Are you bored of your 9-5 job? Do you need an extra income but don't want to start doing gig work? Starting your own business can be an effective way of bringing in some extra income, and with luck it can turn into something more, giving you the ability to support yourself while enjoying more flexibility than a traditional office-based job would bring.

The challenge is finding something you're good at that you can turn into a revenue stream, and that you can do without having to spend a lot of money.

Here we explore 35 low-cost business ideas that could help you earn extra money.

35 Businesses You Can Start With Little to No Money

From affiliate marketing to virtual assistant work, there are many options for people who are looking to earn a second income or launch a profitable business with minimal outlay.

1. Sell Digital Products

digital products

Digital goods offer a high profit potential because the overheads for selling them are minimal. Once you've created your ebook, worksheet, guide, or app, all you need is somewhere to host it and a way to advertise it.

There are no shipping, manufacturing, or warehousing overheads to consider. This makes digital goods a particularly high-profit option for entrepreneurs. If you have specialist knowledge that other people might find useful, sharing that knowledge through videos, ebooks or guides can help you create a sustainable second income.

2. Start a Print on Demand Business

print on demand

Traditionally, print on demand refers to books, but technology has evolved to the point that it's possible to offer other products as a POD service too. From printed cups, coasters, and T-shirts to hats, hoodies, and more. Many online store platforms offer POD services that will allow customers to order your designs printed onto products of their choosing. Because the product is made only when someone buys it, you don't have to worry about keeping stock that may or may not sell.

The downside of POD products is that you have to set relatively high prices in order to make a profit. However, you can get started with zero outlay, and if certain designs take off you have the option of reinvesting your profits into getting those designs made with a more traditional printer, so you can take higher profits in the future.

3. Affiliate Marketing

affiliate marketing

With affiliate marketing, you promote other people's products and take a share of the profits from anything they sell via your affiliate link. Affiliate marketing has minimal overheads. You simply set up a social media profile or start a blog covering a specific niche, and share affiliate links as part of your content.

Depending on the niche you focus on, you might find that competition is fierce, however, the low overheads make this strategy a relatively risk-free one for earning a second income.

4. Copywriting Services

If you're good with words and enjoy researching new subjects, providing copywriting services for local businesses could be a great business opportunity. The biggest search engines love unique, fresh, and high-quality content, and so do human readers.

Copywriting can be challenging, as you'll need to get to know each business you work with and find their desired "voice". However, if you do a good job you'll build up a long-term list of clients that appreciate your work, giving you a stable income stream.

5. Data Entry Services

Fast typing skills and an eye for detail are essential attributes for anyone interested in getting into the data entry business. If you possess those qualities and have access to a computer with a good keyboard, you can try data entry work as a second income. There are many companies looking for data entry workers, and most of these offer the opportunity for you to set your own hours.

This sort of work can be mentally so it's draining if you do it for a long time, but it's a flexible option as a second income, and you can reinvest the profits to pursue other business options too.

6. Launch a Paid Newsletter


If there's a subject you're truly passionate about and that you're happy to do ongoing research into, why not offer a paid newsletter containing tips, guides, breakdowns, and news bulletins?

You can use a focused mailing list platform such as Mailchimp or the mailing list feature of Whop to send out messages to your subscribers. By charging a nominal fee per month for the newsletter, you'll earn a stable, predictable income each month in return for the work you do sending out the information to your subscribers.

7. Monetize a Blog

monetize a blog

Turn your hobby into an income stream by blogging about it, and offering your followers the chance to support you financially. Today, people are used to being able to access content for free, but they'll often support their favorite creators if they offer a "pay what you want" or "buy me a coffee" option on their websites.

If there's a subject you're particularly well qualified in, or you're well respected in your hobby, you could offer a subscription option and provide exclusive content for paying supporters. Several platforms, including Whop, offer easy-to-use paywall systems, and you can also use membership plugins to paywall blogs running WordPress or other popular content management systems.

8. Dog Walking

Moving away from the virtual world for a while, dog walking is another flexible small business idea that can work around a busy schedule. While it's theoretically possible to get started as a dog walker with zero outlay, it's highly recommended to have insurance to protect you if a dog is injured while under your care, or one of the dogs you're looking after bites someone.

Fortunately, this insurance is inexpensive, and if you're able to network and advertise your services effectively you should cover the cost of taking out a policy quite quickly, enabling you to start turning a profit on future walks.

9. Babysitting

Babysitting isn't just something that teenagers do to earn some extra pocket money. Many parents want to work with more experienced babysitters, especially if they have very young children, or kids that need a little extra support. If you enjoy working with children, babysitting offers a good hourly rate.

Again, it's a good idea to invest in insurance, along with a background check, to make yourself more marketable to prospective clients. Once those things are in place, you'll have the opportunity to earn a steady income from regular clients and make memories with the children too.

10. Video Editing

creator economy

The ubiquity of camera phones means anyone can shoot some action footage while they're on a day out, or at a sports event. However, turning that quickly-captured footage into something appealing and attractive isn't as easy as it seems. If you have the required software and knowledge to cut and edit footage, add jazzy intros, and fix poor color balance on someone's videos, why not offer your services to aspiring actors, small businesses looking for advertising clips, and influencers?

You can get started with free, open-source software and a platform to host your portfolio on.

11. Stock Photography

Stock photography platforms such as Pexels and Unsplash provide free and premium stock photos for bloggers and designers to use. If you own a high-resolution camera and have a talent for taking appealing photographs, why not list some of your best shots for sale on those websites?

Your earning potential depends on how good your photographs are and how many people choose to use them. Most platforms offer commission rates of between 15 and 30%, although some of the higher-end platforms offer better rates than this for exclusive, high-quality submissions. Or, you can sell digital photos on Whop for only a 3% fee.

12. Dropshipping


Dropshipping allows entrepreneurs to sell digital products online without having to worry about maintaining stock or managing order fulfillment. The process is simple:

  • Find a dropshipping supplier
  • List their products on your online store for a markup
  • When a customer orders a product, you pass the order on to the supplier, who sends the product to your customer
  • Pay the supplier their fee, and take the markup as profit for yourself

On paper, this sounds like a great way to make money, and it can be if you find a good supplier. However, there are some pitfalls. If your dropshipping supplier is on another continent, slow shipping times could earn you negative reviews. In addition, you risk losing money on any products returned for a refund, or that go missing during shipping. Because of this, it's important to choose your supplier carefully.

13. Landscaping

For those who like working outdoors, and that have a green thumb, landscaping can be an enjoyable business opportunity. You will need some tools and suitable clothing, but if you already have those things from personal projects, you can use them to do freelance work in your local neighborhood and earn some extra income.

14. Virtual Event Planning

Do you have good organizational skills and the ability to "think of everything?" If so, why not turn your hand to virtual event planning? From securing suppliers to managing ticketing and invites, event planners are always busy and can become indispensable to brand owners, especially if they prove themselves to be reliable. Getting your first gig might require some networking skills, but once you have a good reputation clients will come to you.

With Whop, you can manage your virtual business online with your very own whop.

15. Editing and Proofreading

If you've ever written a blog post, or even a college essay, then noticed a little too late that there were some spelling errors in the document you submitted, you'll understand why editors and proofreaders are so important. No matter how careful you are as a writer, you'll probably overlook your own typos and awkward phrasing, because your brain knows what you wanted to say, and "fills in the gaps" when you read your work back to yourself.

If you're good at spotting other people's mistakes, turn that into a business by offering your services as an editor or proofreader.

16. Social Media Manager


Small business owners often find themselves strapped for time, or simply don't understand the nuances of each social media platform. As a social media manager, you can guide brand owners and help them build engagement with content that suits each site. While there are some subscription-based tools that can make this job easier, you can get started for free.

17. Monetize a Podcast

monetize a podcast

Creators who already have an audio or video podcast can generate income from their content in several ways. The simplest is by using the monetization options on distribution platforms, to have advertisements played before or during the content. However, there are more lucrative ways to earn money through sponsorships, affiliate links, or advertising products on your show.

18. Create a Paid Community


Use your social and community management skills to bring people together in an online community. Whatever your special interests, there's a good chance there's an appetite for an exclusive, well-moderated group where people can share their thoughts and experiences.

Using platforms like Whop, you can create a community with chat, image sharing, giveaways and premium content, and offer paid memberships to that space, giving you a sustainable income and your followers a safe and fun place to communicate.

19. Develop Apps

Have you ever found yourself wishing that there was an app that could help you do something, or automate a task you perform frequently? If so, you probably aren't alone, so why not make that app and put it on the market?

Coding skills are useful if you want to make something particularly complex, but low and no-code systems such as Appsmith and Appian can turn anyone into a developer. Once you've polished the app you can upload it to your chosen mobile platform's store, and earn money either through in-app advertisements or through app sales.

20. Online Tutoring


Put your language skills, math, or science knowledge to good use by offering online tutoring. There are students of all ages looking for tutors who are patient and good at explaining their chosen subjects. Some platforms allow anyone to sign up, relying on reviews to help learners decide whether they'd like to work with a specific tutor. Others carry out more thorough vetting and may require proof of your qualifications before matching you with students. Alternatively, you can branch out on your own, advertising your services online and in your community and hosting your business in your own whop. With a Chat app, Video app, Files app and payment processing features, Whop has everything you need to build a virtual tutoring business.

To work as an online tutor you'll need a laptop or computer with a webcam and microphone, as well as a quiet space to work. The hourly rate for tutoring varies depending on your subject and level of experience.

21. IT Support Services

IT support is a flexible business opportunity, and there are several ways to get into the industry. You can work as a freelancer for an outsourcing company, taking shifts as and when you please and being paid per ticket solved. Alternatively, you can advertise directly to clients and answer their questions directly.

The latter option has a higher earning potential, but means you have to be available to help your clients on an ongoing basis, which could be an issue if you'd like to be able to travel.

22. Sell Digital Art

digital art

Turn a talent for graphic design into an income stream by selling your artwork. There's demand for all kinds of art, from desktop and phone backgrounds to Telegram stickers, pixel art, vector images, and 3D models. You can sell one-off commissions, or make graphics packs and sell them with a license so designers can use them in their apps and games.

There are many digital art marketplaces out there that allow designers to list their packages for sale. Once you've developed a name for yourself and earned a social media following, you can focus on commissions or sell products through your own website.

23. Become a Digital Stylist

If you've got an eye for fashion, why not offer your skills as a digital stylist? You can deliver your services in several ways, from asking people to share photos to hosting video calls and talking your clients through their wardrobe choices in real-time.

If you're tech-savvy, you can even use apps such as Stylebook to put together outfit ideas, helping your clients get an idea of what your suggested outfits would look like. For multiple revenue streams, use a whop to sell ebooks with style tips, video calls for one-on-one styling, a subscriber-only chat, and even courses on styling basic 101. You can even combine style tips with product recommendations to earn some affiliate income from your work.

24. Sell Webinars and Workshops


Working with clients one-on-one can be rewarding, but it doesn't scale very well. The number of clients you can take on is limited to the number of hours you're willing or able to work each day. Webinars and workshops where you deliver your material to a larger group of people can help you reach a higher hourly rate, enabling you to work smarter, not harder.

To deliver webinars, you'll need a computer with a webcam and microphone, a reasonably fast internet connection, and a suitably quiet space to host the session. You'll also need some software to host the webinar with. Zoom allows people to host free meetings, but these are limited in duration. When you create a whop you can install a variety of community features for chat, audio, and video calling, enabling you to work with a large number of clients more easily. Plus, you can also use the Files app to share notes and transcripts after the webinar.

25. Provide Graphic Design Services

graphic design

Logos, flyers, infographics, and social media headers are always in demand. If you've got a talent for graphic design, why not offer your services to local business owners, or work as an online freelancer? There are free open-source graphic design tools out there that you can use on any phone or computer.

Tools such as Canva are easy to use and help even relative novices produce work that would impress someone who isn't tech-savvy. If you're a skilled designer, you can offer truly custom services for a higher price, and pursue bigger clients. Earn money while building your portfolio on Fiverr, and branch out to freelance job sites, personal contracts, or the Whop marketplace as you gain experience.

26. Do Handyman Work

Demand for tradespeople is always increasing. The industry is expected to be worth $1.8 billion by 2033. If you've got the knowledge to tackle odd jobs around the house, why not freelance as a handyman?

Apps such as Taskrabbit and BrightNest enable individuals to pick up ad-hoc work as a tradesperson and are an easy way to build up a good reputation in your local area. Some workers choose to stay on those platforms long-term because of the ready-made audience of clients they offer. Others branch out to deliver services directly or start their own businesses.

27. Deliver Online Coaching

online coaching platforms

From trading tips to life coaching, people are always looking for someone more experienced to support and guide them. Online coaching can be an effective way to grow your reach if you already offer in-person training sessions. The video calling and calendar integration options offered by Whop help coaches streamline their businesses and stay on top of their client lists more easily.

28. Become a Vacation Planner

travel blogging

Do you love researching far-flung travel destinations? Do you have an eye for a good deal? Vacation planners help people arrange their dream holidays, from picking out flights and hotels to arranging tours, meals, and day trips while at the destination.

If you want to become a hosted travel agent, you can expect to pay around $500 for access to the host's systems. It is possible to work less formally, but for your startup fees, you get access to booking systems and flight databases that can offer you a significant competitive advantage and help you save your clients a lot of money. Alternatively, you can take a less involved role and offer travel advice, worksheets, packing sheets, itineraries and more as a travel blogger.

29. Become a Virtual Assistant (VA)

Virtual Assistants handle phone calls and emails for their clients, manage appointment bookings, and take on small day-to-day clerical tasks. Some VAs take on just one client and work part-time. Others take on multiple clients and do it as a full-time job. If you're new to the industry you can get your first clients by joining a VA agency. As you gain experience you can strike out on your own and look for private clients to maximize your earning potential.

Working as a VA gives you some freedom, as you can choose clients who are looking for hours that match your schedule. However, you're committing to be available during those working hours, so it's less flexible than coding or proofreading work where you can set your hours as long as you meet your client's deadlines.

30. Sell Online Courses

whop courses

Creating text or video-based courses can offer an ongoing income stream, especially if you have a strong knowledge of an in-demand subject. There are dozens of course hosting platforms to choose from that will help you sell your content, for a commission, and handle the process of course delivery, grading quizzes, and providing certificates for your customers.

The initial outlay for a text or screen recording-based course can be close to $0, assuming you already have a computer and a reliable internet connection. If you want to offer videos, it's a good idea to invest in some high-quality recording equipment or pay someone to record the video for you, to ensure your clients are happy with the course materials. Whop offers free course hosting, charging only a small commission on any sales you make.

31. Monetize a YouTube Channel

monetize youtube

If you have a successful YouTube channel, it's worth checking whether you're eligible to join the YouTube Partner Program. Creators can join the program if they have at least 1,000 subscribers and have more than 4,000 public watch hours in the last 12 months, or 10 million YouTube Shorts views over the last 90 days. Those figures might sound significant, but if you're a serious content creator they're quite achievable. The YouTube Partner program gives creators a share of the ad revenue earned from ads shown when people view their content.

However, if you can't join the YouTube Partner Program, or you're looking for more lucrative ways to earn from your content, look into sponsorship opportunities, selling digital products, paid communities, and affiliate marketing.

32. Become an Online Personal Trainer

sell fitness programs

Thanks to the fast pace of life today, many people don't have time to go to the gym for scheduled workout sessions. They might have a home gym or be looking for workouts they can do with minimal equipment. Online personal trainers fill that need, sharing workout programs with clients from all over the world. You can do this through video chats, a whop community, or via apps such as PT Distinction.

To get noticed in the crowded personal trainer space, you'll need to offer something that makes you stand out. That could be a specific specialism, such as prior success as a powerlifter or CrossFit athlete, or it could be a compelling weight loss success story. Think about the demographic you're targeting, and tailor your marketing efforts to that demographic.

33. SEO Consulting

Most small businesses are aware of the importance of SEO. According to Emergen Research, the SEO industry is expected to reach a value of $157 billion by 2032 (a CAGR of 8.7%). SEO skills are very much in demand. If you know the difference between META and ALT tags and can find your way around keyword research and analytics dashboards, why not turn that into a side business?

As you're most likely well aware, SEO isn't a set-it-and-forget-it job, it's something that needs ongoing work. Do a good job with your clients and you'll have a long-term income stream.

34. Web Development


Before people even think about SEO work, they need a website to optimize. As the social media landscape becomes more fragmented, many businesses are dusting off their old websites and re-vamping them to become more mobile-friendly and intuitive. Even hospitality businesses are updating their websites, turning them into interactive menus and ordering platforms.

Whether you're great at front-end design, or know your way around an SQL database, there are opportunities for you as a self-employed web developer. You can get started with just a laptop and some open-source software. Once your work is ready to go live, you'll need to upload it to a web server, but if you're looking to bootstrap your business you can develop your site locally and build the cost of server rental into the client's fee.

35. Mastermind Groups

mastermind groups

Mastermind Groups are similar to online coaching, except instead of you being the coach, the cohort works together and shares ideas. You might choose to be a facilitator and structure the session using techniques like action learning. Alternatively, you might take a more hands-off approach. Mastermind groups are inexpensive to run because all you need is the time to run the session and a way of hosting the group call.

Whop communities are an ideal way of running these groups because they give you a way to vet participants, post icebreakers and manage the session. Offering an exclusive community for people to take part in the sessions helps make your product appear polished and professional, too.

How to Choose the Right Low-cost Business Idea

So, now you've seen some of the options out there for people who are looking to break away from the 9-5 grind and start their own businesses, the next question is "Which idea should I pursue?"

Consider the following when working out what business ideas might work for you:

What Skills Do You Have?

Most digital businesses are knowledge-based. Are you a good graphic designer? Can you code? Are you good at communicating ideas clearly and effectively? Is there some highly specialist software such as AutoCAD or Blender that you're skilled at using? Do you speak a foreign language? Can you offer coaching in a specific subject?

Knowing what you're good at, and what you enjoy doing, will help you narrow down the list of viable business ideas.

What Equipment Do You Have?

For the majority of business ideas listed above, you don't need a lot of equipment, but you do need something. There are some stories of authors who wrote successful books by hand and transcribed them on a library computer, or using their phones, but those stories are the exception. Depending on the type of digital products you'd like to create, you may need some specialist equipment, such as:

  • Webcam and a standalone microphone
  • A headset for personal calls
  • Desktop or laptop computer with a mouse and keyboard
  • Graphics tablet with a pressure-sensitive pen
  • Fast internet connection
  • Digital camera
  • Lightbox

If your business involves doing lots of conference calls or webinars, you may need to have access to a quiet space to make those calls. Keep in mind that when you're dealing with personal customer data, you must comply with privacy regulations, so you want to avoid a situation where a flatmate can hear every word of a highly personal life coaching call.

In some cases, you can bootstrap a business. For example, do simple graphic design using mobile or tablet apps then invest the profits from those simple flyers into the equipment you need to do bespoke logo design.

What are Your Goals?

Everyone's business journey is different. Some people want to grow a large business, eventually taking on employees to handle a lot of the day-to-day work. Others are looking to run a lifestyle business where they're making enough to pay their bills, but they can set their own hours or even take a day or two off work without stress. In many cases, an online business is only ever intended to be a side gig, supplementing income from a more traditional job.

All of these goals are valid, but the way you'll approach running the business will differ significantly depending on what you're aiming for in the long term.

What is Your Budget?

It's possible to start an online business with nothing more than the device you're using to read this article. However, you'll be able to grow more quickly if you have a budget for tools, marketing, and other expenses. For example, if you've decided you'd like to be a virtual assistant, you might wish to invest in some training courses you can use to make yourself more appealing to potential clients.

If you're a graphic designer, you might want to purchase a domain name and set up a website for your portfolio, then run advertisements on social media. Consider how much money you have available to do those things, and what return on investment you'd like from that budget.

Who is Your Target Audience?

Marketers use the concept of the Buyer Persona to describe different target demographics. A Buyer Persona describes a type of individual who might be interested in your product or service. For example, if you're a personal trainer you might describe one potential customer who is a young, fit, and competitive athlete with lots of time to invest in training. He has a gym membership and wants to be pushed hard by his personal trainer. This customer might be willing to pay a monthly subscription fee for customized workouts but is unlikely to be receptive to being upsold other lifestyle-focused products.

Another potential customer might be an older gentleman who used to be a serious athlete, but who no longer pursues sport to that level. This person has a lot of disposable income, and lots of time because his children have left home. He doesn't have a gym membership and is interested in home workouts. This customer is interested in both your standard personal training services and your nutrition courses, webinars, and other add-on sessions, making him an ideal high-value customer.

Knowing your ideal customer is important because it helps you target your marketing efforts more accurately. Remember, you're not just selling "your product" you're selling the thing your product results in. For a personal trainer, that's the difference between selling workout programs and selling "a happier, healthier you". For a virtual assistant, it's the difference between selling "someone to answer the phone" and "having more time and less stress because you don't have to waste time dealing with random calls".

Once you can identify what it is about your product or service that's the most desirable to your target customers, you're well on the way to launching a successful business.

How Will You Sell Your Products?


The final consideration is the practical question of what platform or technical solution you'll use to sell your product or service. You have the choice of self-hosting a learning platform or a blog and using plugins to connect your website to a payment processor. Alternatively, you could use one of the many SaaS platforms out there that hosts courses, ebooks, and other digital downloads.

The self-hosted route can be economical if you already have a website, but it requires extensive technical knowledge along with extra time to keep everything up and running in the long term. It's also harder to get your products noticed when they're on your own website rather than a bustling online marketplace.

Using someone else's platform removes the technical challenges, but can have other downsides. Some platforms charge a monthly fee for their services, and if there's a free tier they limit the features available to users on that tier. They may also have limits to the number of products you can upload, communities you can run, or courses you can create.

In addition, some platforms charge a hefty commission on any sales you make. In some cases, the commission might vary depending on whether the customer discovered the product via the creator's own affiliate link or a promotion that the platform was running. These confusing commission rates mean that it's important to read the small print to ensure you know exactly how much you'll make from each sale.

Why Whop is the Best Platform for Your Online Business

create a whop

You may have noticed that the majority of the business ideas we've listed above are online businesses. This is for several reasons:

  • Online businesses typically have lower overheads
  • Many digital businesses can be started with zero initial investment
  • Your potential reach is much greater with an online business
  • The margins on digital products and services are higher than on most physical offerings

As you can see, online businesses make a lot of sense for most entrepreneurs. They're inexpensive, can be quite profitable, and scale very well. The challenge is turning your great business idea into reality. That's where Whop comes in.

Whop is a social commerce platform based on the idea of exclusive online spaces. As an entrepreneur, you can create one or more whops (an online space for your business) for your business. Each whop can be used both as a community space to engage with your audience and as a way to list products for sale. The features of the whop can be expanded by installing free apps and third-party integrations that enable you to run dozens of different businesses. With a whop, you can:

  • Sell ebooks, apps, and other digital products
  • Sell services
  • Allow your clients to book appointments with you
  • Sell courses
  • Host video calls
  • Create premium/subscription communities
  • Host online events
  • Sell memberships to groups on third-party websites
  • Manage website memberships
  • Offer products using one-time purchases, tiered pricing, and subscriptions

Whop offers all of the above features, and many more, with no up-front payments required. Creators can launch as many whops as they wish and upload an unlimited number of products, with no monthly fee. The platform only makes money if you make money, because it takes a commission on the sales you make. That commission is set at just 3% of each sale. Many of the creators currently offering products on the site are earning $2k per month or more, and Whop's low commission means more of that money ends up in the pockets of those hardworking entrepreneurs.

Start Your Low-Cost Online Business Today

Start your journey to independence by launching a low-cost online business today. 

Join Whop for free and open your first whop to test your business ideas and start growing your audience. See for yourself why millions of entrepreneurs like you choose Whop for their online enterprises.