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How To Start An ECommerce Business Without Money In 2024: A Quick Guide

How To Start An ECommerce Business Without Money In 2024: A Quick Guide

Start an eCommerce business without money from the comfort of your own home. 

There are plenty of opportunities for every skill set and experience level – you just need to know where to find them.

This article explores how to start a business with no money. We cover everything a budding entrepreneur needs for success, from choosing a business model and niche to branding and marketing.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through those links. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Choosing the right model is easier if you thoroughly understand the strengths and weaknesses of each one. So, we’ve provided a quick overview.

Print on Demand

How to Start an eCommerce Business Without Money in 2024: A Quick Guide 1

Print on Demand (POD) is an order fulfillment method anyone can use to design and sell custom products. There’s no need to purchase inventory, invest in storage space, or worry about logistics.

When a customer orders a product, the POD company takes care of the rest – printing, packaging, and shipping.

Industry data: 

  • Global retail eCommerce sales are projected to reach $6.9t in 2024, which reflects the impressive profit potential.
  • In addition, the global custom-printing market will reach $11.28b by 2032.
  • Great for beginners. Easy to start, manage, and scale. You can launch your own business from the comfort of your home with only an internet connection and a laptop.
  • Low risk. Pay for a product only after a sale goes through, so you won’t lose money due to unsold inventory.
  • Unlimited customization. Design as many products as you like and list them all for sale to increase your chances of success.
  • Wide selection. Design and sell various products from t-shirts, hoodies and shoes to tote bags and home decor.
  • Quality. While it’s in the POD company’s interests to provide the highest quality, you have limited control over it.
  • Longer fulfillment. The supplier prints products on demand, so they can’t ship immediately, which may result in longer fulfillment times.
  • Lower profit margins. Product costs are higher than wholesale prices, which means potentially smaller profits.
  • Split responsibility. While print companies handle fulfillment and shipping, you’re responsible for resolving issues that customers may have with these products.

Set Up a POD Business Today!

Affiliate Marketing

With affiliate marketing, content creators like TikTokers, YouTubers, and bloggers can earn a commission if someone clicks a link they promote and completes an intended action.

Typically, companies partner with affiliates to increase sales, raise brand awareness, and drive traffic.

Find affiliate partners by contacting brands directly or try platforms like Rakuten or Awin.

If you already have a devoted following, becoming an affiliate is a great way to make money without spending any.

Advantages of affiliate marketing

  • No barriers to getting started. You don’t need specific knowledge or experience. While it takes patience, anyone can get involved.
  • Easy to begin. Simply find an affiliate partner and start today. You don’t have to deal with the complexities of running an online business, like sourcing products, shipping, or providing customer support.
  • Freedom of choice. Select a brand, products, and services you want to advertise that align with your own interests. Tailor your approach to the target audience to make your campaigns more effective.
  • Passive income. Initially, you need to invest time in creating traffic sources, but afterward, it can generate income without much effort.

Disadvantages of affiliate marketing

  • Low commission. The commission rates are mostly low, depending on the affiliate partner. You may only receive a few cents if you’re paid for clicks instead of sales.
  • High competition. Newcomers may struggle to stand out among more experienced marketers.
  • Unreliable income. There are no financial guarantees. Your money-making potential depends on your following and marketing approach.
  • Time-consuming. Success requires creating high-quality content, a loyal following, and patience.

Profit Today – Partner With Printify!

Earn a 5% commission on every sales referral for the next 12 months.


Business model dropshipping

Similar to POD, dropshipping is an order fulfillment method that allows you to sell products without worrying about production, logistics, or leasing commercial space. The products move directly from the supplier to the end customer.

However, you cannot personalize the products you sell, making competition tighter.

If this sounds like a business idea for you, explore the best dropshipping websites to get started.

Industry data: Experts forecast that the global dropshipping market will reach $476.1b by 2026.

Advantages of dropshipping

  • Easy to start. Compared with traditional business models, it’s easy to start, run, and scale since the dropshipping company produces, packages, and ships the products.
  • Low risk. No need to invest in inventory. You only pay for a product after a customer buys from you.
  • Wide product selection. Sell different products – from apparel to furniture – and add them to your online store at no additional expense.
  • Flexible location. Run a business from home, a coffee shop, or even while traveling.

Disadvantages of dropshipping

  • Fierce competition. The market is saturated, so it’s important to find profitable dropshipping niches. In addition, learn how to price a product to attract customers and stand out.
  • Low profit margins. Many eCommerce businesses sell similar products, which means smaller profits for all.
  • Limited branding. You can’t personalize products, making it difficult to create your own brand.
  • Little to no quality control. Mostly, entrepreneurs can’t control the quality of products they sell online. Order samples from your suppliers to ensure items meet your standards if possible.

Quick tip

Ready to learn more on how to start an eCommerce business without money using dropshipping? Our article on dropshipping for beginners further explains the strengths and weaknesses of this business opportunity.

Selling Digital Products or Services

While many associate eCommerce with selling physical products, their digital counterparts can generate a substantial income, too. A digital product doesn’t require repeated production, storage space, or shipping – convenient for both sellers and buyers.

Sell digital products, like eBooks, photos, illustrations, guides, online courses, and digital art.

If you have specific knowledge, experience, or skill set, it’s a great way to start a business with no money.

Or, consider freelancing. Unlike a full-time job, freelancers enjoy much more freedom. Once they build a reputation, they can set their own schedule and rates.

Step 2: Pick a Niche

A niche is a specialized market segment that caters to a specific audience.

With the right one, you can engage the interests of a specific group with unique identities and preferences, therefore reducing competition.

Use market research tools like Semrush or Buzzsumo to check what people are searching for and identify current trends.

For example, a few popular POD niches include:

  • Animals and pets.
  • Activism and social causes.
  • Humor and memes.
  • Health and fitness.

The narrower the niche, the better. For instance, instead of selling clothing for dog owners, limit your audience further to Shiba Inu moms or labrador retriever dads.

Step 3: Establish a Brand

Establish a brand

Establish a strong brand identity that resonates with your audience, stand out from other businesses, and gain a loyal customer base.

Firstly, come up with a business name that’s original, easy to remember, and reflects what you sell. Try Shopify’s business name generator to gain inspiration.

Then, consider the following:

  • Values. Clearly define what you stand for. People are more likely to purchase from a brand that shares their values.
  • Vision. What’s your brand’s mission? Think beyond profit. What change would you like to see in the world? How can you contribute? Create meaningful connections with your audience by stating your vision.
  • Voice. Develop a communication style that matches your brand’s personality and resonates with your audience, making it easier to build trust.
  • Visuals. Create a cohesive visual identity that represents your brand’s values. Try design software, like GIMP or Adobe Express, to create a logo, icons, and illustrations.

Quick tip

Explore our piece on how to build a strong brand identity for your new business.

Step 4: Select a Sales Channel

Choosing a sales channel that fits your needs and technical skills is vital for reaching the right audience and gaining profit.

Each eCommerce platform and marketplace has its own features, capabilities, limitations, and policies.

These are highly customizable, allowing you to create a stand-alone store easily with pre-made templates. They have various useful features, like payment gateways, marketing, and analytics tools.

However, they take time to set up and customize, and some require technical knowledge.

A few examples include: 

Another easy way to start selling is by creating a Printify Pop-Up Store. We fulfill every order on demand, so you don’t need any upfront investment. After selling a product, we’ll ensure it’s delivered straight to your customer’s doorstep.

Printify API might be the perfect option if you have developer skills. You can integrate it into your own custom-built website or app and customize functionality, automate the workflow, and save time on repetitive tasks.

These host all stores on a single platform. They’re like online shopping malls, allowing you to sell to a pre-existing customer base.

They’re easy to set up and manage, but provide less control over the store’s appearance, content, and branding.

A few examples include:

Whichever sales channel you choose, Printify offers seamless integrations with all the major players, so you can start selling today.

Make It Happen Today!

Step 5: Take Care of Legalities



We strongly advise consulting a qualified legal professional to avoid any legal troubles.

Each country, state, and city has different rules and regulations, so check the requirements in your local jurisdiction.

While registering a business isn’t always necessary, doing so could gain you personal liability protection and legal and tax benefits. Learn more from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s guide on registering a business.

In some cases, you might also need a business license or a permit. Explore our step-by-step guide on how to get a business license to learn about the whole process.

Step 6: Market Your Business

When exploring how to start an eCommerce business without money, seek out some marketing options. You can build brand awareness, gain new customers, and increase profit with the right marketing strategy.

If you’re on a shoestring budget, try these wallet-friendly approaches:

  • Social media marketing. Social media is great for finding and engaging with a wide audience. Regularly create valuable content, run engaging contests, and post high-quality product photos to build interest.
  • Email marketing. A cost-effective marketing strategy. Encourage visitors to subscribe for exclusive offers or discounts. Use Canva’s free email templates to create the perfect email.
  • Content marketing. Advertise your brand and skills by publishing helpful content, like a t-shirt fabric guide or an in-depth product review, to attract and engage your target audience.
  • Guerilla marketing. This involves novel or unconventional advertising methods. For example, a fun trivia event in the park or a creative social media campaign that includes user-generated content.

Quick tip

Our blog’s Marketing Hints and Tricks section provides a wealth of information on social media, content, search engine, and email marketing for online businesses of all sizes.

Step 7: Invest in Growth

Invest in growth

When your venture starts bringing in profit, it’s wise to invest in expansion. Try these methods to fast-track success:

  • Paid marketing. Reach a wider audience and increase sales with Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok ads.
  • Add extra features to your store. If you use an eCommerce platform, explore their app stores. They’ll have various tools to save time and create a more seamless shopping experience.
  • Email marketing tools. Automate your email workflows with tools like MailerLite, MailChimp, or Brevo.

Start an eCommerce Business With Printify

Start a POD business

Want to know how to start an eCommerce business without inventory, storage space, and logistical worries? The answer is simple – Printify. We have everything you need to successfully start a business with no money today.

1. Sign Up

Sign up for a Printify account. It’s 100% free and accessible to everyone, everywhere.

Browse our ever-growing Catalog of more than 900 high-quality products, select your favorite, and click Start designing.

3. Apply a Design

Create as many designs as you like with our beginner-friendly Mockup Generator. Upload your own artwork, add text, or use our AI Image Generator to create new illustrations.

4. Select a Sales Channel

Publish products on your store, and start marketing and selling. After a customer buys from you, our Print Partners handle all the heavy lifting – printing, packaging, and shipping.

Closing Thoughts

As we wrap up our guide on how to start an eCommerce business without money, we hope you’ve found the inspiration to take your first step toward entrepreneurial success.

While there are many ways of making money online, take the time to find one that’s the right fit – evaluate your skills, strengths, and goals before settling on a choice.

Set Up Your POD Business With No Money Today!

This originally appeared on Printify and is available here for wider discovery.
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