A growing number of entrepreneurs are leveraging the current digital explosion to create viable, sustainable businesses. But due diligence is a must, says Alice Bredin, small business adviser to American Express OPEN. One tip is to tailor your skills to fit the greater business need. “If you’re a Web designer, look at how you can make your business friendlier to mobile devices,” she says. With a seemingly endless array of possibilities, here are five online businesses for startups or budding entrepreneurs who are looking to turn their expertise into income.
The number of Web pages cropping up has grown exponentially. There were 21.4 million websites added last year, a total of 255 million as of December 2010, according to Royal Pingdom, an Internet monitoring company. The number of Internet users rose 14%. WordPress, a popular content management system, powers 14.7% of the top websites in the world. Obtaining client referrals will go a long way. Look at websites such as iFreelance.com, which allows members to sell their services by way of a bidding system; and Guru.com.
MOBILE APPS DEVELOPER
At least 182,000 new jobs have been created by businesses in the U.S. making apps for Facebook, according to a study by the University of Maryland. This app economy has generated a value of about $12.2 billion in wages and benefits to U.S. workers. While there is money to be made developing mobile apps across platforms (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, etc.), it’s also a costly process. Check AppsGeyser—a program that simplifies the development process and read Starting An iPhone Application Business for Dummies (For Dummies; $24.99).
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETER/COMMUNITY MANAGER
You can offer your social media expertise to startups or small business owners looking to outsource these duties. Forrester Research estimates that $716 million was spent on social media marketing in 2010; that figure is expected to reach $3.1 billion by 2014. There’s more to managing your social media strategy than just updating your Facebook fan page. Understanding goals, key metrics, analysis, and engagement is important for a successful social media campaign and presence. Use monitoring or activation tools such as HootSuite or Seesmic and develop a plan to connect with clients.
Consider managing e-commerce, social websites, and analytics. If you have a thorough understanding of the digital space, you can coordinate between small business owners and Web designers, developers, and online vendors, breaking down jargon and maintaining these relationships. While one-third of small businesses use cloud-based or software-as-a-service solutions, another third don’t understand the technology. An ability to sift through providers and solutions can make you a valuable asset.
If sales is your passion, becoming an eBay PowerSeller may be up your alley. With revenues expected to grow 9.4% between 2011 and 2016 for online auction and e-commerce, according to the industry research firm IBISWorld, selling on eBay could be a lucrative business. PowerSellers are ranked on the basis of their monthly sales. Find a niche retail area such as designer goods. Check out eBay Income Advanced: How to Take Your eBay Business to the Next Level—for PowerSellers and Beyond (Atlantic Publishing Co.; $24.95).