The internet has opened up a world of possibilities for entrepreneurs to start and grow a business online. Canada in particular, with its educated population and high rates of ecommerce adoption, presents exciting opportunities in the online space.
But with so many options to choose from, what are the most profitable online business models for Canada?
With over 22 million internet users in Canada (nearly 80% of the population), the market is certainly there for digital products and services.
However, succeeding with an online business still requires careful research and planning around your offering, target audience, and monetization strategy.
The good news is that starting an online business can be extremely lucrative if you identify the right opportunity.
This article will explore some of the top money-making online business ideas in Canada right now.
We’ll look at potential costs, overhead, and income for each model so you can gauge the profitability. The key options we’ll cover include:
- Blogging and Affiliate Marketing
- YouTube Channels and Influencers
- Information Products
Let’s dive in and explore which of these could be your ticket to online business success in Canada!
Here are some key takeaways about the most profitable online business models in Canada:
- Ecommerce like dropshipping and Amazon FBA allows you to sell physical products with low upfront costs but margins around 15-30%.
- For bloggers and affiliate marketers, ad and affiliate income may only bring $500-$2000 per month initially but can scale up to 15K or more.
- Freelancers can earn comfortable full-time income of $50K-$100K+ per year, with top experts billing up to $250K based on niche and experience.
- YouTube creators take time to build an audience but once monetized can earn anywhere from a few thousand a month up to millions per year.
- Information products like online courses can bring in over $5000/month with the right topic, platform, and marketing strategy. Passive income potential.
- The most crucial elements are having a strong value proposition, targeting audiences strategically, and consistently executing your monetization plan.
Most Profitable Online Businesses in Canada
One of the most popular online business models today is e-commerce – selling physical products directly to customers. There are several e-commerce models to choose from:
Dropshipping has boomed in recent years due to low startup costs. With dropshipping, you set up an online store but don’t actually keep inventory. When an order comes in, you purchase the product from a supplier who then ships it directly to the customer.
- Extremely low startup costs – $0-$1500 to build the store
- No need to purchase and hold inventory
- Wide selection of products to sell
- Low margins after supplier and marketplace fees
- Inventory and shipping issues out of your control
- Fierce competition on marketplaces like Shopify and Amazon
Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) uses Amazon’s warehouses and logistics network. You send products in bulk to Amazon which handles storage and delivery.
- Access to Amazon’s huge buyer base
- Faster shipping with Prime
- Amazon handles customer service
- Need $1000-$5000 to start for inventory
- Amazon fees per item are high
- Competition for popular products
With Shopify, you create your own independent ecommerce store. You find suppliers, list products, and drive your own traffic.
- Higher margins since you set pricing
- Build your own brand
- Room to scale and expand
- No built-in audience – you have to drive all traffic
- Need $3000+ startup budget
- Managing inventory and shipping yourself
For dropshipping, expect margins around 15-30%. For Amazon FBA, margins are typically 5-20%. With Shopify, you can potentially double your investment in the first year.
Blogging and Affiliate Marketing
Blogging is hugely popular in Canada, with over 182 million blog posts created by Canadians in 2018 alone.
While starting a blog itself if free, monetizing it can take some upfront investment. Here’s an overview of costs and profit potential:
How it Works
Bloggers create free content around topics they are knowledgeable and passionate about. Popular niches include finance, travel, food, parenting, beauty, and more. Money is made through:
- Display ads – Google AdSense
- Affiliate marketing – promotions and links to relevant products
- Sponsored posts – paid partnerships with brands
- Digital products – ebooks, online courses, subscriptions
You’ll need a domain name ($10-$15) and web hosting ($5-$20 per month). Use a content management system like WordPress to easily create attractive, optimized content. Focus on providing value for readers rather than hard-selling affiliate links.
Here are some examples of successful Canadian niche sites:
- Modest Money – Finance and investing tips for everyday Canadians
- Savvy Backpacker – Budget travel for students and backpackers
- Pennies to Pearls – Budget-focused lifestyle and money tips for millenials
Ad and affiliate income may only bring in $500-$2000 per month in the first year.
But with enough traffic and a solid strategy, it’s possible to scale up to $5000-$15,000 or more per month.
Top bloggers like Erica of PopSugar Living bring in over $30,000 per month.
The key is consistently creating high-quality, in-depth content that attracts and engages readers in your niche.
With time and optimization, a blog can become a significant source of recurring passive income.
Freelancing has become a hugely popular way to leverage skills and expertise into income online.
Canada in particular has seen tremendous growth, with self-employed Canadians increasing by 15% in the last decade. For skilled professionals, freelancing can offer high hourly rates with the freedom to work from anywhere.
Popular Freelancing Platforms
The best place to start is on established freelance websites like:
- Upwork – Largest global freelance platform with clients worldwide
- Fiverr – Gig site popular for creative services and digital tasks
- Freelancer – Wide range of technical and professional services
These sites handle client acquisition and payments in exchange for a fee. Upwork and Fiverr take 20-30% commissions while Freelancer charges 3-12% fees.
Some top freelancing opportunities include:
- Writing – Blog posts, website copy, newsletters, social media
- Web Design – Building and customizing sites
- Graphic Design – Logos, branding, marketing materials
- Video / Animation – Promo videos, explainer animations
- Programming and Tech – App development, SEO, data analysis
Pricing and Income
Rates vary greatly depending on your niche, skills, and experience. Some average hourly rates for Canadian freelancers:
- Writing and content – $30-$60/hr
- Web design – $50-$150/hr
- Graphic design – $25-$100/hr
- Video production – $50-$250/hr
- Programming – $50-$150/hr
At 25 hours per week, freelancers can comfortably earn $50,000 to $100,000+ per year.
The top freelancers can make well over $250,000 with high demand skillsets and 5-star client reviews.
YouTube Channels and Influencers
In the digital age, social media influencers have become a major marketing force. Brands now recognize the power of YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok creators to promote products to engaged followers. For social media savvy entrepreneurs, influencing can be a highly profitable online business.
Getting Started on YouTube
YouTube boasts over 2 billion monthly logged-in users. To build a profitable channel:
- Pick a niche you’re passionate about
- Create search-optimized titles and thumbnails
- Upload 3-5 videos per week consistently
- Focus on high watch time and subscriber count
It takes time and consistency to reach 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours required to monetize through YouTube Partner Program. Popular Canadian influencer niches include:
- Beauty and fashion – Best Dressed
- Health and fitness – Kayla Itsines
- Tech reviews – Unbox Therapy
- Family and parenting – Elle and Baby
- Food and cooking – Preppy Kitchen
Making Money on YouTube
Income streams once you’re monetized include:
- YouTube ad revenue – Typically $2-$5 per 1000 views
- Affiliate marketing – Promoting relevant products
- Sponsored content – Getting paid by brands
- Merchandising – Selling custom apparel, accessories
Top YouTubers like Lilly Singh and Rosanna Pansino earn over $5 million a year. But even smaller channels with 100K subscribers and 2 million views per month can earn $2000-$5000 a month.
Selling online courses, ebooks, and membership sites has become big business. By packaging knowledge and expertise into digital products, entrepreneurs are creating location-independent income streams. Let’s explore this business model:
The best way to sell info products is on dedicated learning management platforms:
- Teachable – User-friendly platform to create and sell online courses
- Thinkific – Robust course hosting with marketing tools built-in
- Podia – For online courses, memberships, and digital downloads
- LearnWorlds – Focus on community and engagement
These make it easy to create polished course content, customize branding, and handle payment processing.
Types of Information Products
Best-selling topics tend to be around high-demand skills, hobbies, health, and professional development. Some examples:
- Online courses teaching design, coding, writing skills
- Training programs around fitness, cooking, arts and crafts
- Membership sites with premium content about trading, travel hacking or parenting
- Ebooks around health topics like diets, mental wellness, and habits
Pricing and Income Potential
Typical pricing models include:
- Online courses – $99 to $499+
- Ebooks – $14.99 to $99
- Memberships – $19 to $99 per month
Top creators easily clear over $1 million in revenue with a suite of high-value courses and thousands of students.
Even getting to $5000 per month is very achievable. With a compelling topic, strong marketing plan, and reuse of content, info products can become an impressive income stream.
The internet provides amazing opportunities for entrepreneurial Canadians to build profitable online businesses. With ecommerce, content marketing, freelancing, social media influencing, and information products, the possibilities are endless.
The key to identifying the most lucrative model is pinpointing your unique expertise as well as understanding your target audience. For example, freelance web developers can tap into demand from small business owners for quality website design. Fitness coaches may find the most traction creating online workout programs. The right business model aligns with your skills and also fills a need for a specific group.
Aside from the core offering, success requires specializing in search engine optimization, social media marketing, and digital advertising. One has to become just as skilled at promoting products and services as delivering the core value.
With careful validation, planning, marketing, and execution, virtually any online business can become profitable within the first year. Passion for the subject matter and commitment to providing genuine value is ultimately what drives growth and sustainability. The internet provides all the tools to build and scale a thriving business – the possibilities are limited only by your vision.
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