How to Start an Online Business While Working Full-Time

You can start an online business while you are working full time. Here are some online business ideas and tips to earn money online as additional income.
Image showing how to start an online business

A second income always helps. You can start an online business even while you are working full time in day job. The only obstacles are what to do and how to start your business online successfully. Here are some online business ideas and practical tips to get you started and earn money online as additional income. ~ Ed.


I started an e-commerce website on selling cricket accessories online….it failed.

Then I launched another website on planning a party or an event with the idea to provide information to readers on how to host an amazing function for dinners, birthdays, get-togethers, etc….it failed miserably too.

Then I started a job portal website for industrial engineers. I set up the website, domain, hosting, technicalities, everything. However, on the 5th day as I opened my website on a quiet afternoon and put my fingers on the laptop keyboard, I wondered “What to do now? How am I supposed to get traffic? How will this website make me money after say, six months?”

I told myself in deep anger — “This is not working. I’m simply starting something for the sake of doing it, just because everyone is doing it. It doesn’t excite me. I don’t like it.

So, after almost 1.5 years, I’d three failed ventures on my resume. (btw — I was doing all this while working at a full-time job.)

Plus, every time I researched “starting an online side business,” Google would throw me up with results till 50 pages.

But each of these 50 page had ten results, and each article was telling me to do different things –

  • “Start with Google Adsense!”
  • “Ohh, affiliate marketing is the best business mode;!”
  • “You just need to set up a blog, with X hosting, and Y”

Really, I was heading in no direction. I could see where I want my final destination to be — an online side business bringing me a reliable source of second income.

But I just didn’t know how to get there, how do I start again, how do I avoid the failures again, etc.

So, after almost five years spending my time in this industry, investing more than $5000 on courses, books, mastermind groups, and of course earning decent money, I’ve done the process easier for you to show you the two profitable types of online side businesses you can start.

Some Caveats

  • This has worked for me, and I’ve also seen it work for hundreds of entrepreneurs. However, is this the definite “right” answer for you? Maybe not. As they say, what works for you might not work for someone else.
  • Below are two types of businesses. I’ve shown the roadmap of how much realistic time it takes to build and start earning from it (No, I won’t be promising that you’ll make a million bucks in 3 months, let’s be brutally honest.) However, to make it more simpler, I’ve broken it down into short-term income and long-term income.
  • There is no fluff or B.S. or fake promises here, I’ve personally tested both of these businesses, and they’ve collectively made me thousands of bucks (and continues to generate revenue).

Online Business Model #1: Freelancing (Short-term results, aka immediate earning)

I made about $1800USD (Rs.1,20,000INR) for the three months period of a part-time freelancing role, offering a basic service. These were short-term projects with quick side income when working with four clients and I had the freedom to diversify revenue. 

The Roadmap

Here’s the basic roadmap to take when going the freelancing route –

Step 1: Generate Business Ideas

Step 2: Deep Research and Niching Down

Step 3: Test and Validate your Idea

Step 4: Get your First Paying Customer

Step 5: Scale and Automate Revenue


Ideas to get you started

I don’t want to keep you hanging by only just telling you – let me also SHOW you some ideas you can start with by offering a service.

Copywriting, lead generation, writing articles, event planning, graphic designing, hair styling, interior decorating, web/app development, photography, music instrument (teaching a guitar), PPT design, SEO, Coding/programming, accounting, video editing, etc.

Again, these are just examples. You can begin with just about anything.

Here are some questions to get your idea muscles working-

  • What are some of your natural skills? (do you speak confidently, or dress better, or create excellent reports?)
  • What are some of your experiences gained? (are you experienced in finance, or have traveled a lot, or make amazing recipes?)
  • What do others inside your network of family, friends and colleagues struggle with which you find relatively easy? (Is it organizing dinner parties, or arranging travel itineraries, or making some craft or artistic designs?)

Remember initially your goal is to –

  1. Research your idea
  2. Test it
  3. Find your first 1-3 paying customers.

Online Business Model #2: Productizing (Long-term results, aka long-term earning)

This involves you selling an online product (I recommend selling digital products, like ebooks or a short online course due to its high profitability and less creation time.)

I have an online course teaching industrial engineers how to get job interview calls. Till this date, the product sells consistently and gives me an average of $800USD (Rs.55,000INR) in revenue every time I open enrollment in the course.

Not surprisingly, such information products have a huge advantage of scaling to 1,10,100, or even 10000 customers.

The Roadmap

Here are the basic five elements you need in series when going the productizing route – 

  1. Website
  2. Traffic
  3. Conversion
  4. Series of some emails
  5. Product to sell

Let’s look at each with some detail –

1)  Website: A basic “good enough” one (No fancy plugins, themes, color coding, etc.) Simple enough to get you started.

2)  Traffic: At a minimum, I recommend 50-100 visitors a day.

3)  Conversion: Meaning, you need to convert that traffic. This typically means an opt-in form which takes information of the visitor (usually a name and an email id) and makes them your subscriber.

4)  Emails: Now that you have converted traffic (your subscribers), you can send them few good emails occasionally about your topic/niche.

5)  Product: A minimum viable product (an ebook or a video course) to sell to your subscribers. If they like and trust you from your website and emails, then they WILL buy from you. And now you have customers for life!

People Have Done it – You Can Too!

Both of the businesses I showed above have worked for me, but let me tell you that many other people have done it themselves too.

These are full-time employees, busy moms, people who quit their jobs, bloggers, and all other demographics of people you can imagine.

People have got on to freelance writing, some have started dog training services or courses on learning guitar. There are people who started yoga classes or even helping corporate professionals becoming awesome in Excel – because that’s their strength and what they are passionate about.

How Do You Get Started

As you saw, there are almost innumerable ways you can start a second income business.

But, what have we done so far? You have a list of 25+ ideas right here in this article itself, but I’m willing to bet it’s not enough to get you started.

A big part of getting started is getting the mindset and psychology right; we can handle the tactical part later.

So to do that, we need to –

Debunk the Common Myths and Fallacies

Have you noticed the last time you tried something new, the immediate response from your brain is a complete no-no?

I call these what-if scripts. The brain goes something like this — “But Zubin, what if –

  • I’m already doing a full-time job, how do I find the time?”
  • “I don’t know where to start”
  • “There are so many people already doing this. How do I stand out?”
  • “I’m not an expert at this. Why would anyone pay me?”
  • “I’ve too many ideas. Which one do I pick first?”
  • And so many more

Put aside the common what-if questions you might have at this point. You have examples, stories, ideas, guides (for examples, this one by Foundr), tools and the roadmap all in front of you. However, yet there is huge resistance to starting something. Dissuading all those what-of scripts is really the first step, rest all are tactics and steps to follow.

Wrapping Up and One Takeaway

My topmost recommendation for you is to pick one idea, any idea, test it for profitability, and get your first paying customer. Don’t wait, just put aside your legitimate concerns and begin this process.

Freelancing is an amazing option for people who are already working at a full-time job since it gives you a lot of options:

  • You can start earning money quickly, without the need of a website or a Facebook page or any other fancy tool. I landed a paying client in marketing in 3 weeks for a $1100USD (Rs.75,000INR) project.
  • It’s your reliable second income. What this does is allows you to have two income streams, and maybe eventually you reach a stage where you quit your existing job and focus on your business full-time.
  • You get to work with clients, 1-1. Kind of like consulting where you’re actually helping people, adding value and they’re your paying customers.
  • You set your own rates and timings. In short, let me bring that cliche, “you’re your own.”

Over to You

Now, I’d love to hear from you – when it comes to earning money online, what is your biggest challenge? What’s stopping you from starting your own business? Share in the comments.


Disclaimer: Though the views expressed are of the author’s own, this article has been checked for its authenticity of information and resource links provided for a better and deeper understanding of the subject matter. However, you're suggested to make your diligent research and consult subject experts to decide what is best for you. If you spot any factual errors, spelling, or grammatical mistakes in the article, please report at [email protected]. Thanks.

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  1. From last few years i want to start online business with my job but i cant because i was just thinking that how i will manage that but after reading your blog everything becomes clear.

  2. one of the fines post on google about how a fresher who want earn money online get confused about which direction to go . as i am a law student started affiliate marketing blog and stoped working on that after a month and then started blog on who to earn money online and stoped after month because i was getting no view at all . Then i decided to learn the procedure first so i joined digital marketing course and learned the things about digital world . l have learned many thing about blogging industry so know i have started a news blog three months ago but yet i am not getting views but i now that this blog can give me a good amount money in next 3-4 months so i have continued my journey . the main thing you should have is patience if you want to get success in online business.

  3. Thanks Zubin to encouraging people through this kind of inspirational blogging. selling online digital projects is quite challenging than freelancing. Because, if you have more than 3 or more experience in your field, you can easily do a part time freelancing this is my thinking. And this is absolutely correct that failures always learn us how to success. Really, appreciable blog this is. Keep blogging.

  4. Hello zubin, your thinking is great but these idea is not for all. I personally tried to manage an online business beside my job. Sometime it became a headache. We can’t do everything so I think it’s better to do what you love.

  5. Hi Zubin,

    Excellent tips and I really loved how you actually crafted the post with step by step methods to start online business even while working full time.

    Actually I blog even while working full-time and I know how hard it is to maintain both the things. You’ve to manage your time really effectively. Make sure to outsource your stuff either content creation or SEO or promotion part if you really want to build a profitable blog or niche website that actually makes money.

    Here’s where you can use the money that you earn from your job and invest some of it back into your online business to grow. After all, that’s how rich people manage their money “they put money into those things that help them earn even more money”.

    Apart from that, I really loved your idea on starting a freelancing service like writing, design etc. It’s really a great way to make money in your spare time and gives you a chance to earn quick bucks.

    But if you’re really serious about building a second source of income, I recommend to focus on long term results instead of looking for shortcuts.

    Thanks for the great share and thanks for posting it on your blog Harleena.

    1. Hi Anil,

      Love the way you structure your comments and your blog posts on your site — appreciate it!

      I agree, it IS tough to manage time, especially if you’re working full-time. But, here’s where I see a lot of people missing the train — we know it’s a challenge, yet instead of finding an effective way, we give up on this idea and turn it into one more “I can’t do this, I don’t have time” syndrome.

      (Btw — I wrote a detailed post where I touched this topic too on my site)

      Freelancing is earning revenue–quickly
      Productizing/Website is really on the long-term side.

      Both approaches are achievable, and so I recommend anyone starting with freelancing to test the waters initially.

      Thanks for the comment Anil. I love it, and I follow your website regularly too.

  6. Hi Zubin, first of all thanks a lot for sharing this post because after coming to the website this is the first post which attracted me and i really loved reading it. You had 1.5 years of bad experience in starting in which your 3 ideas failed but you might have learned a goodlesson from it.
    I really got a new idea for starting a business from this article will reveal it here later. Keep up the good work.

  7. Wonderful blog, even i would like to start my own online store one day.
    Thanks for the wonderful information you shared on through this blog.

  8. This was great, thanks, I have been researching “starting up a online business” for a while now, and I think this has helped.

  9. Well i liked the business models you proposed. As a new freelancer for my company your views & ideas helped me a lot to have to go through my process to work efficiently. And now with help of your creative ideas now i can work as a freelancing .i.e.,along with the full time and utilize my work time efficiently
    and also earn a good money with 2 simultaneous jobs in hand.Hope you will keep posting such innovative ideas in the future.

    1. Hi Raj, pleasure.

      Starting a side-business via freelancing is possibly the best routes to opt for if you’re working full-time. Great to see you.

      Keep me updated.

  10. Thanks for sharing great info about online work. Working in a private or gov sector you have to face alot of things sometime. Thanks for guiding for online business while working. Your article is not just helpful for those who are working but it,s also helpful for alot of peoples who are not working and looking for opportunity like this so thanks for that.

    1. Hi Shezi, thanks for reading.

      I understand the concern on working for a private/govt sector, get such emails a lot from my readers.

      There’s always a way to work around — and one very effective one is to turn your skills into a side income, eventually leading full-time.

      Keep me updated.

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