The beauty of creating an online business is that you can potentially make a great deal of money with it—and at no cost. All that's required is a novel business idea, a well-defined target audience in mind, and the skills to pull it off.
Help Friends Find Better Jobs
Sites like Zyoin and WiseStep connect employers with prospective employees, many of whom are already employed and not actively job-hunting via networking. The main benefit is knowing who these qualified candidates are. Rewards for referring a candidate who gets hired range from $50 to potentially several thousand dollars. If you know a stream of job-seekers, you can break into the recruiting business without up-front or overhead costs.
Connect Buyers with Suppliers
Sites like Share-A-Sale and Amplifinity provide referral fees. Vendors set the referral fees they're willing to pay and for what services. When the transaction happens, you get paid by the company for introducing a new customer to them. uRefer also allows merchants to set up referral programs for introductions and meetings, in addition to any transactions made.
Become a Freelance Writer
Some websites pay for performance based on page views for virtually anything you want to write about if you have the proven experience and background to cover your beat. Many companies are looking for part-time bloggers to help them create high-value blog posts for their websites—thus, the opportunity for those who have a knack for writing compelling content. Most clients pay per post or on a retainer contract with a set number of posts delivered per month.
Blogger, which you can set up for free in less than five minutes, automates Google AdSense so that you can make money with your blog by displaying ads and getting paid when people click on the ads. To make more money, set up an affiliate program (see below) for books, music, and more, and insert your affiliate links whenever you refer to those items. A good strategy to set you on the path to success is selecting a unique topic, writing intelligent copy, and telling all your friends. You'll be off to a better start with a targeted audience.
Create Topical Resource Hubs
If you are an expert on a particular niche topic and can assemble some of the best resources on it from around the web, then you can create topical hubs and get paid through sites like HubPages. You'll earn even more money by creating your own niche site, though. Established topic sites have a built-in supply of traffic and tools to make content creation easier and are among the most profitable online business ideas. Once you've established yourself as an expert within your niche, you'll be able to make money from a combination of ad revenue, affiliate fees, and more creative avenues like online courses, other digital products, and one-on-one coaching fees from others who want to learn directly from your expertise.
Affiliate Marketing of Other People's Products
If you already have a website or blog, look for vendors that offer related but noncompeting products and see if they have an affiliate program. Stick to familiar products and brands—they're easier to sell. For promotion, place simple text or graphics-based ads in appropriate places on your site; you can review or recommend products or create a dedicated sales page or website to promote a particular product.
You don't have to be a professional photographer to sell your photos for money. People are constantly in need of high-quality, unique stock photography for websites, presentations, brochures, and so on, and are willing to pay for the right image. People generally search for images on stock photography sites like ShutterStock, Dreamstime, and iStockphoto by keywords, not by photographer name, so you have the same chance as anyone else of having your image selected. Just be careful not to post images of trademarked brands, copyrighted art, or people's faces that are readily identifiable unless you have a model release. Virtually anything else is fair game.