Whatever is your course of study or area of specialisation, online business is for you. You must not have a degree in Computer Science or related disciplines for you to go into it. I tell you to your face not all computer science graduates even have a basic knowledge of the computer.

You may dispute this fact, but you don’t have to. I can attest to this. I was shocked to the bone marrow when I observed it with my naked eyes. It was back then in 2014 during one of our ICT trainings. We had to introduce ourselves and many computer science graduates admitted that they had never had their hands on the computer. They asked simple questions ranging from how to power a PC to how to use Microsoft Word. That was when I knew I wasn’t alone, having not known much about computers then. So, to cut a long story short, online business is for you and I. It is for everyone who is passionate and willing to learn.

An online business has a lot of advantages over the traditional business model. It is easy to start. You don’t need a shop. You can do your business anywhere, even in your bedroom. It requires little or no capital, depending on what you want to do. If you want to freelance, then you don’t need any capital. Even if you wish to set up an ecommerce website or a blog, you don’t need money to do that.

All you need to get started are a laptop or tablet and a domain name. That’s all.

A word of caution: I advise you not to be in a hurry to commit your money to any of the businesses recommended here. Make sure you study any one carefully.
If you need a domain name, you should try the free platforms first. WordPress is recommended over Blogger because of its inherent advantages, including ease of customisation and a large selection of free themes and templates. However, anyone who is serious about going into blogging should get a custom domain and host it. A custom domain has no limitations attached to free platforms.

Many of the businesses discussed here can make you to be self-employed. You should note that while some of them are the traditional businesses you know, or the skills you have, others are based on the internet. Don’t forget that even the brick and mortar stores or downtown offices are going digital because they can’t afford to be left behind in the technological rat race.

Although there are more than one thousand and one online businesses available, I have decided to talk to you about these ones because they are among the best and most of you already have the skills needed to kick-start them.

However, that does not foreclose further research for better alternatives.

3 things to consider in an online business

First of all, there are three important things you should consider before starting any of the online businesses suggested here.

#1: Choose a business you have passion for: If you have keen interest in what you do, you will hardly ever get tired. Even if the going gets tough, you will get going. So, the need for abandoning the business after some time will not arise, but you will always be there to nurture it until it continues to grow and finally mature.

Then and only then will you begin to reap the fruits of your labour. No wonder Warren Buffett says, “Passion is what keeps you going when the going gets tough.” In fact, any online business you choose should be more or less like a hobby. You never get tired of doing it. Even if you are woken up, you would always do it gladly.

#2: Learn the business you love: When you have found the line of business you are passionate about, the next step is for you to learn the ropes. Get to know how the business works. Carry out an extensive research on it, both online and offline. Read blogs with information relevant to your niche. If possible, contact the blogger. Tell him you love what he is doing and would like to go into the same business. Ask him a few questions. Look up to him as a mentor and role model. Use the information you gathered to your advantage and kick-start your dream business. Don’t fail to get across to him for further questions and clarifications whenever the need arises. If he is unwilling to volunteer you some information or you find his response dissatisfactory, google your question and you would be amazed at the huge amount of helpful answers you would get.Whatever business you do, be patient and ready to learn the inside secrets, strategies and tactics.

#3: Find a business that requires little time and effort: The world of online business is not a utopia. It is advisable you do it on the side and combine it with your regular occupation. Mainly, you want to use the income from your online side business to augment your monthly earnings so you don’t rely solely on the latter for survival. Along the line, you may decide to quit your daily job if the going gets good. It all depends on you. You should not engage in an online business that would eat up all your time and encroach on your regular source of income, be it paid employment or traditional business. If you are just starting, look out for an online business you can do at your leisure with little or no hassle. Most of you already have the skills needed to start these businesses.

Even if you don’t, there is no cause for alarm. The internet is full of tutorials and courses, both free and paid, where you can learn any skill you want at your own pace. Some of the crash courses won’t take you more than a week to complete while you can actually take a few tutorials in less than an hour and have a full grasp of information contained therein.

Having taken the above measures, you can now choose any of the following online businesses that interest you.

1: Blogging

You can start blogging now and blog your way to riches. Blogging is a goldmine if you hit the hotspot. There are many things you could tell the world as a blogger. You can share your personal experiences and observations with them, or your thoughts on virtually anything under the sun and people would read them. You can use blogging to promote your business by giving people tutorials or offering them information about your products and services. The best thing you can do for yourself as a blogger is to follow your passion. Find a niche that interests you and see yourself make waves. Although it may take you some time to get a foothold on blogosphere, the wait would be worth the while if you persevere. You can monetise your blog through Google AdSense, ClickBank or lots of other ad networks. A word of caution here: if you are bothered about what you could earn from your blog, then blogging is not for you, because your first few months might be very challenging that you could give up or consider doing so. They say, the patient dog eats the fattest bone. Why quit and not wait until your efforts pay off?

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2: Web design

If you are creative enough and know your way around coding, then this is a perfect fit for you. You could design websites for schools, small businesses and big companies alike and put food on your table. Even if you can’t code, you can learn coding skills online free of charge or for a fee at CodeAcademy, Udemy or Cousera. You could also offer your services online as a freelancer. Sign up on Fiverr, Upwork, Freelance, Freelancer or People Per Hour and get work done for people at a price.

3: Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is an internet jargon where you receive a commission for helping sell products and services for companies through a referral link. The company gives you a unique link that when people click it, or interact with it in any other way, and buy a particular product or service, or take any other action, you earn a commission. Normally, you use the link on your blog posts or promote it on social media. You can become an Amazon affiliate or join affiliate networks like ClickBank or Shareasale and make dollars from the comfort of your home.

4: Domain flipping

You may try your luck at flipping domains. You buy a domain around $10 and sell it for as high as $100 and make an extra 90 bucks as profit. There are market leaders like GoDaddy, Namecheap and loads of others where you can get domains. You buy the domains and sell them at domain aftermarkets such as Flippa, Afternic or Sedo. You may even decide to flip the domains on GoDaddy, Namecheap, eBay or Amazon.

5: Build an app

The ubiquity of Android smart phones and iPhones has led to an ever-increasing demand for different apps to suit every individual’s needs. Today, there are millions of apps with various purposes running on both operating systems. You can leverage this and make apps with great capabilities and high revenue earning potential. Try creating an app today with Android Studio.

6: Sell your own product

Do you write books or are you an artist? What else do you do? You can set up a website and sell your products to potential buyers. You may start with free platforms like WordPress or Blogger and showcase your products on the internet. If you design book covers, T-shirts, calendars, greeting cards, posters, bags or shoes, you may go the other way and upload your designs on CafePress, Lulu, Teespring or Zazzle and people would buy them.

7: Social media management

The advent of the internet brought in its wake a lot of opportunities including social media management. Many businesses and blue-chip companies are always in an endless search of experts to maintain their social media accounts. Here, you may create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ or Pinterest; post updates; engage online communities; respond to users’ inquiries; and monitor analytics.

8: Freelance

Are you good at voice over, content and article writing, data entry and scrapping, web development, graphic design, app making, programming or anything you can think of, and love working for people from home? Just visit freelancewebsites like Upwork, Fiverr, Freelance, Freelancer or People Per Hour and sign up and start getting paid for job done. Fiverr runs a different model wherein you create gigs and whoever is interested places an order. In others, you submit proposals and bid for jobs. Whoever wins does the work.

9: Online tutoring

If you love the teaching profession and you are quite knowledgeable in your area of specialisation, you may have to offer your services for a fee. Parents would always like to engage you to groom their kids on some subjects where they may be performing below average. Students, especially undergraduates, may also want you to tutor them on a wide range of topics or courses. You can even conduct webinars. Skype or Google Classroom can facilitate your work as a tutor. Apart from going all out on your own, you may register at tutoring websites such as Tutor or TutorVista.You may wish to organise after-school lessons for students or be a private tutor, going to their homes to teach them.

10: Virtual assistant

The world is going digital and businesses are following suit. The role of the traditional assistant or secretary is fast disappearing and being replaced with virtual assistants, who can work from the comfort of their home anywhere in the world. As a virtual assistant (VA), you perform the functions of a conventional assistant or secretary, including but not limited to answering phone calls, checking or sending emails, scheduling meetings, paying bills, or making travel arrangements. VA jobs are available online on Upwork, Fiverr, Freelance, Freelancer or People Per Hour.

11: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Do you understand how search engines work? Can you leverage this and make websites rank high in search results by using keywords and SEO best practices? If your answer is in the affirmative, then this is the way to go. Big companies and small businesses alike are constantly hunting for SEO experts to work for them and optimise their sites to appear first in search results, especially on the first page, when internet users enter a query on search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo. This is necessary because research has shown that users are more likely to interact with content on the first page of search results, especially when it is relevant to search queries, and navigate away; hence, the scramble for the first page of search results. So, search engine results page (SERP) ranking is of paramount importance to both big companies and small businesses.

12: Translation

The world is a global village and language barrier is now a thing of the past. Many people can speak two or more foreign languages, say English, French, German, Spanish or Chinese, fluently. So, if you can communicate in any two of these languages or more, then it is a plus for you. You can eke out a living by offering translation services to businesses, organisations or individuals who are ready to pay you handsomely for the services. You may be required to translate anything from instructional materials to business documents to web content. Google Translate or Microsoft Translator can make your work easier as a translator. Translation website, Duolingo can also be of immense benefit.

13: Copywriting

The successful copywriter is a master of apposite and evocative verbal images. As someone who writes advertising or publicity copy, you must know how to use words to entice and persuade people to buy a particular product or service. Compelling copies can make a big difference between the success or failure of any advertising campaign. Have a shot at the freelance websites mentioned here.

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14: Troubleshooting

Venture into troubleshooting if you can analyse or diagnose the problems of computers, smart phones, tablets or consoles and determine the solutions. People would not always like to tamper with these devices because of their delicate nature. Instead, they would turn to an expert for help and you get paid for that if you know your onions.

15: Public speaking

If you can speak eloquently and persuasively, then you can earn a living from your oratorical prowess. You may conduct workshops and seminars for people of different ages and callings. You teach them life hacks and charge them for doing so. You may conduct webinars where people could join from any part of the globe and share in your experiences.

16: Editing and proofreading

If you know the score and have eye for detail, you may want to prepare manuscripts for publication or presentation by correcting, revising or adapting them. You will also proofread the written text to check for errors in spelling and grammar. Editors and proofreaders are in high demand in media organisations and publishing houses. You may consider offering your services on Fiverr, Upwork or other freelance websites.

17: Computer typesetting

Are you knowledgeable in Microsoft Office Suites like Word? If have this skill, you may consider starting up an online desktop publishing business. You will sit in the comfort of your home and clients would send you scanned documents and request you to type them. You charge them whatever pleases you and return the documents. Set up accounts on freelance sites like Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, Freelance or People Per Hour if you fancy this business. Computer typesetting is the same thing as document conversion (PDF to Word) in internet parlance.

18: Desktop publishing

You can start this business if you are at home with desktop publishing software such as Adobe PageMaker or CorelDraw. You can use these applications to lay out pages of books, newspapers and magazines and get them ready for publication. I have a female friend and my former desktop publisher, when I was a newspaper editor, who is a skilled desktop publisher. Her page planning was second to none and I normally admired her, though not professed. So, you may also create accounts on any of the aforementioned freelance websites and get started.

19: Coaching

Sometimes, life can be very frustrating for some people. Others may get disappointed along the line. In any of these situations, they need someone to confide in and unburden their hearts. Their problems may be related to relationship, dating, marriage and so on. If you have always helped people in situations like this by offering advice or proffering solutions, then you may think about launching your coaching career online.

20: Consultancy

If you are a lawyer, a medical doctor, an engineer or an accountant, you may set up your own consultancy service and give expert advice within your field. You may also be an IT or a business management consultant if you are well versed in those areas.

21: Ebook formatting

You may want to go into ebook formatting. You will be arranging manuscripts, graphics and other information according to preset specifications for publication. Specifically, you may be formatting for Kindle devices and in line with Amazon standards. You will need a manual called Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Guidelines. The guide contains Amazon KDP specifications including book cover, front matter, chapter headings, subheadings, paragraphs, text alignment, font styles and sizes, table of contents, hyperlinks, bookmarks and so on. This is a job you can do from home. You only need computer skills and the manual, which is self explanatory, to get started. I formatted all my ebooks, this one inclusive.

22: Data entry

Data entry is the act of inputting data into a computer, such as by typing out handwriting, capturing data from scanned documents, taking responses from telephone interviews, etc. It is a broad term that includes occupations as electronic data processors, typists, word processors, transcribers, coders, and clerks. Data entry may be office-based but it can also be done remotely, although job descriptions may vary.

23: Airtime vending

You may wish to begin selling recharge cards in your neighbourhood. You may publicise it by telling your colleagues about it. I’m sure they would like to buy airtime from you. Even locals are not left out. Airtime vending has gone beyond the sale of printed recharge cards. You can now start the business with your smart phone or tablet and transfer the required value of airtime credit to the customer’s phone number, irrespective of the mobile telephone networks they use.

24: Write an ebook

If you are a writer, you can make a great difference in your writing career during your service year. The idea of my first ebook, The ABC of Literature was conceived when I was a corps member and it came to fruition shortly thereafter. It is now on sale on Amazon, Smashwords and other major online ebook retailers. I also started authoring another book, which I abandoned midway for personal reasons. Much of the research work had been completed. You can start writing ebooks now on anything you can think of and publish them at no cost on Amazon, CreateSpace, IngramSpark or Lulu and reap the benefits in no distant time.

25: Graphic design

You can start a graphic design business if you are good at graphics. You must have acquired the skill in the CorelDraw package of your computer training sessions. You can teach yourself CorelDraw or similar applications like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign. Graphic designers are in high demand. Their services are needed by media organisations, photo labs or even website owners. You can as well go freelance and sign up to sites like Upwork, Fiverr, Freelance, Freelancer or People Per Hour and get design jobs done for clients.

More businesses: Traditional types

It should however be noted that the line between online businesses and traditional businesses or skills is blurred. This is due to the fact that the so-called brick and mortar businesses have an online presence in order to secure their continued existence in an ever-increasingly mobile and globalised society. So, the division here is just for academic purpose; otherwise, there is none. You will see reasons with me when you read the last section.

1: Barbing/Hair dressing

If you are a barber or hairdresser, you can even start a business in a small scale at home. Many people can’t afford to look unkempt. Men would always go and have their haircuts weekly or fortnightly. Women go to salons frequently to retouch their hair and wear a new look or have a new hairdo. This is a business that requires little capital as it can be set up just about anywhere, even in your home.

2: Fashion design

Fashion is a booming industry. If you have the skills, you can set up your own fashion design business. You only need a shop and a sewing machine to start with, and then grow from there. People are always on the lookout for the best fashion designers to patronise in town and you could be the one if you are a pro. Some fashion designers acquired the skill from their parents and did not necessarily learn it from someone else. Why not utilise such an opportunity before graduation if you have one at your disposal and make a living out of it?

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3: Photography

You can go into photography if you have the zeal. All you need is just your phone or a digital camera. You attend funeral, wedding, naming, birthday or graduation ceremonies, whether you are invited or not, and take photographs of people for a fee. You could also cover events or breaking news stories like earthquakes, political rallies, fire outbreaks, armed robbery or plane crash and sell the photos on ShutterStock or iStockPhotos. You can open a photo studio if you like.

4: Makeup/Manicure/Pedicure

I could only but imagine the huge amount of money those who are into this business would rake in on a daily basis while I was still in school. Every day, even before dawn, ladies would line up to fix nails and eyelashes that most of them normally missed lectures to get to their turns to be attended to, because of the large number of other people on the queue who wanted the same service. This is a lucrative venture, especially when it is sited in a busy area like higher institutions, or a place with high volume of human traffic.

5: Leatherwork

Making shoes or bags is a good business. You don’t have to look for people to buy them. They would always come, especially when you are faithful and adept. I have a shoemaker who is always busy. There was never a time I went to his shop and found him idle. He also produces the shoes he sells. I also have a female friend who acquired this skill during her NYSC programme and she is doing well now. She has got a shop and many people are on the queue to learn the trade. This is despite the high patronage she gets every day and a backlog of unfulfilled orders because of the frequency with which they come.

6: Baking

Can you make bread, cake or pastry etc? Then look no further for a job or any other business because the skill you already have is quite profitable and can sustain you for a lifetime. The demand for these products is high. You can bake for hotels, eateries, or at events like wedding, dedication and naming ceremonies. You can also produce and supply them to shops, supermarkets and schools, or even pitch a tent somewhere and begin to sell your products to hungry and willing buyers. I can still remember, and very vividly too, that we were their regular customers when I was an undergraduate. They had a spot in the school and whenever we went there, we would find it difficult locating a place to sit because of the huge number of clients already seated and waiting to be attended to. There is one guy who bakes bread in my area, but the successes he has recorded in quite short a time will blow your mind. He is married, drives cars and lives in his own house, a storey building for that matter. He acquired the skill during his NYSC programme and enjoys distribution monopoly in my council area.

7: Phone charging

You can as well start phone charging business, especially if power is a problem where you are serving. You will marvel at the high level of patronage.

8: Cooking skills

As I always say, a good female cook is an asset to the husband. It is also an advantage to the woman because you have already charmed your husband. I tell you no man born of a woman can resist a mouthwatering delicacy. You can even commercialise your skill if you are a good chef. You stand a chance of being hired by hotels and eateries. You may make video tutorials on how to prepare some recipes and upload them to YouTube. If you like, you may create a blog and begin to offer cooking tutorials.

Final verdict

Whether you are going into online business or the traditional model, you need an online presence. You’ve got to own a blog. It’s a must have for every business person. There, you tell your customers or clients about what you do, give them tutorials on how to access or use your products and services, inform them about the latest industry trends, and, more importantly, engage them.

Let me use a traditional business, for example. Assuming you are a tailor, you can talk about the different kinds and brands of fabrics available, the best among them and how to know a good brand. You may go further to discuss how to design a cloth, from cutting to weaving to stitching. If you like, advise them on clothes to wear for different occasions and the accessories to match them, or even the steps to take. So, you can see that there is much to talk about on your blog, even if you are into a brick and mortar business.

Creating a blog is as easy as ABC. You can set up one in the twinkle of an eye.

There are free and yet powerful Content Management Systems (CMS) like Blogger and WordPress that can be of huge benefits to you. You only need to sign up and start using them. If you have the money, you can buy a domain. A domain costs about $10. You have to buy a hosting plan as well. A hosting plan, calculated annually, can average $50.

Let me draw an analogy here for a better understanding, especially for a newbie. A domain or domain name is like a SIM card while a hosting plan or package can be likened to a recharge card without which your SIM card cannot work (effectively). What is the essence of having a mobile phone without airtime credit to make calls or send messages, or even data to browse the internet?

A company that provides hosting services is called a domain hosting company, just like a mobile network operator is called a telecommunications company.

If you have no computer knowledge yet, this may be an ample opportunity for you to enroll in a computer training school and earn a certification on completion. You can learn computer online for free. Go to Alison, Udemy, edX or Cousera now and sign up for free online computer classes. I tell you if you have no computer knowledge now, you may never have the time again to get it. Make no mistake about it. Computer literacy is now a key requirement for most employments. Even if you think it is not necessary now, you may need it in the near future. Besides, no knowledge is a waste.

As an online entrepreneur, you need an online merchants payment processor like PayPal. However, if you’re a Nigerian, you may be frustrated by the fact that PayPal offers only partial services to Nigerians. You can only receive money in your account but you can’t withdraw it. Because of this, I decided to tell you about PayPal alternatives in Nigeria: OnlineNaira review to enable you bypass PayPal in your efforts to do business online. 

Feel free to contact me if you’re interested in any of the businesses discussed here but don’t know how to go about it. I had be glad to help out.