A few years back, it was easier than ever for teenagers to make money online.
However, the emerging realm of internet commerce gets more and more well developed by the year, and all of the fledgling opportunities that used to exist for kids to earn money have been replaced, somewhat.
Or so it seemed!
In reality, the opportunities just shifted places a little bit; the teenager with an open eye can find plenty of places to make money online.
In fact, there may be more places for that today than there has even been.
The real difficulty now is weeding out the scammers and tricksters from the legitimate opportunities.
Decades ago, any teenager who wanted to make some money could walk down to their corner store and find a job pretty easily.
But our evolving economy is going through growing pains that make it quite difficult for teenagers to find work in the way that they used to.
For some teens, who’s parents have been hit hard by the slumping economy, the strain might really be a lot to bear. Of course, the result is that most of the positions that traditionally were filled by teens are now being populated by adults.
Once, it was adults working the full time jobs and students working part time, but now the whole job market is turned on its head. As full-time jobs got crunched, adults took the students’ work. But now, what do students do for work?
Competition entering the work force has become more intense for all involved, and the least prepared of all, teenagers, also have the most difficult uphill struggle.
There is one shining light, though, and it’s something that most teenagers know quite well: the internet.
And that’s where they can shine. That’s where they can make money much easier than most adults ever could.
With that said, here are some of the best and easiest work at home opportunities that are specially great for teens:
1. Making Money with YouTube
I decided to put this one first for a couple reasons.
- The first and most obvious reason is that, plenty of teenagers actually are making a living doing this!
- The second reasons is that teenagers are well aware of the situation with partners and content creators on YouTube, so they’re probably the best candidates for succeeding here.
If you’ve got the will, you should try to really pump your creative juices into a project that you can host on YouTube.
It might be a song, a prank video, a how to apply make up video…
You get the idea!
Regardless of what it is, it’s worth uploading it to YouTube.
YouTube is kind of like a fame and money jackpot, after all, many try, few succeed, but when you succeed, it’s significant.
For example, the most famous YouTuber, PewDiePie, was once just a Swedish man who uploaded footage of himself playing video games.
Now he is an internationally famous millionaire, parodied on South Park, whose opinions are sought after by an entire market of video game developers.
How is THAT for just a little bit of effort?
Now obviously not every YouTuber can be a superstar and live off the ad revenue alone.
Luckily, there are other ways to monetize your YouTube channel.
Recently, more and more YouTube channels are making money with more traditional promotions to their channel– that is to say, being advertised to endorse a product as part of their videos.
This can make your YouTube channel successful with a lower subscriber count, if your goal is monetization.
YouTubers who are creatively-focused, like musicians, might have a harder time with this option.
With all this in mind, however, YouTube is an ideal place for a young person to begin making money.
In fact, you don’t even have to be a teenager; even a computer-savvy 9 year old could monetize their videos.
It’s best to manage this on the side in the beginning. It could take a while before your YouTube channel becomes really profitable.
- How to become a YouTube entrepreneur – Telegraph
- Young YouTube Partners: Finding Success as Entrepreneurs and Internet Stars – Huffingtonpost
2. Be a Professional Gamer
While we’re at it, let’s address another thing that many teenagers are familiar with: video games.
And especially online games at that.
Though it sounds like a fantasy, there are actually ways to make money by playing online games.
The first, and easiest way, to do get paid playing games is to go through survey and game sites.
Sites like Swagbucks will allow you to earn their currency points for playing games on the site.
Not only that, but some sites will pay you to play test games as well. If you’d like to learn more about this way of making money, I’ve recently written an article about it here.
But what’s that, you say?
You want to make a living playing games?
Well, surprisingly, that is possible.
One of the methods of doing this ties into the YouTube idea.
One of the most popular (in fact, the most popular, by average) forms of video on the internet right now are “Let’s Plays,” videos of people playing video games with commentary.
How big is this phenomenon?
Well, not only are many of YouTube’s most popular channels Let’s Plays– the game streaming site Twitch was purchased by Amazon for $970 million dollars.
If that doesn’t indicate the seriousness of this new entertainment, nothing does.
If you can’t build a YouTube channel with your Let’s Plays, you may still be able to make small amounts of money by attracting people to your Twitch stream and receiving donations. There is a built-in tip system for this very purpose.
Another way to make money playing video games is by playing very popular MMORPG games (World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Runescape) and “power-leveling” characters.
This means no socializing, no fun quests– you stick straight to the math for getting characters to max level.
Once you get the character “finished,” there are places online where you can sell the characters for large sums of cash– thousands of dollars, in some cases.
You can look up guides for doing this, but you’ll have to be quite good to bring in the big sums.
Some gamers are able to earn money by winning money at video game tournaments. There are a number of people who do this, and a variety of game types; fighting games and Real Time Strategy games are popular candidates.
The final way to make money playing online is by being a legitimate professional gamer.
This is no joke. In fact, there are multiple professional teams for the popular online game League of Legends, and they’re legitimate athletes by many standards.
Serious company endorsements, 10-hour practice days, and commentated broadcasts watched by millions.
Your chances of turning a profit like this are about as good as becoming a physical athlete, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try.
- 11 Sites That Pay to Play Games – MoneyPantry
- 2 Ways to Make Money Playing Computer Games – MoneyPantry
- This Guy Makes Millions Playing Video Games on YouTube – TheAtlantic
3. Using GPT (Get Paid To) Sites
Since I mentioned Swagbucks up above, this is a good time to talk about GPT sites.
While it’s true that you can do surveys on these sites, it’s not quite the same as the type of survey we’ll be talking about below.
There are many things that you can do on a GPT site, whether it is playing the games or doing the surveys we mentioned, it might watching videos or clicking on ads. There is plenty that someone can do on a GPT site, and you don’t have to put anything into it but a mild effort, so it’s an attractive option to many.
Teenagers are perhaps the ones who would most benefit from this, since the earning amount is usually pretty small and requires so little.
Generally, earnings are given in the form of gift cards, which can be useful for teens to save additional money on the side. The larger sites, like Swagbucks, will allow payout to PayPal, which teens can transfer into their bank account (if they have one.)
As computers rise in eminence in the modern world, so too does the need for people to hire programmers.
Programming, or coding, is a lucrative skill that is capable of being done online or offline, which is perfect for those of us on the go. Teens at school with downtime between classes could even do some programming without searching for WiFi.
There’s no other way to slice it: programming is valuable. So valuable, that if you start learning in your teens and keep your knowledge up-to-date, you can make a full-time career out of it. It helps to know multiple “program languages.” But if you know multiple, the things you can make are endless. It might be a website, an app, or a video game; all of these things are possible with program knowledge.
This list is no place to get into the languages but suffice it to say that there are a few very important ones, and the ones that you learn will be dependent on what exactly you’re trying to code. Look up a list somewhere and decide what you want to learn, or perhaps, go learn basic C++ to familiarize yourself with the process of coding.
If you’d like to learn, just Google “learn to code.” You’ll get many helpful results immediately!
Once you have some considerable coding skills (and perhaps a completed project or two, as proof of ability) you can start hunting out projects for yourself.
If you want to attract clients, there are two major things I’d recommend to do:
- To begin looking on a site like eLance or oDesk. These are sites where clients come to find people for various tasks, and programming is one of the most popular ones.
- Build yourself a website, and direct clients to there to see your portfolio. For a designer/programmer especially, it’s going to be important that you bill yourself like a real business.
It might take some serious practice, but if you take naturally to it and you land some good clients, you could be making thousands and thousands of dollars… As a student!
- Learn to Code: The Full Beginner’s Guide – Lifehacker
- Learn to Code – Codecademy
- Best Programming Languages Beginners Should Learn – BusinessInsider
5. Sell Your Art
Teenagers are some of the most creatively inspired people around, especially those who have been into their craft for a while. Whether they’re happy, or sad, teenagers are at an ideal place in their life to express themselves externally, and oftentimes this means making art of some kind.
I know what you’re thinking: “But wait! I thought it was illegal for someone under 18 to run a store!”
Well, you’d be right, my well-informed reader. But here’s the trick, online storefronts like Etsy are exempt from that rule. It’s easy to set up, and it’s easy to run– just place the items in your storefront with a picture and a description, and ship the stuff when your customers order it.
If you’re well-organized and you can pump out a lot of merchandise, this can be a great way to make money. In fact, the higher-end creators of Etsy are making a very tidy living doing what they do.
You can choose to accept payment in a variety of ways, the usual PayPal is applicable, but you have other options too, including even money orders and physically mailed cash!
- 40 Sites Like Etsy for Selling Handmade crafts – MoneyPantry
6. Being a Content Writer
This one is kind of the partner to #5. Whereas a visual artist sells their work/crafts in order to make a profit, a writer is being paid for something a little more intangible.
At a basic level, you’re still selling your art, though you probably won’t be writing from your muse with a lot of the writing jobs you can get.
Ever since the explosion of blogs in the 2000’s, the need for written content is growing all the time.
That means any language, too.
If you are reading this and your second language is English, there is money to be made writing in your native language (and even better, there is money to be money translating between the two!)
This one is also kind of like the programming step; it might just be easy money for now, but if you really buckle down and concentrate on getting the work, it could easily end up becoming your career. There’s not enough time to explain it all here, but we’ll hit on some basic points.
You can find writing jobs on eLance or oDesk.
Furthermore, you might be able to find writing gigs around town. The art of “Copywriting,” or writing for the purposes of advertising, is useful to businesses big and small. You might offer to say, write copy for the local bakery’s website. Well now that section of the bakery’s website goes on your portfolio, and you can use it to help you nab your next gig!
Like anything freelance-related, you’re only going to become more successful as you fill your portfolio up with quality work samples.
At the very least, your writing jobs should be capable of making you something like $3 for a 500 word article, but you might easily make $5 (or 1¢/word.)
If you can’t make that wage for any given job, don’t worry; there are lots of people in need of writers and the price can fluctuate a lot. However, as you progress, you might be able to make exponentially greater amounts.
Top-tier writers (I mean the ones writing at the highest level of corporations) are easily making $1 or $2… Per word! That’s serious income, and it’s the result of those writers applying themselves at business writing for a long time.
It would probably be unwise to hope to make that kind of money, freelancing as a teen. But with a sharp skill and a good portfolio, you should be able to make even more. If you’re still a student, especially one in high school, this could be much better money than your peers are making!
7. Creating Product Reviews
Another surprisingly easy way to make money for teens is by writing product reviews. There are a couple ways to go about this.
The first way you can go about writing product reviews is by taking tasks in that category from a writing site like PeoplePerHour or iWriter. These are sites that you can already frequent as part of #6’s way of making money, and the product reviews are a more specific form of that. These are usually product reviews that you’re supposed to write positively, so it’s basically a form of advertising. The good news is that this will give you experience in Copywriting!
Another way you can go about doing product reviews and getting paid for it is by reviewing many products in the same field via Amazon.com’s Vine program. If you’ve left say, 100 or so highly-rated reviews on similar products (like photography equipment) you may be eligible to become an endorsed product reviewer for Amazon. They’ll mail you products and you review them. There’s no pressure to force a positive review, and you get to keep the product afterwards. If you’re reviewing expensive products, you can probably make some good money reselling these!
The last way that I’m going to go over is by becoming a panelist for marketing research firms that run product evaluation studies.
A couple good ones are Pinecone Research and MindsPay; both of these sites offer legitimate product reviews and a variety of compensation options.
Additionally, you can get paid to do beta reviews for sites, apps, and websites, through a website called Erli Bird. If you’d like to know more about early bird, I’ve already written an article about it here.
If you were wondering if you can do product reviews on your own, well yes, you can! We’ll get into that on #8.
- Amazon Vine Program – Amazon.com
- Pinecone Research – Offers paid product testing opportunities as well as paid surveys.
- MindsPay – Offers paid product testing opportunities.
- PeoplePerHour – Find product review writing gigs.
- iWriter – Find product review writing gigs.
8. Running Your Own Blog
This one is kind of the partner entry for #6.
So, you’ve been writing, but you want to take it to the next level?
Well if you’re prepared to really sink in and put time towards a project, you might want to consider starting your own blog.
It’s no secret that running a blog can make you money, but most people are discouraged by the prospect of making a website, targeting a niche, building an audience, and keeping the whole thing going. And that’s a pretty legitimate concern, since it can take you quite a while to really build an audience for your blog. However, the payoff can also be quite good.
Running and monetizing a blog has been easier with time since the advent of services like WordPress, which will help you create your blog and enable monetizing as well. That doesn’t mean that you can’t write your HTML from scratch, of course, but you certainly don’t have to!
After you get your website all designed, there’s a great deal of things you should be doing to keep it in the game. Unfortunately, there are maybe too many things for us to go over here, so I’ll summarize the main points:
You need to target a niche: Unless you are a lucky one-in-a-million blogger, you won’t be able to make money by just blogging your opinions on everything. Unfortunately. Otherwise, we’d have all found a way to monetize our Facebook profiles years ago! You might think a major blogger like Perez Hilton gets to skirt this rule, but you’d be wrong– it just so happens that his niche, Celebrity Gossip and Commentary, is a very popular one.
But what if you’ve been running your blog for a long time, and only managed to secure a small and dedicated following?
Well, don’t worry, because that can be lucrative, too. This train of thought might be seeming similar to what I was saying back in the YouTube entry, and for good reason: it operates on exactly the same principle.
The idea is that if you have a small and dedicated following, you can’t exactly live on the mass traffic for ad revenue. Instead, you can sign up to become an affiliate and drop links to your partners in your blog. This might be something explicit, like a blog post about why Coke Zero Cherry is the best drink in the world, or something more subtle, like an unbiased product review with a discreet link at the bottom. How you approach the affiliate links won’t affect the basic idea, which is to earn money through a commission of sorts.
When it comes to blogs, the sky is the limit. They’re an open platform for any type of content you want to talk about, and your blog can even serve as the front of the house for your other projects. If you are a programmer, you can have links to your portfolio on the same domain as the blog. This can work really well, but beware: some clients are turned off by the idea of hiring a “jack of all trades” instead of a “specialist.”
- How to Start a Blog for Free – MoneyPantry
- The Free Beginner’s Guide to Blogging – FirstSiteGuide – This is an incredible PDF which was made possible with contribution from more than 20 top bloggers of all time.
9. Be an Online Tutor
As much as tutoring is a classic job for teens, it’s no wonder that you can also make money doing it online.
Unfortunately, certain sites won’t even let you register to tutor unless you’re a post-graduate student with a degree, but luckily, that’s not all of them. There are certainly places to be a tutor online where you can get paid.
A somewhat more abstract way to make money is with a site like Skimatalk. Skimatalk allows you to connect with people from around the world, and in turn you tutor them on their English.
You’ll need a video camera and a mic, but if you have those things, Skimatalk is a serious way to make money. In fact, users at Skimatalk make an advertised $15/hour. That’s no small sum!
If you’re under 18, you’ll need parental supervision. Or at least, so they say in the fine print!
- Skimatalk – Online tutoring jobs that allows teens to tutor as well.
10. Take Online Surveys
Online surveys are the gateway for most people when it comes to making money online. For some, it starts with surveys, but it ends with a full-time career working online! You aren’t going to have a career in survey taking, but it can be a nice way to test the waters when it comes to making money online. Plus, consistent effort will net you pretty good results for how easy it is.
Now when we say “surveys,” we’re talking about something a little different than the surveys we mentioned when we were talking about Swagbucks and GPT sites up above. In this case, we’re talking about companies whose sole business is market research. You might consider them a little more “serious” than a GPT site.
There are a lot of survey sites out there, and that works in your favor. The more survey sites you sign up for, the more surveys you can be invited to! So it’s best to register with as many panels as you can find that seem reputable.
One of the best things about survey sites is that they are generally very relaxed about their age requirements. In some cases, there are panels hiring people who are 6 years old and up! Chances are that if you found this article, you’re older than that, but it doesn’t hurt to keep that kind of knowledge on hand.
Teens, who are famously tech-savvy, should have no problem using these sites to make money, as well as using forums to learn and make the most out of the survey sites. There are plenty of them out there, so if there is advice that you need one-on-one feedback for, definitely go and join a forum about it.
When you sign up for a survey site, it’s going to be important that you are accurate when you describe yourself on your personal profile. These surveys are going to be given to you based on your demographic, so that means that your age, gender, incoming bracket, general location should all be accurate information. Otherwise, you might end up being asked to take surveys for products or services that you never would have even been interested in!
The final thing to remember when it comes to surveys is speed, speed, speed. The main obstacle when it comes to making money from doing surveys online is taking too long to do each survey. After all, what good is a $2 if you just took an hour to do?
As you do surveys, make sure you’re building your speed up so that you can do them quicker in the future. That doesn’t mean spamming (answering questions inaccurately because it’s faster,) but it does mean learning to skim and click faster.
- 10 Best Survey Sites for Teens – SurveySatrap
- Top 30 Paid Survey Sites – MoneyPantry
- 20 International Survey Sites – MoneyPantry
11. Do Editing Work
Believe it or not, reading things over and finding problem areas, replacing bad phrases with better ones, etc, is a full time job. More than that, for many, it is a career.
It might be a little surprising to think about getting paid for that. After all, it is essentially money in return for being judgmental of someone’s work! That’s certainly an easy thing to pull off, so all you need to do is learn to do it in a way that is constructive, i.e., offering suggestions as well as grammar corrections along with your edits.
You should be able to find editing jobs on the sites we mentioned earlier like eLance and oDesk. But if you can’t find it there, consider perhaps offering an editing service to people your same age for schoolwork.
It’s probably a little unethical to offer it to your own classmates, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t potentially help students from another school with their work. Now, this doesn’t mean to explicitly write the person’s paper for them… But there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of informed advising!
- Best 100 Companies for Flexible Editing Jobs – FlexJobs
12. Sell Stuff on eBay or Craigslist
Now, I’ll be the first to come out and say that Craigslist has a pretty bad reputation when it comes to people meeting up, so it’s perfectly understandable if you don’t want to get involved with it. But it also wouldn’t be fair not to mention it when it is a perfectly legitimate avenue for making sales. If you are in doubt, remember the few golden rules of Craigslist: Meet in public, don’t give out your address, and bring another person with you.
But if you want to circumnavigate the mysterious entity that is Craigslist, you can easily go the route of selling things on eBay. One of the most glorious things about eBay is that you can make money by selling just about anything. Somewhat famously, the first item ever sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer, sold to a man who owned a collection of broken laser pointers.
How’s that for a role model?
Of course, you will always do better selling something new on eBay. Some people will go out and spend thousands on Black Friday just so they can resell those items at a markup on eBay. If you don’t want to get that crazy with it, at least consider selling some of your old stuff that is in good shape. You never know what people might be willing to pay for it.
Also consider the things you own that may have aged into becoming collectibles. That Atari 2600 you had when you were a toddler? Yeah, that’s worth big bucks now. After all, they haven’t been manufactured in almost 30 years!
If you were to check right now, you’d see that very console being sold for anything from $5 to $200. eBay is just that kind of place.
Remember: set your prices reasonably and deal with your customers well. It will be the best for you, your business, and your reputation on the site.
- 13 Best Places to Sell Your Used Items Online & Offline – MoneyPantry
- Keys to starting a Successful eBay Sales Business – About.com
- A Realistic & Simple Way to Make $500 a Week with Craigslist – MoneyPantry
More Ways for Kids to Earn Money
So there’s our list of 12… What’s that you say? You want a few more options?
Aw, sure! Below are a few more informal, unsorted ways you can make extra money under the age of 18.
That’s right! Getting paid to tweet is a reality.
Now you probably can’t hide the fact that you’re advertising from your followers, so you might want to build a separate twitter following for this.
Little is known about this mysterious website, so I’m afraid I can’t do much more than recommend it to you. They advertise the ability to set your own rate, sell content, give advice…
But it seems to be invite only, and the website gives out very little information!
If you are interested, feel free to look around the web. I couldn’t find any definitive answers, unfortunately!
Ibotta is something of a rewards program that will reward you for making certain purchases.
You can use Ibotta to check and see if they’re sponsoring any purchases that you were planning on making anyway.
This is a good app to keep around and refer back to occasionally.
This browser extension basically provides its own ad space when you’re searching on a search engine.
It works very simply: it displays the ads, and you get paid if you click on them.
Your Qmee account clearly displays how much money you’ve earned, and the site offers instant payout with no minimum.
This is an excellent option for teens especially, since they’re likely on the internet quite often.
17. Slice the Pie
Slice the Pie, or “STP,” is a website where you give reviews, feedback, and ratings on 90-second music clips.
This is a service that enables fresh bands to get a feel for how people like their music, and what parts of their tracks they need to work on.
The great thing about STP is that you can earn an increasing amount of money the more you review. Sometimes the price will fluctuate on its own, and at other times, it will reward your tenure.
Either way, you can expect to make around 10¢/post here.
This is a pretty unique option, in function. Like many other services, it allows you to earn money in return for watching videos, or providing feedback, or various other tasks they may provide.
In addition to this, you can sign up at any age 13 or above!
They’ll ask that you have a Facebook, a cell phone, and be in the US (sorry international readers!)
But here comes the interesting part– Jingit will issue you a debit card exclusive to the Jingit service, and this is where all of the money you earn will go. Think of it like an exclusive bank account that’s limited only to your card. As soon as your earn money, it goes straight to this.
These guys who previously ran Instagrid.me are expanding into creating the “Instagrid Network,” which is an expanded platform for monetizing your Instagram.
Once they get back up and going, you can expect to use this to earn money in return for your posts!
So if you’re a heavy Instagram user, keep your eyes peeled. This is a great option for you.
I won’t speak too much about Fiverr here, because I’ve very recently put up a post about what Fiverr is and how to do well there.
However, for those who are unaware: Fiverr is a website where you post a task that you are willing to do, and you say you’ll do it for $5. It can be anything, but obviously you want to offer something that you can get done quickly. You don’t want to make $5 for doing something that takes you 2 hours.
21. Shared Revenue Writing
I know what you’re thinking. “But Satrap! You just did a whole entry on writing!”
Well, this section is just a little bit different. The writing I was talking about up above was mostly “content creation,” which basically means that you’re writing, giving away the rights to your work, and getting paid.
Shared revenue writing isn’t quite the same, it carries a little bit more identity with it. Long story short, it means that you will be getting paid for how much traffic it generates over time instead of making a flat fee all at once.
If you’re interested, check out my list of 20 sites that pay you to write.
Another mysterious site. I’ve heard whispers on the internet that this site is a place that will pay you in return for sorting phone calls into categories, but it doesn’t seem like they are accepting applications currently!
But you can bookmark the site and check back often as they do open the doors from time to time.
23. Test video games
Somewhere between the entry about surveys and the entry about video gaming, this one just didn’t fit quite right.
Nichols Research company is looking for gamers to take part in focus testing.
If you’d like to know more, you can sign up at their site. Make sure you list all of the types of video games you play; it should make you stand out more.
I bet you never thought you would see U-Haul on a list of ways to make money from home! Let alone a list for people who are 18 and under.
Well let there be no doubt, U-Haul will pay you to work from home.
This is something of a part-time job opportunity, because U-Haul will sometimes offer customer service work from home for anyone 16 and up.
This one was included on the list so that you could have your options about looking into this. Building your experience in “telecommuting” now might really help you down the road, when it has full-time career potential!
Another option for teens to earn some money is by selling their used books.
You can even take this further and buy used books for pennies from thrift stores and garage sales, then sell them back for the highest price using BookScouter.
Whew! So what’s the conclusion?
Making money can be hard for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 50; it’s important to have stable finances, and keep some money to spare (if you want to stay sane!)
For the young among us, the internet is a place where we can get started today and begin making money. It might be big money, or small amounts, but all of the options on this list are guaranteed to show results.
Most importantly, it might be a huge advantage in your life to have started thinking about making money online right now.
Many of the options that we discussed up above can actually morph into skills that will keep you going for a long time. Skills in writing, freelancing, programming and customer service are skills that can carry you through high school and college, and in the mean time, you might realize that you want to make a career out of it.
For the millennials among us, remember that the internet is the economy of the future. Investing some time in these skills might save your financial life some day!