This article has been contributed by Rumzz Bajwa.
As the pandemic makes a lot of us rethink how and what we do for work, one trend is rapidly gaining popularity among wannabe entrepreneurs: starting remote online businesses.
Online businesses are those where brands and their customers conduct their transactions online instead of in-person. People like the idea of starting an online business because aside from owning their time, it gives them the freedom to work from home or anywhere with an internet connection.
Top 5 Online Business Ideas for 2021
There are a ton of remote businesses out there. If you’re looking to start one easily and with limited investment, here are five online business ideas to consider:
1. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is our first online business idea because it is rapidly gaining popularity as a way for brands to sell their products. It’s where sellers (think Amazon) allow other people – or affiliates (think bloggers) – to promote their products to the same audience. Every time a customer buys the product via the affiliate, a portion of the proceeds go to the affiliate.
One benefit of affiliate marketing programs is that you can run one even if you have a 9-to-5 job. With affiliate marketing, all you have to do is promote a product through a blog, social media post, or another channel you commonly use, and include a link that directs readers to where they can purchase it.
After a customer proceeds to checkout and completes the purchase, the store records the transaction details and confirms the sale as a valid purchase. The transaction will then be credited to you (the affiliate), and you receive your commission for the sale.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing
If you think this is the right remote business idea for you, here are five simple steps to start your affiliate marketing journey:
Step 1. Pick a Niche to Cover
Ideally, you should pick the one you’re interested in. This way, it’s easier for you to market and promote the product/s. More importantly, as an affiliate marketer, people will see you as a reliable advocate for the product, so it’s helpful to be in the right headspace.
Step 2. Find an Affiliate Marketing Program and Join
The easiest way to do this is to start a Google search. Once you find an affiliate marketing program, dig deeper and find out how much your commission would be and if it’s a reputable company.
Step 3. Create a Blog
This will serve as your channel to promote the brand. When starting a blog, be sure to choose a reliable platform such as WordPress. It’s also vital to select a user-friendly blog template to enhance the user experience (UX).
Step 4. Write Compelling Content
Content is king – it is absolutely essential that you create high-quality content.
Make it a goal to publish top-notch, highly informative, and SEO-friendly blog posts. This will help you build authority on the internet and boost your ranking on the search engine results page (SERPs) at the same time.
Be sure to use a content calendar and post content regularly. If you run out of creative ideas, consider publishing customer testimonials to help entice your customers to purchase.
Step 5. Run Ads
Aside from organic traffic, you could also invest in paid traffic. Running online ads can help give your website better visibility. Platforms like Facebook and Google offer affordable options for business owners.
Commissions for affiliates depend on the product they’re selling. On average, affiliates can earn between 3% to 30% of the product price. However, there are also some cases where brands or affiliates establish a fixed commission fee.
2. Content Writing Services
Companies are constantly looking for good writers that can produce high-quality copy for blogs, social media, or educational materials to help them with their content marketing strategy.
If you have a knack for writing and have ample experience in content marketing, consider staring an online business selling content writing services.
Of course, to be a content writer, you need to have a firm grasp of grammar and tone, and be able to research topics thoroughly. It will also help if you have a background in the specific niche your client is targeting (e.g. technology, food, entrepreneurship, software).
A rich portfolio not only makes you an attractive hire for clients but will also give you an upper hand when it comes to negotiating rates.
If everything goes well, you might just be able to grow your content writing business and start a firm. You can then accept more clients and start recruiting more content writers to work with you.
How to Start a Content Writing Business
Ready to start your own content writing business? Here’s how you can do it:
Step 1. Determine the Topics you Will Cover
It’s always wise to start with topics you’re already familiar with. Perhaps you’ve written extensively about business financing or marketing strategies before. Use that as your start.
As your business grows, you can then expand your services and start accepting broader topics.
Step 2. Create an Online Presence
Post your portfolio on your website, so your prospective clients can quickly go over it. If you have other writers, include their portfolios on the website, as well.
Don’t forget to establish yourself on social media, especially LinkedIn, as this provides an easy way for potential clients to discover you. Be sure to post attention-grabbing content on your website and newsletter to keep your audience and leads engaged.
Step 3. Hire More Writers
If you have more clients calling than you initially expected, consider hiring more writers. That way, you can delegate tasks, accept more clients to your firm, and earn more income.
Step 4. Market Your Business
Share your business on social media. If you can, run ads on Facebook and Google to extend your reach.
Most importantly, build networks. Try contacting your previous clients to see if they would be interested in your services or know someone who might.
One important thing to remember is to keep improving your write-ups. Make sure that you’re consistent with providing high-quality outputs. This will help you gain and maintain the loyalty of your clients.
According to Indeed.com, the average hourly rate for content writers is $17.63 per hour.
However, the rate may also depend on the state where you’re working in. For instance, the average rate in San Francisco is $26.58/hr, which is the highest in the United States. New York comes in second with $22.04/hr.
Hourly rates may also be dependent on the writer’s expertise and experience.
3. Virtual Assistant Services
Are you the type of person who loves keeping everything organized? Do you color-code your planner and schedule for better visualization?
If so, being a virtual assistant could be the type of remote home business that might appeal to you.
When simple responsibilities like answering a call or booking appointments become too overwhelming for a busy entrepreneur or executive, virtual assistants are there to help.
A virtual assistant’s role is to help busy executives organize their schedule, tasks, oversee projects, set-up appointments, create reminders, organize files, manage calls, data entry, and more. Sometimes, they may only focus on a specific task, like administrative work.
The best part of being a virtual assistant is you can do everything within the comfort of your home. All you need is a reliable internet connection, computer, and organizational skills.
How to Start a Virtual Assistant Services
If virtual assistance sounds like your gig, here’s how you can start your business:
Step 1. Determine the Services You’ll Offer
As a virtual assistant, you’ll have the freedom to choose what services you can provide to your clients. For example, some may offer only social media managing services, while others may include administrative work and project management in their services.
If you want to expand your niche, you can partner with another VA with another set of skills.
Step 2. Come Up with Your Rate
When thinking about your rate, consider your business overheads. These may include internet bills and supplies. Also think about your personal living expenses since you’ll mostly be doing your work from home.
Ideally, it should be low enough to attract clients and high enough to cover your business expenses. A good rule of thumb would be to start at $15 to $20 per hour and increase your rates over time.
Step 3. Choose Your Tools
As a VA, you need tools to organize your tasks better, generate invoices, track your time, and manage your team (if you’re growing a firm). Here are some of the best tools to consider:
- Time tracking – Time Doctor
- Collaboration/organization – Airtable
- Project management – Basecamp or Dubsado
- Accounting and invoicing – QuickBooks or FreshBooks or Bonsai
Step 4. Reach Out to Clients
Once you have your business up and running, the first step in finding clients is to reach out to them. Start with your previous clients. They’re more likely to hire you because they already know you. Another way to find clients is to log into LinkedIn or job posting websites.
Step 5. Ask for Customer Testimonials and Referrals
Did you know that you can market your business through your existing clients? By having your clients vouch for your business, it will be easier to attract new clients to your business.
You can ask your clients for a testimonial which you can feature on your social media or website. If they know another business owner that might require your services, ask your clients to refer your company to them.
Also think about how you could leverage consumer-generated content to spread the word about your business on social media, in a way that will genuinely resonate with your target market.
According to ZipRecruiter, one of the largest recruiting companies in the United States, virtual assistants with an extensive portfolio can charge as high as $59.86/hr and earn as much as $124,000/year.
Another study conducted by Indeed.com shows that the low-end (VA’s with little to no experience) income for VA’s is $13/hr while the high-end rate could go as much as $35/hr. The more advanced your skill-set is, the higher your rate should be.
4. Virtual Bookkeeping Services
Part of running a business is managing the books. For entrepreneurs who already have a ton on their plates, this additional responsibility could become overwhelming. This is where bookkeepers come in.
Virtual bookkeeping services are widely sought-after these days. Businesses need someone to track expenses, come up with financial reports, and reconcile those with bank and credit card statements.
By starting a bookkeeping firm, you can be that someone for them. If you want to expand your operations, you can eventually partner with an accountant to provide an all-in-one service for your clients.
Freelance bookkeeping is especially popular among start-ups and small businesses that can’t afford to hire in-house.
How to Start an Accounting Business
If starting an accounting business sounds like your cup of tea, here are the most important steps you need to cover:
Step 1. Identify a Niche to Focus On
Ideally, you should choose industries that you’re attracted to and interested in. If you have experience in a specific field, start with that one.
As you grow, you can start learning the ropes for another niche and begin accepting clients from there. Don’t be afraid to expand your reach to other geographic areas, as well.
Step 2. Profile Your Business Online
If you’re still starting, you can leverage social media to market your company. The most popular social media platforms to market your business are LinkedIn and Facebook.
As your business grows, you can start investing in a website and search engine optimization to give your business better visibility online.
Step 3. Decide on Your Rates
The best way to go about this is to read up on the industry. On average, bookkeepers charge around $26.49 an hour.
It also helps to look at the fee structure of your competitors, so you’ll get a better picture of how much you should charge your clients. It’s worth noting that whatever rate your first client pays you should become your minimum charge.
Step 4. Start Looking for Clients
Trying your luck on online job boards like FlexJobs or Indeed.com is the best way to start looking for clients. Be sure to link to your portfolio and discuss your experience with potential clients.
According to ZipRecruiter.com, as of March 2021, the average annual salary for freelance accountants was $55,094. It’s worth noting that it’s only an average rate. The rate could still go higher, especially for bookkeepers with extensive experience. Bookkeepers could also earn more as their client base grows.
5. Online Tutoring Services
Are you passionate about education? Do you feel like working with kids and students is a career path you’re meant to take?
If so, starting online tutoring services might be the online business idea for you.
Online tutoring services are becoming more and more popular these days as distance learning becomes part of the new normal.
If you have a background in teaching or worked as a teacher before, you can offer your talent (for a fee) to parents needing help with their children’s education. You can cover specific subjects like math, arts, foreign language, or other topics.
How to Start Your Online Tutoring Business
By now, you’re probably wondering how you can start an online tutoring business. Here are the basic steps you need to take:
Step 1. Choose the Subject You Plan to Teach
Based on your skills, try to assess which subject you would excel in. It’s better to start with one subject. This way, you can focus and offer constructive knowledge that will help improve your student’s performance.
Step 2. Choose Tutoring Software
Since you’re teaching students online, Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts might be the right platform for you. You can also invest in cloud storage (i.e., Dropbox, Google Drive) subscriptions, so you can upload your learning materials there and make them easily accessible to your students.
Step 3. Set Your Rates
Read online tutoring resources and try to see how much others are charging for their service. Usually, online teachers charge around $20-$80 an hour depending on their expertise, the subject they will teach, and difficulty level. Teachers with advanced education typically charge higher rates.
Step 4. Create a Social Media Presence
Being on social media makes it easier for clients to find you considering that almost all people have at least one social media account these days. Aside from that, social media provides an easier way for your students to contact you if they have further questions or need to set-up a meeting to catch up with school work.
Step 5. Start Tutoring
Once everything is set up, you can then start tutoring students and earning money.
In the United States, a freelance tutor could earn an average annual salary of $57,612 with an average hourly rate of $28. As mentioned before, the rates would depend on the subject matter, level of difficulty, and qualifications of the teacher.
Final Thoughts on Starting Your Remote Business
Finding the right online business idea to start can be challenging. However, if you’re well aware of your skillset and capabilities, the idea will come easily to you. Just because the pandemic happened doesn’t mean that you should put your dream of starting a business on pause.
There are a lot of businesses you can start from home. If you’re having a hard time choosing, go over the ones mentioned above. You might just find the one that will fit your needs and skill set.
About the author: Rumzz Bajwa is a digital strategist and content marketer for SMB Compass. She enjoys spending time with her family and immersing herself in a good book.