What Is The Cost Of Starting An Online Business in 2021?


Building a profitable online business is hands-down, one of the best decisions I've ever made and people are jumping on the digital bandwagon now more than ever.

So what is the cost of starting an online business?

The truth is, not as much as you might think…

Starting a traditional business comes with heavy start-up costs, forcing many aspiring entrepreneurs to apply for business loans, but you can start an income-generating online business for as little as $29 a month ($359 a year).

This includes website builders, hosting, technical support, keyword research tools and full SEO and social media marketing training.

Wealthy Affiliate is the top affiliate marketing training platform that is specifically designed to help you get your business idea up and running. I'd recommend checking out the free beginners course.

Since 2006 they've helped 100,000's of budding entrepreneurs launch successful online empires by equipping them with comprehensive, step-by-step training, state-of-the-art business building tools and 24/7 expert support.

Read my full review at TheMakeMoneyOnlineBlog.com/Wealthy-Affiliate-Review.

Online vs Offline: Why Online Wins Every Time

1. Online Businesses Have A Truly Global Reach

2.8 billion buyers online

There are 4.2 billion daily internet users buying pretty much anything from groceries, to flights, from clothing to appliances.

The opportunity to earn serious money online only grows by the day. It's expected that by 2021, we will spend an astonishing $4.5 trillion online.

Traditional brick and mortar businesses, bound by geographical location, are quickly getting left behind.

As an online entrepreneur, you are building an online brand that can reach a truly global audience.

You don't need a degree in business or to be a technical genius to become financially wealthy, just a proven formula to follow and a drive to succeed.

There are countless inspirational success stories out there from people just like you who took the first step to starting their online business…

Take Jerry Huang: 12 short months ago he was working in a hotel kitchen to pay the bills. Now he's built a 4-figure monthly income stream for himself at just 21 years of age and his life will never be the same.

Head On Over To WealthyAffiliate.com To Get Started.

2. Whatever Your Passion, It Can Spark A Thriving Online Empire

how to start an online business and how much it investment required

Google performs 2 trillion searches a day for people looking for advice and tips on anything you can imagine.

Whether it's skydiving or scrapbooking, fashion or football, we all have something that gets us going.

Whatever your passion, you can turn it into a very successful and profitable online venture by helping people, sharing your expertise and making recommendations.

3. Online Businesses Generate Passive Income

When you open up a clothes store or a burger joint, you have to physically be there running the business, managing staff and dealing with issues. Business owners run around like headless chickens working 16 hour days just to try and make a profit.

That is the exact opposite of passive income!

You absolutely need to take MASSIVE action to get your online business off the ground, but put the work in and your website will start generating money for around the clock.

Unlike a shop on the high street that's only open from 9-5, your website is like your virtual store that's open for business 24/7. People are finding your site through Google and social media and you're making sales in your sleep.

Whereas most people trade their time for money (work once and get paid once), online you put the time effort into creating a blog post or video and get paid time and time again.

I started my first affiliate marketing website 5 years ago and haven't touched in it over 3 years, but that website still generates $1,000-$1,500 for me each and every month and probably will for years to come – now that's what I call passive income!

4. An Online Business Gives You The Opportunity To Earn Big With Little Money Down

You dont have to be great to start but you have to start to be great Zig Ziglar quote

Starting a traditional small home-based business can cost anywhere between $3,000-$5,000.

Investing in a Burger King franchise requires a ‘whopping' upfront payment of $50,000, with total start-up costs amounting to somewhere in the region of $500,000.

It's no wonder people still stuck in the 20th century way of doing business have to max out their credit cards before they can open for trading…

The monthly running costs are so low because there's no need to worry about shipping costs, purchasing stock, building up an inventory, renting premises or hiring staff.

Stick with me here and I'll show you exactly how to start an online business for $100 or less. Yes, you really can have your first affiliate marketing website open for business and generating profit for as little as $29 a month!

No business loan required!

What Does The Cost Of Starting An Online Business Consist Of?

What Do Online Business Start Up Costs Consist Of List

Let's start with a list of what you need to get your online business up and running.

Then we can look at the best options and costs for you going forward.

What You Need:

1. A Website

You can't make money online without one. The good news is it's never been easier to create a beautiful business website you can be proud of.

For this you're going to need to need to purchase a domain name (www.ExampleDomainName.com) and a secure web hosting package with ongoing technical support.

2. Online Business Training

Whether you already have a strategy to implement or you're looking for an online business blueprint you can follow that actually works, glean from the expertise of experienced and successful internet marketers who are already where you want to be and you'll get there a lot faster.

3. Keyword Research Tools

A good keyword research tool can make or break your business. Armed with the right information, you can focus your SEO campaigns to drive more targeted traffic to your site and increase sales.

There are two ways to successfully launch a profitable online business:

What I like to call the ‘time-rich/cash-poor method'for those who have more time than money and the ‘cash-rich/time-poor method', for those with more money than time.

When you're just getting started it's important to consider all your options and choose the path that's right for you depending on your budget and work schedule.

Let's take a look at both and do a full breakdown of the costs:

The Time-Rich/Cash-Poor Option

If you have more time than money then building your online business from scratch with WealthyAffiliate.com is your best option.

sign up to wealthy affiliate for free

Starting from as little as $29 per month, the Premium membership gives you full and unlimited access to their all-in-one training platform that has all the newbie-friendly website building tools, domains, keyword research tools and web hosting you need to succeed.

Wealthy Affiliate is perfect for beginners as they have the biggest online community of experienced internet marketers and experts who are on hand to offer help and support when you need it most.

This is actually the place I got my start back in 2014 – I joined as a free Starter member and upgraded to the Premium membership a few days later, launched my first site and I've never looked back!

The interactive Online Entrepreneur Certification Course will guide you through the process of how making money online works step by step. By going through the video lessons and completing every assigned task you end up with a fully-fledged, profitable business on your hands.

online entrepreneur certification course outline
Wealthy Affiliate's first 5 training modules (10 lessons per module).

Wealthy Affiliate Start-Up Cost Breakdown

Though you can try out the platform for free as a Starter member, if you're serious I recommend upgrading to Premium as soon as you're ready.

As I say, I started at Wealthy Affiliate never having run an online business before and I owe my success today to their step-by-step training and friendly and helpful community.

There are 3 Premium membership options you can choose from:


After deciding to go Premium, I was paying $49 monthly for a good 2 years or so before changing to the pay yearly option of $359 which works out at $29.92 a month.

I really like that I can access everything under one roof for one low monthly (or yearly) price. The only other thing you need to account for is the cost of buying your website domain which is $13.99 per year.

Premium membership ($359) + website domain ($13.99) = $372.99/year

This is really all you need to spend. That's just $1.02 a day to have everything you need to run and operate your online business and grow it to scale at your fingertips!

Check out my full Wealthy Affiliate review or go to WealthyAffiliate.com to get started!

The Cash-Rich/Time-Poor Option

HumanProofDesigns.com are the number one affiliate marketing outsourcing specialists online. If you have the money to invest, then hiring their team of experienced professionals to build your online business for you is the way to go.

human proof designs homepage

These guys offer a wide range of services from niche and keyword research, to website building and content creation. You can choose from their library of done-for-you affiliate websites with existing traffic and sales, or ask them to make a custom site for you.

With 95% of businesses failing in the first 12 months, having experts on hand to the groundwork for you will give you the best chances of success. They know what works and what doesn't, they know how to find the best niches and keywords and they know how to create content that converts.

I outsource article writing to them regularly and I can personally vouch for their high-quality content and after-sales care.

human proof designs figures

The HumanProof Method Membership program gives you access to monthly training from top industry leaders, group coaching and a membership area where you can get ongoing support.

Their extensive training library shows you how to grow your new online business to it's fullest potential and maximise commissions. All this means you can avoid all the biggest mistakes newbies make and fast track your earnings.

Human Proof Designs Start Up Cost Breakdown

human proof designs ready made affiliate websites prices

Done-for-you affiliate marketing websites range from $798 – $1,298.

They offer a whole variety of packages and services to help jump start your business with Basic, Standard and Premium plans to suit every budget.

Check out my full Human Proof Designs review or go to HumanProofDesigns.com to browse their ready-made sites.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Successful Online Entrepreneur?

Work while they sleep. Learn while they party. Save while they spend. Live like they dream. Quote

This is a question I get asked often so I thought I would quickly touch on it here.

Starting a business is more than a financial investment; you invest your time and energy too.

Whether you're creating your own online business or outsourcing it to others, you've still got to give you and your business time to grow.

The truth is this is not a get rich quick scheme, results won't come overnight.

It's worth remembering we don't get to where we want to be in one giant leap, but rather by taking small, yet consistent steps over time.

How long will it take before you start seeing a return? How long it takes is really up to you.

I sat in an upstairs bedroom of my mum's house and hustled like crazy those first few months, often late into the night whilst everyone else slept. I was drowning in debt, forced to work at a job I hated and living a life I never wanted – I guess you could say I was motivated!

And then it happened… after 2 weeks I made my first ever commission!

I remember it like it was yesterday. After dancing around my room a few times (at 2 in the morning) I shared my first ever commission success with fellow Wealthy Affiliate members.

I had just made $1.20 but it felt like I had won the lottery because I knew this was just the first of many commissions to come…

Spurred on by my initial success, I knew I was on the right track and I just had to keep going. And so I did…

Slowly but surely my website started getting higher rankings in Google search results…

Traffic started trickling in and as it grew my income grew with it…

At the 6 month mark, I was making daily sales consistently.

By the 12 month mark, I was earning more from my sites than I was at my full-time job, so I quit and never worked for anyone else since.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I know they'll be times when you'll doubt if you even have it what it takes to start a business. You'll wonder if you will ever reach your online income goals and if your hard work will ever pay off.

I'm here to say you CAN and it WILL.

It's the entrepreneurial spirit inside of you that will drive you to success. The urge to create something out of nothing, to achieve true financial freedom and live life on your own terms.

If you have that then I believe you have what it takes.

Often in the real world is not the smart that get ahead but the bold. Robert Kiyosaki quote

Ignore the doubts, pay no attention to the naysayers, be bold and take the critical first step.

That's what I did.

That's what anyone who achieved anything worthwhile did.

And this is what you will do.

If you want to win.

13 thoughts on “What Is The Cost Of Starting An Online Business in 2021?”

  1. Good evening, Simon.  

    I really enjoyed reading your article.  I have been a member of WA for a little over three years and have read some of those success stories as well but reading it from your perspective had given me new encouragement that maybe I CAN do this as well.

    Wealthy Affiliate is, in my humble opinion, the best there is. and you just can’t get a better deal anywhere that covers so much.  In this post, you have just scratched the surface of what they offer and I would encourage anyone seeking to have an online business to go to the website and really check it out.  

    As for me,  I haven’t made any money yet but, that’s on me.  I have not done everything to make it happen.  But, I know their training works because there are many, not just a hundred or so, that are making real money and realizing their dreams of independence and travel or whatever else their dream might be.

    Obviously, this is happening to you as well and I wish you every success as you continue this adventure.


    • Thanks Wayne, Wealthy Affiliate is where I started my first online business in 2014 so you could say I’ve been around a while! I personally loved the training courses there, especially because I’d just fallen for a few classic internet scams before I joined so I really appreciated the straight talking without the promotional hype.

      This can be your year Wayne! Set a monthly or weekly goal, even if it’s just spending an hour a week on your business. I understand many of us are busy and time is in short supply, at least each week you’re taking a step closer and it all adds up.

      Here’s to your online success!

    • Technically it’s possible as they give you 2 free websites to play with and module 1 of a 7 module training course but I’d say it’s highly, highly unlikely… With free websites it’s now very difficult to rank anywhere near the top spot of Google search results.

      The Starter membership is really about giving chance to look around, try out the training and getting a feel for the place to see if this is something you really want to do. I hope this helps!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience about starting a business. I am currently in that similar situation as far being stuck in jobs I am not exactly excited for. The one thing that is really frustrating for me is wishing that it can come faster. I actually have made money every month after my first year but not enough consistently to replace my current income level. I am hoping to reach a full breakthrough in the near future especially after investing in all the initial startup costs.

    • OK so it sounds like you’re at the trickle stage 🙂

      Money’s coming in but you haven’t seen that breakthrough yet. It will come but I totally get your frustration, I’ve been there!

      What’s your work schedule looking like? Do you have daily, weekly, monthly goals you’re working towards?  

  3. I love how the internet has made things so simple for anyone to start their own business with relative ease. And I really like that you’ve included the cost of the domain name in your calculations. I got myself confused and thought that was a part of the Wealthy Affiliate membership when I first joined. 

  4. Thanks for the great overview!

    For some people, even coming up with the $29 a month can be a challenge.  And because affiliate marketing takes time, it seems like the real startup cost is going to be a couple of hundred dollars.  Based on my research, it seems like a lot of people don’t make their money back until the second year. (Some of course do a lot better).

    This got me thinking…The free Wealthy Affiliate would be a great way to cut your teeth on affiliate marketing and WordPress.  There are a lot of local, small companies that could use help with a new website.  I would encourage those folks without the money, to use the free account to learn and then sell a website to a local business.  There is no way you wouldn’t be able to make enough to pay for at least 6 months of Premium.

    Anyway, it’s easy to make excuses why not to do this…there are a ton of them.  My advice to your readers is to not let be money one of them.  Be creative and find that money!  It’s well worth the effort.

    As for Human Proof Design…any idea what the success rate is for people who purchase the ready to go niche websites? (it may have been there somewhere but I didn’t see it).  I’m curious to know too if new content ranks a lot faster because of the website history.

    Thanks again for the great info!

    • How long it takes really can vary, there’s so many influencing factors like how competitive your niche is, how you’re monetising the site, whether you’re building a strong presence on social media, how long and how good your content is and so on.

      Honestly I don’t think it’s unreasonable to see your site take off at the 6-12 month mark if you’re taking action every day.

      I can’t actually find anything on the Human Proof Designs success rate but I know HPD owner Dom Wells is the real deal and the training and support is excellent. They post regular success stories from members which are always inspiring.

      As I said, in the beginning I was doing everything on my sites, but as the income started coming in I began to reinvest that into the business. Now I use them regularly for content creation and I can definitely give them the thumbs up. 

  5. Hey Simon,

    Truth is that the cost of getting an online business up and running is the lowest possible cost when it comes to creating a business.

    I got my first one up and running for free within Wealthy Affiliate 2 years ago, I upgraded to premium a few days after first joining and I have been a premium member ever since.

    I didn’t have any more money to invest in business back then… I still don’t. So, I am going for the time-rich/cash-poor option 😛

    It takes a hell lot of time and effort but it’s totally worth it!


  6. Awesome article! Thank you Simon. I have a small retail shop that I operate. Last night, we had a blizzard come through the area. Roads were closed. The shop has huge snowdrifts in front of the store.  Although this storm was the worst this winter so far; snow and ice has hurt my business several other days this month already.    

    It dawned on my this morning that  it would be very helpful if I had an online business that could compliment my shop.  I don’t want to sell my shop’s inventory online.  I need to save my inventory, much which is unique one of a kind items,  for my valued customers that loves the experience that my shop provides. Yet, an online business could be operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.      

    My biggest concern is that I don’t really have time to be dealing with selling and shipping products that I sell online.   At the moment, that is the only thing that is holding me back. Thank you for suggesting two ways getting started. Although I am a bit more time rich at the moment, I hope that will change soon.   

    Thanks again.   

    • Hi Sondra, you pointed out another limitation of the traditional brick and mortar type business – the blasted weather! 

      It’s clear you put a lot of love and care into the products you create, you could definitely benefit by reaching a wider audience. I’m sure there’s a ton of people out there ready to buy if only they could find you! Having an online presence will definitely help you increase sales and drive your business forward.

      I’m glad you found this guide helpful and I wish you every success!


  7. Hello Simon, hands down Wealthy Affiliate is the best business decision I have made in a long time. I didn’t tell many people, and those I did tell thought I was a bit crazy as I was earning big money with my job. The problem was, whilst I was paid really well, I didn’t love it, and I was also working exceptionally hard at the request of someone else. I knew the future was in building my own business on my terms, and preferably one that would build me a passive income.

    I joined Wealthy Affiliate a little over 12 months ago. I have learnt a whole new career on the side. I am still working my job and building my websites on the side. They are gaining traction and now earning me an income. Not enough to quit my job, but enough that I will soon reduce my hours and build my websites even more. This is a very safe and risk free way to start a whole new career. I encourage as many people as I can to do this!


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