26 Profitable Online Course Ideas For 2021 (List & Examples)

26 Profitable Online Course Ideas For 2021 (List & Examples)

So, you'd like to create and sell your own online course but you're not quite sure which topic to focus on?

The good news is, the online courses business is currently valued at $171B and that number is projected to increase significantly in the next 5 years.

We’ve prepared 27 different online courses you can start and include:

  • Examples from founders
  • Revenue numbers + what you can expect to make
  • Inspiration on how these founders launched their business
  • ...much more!

Here's the list:

1. Start an online courses business ($1.44M/year)

Rasmus & Christian Mikkelsen (or Mikkelsen Twins) from Chester, New Jersey, USA started Mikkelsen Twins over 3 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $120,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 2
  • Location: Chester, New Jersey, USA

We never had a moment like “Ah ha! Let’s start an online education company!”, it just naturally evolved and grew into what it is today.

But I can tell you exactly how we got here. Before we get into how we first discovered what entrepreneurship even is, I want to paint the picture of what life was like even before that.

Up until we were 21 years old, we were 2 guys just going through life on autopilot with no regard for the future. Worrying about what my next week would look like was hard enough. Then we basically “woke up” and found ourselves in a 1 bedroom apartment in Aarhus, Denmark, not showing up to our part-time job anymore and smoking pot every day. For the first time, we reflected on ourselves, what we were doing and we just felt embarrassed. We were wasting our precious time away doing absolutely nothing. I don’t want to get too into the emotions felt, but it was a rock bottom for us. Long story short, we have a private twin meeting and said to each other “this is f\cking sad, we have to change”. And because we had each other, we developed motivation and ambition to prove we weren’t useless, waste-of-space losers (but that’s exactly how we had acted).


Rasmus & Christian Mikkelsen (or Mikkelsen Twins), on starting Mikkelsen Twins ($120,000/month) full story ➜

2. Start an online courses business ($360K/year)

Shannon Mattern from Columbus, Ohio, USA started Shannon Mattern over 6 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $30,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Columbus, Ohio, USA

One day back in 2014, I was sitting in my beige, windowless office under fluorescent lights for the 2555th day in a row, finishing up a financial report that I dreaded doing every month, when I overheard this conversation outside my office door:

Have you ever had 7-UP salad? It’s got lemon Jell-O, lime Jell-O, marshmallows…

And I literally started to have a panic attack.


Shannon Mattern, on starting Shannon Mattern ($30,000/month) full story ➜

3. Start an online courses business ($1.8M/year)

Adam Tal from Tel Aviv-Yafo, Tel Aviv District, Israel started Pushtak over 7 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 10
  • Location: Tel Aviv-Yafo, Tel Aviv District, Israel

I’ve never been able to “fit in” anywhere, which was a problem way before I dropped out of high school - my mom says I was even thrown out of kindergarten…

That made it hard for me to keep a job or dedicate myself to projects. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense, as I know now that I’m an introvert, and suffer from Cyclothymia, which is a “lite” form of bipolar, as well as ADHD.

But before being diagnosed, I just thought something was wrong with me, and that I might be the only person in the world who can’t keep a deadline, or that I was “lazy” on days that I couldn’t get out of bed or make decisions.


Adam Tal, on starting Pushtak ($150,000/month) full story ➜

4. Start an online courses business ($2.4M/year)

Caitlin Pyle from Remote started Proofread Anywhere almost 7 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $200,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Remote

I started out proofreading by helping fellow students when I was studying abroad in Germany. I had no idea I could make money without having to go to a physical building or have an actual boss. I was able to be my own boss and I loved it! But I didn’t know at the time that I could make a full-time income with it. So when I came back home to the states, I got back into my usual routine of finding a job, hating it, and finding something new until that job wore off. I have a lot of respect for those who can work desk jobs because it’s not for me!

The turning point for me was when I was working for a company and I was fired. Not only was I fired, but they personally attacked me and my character. I was done with working for people and wasting away for 8 hours a day to work for a company I wasn’t passionate about.

I paid for less than two years on my domain because I was so certain it wouldn’t take off.


Caitlin Pyle, on starting Proofread Anywhere ($200,000/month) full story ➜

5. Start an online courses business ($1.2M/year)

Graham Cochrane from Tampa, Florida, USA started The Recording Revolution LLC almost 12 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Tampa, Florida, USA

I started Recording Revolution back in 2009 as an accident.

I had just moved to Florida with my wife to help a friend start a church. I found a job at a financial startup, bought our first house and had our first baby. And then 5 months in I lost my job because the company I was working for ran out of money.

My background was in music. I grew up singing, playing guitar, and writing/performing songs. I also went to college for audio recording and had created a side income as a freelance audio engineer, producing albums for bands and artists.


Graham Cochrane, on starting The Recording Revolution LLC ($100,000/month) full story ➜

6. Start an online courses business ($204K/year)

Praveen Malik from Delhi, Delhi, India started PM-by-PM over 5 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $17,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 2
  • Location: Delhi, Delhi, India

I had an entrepreneurial bug right from my college days. I dabbled into a few businesses while working as an employee but did not see much success.

Before venturing into my current business, I worked in diverse business environments viz. product development, services & support, product-oriented services, and software as a service. I traveled extensively and was exposed to many different cultures. I worked and interacted with clients from different geographies viz. USA, Europe, and India.

I gained expertise in project management through my work.


Praveen Malik, on starting PM-by-PM ($17,000/month) full story ➜

7. Start an online courses business ($4.2K/year)

Lucas Chevillard from Berlin, Germany started Growth Ecole about 5 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $350/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Berlin, Germany

A founder wanted me to join his company to become the email marketing lead. This was not something I could satisfy but I still wanted to help this startup as I was interested in the product. I then decided to spend some time on the side to help them craft their engagement strategy.

From there, I started to do it with more companies. It was a succession of consulting missions next to my full-time job. This helped me understand other industries and especially see the recurring problems a company would face when launching its email marketing strategy.

That's when the first idea of the email marketing course came to life. I wanted to bundle my knowledge into an actionable course for companies that wanted to kickstart their email program.


Lucas Chevillard, on starting Growth Ecole ($350/month) full story ➜

8. Start an online courses business ($72K/year)

Bram Kanstein from Amsterdam, North Holland, The Netherlands started No-Code MVP almost 2 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $6,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Amsterdam, North Holland, The Netherlands

Ever since I was younger, like 15 or 16, I’ve been using the internet to find new products and services to try out. I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of time: “why are people spending time on this idea or product?”. Time is our most scarce asset, even if I see an idea that seems invaluable to me, there are still people spending time on it. So there must something there that they believe in, right? As a side-business, I was selling self burned CDs with music I got from Napster, and from the proceeds, we threw parties for our friends.

It seems that when I was 18 and had to choose a study to follow, I totally didn’t realize that I could actually pursue a path of digital and online entrepreneurship. So after starting and quitting the study of political science after four months, followed by two years of med school, I decided to drop out again. I went backpacking in Australia and realized I forgot what I liked as a kid. I came back to Amsterdam and finished a study called “Communication and Multimedia Design” where I learned how to look at markets, spot trends, come up with ideas, create prototypes (basic coding), create videos, write marketing and business plans, etc. Basically everything you need to know to go from idea to business (in theory of course ;)).

I wrote my final paper on the Lean Startup Methodology while working on a product idea at The Next Web, then worked at a small investor for 2.5 years, launched Startup Stash (1.000.000+ users), worked at Product Hunt, freelanced for startups, launched a growth marketing agency, got burned out, became a Lean Innovation coach at one of The Netherland’s biggest banks, Sold Startup Stash, Sold another side-project, then became a father and took time off as you have read above! This is the short summary, I threw away around 20 ideas I had in the meantime.


Bram Kanstein, on starting No-Code MVP ($6,000/month) full story ➜

9. ($14.4K/year)

Stefan Djordjevic from Austin, Texas, USA started Mini Startups over 1 year ago, a business.

  • Revenue: $1,200/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Austin, Texas, USA

What’s my backstory? Where do I start? :)

Growing up, I was always an oddball. Sometimes I was quiet, other times inquisitive, but often I was just weird. I was passionate about one thing: outer space. After starring in an elementary school mockumentary that got published by NASA, I decided that I never wanted to give up on my dream of becoming an astronaut. So, I became a biochemist/pilot in college and then graduated to work at NASA as an Analyst.

Selling begins on Day One. Don’t build your idea then hope it works. Build a prototype or even a napkin drawing, and start selling before you build anything.


Stefan Djordjevic, on starting Mini Startups ($1,200/month) full story ➜

10. Start an online courses business ($60K/year)

Lidiya Kesarovska from The Netherlands started Let's Reach Success over 8 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $5,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: The Netherlands

Back in 2013, I had already discovered my passion - personal development - and had realized writing is the best way to express myself. So I combined these and started a self-improvement blog.

Starting the blog was the best decision and not giving up on it over the years (even when no traffic or money was coming in) was what helped me move forward.

It was first just a hobby and I knew nothing about blogging. Over the years, after publishing a ton of content, gaining traffic, learning about SEO, email marketing, social media, and all the ways to monetize a blog, it became a real business.


Lidiya Kesarovska, on starting Let's Reach Success ($5,000/month) full story ➜

11. Start an online courses business ($1.2M/year)

Alex Nerney from Texas, USA started Create and Go over 4 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Texas, USA

Lauren and I met When I was around 25 years old and at the time I had been extremely unhappy with the direction my life was going. I was trading my time for money with no real plan for growth that excited me. I hardly ever got to socialize and worst of all, I still wasn’t making enough money to have the life I wanted. At the time Lauren was putting in some serious hours (like 80 hours a week during tax season) to still get paid pretty poorly considering she was a CPA with an MBA. This feeling of being trapped in this average life and never being able to do what we actually wanted just lingered over us. We didn’t want to wait until we were old and retired to start living our lives the way we wanted. So, I started my first blog.

[Our first] blog was called Health and Happy Hour and… it was a flop. We spent three months working our tails off just to fail.. miserably.

The idea really came to me after attending an entrepreneur conference. Being surrounded by all of that success and seeing what was possible just lit a fire under my butt. I started a blog in the health and fitness niche because of my background in personal training. Lauren saw me struggling on the website one day and asked if she could help. After she took a task that was driving me nuts and completed it relatively easy, I realized, Lauren’s strengths really played to my weaknesses and vice versa. This was Lauren’s first real step into the blogging world and we began working on the blog together from then on. The blog was called Health and Happy Hour and… * it was a flop.* We spent three months working our tails off just to fail.. miserably.

But, we decided we weren’t going to give up. We had already invested so much time and learned so much already that we figured we might as well use it. You see, our first blog failed because we thought we could make it all about us, get drunk and post healthy recipes, and just rake in some sweet cash. But, we learned quickly that wasn’t going to cut it. So, we gave it another go and created our second blog: “Avocadu”.


Alex Nerney, on starting Create and Go ($100,000/month) full story ➜

12. Start a life coaching business ($1.44M/year)

Iman Gadzhi from London, England, United Kingdom started Grow Your Agency over 4 years ago, a life coaching business.

  • Revenue: $120,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 2
  • Location: London, England, United Kingdom

I was born in a small Russian village, much like the one depicted in the movie Borat! Growing up, I really took in a lot of the sociological factors of wealth. When my family moved to London--so I could get a better education--my perspective changed.

The U.K. is full of opportunities for entrepreneurs. I was never a fan of what was taught in schools, but I was grateful to have a seat at the table. In response to this, I became self-educated in business, personal development, and leadership. When I was seventeen, I tried out various online businesses. I was not successful at first. But as soon as SMMA came along, I knew it was the right business for me. I could see how it was disrupting the marketing and advertising industry. I had to be a part of it.

You can quickly scale a company if you have the right resources and you provide a service that businesses genuinely need.


Iman Gadzhi, on starting Grow Your Agency ($120,000/month) full story ➜

13. Start an online courses business ($27K/year)

Austin L. Church from Knoxville, Tennessee, USA started AustinLChurch.com over 12 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $2,250/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

I never wanted to be a businessman. My master’s thesis was a collection of my poems, for goodness sake! Yet, without a single marketing or business class, I went from having $486 to my name in April 2009 to my first big win (a $2,900 monthly marketing retainer) in less than six months.

That year, I ended up earning 24% more as a funemployed freelancer than I would have made in my salaried position at the marketing agency: “Wait, I get to make my own schedule, I can work from anywhere, and I make more?”

Needless to say, that’s when I was hooked.


Austin L. Church, on starting AustinLChurch.com ($2,250/month) full story ➜

14. Start an online courses business ($1.5M/year)

Gabriel Kramer from Eagle Mountain, UT, USA started SI Certs over 10 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $125,000/ month
  • Founders: 4
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Eagle Mountain, UT, USA

I co-founded SI Certs in 2011. I had been working as a Special Inspector for six years. A Special Inspector is a type of construction inspector. To advance in the special inspection industry, you have to pass exams to earn certifications. Your earning potential increases as you get more and more certifications.

Looking back, the biggest lesson from the beginning is that small starts can turn into something huge. If you’re patient and work hard every year, you can reap great rewards in the future.

I started the company because I felt I had enough experience and certifications to teach others the inspection trade. Also, I held a bachelor’s degree in journalism and taught high school for a few years after graduating. While teaching, I took classes online at the University of Phoenix and received a master’s degree in education. I thought my degrees would give me a competitive edge in creating useful online courses.


Gabriel Kramer, on starting SI Certs ($125,000/month) full story ➜

15. Start an online courses business ($12K/year)

Keyul from started Coursesity almost 4 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $1,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location:

Three years back, I was preparing for the software engineer interview. During that time, I was searching for online courses that could help me to revise the technical concepts and technologies. In this process, I realized that I spent more time in the searching and comparing courses on various eLearning platforms instead of spending more time on actual learning.

Don’t focus on so many things at once. This will take lots of time and effort. Set 1-2 goals and plan everything that helps you to achieve them. Once these goals have been achieved set the next goals.

After a few months, I was discussing interview preparation with a friend and he explained how frustrated to find a course on some specific subjects. He had a similar experience as me.


Keyul, on starting Coursesity ($1,000/month) full story ➜

16. Start a makeup academy ($2.82M/year)

Anastasia Andreani from Los Angeles, California, USA started Vizio Makeup Academy over 10 years ago, a makeup academy.

  • Revenue: $235,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 15
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

Let’s start from the beginning…

A career in beauty education was not what I grew up thinking I would do. I was born in a small town in the Midwest. Life wasn’t always a bed of roses for me. The circumstances of my upbringing and the fear and uncertainty I experienced at a very young age when my parents got divorced contributed to an early sense of needing to fend for myself. Having very little money, I worked many jobs to try to make ends meet. I struggled between working and going to school. While I thought my parents’ divorce had been a curse for most of my childhood and into my teen years, I later realized it hadn’t been a curse at all; it had actually turned into a really valuable gift for me. It has given me a spirit of both independence and experimentation, which I truly believe has led me to where I am today.

I first studied business administration and finance in college and earned my business degree. I spent many years working a 9-5 office job, but it wasn’t long before I knew I wanted more—something was missing. For my entire life, I have had a love for beauty. I’m a creative person by nature, and art has forever inspired and moved me. I also have a true love for being able to help others grow, to feel beautiful and to be more confident about themselves. This passion drives me and gives me the energy to help others see their true beauty and potential. I knew I wanted to do something in life that caused people to smile on the outside as well as on the inside and that used my creative talents in a more meaningful way. These longings led me down an entirely new path in life.


Anastasia Andreani, on starting Vizio Makeup Academy ($235,000/month) full story ➜

17. Start an online courses business ($240K/year)

Kelan Kline from Rochester, New York, USA started The Savvy Couple about 5 years ago, a online courses business.

  • Revenue: $20,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 2
  • Location: Rochester, New York, USA

I was your average kid growing up wanting to be a police officer and changing the world one bad guy at a time. Brittany also knew what she wanted to be when she grew up, a teacher.

After meeting each other in 9th grade American Sign Language class the rest is history. We started dating at age fourteen and have never looked back. Best friends would be an understatement.


Kelan Kline, on starting The Savvy Couple ($20,000/month) full story ➜

18. Start a finance blog ($1.06M/year)

Bobby Hoyt from Houston, Texas, USA started Millennial Money Man ago, a finance blog.

  • Revenue: $88,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Houston, Texas, USA

I had a very traditional educational experience and came out of college with $40,000 of student loan debt. I got passionate about personal finance after paying off my debt, and I made some drastic (and slightly embarrassing) moves to destroy my debt in 18 months.

I found myself teaching my students about personal finance -- not enough people are taught these lessons when they’re young. I was maybe the only band director out there who was also teaching kids about credit scores, investing, and loans. They loved it though.

Another major turning point was talking to a mentor of mine about how I wanted more than what my teacher’s salary could afford. (My readers know me for having boujee taste in wine, haha). He told me I would never be able to afford the lifestyle I wanted on a teacher’s salary. He found my pain point and challenged me to do more.

So, I put all of my energy towards paying off my debt and started M$M. It was slow at first, but after earning just $3 in Google Ads revenue, I got the ok from my amazingly supportive wife to quit my teaching job and go at the blogger thing full force. That’s not something I would ever advise, but being debt-free and having solid savings made it feasible for us.


Bobby Hoyt, on starting Millennial Money Man ($88,000/month) full story ➜

19. Start a skills training business ($120K/year)

Sumit Bansal from Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India started TrumpExcel.com over 8 years ago, a skills training business.

  • Revenue: $10,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

I was working with a tech company in 2013 and my day-to-day work included crunching a lot of data in spreadsheets and creating reports and dashboards from it. I was learning a lot about spreadsheets through other Excel blogs and Youtube videos.

It was a huge learning curve for me and I made a lot of mistakes. I invested hours everyday learning. I didn’t make any money for 16 months, but I consistently pushed out content and videos. I was getting traffic and was also collecting email subscribers

One day, my co-worker mentioned a book called The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, which is about the stories of people who were making money through their expertise. It also included two stories of people who were making money through their Excel blog and freelance practice. I immediately ordered the book and read it.


Sumit Bansal, on starting TrumpExcel.com ($10,000/month) full story ➜

20. Start a career coaching business ($240K/year)

Austin Belcak from New York, New York, USA started Cultivated Culture over 5 years ago, a career coaching business.

  • Revenue: $20,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: New York, New York, USA

I started Cultivated Culture after struggling to transition into tech as a recent grad with a biology degree and a job in healthcare.

I sent in over 300 online apps and landed less than five interviews. I knew this process was broken but everyone kept giving me the same advice: tweak your resume, apply online, then rinse and repeat because ‘it’s a numbers game.’

When I started, the job search process was incredibly frustrating and downright depressing. I sent in over 300 online apps and landed less than five interviews (all of which were rejections after the phone screen). I knew this process was broken but everyone kept giving me the same advice: tweak your resume, apply online, then rinse and repeat because “it’s a numbers game.”.


Austin Belcak, on starting Cultivated Culture ($20,000/month) full story ➜

21. Start a mom blog ($36K/year)

Audrey Marshall from Utah, USA started Mommy Enlightened over 3 years ago, a mom blog.

  • Revenue: $3,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 2
  • Location: Utah, USA

Blogging has been a crazy journey for me. I found out about blogging really randomly, and as soon I read the first article about it I decided I was going to go for it. I never once believed I would fail - and I think that’s a large part of why I didn’t. My partner and I had to sell our house and move in with my in-laws due to my husband’s job location. We were in a situation where we could afford to have me quit my job short-term. It was a risk because we were still paying off a large amount of debt (and desperately wanted to get back into a house of our own) but it was the first time in our marriage where there was a smaller risk associated with it. I planned to try it for a year, and if it didn’t work out I would go back and get a job. I worked 60 hour weeks - not only creating content but also learning about the RIGHT things. I invested a LOT of money in the first year, but I believe that’s necessary if you want to progress faster.

Before starting, I had limited knowledge of all things technology. I used Facebook and Youtube, but I had no knowledge of the technical aspects of it all. It was very frustrating in the beginning, but blogging is in large part about taking the initiative to do your own research and never stop trying to learn. So that’s what I did. It’s a huge learning curve, but it’s definitely doable. It helps that I have a myriad of new skills now. I can do minor coding, marketing, copywriting, SEO, and create/sell products. I have learned more in the last year and a half than I have from any other job - and it’s neat to think that even if I decide to stop blogging, I can get a job with many of my new skills.

There are no fast hacks to success. You have to do a lot of grinding to see success, and there aren’t any shortcuts to success.


Audrey Marshall, on starting Mommy Enlightened ($3,000/month) full story ➜

22. Become a business coach ($50.4K/year)

Niall Doherty from Waterford, Ireland started eBiz Facts almost 3 years ago, a business coach.

  • Revenue: $4,199/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Waterford, Ireland

I'm from Ireland but worked my last 9-to-5 job in the United States.

I quit that job in 2010 and have been working for myself online ever since, mostly earning a living as a freelance web developer.

Lots of people dive straight into something like e-commerce or affiliate marketing, but those are much more complex business models that are very hard to succeed to start earning a living online.


Niall Doherty, on starting eBiz Facts ($4,199/month) full story ➜

23. Start a social media automation business ($2.4M/year)

Laura Roeder from started MeetEdgar over 7 years ago, a social media automation business.

  • Revenue: $200,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 11
  • Location:

I had been teaching social media marketing to entrepreneurs and I had an online course business called LKR Social Media that I had been running for about 5 years and I had created a training course called Social Brilliant that you can currently access if you’re an Edgar customer through Edgar University. The course is teaching people how to repost their social media and how to make sure that they can easily fill up all of their accounts across all the different platforms. A lot of our customers for the training courses were solopreneurs managing their own social media and I saw what a huge time burden it was to create content and write new social updates across multiple platforms every day.

The AHA moment that I had was noticing that your reach on any given platform is very small. You’re only reaching a small percentage of people that follow you on any platform. It’s actually really smart to make sure you’re repeating and repurposing your content. Entrepreneurs think that it seems like they are repeating the same stuff over and over again but that’s only because they are the ones seeing their own status updates, but nobody else does. It’s really smart to repurpose, upcycle, recycle and social brilliant taught people how to do that in an organized way. You would create a sheet with all of your social media updates with categories, all colour coded, so you’d know which ones you’ve sent, which ones need to be changed. SO, in 2014 when I launched MeetEdgar I wondered why I was keeping this spreadsheet and paying for a social media tool at the same time.

Social media tools did exist at that time and they do what they did then which is send an update for you but nothing more. Why isn’t the tool doing all the work that I’m doing on the spreadsheet -- that’s what MeetEdgar was created to do. To handle all that grunt work for Social media, to do more than just send out an update.


Laura Roeder, on starting MeetEdgar ($200,000/month) full story ➜

24. Start an education products business ($12K/year)

Alex Bricker from Fort Collins, Colorado, USA started ESL With Purpose about 4 years ago, a education products business.

  • Revenue: $1,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

I started teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) during my undergraduate studies on a volunteer level. Over time, I acquired a TEFL certification and more experience while working other full-time jobs and growing my skills in other interests. My heart, however, was always drawn to hanging out with international friends and helping them improve their English.

Don’t give up. If I would have quit when I lost $17,000, I wouldn’t have learned anything. It was a good educational moment. Failure does not define your business. How you respond to situations does define it.

Phrase It grew out of need to enhance student learning in a fun and dynamic way. Specifically, I developed a dice game to help English language learners through the use of phrasal verbs. Then it turned into a card game.


Alex Bricker, on starting ESL With Purpose ($1,000/month) full story ➜

25. Start a freelance writing business ($166K/year)

Matt Rudntsky from Austin started Platypus Publishing over 7 years ago, a freelance writing business.

  • Revenue: $13,825/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Austin

My only “real job” came right out of college, getting paid $20,000 per year to write for a sports blog. Since our office was in NYC, I lived with my parents in the suburbs. When my request for a raise to $35,000 was considered “too much,” I nearly died of laughter -- but managed to recover and move to Prague to teach English and figure out my life.

A $450/month apartment and passable, part-time English teaching salary gave me freedom. I couldn’t stop thinking about sports betting -- as that was the small niche I had carved out during my sportswriting days. Armed with ~20,000 weekly readers for my NFL gambling column (I freelanced from Prague for $12.50/article), I figured it was time to tell my story. In college, I had turned my grandmother’s $100 birthday gift into nearly $10,000 over two years, before losing it all in two months. Yikes.

I asked column readers if they’d be interested in a book, and 46 people emailed me. Nothing crazy, but enough to give it a shot. I studied everything about self-publishing and wrote the book in two weeks (seriously). I expected nothing, but then I received my first royalty check: $1,150.06. Five years later, I’ve made almost $15,000 total (all profit, minus my $5 cover). Clearly, this “self-publishing” thing was a thing, indeed.


Matt Rudntsky, on starting Platypus Publishing ($13,825/month) full story ➜

26. Start a freelance writing business ($120K/year)

Arlie Peyton from Lake Oswego, Oregon, USA started Writing Income Accelerator about 3 years ago, a freelance writing business.

  • Revenue: $10,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Lake Oswego, Oregon, USA

I came up with my idea after failing at a digital marketing course I bought for $1,000. When I was finished, I tried to apply what I learned but I forgot most of it. In a way, I thought the course was too good to be true. However, since I spent a lot on the course I decided to retake it and master the business model. I ended up getting my first client two weeks later and making good money. To this day, I still own a boutique marketing agency that provides a steady income for minimal work.

I thought the course was genius so I wrote the owner. I offered to do a free write-up on the course and what others have achieved. The owner was delighted with the idea and I got it published on Medium.com.

A few weeks later, that article went viral. Also, it got ranked on page #1 of Google for several key terms in the social media marketing agency (SMMA) industry. The owner was surprised and hired me to write other articles for him. This time I charged him!


Arlie Peyton, on starting Writing Income Accelerator ($10,000/month) full story ➜

Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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