7 Hot Online Business Opportunities in South Africa in 2019

If you’re in South Africa, and you’ve been brainstorming for ways to make money online, you’re just on the right page. This post will open your eyes to a number of online business opportunities in South Africa that can fetch you decent income consistently. Read on to learn more.

Why Online Business?

For starters, “online business” simply refers to any business venture that can be operated wholly or majorly over the Internet. So, you’d most likely have no need for dedicated office space or warehouse.

Since the Internet is where everything is run, you can operate an online business from the comfort of your home or any other location of your choice. All you need is your PC and a reliable Internet connection — and you’re good to go!

While there are many brick-and-mortar business ideas that you can start in South Africa, they are not so easy to break into. Aside from the huge capital they usually require, they sap your time and energy in different ways. You have to spend a lot on marketing. You have to search thoroughly for employees to work with you. You have to go through lots of legal paperwork and application for necessary licenses. And you have to fight for your market share amid fierce competition. And you know the worst part? You’d put in all of those, and your business might still fail.

No, online business isn’t fail-proof. But it doesn’t require a lot to get started with. That’s true for most online business ideas, if not all.

Online Business Opportunities in South Africa

online business opportunities in south africa

With the above in mind, let’s now look at some of the hot online business ideas in South Africa that you can easily launch and start making cool money from within a couple of months.

1. Freelancing

If you have any skill that can be provided remotely to clients, then you can make cool money off of that. No matter what that skill is, there are tons of clients all over the world looking to hire your services. And if you’re particularly good, there’s no limit to the amount of money you can make as a freelancer.

The good thing about freelancing is that you’re your own boss. You can start and close your work day at any time you want. You can set your own prices based on what you think your skills are really worth. And you’re not tied up to any single employer for a fixed monthly or weekly pay — you earn per project you complete.

Now, the list of skills you can sell off as a freelancer is endless. But here are some skills that are presently in huge demand by clients from all over the world:

  • Writing (article writing, copywriting, ghostwriting, CV writing, proposal writing, business plan writing, etc.)
  • Translation
  • Editing
  • Audio and video transcription
  • Graphics design
  • Search engine optimization
  • Virtual assistance (which involves working as a personal/office assistant for clients in remote locations)
  • Website development
  • Programming
  • App development
  • Social media marketing
  • Video content creation
  • Voice-overs
  • Powerpoint design
  • And many more.

If you have any of these skills and would like to start out as a freelancer online, you have many options when it comes to reaching out to potential clients. One option is to register with any of the reputable online platforms that connect freelancers with clients such as Upwork, Legiit, People Per Hour, Fiverr, and Freelancer. Another option is to join Facebook groups that have your potential clients as members and start promoting your services there. You can also set up your own online portfolio and promote it actively starting with your own closest contacts.

2. Blogging

The rate at which new blogs have surfaced on the Internet in recent times is an indication that blogging is lucrative. Blogging simply entails providing detailed and valuable information that people would find entertaining, educative, or problem-solving.

Whether your blog focuses on a single topic or a wide range of topics, you must be able to provide new content on a frequent basis. This is how blogs attract and build an audience over time.

Once your blog starts to generate decent traffic consistently, you can consider one or more monetization options. That is, methods through which you’ll earn money from your blog. Just so you know, a blog does not make money on its own. It makes money after you monetize it through any of the following:

  • Advertisements (direct paid ads or ad by contextual ad networks such as Google Adsense)
  • Affiliate marketing (where you get paid a commission per sale that results from your promotional efforts on your blog)
  • Lead generation
  • Information product sales (e-book, e-courses, etc.)
  • Offering services

Starting a blog is simple. Decide on your niche or topic — preferably one that you’re experienced in or passionate about. Choose a domain name. Register your domain name and buy a hosting plan. Setup your blog (using WordPress, preferably). And you’re good to go.

Note that you won’t start making from your blog within a week of starting. It takes a lot of time, energy, zeal, and consistency. But when the income starts rolling in, it would be worth more than the invested resources.

3. Video blogging (Vlogging)

This is about the same as blogging, but the difference here is that you’d be publishing video content rather than written articles. So, if you’re good at creating videos that would entertain or educate people, this might be your best bet. Just decide on what topic your videos would center on, get the necessary equipment, and get started.

After creating your videos, you’d have to first upload them online through platforms such as YouTube. You can also share them on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Then proactively promote them, so you can get as many as possible people to view them.

Like blog posts, videos can also be monetized with ads, affiliate marketing recommendations, and so on.

4. App development

Smartphone penetration in South Africa is presently around 23 million, and the figure is expected to continue going up. That’s a staggering 40% of South Africa’s population. This means developing apps targeted at South African users would be a smart idea.

If you’re a skilled app developer, implementing these ideas should be easy-peasy. But if you don’t know jack about app creation, you’re not shut out of the opportunity. You can hire an app developer to create any app for you.

App ideas that would do well among South Africans include news apps, games, job aggregator apps, and many others. Just figure out the kind of information that South Africans are actively searching the web for, and you’ll have more-than-countable app ideas.

Mobile apps could be monetized in different ways. These include integration of ads, provision of the option of purchasing premium or ad-free versions, and so on.

5. Self-publishing

Thanks to the Internet and the opportunities it has brought, publishing a book has become much easier than ever. You no longer have to break the bank to be able to finance the publishing on your own. And you no longer have to endure a series of frustrating feedback from publishers. All you have to do is write your book, upload it online, promote, and make money.

So, if you have one or more stories kept somewhere in your head for some time now, consider writing them out. And if you have some knowledge that you think many people would be interested in or would benefit from, consider putting it into writing. With platforms like Amazon Kindle, CreateSpace and others, you won’t have to pay a dime to put your book in front of several thousands of potential buyers from all over the world.

This idea can generate real passive income because you only have to write the book once. Place it at the right places online, and it will continue to generate income for years to come. You can even make a big business out of this by writing multiple books. Some high-earning authors on Amazon Kindle publish a new book every one or two months, just to keep the income flowing — and multiplying.

6. Social media content creation

Virtually every Internet user in South Africa spends several minutes to hours on social media every day. That’s why many companies in the country are advertising on social media like never before. But the truth is, all of the stuff that people consume for fun on social media were created by some other people. If you too can join those “other people”, you can make a full-time profitable venture out of it.

All you need to do is identify a topic or type of content you want to be known for. Then put resources in place that would enable you to create that content and upload it consistently. And launch right away. It could be comedy videos. It could be creative cartoons. It could be short commentaries on trending issues. It could be professional advice on health, business, or legal matters. Your goal here is to gradually build a huge followership. Once you achieve that, you’d start getting offers to advertise for companies, endorse products or services, speak at events, and so on. It all depends on what you choose to do exactly.

7. E-commerce

This simply entails selling products to customers over the Internet. Chances are you already know some big online retail brands in South Africa. But the truth is, you can actually start out by catering to only a small fraction of the market. For example, you can set up an online store that sells only mobile phones, or one that sells only perfumes, or one that sells only wedding rings. Carving out your niche this way makes it easy to make headway and build brand awareness within a short period.

There are many operation options when it comes to e-commerce. You can sell products that you make or produce yourself. You can buy products for cheaper prices at local markets or from wholesale outlets and sell them online at higher prices. Another option is dropshipping, which involves receiving the payment for a product and then ordering it for a lesser price at another store, which then ships to the customer. The choice is totally up to you.


With increasing Internet penetration in South Africa, more and more opportunities to make money online are surfacing every day. And if you’ve been looking to take advantage of this trend, the 7 opportunities discussed in this article are good starting points to consider.

Note, however, that online business is like any other business. It has its fair share of risks and challenges. But it has the advantage of low barriers to entry and the losses are not as costly as what obtains with brick-and-mortar businesses.

Bear in mind that online business options are not as easy or straightforward as you might think. So, before hopping on the bandwagon of any of them, research thoroughly and approach those who are already successful at it. This will help you avoid pitfalls and shorten your journey to success.

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