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From clicks to customers: 16 low-investment business ideas with which you can earn money on the side

Running an online business definitely has its appeal. However, it also brings its own set of challenges. The tricky decisions start with the choice of the business model. To make this first of many decisions a little easier for you, we've put together a collection of easy ways to start a business that you can earn money with on the side.


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16 online business ideas you can implement from your laptop

  1. Starting your own clothing line
  2. Starting a dropshipping shop
  3. Selling art online
  4. Work as a freelance copywriter, designer or developer
  5. Offer an online course
  6. Sale of second-hand finds
  7. Publish your own book
  8. Start a blog
  9. Work as a virtual assistant
  10. Become an influencer
  11. Creation of apps and websites
  12. Launch of a podcast
  13. Sign up for affiliate marketing programs
  14. Curating subscription boxes
  15. Development of a niche product
  16. Manufacture of handmade goods

1. Starting your own clothing line

If you already have a few designs in mind and some time to spare, you could start your own fashion label.

If you already have a Shopify store, you can bring your own fashion line to market with Oberlo, Printify, Printful or a similar app for product procurement. Each of these apps automatically links your shop to print shops and clothing manufacturers. In addition, they handle every step of the fulfillment for you, giving you the freedom to ship a wide range of items directly from the factory.

Free webinar:

Your own print-on-demand business in 30 minutes

In this compact tutorial you will learn how to start your own shop and sell your designs - without having to buy inventory beforehand! We'll also tell you how to make your shop legally secure and how to market it.

Why start your own clothing line?

  • There is nothing more satisfying than creating products that customers use and love every day.
  • Once you've set up your Shopify store, you're ready to sell online right away. Thanks to apps like Printify and Printful, the process of designing and delivering your own individual clothing has been optimized and greatly simplified.
  • You can bring your designs to life by turning your creativity into something real and profitable - you will see that this is a really lovely feeling.

We used Printful to start THINK PUP, a clothing store for dog owners. In just three weeks we earned over 1,200 euros with it. With a little time and research, you too can build a successful t-shirt business with which you can earn money on the side.

We have put together some practical case studies from fashion labels from the DACH region that are celebrating great success with their own clothing:

Reading tip: Print-on-demand is a very good way to sell T-shirts & Co. without risk. You can find more information here.

2. Starting a dropshipping shop

You don't need a warehouse full of inventory to run your own business. Dropshipping is a great way to start a business on a budget. You can get started right away by getting an existing product from a supplier who will also do things like packing and shipping for you.


Free ebook: 12 dropshipping apps for online shops

In this ebook, we introduce 12 product procurement apps that you can use to find products to sell without having to ship them yourself.

The best apps for dropshippers and online retailers. You can now sell online without having to own or ship the products.

Your download is just one click away. Quickly fill out this field and you will receive your document immediately.

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Thanks for your registration. You will soon be receiving free tips and resources. In the meantime, you can try Shopify for free for 14 days.


This process can help you avoid many obstacles that could stand in the way of starting your own business. More importantly, with the dropshipping model, you eliminate the risk of finding out after placing a bulk order that there is ultimately no market for your product.

Why choose dropshipping?

  • You don't have to store your products in one physical location, which means your cash flow isn't tied up in inventory. In addition, the entry risk is much lower.
  • Whenever a purchase is made, you place an order with an outside partner who will then handle the rest of the process for you. Since you don't have to deal with things like tracking inventory or shipping packages, dropshipping saves budding entrepreneurs tons of potential headaches.
  • Having no warehouse means that you can run your business from anywhere and even as a part-time job. Whether it's your living room or the café at the end of the street - you decide where you want to work from.

If you're interested in dropshipping, you should read our ultimate guide to dropshipping, which is sure to get you started.

If you don't have any concrete ideas for an online shop yet, here are some strategies you can use to get started with dropshipping:

3. Selling art online

Whether you're a painter, photographer, or musician, there are many ways to open an online shop and turn your latest masterpiece into a source of income with a beautifully designed e-commerce website.

If painting or photography is your forte, you can sell your works as prints, canvases, and framed posters with Printify or Printful. This is a great way to turn your art into something tangible that people can take home and incorporate into their living space. Is music your thing Then you could sell your beats, songs, and samples as digital downloads.

For example, check out The Drum Broker, the world's largest online drum sample store. With the help of apps like FetchApp and ShipStation, the makers behind Drum Broker were able to create a successful and sustainable business model.

Reading tip: As a musician you can of course also earn money with merchandise items. We'll show you how to do it here.

Why sell your art?

  • You will participate in the lives of your customers by bringing your works into their homes and headphones.
  • By setting up an online shop, you create a platform for the presentation of your work.
  • As an artist, creating art is not just a hobby, it is a way of life. This is the chance to turn your passion into a source of income and possibly make a living from it.

Reading tip: Are you still looking for a guide on how to sell art effectively? You can find it here.

Free Ebook: 12 Products You Should Sell in 2021

In this ebook, we present 12 products that are absolutely trendy and that you should definitely sell in 2021.

12 products you should be selling in 2021 Get started in e-commerce!

Your download is just one click away. Quickly fill out this field and you will receive your document immediately.

We hate spam and will never give your details away.

Thanks for your registration. You will soon be receiving free tips and resources. In the meantime, you can try Shopify for free for 14 days.

4. Work as a freelance copywriter, designer, or developer

Authors, copywriters, developers and graphic designers can start a business based on their talents. As a freelancer, you can use your skills to support people all over the world in their projects (and of course earn money yourself).

Being a freelancer doesn't mean getting involved in months-long projects that take away your free time. You can easily take on small tasks that fit into your schedule and with which you can earn money on the side.

To find people who need your help, try freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr.

It's worth noting that Fiverr is a little different from a traditional job board. As the name implies, all jobs posted there cost five dollars. The key to making big money with Fiverr is carefully crafting your offers so that you can upsell your customers with additional services.

If you want total control over your pricing, you should set up a Shopify store. You can list your services as products and disable shipping since you won't be sending physical shipments to your customers. You can even use apps like BookThatApp and Events Calendar to give your customers the ability to book appointments.

Why work as a freelancer?

  • As a freelancer, you can choose which projects you want to work on. You also have more control over your schedule and can determine where you work from.
  • Getting paid to do something you're good at is a great feeling. It doesn't matter whether you want to build a real career with it or earn money on the weekend.
  • If you're just getting started in the world of writing, design, or development, working as a freelancer is an excellent way to build your portfolio and gain real experience in a variety of industries. You might discover that you have a talent or passion for something you never expected.

If freelancing is a good fit for your lifestyle, we've put together some helpful articles that will help you step into your own business.


Free webinar: Your own online shop in 30 minutes

Do you want to see for yourself how quickly you can set up a shop?

The Shopify expert and passionate shop owner Adrian Piegsa shows you how to register, link a domain, select products and, of course, implement all legal requirements.

Join for free

5. Offer an online course

Teaching an online course is a low investment business idea to generate passive income. Even if it sounds difficult, it can be easier than you think. In the end, you have to put together a video course in which you explain a topic that you are familiar with. You then host the course on your own personal website.

Even if it requires effort in advance, you can continuously earn money with a high-quality series of video tutorials.

To get started with the video course, you should first think about a topic that you know well enough to convey to others in a well-founded and detailed manner. It can literally be anything: music production, social media marketing, web development, and much more.

Next, you'll get a screencasting application like ScreenFlow to record your screen and voice as you guide your viewers through your tutorial. ScreenFlow also has a built-in video editing solution so you can record and trim your videos on the same platform.

Why teach an online course?

  • You only have to create an online course once. After that, the effort will be minimal. Depending on the complexity of your content, take a few days or weeks to create your online course. You will then benefit from the advantages for weeks or months.
  • You already have the knowledge, all you have to do is bring it to the public. Focus on conveying something you are already an expert at and the rest will come by itself. This could be anything from developing iOS apps, creating monthly budgets, or running Facebook ad campaigns.
  • While teaching online courses can definitely make money (sometimes a lot), helping other people is a satisfying experience in and of itself.

6. Sale of second hand finds

If you enjoy shopping at thrift stores and looking for great deals, then you might consider selling your used treasure online. This is another way to earn money on the side with little effort.

Your prospects want to buy cool stuff, but they don't want to dig through old soccer jerseys and braided belts to finally have that one great find in their hands. You can take advantage of this by positioning yourself as a trusted curator who can track down great vintage pieces for others.

Antik Acente's Shopify dealers also sell antique and second-hand products online

Reading tip: Second-hand shops are stirring up the market. You can read about how they do this in this article.

Why sell your second hand finds?

  • Let's be honest: That’s how you would browse the shelves of second-hand stores. So you can just as easily earn some money with it.
  • The margins are huge here. That old baseball cap that you found over the weekend and that used to cost just 5 euros? This could soon be a real vintage classic, for which you can ask for 30 euros.
  • You're selling something unique. Nowhere else on the internet will you be able to find the vintage collections you've put together.

7. Publish your own book

You may also have thought about publishing your own book one day. Seeing your name on a bestseller list may seem like a pipe dream, but it's actually not that far-fetched.

Regardless of whether it is a science fiction novel, a marketing guide or a children's picture book: You currently have many options for successfully self-publishing your work. For example, you can offer your texts as e-books with the Shopify Digital Downloads app or use on-demand printing services such as ePubli and Bookmundo.

If you want to sell e-books through your online shop, simply install the “Digital Downloads” app, after which you can immediately offer digital files as products. After purchase, your e-books will be sent to your customers via email or as a direct download link.

If you choose to sell physical copies of your book, all you have to do is place an order with ePubli or Bookmundo when your work is purchased.

Why publish a book?

  • What good is it to write something if nobody reads it? Self-publishing is the fastest way to get your book into the hands of potential readers.
  • Printing, storage and delivery are taken care of thanks to services such as ePubli and Bookmundo.
  • Creative writing is your passion. So why not pursue this passion and earn money with it?

Reading tip: Of course, writing is not the only hobby that can be used to make money. We have summarized 13 leisure activities with which you can build up a second mainstay.

8. Start a blog

Blogging has come an amazing way since its inception. What was once a virtual diary has now grown into a marketing tool and even a solid source of income.

Whether you make money posting sponsored posts, hosting ads, or selling your products, a blog is a great online business idea.

The key to starting a successful blog is to focus on building an engaged, loyal audience. When you start with an audience-centric approach, you will build a community that trusts you. Then, once you've gained the trust of your readers, you can start generating income.

Why start a blog

  • Blogs have unlimited growth potential. You can get involved in affiliate marketing, e-commerce, online courses and many more. Some blogs even use a paid subscription model to increase their revenue.
  • However, keep in mind that blogging is a long-term endeavor. You probably won't see results overnight. However, this will make development more sustainable. A blog lasts forever - or at least until you delete it.
  • With a blog you can develop your writing skills, which is also an essential factor in business life and communication in general.

Reading tip: Do you want to start your own blog? We'll help you! You can find our guide here.

9. Work as a virtual assistant

Are you perfectly organized and enjoy working behind the scenes? If so, you could be the perfect candidate for a career as a virtual assistant (often called a VA).

A VA helps entrepreneurs, companies and executives organize their personal and professional life.The range of tasks is broad and ranges from scheduling to basic marketing management and everything in between. The best part: Everything is done online.

Why become a VA?

  • Work with your ideal client. Even if you don't know at first, over time you will find out who you enjoy working with and what you enjoy doing. You can develop your business accordingly to meet these preferences.
  • Interact with people from all over the world. All you need is an internet connection. You already have the opportunity to work with international customers.
  • Build your business into a VA network. If you're too busy or want to scale, you can hire and train other VAs to work under your brand and grow your profits.

10. Become an influencer

Influencer marketing has literally exploded in the marketing scene. And while consumers are becoming more savvy, there are still many opportunities to take advantage of.

Since influencers have drawn a lot of criticism for dishonest practices, there has been a move towards micro-influencers with a more interactive audience. Good news: you don't need millions of followers to make money on Instagram.

Why become an influencer?