The growth of eCommerce has been steady, with an expected total of $3.64 trillion in revenue by the end of 2023.
It’s easier than ever to start a successful online business, and a lot of people are capitalizing on it. An online business alleviates some of the difficulties associated with traditional businesses.
While starting a traditional business requires time and money to hire staff and rent premises, starting an online business can take a few hours or days. That makes it a great business idea for a side hustle to make extra cash to supplement your income.
The road to launching an online store starts with figuring out what to sell and creating a sustainable business plan. Here, we’ll list the most popular items and services where you can find your niche and corner your online space.
The initial investment required to start a traditional business is a huge differentiator between traditional and online selling. Traditional businesses need a bigger upfront investment to cover overheads like rent and staff.
Online selling doesn’t require much because you can start with $0 on websites like eBay, Amazon, Decluttr, Craigslist, Etsy, Poshmark or Facebook Marketplace.
You can even make money reselling second-hand items you source from thrift stores and garage sales, old clothes, old phones, board games, old handbags, sports memorabilia, collectibles, old toys and old musical instruments (if you have any) in good condition.
The thing to remember is that online selling is not a replacement for traditional selling; it can be an extension of it. Below are other areas in which online selling is more accessible than traditional selling.
Ease of scaling is inherent to online selling. With business models like dropshipping, scaling an online business becomes significantly effortless compared to a traditional business.
You don’t need to spend cash on products to expand your catalog. Instead, you only need excellent photos and product descriptions. Orders to suppliers are made when customers order from you and pay upfront.
Online selling expands your business’s horizons. It gives you a global audience, which can be extremely helpful if you sell niche products.
With a traditional shop, you don’t have the privilege of looking at a dashboard for a summary of your customer’s purchase behavior. Selling online gives you deeper insights into customer preferences.
You can use this data to refine your marketing campaigns, redefine your target audience, grow your revenue significantly and even determine which products to add to start selling.
How to choose the right products to sell online
With the right mindset, finding products to sell online becomes easier. Here’s what you need to do:
A vast understanding of a specific field or product helps you develop unique perspectives and strategies to set your business as an industry leader. Expertise also enables you to predict trends that secure your company’s future.
If you are the best software as a service (SaaS) writer in town, you should spearhead your online selling with your expertise as the product. But if your expertise is in a physical product — like collectibles — consider selling that instead.
You’re better off finding a niche market with less competition and high demand to succeed faster. And even though finding the perfect niche may be daunting, it’s not impossible.
With a smaller market, you can offer better customer service and foster stronger relationships with customers, enabling you to secure a loyal customer base.
Dedicate some of your time and resources during market research to finding a market with a healthy balance between demand and competition.
If you opt for the physical product route, the smaller the product, the better. Smaller products tend to have lower shipping fees because they are light and easier to transport.
Low shipping costs can be absorbed into the product’s price, allowing you to offer “free shipping” — a customer magnet.
To keep things simple, each of the products or services on our list falls into one of three categories:
- Digital products: Products that exist virtually in computer storage devices. They include ebooks and online courses.
- Physical products: They are more popular and include clothes, furniture and other tangible things we buy online and have delivered to our homes.
- Services: Professionals can also productize their services and sell them online, like physical products.
While exploring this list, maintain realistic expectations. Remember, there isn’t a magic product that will make you a lot of money overnight. It’ll take consistency, commitment and hard work to build a successful business.
Printables can be any artwork or drawings you can buy, download and print yourself. Great examples of printables are planners and gift cards.
Printables are great because you only need a computer, design software and a website. Nearly 100% of your earnings are pure profit. Examples of online shops selling printables include Etsy, Homemade Gifts Made Easy and Greetings Island.
An ebook is a digital book that only exists in soft copy. If you choose the ebook path, capitalizing on your expertise would be the ideal way to go.
For instance, if you are in the blogging niche, you could write an ebook on how to start a blog and write engaging blog posts that attract traffic and drive up engagement. You can also sell ebooks on websites like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Sellfy or Podia.
Online education was worth an estimated $198.2 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach $602 billion by 2030.
You can also bundle your courses with other media like ebooks to incentivize customers to buy them. For instance, in your course pre-sales pitch, you can mention that users can get a free ebook on social media marketing if they buy your course on how to start a t-shirt business with WordPress.
You can take photos or record videos and license them to people who pay a fee to use your work. If you love wildlife or nature, travel and take amazing photos of natural scenery.
You can sell stock media on your website or upload it to websites like Shutterstock, iStock, Pexels or Pixabay that license on your behalf. These platforms don’t need active management and earn you passive income from your work.
Did you know you can create a profitable online business by selling fonts? Fonts are different styles of text formats. They are installed and used on computers, phones and tablets to style text.
You may know common font styles like Times New Roman and Arial. As a beginner, you can expect to earn anything between $10 to $30 per sale. But the prices can run into hundreds of dollars for more professional fonts.
Are you an application developer? You can create a computer or mobile application that solves a specific problem and sell subscription plans or licenses.
For instance, your application can help customers create a sustainable budget for their homes and help them save money or track their expenses. Users can pay a monthly subscription fee or buy a license to retain access to the app.
Stickers are tiny, easy-to-ship physical products. They are cool decorations for things like phones, laptops, fridges and children’s rooms. They have low production costs and are inexpensive to buy.
The best part is that your role in a sticker-selling online business revolves around design and marketing. Companies like Printful, ShipMonk, Printify, PrintSeekers and Redbubble fulfill your orders for a small fee.
The sticker market was valued at $151.8 million in 2022 and is expected to reach $191.9 million by 2029. So, there’s plenty of room for another small online sticker business there.
Socks are another easy-to-ship, fast-moving physical product. Verified Market Research valued the global socks market at $47.32 billion in 2021 and expects it to grow to $78.06 billion by 2030.
The rapid growth is associated with a rise in the popularity of specialty socks in industries like health and fitness. You can find a niche market and create specialty socks for them.
A website can help you create a solid and loyal customer base (e.g., Happy Socks). Alternatively, you can sell your socks on public platforms like Etsy, Amazon, eBay and Poshmark.
Kitchen gadgets are accessories that help with food storage or preparation. The kitchen gadgets market will be worth an estimated $19 billion by 2024.
The kitchen gadgets niche is wide and may be difficult to target holistically. A great approach is to target a specific sub-niche, like baking gadgets. You can create a blog on your website to provide baking tips that attract customers and help you increase sales.
Sports goods range from expensive equipment for working out in commercial gyms like treadmills to smaller items like water bottles. It’s a wide niche, and the best way to make the most out of it is by niching down and serving a target audience.
Sub-niches you can serve in this niche include athleisure, bags, water bottles, and jerseys.
Fact.MR valued the global sports accessories market at $376.56 billion in 2023. It also projects that the market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5% to $854 billion by 2033.
11. Custom t-shirts and mugs
The print-on-demand business model lets you sell custom mugs and t-shirts. A website enables the flexibility that comes with taking custom orders from all your customers.
If, for instance, someone wants to get their dad a mug with their face on it, they can upload the photo to your website. The website automatically forwards the image to the print-on-demand company that fulfills your orders.
In the subscription box business model, customers agree to be charged a fixed amount periodically in exchange for a product or service.
A box of one or more products is sent out for product subscriptions. Products can be anything from groceries to cosmetic products.
The subscription box market was valued at $28.1 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach $73.6 billion by 2028, so it’s a good time to dive into it.
Writing and editing are excellent services to offer if you can articulate your thoughts proficiently in a given language. You can provide various forms of writing services like technical writing, copywriting or ghostwriting.
As a professional writer and editor, a website is a great tool to get more gigs. You can set up a portfolio to showcase your work. You can also use a blog to showcase your writing prowess while attracting new clients by ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Grand View Research estimates the online tutoring service market value will rise to $23.73 billion by 2030. Undoubtedly, this is one of the best services you can sell online.
Tutoring is a form of learning where a teacher offers students a bespoke one-on-one experience through the Internet. A website can help teachers create a portfolio and showcase their skills through videos.
Parents can place orders for specific services directly on the website, skipping the need for a pre-sales pitch.
Virtual assistance is a type of job where individuals provide administrative services like office management to other individuals or companies remotely. Virtual assistants can work on an ad-hoc or contract basis.
Some virtual assistant jobs pay by the hour and others have an agreed recurring rate. Whatever the case is, it’s a lucrative field. Besides building your website, you can sell your services on websites like Remote.co and PeoplePerHour.
The pandemic changed the way people conduct business. Many businesses were forced to operate remotely, making people realize they could provide services previously thought to require a physical presence online.
The best part? You can offer your accounting services to several companies simultaneously, earning more than you would working for one company. You can start on websites like Fiverr, Upwork and Remote.co to find gigs.
Videos are one of the most engaging forms of content. So naturally, more businesses are spending more on videos, which means a lot of video editing work.
As a video editor, you can sell your services online to different organizations. You can charge hourly, per video edited or work on a contract. Having a website to showcase and sell your services can help grow your small business.
SEO is the process of increasing organic website traffic by optimizing content so it ranks higher on SERPs. An SEO is a person with the knowledge and skills to optimize web content pages so they can rank higher.
If you have the skillset to optimize websites for better ranking, you should productize your services and sell them through your website. SEOs are actively sought out by companies to improve their ranking and increase sales.
One of the best ways to get business fast is by ranking your content for terms people looking for SEOs will be searching for. You’ll have their attention right off the bat because they’ll have confidence in your ability to rank their content, too.
Besides a personal website, gig sites like Fiverr, PeoplePerHour and Upwork are great places to kick off your career.
With a great business idea, commitment and the right products to sell, you can build an eCommerce website today and start working towards making your dream a reality.
We help you create a unique and engaging website packed with useful plugins like the latest version of WooCommerce and other certified plugins to help you offer a smooth and secure experience to customers.
Try building a website with Bluehost today.