Top 12 most profitable online businesses for 2024 (plus Net Income Calculator)

Hey, Ramit here. As an NYT bestselling author who’s helped over 50 million readers and 50,000 clients build online businesses, I’ve seen what works (and what doesn’t) in the ever-changing digital world.

In this guide, I’m sharing the 12 most profitable online businesses you can start in 2024. These tried-and-true models are primed for success, and I’ve even included a net income calculator so you can see your earning potential right away.

Starting an online business is still one of the best ways to build wealth in 2024, but you need to choose the right model. I’ve done the research and distilled it down to the top 12 ideas for profitable online businesses that are set to thrive.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out, this guide will give you the inside scoop on each business, how to get started, and how much you can expect to earn.

Ready to crunch the numbers and discover your next venture? Let’s get started!

 
 
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Table of Contents

12 of the Most Lucrative Online Businesses

1. Digital Products

Digital products have carved their place as one of the most financially rewarding online ventures. They include wide selections that are created digitally and delivered electronically. Think eBooks, online courses, eye-catching graphics, and those handy downloadable templates — they all fall into this digital product realm.

Selling digital products is like having a wellspring of profit. The beauty lies in the fact that there’s no heavy production cost involved. No need to worry about storing products or dealing with sales commissions. You put your creative mind to work and craft valuable digital content that resonates with your audience. Once you’ve laid the groundwork, these products can keep churning profits behind the scenes — like the gift that keeps on giving!

Who can benefit from diving into the digital product world? Just about anyone with expertise or a unique skill set to share. 

Whether you’re an educator, a writer, an artist, or an industry expert, there’s a digital niche waiting for you. It’s all about packaging your know-how into something that provides real value to your audience. So, if you’re up for the challenge of creating valuable content that folks are eager to get their virtual hands-on, this could be your online money-making avenue.

2. Online Courses and Training 

Online courses and training come in the form of educational videos, audio, texts, and interactive experiences that are designed to empower learners across a spectrum of subjects. From learning a new language to fine-tuning your entrepreneurial skills, delving into fitness routines, and more — with the right course, you can now learn to do all these things.

Online courses and training are a goldmine of opportunity. As industries continue to evolve, the hunger for accessible, high-quality education grows, too. And guess what? Creating these courses doesn’t have to break the bank. With relatively low production costs, you can generate substantial income by sharing your expertise in formats that learners prefer.

If you’re an educator, author, industry expert, or anyone with specialized knowledge to impart, this is for you. I’ve crafted highly popular and powerful online courses that turn valuable insights into actionable learning experiences. And, apart from the satisfaction of helping people upskill and grow, there’s one other thing I thoroughly enjoy about online courses: they serve as an incredible passive income stream. 

Once you’ve put in the effort to create them, they keep generating revenue while you’re busy making more of your dreams come true. And if you head over to my blog today, I will teach you how to create and sell awesome online courses and kickstart this part of your online business journey.

3. Affiliate Marketing

Imagine being the bridge that connects someone’s needs with the perfect solution, all while pocketing a healthy slice of the transaction — that’s affiliate marketing. It’s a collaborative effort between brands and the individuals who promote their products or services. 

Whether it’s fashion, tech gadgets, beauty products, or even niche services, affiliate marketing finds its way into every corner of the Internet. You’re not just selling; you’re solving problems, one click at a time.

As an affiliate marketer, you’re not bogged down by inventory, shipping logistics, or customer service. Your job is to guide potential buyers toward the right products, and modern technology does the rest. Industries like e-commerce, personal development, and digital services thrive under the affiliate marketing umbrella, making it a versatile platform for diverse niches.

If you’re a blogger, content creator, influencer, or anyone with an online presence, you’re in for a treat. By weaving affiliate marketing into your content, you’re not just sharing valuable insights — you’re also creating revenue streams that can become substantial over time. 

4. E-Commerce

E-commerce is a business opportunity that allows you to tap into a global customer base without ever setting foot in a physical store. 

When COVID-19 shut everything down, the world experienced a massive shift into the e-commerce space because of its sheer convenience. Businesses that were able to rapidly launch a digital storefront reaped the massive rewards of their quick thinking. Even years after pandemic restrictions eased up, e-commerce still has a hold on the masses.

The benefits of starting an e-commerce business are plenty. With the overhead costs often being lower compared to brick-and-mortar stores and not being constrained by geographical limitations, industries like retail, fashion, beauty, arts and crafts, and even digital products are thriving.

5. Drop Shipping

Picture this: a booming online store without the hassle of managing inventory or shipping logistics. That’s drop shipping. 

In a nutshell, it’s the process of selling products to customers without ever holding the physical items yourself. As an entrepreneur, you can glide into the world of online retail without the burden of warehousing and shipping, creating a smoother path to profitability.

Let’s say you want to sell the latest tech gadgets, trendy fashion pieces, or even quirky home décor. With drop shipping, you partner with suppliers who hold the inventory and, through your website, have these suppliers ship the orders directly to your customers. Your focus is on building your brand, curating products, and offering exceptional customer service, leaving the nitty-gritty tasks to others.

The benefits? Startup costs are minimal since you don’t need to invest in inventory upfront. And since you can sell virtually anything online these days, the potential for variety is huge, making industries like fashion, beauty, and tech good candidates for gaining the most from the drop shipping model. 

 

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6. Freelance Writing

Want to turn your way with words into a profitable online venture? Freelance writing is for you! This income stream is all about crafting compelling content for clients, from blog posts and articles to social media captions and website copy.

In today’s content-hungry world, businesses are constantly seeking skilled writers to help convey their messages effectively to their intended audience. Whether you’re passionate about travel, tech, health, or finance (or basically everything and anything under the sun), there’s a readership for it! It’s a business where your words have the potential to shape brands, drive engagement, and push people to take action — whether that means, “subscribe”, “follow”, or “add to cart”.

As a freelance writer, you enjoy the flexibility of setting your own hours and working from anywhere with an Internet connection. Industries like digital marketing, e-commerce, and online publications are hungry for top-notch content, making freelance writing a goldmine for those with a knack for words. Plus, there’s room for growth: you can evolve from being a solo freelancer to building your own writing agency, scaling your business and revenue in the process.

7. Blogging

If you think that sharing your thoughts, ideas, and expertise with the world can help you rake in profits, then you’re absolutely right! That’s the magic of blogging, one of the most lucrative online businesses around.. if you do it right. 

These days, we’ve all become information-hungry and blogs have become our go-to sources for knowledge, inspiration, and advice. Whether you’re passionate about fitness, personal finance, travel, or cooking, blogging is all about creating engaging content on any topic or niche and sharing it with an eager online audience. 

Blogging offers you the freedom to express yourself while potentially earning a handsome income. Brands seek partnerships with influential bloggers to tap into their engaged audiences, making it a win-win situation. Industries like lifestyle, finance, and health particularly benefit from well-crafted blogs that provide valuable insights and solutions.

Blogging isn’t just for seasoned writers, however; it’s a fantastic business option for anyone with a passion and a voice. If you’re ready to turn your expertise into a thriving online business, blogging might just be your avenue. Oh, and speaking of which, I’ve got you covered with a comprehensive guide on how to start your own blog.

8. Virtual Assistance

Virtual assistance involves providing a wide array of services — from administrative tasks to social media management — to busy entrepreneurs and businesses without the constraints of traditional office spaces.

From scheduling appointments and managing emails to conducting research and coordinating projects, virtual assistants (VAs) are the backbone of many successful businesses in industries spanning real estate, e-commerce, coaching, and more.

Virtual assistance is a flexible option for individuals who possess organizational skills and a knack for problem-solving. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent looking to make a meaningful income or a professional seeking a new venture, virtual assistance offers a compelling opportunity for profit and growth. 

And, much like freelance writing, scaling from a one-person team to a bustling group of highly capable VAs is within reach as your expertise and client base grow.

9. App Development

Developing apps for specific needs is one way to turn your coding prowess into a booming online business. App development involves creating software applications for mobile devices and computers, catering to an ever-expanding market that’s hungry for innovative solutions.

Whether you’re designing productivity tools, entertainment apps, or specialized solutions for industries like healthcare and finance, the possibilities are endless. The perks of app development extend beyond the financial gains, too. 

Industries across the board, from startups to established corporations, are outsourcing talented remote app developers to bring their ideas to life. So, your ability to solve problems and enhance user experiences without ever leaving your home is a bonus cherry on top.

10. Domain Investing

Imagine owning a piece of digital real estate that can appreciate in value over time. That’s the essence of domain investing. 

This online business option involves purchasing and holding domain names with the expectation that their value will increase, much like investing in real estate properties. Whether it’s a memorable .com domain or a trendy .io extension, domain investing offers a unique avenue to grow your wealth. 

A well-chosen domain can appreciate significantly in value, making it a smart long-term investment. Moreover, the barrier to entry is relatively low compared to other ventures, making it accessible to both beginners and seasoned entrepreneurs. 

Industries such as tech, marketing, and even entertainment are ripe for domain investing, as a memorable web address can be a game-changer in these areas. So, if you’re someone with a keen eye for trends, a knack for branding, and an interest in digital assets, domain investing could be right up your alley.

 
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11. Website Design and Development

As the digital landscape continues to expand, industries across the board — from retail and finance to healthcare and beyond — rely on web developers and designers to translate their vision into user-friendly websites. 

Brand websites are often the first touchpoint between the business and its audience. This makes having the ability to create stunning, engaging, and brand-cohesive online spaces a game-changer. 

With the right skills, you can command premium rates for creating digital masterpieces. From sleek e-commerce sites that convert visitors into customers to informative blogs that educate and entertain, you’ll never run out of projects to work on. 

12. YouTube

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what YouTube is. But did you also know that beyond adorable cat videos and makeup tutorials, YouTube can also be one of the most lucrative online businesses?

Creators are turning their passions into profits by sharing content on this platform. From how-to guides and travel vlogs to cooking lessons and tech reviews, YouTube is a versatile platform that caters to a wide array of interests.

People are capitalizing on this by monetizing their channels through ads, sponsorships, merchandise sales, and more. The appeal lies in its accessibility — anyone with a camera, a knack for storytelling, and something to share can become a content creator.

Not only can YouTube generate passive income once your videos gain traction, but it can also position you as an authority in your niche. Industries like education, entertainment, fitness, beauty, food, tech, and business greatly benefit from YouTube’s reach and engagement. 

Curious how to get started with a big income on YouTube? In episode 86 of my podcast, we meet a couple that’s pulling in six figures on YouTube- and it’s creating tension in their relationship.

As the platform continues to evolve and attract billions of users, the opportunities to monetize your content and build a brand are limitless. If you’re passionate about something and can convey it effectively on camera, then definitely check out my step-by-step guide on how to make money on YouTube to get started.

What Is Net Income?

The net income refers to the company’s total profits after deducting business expenses. It is also referred to as net profit, net earnings, or the company’s bottom line.

Net income can either be positive – if you have more revenues than expenses or negative – if your expenses outweigh your revenues. (also known as a net loss).

Calculating Net Income: What You Need To Know

The growth of any business is primarily dependent on incoming revenue. However, to get the most accurate financial picture of your business, you must also know whether your company is profiting after deducting business expenses. And for that, you need to determine your business’s net income.

Calculating your business’s net income helps you assess your business’s profitability, plan budgets, decide whether to expand or reduce operations, and relay information to investors.

We explore what you need to know about the net income calculator, why it matters for your business, and when you should look at it.

Net Income Calculator

Now that you understand the importance of net income, it’s time to crunch the numbers for your own business. Use the calculator below to estimate your net income by inputting your total income from sales or services, direct costs, operating expenses, interest paid on borrowed funds, and taxes owed. Simply enter the values in the designated fields and the calculator will display your operating income, gross income, and most importantly, your net income.

Having these figures at your fingertips will give you a clearer picture of your business’s financial health and profitability, empowering you to make informed decisions about budgeting, expansion, and more. Give it a try!

Total income from sales or services

Direct costs attributable to goods sold

Ongoing expenses for running your business

Interest paid on borrowed funds (in dollars)

Total taxes owed

Operating Income

Gross Income

Net Income

Net income vs. Gross Income

Gross income plays an important role in determining a company’s net income. However, it is important to know the differences between the two to understand their role and significance in financial statements.

Gross income typically defines the total earnings of a business entity before expenses such as taxes and deductions are accounted for. On the contrary, net income refers to the earnings the business generates after these deductions have been subtracted from the total income.

A business’s net income calculation helps project a robust financial image and enhances its market valuation to a significant extent. This is why business entities should devise measures to increase their net income and look for different ways to boost their operating income sustainably.

FAQs

What type of online business is the most profitable?

The real money-makers in the online world? Businesses that play to your strengths, fix a real problem, and can grow big. We’re talking online courses, specialized services, or subscriptions that people actually want to keep paying for.

Here’s the kicker: chasing the latest fad isn’t the secret. It’s about leveraging what you’re great at to meet a need that’s been overlooked, then delivering on that promise, day in and day out.

What small business is the most successful?

They’re the ones where you tap into your unique strengths, get super clear on who you’re serving, and solve a real problem for them. It could be in online education, health and wellness, tech solutions, e-commerce, or niche freelance services. The golden rule isn’t just what you do, but how you do it: executing your idea with precision, creating undeniable value, and setting up systems that fuel growth. Start with what you’re passionate about, match that with a clear need in the market, and deliver something your audience can’t find anywhere else. That’s the blueprint for a small business that doesn’t just succeed but thrives.

Can I start an online business with no money?

Yes, you can start an online business with zero cash. Focus on what you’re already good at—consulting, coaching, writing, you name it. Market yourself with free tools: social media, a simple website, and free email marketing platforms. It’s all about connecting with people, delivering killer value, and solving their problems. Aim to land your first clients, then use what you earn to grow. Starting with nothing? It just means you’ll get creative and hustle harder. For more ideas, check out my guide on the “How to Start a Business With No Money to Invest” It’s proof that lack of funds is no barrier to kicking off your entrepreneurial journey.

What is the easiest online business to start?

Offer a service you’re good at, like writing, design, or consulting. All you need is your skills, a computer, and internet. Find clients through LinkedIn, your network, or freelance sites. Start small, scale up. Success hinges on your hustle and adaptability.

Start Making Money Online Today

There you have it, a comprehensive rundown of the 12 most profitable online businesses to dive into in 2024. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or looking to expand your digital empire, these options offer a chance to leverage your skills, interests, and the power of the Internet to create a substantial income stream. 

Remember, success doesn’t happen overnight — each venture requires dedication, strategy, and a willingness to adapt to the ever-evolving digital landscape. It’s about making a calculated leap into the world making money online that aligns with your expertise and passion.

 

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Written by

Host of Netflix's "How to Get Rich", NYT Bestselling Author & host of the hit I Will Teach You To Be Rich Podcast. For over 20 years, Ramit has been sharing proven strategies to help people like you take control of their money and live a Rich Life.