How To Start An Online Business For Free – What To Do & Know

Usually the words free and business wouldn’t go together, and in most cases it still doesn’t, but there are some ways you can start up an online business for free without having to bust out your pocket book.

I’ve started some of my first online businesses with pennies on the dollar, having a limited budget at the time, a VERY limited budget, I had no choice, so from this I can say two things:

  1. It is possible, no question about it.
  2. The opportunities are there, but they are limited.

Starting a business with no money can be tough, but it can be done with the right idea and work put behind it.

I’m not trying to be blunt, just truthful, you’re apparently here because you’re serious about starting an online business even given the current situation, so why lie to you?

So lets get into it…

How To Start An Online Business For Free

Starting a business on low funds or for free is a suitable task but notice the word “starting”, not running. If you’re planning on keeping this business for the long haul, you’re going to have to be willing to invest.

Taking your business to that next level will take some type of investment, if it’s better software, services, or hiring some of your first employees, scaling a business is almost never free.

But that is for a future time and place, in the mean time here’s some ideas and processes on how you can start your online business for free.

Knowing Your Skills & Desires 

Now this might seem redundant but knowing what skills you have to offer and what desires you have for your business can play a major role in what direction you take.

Note: I will be using these questions to base your best suited options for your potential business(es), so answer honestly! 

Knowing your skills

I’m a firm believer in all skills can be learned, but it certainly does help to go into something with the skill already developed. So what skills do you have?

  • Are you a decent writer?
  • Do you have a creative eye?
  • Are you good with people?
  • Are you an entertaining or funny person?
  • Are you skilled in a particular subject?

Knowing your desires

Starting a business is no easy task so coming to terms of what you want from your business is a must. If you find yourself dreading working on it, then you’re done before you even started.

You will eventually burn out and you’ll have nothing to show for except wasted time and no results.

You want to own a business not be a slave to it, so be sure to have your priorities in line when going into a new business.

What are your desires for your online business?

  • Do you want more free time?
  • Do you want this full time?
  • Do you want an additional source of income?
  • Do you want to be your own boss?
  • Do you want to make your own hours?

Finding Your Best Suited Business

With the business models listed below they are catered towards specific individuals, and based on your skill and desires they are listed accordingly.

Affiliate Marketing/Blogging-

SKILLS: For those who are a decent writer. (wouldn’t mind publishing regular content every other day)

DESIRES: For those who are looking for a full time business. For those who are looking for an additional source of income. For those who want more free time. For those who want to be their own boss. For those who want to make their own hours.

If these match your skill & desires go to #1 on the list below.

Logo & Graphic Design-

SKILLS: For those who have a creative eye. For those who are typically good with people.

DESIRES: For those looking for an additional source of income.

If these match your skills & desires go to #2 on the list below.

Freelance Writing-

SKILLS: For those who are have basic writing skills. For those who are typically good with people.

DESIRES: For those looking for a full time business. For those looking for an additional source of income.

If these match your skills & desires go to #3 on the list below.

Online Tutoring-

SKILLS- For those who are skilled in a particular subject. For those who are good with people.

DESIRES- For those who want an additional source of income. For those looking for a full time business. For those looking to be their own boss. For those looking to make their own hours.

If these match your skills & desires go to #4 on the list below.


SKILLS- For those who are entertaining and funny.

DESIRES- For those who are looking for an additional source of income.

If these match your skills & desires go to #5 on the list below.

1. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing

If you’re unfamiliar with Affiliate Marketing let me give you a little run down.

What is affiliate marketing? Affiliate Marketing is:

“A type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.”

Simply put it’s a type of online base marketing where you, the affiliate, promote other company’s products, when the customer makes a purchase, you get a percentage of the sale price.

The greatest thing about affiliate marketing is that you don’t have to invest massive amounts of money into costly inventory and developing your own products.

The opportunities for earning with this business model are virtually limitless, entirely left to you and the work you put in.

So if you’re someone who is looking for a little more than a little “side income” and have a little ambition, this is something worth looking into.

Of course there is more to it than just slapping a link on a post or page, there are some technicalities that come with it.

You will need some learned skills such as:

  • SEO development. (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Some basic marketing skills such as e-mail, social, and online.
  • Some very basic website development. (Hardly any really)

Feel like I’m speaking a foreign language? No worries, here’s a beginners guide to affiliate marketing to get you going.

To get set up (although it is not recommended for the long run) you can use a free web page building service, in most cases you must use the domain of the free service, along with this you give the provider permission to place ads and banner on your website.

Besides those additional requirements you can post content and promote products and services through free affiliate programs.

An affiliate program I usually recommend is Amazon’s affiliate program Amazon Associates as a great beginners affiliate program.

They have a huge selection of products to promote and the sign up process can be done in a matter of minutes!

Once you start earning you can start investing back into your business and setup with a hosting platform like WordPress and secure your own domain name.

Note: Just a little FYI- The beginners guide features a free trial program with free hosting and a complementary 3 websites, along with a in-depth guide, start to finish on what Affiliate Marketing is all about.

2. Graphic Design

Graphic Design

For those of you with a creative side, why not use these skills to earn you some money?

If you find yourself drawing all the time or even sketching out ideas for friends or family, or just for yourself, maybe you can take those skills online.

People everywhere need someone with a creative eye for their businesses. I’ve requested the service of several designers for past projects or businesses I have or had in the past.

You can create:

  • Logos
  • Social media headers
  • Backgrounds for websites
  • Or even videos!

All being something someone is willing to pay for.

I might know a thing or two about business but put a color pencil in my hand and I’ll be at odds end, and I’m not the only one!

There are business owner’s everywhere looking for talented individuals like yourself to improve their businesses!

A great place to start selling your services is Fiverr.

They’re free to sign up and have a huge customer database with over 25 million jobs completed and prices ranging anywhere from $5 – $10,000 depending on the quality of work you put out.

3. Freelance Writing

Freelance Writing

You don’t have to be a world class writer to try your hand at freelance, if you’re someone who has basic writing skills and can follow a set format, you should do just fine.

Of course being a skilled writer would help, but it isn’t completely necessary.

This can actually be a nice way to make a living if you’re someone who enjoys writing, and the more you write, the better you get, so it’s a win win!

Starting off don’t expect big bucks, you wouldn’t pay a rookie mechanic to work on your award winning car would you? Well the same goes for clients and freelancers.

They want someone with experience and a credible portfolio to show your worth.

I would recommend Upwork as a good place to start to establish this credibility, their payouts might not be the best, but once you establish your digital footprint in the business you’ll start getting those high paying clients.

4. Online Service

computer on desk

Now this can be almost anything, what is something you’re good at or know how to do that someone is willing to pay for to learn how to do?

It might seem like a difficult question but let’s not overthink it.

Maybe you’re:

  • Great in school- Offer an online tutoring service!
  • Good at building computers- Offer a how-to video series on how someone else can build one too!
  • Knowledgeable about dieting & health- Offer a diet and workout routine service, create them for those who don’t know!

These are just a few of the endless ideas out there, people everywhere are searching for information every day, so why not offer your services on something you already know about?

All you’ll need is a video camera and a computer and you can get rolling, some would recommend a website, but with a big enough social media following you can market your services through there.

If you really want to get proactive you can start offering your services locally, hang up fliers with your service on there and some contact info. and see where that takes you.

Moral of the story here is if you really want to establish some income, you should be willing to get out there.

If you have an idea but need some help getting it to paper, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll see what we can come up with:)

5. YouTube 


It’s probably something we’ve all thought of one point in time, the infamous YouTube.

We all hear these stories about how these famous YouTuber are earning millions a year and how outrageous their following is.

The thing with this is you’re not just going to be able to slap up a couple videos and start seeing the cash rolling in, sadly it doesn’t work that way.

A lot of these YouTubers we know today have been at it for years, and have put in massive amounts of work to get where they are today.

They developed a following, started to get regular views, attracted sponsors, and then the money started to follow, some even went to the extent of creating their own custom merchandise creating a large portion of their income.

It might not be something that’ll happen overnight but if you’re willing to put the work in and have some good ideas, it might just work out in the long run.

One of the more common forms of income generated from YouTube are those classic review channels.

You know when you want to know more about a product so you type in (product name) + review in the search bar, and you get a ton of videos popping up with people talking about the product, all the pros and cons and things like that.

Well with most of these channels there will almost ALWAYS be a call to action at the end of the video telling you to check out some link in the description.

These are either links linking to their affiliate sites, or affiliate links themselves linking to the product. (more info on affiliate marketing)

People then click these links purchasing the products earning them money. Multiply that by a few thousand views and you might get yourself a good income coming in.

Before You Go…

If you’re looking for more, or maybe you want to know how I got started online with pennies to spare, feel free to check out my #1 recommendation for beginners looking to start off in online business.

They taught me everything I needed to know from website development, sourcing traffic, monetizing, to creating some of the full time businesses I have today.

If a broke college kid working out of his bedroom can do it, you can do it too!

Just click the banner below or the link above to give it a look to see if it’s right for you.

Until next time,

Tyler of Broke College Solutions

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P.S. We have a serious Taco Bell addiction and the affiliate links on our site lets us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!

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