Top Ten Online Businesses to Start in 2020

browsing for top ten online businesses in 2020

Let me take a guess. You are looking for a side/main hustle to start making extra income for yourself and of course, it should be very profitable, with flexible hours and best suit your lifestyle.  Well then, welcome to my curated list of top ten online businesses to start in 2020 and NO…….It is not too late to start.

My friend, the internet is a big place and it continues to grow and diversify each year with new business opportunities springing up daily. So it only makes sense to start a business online and flow with the trend right?

I believe the  first step to take before you think of putting money and time into any kind of business is to have a good idea of the options available to you. This is what I intend to show you in this post. 

The online business ideas I am about to show you all have most of the following attributes:

  • easy to get started with little cost
  • mentally stimulating
  • recession proof
  • Flexible working hours
  • Income potential is extremely high
  • ability to automate
  • Can be done from anywhere in the world
  • Knowledge to start is readily available

Quick noticeThese are not get-rich-quick schemes and if you think you are going to make a truckload of money instantly, then don’t even bother reading any further. You have to put in the time and effort.

#1 – Become a Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistant job-top ten online businesses to start in 2020

I am not talking about Siri or Alexa.

Plainly speaking, a virtual assistant is an individual who is hired online by another individual or an organization to help perform certain tasks such as  administrative duties, handling telephone calls, customer service etc.

Infact, you can offer any service you like for any business you want as a VA. Any service you can perform virtually for a small business can be called a virtual assistant job.

Why do companies need virtual assistants?

This is majorly because the cost of having a real full time employee is high relative to a virtual assistant. As a VA, you can be paid hourly or per job done. The benefits of being a VA  include:

  • Flexible working hours
  • You decide who you work for 
  • What task you want to perform is up to you
  • You can work anywhere

These are a few of the reasons why I added it to this list.

How to get started as a VA

  • You need to choose a business structure. This will properly state your working hours, business location, type of clients you work with, type of jobs you perform etc
  • Pick a service you want to provide. There are countless jobs you can perform as a VA. You can check out this list  for a start.
  • Decide on your payment rates and structure. This is influenced by a couple of factors such as skills and experience. More on this topic here – guide to setting your VA rates.
  • Establish an online presence. Most people don’t know how relevant having a website is to any online business. Now is the time to begin advertising and networking. Build your website using wordpress and create social media presence.
  • The key to being successful as an individual VA is simply to provide immense value to your clients so that they can keep hiring you. In doing this, you will not only grow their business but yours also.

Interested already, then read this detailed guide to know how to start a profitable VA business

#2 – Create and sell courses/information products.

selling digital courses and information products- top ten online businesses to start in 2020

Most people think that the information-selling industry is a new one but it is not.

Right from the age of  the printing press and publishing of ‘how-to, tutorials, audio cassettes’ etc, this industry has been in existence and has no intention of slowing down. Creating, packaging and selling information products inform of videos, audios and texts is now more accessible and provides a huge opportunity to make money online as long as you provide value to the consumers.

Why should you create and sell digital products?

  • They are easy to create and require just time and energy (just as any other business)
  • They are easy and free to store and backup either on a server or on a computer.
  • No cost of delivering to consumers as with physical products. Customers just need to download or login onto a website.

How to start

  • Research your market audience. There are so many books on Amazon and other online stores that have sold only a few copies usually because they talk about what nobody wants. So you need to make sure there is a hungry audience waiting to eat what you have to offer.

#3 – Build membership sites

Starting a membership site is hard work but with guidance and persistence, it can be a lasting  6 figure income source.

A membership site is a website with valuable content that is only accessible by members of the site. Of course, they pay to become members.

Why are membership sites one of the best forms of online businesses?

These types of sites are wonderful because you can continue to earn income for months…….even years to come. Once you make that sale and you continually offer fantastic value, then you earn recurring income on a monthly basis.

The type of content you can create in these sites include:

  • Blog articles
  • Listicles
  • Webinars
  • Screencasts
  • Podcasts
  • Videos etc
list of content formats for membership websites

You will need to continually update your content while your members pay to have access to new contents because you are providing value and they trust you. Each member will have a unique username and password which will be used to login to the site.  

The key to building a membership site in 2020 and running it successfully is to:

  • Establish authority by providing immense value to your online community
  • Mix with both free and paid content
  • Do not let the the community get stale. Chat, discuss and create good rapport with your audience.

Actually, these are the keys to any business model you are running. Value, Trust and Relationship.

#4 – Become a Youtuber

Have you heard of Mr Beast?

mr beast. A youtuber (top ten online businesses to start in 2020)

If you have then you probably already know the potential in starting and having a ‘’successful’’ youtube channel. Mr Beast is one of the highest paid youtuber in the world earning millions of dollars in revenue annually from youtube. 

Although, the probability of making millions from youtube is still very far ahead but you can definitely make a good side hustle by simply creating valuable videos, getting lots of traffic.and then monetizing you youtube channel.

Some video ideas include:

  • Product unboxings – Here you purchase a product, open the box and show viewers what is inside. You do a quick review and then provide a link (your affiliate link) for anyone who also wants to make a purchase. If they purchase through your link, you get a commission (more on affiliate marketing later)
  • Training videos
  • Comedy videos – these videos are engaging and can drive massive amount of traffic to your channel.
  • Review videos – help viewers  review a product they may be interested in, insert your affiliate link for those that want to still go ahead to purchase it and you get a commission if they do.

Steps to make money from youtube

  • Setup and build your youtube channel
  • Add content. Try to upload contents that are valuable and aren’t so long. Most importantly, be consistent.
  • Build an audience
  • You can further increase your earning potential by selling some products on your channels (affiliate marketing) or selling services. 
  • Setup google adsense and analytics- This enables you to view performance, earnings, demographics and much more.
  • Market your videos elsewhere – social media, forums etc
  • Increase your earnings with affiliate marketing.  

#5 – Start a blog.

A blog is simply a website that allows you to share your opinions, information and content to the world. 

A blog is a very wonderful tool to unleash the ideas within you and have a voice online. The best thing about having a blog is that there are numerous ways to make money from your blog. Although some people believe that starting a blog in 2020 is a waste of time, but it isn’t.

Most people just have informational blogs and miss out on the juicy part of monetization. Don’t be like them okay?

How to Start a Blog That Generates $3817 a Month in 2020

#6 – Influencer Marketing

girl on podcast for influencer marketing- top ten online businesses to start in 2020

One common way of becoming an influencer in any given niche is through podcasts. Talking about what you love most – politics, debates, football, fashion, food recipes, real estate, entertainment, fitness etc. 

Nowadays, more people are tuning in to the idea of listening to podcasts and just like blogging, it is also an avenue to unleash your views out to the world.

 The key to becoming a successful influencer in your niche is simply to give people value that will make them keep coming back for more. Have an open mind and keep on learning and it will definitely be fun.


You don’t necessarily have to start off as an authority in your niche. Just keep on sharing with others what you have learnt and give your opinions about certain issues. A typical “learn on the job” scenario.

With consistency, more and more people will tune in and this will generate enough traffic for you to start considering monetisation.

Furthermore, you could get advertisement deals, sponsors and even make your own digital or physical products to sell to your audience. As long as they trust you and see you as an authority figure, you are on your way to a 6 figure lifestyle.

#7 – Freelancing

people quitting their 9-5

With millions of people foregoing traditional career and picking up on the freelancing trend, it’s no surprise that companies are shifting in the way jobs are performed (especially in 2020) and starting to look for temporary workers with lower cost.

Freelancing is synonymous with flexible working hours and the beauty in it is you get to decide what you want to do and who you want to work for. Of course you have to be good at what you do inorder to consistently grab the high paying gigs 

Tips to starting a successful freelance business

  • Define your goals

What do you intend to achieve freelancing? Is it a  means to an end? Do you intend to make it a full time job at some point in your life or keep it as a side hustle? These are important questions you need to answer. Without clearly defined goals, you will just be among “the rest of them”

There are so many freelancers out there and with the advent of sites like Fiverr, Upwork and other free lancing sites, the chances of a newbie getting even an average paying gig is next to zero. 

So what is the solution?

Narrow down. Pick a niche. This will enable you to really hone your skills and offer the best value. For example, saying I am a graphic designer as a free lancer will definitely leave you among the rest of the fishes in the sea.

But concentrating on a particular aspect of graphic designing such as making infographics for upcoming blogs or writing blog content for food blogs will enable you stand out. 

Build an online presence

I am and will always be a fan of having a website regardless of the business you are into . This is like your base. Building a high quality website/blog as a free lancer shows that you are organized and a functioning business. It can also serve as a referral points for clients that may want to tell their friends about you. In short, it is your first impression.

Check out how to build a top notch free lance website as a beginner.

Identify your target audience

Not everyone that needs a logo designed for them needs you. Not everyone that needs an article needs you simply because you write. You need to find the right audience that you can show your skills and will appreciate your work because you’re good at it. Remember that.

Advertise your skills

“The best way to show what you can do is to show what you’ve done” (Idlemarketer).

Display your works on your website so that potential clients can see for themselves and be convinced that you’re the person for the job.

Okay. So time for my top 3 online businesses for you.


Amazon is a household name and it is amazing that for a company that sells over 4000 products per minute, most products purchased  on amazon are from third party sellers who use a service called amazon fba. FBA simply means fufillment by order and this is how it works.

amazon FBA model- top ten online  businesses to start in 2020

Amazon looks after all the seller’s stock. When a customer places an order, it bypasses the seller and goes straight to the amazon fba warehouse. Amazon then picks it up and delivers it to the customer. Customer service and return policies are handled by amazon and only specific queries will be sent back to the seller. Cool right?

So the work of the seller is simply to provide the product, keep inventry of the stock and then advertise to get people to buy.

But is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It requires a lot of work and dedication but still, it can replace your 9-5.

How to start Amazon FBA as a beginner (summary)

  • Pick a niche
  • Do your product research
  • Source your products
  • Ship your products to Amazon FBA warehouse
  • Promote and advertise your products
  • Take inventory of your stock

Of course it goes waaa……ay deeper than this. If you are interested, then you should read this post on how to sell on amazon as a beginner (the ultimate guide)


Dropshipping is a business model where you sell products on your website that you are not responsible for shipping or warehousing. You simply purchase products wholesale from manufacturers or suppliers and they oversee fufillment and delivery for you to the customer.

So how does dropshipping work?


A customer buys a product from your ecommerce website. You send the order details to the manufacturer or supplier. Then they deliver the product to the customer for you.

drop shipping model


  • Easy to start with just a laptop and internet connection
  • No hassle of product shipping, warehousing or inventory
  • Easy to add new products to your catalog with the click of a single button
  • Upfront costs are minimal because you only buy what you can sell
  • Most dropshipping services allow you to have your own labels so customers don’t need to know you are the dropshipper.


  • It is a highly competitive industry hence profit margins are low
  • You have to sell massively to cover up for the low margins
  • You/your brand is at the mercy of the manufacturer as they deal with the shipping and fufillment while you deal with the customer,
  • It is quite difficult to build a brand as a dropshipper due to the variety of product you may be selling.

How to start a dropshipping business

  • Select a profitable niche
  • Perform competition research
  • Perform product research for a hot selling product
  • Find and secure a reputable supplier. A wrong supplier can ruin your brand and business. Build your ecommerce website.
  • Drive traffic to your ecommerce website via facebook ads, google ads, etc
  • Interested in this business model, learn more about it here – How to start a dropshipping business in 2020

#10 – Affiliate Marketing (my most recommended online business to start in 2020)

Affiliate marketing is simply the process of earning a commission by promoting and convincing people to buy other people’s product. So you pick a products (that is not yours), you promote it and if anyone buys using your link, you get a percentage commission.

It is my most recommended online business you can start in 2020 because it can be done by anyone and has the least amount of startup cost. Infact, if you are getting enough traffic to your website or blog or youtube channel, then you should consider monetising it via affiliate marketing.

How does affiliate marketing work?

For example,

I create a product. Lets say a weightloss food recipe or a car. Anything at all.

Now if you help me sell this item, I give you a certain commission from the money paid by the customer. 

affiliate marketing model- top ten online businesses to start in 2020

How do you get the product to sell?

You don’t need to get the product. The product creator (which is me in this scenario), will create what is called an affiliate program. When you register on this program as an affiliate, you will be given a unique link for the product. It is your job to promote your unique link and get as many people as possible to buy the product using the link. The more the purchase, the more your commission.

We also have affiliate networks. These are combinations of several affiliate programs all on one site. So you can just register with an affiliate network and you can promote any product on any of the affiliate programs on it AND get your commission.


  • An excellent way to generate passive income.
  • It is highly scalable as long as you are consistent.
  • Multiple income source. You can register with as many affiliate programs/networks as you like and drive traffic to several products
  • No limit to your earnings. People like Pat Flynn, John Crestani are known affiliate marketers and earn millions of dollars yearly.
  • Low startup cost.


  • No guarantee of revenue. No one promises that you will start to earn right away as an affiliate marketer.
  • Competition is high due to the ease of entry. There are also highly talented marketers out there selling the same products as you are.
  • You have no control over affiliate programs or their terms. 
  • It can become lonely working on your laptop all day. But hey, do you prefer the 9-5? Just try to spend time with friends and go out once in a while.

How to get started with affiliate marketing

  • Pick a profitable niche
  • Join an affiliate program or network
  • Create great content (via blogging or youtube videos or any other medium)
  • Drive traffic to your affiliate links
  • Convert this traffic to sales

Does this interest you? Read How to start affiliate marketing by Pat Flynn.

So thats it guys. My top 10 online business recommendation to anyone that wants to start an online side hustle or even build a 6/7 figure online business from this year. With persistence, hardwork and consistency, the potentials and opportunities are numerous.

Essentials to make any of these business work

business plan and strategy

Now, just like any other business out there, starting your online business comes with its own set of risks. Making a ton of money and quitting your job is not guaranteed but these things are possible.

If you noticed the similarities in all these businesses, you will see the 3 major ingredients required for to start.

1. You need to identify your audience

Let me ask you a question

If you had an issue with your eye and you were introduced to 2 doctors,

Doctor 1: an optometrist and Doctor 2: a general care doctor

Which of these would you likely choose to work on your eye issue?

I’m guessing it’s going to be Doctor 1…right? So why would you prefer Doctor 1 and not Doctor 2?

Remember both are Doctors of Medicine, they have gone through same curriculums in school, read same books, etc.

Well, here’s why.

The thing is, Doctor 1 has a SPECIALIZATION in issues concerning the eyes, the only thing he  attends to are the eyes, so he is an authority and a trusted professional when it comes to any issues concerning the eye, because he definitely have more experience in handling different such cases.

The same applies to your business. Narrowing down helps you to pinpoint the demands and needs of a particular set of people and completely fufill these needs thus making you to be perceived as an authority in the subject.

2. Provide immense value to them via your content

Whether through ebooks, videos, texts, audios etc, it should always educate and enlighten your audience on a new info or a new way of carrying out a certain task or even a shortcut.

The end goal is that they must be wow-ed. 

How do you know what is valuable to your audience?

Research. Find out where they flock online. Forums they attend, seminars, webinars and most importantly, look at your competitors.

This is by far the easiest and most certain way of knowing what they want. You may subscribe to your competitor’s email list to see the kind of messages they send, read their blogs, follow them on facebook, instagram, twitter etc just to know what resonates with their audience.

After seeing a good piece of content with a lot of engagement, then you reverse engineer it and create something bigger, better and bolder. 

3. Market your content/yourself

In 2016, Facebook posted that the average human attention span was 8.25 seconds. 

In 2019, The Guardian posted that the attention span of humans is narrowing. This simply means that you only have a few seconds to make an impression with your ads or posts.

The currency of online marketing is ATTENTION. How will you grab and hook someone’s attention? How many people will see your posts? No matter how good or well-crafted your content is, if the right people do not see it, no one is going to know  it exists. 

market yourself


So 10 online business ideas that you can start right away. There WILL BE hiccups along the way but if you keep pushing, you will definitely get there.

What business model caught your eye? Which do you intend to start pursuing?

If you have any other great examples of online business ideas, leave it in the comment section below. I would love to know and if you found value in this post, please like and share. You never know who may need it.

3 thoughts on “Top Ten Online Businesses to Start in 2020”

Leave a Comment