 9% valuation fee)
  • Popular Shop ($20.00 per month, 3% valuation fee)
  • Featured Shop ($40.00 per month, 3% valuation fee)

Promotional Tools

Another great feature for successful online businesses that the site offers is promotional tools to help take the hassle out of building a website. They also automatically share your items in the major search engines.

As one of the top online businesses for crafters, they have a large community of artisans that you can connect with for tips and support. Their platform is also social media–friendly, making it easy to build a loyal following when you start a business online.

Learn how to start an online business on ArtFire here.

Related: Discover it® Card vs. PNC Points® Visa® Credit Card vs. Wells Fargo Cash Back Card vs. US Bank Platinum Card

Envato: Design & Sell Website Themes Review

For tech geeks and those who love coding websites, there are some successful online business ideas for you at Envato through their ThemeForest site. Not only can you code and sell website templates, they offer a platform for other digital-based online business ideas.

Envato is based in Melbourne, Australia, but the company’s team lives and works around the world. The company was founded in 2006, and has grown to more than 1.5 million active buyers and sellers and more than 6 million community members.

Key Features That Led to Our Ranking of This Site as One of the Top Online Businesses

People who enjoy building websites or coding plugins often do it as a hobby, so what makes this a best online business to start is that it offers these folks a way to earn a living doing what they love.

Top Rated

ThemeForest from Envato is currently the 323rd most visited website in the world according to Alexa. It’s a top destination for people searching for WordPress, Shopify, and other popular website themes, which means that starting an online business selling your themes there will already have guaranteed traffic.

Good Sales Potential

The top authors selling themes with Envato make more than $20,000 per month according to the website. And there are a variety of successful online business ideas in the digital realm that you can target.

  • Website templates
  • Stock music & audio
  • Motion graphics
  • Graphics, vectors & print
  • 3D models & materials
  • Code, plugins & mobile
  • Stock photography

The site’s author commissions are based on a non-exclusive and exclusive model, with non-exclusive authors having a fee of 55% and exclusive authors having a fee of just 12.5% to 37.5%. The total purchase price of the item you sell is made up of your price plus the fee.

Learn more about starting an online business at Envato here.

fotolia by Adobe: Sell Photos & Illustrations Review

Anyone that knows graphics or has used the ever popular Acrobat PDF knows Adobe. The company was founded in 1982 and has been a pioneer in graphic design and web technologies ever since. With their fotolia by Adobe, they illustrate how to start an online business if you’re a photographer.

Top Online Businesses

Image Source: fotolia by Adobe—Best Online Businesses

Key Features That Led to Our Ranking of This Site as One of the Top Online Businesses

Photographers and illustrators may want to know the best online businesses for selling their art, and while there may be other options out there to start a business online taking photos, the Adobe name is one that already comes with a lot of clout.

Tips and Tricks

You can tell by reviewing their site that Adobe really wants you to succeed with your online business ideas selling through fotolia. They have a robust section of tips and tricks including how to succeed with a best online business in photos or illustrations, and sections for video, indexing, and more.

Before asking how to start a business online with your photos, you’ll want to take a look through their legal rules section, which has important information on copyright.

Multiple Digital Opportunities

Digital artists often have their specialties or may want to cultivate their online business ideas in more than one visual medium. Another attractive feature of selling on fotolia by Adobe is that you can do so in several different formats.

You can start a business online selling:

  • Photos
  • Illustrations
  • Vector graphics
  • Video

Find out more about the best online business to start selling photos here.

Popular Article: Top HSBC Rewards Credit Cards | Review | HSBC Platinum, Cash Back, Rewards, Balance Transfer Cards

Guru: Social Media Manager Review

Guru is one of the newer freelancing sites that give people the opportunity for starting an online business. While, they may be a newer site on the block, this Pittsburgh, PA, based company has grown into a market leader in less than 10 years and has a desire to provide the best online business opportunities.

Key Features That Led to Our Ranking of This Site as One of the Top Online Businesses

While there are multiple freelance opportunities on Guru for those asking how to start a business online, we are going to focus on a growing best online business sector—social media.

Social media use continues to grow, and companies are taking notice. According to Statista, the worldwide social media revenue is estimated at $16.9 billion, and 97% of businesses globally use social media marketing. This makes being a social media manager one of the top online businesses.

Low Fees for Freelance Gurus

An attractive feature of this platform is the low fees. When you start a business online doing freelance social media marketing, some sites can take up to 20% of your earnings. But Guru only deducts between 4.95% and 8.95% as a transaction fee.

Do What You Love

A great thing about social media marketing, especially for the younger generations, is that it’s usually something extremely familiar. Most twentysomethings practically grew up with Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. So it’s a natural transition as one of their best online business ideas.

With so many companies increasing their marketing budget allocation for social media advertising, this is one of the most successful online business ideas for those that have a knack for social media.

Learn how to start an online business on Guru here.

TextBroker: Article & Content Writing Review

You may have dreams of writing a great novel someday, but for now if you’re wondering how to start a business online with your writing talent, you can look to TextBroker.

The company began in 2005, when founder Jan Becker-Fochler saw that the need for unique content to drive SEO and website rankings was increasing. So he started a site that became one of the most successful online businesses for writers to join.

How To Start An Online Business

Image Source: TextBroker—Best Online Businesses

Key Features That Led to Our Ranking of This Site as One of the Top Online Businesses

If you’re a writer asking how to start a business online, you have a perfect opportunity to hone your talent while earning money at TextBroker. They have a very straightforward earnings system that allows you to work your way up from earning 0.7 cents per word to 5.0 cents per word.

No Cost to Get Started

There is no cost to sign up as an author, which makes this one of the best online businesses to try for those without any money to invest. You simply submit a writing sample, get a rating, and can start writing for cash.

They have “thousands of projects” to choose from. You can also receive direct orders from clients that have specifically requested your work.

Multilingual Opportunities

If you happen to be bilingual or multilingual, then TextBroker can be the best online business to start if you’d like to earn money doing translations.

They offer clients unique content from writers in 15 languages, which makes this one of the great online business ideas for those lucky enough to have a talent to write in more than one language.

Does writing sound like one of the best online businesses for you? Learn more here.

Related: Top UK Credit Cards | Ranking | UK Best Credit Cards Comparison and Reviews

Free Wealth & Finance Software - Get Yours Now ►

Wealthy Affiliate: Affiliate Marketing Review

Affiliate marketing is expected to grow to a $6.8 billion dollar industry over the next five years. That makes joining Wealthy Affiliate a best online business to start if you’re a savvy web developer and marketer.

The term “Affiliate Marketing” simply means that a retailer pays you for driving traffic from your site to theirs in the form of sales commissions from purchases. One of the largest companies that pays affiliate commissions is Amazon, which has made this niche one of the top online businesses for this year.

Key Features That Led to Our Ranking of This Site as One of the Top Online Businesses

Wealthy Affiliate was started in 2005 and has been there during the explosive growth of affiliate marketing. And as online business ideas go, this is one that has been making people a commission of up to 75%, no inventory to hold, and no shipping costs.

Multiple Companies

Why think of starting an online business in affiliate marketing working with just one company, when you can earn money from several? That’s the beauty of Wealthy Affiliate. They give you the platform to set up linking and commission earnings from multiple entities.

Just a few of the affiliate programs you can join are:

  • Legacy Learning System

You Can Start for Free

If you’re not yet sure this is the best online business to start, there is no cost to begin with their Starter package. You can get up to two websites up and running at no cost and also get to take advantage of their “Phase 1” training too.

Of course if you find this is one of the best online businesses you’ve ever tried and want to go all in, for $49 per month you can sign up for their Premium package with more training, up to 50 websites, and a lot of other perks.

Learn how to start an online business with Wealthy Affiliate here.

Conclusion—Top 6 Best Online Business Ideas

Whether you love to make crafts, enjoy coding websites, are a savvy marketer, or a budding writer, you may find your best online business to start in one of our top 6 sites listed above.

For many of these best online businesses you don’t need a dime to get started, which is a huge plus. Of course, the more you put into any online business ideas, the more you’ll get back if you do it right.

Just remember, the best online businesses succeed when people do what they love, apply themselves daily, and never give up. So get out there and make your online business ideas a reality.

AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:

Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.

Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.