You may not know this about me, but I am actually an introvert – or at least I may consider myself one. The thing is that not everyone is introverted or extroverted to the same degree.
The point I want to make before I get into this post is that if you consider yourself to be an introvert, and think that it's this personal quality that is holding you back from starting your own business, that’s okay. There are ways to work around this. You can definitely start your own business, no matter what your personality type is.
Do You Think Introversion is a Roadblock To Business Success?
When I think of CEOs, entrepreneurs, and startup companies, I think of charismatic and engaging people, people like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates. What these people are like behind closed doors, I have no idea, but in the public eye, they look like THE BOSS. They know what they're doing, and they can tell people what they should be doing. They seem to be awesome at their job, and comfortable in the spotlight.
For us introverts, it may seem impossible that could direct people in their daily tasks. It's crazy to think that someone might listen to mild-mannered, go-with-the-flow type of leaders.
It seems like not being an extrovert forces us into a box of having to listen to the leaders, rather than become one.
The Internet and How it Changed Things
Back in the 1990s, when the internet was still largely experimental, and working from home was limited. A work-from-home job usually required you to buy a book that listed opportunities with manufacturing companies or advertising companies.
Besides paying the fee for the book and waiting for it to be shipped to you, you then had to browse through a small offering of ways to make money. If you found something you liked, you then wrote to the company, paid another fee to order their package, and tried your best to meet the expectations of bosses you’d never met.
Possible jobs ranged from stuffing envelopes for direct-mail marketers to embroidering baby bibs. It was almost all hands-on work. The trick was that most companies weren’t under any obligation to buy your work once you finished—and so many work-from-home hopefuls never got paid for their time and energy.
The internet was picking up speed by the early 2000s, but work from home opportunities lagged behind. In these years, many work-from-home opportunities consisted of cold-calling leads for multi-level marketing companies or being involved in network marketing individually. While there was a small chance of making money, the business models weren’t stable, and cold-calling or face-to-face marketing aren’t fun options for introverts.
It wasn’t until people realized the potential of the internet that the work-from-home scenarios changed. Some companies began by allowing data entry workers to telecommute. The public also began to recognize the internet’s importance of shopping online. People could work from home and get clients without having to buy expensive traditional advertising packages or involve themselves in face-to-face marketing.
Now, it's possible to start a company completely online, without any brick-and-mortar store, without any employees coming to an office, without any physical products, and with people of all types at the helm.
This style of business fits well with the introverted personality type.
Introverts may or may not have some social anxiety, but we definitely are a breed that prefer a quieter, more intimate setting for work. We need time to think. We thrive when we can pick and choose how, when and with whom we work. Even people who haven’t had the chance, the money or the desire for formal education can start and run a successful home-based business online.
The internet is a great tool for all personality types. Extroverts can find plenty of people to talk to, to market to, and to enjoy. People with social anxiety can work behind a computer screen, engaging in a one-on-one in an environment that feels comfortable to them. It’s hard for people with social anxiety to find good jobs, so it’s great that they can take charge and create their own home-based business that allows them to control their environment.
It’s the best of all worlds, especially as the potential for new work-from-home options continues to expand year after year.
I can't speak for everyone, but I can speak from personal experience.
I need time to think things over. I'm not pushy about my opinions. I don't like confrontation.
But I also had the desire to start my own business. I wanted the freedom of being the boss instead of being an employee. I had a café for a short stint in China, but it was pretty exhausting having to manage everyone on top of running the business. I felt like the café could have performed better if I was more personable, more outgoing, and more willing to network.
Fast forward 10 years later, and I'm running a full-time online business doing affiliate marketing. Being on the internet allows me to work better with my own personality traits. By using email, chat, and scheduling, I can execute my ideas on my terms. I can think about what I need to say, then edit it later. I can write more freely and more honestly than I can speak. I am also able to solve conflict better.
I'm an all-around better business owner. You can read more about me here.
I created this post to sparks some ideas for my fellow introverts. There are many types of online business out there, but I've picked through a couple that I think would resonate with you. For example, we both know you and I are not going to be the next PewDiePie YouTube star screaming about a video game for sixty minutes. We're not going to start a podcast interviewing superstars from around the world. But there are still many profitable, interesting, and creative projects you can start that will allow you to work full time from home.
If you want to learn exactly how I make money online, you can take my email course, or you can keep reading for 12 more ideas.
Online Business Models for Introverts
You don't have to be the head of a major corporation or entity to be considered an entrepreneur or business owner. Here are some ideas to get you started from behind the scenes.
Freelance Writing Company
There are plenty of work-from-home options for people who like to write. Besides writing books and selling them to a traditional publisher (which is the first option many people think of), you can write fiction, memoirs and self-help manuscripts and then publish them online as your own brand of e-books.
You can blog, too, and earn some money through ads placed strategically on your blog site. If you like writing web content, you can contract with a variety of other businesses for web writing that you can do from home—you save them time and money, and you get paid for doing something you love.
If you’re good at details, you can be a technical writer from home and write the text for owner’s manuals, company policy manuals, and more. You might also be good at proofreading, line editing or content editing.
Some people have a knack for writing charismatic pieces that really hook readers. These writers might do well writing marketing copy for other online businesses.
Others, who just want to work and don’t want to think, might be able to make a living simply keying in and formatting writing that others have done long-hand or transcribing audio or video notes into a readable manuscript.
There are so many choices. You can even start doing all the writing work by yourself and then expand to contracting out work for other writers or subcontracting for employers. Depending on what you like to do, you can concentrate on the writing yourself, or you can focus on finding writers and hooking them up with legitimate companies at prices that both parties can agree on.
Just because you're an introvert doesn't mean you're not an expert. Often, introverts are some of the smartest people because they take time to think things through and visualize how things could be different or better. Many of them also understand abstract concepts like math and engineering, which can make them the perfect tech support professionals.
If technology is your thing, there are lots of people out there that need it. You can get started by purchasing a dedicated phone number for your business and advertising on Google for your area of expertise. You could also put out feelers and ads on Facebook, which could generate some word-of-mouth marketing in the network you already have.
There are all kinds of ideas for tech support businesses. You could do anything from guiding someone through the process of setting up a WordPress site to helping people connect to the internet. Basic troubleshooting with computer problems, setting up a new printer or fax machine, or how and where to download a driver are all helpful bits of knowledge that people can pay you to share.
You can make money by charging customers by the minute. Using tools like video chat, Skype, and Teamviewer, it's pretty easy to fix, or show people how to fix stuff, so you don’t have to work just by telephone, either. Even short video chats on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram can be helpful.
By learning what people are searching for, and what they want to buy, you can position yourself on Google so they find your website and buy things after reading what you have to say on the subject.
The niche you choose will most likely be based on something you love—a hobby, a passion, or an interest that can form common ground with other people who are drawn to these things the same way you are. Those people will be your target market.
You can become an authority in your target area by finding out what people with your same interests would like to buy. Write about those things. Source them out, and sell them on your site.
For example, people interested in role-playing games might enjoy browsing through a gallery of second-hand game books you put for sale on one page of your site, or those with martial arts interests might appreciate martial-arts related mugs and tee shirts.
You’ll also be writing about these things, a lot—this is your main marketing tool, and while it takes some time to do daily and sometimes months to pay off, it’s worth the wait. Great content will bring in the traffic to drive your sales.
One really great thing about niche marketing is that you can be participating in a hobby you love, all the time. The downside of this is that you might not like it as much if you make your hobby your work, too.
Do you know A LOT about one thing? Is it beer? Audio? Gourmet Italian food? If so, are you comfortable sharing what you know? How would you go about it?
Providing information through a blog is a good place to start. While it might overlap a little with the freelance writing idea listed above, this option is more about sharing what you know or are learning about than the writing itself.
Whatever your area of expertise is, if you blog about it long enough and get enough exposure, you can become an authority on the subject in the ‘blogosphere'. Advertisers will be salivating at your monthly visitor stats, and you can make a full time income from ads, promotions, and other monetized portions of your site.
Many well-known people who are known as authorities in their field got famous this way, including marketing guru Seth Godin, Hollywood gossip Perez Hilton and productivity expert Tim Ferris. The bottom line is if you know about something or are willing to study a subject and share what you learn you can gain an audience and build a business. It might sound hard, but I learned how to build profitable websites in about 6 months.
YouTube is another way you can show off your expertise and make money. You don't have to be one of those knuckleheads doing pranks and silly things on YouTube, either.
Simply showing people how to do stuff can be practical and profitable. If you browse through YouTube you’ll find a variety of DIY channels that teach people skills ranging from how to change the oil in a car to how to crochet baby booties or apply makeup for a scary Halloween look.
Think about what you have to offer, make a few videos (under two minutes each is best), and sign up for a YouTube account. Then all you have to do is upload your videos, share them on your social media sites, and keep producing videos.
DIY channels are great, but really anything that a specific group of people are interested in could get you earning money just by uploading videos to YouTube. Funny cartoons can make money too. Like most successful businesses, it’s all about finding out what people want or need and catering to that hole in the market.
For an introvert or someone with anxiety trouble, cons to a YouTube business might be getting used to seeing yourself on camera (and knowing that other people will see you, too). You don't have to do that though. Making music or animation requires no on-camera time. Lots of tech channels just show their hands opening boxes and playing with gadgets. A cooking show could use the same method, focusing on the recipes, instead of the chef.
Sell Digital Information Products
This is yet another way to share your expertise. If you’re an expert in a certain field or know where to find the answers to the questions other people have, you can write a how-to or informational document about it.
Once you get the document created, you can save it as a PDF file or make a short video about it and sell it online.
E-books, online training courses, games, videos and graphics packages are all digital products that can be sold online. Some entrepreneurs tailor these ideas to fit niche markets, including online training courses for finding your personal beauty style, online boot camps for starting hefty exercise regimes, and new-age e-books designed to help people learn to meditate or otherwise cope with stress.
One really great thing about selling digital products online is that while there’s no inventory to handle, and the products can be sold repeatedly. You produce one PDF file or one video, and fifty million people can download that same file. Plus, there’s a chance for significant residual income for every product that you sell because you can stay in contact with your customers through email
Selling digital products is a very good way to make money if you can figure out what kind of knowledge people want. I talk more in-depth about selling digital information products online in another post.
E-commerce site on Shopify
There are a few good ways to sell physical products online and make money. Shopify is one of them. In fact, in spite of its price tag, it may be one of the best platforms out there for selling physical products online, especially for new entrepreneurs.
One big selling point for Shopify is that entrepreneurs can create the custom look they want for their store. There are simple design tools like templates for those who don’t know anything about coding. Those who do know how to write code can tweak their site in a variety of ways.
Another big win for Shopify is that it allows Point-of-Sale transactions (POS) just like in a brick-and-mortar store. This is particularly helpful if you already own a store. Imagine a company that makes hand-made chocolates and sells them in a small downtown shop. If the chocolates are good enough, they’ll get word-of-mouth advertising, and people will start to want to buy them online and have them shipped to wherever they live. The POS possibility integrates the online sales with the brick-and-mortar sales, so that the store doesn’t need two sales systems.
From a work-at-home standpoint, a woodworker who occasionally sells his crafts at trade shows can use the same POS system to sell his woodwork online, leaving his time free to create more and sell more.
If you want to sell physical products online, Shopify is a great place to start.
Sales through Amazon FBA
FBA is another really good option for folks wanting to sell physical products online. Those who use Amazon FBA can make use of the systems Amazon already has in place to sell items, which streamlines the process, and the program is fairly easy to learn how to use.
For a work-at-home enthusiast, it’s important to learn about how to source products and resell them at a higher value, just as in any business. The big difference is that it’s all done online, which means even though you’re still shopping for products and reselling them, you rarely or never meet the customers face to face.
Usually the most interaction you’ll have is if a customer messages you to ask questions about a product before they order or if you request a review from them once they’ve bought something from you.
Cons might include the strict Terms of Service. There are many guidelines you'll have to be aware of, including things like specific for the shipping labels you use and how you list your products. This is the most popular course for learning Amazon FBA.
This is a third option for folks who want to sell physical items online. Etsy stores allow people who know how to make handcrafted items sell them online. Stores for woodwork, crocheted or embroidered items and other craft-type products are popular.
Some Etsy store owners list products but then use those products as a draw for other items. For example, one store owner sells unique home-made costume ideas on her site, but the real sales come from people who like her work and commission her to make something special just for them. She caters to a large cosplay crowd, often selling a costume for around $500.
There are a few cons to opening an Etsy business. First, you’ll be handling and shipping the inventory on your own, which means you’ll need a place to store it. Competition is fierce among Etsy sites, and there are a lot of them to compete with. Also, as with any business, it takes time to build up clientele. You might not have many sales for a few years until you build a following big enough to provide word-of-mouth marketing for you.
E-bay Auctioneering and Selling on Other Online Auction Sites
If you don’t mind handling all the work yourself, selling items on online auction sites might be a good way to go. You’ll have to buy the inventory, store it and ship it, but you have a lot of freedom in how you run your business.
There are two considerations to keep in mind if you’re considering selling items on E-bay or another site like it: 1) In order to create a good business, you’ll have to get good ratings, which means making sure your products are in impeccable order and shipping them as quickly as possible when they’re sold, an 2) you’ll have to watch out for internet fraud, which happens frequently on online auction sites.
Beyond that, the most difficult part of the business might be finding products, but that could be fun, too. Since you’re not limited to one type of product, you can browse yard sales, estate auctions and even pawn shops or thrift stores for items you can buy cheap and sell online at a higher price. You can even sell old items from around the house!
If you do decide to go this route, make sure you develop a good relationship with someone who can ship your items quickly, securely and dependably.
If you’re an introvert but can handle small groups of people for just a few hours a day, or even one-on-one situations, you might benefit from being an online tutor.
Like many work-from-home options, this is based mostly on your area of expertise. If you’re good at math, working with a student online through video chat to solve math problems might be an easy and fun way for you to make money. Likewise, if you have an interest in family history, you can talk someone through a difficult spot as they try to pin down their genealogy.
One of the most prevalent forms of online tutoring is teaching another language online. There are several companies that will hire people to work from home teaching English to small groups of children in lessons that last about half an hour each. If you’re good enough at it, you can move to teaching one-on-one for more pay (and less stress). It’s also a fun way to meet and connect with people from different cultures.
There are drawbacks to language tutoring online, though. If you decide to get hired by a company to tutor rather than starting a tutoring company yourself, you’ll have to go through a rigorous hiring period and then a period of training to learn the company software and rules.
You could also be a freelance tutor. In this situation, you would have to market yourself and create your own curriculum, but you would have freedom in every aspect of your business.
By-order-only: from woodcrafts to wedding cakes and gluten-free goodies
Here’s one more idea for selling physical products online, but with a twist: you might get to deliver your items in person.
If you’re good at welding, carving, crochet, sewing or crafts of any kind, this is a good way to make money online. All you have to do is create a good social network, preferably local, that will provide some word-of-mouth buzz whenever you finish and post about a new work of art.
For example, one woodworker keeps a gallery of his carvings on a Facebook page and updates it with new photos as he completes projects. Over the course of a few years, he’s developed a following for his carved creations. I'll be he's on Instagram too! I follow a few “makers” on instagram (even one guy that makes custom motorcycle helmets), and am always tempted to buy something.
It’s a niche following that started with a few friends, but because they like his eclectic work, they share what they buy on their social sites, and he gets orders from local people as well as people from far away. With the internet, it doesn't matter where you are in the world as long as you're willing to pay for shipping. Most of the money he makes comes from custom orders.
Another by-order-only business sells eclairs, brownies and cupcakes for events like weddings and birthday parties. The owner only sells with orders taken in advance, and only in the local community. A similar store takes orders for wedding cakes, and one more does gluten-free baking for local customers.
The downside to by-order only companies is that you might be limited in how much you can grow (at least as a home-based business) by the type of item you take orders for. Handicrafts can be shipped, but wedding cakes, eclairs and gluten-free muffins might be limited to the local area only.
If you’re interested in this type of a venture, check into the local laws for selling what you’re interested in making. There might be different requirements for running a food-based business from home than for running a business that sells other hand-made products. Make sure your business is legal.
You can see that there are plenty of ways that introverts can start businesses right from the comfort of their own home, the leveraging the internet. You don't have to be an attention-seeking spazzed-out extrovert to get people to read a blog, view a video, or buy something they need. A successful website is about connecting to other people just like you, and that can be very powerful…yes…for your wallet too.
Helpful, hardworking, and knowledgeable people are the millionaires of online business, because information is the currency of digital media.
Want to add a business model that works for you to this list? Do so in the comment box!
Also, please share your introverted business experiences with me, I'd love to hear what you found works for you. If you want to know more about how I make money with my blog, you can join my free 5 day email course.