How To Start an Online Business For Free In 2023 (9-Step Guide)

Online Business

Finding a job that pays well and offers stability can be difficult. This has led many people to consider starting their online businesses.

But for some, the fear of failure or lack of money keeps them from taking this step. 

If you are one of these people, don’t worry – because in this guide, you’ll discover an effective nine-step system to build a profitable business with no money. I’ll also provide tips on how to make your business successful.

So whether you are a stay-at-home mom looking for a way to make money or an entrepreneur with big dreams, read on for some valuable information.

What Is The Cheapest Online Business To Start?

You have many businesses you may begin online, such as blogging, drop shipping, e-commerce store, print-on-demand, self-publishing, and many more.

Some of these businesses can be started for free, and others with some initial investment. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages depending on what you want.

For example, you can start self-publishing on Amazon Kindle Directly Publishing without money. However, you must be a reasonable writer to have a chance of success. Most self-publishers can make about $5.000 after a few months of hard work.

However, nothing compares to promoting products through a YouTube channel. Not only can you start for free, but there is no limit to how much you can make.

I have seen YouTubers starting their journey by filming videos with their mobile. Sometimes without the best quality ever. And after a few years, they have their studio with expensive equipment, staff working for them, and their own products and brand.

So considering this, I’ll explain how to turn your YouTube channel into a money-making machine.

Why Is This The Best Free Business Model?

YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, and it is growing exponentially. It’s a great platform to start a business that doesn’t require money upfront.

You can create content on topics you find interesting or have experience with. There are plenty of online tutorials and advice about making money from your videos.

Here are the three main reasons:

1) Best Traffic Source

Someone watching a video reviewing a product is much more engaged than someone scrolling through Instagram or Facebook to see pictures. This means that your reach is higher, and you have the potential to make money from it.

2) Income Potential

How much money do you want to make? An extra $1.000, $10.000, or $100.000? See, with YouTube, money is only limited by your imagination.

The money will come if you are willing to work hard, learn how to monetize your videos, and increase viewership.

3) Passive Income

Once a video is published, it can generate money for years. I have videos that are five years old and still make money. The money can come from ads, sponsorships, affiliate marketing, or products.

Also, you can start earning money from your videos right away with affiliate links or ads. As your channel grows, so does your income potential!

How Can You Monetize Your Online Business?

There are plenty of ways to monetize your YouTube channel, but the most common options are ads, sponsorships, affiliate marketing, or selling products and services.

You can choose one or several monetization methods, but it often depends on the niche. For instance, the entertainment niche is better for ads and sponsorships, while the health niche is more suitable for affiliate marketing.

So, later I’ll explain how to choose a good niche, but you should keep this idea in mind. Now let’s take a closer look at each way to make money online:

1) YouTube Ads

You probably have noticed those annoying ads that appear before and sometimes during the videos. YouTube pays you for those ads, but it doesn’t happen immediately.

You need to accumulate 4,000 watch hours in a year and 1,000 subscribers before monetizing your videos with ads. After that, you can start making money from each ad viewed on your channel.

2) Affiliate Products

Affiliate products can be physical or digital products. You will earn money for each product sold through your affiliate link.

To make money with affiliate marketing, you need to promote the product and capture people’s attention. It helps to have some experience in the niche before recommending a product.

One of the best strategies is to use the products you are promoting. For digital products, sometimes you can test its free trial or ask for a demo product. Then, you can make a video explaining the product to your audience.

You can do an “unboxing video” for physical products or explain how the product works and why it’s worth buying.

For most new channels, affiliate marketing is the fastest way to make money online.

3) Sponsorships

Sponsorships offer one of the best money-making opportunities for a YouTube channel. But you need to have a good number of subscribers and views before approaching a company.

You can start small, though. You can find product creators willing to sponsor you in exchange for product reviews or mentions in your videos.

4) Selling Your Own Products and Services

Selling products online is a great money-making idea, especially if you have an audience already. You can create digital products such as e-books, online courses, or software.

You can also offer services such as consulting or copywriting. As you build your audience, more opportunities for money-making through your online business will arise!

A few years ago, I made a video that explains how to rank high on Google. That video got over 400 thousand views after a few months online. Back then, I got many emails from small business owners asking me to help them improve their websites.

I think about it now, and I could have started an SEO agency and made money from those businesses. Now I know better, but you don’t have to make the same mistake I did!

9 Steps To Start A Free Online Business On YouTube

Now that you know how to make money online with YouTube, it’s time to put together a plan. Here are seven steps to start a free online business on YouTube.

Step 1) Choose a Profitable Niche

Many successful YouTubers focus on a specific niche. This allows them to become experts in that topic, and their followers know what to expect from their content. As a result, they can build trust with their audience and create a more loyal following.

Biggest misconception

But let’s kill one misconception often spread by many social media influencers. For example:

“Choose a niche you’re passionate about.”

Sometimes, this may be a valid idea, but more often than not, it’s the wrong approach. A niche should be chosen based on the money-making potential and the demand for content and products.

The problem with instantly building a YouTube channel around your passion:

  • The niche may be oversaturated and too competitive.
  • People aren’t looking to buy products there.

So, before going all in, you should market research the niche and see if it’s worth creating a channel around it.

How can you do market research?

You can start by looking at the most popular videos or searching for products related to your idea. You can also look into forums and social media platforms related to the niche and see if people are talking about it.

What are the best five niches?

  • Business and Finance
  • Health, fitness, and nutrition
  • Technology
  • Beauty and fashion
  • Gaming

You’ll find many affiliate programs and companies willing to sponsor content in these niches. Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to these niches.

You should also choose a sub-niche. This will help you narrow down the target audience and make it easier to create content. For example, you can focus on a specific type of technology, such as blockchain or artificial intelligence.

Step 2) What Equipment Do You Need To Produce Videos?

You must have the right equipment to build your online business on YouTube. You don’t need professional-grade gear, but you should have something to record quality content.

What camera and mic can you use?

You may use your mobile phone or a standard digital camera. In addition, you’ll need lighting gear like lamps or a ring light with soft boxes.

In case you have a few dollars to spare:

  • Blue Snowball Yeti Microphone
  • Logitech C920x HD Pro Webcam

This microphone and webcam are budget-friendly and will make a huge difference in the quality of your videos.

What video editing software should you get?

You can find tons of free video editing software online, such as:

  • iMovie
  • Windows Video Editor
  • DaVinci Resolve

If you’re serious about creating content, I recommend getting a paid tool like Adobe Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve Pro, and Camtasia.

What is the best graphic design tool?

Creative skills are essential to creating thumbnails and other visuals. You have wonderful free resources available, such as:

  • Gimp
  • Stencil

Test them out and see which one fits you best.

Again, you don’t need the best tools money can buy. Many YouTubers started with low-budget gear or whatever they had at hand. You are good as long as you have some basic equipment and an internet connection!

Once your channel begins making money, you can upgrade your equipment anytime.

Step 3) Create Your YouTube Channel

Once you have the right gear, it’s time to create your YouTube Channel. Just take the following steps:

  • Go to and click “Create an Account” in the top-right corner of the page. You’ll need a Gmail account to do this.
  • Name your channel and add a profile picture. You can use your name or something related to your niche for the channel name.
  • Set up your channel by adding a description and customizing the look. Make sure to include keywords related to your niche in the description.
  • Once created, you’ll have access to the Creator Studio. This is the portal to monitor analytics, manage videos, get help from the YouTube community, and more.

Congratulations! You’ve just created your YouTube channel and are ready to build your own online business.

Step 4) Create Your Brand Identity

Your brand identity is essential to build trust with the audience and differentiate yourself from the competition. You must create a logo and choose colors, fonts, and design elements to represent your brand.

What should you do to build your brand?

Research other YouTubers with a successful online business in your niche. Check the design elements they’re using and take inspiration from them. Ask yourself:

  • What colors did they use for their branding?
  • Why do their thumbnails look so good?
  • Why do people want to watch their videos?

Grab all these details and build your brand. Of course, you don’t want to imitate your competitors. You only want to see what works for them and use it to help you create your own online business.

  • Create a logo that represents your brand. You can use tools like Canva or other graphic designers mentioned. If you don’t waste time, you can head to Fiverr and find a professional designer for just a few dollars.
  • Use the same colors, fonts, and design elements in all your content, including thumbnails and videos. This will help people to recognize your content instantly.
  • Have a slogan or phrase associated with your online business. This will make you memorable and help people differentiate you from the competition.

Now that you have a brand, you’re ready to create your online presence and promote your content.

Step 5) Videos You Should Produce

People often complicate this process. But essentially, you only have three different types of videos. You can provide informational videos to help your audience learn something, entertainment videos to make them laugh or have fun, and promotional videos to promote your services or products.

For most channels, you’ll only need informational and promotional videos to start. This will allow you to build an audience while exploring business opportunities.

a) Informational videos

These are the cornerstone of your online business. These videos should be entertaining, informative, and helpful. Your goal is to upload content regularly and engage with the audience.

This includes how-to guides, tips & tricks, and other related videos. Try to mix it up to keep your audience interested.

This video intends to build trust and relationships with the audience. Furthermore, it will help you grow your channel and increase subscribers. You can monetize these videos with ads and sponsorships.

b) Promotional videos

This type of content will be your main money maker. You can promote your products or services, affiliate marketing programs, sponsored posts, and more.

The key here is to create content that adds value and is not just a plain sales pitch. For example, unboxing physical products is a very popular way to show the audience what they can expect.

For digital products, you can review them in a video where you are shown using the product. This way, people can see how it works and how to use it.

These videos will help you monetize your channel and generate leads for other money-making opportunities.

Ensure to include your promotional links in the description and use annotations in the video to share clickable links. That will help your viewers find what you’re suggesting and take action quickly.

c) Entertainment videos

This type of content isn’t mandatory unless you’re running a vlogging or comedy channel, but it can help you engage with the audience and build relationships.

You don’t have to be an entertainer or comedian; simply share funny stories or anecdotes, play games with your friends, or do challenges. As long as it’s entertaining and fun, your audience will love it.

These videos tend to be harder to monetize. Most people watch them for fun, so they aren’t exactly looking to buy products and services. Still, you can try to monetize them with advertisement and sponsorship.

Step 6) SEO Your Videos

Learn about search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that your videos appear at the top of search results. This will help you get more views, engagement, and money.

The most important thing you can do is use relevant keywords in your videos’ titles, descriptions, and tags.

Try to include long-tail keywords, as these are easier to rank and will attract more organic traffic. Use your keywords in the first sentence of your description, as this is where YouTube looks first when indexing your videos.

Another tip is to create playlists for each of your videos. This way, people won’t click away from your channel after watching a single video. If they like the content, they will keep watching other related videos.

Step 7) Design Catchy Thumbnails

Thumbnails are the first thing people notice when they search for videos. This is what will make them click on your video and watch it.

Your thumbnail should be eye-catching and clearly show what kind of content you can expect in your video. Use a good-quality image or design it yourself with free tools such as Canva.

Also, use similar color patterns in all your thumbnails and videos. This will help you create a consistent brand that viewers can recognize easily.

Finally, make sure that your thumbnail is as relevant to the video’s content as possible. This will help attract more viewers and keep them engaged from start to finish.

Step 8) Email Marketing

One effective way to promote your online business is with email marketing. This lets you stay in touch with your audience and keep them informed about new videos, products, and services.

To get started, you’ll need an email marketing service provider such as MailChimp. You can use this email service for free, but if you want more features, you’ll need to upgrade.

Once you have an email service provider, you can gather emails from your viewers and start building a list. You can collect emails from YouTube videos using annotations or create a squeeze page on your website where people can opt-in to receive emails.

Make sure to provide valuable content in your emails. This includes promotions, freebies, tutorials, online business idea/s, and other helpful information that will keep people interested.

Using email marketing is a great way to build relationships with your viewers and drive more sales for your online business.

Step 9) Market Your YouTube Channel

Lastly, social media marketing is essential for promoting your online business and growing your YouTube channel.

Share your videos on all of the social media platforms you use, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and more. This will help create awareness about your brand and drive more traffic to your videos.

You can also collaborate with other YouTubers or influencers in your niche and create promotional videos together. You can join YouTube networks and partner programs to get more exposure for your channel.

Wrap Up

Starting an online business can be a great way to make money from home. However, it can be difficult to get started if you don’t have the funds.

In this guide, you learned tips on how to start an online business for free on YouTube. This includes creating a channel, optimizing your videos with SEO, designing catchy thumbnails, and using email marketing and social media to promote your content.

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to jump and get started! I recommend seeking out mentors, attending workshops or webinars, and doing your own research to become an expert in the field.

You can create a successful online business with very little money with hard work and dedication! Good luck!


With over a decade of experience under his belt, Jordan Alexo is a digital marketer who knows how to make money online. He excels at self-publishing, and content creation and he also teaches others these same skills! His website provides strategies that have actually worked for him in the past as well as product reviews to help you grow your business online. With Jordan Alexo by your side, you’ll be successful in no time!

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