5 Online Businesses That You Can Start With Little Or No Cost

*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Are you wanting to start a business that you can do from home?  When you are younger and you think about all of your entrepreneurial ideas, you hear a lot about how expensive it is to start a business and oftentimes that is what holds us back from starting one.  

Truth be told though, there are some businesses that you can start with very little to no cost out of pocket at all.

If your goal is to start a business than can be done at home, here are 5 online businesses that you can start with little or no cost:

1. Virtual Assistant

Do you have any administrative assistant type skills?  Have you worked in an office before? There are website owners and bloggers out there that will hire you to do administrative tasks for them.  

2. Freelance Writer

Are you an aspiring writer?  Did you know that you can get paid to write blog posts and articles as a freelancer? Depending on your skill level, you can make a small amount of money on the side, or you can start pulling in as much as six figures per year.  There is a huge list of freelance writers out there doing just that.

3. Buying And Reselling

Okay, so the “buying” part would lead you to assume that you would, in fact, need to put money out on this business venture.  However, many people who do buying and selling as a business start out by selling stuff that they already have in order to start the business.  

The money you make off of those first few items can be used to purchase the next items that you plan to sell.

4. Social Media Consulting

Do you rock your own Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram?  If you said yes to this, you may have a career on your hands.

Many businesses, large and small, need help managing and growing their social media presence.

5. Blogging

Do you have something that you are good at talking about?  Have you ever considered starting a blog? This is a small business that takes a lot of time and effort, but it does have the ability to make you some money, sometimes very good money.  

In order to be successful at blogging though, make sure to focus on your niche and blog consistently. I wrote an entire article about blogging with tips and tricks that will help you out if you want to go that route. 

For all of these business, you will need to have a computer and internet already, but since you are reading this, I assume you have those already.

If you have ever considered launching your own internet business of some kind then chances are you’ve thought about how much it will cost – either in time or money. You may also be wondering if there is another way to launch such a venture that doesn’t involve putting down cash up front.

The answer lies in what many call ‘lifestyle businesses’ where entrepreneurs make their living without having to take out loans or invest large sums of money. These types of ventures often require little initial investment but instead rely upon selling products and services created by others. 

In this article we discuss several ways you can create your own successful online enterprise without needing to put anything down first.

This list includes everything from affiliate marketing to creating web sites, writing articles and e-Books, as well as selling other people’s stuff. The sky really is the limit!

How To Start With No Money 

One option for those who want to go into one of these categories above is to simply leverage someone else’s expertise. This means finding free resources which you can use to help build your skills and turn them into money making opportunities. There are plenty of places to look for free information including forums, blogs, YouTube videos and websites like Reddit. 

Many communities offer advice and support for beginners just looking to learn more about their chosen field.

For example, if you’re interested in becoming an expert marketer through affiliate marketing, check out ClickBank and Commission Junction (CJ)  Both companies provide tools designed specifically to assist new affiliates while offering training and promotional materials. 

Neither of them charge monthly fees so you won’t have to worry about paying anything upfront, although you might still end up investing a bit of money over the long run building this sort of business. 

Another area where you can find freebies is in technology. If you know enough HTML code to change a page here or there then why not try your hand at designing your very own website? All you need is a reliable hosting service and you can even host multiple domains using Google Sites. 

It takes more than just knowledge though, since graphics and copywriting skills come into play as well. But once again, because of the low costs involved you can easily afford to experiment until something clicks.

Have Affiliates Become Your Business Partner

A great place to start building relationships with potential partners is Amazon.com’s Associates program. Simply sign up and earn commissions when customers purchase items directly from Amazon. While you only receive a portion of each sale, this represents excellent return on investment considering most of us shop at Amazon every day anyway.

While it sounds complicated, affiliate marketing works similarly to being an employee except that rather than getting paid wages, you agree to receive a percentage of sales generated by referrals resulting from promotions you send out. To maximize profits, focus on promoting high quality products and services that appeal to broad audiences. 

Avoid cheap knockoffs that lack originality and attention to detail. Instead, stick with reputable brands that sell things worth buying.

What Online Business Can I Start With No Money?

If you have absolutely no money then there are a few businesses that you can try your hand at which I will go into below. However, this will be immensely easier if you are willing to invest at least a few hundred dollars into hosting, courses, etc. 

So if you have some stuff around the house that you can sell or if you can make a bit of extra money doing things locally (dog walking, delivery driver, mowing grass, shoveling snow, etc.) then it will make starting an online business easier. 

1. Be An Affiliate Marketer

When it comes to choosing between affiliate programs, always choose the ones that offer higher percentages. Some networks offer anywhere from 50% to 75%, whereas others offer less than 10%. Also consider whether or not the company has been around for a while. 

One good indicator is longevity. If a network goes under after years of operation, odds are it was never going to become profitable to begin with.

Once you decide on a particular product you wish to promote, register with its affiliate management system. Then log onto the site associated with that specific product and click on “Promote”under the respective link. From there, fill out basic personal details and opt-in to future offers. 

Once enrolled, you will receive customized links that contain tracking codes. When visitors click on the link, they will automatically be redirected to the merchant’s website where they can complete whatever action(s) desired. Make sure to include instructions on how to convert traffic into leads, ideally with contact forms included.

2. Create A Website For Free or Cheap

With WordPress, Wix, and similar content management systems, setting up your own website is relatively easy. Even if you don’t plan on working with SEO techniques, a simple site gives you a platform from which to write articles and upload media files. 

As mentioned above many people prefer to create a blog (similar to this site) that covers a variety of topics to try and earn money through ads or affiliate offers. 

Blog posts typically consist of short paragraphs containing relevant keywords. However, before publishing anything, give careful consideration to readability. Keep sentences within single lines, avoid excessive punctuation marks and avoid complex sentence structures altogether. 

Use proper grammar and spelling to ensure readers aren’t left confused. Be certain to proofread thoroughly before posting or printing material. Failure to do so will result in poor search engine rankings and lost credibility among potential clients.

To set up a blog, visit WordPress.org or Joomla.org (another good option for a website builder). Signup for a free account and select a theme. Begin adding posts right away — this process should be done regardless of whether you intend to post regularly or sporadically. 

Before doing so, however, consider keyword optimization. Search engines crawl pages based on keywords used throughout text content. Using keywords effectively helps increase visibility and boost overall ranking. Don’t forget to add images to enhance visual interest. 

Although blogging platforms allow users to share photos, remember that following the copyright laws remains your job alone. Unless otherwise specified, refrain from uploading copyrighted materials unless explicit permission is granted.

Also, keep in mind that you shouldn’t expect immediate returns. Take advantage of social networking and bookmarking sites to spread word about your blog. 

Social networking sites serve two purposes — providing a medium for promotion while simultaneously establishing trust through user profiles. Users tend to believe recommendations posted by fellow members since they already feel comfortable trusting said member. So, let them recommend your work.

3. Get Started As A Freelance Expert

Selling other people’s products via the aforementioned methods allows you to generate income quickly without requiring extensive capital investments or hiring employees. Yet sometimes you may desire greater control over aspects of your career or life. 

That’s where freelance jobs come into play. Freelancers generally handle projects ranging from data entry to software programming. Depending on experience and skill level, they can command varying rates per hour.

Freelancing isn’t limited solely to remote job boards. Indeed, Craigslist provides ample opportunity for independent workers seeking part-time employment. Other popular options include Fiverr, Scriptlance and Guru. On average, freelancer earnings range from $5-$50 per gig depending on complexity and demand.

4. Writing And Selling Articles, Ebooks & More…

Although many think of freelance writers as experts in creative writing, technical documentation or medical transcription, there are actually quite a few different areas wherein individuals can profitably contribute. Whether you specialize in fiction, nonfiction, poetry or even video game reports, you can likely find hundreds of topics to explore. 

Writing is usually easier than trying to design your own website. After you gain familiarity with various formatting styles and common mistakes made during revision, you can proceed to self-publishing.

Most notable publications today employ freelance editors to review submitted manuscripts. Writers commonly submit their articles based on requests received from editorial directors. Because of this, freelancers must possess strong communication skills and present themselves professionally at all times. 

Fortunately, there are numerous outlets available where aspiring authors can publish their writings.

5. Sell Thing On eBay

eBay is perhaps the best known auction site on the Internet. Anyone can join as a seller and list goods that meet predefined criteria. Buyers browse listings, bid on bargains and eventually buy the merchandise. eBay charges sellers 15 percent as their fee plus a percent of the shipping expenses. 

Not bad compared to traditional retail stores.

6. Sell On Amazon

Amazon Marketplace connects buyers and sellers alike. Merchants on Amazon can either choose to ship their items to Amazon’s warehouse and let them fulfill the products (commonly known as FBA) or the seller can ship the items themselves as they sell. 

Selling on eBay and Amazon is one of the easiest ways to get started with making money online but you have to deal with customers, returns, and more so it is far from passive income. 


It may seem difficult to imagine earning thousands of dollars by working with nothing but your computer. Nevertheless, savvy entrepreneurs can achieve success without resorting to predatory tactics and scams. 

Those willing to embrace diversity and entrepreneurship will discover endless possibilities for generating revenue. As mentioned earlier, there are countless opportunities awaiting those willing to seek them out.

Have you ventured into the world of lifestyle businesses? What did you learn along the way? How did you overcome challenges? We’d love to hear from you. 

Hannah R

Hi, my name is Hannah and I'm the founder of Barefoot Budgeting. This site is dedicated to one thing... helping you! Whether it is making a budget, saving money using DIY projects, or even saving by helping you with my favorite recipes I will cover it all! If it helps you save money in your life I want to help!

Recent Posts