Blogging is one of the first business models to arise from the invention of the internet. Blogs are online magazines in a niche that people read for advice, information, and resources. Examples of popular blogs include Techcrunch which started as a hobby and turned into a business that was acquired for around $25m; Buzzfeed for trending millennial news/topics and Entrepreneur Handbook for advice on starting, managing, and running a business in the UK (we couldn’t resist).
Over 4.4 million blog posts are published every day, and this is growing, due to an increase in amateur bloggers and the entire publishing industry shifting towards a purely online model. Given this, the blogging space is extremely competitive, but there is still room for new entries.
To get started blogging, you’ll need to decide on what niche you’re going to cover (popular areas include business, beauty, lifestyle and finance, although there are many more). You’ll also need to have a good understanding of search engine marketing, design, content marketing, writing, editing and use of most major digital marketing mechanisms (social, email and notifications).
Next, you’ll need to purchase your domain name, set up hosting and create a blog-style website using a website builder or WordPress (you can also use platforms like YouTube or Vimeo if you do video blogging). Make sure your website is mobile-friendly (responsive design); over 50% of your readership will view your blog using mobile devices. Then set up Google Analytics to view readership statistic and make sure your GDPR compliant (blogs by default have massive exposure when it comes to processing and storing personal data).
Now, you’ll need to put together a content plan (use keyword planner for basic keyword research). Developing a strong content plan will be key to your success and take at least 2 to 3 weeks. Now its time to create your social profiles, newsletter templates /captures and put together an ongoing marketing plan to grow and retain your audience through these channels.
Blogs are still primarily monetized through display advertising, the simplest way to get started with this is to apply to join Adsense (pays per click and per thousand visitor impressions) and place relevant ads in best performing positions on your blog (in content, header, footer and sidebar). Blogs that focus on a field or niche where the content aligns with specific products/services are also able to effectively monetize through affiliate marketing (marketing a separate company’s product and taking a commission of any sales). For blogs relevant to B2B, you can also explore lead generation (collecting details/interest from readers to buy a particular product/service, then selling that lead to a direct supplier or third-party provider).
Blogging as we’ve mentioned is an extremely competitive game, but new blogs are started every day that end up becoming successful and profitable, it’s not a quick way to make money online, but it’s relatively low-cost to start and grow business.
Read: How To Start And Launch a Successful WordPress Blog for in-depth details on starting a blog.
2. Buy and sell on eBay
eBay is a marketplace auction where you can buy and sell virtually any new or second hands goods you could think of. Many fortunes have been made and continue to be made by savvy buyers and sellers on eBay (check out the Red Paperclip story it’s amazing).
Buying and selling on eBay is an art form, there are many bargains and undervalued items you can find, correctly re-list on the platform and make a profit. You can also buy from other platforms (i.e. Alibaba) and resell on eBay to make a killing. Alternatively, if you lack the funds needed to buy inventory upfront, dropshipping on eBay could be the better solution as you won’t need to purchase or hold stock.
To get started on eBay you’ll need to set up an eBay business account and PayPal business account (you’ll need to go through verification which can take time). Then you need to define what niche of products you’re going to buy and sell through your eBay shop. At this point, it’s all about hunting for deals on and off the platform to then resell for a profit. The market can quickly change so you’ll need to constantly adjust for most niches what your buying and selling to stay profitable.
When it comes to selling, presentation of eBay listings is critical to sale volume and price. Make sure to have high-quality photos and provide a clear item description (condition, delivery times, and so forth). In many cases, the correct presentation can increase the final auction price by up to 20%. You also need to make sure your items are categorised correctly and have the right title, so buyers can find your item through eBay and be incentivised to click through to your product listing. Start small, buy products then repackage them or enhance them and sell them for profit. eBay is crowded with sellers and becoming a successful eBay merchant can be a long hard slog. Statistically like most businesses your destined to fail but there’s also the potential of going on to build an extremely profitable business, if you can persevere and make smart decisions.
A third of workers in the UK now work on a freelance or contractual basis, meaning they work on an hourly or project fee basis providing their services (time and expertise) to other businesses in exchange for a fee.
Becoming a freelancer requires you to have a specialist skill that is in demand and monetizable. Examples of skills in demand that command high fees include web development, graphic design, copywriting, software development, business development and virtual assistance (you can do pretty much anything from logo design to writing press releases).
From there you register on UpWork and PeoplePerHour, then take on as many freelance gigs as you can get your hands on. To establish your profile and get work you should get a strong portfolio in place and acquire a decent number of positive reviews (you can price yourself cheaply on quick pre-set jobs to get this in place).
4. Become a YouTube star/vlogger
Popular YouTube stars make a ridiculous amount of money in advertising revenue. One viral video can lead to YouTubers becoming overnight stars and racking up huge amounts of revenue (YouTube averages pay-outs of £1,750 per 1 million views).
To get started, you’ll need to decide on the type of video content you’re going to produce, some of the most popular niches include health, lifestyle, fashion and beauty. Next, you’ll need to create your YouTube account and get to grips with understanding the platform (how to write titles, what contents popular and how you can grow).
It’s important to note that although some YouTubers become stars overnight, for the majority it takes years of hard work creating and publishing innovative content to build a serious subscriber base that brings in consistent advertising revenue.
Many brands have also started paying YouTube stars (influencers) directly for promoting products/services, and this is another revenue source you can grow once you have a large enough subscriber base (reach).
The process of dropshipping is where you list supplier products on your online store or selling platform without purchasing the stock upfront. With this supplier you have an agreement that when you a customer orders you will purchase the product from the supplier and the supplier agrees to deliver the product to the customer (also usually deal with any returns). Similar to affiliate but the user can stay on your website. You’re still selling products without the inventory requirements but you control the buying process.
This method of eCommerce, means you don’t have any storage or warehouse needs and your cash isn’t tied up in stock sitting around (which is typically a big cause of cashflow problems for retail businesses). Dropshipping works at a lower profit margin than buying stock upfront, 20-30% profit margin being normal, whereas with buying stock from a wholesaler a margin of 60-70% would be common (the margin is lower but the risk is much less).
Starting a successful drop shopping business is all about selecting the right products at the right margin from reliable suppliers , focus on a specific niche or look for trends you can capitalize on to make a profit (i.e. Fidget spinners would be a good example of this). From here you’ll need to setup an online store and open accounts of the relevant selling platforms (i.e. Ebay).
In terms of marketing you can reach customers through the standard digital marketing (social media marketing, email marketing, paid search marketing…). If your using a platform like Ebay, for marketing make sure your listing stands out with professional photos, good descriptions and good reviews.
On a final note finding the right drop shipping supplier/s is critical, you need to make sure there reliable and that the delivery times are within reason, you don’t want customers cancelling orders before they arrive (many drop shippers are based in China, the lead time to produce and ship a product can mean it can take several months to reach a customer in some cases).
6. Make and flip apps
If you’re a great app developer, you can churn them out and stick them on AppTopia to sell. Many companies and individuals want to start an app-based business or create a new application for their existing business, in these cases it’s easier for them to just to buy a readymade application close to or exactly the app they were looking to develop (rather than develop it themselves or outsource/manage the application build).
Popular apps for sale span areas including games, productivity and business management (a notepad app made close to £1,000,000 in one week in the early days of the App Store). To get going, you’ll need to be an expert developer able to create robust code, also be comfortable with IOS and Android development languages. You’ll also need relevant development software (i.e. Sublime), an ergonomic high-powered computer setup (to mitigate the health risk from the long hours you’ll be working) and an email address.
In terms of marketing, you can use SellMyApp and Fliptopia to list your applications for sale, make sure to assess what’s popular/pricing before building an application to make sure you make a healthy return.
7. Sell stock photography & video
Most websites use stock images, essentially photos they buy online from platforms such as Shutterstock, Adobe Stock Photos and others to use on their websites and in marketing material. There are also many free stock photo websites out there, but they often lack the range of quality of photos on the paid stock photo sites (which is why businesses generally opt for paid stock photos for marketing material/websites).
Becoming a stock photographer is relatively simple to start; you’ll a decent DSLR camera and experience in photography. From there it’s all about identifying popular photos themes (finance, productivity, work from home…) and taking/editing high-quality photos, then creating and uploading them to selling accounts on the platforms mentioned. You’ll get paid royalties for licensing or for one-off purchases depending on the platform (they will charge a commission).
If stuck for what to start photographing, there is a big demand for stock photos and images of people performing various actions (I.e. young professional typing on a computer). You can get access to local models through platforms like bidvine (or through direct contact on Instagram, which is usually cheaper/quicker) and then take hundreds of photos of models performing different actions. Additionally, you can also create video content, drone flyover shots of major cities are popular for many companies to use in the background on their landing pages.
Overall being a successful stock image photographer comes down to creating in-demand professional photos at volume.
8. eBook writer
Fancy yourself the next Emily Bronte? Why not write and publish a novel or non-fiction book (in an area you have specialist knowledge in).
It’s never been easier to write, publish and distribute your writings, eBooks allow you to access a large potential audience through platforms such as Kindle (without the need for a traditional publisher and printing costs).
As with any book to start you need to decide on the premise of what your writing, structure the proposed text, edit and then publish (always good to get a second opinion before publishing or use a professional editor). To distribute your eBook, you can use your own website and list your eBook for sale on platforms such as Lulu, Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo and many more.
In terms of marketing, if you list on eBook on the platforms above, it’s important to get as many positive reviews as possible to get up the rankings in your particular book field to maximise sales (and convince people to purchase your eBook). You can do this initially by asking your friends and family to buy and review your book.
Next focus on reaching out to online publications offering free copies of your book for them to review and provide much-needed content marketing to drive in their audience (you can also offer to write features and link to the book). Writing and publishing an eBook is relatively easy, the key is to write a great book and put significant efforts into marketing, once you have traction from marketing, the popularity and sales of your eBook will snowball.
9. Make and sell stuff
Handcrafted goods have become extremely popular in the last few years (from customised dog coats to engraved rings and beyond) and the demand for bespoke handmade goods shows no signs of slowing down.
Starting a handcrafted goods business is all about skill and choosing a trendy/in demand range of products you can produce (you’ll need to carefully workout product cost, hours and materials). If you already have a handcrafting skill or know how to make a particular product you can get started straight away. If you don’t there are plenty of skills, you can learn enabling you to make crafted products. For instance; you could learn jewellery making, book making or leatherworking to create a range of different handmade products.
Selling handcrafted products has never been easier, you can use platforms like Etsy or NOT ON THE HIGH STREET to reach consumers (each platform charges commission on goods sold, worth noting that the Etsy is the lowest). You can also setup you’re an online store using software like Magento or if you’re not technically minded Shopify.
The handcrafted market is competitive, to stand out you’ll need to create a really attractive brand and ensure that your product images and descriptions are excellent. From there in terms of customer acquisition on the crafting platforms it’s all about getting positive reviews to get boosted up the rankings for particular searches. For your own store social media is a great place to promote and specifically these types of products do very well of visual platforms (i.e. Pinterest, Instagram…).
If you’re looking to expand your revenue beyond products, you can also sell workshops teaching people one to one or in groups how to make different products or particular hand crafting skill. Many handcrafting specialists are making £200-300 a day running such courses, for workshop customers list yourself on craftcourses.com.
10. Ticket reseller
Sell tickets for shows and concerts, either directly for the venue as a reseller or buy them yourself and sell them at a premium nearer the time. It’s important to know it is illegal to resell tickets for sporting events unless you have express permission from the said sporting club/organisation to do so. However, it is perfectly legal to resell tickets for other events such as concerts and gigs.
The days of street touts selling tickets have largely gone as resale has mostly moved online. To get started you’ll need to create accounts on Viagogo, Biletto and other secondary ticket market sites. To make this business work will require buying many tickets, meaning you’ll need a fair amount of capital available to buy and hold tickets until it comes time to resell at a mark-up. Secondary ticket sellers can make anything from 30% to 500% profit margin if an event is popular/sold-out (particularly festival tickets sell close to the event opening time for a high return).
From here it’s a matter of manually buying tickets for events manually or using software to do so (many sites crash due to certain demand for tickets, so being quick to buy is critical). To succeed in this business, you need to have a good understanding of what events to buy tickets for and when to sell, to make sure you make a return.