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In this guide, we’ll show you online businesses that are proven to work, and have been for some time.
Remote working is nothing new. It’s going up. UK freelancers even register as ‘self-employed’ when doing taxes.
A growing number of people across the world work from home and prefer remote work to traditional employement because it’s:
- Highly flexible
- Has fast-moving prospects
- Can turn into an online business (without lots of training)
Best Online Business Ideas in 2021 (UK 🇬🇧)
Without further ado, let’s jump into the most proven online business opportunities.
1. Blogging ✒️
Leverage Your Knowledge & Personality
Blogging essentially means spilling your thoughts via text.
Suppose you just saw a newly released film... Now you can share your opinion about it with the world. Post it online, and boom! You’re a blogger.
Online content isn’t dead and won’t soon be—not even email. With blogging:
- Use your personality and knowledge
- Spark healthy debates or inform a target audience
Pro bloggers today are paid a very high price to advertise or mention a specific product.
Setting Up Your First Blog
First, you’ll need a blog. To save time getting online, choose a host that offers an integrated, no-fuss website builder.
For the big-thinkers looking further down the road to when your blog is generating thousands of views a day, look for quality dedicated hosting.
There’s none better in the game for blogging than WP.
With them, you’ll meet any demand with:
- Immense scalability, in what and how you offer services
- Immense customizability, for unique branding
You can also sell your own product or service, and develop outside credibility by contributing to other blogs. Guest-posting gets your name out there, triggering Google’s search algorithms.
Finally, making money is the key reason many choose to become a blogger. Once you have regular visitors, it’s time to consider monetization channels.
- Convert your attention to income..
Besides running ads, try affiliate marketing, asking your audience to fill out reviews and surveys, providing consultation, etc.
Pro Tip: Use Great Hosting
If your site goes down, or you face technical glitches, the effect on user experience will eventually lose you money. Thus, choosing a web host is the initial step to starting a blog.
Recommended Service: SiteGround
SiteGround is on our best UK hosting providers list and for a good reason:
Get 100% uptime reliability, impressive page load times, quality WordPress blog support, daily backups, free CDN services, and so on—with them.
If you want something specific (loading speed; customer service; higher-tier hosting plans like VPS, dedicated—and so on), then what qualifies as the best in hosting, UK-wide, may differ.
2. Start a Podcast 🎙️
Create a Community Around an Interest
Podcast monetization is all people talk about these days.
It’s all about creating a community and keeping your audience engaged with high-quality, highly engaging or usable content.
You could be a teacher, a creator, or even a comedian (e.g., H3 Podcast), and make money doing podcasts.
Podcast Monetization 101
After your podcast becomes a worldwide sensation, it's time to think about monetizing it:
#1 Create Courses or Sell a Product
You may be skilled in a particular subject. Teach others or solve a problem through a course or product—audio or video.
If there’s one proven online business model that everyone uses in the UK, it’s sponsorship. Find one relevant to your topic and audience and create a lasting, mutually-beneficial partnership.
#3 Affiliate Commission
Each time you mention a product, there’s a chance your audience will be interested in purchasing them, too.
That’s your cue to opt for affiliate income.
Determine if your preferred product has an affiliate program.. For instance, if it’s on Amazon, just sign up for the Amazon Affiliate Program and you’re good to go.
#4 Patreon, Donations, Crowdfunding
Nearly every famous podcaster you can think of has a Patreon where they receive donations from their regular listeners.
Producing high-quality content requires effort and sometimes even money—ask for support.
#5 Sell Merch
Aside from monetization, promoting links to your merchandise store can be great for marketing and promotion.
You have a group of people walking around mouth-advertising your podcast—that’s a steal.
Pro Tip: Choose a Great Media Host
Just like when you start a blog you need a web host, starting a podcast requires you to have a media host.
Recommended Service: BuzzSprout
Therefore, choose a top-tier podcast hosting platform designed to make podcasting easy, but not limited.
Take Buzzsprout, for instance.
They have one of the most well-crafted dashboards, which allows you to spend more time producing content.
(Some of the best features include a new embed player, built-in transcription integration, updated publishing workflow, etc.)
3. Teach English Online 👩🏫
Travel, Learn, and Communicate
Good at English? Then, teaching the language can be a great opportunity to make a living. Most online schools pay between $20 - $40 per hour.
The lowest rung adds up to $100 per week for an hour’s work Mon-Fri.
$500 per week for 25 hours’ work. So on.
It’s one of the last bastions of communication in the digital era. The best thing is that you can do it from anywhere, as long as you have a stable Internet connection.
Do I Need to Be a Bachelor in English?
You don’t necessarily have to speak an alternative language. Speaking fluent English may do.
Some online schools require a BA degree or ESL certification.
You also need some basic equipment at your disposal:
- Computer/ laptop w HD camera (shop one for around $40)
- Headset w good quality mic
- Fast, stable Internet connection
Note: You’ll be paying taxes out of your income (given that you are self-employed).
Pro Tip: Join an International Education Institution
Planning on teaching English abroad? Join one of many international education institutions. Your pay rate will increase with time and your experience will increase your teaching skill quality.
Recommended Service: EnglishFirst ✔️
They specialize in language training, academic degree programs, educational travel, and cultural exchanges.
You don’t need previous working experience or to speak the local language.
Simply sign-up, and if you're accepted, you’ll be able to explore the world and work with people from different regions, all while earning good money.
Keep in mind that not everyone enjoys teaching. If you consider yourself a shy or introverted person, other choices on our list might be a better fit.
4. Do Paid Surveys 💷
Get Efficient, Avoid Startup Costs
Finding the best survey sites and doing paid surveys is probably the easiest way to earn some extra cash online.
There is little more to it than this:
- Sign up
- Create a profile
- Provide your opinion on products, services, ads, etc.
But how much money can you actually make?
That depends on the company you choose, the number of surveys you take, and the demographic you fit. Usually, survey rewards range from $1 - $20.
If you take several per day, you’ll be earning a reasonable amount of cash monthly.
Step-by-Step Survey Money-Making
#1 Find a Company
First of all, you need to sign up with a reliable company to take surveys (more details below).
#2 Create a Profile
Make sure to separate and fill out your profile for each company you plan to do surveys for. You won’t get a survey unless the company can identify you fit the desired demographic.
#3 Get Surveys
You’ll be notified via email once the surveys are available. While some are instantly ready to take, others require a few minutes of answering presurvey queries.
#4 Take Surveys
Simply answer questions. Sometimes, you may have to provide long-form answers to certain questions.
#5 Earn Rewards
This process varies from one company to another. While some give you points that you can, later on, redeem for money, other companies will transfer the money directly to your PayPal.
Pro Tip: Register without Commitment
There are tons of survey companies out there.
You need to make sure that you’re choosing a reputed company that offers free registration without commitment.
Recommended Service: Consumer-Opinion ✔️
We’ve recommended Consumer-Opinion, a Germany-based certified company. Be sure to thoroughly read the process before you sign up.
They specialize in language training, academic degree programs, educational travel, and cultural exchanges.
You don’t need previous working experience or to speak the local language.
You’ll be able to explore the world and work with people from different regions, all while earning good money.
5. Freelancing Platforms 💻
Join the (Powerful) Minority
Freelancers are those who offer their services for money.
And usually with little to no expectation of permanent clients (although the working relationship is often ongoing).
It’s one of the most popular forms of self-employment.
As a writer, web developer, designer, social media manager, even an SEO expert, you can make a healthy living freelance.
The Many Benefits of Freelancing
While not having a 'secure' income at all times can be a nuisance, many people believe it's a marginal disadvantage compared to all the pros freelancing has:
It’s an excellent way to showcase your talent and earn some extra money to pay off your debts or save for college tuition.
Little to No Startup Costs
If you are already skilled and have the required equipment for the job, freelancing can be extremely affordable.
You can begin right away. Just sign up on a reliable freelancing platform (more details below), set up your profile and payment method, choose your niche, and start bidding on jobs.
Once you find a client, do the given task and submit before the deadline, and get paid instantly, minus the processing time.
You are your own boss. Freelancing allows for more independence over an office job. It’s flexible and works great as a part-time job.
You can make your own decisions. For example, there’s no rule regarding which version of a software or website to use, or what the workplace dress code should be; you decide what you want to do.
Since there is no 9 to 5, you can do your project pretty much whenever you feel the most productive. Just make sure to never miss a deadline.
You don’t always have to work from home. As long as you have a fast Internet connection, you can work from anywhere.
This also depends on what kind of jobs you do and the hardware required.
Pay Recognition (The Best Benefit)
In freelancing, it’s you who decides how much you want to earn.
If you’re skilled to do the job and can successfully finish each project, your clients will be more than happy to pay you for your professional work.
Sometimes, clients aren’t sure about what the budget should be but are willing to pay more for quality work.
Pro Tip: Choose the Right Platform
With freelancing, you can have great job security. Unless you choose the wrong platform.
Recommended Service: Upwork
We recommend using Upwork.
Upwork is the world's largest freelancing platform that connects businesses and pros across the globe.
- Never price yourself low to attract more jobs
- Also, try applying for projects that are lower than your hourly rate (we assume you’ll be ambitious and go for the higher ones)
6. Web Design 🕸️
Build Brands Through Creativity
Let's not fool ourselves; nowadays, the first impression of a company is largely based on its website’s aesthetics.
And as a skilled web designer, you have the opportunity to build visually appealing websites that will give visitors great first impressions.
While some designers earn more than six figures/year, the average wage is around $40,000 per year.
Either design for others, or start your own company where you choose which clients you want to work with, set attractive rates, and create a personalized work schedule.
If the latter seems challenging, for now, consider the following tips:
Branding Yourself Before Branding Others (How to Get Web Design Clients)
- Build your skills enough to create an eye-catching, professional portfolio.
- Include in it only your best projects to increase your chances.
- Send out cold emails to those you think might need a new website.
- Instead of just offering them your services, show them what you’re willing to do to help them succeed.
- Don’t charge too much at the beginning, but up your hourly rate a bit every two or three months.
- If you are a great web designer, design and code templates and consider selling them online.
- Create a blog, post articles, publish open-source projects, and make a name for yourself.
- Finally, as you start getting contracts, make sure to pick your clients wisely. Feel free to let go of those you have a bad feeling about. It isn’t worth your time or effort.
Pro Tip: Use the Right Tools
To create appealing websites, use a powerful tool web design tool and have a list of helpful resources that you're planning to utilize
Related Read: Top Online Logo Generators
Recommended Product: Adobe Dreamweaver ✔️
It’s preferred by both amateur and professional web designers and offers tons of useful features.
For instance, you can view HTML pages during your design process: a “code view” displays the HTML code only for a specific page. A “design view” shows how the HTML page will appear in different web browsers.
A “split view” lets you see both the code and design view simultaneously.
Consider cheap website hosting options, to temporarily host your clients’ websites or to showcase your many dazzling and completed projects on a sensible budget.
7. eCommerce 🏪
Sell Your Own Product!
E-commerce refers to any type of business conducted over the Internet.
It’s a simple yet profitable way to make money online by selling to customers anywhere or anytime.
Here are 5 reasons why everyone is turning to eCommerce in 2021.
Fast Go-To-Market Time
It takes only a few clicks to make an eCommerce store go live, unlike traditional retail.
The best ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Big Cartel offer pre-made templates that help you create your online store in minutes.
They also manage hosting, platform maintenance, PCI compliance, and more. You no longer need technical skills to have a well-crafted eCommerce site up and running.
Compared to doing it all 'in real life' (factories, stores, etc,) it costs relatively less to create & sell online.
For example, marketplaces charge nothing for a sign-up and take a small fee for the sold item. As you’re starting out, there’s no major investment like a physical inventory, storefront, or payroll.
Shoppers Start Online
People love shopping online. Even if they end up purchasing from a local store, shoppers almost always research online to compare prices, brands, read customer reviews, etc. Therefore, if you have a great online presence, it will be easier for people to find your product.
A solid online presence lets you provide detailed information about your product or service to your audience via key product content.
Including in-depth product descriptions, in-store inventory availability, product comparisons, and pricing.
Also, blog posts can provide valuable content regarding the use of your product or service. All this information helps your customers make their buying decision online.
Serve Niche Markets
If you serve a niche market, you’ll find it easier to sell your product online. It will open your brand to a larger depth of customers.
Pro Tip: Choose a Suitable Platform
If you want something more advanced that comes with extra customization and virtually no limitations – look no further than WordPress.
Keep in mind that with this choice, like some of the others, you’ll need the best WordPress hosting possible, and maybe even a web developer to create your website, to compete.
(Look out for Uptime in the above list. Customers don’t like to wait!)
Recommended Product: Shopify
While we also reviewed Shopify in depth, there are some great eCom alternatives to consider. For example, BigCartel.
Big Cartel is the only E-commerce platform that lets you sell online for free, and is suitable for those selling individual products.
On the other hand, Shopify is a more robust E-commerce platform best suited to scaling any sized business.
8. Dropshipping 📦
… The Drone Future
Dropshipping lets you sell and ship products you do not own or stock.
Instead, your suppliers— manufacturers or wholesalers— produce the goods, warehouse them, and ship them directly to your consumers for you.
The main process is pretty straightforward:
- You get an order
- You forward it to your supplier
- The supplier fulfils the order
Dropshipping solves a number of decades-old problems for wholesalers and retailers.
Wholesale consumers can showcase your product in their online or physical stores, and market it directly to their line of consumers. As an online UK business owner, you’ll be able to expand your market and gain new customers indirectly.
Low Starting Cost
Because you no longer have to purchase wholesale or pay for product manufacturing, you can start selling with little to no early investment. Even your website/store setup costs can be taken to a minimum if you choose high-quality free hosting.
Increase Cash Flow
As you’re not stocking the product, you pay nothing until it is sold.
Since you don’t have to hire staff or rent a warehouse, while at the same time spending no money on buying products for reselling, you have zero financial obligations.
Come to Market Faster
Dropshipping reduces wait times when items are shipped from the manufacturer to the merchant, allowing you to sell the goods the second they are published on your eCommerce website.
Pro Tip: Automate Your Shipping
When starting a dropshipping business, the biggest challenge is deciding how to automate. Thankfully, there are services out there that will help you get this down in no time.
Recommended Service: Oberlo ✔️
With Oberlo, the most essential tasks are automated for you. Shop owners can easily browse and add items to their store with a single click.
The best thing?
When placing consumer orders for manufacturers, just a simple click will fill in the consumer details, saving you more time.
Furthermore, with manufacturers doing all the heavy lifting (e.g., storing, shipping out goods), you have one less thing to stress over.
9. Web Development 🚧
Never Be Jobless Again
Make a sure secondary source of income by learning web development.
All businesses are going digital, and almost every business needs a website these days. There’s a high demand for people like you.
If you don’t know how to build a website from scratch but want to learn web development, there are several online lessons you can take.
Start up in less than a month — more into this later.
Here’s how web development can help you succeed
- Skip higher education: get paid for your skills
- 9 out of 10 employers are looking for you right now
- Self-start: access to plenty of free resources online.
- You will also probably never be jobless.
Pro Tip: Learn from the Best
No previous IT knowledge or coding practice? Worry not. Here is where you can catch-up and learn web developement skills:
Recommended Product: Codeacademy ✔️
If you’re new to web development or considering learning it, Codecademy is a free platform.
Start with their Python 2 course.
Learn the foundations of Python, one of the fastest -growing programming languages.
Recommended Product #2: Treehouse ✔️
Another great online school is Treehouse
They offer beginner to advanced courses in web design, mobile/game development, supported by a highly-skilled team of teachers.
Get a grip on one of the trickiest programming languages out there that almost every major platform uses.
10. Managing Social Media 📱
Leverage Your Online Extroversion
And last but not least, if you value your time and flexibility, managing a social media business could be a viable option for you.
The duties of a social media manager include:
- Planning, scheduling, and posting content across media channels.
- Analyzing, tracking, and recording campaign performances
- Finding trends
You’ll also work with other brands and influencers to drive leads and improve business visibility.
Remember, in order to nail social media management, you must know your target client. Perhaps you focus on design companies, travel bloggers, or media spas. Regardless of what you choose, consider learning every little detail about your niche demographic.
Also, learn how to craft an effective posting schedule, build a portfolio, and grow your client base.
Pro Tip: Make Your Job Easier
Every successful social media manager knows that you can/need/must automate a lot of your work. There are a ton of inexpensive services out there that will help you do just that:
✔️ Recommended Product: Hootsuite
Use a social media management tool like Hootsuite to help you keep track and manage all your social media channels.
It lets you monitor what people are saying about your client’s brand and helps you respond instantly.
Finally, you'll be able to schedule posts in advance and automate most of your work, leaving you feeling like a mastermind while earning cash for your client (or yourself).
Starting an Online Business: FAQ 🙋
What Are the Most Profitable Proven Online Business Models?
In no particular order: Training, selling digital products, blogging, freelance writing, and Amazon FBA— these five have so far been the most profitable UK online business ideas in 2021.
What Are the Most Successful Online Businesses?
Selling your own brand, affiliate marketing, app & web development, eCommerce stores, managing social media, and freelancing are currently the most successful online businesses out there.
What Online Business Can I Start With No Money?
Online businesses that don’t require any investment include freelance writing, social media management, web designing, graphic designing, SEO consultancy, online retailing, and virtual assisting. Notwithstanding the costs of special training and courses.
How Do I Pay Taxes When Working From Home?
You don't need to pay taxes in the state where your company is headquartered. You only have to pay taxes in your home state of residence (where you’re remotely working for your employer).
Before you start an online business, understand what works best for you, what meets your strengths and interests. Start an online business with no money. Or make an investment, by learning new skills.
Whatever you choose, we hope that this comprehensive guide of the best online business ideas UK has to offer will help you get started effectively.