If you’ve ever wanted to quit your nine-to-five job and give the whole “be your own boss” thing a try, 2022 may be the perfect time to do it. How? By starting an online business, of course.
By now, we’ve all had to come to terms with COVID-19’s “new normal” — wearing face masks in public indoor places, physical distancing, spending (more) time outdoors, working remotely, and, of course, online shopping.
To protect ourselves from the coronavirus, many of us have started shopping more online, which has created amazing business opportunities for entrepreneurs from all over the world.
Don’t want your online business to include selling physical products? No problem — I’ve got plenty of other great ideas. Read on to get inspired.
Top 10 Online Business Ideas to Explore in 2022
- Launch a Dropshipping Store
- Start a Print-on-Demand Business
- Sell Your Crafts Online
- Become a Freelance WordPress Developer
- Start a Food Blog Focusing on Air Fryer Recipes
- Launch a Podcast
- Sell Digital Products on Gumroad
- Become a Freelance SEO Consultant
- Become an Influencer
- Buy and Sell Domains
1. Launch a Dropshipping Store
According to some of the latest projections, global retail e-commerce sales will reach $5.4 trillion this year, which goes to show that online shopping has become one of the most popular online activities in the world.
Lucky for all of us who are on a tight budget, launching and running a dropshipping store doesn’t require many resources.
This online business model is pretty simple: you, the retailer, purchase the items you sell on your website from a third-party manufacturer/supplier and have it manage the order fulfillment process.
Your main job is to generate online orders by marketing your dropshipping store with everything you’ve got (Facebook ads, TikTok ads, influencer marketing, SEO blog content, etc.).
When it comes to dropshipping stores, picking a great product is key. This is where you need to do extensive research: analyze the latest trends and check out popular websites within your niche.
If you want to play it safe, you might want to choose one of Shopify’s online product suggestions for 2022: toys, shoes, bras, decorative bottles, tablet computers, GPS navigation systems, digital artwork, and many other ideas.
It goes without saying that your retail price has to be higher than the wholesale price you pay for your dropshipping business to be profitable.
Reasons to launch a dropshipping store:
- It’s a low-cost and low-risk online business idea;
- You don’t have to buy products in advance and stock them in a warehouse;
- You don’t have to worry about manufacturing, packing, and shipping your orders;
- You’re not in charge of handling returns and inbound shipments; and
- You can work from anywhere you want.
If you want to learn how to set up an online store, you might want to read my Shopify review. Shopify is, after all, the most popular e-commerce platform right now, powering over 1,700,000 businesses in 175 countries across the globe.
2. Start a Print-on-Demand Business
Launching a print-on-demand online shop is another low-cost and low-risk business idea. That’s so because here you work with a supplier of while-label products who customizes those products with your own designs and charges you after you make a sale.
You sell your custom-branded products (typically t-shirts, baseball hats, tote bags, mugs, stickers, etc.) on a per-order basis (which explains the name).
Print-on-demand services allow you to try your hand at e-commerce without having to worry about fulfilling orders as that’s your supplier’s responsibility.
Aside from beginners, the print-on-demand model is also suitable for experienced business owners who want to test a new business idea or product line minus the risks associated with buying inventory.
Last but not least, famous graphic designers can take advantage of print-on-demand services to monetize their audience without having to spend less time creating.
When it comes to listing your custom-branded products, you have two basic options to choose from:
- Set up an online store using Shopify, Wix or Squarespace, or other free ecommerce website builders; or
- Sell on an online marketplace like Etsy and Amazon.
There are many print-on-demand services for creating unique products, but the most popular ones are, without any doubt, Printful (best for apparel), Gooten (collaborates with international vendors and dropshippers to print on products), and Printify (offers more than 300 products to print on).
Reasons to start a print-on-demand business:
- The value of the global custom t-shirt printing market is expected to reach $3.1 billion by 2025;
- You don’t have to buy products in bulk or hold any inventory;
- You don’t pay your supplier until after you’ve sold the product; and
- Your supplier takes care of everything that comes after the sale, including digital printing, order fulfillment, and shipping.
3. Sell Your Crafts Online
The coronavirus pandemic and all the restrictions it brought into our everyday lives have made time and space for many of us to explore our creativity and (re)discover the activities that bring us joy.
If you’re one of these people and want to monetize your artisanal skills and passion, selling your creations online might be your best bet.
Handmade clothing, accessories, jewelry, soaps, candles, picture frames, and furniture — these are only some of the many items you can sell online. You can set up your own online shop on a reliable website-building platform like Shopify, Wix, or Squarespace.
If you don’t want to bother designing a website for your crafts, you can sell them on online marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon Handmade, Storenvy, eBay, and iCraftGifts. Another good option is to sell your handmade products wholesale to other businesses.
When setting your prices (retail or wholesale, depending on your business model), you must take a close look at your numbers, i.e. your costs. Your prices have to be high enough to cover all your costs (variable and fixed) and factor in a profit.
Don’t worry, you can always change your prices to boost your sales or increase your profit margins.
Reasons to sell your crafts online:
- You’ll have the chance to turn your craftsmanship into a money-making business;
- You’ll be able to work as much or as little as you want (depending on your goals);
- You’ll have the opportunity to charge high prices for your unique creations.
4. Become a Freelance WordPress Developer
Nowadays, more and more businesses and organizations realize that not having an online presence in the 21st century practically equals suicide.
However, not many business owners and managers have the technical knowledge that designing and running a beautiful and functional website requires. This is where you step in.
Provided that you’re an experienced web developer, you can start a web design studio specializing in WordPress* sites. Why only WordPress sites?
Well, simply because WordPress is a CMS (content management system) that powers 43% of the web.
Although there’s a huge collection of fast WordPress themes and free WordPress plugins, many companies and organizations seek professional help to customize their sites.
Reasons to become a freelance WordPress developer:
- 43% of all websites are WordPress-powered, meaning you’ll have a broad target market;
- Freelancing allows you to choose your projects in accordance with your schedule and work from home;
- Freelancing is a great way to build your portfolio and hone your skills.
*Self-hosted WordPress.org, not WordPress.com.
5. Start a Food Blog Focusing on Air Fryer Recipes
As you may have already noticed, air fryers have taken the world by storm.
This piece of cooking equipment allows us to enjoy our favorite meals without using any oils, so it’s no wonder there are over 2 million monthly Google searches for ‘air fryer’ and more than half a million monthly Google searches for ‘air fryer recipes’ in the US.
If you’re a professional chef or recipe developer, starting a food blog with a focus on air fryer recipes might be perfect for you. You’ll get to experiment with the oil-free cooker and help your readers eat more healthily.
Writing informative, useful, engaging, and SEO-optimized content is the most important piece of this online business puzzle.
Okay, all of this sounds awesome, but how will I earn money? You can monetize your food blog via affiliate marketing, Google ads, and sponsored content. If your blog grows to become a huge success, you’ll have the chance to drive revenue by implementing a paid subscription model.
Reasons to start a food blog focusing on air fryer recipes:
- ‘Air fryer’ and ‘air fryer recipes’ are hugely popular topics in the US, having over 2 million and more than 500,000 monthly Google searches respectively;
- A successful blog gives you the opportunity to expand into other online business endeavors, including eCommerce, courses, and, of course, affiliate marketing; and
- Blogging helps you improve your writing, which is a skill that can come in handy in various business and everyday situations.
To avoid making costly mistakes, read my step-by-step beginner’s guide on how to start a blog.
6. Launch a Podcast
Podcasts have become one of the most popular types of web content, especially among young folks. Experts predict that there will be 140 million podcast listeners in the US in 2022. Unsurprisingly, that number is expected to grow in the near future, hitting 164 million in 2024.
If you’re confident in your communication, audio editing, and social media management skills, starting a podcast might be ideal for you.
To increase your chances for success, you’ll have to invest in quality audio equipment, recording software, and podcast hosting, as well as develop a micro-niche concept.
Why not try to market to everyone? Simply because general podcast topics won’t help you build a following as you won’t be able to reach many people through all the noise on the web.
Finding the right topic for your podcast isn’t an easy task as it has to be narrow enough to suck people in, but broad enough to allow you to record lots of episodes.
If you can’t seem to come up with any good ideas, you might want to start with a general list and then choose your favorite topics and narrow them down into micro-niches.
DIY tutorials, tech reviews, video game reviews, nutrition and specific diets, host-led workout sessions, guided meditations, book recommendations and critiques, and alternative living (vanlife, tiny homes, off-grid living, etc.) are only some of the countless podcast topics you can consider specializing in.
Okay, but how will I make money? Well, until you earn the trust of your listeners, affiliate marketing will be the safest way to monetize your podcast. Once your audience reaches thousands of listeners, you’ll be able to earn money by creating a Patreon page.
Reasons to launch a podcast:
- According to Statista, 57% of Americans have listened to an audio podcast;
- When done right, podcasting creates multiple amazing online business opportunities, including getting sponsors and advertisers, turning episodes into blog posts, selling your own products/services, and making valuable connections; and
- Your podcast audience won’t hear messages from your competitors (podcast exclusivity).
7. Sell Digital Products on Gumroad
As some of you may already know, Gumroad is an online platform that allows its users to sell courses and other digital products, including icons, emojis, C4D scenes, Procreate brush packs, comic books, cookbooks, plugins, templates, top 10 lists, and crypto tips.
If you’re a subject matter expert of any kind, you can convert your knowledge and experience into a substantial income by offering online classes to students and anyone else who wants to learn. Gumroad lets you set up an online store for your digital products on its platform and embed it on your site.
Additionally, Gumroad allows its customers to sell and get paid fast. Gumroad features a flexible page editor that helps you build a beautiful storefront in just a few minutes.
When it comes to receiving payments, Gumroad allows you to create simple memberships (your customers will have access to your content for as long as they’re subscribed), set up subscriptions (monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.), and offer your audience the chance to name their price.
Reasons to sell digital products on Gumroad:
- Gumroad offers a free plan for creators of any kind (transaction fees not taken into account);
- Gumroad allows you to accept payments in different currencies, as well as PayPal and credit card payments;
- Gumroad lets you create discount codes for your products; and
- Gumroad gives you the chance to grow your audience by posting updates, sending emails, and using automated workflows.
Gumroad doesn’t seem to be the right platform for your online course? No worries, there are plenty of other options at your disposal. You can start your teaching journey on Teachable, SkillShare, Udemy, ClickBank, and JVZoo.
8. Become a Freelance SEO Consultant
SEO (search engine optimization) is the key to online business success. Good SEO practices help improve a brand’s visibility on the web, and higher visibility means more website visits and more opportunities to convert prospects into loyal customers.
Nowadays, many business owners and managers are familiar with the benefits of SEO. However, not many of them know the ins and outs of keyword research, on-page optimization, Google Analytics, and digital marketing in general. That’s precisely why they hire SEO professionals.
If you’re passionate about SEO and don’t mind learning new things all the time (Google is constantly changing its search algorithms), you should consider offering SEO consulting services on freelance marketplaces like Upwork, Toptal, Fiverr, and PeoplePerHour.
According to Upwork, the SEO specialists on its platform earn between $15 and $35 per hour, which isn’t bad at all. If you manage to build and maintain strong client relationships, you’ll be able to increase your hourly rate to $75-$100 per hour or customize a monthly retainer.
And who knows, maybe one day you’ll start an SEO agency and offer your services to many more companies and organizations.
Reasons to become a freelance SEO consultant:
- It’s a career choice with great financial reward potential;
- You can work as much and as often as you want; and
- You can work from anywhere you want.
9. Become an Influencer
Do you enjoy creating content for your social media accounts? Do your posts tend to steal the spotlight? Are you a people person? If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, then trying to become an influencer might be an idea worth considering.
According to Statista, the global influencer marketing market value reached $13.8 billion in 2021, which goes to show that influencer marketing has become one of the most popular forms of online marketing.
As you may already know, you need a large following on social media to be considered an influencer or expert in a particular niche. To get there, you might want to start out as a micro-influencer or an expert among your friends and peers.
Then, develop a content strategy (tone and voice of the author, posting frequency, content elements, etc.), choose your channels, create a website or blog, network within your industry, reply to comments, follow other influences, and stay authentic.
Unsurprisingly, Instagram is the leading social media platform for influencer marketing, but YouTube and TikTok are widely used, too, so you might want to focus on these three.
Reasons to become an influencer:
- Collaborating with brands is extremely profitable;
- Promoting brands and their products or services is an amazing way to get acquainted with the basics of marketing, which gives you the chance to start another career or business;
- Influencing is pretty easy; and
- Being an influencer gives you the chance to discover and work with fantastic brands and companies.
10. Buy and Sell Domains
I know, I know, trading domain names is so 2009. However, this ancient-for-many-people business model isn’t dead yet. There are still companies and entrepreneurs looking to buy specific domain names.
Domain names are extremely important because they increase brand awareness and attract customers, which explains why many companies and individuals are willing to pay top dollar for the domain they want.
The process of flipping domains is very straightforward: you just buy domains and sell them for a profit. The safest way to succeed is to purchase shorter domain names that have the potential to sell later with cheap hosting plans. The best domain registrars to buy domain names from are GoDaddy or NameCheap.
GoDaddy’s domain name prices start from $0.01 for .com domains for the first year if you make a 2-year purchase (you’ll be charged $18.99 for the second year).
NameCheap, on the other hand, has a special promotion for new customers — they can get a .com domain for $5.98 for the first registration year (the regular price is $8.98 per year).
When it comes to selling domains, you can:
- List your domains for sale on platforms like Flippa (they will keep a percentage of the sale); or
- Sell your domains privately by creating landing pages with your contact info and the price of the domain in question (this can be tricky if you don’t have connections).
Reasons to buy and sell domains:
- Domain flipping is a low-stress business venture;
- Domain flipping is relatively easy; and
- Getting started with domain trading can cost less than $10 a year.
Note: Although it’s an interesting online business idea, domain trading can be risky, especially if you buy hundreds of domain names in a short period.
What business industries will thrive in 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how many people work and how employees view their work lives. As a result, there was talk of the “great resignation” coming. With so many people laid off or left their jobs for whatever reason, there might be more would-be entrepreneurs looking to earn an income on their own terms.
There are plenty of industries and types of businesses that will thrive in 2022. Many of these businesses will be digital and allow entrepreneurs to work remotely and control their hours.
Virtual events and webinars
During the COVID-19 pandemic hosting any online events or meeting with colleagues over Zoom became the norm. There are certain advantages to hosting an event online instead of in real life.
Thanks to this, hosting virtual events (such as webinars) and conferences have an entire industry on its own. There’s definitely a chance that virtual events will stay, even when things “get back to normal.”
With virtual events, more people will be able to attend them. If you find a virtual event, if you live in New York, you could attend an event in London or Beijing. Without apps such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and so on, fewer people would be attending any events.
The co-founder of Twine, Coburn Lawrence, stated that the attendance for virtual events was four or five more than in-person events. There are work opportunities for planning, hosting, and pulling off these virtual conferences and events with high attendance for virtual events.
Health and fitness
The health and wellness industry was already well-established before the COVID-19 pandemic. According to McKinsey & Company, the wellness industry was worth more than $1.5 trillion, still growing.
But the COVID-19 pandemic changed how people think about their health and wellness. This change was reported by Bloomberg in January 2021 this year. People started to focus on more than just their “beach body.”
People had to find new ways to stay healthy while at home. The Washington Post reported that people saw the advantage of exercising at home.
Acumen Research and Consulting stated that the home fitness industry will grow by 4.7% by 2027. This potential growth is an estimated $14.8 billion by then.
This possible growth has created an opportunity for health and fitness apps. The World Economic Forum reported that during the first half of 2020, the downloading of health and fitness apps grew by almost 50%.
There has also been a growing trend in people enjoying physical outings and activities that aren’t mainly for exercise. These will include climbing, hiking, and martial arts.
There used to be a time when a Monday to Friday, 9 – 5 job was the norm. But with the advances of online connection and the pandemic forcing everyone to work from home has changed the way people view work.
A Forbes article reported that workers have realized that companies need them more than they need them. This realization has led to more and more people holding out for their dream jobs or even striking out independently.
With millions of Americans becoming freelancers, some businesses help workers find their way in their new working environment. There are platforms such as Upwork where freelancers can create a portfolio and profile advertising their services.
With more and more people becoming freelancers, there will be an increased demand for websites to handle their portfolios and help freelancers find work. These portfolio websites will need to stand out in a very competitive market.
Home renovation and interior design
In 2021, Statista found that many Americans bought new homes. Purchasing new homes led to a drastic increase in the interior design and home renovation industry. Even when people haven’t purchased a new home has boosted this industry by redecorating their homes.
There was an increase in home improvement sales between May and June 2020. There are plenty of services that help customers with their home renovations and DIY projects.
In 2021, a Houzz & Home study found that spending on home improvement increased by 15%. There was also an increase in renovating outdoor spaces. This increase was a result of people wanting to spend more time outdoors.
There are plenty of opportunities for you and other would-be entrepreneurs to create an online platform to sell home improvement equipment or even provide services to clients. There’s the potential for giving online tutorials in interior design and home improvement.
Pet care services
The Pandemic forced many people into isolation and more time on their hands. The loneliness led to more Americans adopting pets in the last year. According to the ASPCA, one out of five people adopted a dog or cat between May 2020 and May 2021.
An increase in pet adoption led to a drastic rise in pet-related spending. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) found that spending on pets grew from $97.1 billion to $103.6 billion in that same time.
There was a drastic need for pet care services such as grooming, walking, training, and even feeding. This need provides ample opportunity for new entrepreneurs to break into the online pet industry.
There is even something to help those who have lost their companions. Some websites can lead grieving pet parents to counseling and therapy services. Companies such as Eterneva can manufacture lab-made diamonds from your late pet’s ashes.
Sustainability products and services
NYU Stern conducted market research that showed “sustainability-marketed products grew 7.1x faster than products not marketed as sustainable.” Today, more people are aware that their actions will impact the environment, which has changed their shopping patterns.
GWI’s market research found that more than 50% of customers wanted (and still want) recycled or less packaging with their goods. It also found that 48% wanted more affordable eco-friendly goods. In addition, 44% of customers wanted their goods to be more natural.
Entrepreneurs can provide green services online. For example, digital marketing or advertising agencies focus on environmentally friendly industries and the green economy. New entrepreneurs can create an environmentally-friendly online retail business.
Just keep in mind that new businesses flooded the sustainability industry, making it difficult for customers to find their way. New entrepreneurs can use this to create educational services to help these customers.
Baby and parenting
Another booming online business sector is the parenting and baby industry. The NPD found that parents spend a lot of money on goods for their children. In 2020, the organization found that this industry generated $7.35 billion.
In 2020, parents spent $587.5 million on safety products for their children. This amount was a 35% increase from 2019. These products included baby gates and other health and grooming products.
There was also an increase of 17% from 2019 ($952.1 million) in baby and child furniture sales. The best-sellers included baby furniture, toddler beds, and cribs.
Parents also spent $963.6 million on products to entertain their children. These included swings and seats/jumpers.
Men’s beauty products
The beauty industry has always been a booming industry. Most people will think that the industry’s number one customer would be women. But the industry’s most significant growing revenue comes from products aimed at male customers.
According to a CBS News report, Mintel global research firm found that most Gen Z men in the US want gender-free beauty products. They also aren’t interested in products packaged in the usual masculine colors.
The report stated that “9% of Gen Z males say they use some form of lighter, ‘no-makeup’ makeup, whether it’s tinted moisturizer, BB cream or CC (color correcting) cream.”
There is a growing demand for safer and non-toxic beauty products. According to a Brand Essence report, the “clean” beauty industry is expected to grow from $5.4 billion in 2020 to $11.6 billion in 2027.
This trend means there are gaps in the market that could be tapped into by new entrepreneurs. Online businesses in the beauty industry can include an online retail store specializing in men’s beauty and grooming products or clean beauty products.
If you’ve always had a passion for good food but found starting a restaurant too expensive, then I recommend that you create a food truck or ghost (virtual kitchen) business.
A ghost or virtual kitchen can be thought of as a separate kitchen that businesses use only for delivery orders. While the pandemic forced many restaurants to close their doors, these kitchens profited. Their advantage is that these kitchens can offer food delivery and take-out services to customers.
An article in QSR Magazine pointed out that ghost kitchens can work without the cost of being in “premium locations.”
Home renovation and decor
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more people have been working from home. More people working from home might have led to them wanting to improve their surroundings.
According to the NPD Group, in 2020, workers spent money to upgrade their bathrooms and kitchens. The group also found that paint sales increased by 16%, and revenue from home improvement sales increased by 22%.
The increase in sales means that new entrepreneurs can create unique online stores or online service platforms to assist consumers. Since remote work is here to stay with or without the pandemic, online stores and services that help consumers in this industry will be in high demand for a while.
The toy industry is another promising industry for new online entrepreneurs. According to the NPD, toy retail sales have continued to grow. In 2020, toy sales generated $25.1 billion in revenue. A majority of these sales were completed online, which grew 75% between 2019 to 2020.
The top-selling toys included building sets (+26%), games (+29%), fashion dolls and accessories (+56%), sports toys that have scooters, skateboards, and skates (+31%), and summer season toys (+24%).
The NPD has recommended that toy retailers offer a buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS), or curbside pickup option since this would be more convenient for parents in a hurry.
The internet is a place full of business opportunities and ideas for online side hustles. You don’t have to spend a small fortune to start an online business and begin earning money. You just need to do your research, find an idea that suits your skills and lifestyle, and play it smart.
Most of the online business ideas mentioned above give you the chance to start small and scale up once you create a strong brand identity.
Remember: sustained online success takes time, which is why patience is a crucial virtue for all entrepreneurs.