9 Lucrative Online Businesses to Invest In [2021 Version]

Are you looking for lucrative online businesses to invest in? 

You don’t need to have hundreds of thousands of dollars in your bank account to tap into the huge opportunities on the internet.

This is the best time to invest in proven and sustainable businesses that you can operate from anywhere in the world. In fact, 30 million+ Americans operate a home-based business

Interestingly, 44% of home-based online businesses are launched with less than $5,000.

So do you have $10, $100, or $1,000, or $4,000 that you can invest in a profitable online venture and expect a good ROI? I’ll show you the best online businesses to start from home?

There are options if you’re on a tight budget as well. No one should be left behind.  

Truly, it can be challenging to find the right idea. Although there are thousands of business opportunities, yet everything seems like it’s a tough nut to crack.

Where do you even begin? Listed below are 10 lucrative opportunities you can invest in and expect to earn 5, 6, or even 7 figure income yearly. 

Important: None of these businesses is a get-rich-quick scheme — so you must be committed, patient, and smart. 

Online Business #1: Flip Websites & Domains For Profit

Domains and websites are hot cakes on the internet. Businesses are always searching for easy, memorable, aged, and brandable domain names to buy.

Voice.com (just domain) was sold in 2019 for $30 million.

Websites also are the currency of the web. Without websites, we can connect, share, or build businesses. That’s why these assets are profitable business opportunities for you to invest in.

Suppose you have some money to invest in a sustainable online business but you’re quite busy, you should consider flipping websites and domains for profit. 

Here’s the 3-step process in summary:

Source: https://exchangemarketplace.com/blog/website-flipping

Here’s how it works in summary: You find domains and websites from Marketplaces like Flippa, Empire Flippers, Motion Invest, FE International, or Investors Club, buy low and sell high. If you’re in the property market, then you’re already familiar with this concept.

For example, if you buy a website for $1,500, you could improve it by adding new articles, building some backlinks, and adding additional sources of monetization. 

All things being equal, the value of the site will increase after 6 months to 1 year. 

Then you can flip (i.e., sell) to hungry buyers for $8,000 – $20,000. The cost will depend on how much the site is making, the monthly traffic, keywords that are ranking on Google, and more.

Better yet, you might decide to buy a website that’s generating income, improve its earnings and just keep it, banking the proceeds.

Oh, I forgot you might be busy with other stuff. In that case, you can buy a website as an investor for $50,000, then hire a website management company to run and grow it and then possibly flip the site months later for $100,000.

That means you’ll earn $50,000+ in profits for doing almost nothing. Impressive!

TheWirecutter.com was acquired by the New York Times in 2016 for $30 million.

Although flipping domain names isn’t as predominant as flipping websites. However, if you register or buy a domain name with potential, don’t be surprised to sell it for thousands of dollars. 

It costs $11.99/year to register a domain name on Namecheap or across most registrars. However, you can flip the same domain name several times that amount.

Online Business #2: Affiliate Marketing 

I love affiliate marketing. The majority of successful online entrepreneurs all started with affiliate marketing

Even today, the likes of Tony Robbins, Pat Flynn, Michael Hyatt, Marie Forleo, and so on — still earn part of their income as affiliates.

With affiliate marketing, you’re in for a business model that can earn almost 100% passive income.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Source: Ahrefs 

In basic terms, affiliate marketing is the simple process of recommending other company’s products and getting paid commissions for successful sales. 

As an affiliate, you have to share the benefits (and sometimes the cons) of the software, apps, books, and even services you’ve benefited from with your audience. If they buy, you earn a commission.

Thousands of companies, including major brand names like Amazon, eBay, ClickBank, REI, etc. offer affiliate programs where they reward ‘affiliates’ for driving customers to their sales pages. 

You don’t need to buy stocks, handle packaging and shipping, and you’re not responsible for customer service issues. 

Here are some of the well-known affiliate programs to promote and earn commissions:

  • ShareASale.com
  • Amazon.com
  • CJ.com
  • ClickBank.com
  • JV.com

Or simply head to Google and search for ‘best affiliate programs’

To become successful in affiliate marketing, you need to set up a website or/and get active on social media platforms (particularly YouTube and Pinterest). 

On your website or blog, you’ll be writing product reviews about the said products, answering some questions, helping your audience, showing them everything they need to make well-informed decisions. 

Essentially, you need to research low-competition keywords that you’ll be writing about. If your website is about project management, for example, then you should find keywords that people are searching for in that field — use SEMrush or Ahrefs for this purpose.

When you write an article, add an affiliate link from your vendor. This affiliate link is unique to you. 

Share this unique link in your post naturally. When someone reads the article and clicks on the link, they’ll be redirected to the destination store. You’ll get paid a commission if they make a purchase.

Affiliate marketing is a low-cost business model but has huge income potential.

Online Business #3: Ecommerce Store

If you recall the dot-com crash in 2001, you might not see the potential of investing in an eCommerce business. This industry is worth over $10 billion in 2021 and it’s estimated to reach 147.9 billion by 2027, according to Grand View Research.

Modern eCommerce business is highly profitable if you know what you’re doing. 

The only challenge before now is hiring web developers and paying huge amounts of money to code and design a functional eCommerce store.

Then the constant hassle of trying to drive traffic to your store to generate sales. 

The good news is that the major bottlenecks have been removed. Instead of paying a web developer $2,000+ to develop your online store, you can simply use Shopify.

Shopify is an online store builder. It has a set of stunning templates for every industry. Whether you’re looking to sell clothing, medical equipment, gadgets, etc., there’s a suitable template for that.

When you use Shopify, BigCommerce, or even Volusion, you can quickly set up your online store and sell your products directly to customers.

If you don’t have products to sell on your online store, no problems. You can dropship products from other manufacturers and vendors. Dropshipping is a proven online business model (so we’ll discuss it in much detail later).

Today, selling monthly subscription boxes in a particular niche or industry (e.g., Pets, skincare, hair, baby care) is quite hot and for a reason — there’s a lot of money to be made. 

A great example of this business model is the Dollar Shave Club. A simple business idea that started in 2012 — selling affordable men’s grooming boxes monthly turned into a multimillion-dollar venture.

In 2015, the Dollar Shave Club was acquired by Unilever for USD $1 billion. 

You should use Shopify to power your eCommerce venture. It’s easy, affordable, and there are tons of plugins and add-ons to enhance customer’s shopping experiences. 

It also comes with secure payment options — so that you can accept credit card payments easily.

Online Business #4: Resell Brand Sneakers Online

Yes, Sneakers are hot cakes everywhere, especially in the US.

Reselling sneakers is quickly gaining a lot of attention. This monster market is profitable if you get started and build a reputation. Sneaker reselling is already a $2 billion market, however, it’s set to hit $6 billion by 2025.

And guess what? You don’t need a huge investment to start reselling and profiting from Sneakers (especially the limited editions).

How does ‘Sneaker reselling’ work?

The principle is quite simple and fun: First, you find limited edition sneakers that are undervalued. You purchase them and resell them for a profit.

Here’s why this online business should be on your investment list:

Limited edition sneakers usually sell out fast. You’ll often see the price increasing every day. So you can quickly grab some profit while it’s hot.

Ideally, it’s best to start reselling brands that are well known. This is recommended when you’re just getting started,

Once you’re experienced, you can start investing in new releases. Be at the forefront of those who buy sneakers before they’re sold out. You’ll make some cool cash when you resell because there are latecomers who are ready to pay for a limited-edition sneaker.

To find these limited edition sneakers, quickly head to eBay and search “limited edition sneakers.” Once you find a pair of sneakers you’re interested in, go to StockX and search for them.

StockX is an awesome platform that illustrates in graphical form the value of different sneakers. Through this graph, you can tell the value of sneakers and their worth over time. 

It’s a great way to predict the direction of the market for a particular sneaker.

At StockX, you might notice that a pair of sneakers is worth more than the value it’s being sold on eBay. In this case, you should grab this pair and flip for profit somewhere else. 

As you get a lot more involved, you’ll develop some skills and expertise to spot sneakers that tend to sell well and what shoes don’t. 

There’s a huge potential in sneaker reselling? Does it sound like a business venture you can invest in?

Online Business #5: Amazon FBA

While eCommerce is the umbrella term for businesses that involves buying and selling online, I chose to treat Amazon FBA differently for a reason.

First, the Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) business model is unique. It’s an opportunity that enables investors and entrepreneurs to piggyback off the success of Amazon. As of 2019, over 2.5 million sellers sell their products on Amazon.

In a nutshell, you come up with a good idea for a range of products to sell online. 

Then you’ll allow Amazon to do all of the heavy lifting for you — advertising, warehousing, packaging, shipping, returns, and customer support.

Isn’t it amazing? Amazon is the biggest retailer online. Imagine leveraging its proficient customer support team, logistics team, and intelligence team? That’s exactly what Amazon offers their FBA sellers.

If you want Amazon to sell your product for you, the process is straightforward and interesting at best:

  • You brainstorm and find a great idea for a range of products to sell online
  • Next up, you research the market, determine the ideal pricing and profit margin, etc.
  • Next up, you find a company or manufacturer of the product (just check Alibaba.com or find independent manufacturers on Google).
  • Once your product has been manufactured, you get it ready to be shipped to an Amazon fulfillment center.
  • Next up, you set up a store on the Amazon website and create your product listings
  • Once the listings are approved, your products are live and you could make your first sale in minutes.
  • Amazon will send out your earnings every 14 days via check or electronic fund transfer to your Bank account.

Let’s illustrate Amazon FBA visually:

Amazon FBA Startup cost: $500 – $50,000

Earning potential: $5,000 – $500,000 (in gross revenue)

Online Business #6: Digital Products

Digital affiliate platforms like ClickBank and JVZoo have processed commissions worth over $100 billion. Digital products are everywhere, from eBooks to podcasts to videos to infographics to music. 

People love digital information because they’re portable and easy to consume. This video throws more light on it.

E-learning is the bread and butter of today’s online environment. It’s exploded in recent years. According to recent studies, the e-learning industry will be worth around $331 billion by 2025

This is proof that investing in digital products can provide a source of passive and recurring income for you. If you’re a freelancer, a creator, or an educator, this is your opportunity. 

Digital products like online courses can be downloaded and consumed whenever you want. This cannot be said of hardcopy books or DVDs.

Sites like Thinkific and Teachable let you create your online course in less time. Just choose the template, add modules, add content, and publish. 

If you want an already-established platform with hundreds of thousands of buyers ready to consume your digital product, try Udemy.

Create a digital product and sell it over and over again. That’s the beauty. You can’t do this with Amazon FBA or dropshipping business, but it’s easy here.

Do you consider yourself an expert in your field? Do people come to you to get answers in a particular field? If yes, this might just be the best opportunity to make a side income. 

Yes, you can sell your downloadables and digital products in the form of a one-time fee or subscription. 

Startup cost: $50 – $100

Earning potential: $2,000 – $250,000

Online Business #7: Start and Scale a Virtual Assistant Service

What skills do you have that can benefit another business?

Are you experienced with research, writing, graphics, organization, and collaboration? You can turn any or all of these skill sets into a profitable virtual assistant service.

Source: HubStaff

When you’re new to all of these, you might think it’s not scalable since you’re trading time for money. But that’s not true. 

What is a Virtual Assistant Service?

First, virtual assistants are solopreneurs and freelancers who are skilled in one field or the other — and offer to help small businesses to run their operations smoothly. 

Every business (small or big) needs help with checking and replying to emails, writing content, researching, and more.

A virtual assistant service is a business model where you’re providing help and support to business owners. Makes sense?

Gina Horkey makes six figures each year as a virtual assistant. While this might be an exception, an extra $1,000/month can mean a lot to so many people that I know.

The best way to scale your business as a virtual assistant is by becoming an agency.

This gives you the chance to recruit and vet virtual assistants from around the world. Then you assign them to specific tasks and pay them when your client sends the funds.

Or simply create an online course on Teachable or create and sell directly on Udemy.

Online Business #8: Chatbots

There’s a huge demand for chatbots in businesses. Consumer retail spend will reach $147 billion in 2024, according to Business Insider.

And there’s a reason for that. Chat is personal and can create deep connections between people. For instance, being able to chat with friends on Facebook is one reason people still love the platform.

For online businesses, though, they need an effective and fun way to engage with site visitors and customers. That’s where chatbots come in.

Chatbots are AI-powered applications that present a new digital frontier to small businesses. It’s customer service automation at its very best.

The earlier you create your own chatbot or invest in a chatbot system, the higher your chances of making money.

Platforms such as MobileMonkey, Manychat, and several others have simplified the process of building chatbots today.

While most businesses are looking for ways to build and launch their own chatbots to help automate their sales and marketing processes, those who sell the picks and shovels will make the most money. Much like California’s Gold Rush!

To launch your own chatbot business, you can hire developers from Upwork, brainstorm, and come up with an angle that will launch your chat app into the market.

Of course, it requires a learning process. However, the rewards will be well worth the investment of your time and money.

Online Business #9: Paid Ads Agency

Paid online advertising is a huge industry. Businesses are spending a lot of money to bring in customers from multiple sources. 

According to a report by eMarketer, digital ad spending in the U.S. is set to exceed traditional advertising. By 2023, the trend has shown that digital will surpass two-thirds of total media spending.  

Businesses are looking for ways to drive leads and customers to their websites. It’s tough for a business owner to attempt to get traffic.

That’s why they turn to a company that does advertising. There are so many paid advertising agencies that help other businesses generate traffic, sales, and revenue for their business. 

Online advertising requires a set of specialized skills, which you may already possess. For example, I know someone who worked with a digital marketing agency as an outreach manager. 

Their role was simple: They had to find the email addresses of key people in a company, email them and make some introductions. When they were looking to start their own business, they turned this skill into a service. It was a walk-over because they already possessed the skill.

Online advertising involves retargeted, programmatic ads, custom audience definitions, and understanding how sales funnels work. It’s really complex, to say the least. 

If you have some experience and understand how paid advertising works, you can launch an ad management business. A good example is AdSanity.com.

Better yet, you might be able to partner with tech giants like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Google, Amazon, and other advertising companies.

Conclusion 

There you have it, the 9 lucrative online businesses you can invest in. The secret sauce to every online business is to invest in a niche market where the target audience is ready to spend money.

So keep an eye on the trends in your industry and outside your niche. You can also check media sites and bestseller lists on Amazon to see patterns. Don’t forget to monitor what people are discussing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

More importantly, you’re in control of your time and money. So feel free to research your favorite online business opportunity here and learn the ropes — that way you’ll be able to invest wisely. 

To stay focused, begin with one online business and get it going. Then you can add new revenue streams as you gain deeper knowledge and experience in the field.

When one business starts going south, you can always fall back on another lucrative online business opportunity.

As always, I’d love to hear from you. Which of these online businesses have you invested in? Share your comments below:

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.