50 Business Ideas People are Actually Making Money From (Complete with Examples)
Choosing a business idea is an incredibly important decision. A great idea can make your life so much easier. People will naturally identify with your mission and help to share your message. The right topic will make you come alive and you’ll fall in love with your business and customers.
A poorly chosen idea, on the other hand, can make life difficult. When people stop by your site, they won’t find a compelling reason to stick around. You’ll be swimming upstream every week, wondering where you went wrong. We don’t want that to happen to you, which is why we've already identified 10 common mistakes to avoid when choosing a business idea.
Now that you know what to avoid when choosing an idea, we’re ready to share with you 50 business ideas that will spark your imagination, stimulate your creativity, and put you on the path to indie business success. These are real ideas independent business founders, including many of the members in the Fizzle community, have used to generate income and build a business.
Note: below we mention several examples of successful businesses run by founders who are featured in Fizzle Founder Stories. Founder Stories are in-depth, high-definition, behind-the-scenes interviews with successful entrepreneurs where we find out how they got started, how they earn money, why they’ve been successful, and what advice they have for new business builders. There are dozens of Founder Stories in the Fizzle library, and several are mentioned here.
Is one of the ideas on this list right for you? Let’s find out…
As the popularity of podcasts continues to grow, increasing numbers of podcast hosts and creators are finding ways to monetize their shows. This includes selling products and services to the audience, as well as landing deals with advertisers.
Real World Examples: Jordan Harbinger has built a business around his successful podcast, The Art of Charm, and is featured in one of our Fizzle Founders Stories.
(You’re already subscribed to The Fizzle Show, right? We covered Choosing and Vetting a Business Idea way back in episode #8, and more recently discussed How to Get Past the Fear of Choosing the Wrong Business Idea in episode #154.)
For over two decades bloggers have been building audiences by delivering free, relevant, entertaining, and/or informative content on a myriad of topics, including fashion, food, fitness, health and wellness, minimalism, business, careers, and technology. Much like podcasting, bloggers are able to monetize their audience in a number of ways, including selling products and services directly to their audience, as well as selling access to their audience to advertisers.
Real World Examples: Dana and John Shultz have built a business around their blog Minimalist Baker, and they share their expertise as the hosts of Fizzle’s Essentials of Building a Great Food Blog course.
Keeping with the minimalist blogger theme, Leo Babauta also makes a living via his blog Zen Habits, which was named one of Time Magazine’s top 25 blogs in the world two years in a row. Leo is featured in one of our Fizzle Founder Stories and also hosts our course, “How to Create Effective and Engaging Content.”
3. Selling Through Etsy and Ebay
Online retailers offer indie business builders an existing platform with which to sell products online (no complicated shopping cart or website development required). Handmade art, vintage collectables, jewelry, and custom creations can all be sold effectively through websites like Etsy and Ebay.
Real World Example: Think selling jewelry is “too small” a business idea for you? In her Fizzle Founder Story, former Fizzler and current popular podcast host Jess Lively explains how selling jewelry was an instrumental component in her incredible business journey.
4. Wedding Photographer
Soon-to-be-wed couples are always on the hunt for a talented photographer to snap unforgettable shots on their special day. The generally higher rates for wedding related products and services presents an excellent opportunity for wedding photographers to generate great income.
Real World Example: Friend of Fizzle Jen Wojcik specializes in “Fine Art Weddings” and has built an impressive client list and portfolio in just a few years.
5. Video Producer/Creator
A quick scroll through your Facebook feed will reveal just how prevalent online videos have become. Whether it’s sales, education, animations, or instructional, the ability to create high quality video content is a skill that’s only going continue to rise in demand.
Real World Examples: Former Fizzle team member (and host of our “Essential of Shooting and Editing Video” course) Caleb Wojcik runs a successful video production business.
As does Chris Johnson of Simplifilm, who’s featured in one of our Fizzle Founder Stories.
Richard Boehmcke of Vibrant Motion also makes a living creating videos. Richard hosts our “Getting Started with Video Production” course inside of Fizzle.
6. Freelance Writer / Content Creator
While the prevalence of podcasting and videos continues to rise, the majority of online content is still based in the good ol’ fashioned written word. Talented writers have a myriad of opportunities to build a business by offering their writing services in the creation of blog posts, magazine articles, editorials, and more.
Real World Example: Check our article on How to Become a Freelance Writer for tips from over 25 successful freelance writing experts.
7. Personal Chef
Our insanely busy modern lifestyle is, paradoxically, coinciding with increasing understanding of the importance of nutrition in our lives. The result is many busy people looking for a personal chef to cook them healthy and delicious meals.
Real World Example: Fizzle member “Chef Shelley” is a personal chef and runs the site Chef in the ‘Burbs where she shares recipes honed from working as a chef and cooking for her two boys (one of whom is a very picky eater).
8. Freelance Designer
Online resources like Squarespace and WordPress can take the average DIY website builder a long way. That said, many businesses still want to hire a design professional to design and build their websites.
Real World Example: Chuck Longandecker, of user-experience web design company Digital Telepathy, shares how to build a design company from scratch in one of our Fizzle Founder Stories.
9. Photography Teacher
Already built a successful photography business? Time to start teaching what you know to others.
Real World Example: That’s what long-time Fizzler Darlene Hildebrandt does through her business Digital Photo Mentor.
Copywriters create content intended to produce a specific action from the reader, be it make a purchase, book a consultation, or opt-in to a mailing list. These writing gigs can include sales pages, email marketing, landing pages, white papers, in-app messaging, and more.
Real World Examples: One of our most prolific Fizzle Forum contributors, Faith Watson, offers copywriting services via her business Pen to Zen.
Think this idea might be for you? Read our article, Writing Copy for the Web: The 80/20 Guide to Copywriting for Entrepreneurs.
11. Online Course Creator
It’s no secret that information products like online courses are an extremely effective means of sharing your knowledge with an audience. Your course can be self-hosted, or sold and hosted through online learning sites like Udemy and Lynda.
Real World Example: Fizzler John Corcoran of Smart Business Revolution has created successful courses on connecting with influencers and hosting webinars. He recently launched his latest course on finding and working with ideal clients.
12. Software as a Service
People need software to solve their problems. If you have the insight and the skill-set to create that software, you’ll have a successful business on your hands.
Real World Examples: Frustrated with the existing webinar software available, Fizzler Omar Zenhom created Webinar Ninja.
13. Curated Resource Seller
This business idea involves selling curated resources to your audience, usually at a significantly discounted rate.
Real World Example: Fizzler Tom Ross made $100K in four months (!) after launching Design Cuts, a business offering deals on digital design tools and resources.
14. Web Conversion Specialist
When website visitors aren’t taking the desired action on a page, webmasters turn to conversion rate specialists for help.
Real World Example: Fizzler John Muldoon built a business improving website conversion rates.
Learn how one of our Fizzle members increased his conversion rate by 3000% in this article.
15. Selling with Amazon FBA
Think Amazon only sells books? Think again! Using the Fullfillment by Amazon (FBA) service, indie businesses are able to store products in Amazon’s warehouses, and when sales are made, Amazon will pick, pack, ship, and provide customer service for your products.
Real World Example: Fizzle member Dave Stewart launched Crystal Creek Gear this year and has several popular products selling through the Fulfillment by Amazon program.
16. Personal Trainer
Whether it’s in-person or online, people are always looking for expert advice on how to get healthier, leaner, and stronger. If you know your way around a gym, this might be for you.
Real World Example: Fizzler and personal trainer Darren Stehle helps folks get in shape over at Eat, Move, Be.
17. App Developer
Mobile app development, especially for iOS, is a great opportunity for a business.
Real World Example: In one of our Fizzle Founder Stories, Nathan Barry describe how, prior to creating the popular email service ConvertKit, he got his start in business by developing iPhone apps.
As is the case with many time-intensive and skill-dependent activities, business owners, authors, and journalists alike often look to outsource the research portion of their work.
Real World Example: Fizzler Jolene Davies runs a successful research and consulting business called In the Know with Jo.
19. WordPress Plugin Maker
One of the great things about the WordPress platform is that it allows independent businesses to develop and sell plug-ins that extend and expand website functionality.
20. Freelance Animator
Animated videos are good for more than just Saturday morning entertainment. They can be used for product demos, sales videos, explainer videos and more.
Real World Example: Fizzler Christina Mayes’ business Yon and Yonder Studies provides a slew of visual communication solutions.
21. Social Media Consultant
Let’s face it, every business needs a social media presence, but few have the time and skill-set to do it right, especially in the always changing social media environment. That’s why social media experts will continue to be in high demand for the foreseeable future.
Real World Examples: Fizzler Tony Rulli helps businesses do social media the right way.
Amy Porterfield describes doing social media strategy for the one and only Tony Robbins in one of our Fizzle Founder Stories.
Youtubers create videos (or vlogs) and build an audience through subscriptions to their Youtube channel. Revenue can then be generated from Youtube’s advertising program, product placements, the selling of products and services, and more.
Real World Examples: Fizzler Matt Giovanisci recently used his Youtube channel Money Lab to help promote his 30-day challenge product, Entrepreneur: The Rap Album.
Fizzler Thomas Frank runs the incredibly popular College Info Geek, a YouTube channel with over 300,000 subscribers.
23. Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate businesses create income by marketing author people’s products through joint ventures or affiliate agreements.
Real World Example: Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income is an affiliate marketing expert who teaches our Fizzle course “Affiliate Marketing the Smart Way”.
24. Exam Prep Educator
People want to pass exams, and you can build a business by helping them do just that.
Real World Example: Fizzler Mike Grossman’s business Professional Practice Exams Headquarters provides technical exam preparation support for professionals.
25. Small Business Coach
Small business coaches help founders improve their business practices and get better results.
26. Launch Consultant
A strong launch can help set a book, business, or product up for long-term success.
Real World Example: Fizzler Tom Morkes is a book launch expert whose consulting services have helped send books by folks like Dan Norris and Jeff Goins to bestseller status.
27. Life Coach
Life coaches work with their clients to help address personal challenges, make better decisions, and increase confidence and happiness.
Real World Example: Fizzler James Mondry is a life coach who specializes in working with corporate managers.
28. Facebook Ads Consultant
Facebook advertising can be extremely effective if a proper campaign is designed and implemented, but Facebook constantly shifts technology and advertising rules create a barrier for many business owners and marketers. That’s why developing expertise in Facebook advertising and then selling your services as a consultant can be an excellent business opportunity.
Real World Example: Fizzler Claire Pelletreau’s Facebook Ad consulting business was so successful that she launched a training program to scale her business.
29. Ebook Creator
This business idea involves creating and selling digital books that provide people with vital information they’re willing to pay for.
Real World Example: Brett Kelly’s Evernote Essentials ebook was so successful that Evernote eventually hired him. We spoke with Brett in episode 38 of the Fizzle Show as part of our First Product Series and featured him in one of our Fizzle Founder Stories.
30. Productivity Consulting
Productivity experts help busy people gain greater control of their lives by teaching them basic productivity principals and a better understanding of technological tools.
Real World Example: That’s what Fizzler Lilli Weisz does with her business, Simplified Life.
31. SEO consultant
Most website traffic is still driven by Google, which is why, despite constant algorithm changes, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) remains an in-demand skill-set.
Real World Example: Liz Lockard is a small business marketing consultant who uses many tools including SEO to help her clients find more business online.
32. Coloring Book/Poster Maker
Colouring books (for children and adults alike) are huge right now. If you have the illustration chops, this might be for you.
Real World Examples: The instant success of Fizzler Walker Cleaveland’s business, Illustrated Children’s Ministry, inspired episode #141 of the Fizzle show: $25K in 3 Weeks, How to Handle the Overwhelm of a Hit Product.
Fizzler Mary J. Winters-Meyers has tackled the adult colouring side of things with her site Coloring Books for Adults.
33. Website Flipper
Think flipping houses is the only way to make money flipping something? Think again! Purchasing websites, redesigning, and then selling them can bring in big bucks.
Real World Example: Chris Guthrie of UpFuel tells the story of how he made $50k in 20 months from one website flip.
34. Event Planner
Putting on a conference, fashion show, or industry event is a lot of work. That’s why event planning can be a lucrative business for those with the know-how (and Buddha-like calmness in high stress situations).
Check out this article on How to Be a Freelance Event Planner from Careerlancer.
35. Tour Guide
Are you a people person who enjoys the outdoors, leading groups, and travel the world or visiting popular spots in your city? Indie tour guide might be the business for you.
Real World Example: World-traveler Jodi Ettenberg leads “food walks” around Saigon, exposing her readers to her favorite bites from the streets of Vietnam.
36. Art Teacher
Art is a big part of all of our lives, and many people are interested and willing to pay to learn how to become better artists.
Real World Examples: Fizzler Elaine Luther helps people reconnect with their creativity through online and in-person art courses.
Fizzler Paul Foxton helps realist artists improve their painting and illustration at Learning to See.
37. Public Speaker
Getting paid to speak at events, conferences, and seminars can be a fantastic business opportunity, if you don’t mind travel and have already developed authority and expertise on a topic.
Real World Example: Josh Shipp, a professional speaker featured in one of our Fizzle Founder Stories, runs a seven-figure business as a youths speaker.
38. Personal/Virtual Assistant
Email/calendar management, social media/blog posting, and travel arrangement are just some of the many tasks people are willing to outsource to a capable virtual assistant.
Real World Example: Fizzle member Hannah O’Brien runs a successful virtual assistant and operational support business based out of Australia.
Ghostwriters produce writing that’s published under someone else’s by-line. This can include blog posts, articles, books, and more.
Real World Example: Fizzler Kevin T. Johns (that’s me, this post’s author!) runs a ghostwriting business where he writes books and articles for other people’s by-line.
40. Digital Scrapbooking Teacher
This business idea involves teaching people how to capture and share special memories creatively through digital scrapbooking.
Real World Example: Fizzler Cassel has live classes, online resources, and forums for digital scrapbooking students at Scrapbook Campus.
41. Food Product Creator
People need to eat and drink. You can make a living feeding them!
Real World Examples: Fizzler Marianne Sundquist’s Mess Hall Cocktail Co. sells preserved cherries.
Andy Purdue has got the drinks covered over at Great Northwest Wine.
42. Personal Care/ Beauty Product
This business idea is a unique opportunity for you to help people look and feel their best, and make a living doing it.
Real World Example: Fizzler Kelsey Hunt’s Clean Pits Co. sells hand-churned natural deodorant for folks who want to smell wonderful without poisoning their bodies or the environment.
43. Health and Wellness Support
This business idea involves moving your clients towards happier, healthier lives.
Real World Example: Fizzler Aimee Pasek’s Be. Strong. Peaceful. includes yoga and mindfulness resources, a brick and mortar studio, and an online studio launching this fall.
44. Apparel Producer
If clothes are your thing, an apparel business may be the way to go.
Real World Examples: Fizzler Brendan Hufford runs Ok! Kimonos, where parents can get all the best gear for the little Brazillian Jiu Jitsu fighter in their life.
Serial entrepreneur Andreea Ayers is featured in one of our Fizzle Founder Stories and she got her start with an eco-friendly t-shirt company.
45. Career Coach
Finding and landing a career that fits perfectly isn’t easy, which is why so many people turn to a career coach for help.
Real World Examples: Fizzler Kate Ostrem runs 9 Open Doors, where she uses her expertise in Ennegram personality profiles to help teams and leaders thrive in their careers.
Expert career coach Jenny Blake is featured in one of our Fizzle Founder Stories.
46. Property Investment Services
Finding, purchasing, and caretaking investment properties isn’t easy, and many people are willing to pay for help.
Real World Example: Nick is the #1 all time most prolific poster in the Fizzle forums, and his company iFind Property helps connect real estate investors in New Zealand with the right property, walks them through the purchasing process, and puts them in touch with the real estate professionals needed to build and maintain an investment portfolio.
47. Marketing Consultant
Building a great product or delivering a top notch service is only half the battle to creating a successful business, which is why many businesses hire expert consultants to supercharge their marketing campaigns.
Real World Example: Marketing consultant and bestselling author John Jantsch is featured in one of our Fizzle Founder Stories.
48. Freelance Software Engineer
Just because you’re a software engineer doesn’t mean you have to work for The Man. As a freelancer, you can designer, analyze, test, and upgrade software on your own terms.
Real World Example: Nicky Hajal has built several web apps, including Action Ally. When he isn’t building his own businesses, he helps others including the World Domination Summit and Fizzle as a freelance software engineer.
49. Reviewer Business
Running a blog doesn’t necessarily mean having to come up with brilliant new content on a regular basis. Many successful blogs have built audiences simply by reviewing existing products. This is a great business idea if you are an enthusiast in some particular area.
Real World Examples: Darren Rouse of Problogger got his start as a professional blogger by reviewing digital cameras.
Our very own Chase Reeves has a side-hustle reviewing bags.
50. Online Music Teacher
If you know how to shred the guitar like Hendrix or smash those drums like Dave Grohl, a business offering online music training might be for you.
Real World Example: Fizzle member Geoff Chalmers turned a successful career as a freelance bassist and bass teacher into a full featured online training community called Discover Double Bass.
Still need help choosing a business idea? We’ve got you covered!
One of the foundational courses in Phase 1 of our 9-Stage Small Business Roadmap is our “Choosing a Topic” course.
Our Choosing a Topic, taught by Fizzle Co-founder Corbett Barr will walk you through EVERYTHING you need to know about choosing a business idea that works. By the time you’ve completed the course, you’ll have erased the uncertainty surrounding your business idea and confidently chosen an idea that isn’t just going to be a profitable business, but one that’s going to feel right for you and your unique situation in life.
Start your two week free trial of Fizzle today to get access to all the founder stories and courses mentioned in this article, including our Choosing a Topic course.
Listen to the podcast:
Get a bit more in-depth on several of these business ideas. Also, hear what we’ve learned, personally, about what makes a business idea work.
I’ve taken a lot of courses and been involved in several paid communities since I started my business, but I’ve never ever felt like anyone CARED as much about seeing my reach my goals as the Fizzle Team. They show up for me as much as I show up for myself. Thank you SO much, you guys!
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