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If you’re reading this now, there’s a strong likelihood that you are either A: a young person new to the workforce looking to earn extra cash on the side, or B: a guy like me in his mid-twenties looking to fill out his time during the pandemic with worthwhile activities instead of doing the usual Netflix binge/video game marathon I would’ve done when I was younger. Or what I did last week.
Anyways, it’s never easy to start making money through your own endeavors. That’s especially true when it comes to creating content and being your own boss. It just involves that bit of discipline that can be difficult to maintain through the long term.
Fortunately, in the age of major technological advancements, there are plenty of ways for teens to make money online. Though these options may not make you a millionaire or provide a 6 figure income, they will make you money.
Throughout this article, I’m hoping to give you a general idea of jobs that are available to you. Most without much skill level, though they may require a significant time commitment to become viable as a source of income.
Regardless, I want to outline a few things to keep in mind before providing these examples of making extra money while you’re still young.
It’s All About You
The following list of sites you can visit to get paid as a teen consists of websites that are legitimate. I’ve done a bit of background research on each to support this.
It’s always wise to do your own research for any online listing. Look into who’s listing it and how it may benefit you. Especially when it comes to survey sites, make sure that you are comfortable with the information they may/may not ask for – there are plenty of postings that only need the bare minimum that will pay out just as fairly for your time as one that tries to get every piece of personal info they can out of you.
Be wary is all I’m saying.
Second, given that you’re young, put your life goals for the coming years ahead of earning a check. These jobs will always be available to you, there’s no need to stretch yourself thin for positions like these.
Do your best to weigh your needs and look at where you need greater focus. The ability to earn money online is tempting. But if you find that it isn’t for you and it starts to interfere in your life (with no added benefit to you), consider trying these jobs out a bit later when you’ve developed a bit more.
There’s no shame in it and there are absolutely more important things to focus on before committing to any of these.
Another thought is to try and find positions that actually interest you rather than ones that pay better. A huge part of being younger, especially for teens, is that there are no significant expectations for you quite yet. You have the ability to drift between positions with little to no consequence if they do nothing for you.
Every position, even ones that you don’t like as much, helps you grow as a person. Also, you learn what you can or can’t deal with at work.
For me, I’m capable of dealing with both complex problems or mindless tasks without much mental wear. But if you throw in dealing with people I suddenly dread going to work.
These online jobs are as much about your journey to start earning money as it is about you figuring out what line of work you would be happiest in.
Finally, a good deal of these jobs has certain minimum age requirements. You’re definitely old enough for all of these as long as you’re already 18. The lowest threshold in this list is 13 years old.
Follow your own path, just make sure you’re being careful when searching for any of these.
Alright, enough about all that. I’m sure you’re more interested in how to actually fill up your PayPal account instead of pondering career-based questions.
Here Are 7 Proven Ways For Teens To Make Money Online
1. Freelance Work (Writing, Design, etc.)
The internet is already a vast space filled with all sorts of content available at your fingertips each day. However, it is always endlessly expanding.
Much like other avenues on this list, offering your services through freelance market websites like Fiverr or Upwork allows you to be in control of the work you do, how much you take on, and also gives you the creative breadth to match.
The main difference between these sites compared to markets like Etsy or running your own website/blog (both mentioned later on) is that you will be fulfilling orders as directed by your clients.
So yes, you are able to go about many orders creatively, but there is also often a certain expectation of how you’ll ultimately present your work.
On the other hand, clients will also seek you out because of what you offer that is either unique or that you do well. In either case, you’ll be able to communicate with clients and hopefully strike a sort of happy medium.
2. Virtual Assistant / Data Entry Jobs
Working as a virtual assistant is available at a wide variety of companies. It involves several different tasks that will keep you engaged while also netting you a decent paycheck consistently.
These positions are especially easy to find nowadays as many offices have closed down in-person operations but have maintained workloads.
Additionally, many companies are likely to need extra help right now because the bulk of their work has become remote as well.
Working as a virtual assistant, you would easily be able to, “Help them respond to emails and phone calls, schedule meetings, book travel, and accommodations, manage contact lists, prepare customer spreadsheets or keep online records, organize managers’/supervisors’ calendars and create presentations.”
This is only a shortlist of examples pulled directly from a search, but the general idea is that you would have a diverse work schedule that allows you to be helpful and gain some computer experience.
Data entry jobs are just as easy to find and have similar requirements to be a virtual assistant but involve less interaction with people. Typically, data entry workers are able to complete their work from the comfort of their home, but there are circumstances where you are required to go in.
I briefly worked as a specimen accessioner for clinical and COVID samples, which is basically data entry involving human medical test samples.
Since I dealt directly with peoples’ medical records and the like, I was required to go in and use their system to track/verify each sample. However, this position was absolutely an outlier overall.
Usually, data entry positions will involve you, “Entering customer and account data from source documents within time limits, compiling, verifying the accuracy and sorting information to prepare source data for computer entry, and reviewing data for deficiencies or errors, correcting any incompatibilities and checking output.”
3. Customer Service Jobs
Working as a customer service representative for a company is yet another good example of how to make money online in high school.
These positions usually require you to be over 18, but it’s always good to check beforehand as many states will still require you to be at least 16 to be employed like this by law.
Working in customer service can be a bit tricky and definitely isn’t for everyone (aka I definitely know it isn’t for me – the thought of expressly working to interact with clientele 24/7 is a nightmare in itself personally), but there are many of you out there that are gifted and can deal with the average customer (bless you, truly).
As a customer service rep, you could probably expect to, “Resolve customer complaints via phone, email, mail, or social media, use telephones to reach out to customers and verify account information, greet customers warmly and ascertain problem or reason for calling, cancel or upgrade accounts, and assist with placement of orders, refunds, or exchanges”.
There are several routes that you can take when it comes to being an online tutor. By far the most popular path for tutoring in this way is to tutor English as a Second Language (ESL) to those seeking to learn it in addition to their native tongue.
There are a few sites that are specifically good for this, namely Skima Talk, Preply, or Chegg are all possibilities (Chegg requires a bit more in terms of qualifications but is absolutely still a viable path.
Setting ESL tutoring aside, should that not be your preferred area/zone of expertise, you can always set out to tutor people in other subjects as well. For this approach, websites like Tutor or Teachaway can be helpful for finding positions for teaching math, science, history, or any number of other subjects to a wider range of people that need it.
5. Etsy, eBay, and Beyond
I’ll lump both of these into one category because they all involve you selling things you’ve either owned or created.
The first and simplest, eBay, is well known and easy enough for anyone to join. The only prerequisite for this is to have items worth something in your possession that you’re also willing to part with.
Disclaimer: the things that you value most will not sell for the highest price you can find. Do a bit of research on the highest and lowest values out there, set the bidding price somewhere in the middle, and hope people bid their way past the max.
Either way, be prepared to compromise on eBay-esque websites (Wish, Craigslist, etc.). Sites like Etsy allow you to stretch your creative muscles and show the internet what you bring to the table in terms of arts and crafts.
Etsy provides a platform that is extremely accessible to budding artists and can help you jumpstart your future as an artist. Success is not guaranteed but it’s an option and worth a shot!
While it may be hard to break out using social media accounts initially, the best time to start promoting yourself is now rather than later.
Creative outlets like YouTube aren’t for everyone but creating your own channel can help boost your endeavors elsewhere.
Blogging alongside this can give you an even wider audience in time.
With platforms like these, it should be kept in mind that focusing only on making money will get you nowhere.
If you really are passionate about taking this route, just remember that what will have people coming back is that time, care, and effort you put into your content. Creating content purely for the money MIGHT work out for you (take a look at YouTube’s recommended videos). It could also lead to an unfulfilling career trying to keep up with the algorithm.
Personally, I’d suggest trying to use this in conjunction with the another of these options to give yourself the greatest spread. Entirely up to you, but this would also require countless hour of effort over long periods of time.
7. Online Survey Sites
I want to describe a couple of these opportunities last. While they are the most accessible, they are not always great sources of income.
Most survey-based sites, including SwagBucks, Points2Shop, and Survey Junkie, run on funneling people through their system to a partner’s website, having them fill out a survey, and earn points for each one completed.
These can then be redeemed for various items, gift cards, or (rarely) funds deposited directly via PayPal.
While online surveys are easy to complete, they can be a bit intrusive concerning your personal information.
They can give you a quick and easy route to some cash/prizes. It also runs on companies selling out this personal info to data companies.
Like I said, just be careful and recognize whether you’re comfortable doing this sort of thing. If you are, go crazy and hoard a bunch of gift cards to use in around the holidays.
Which Should You Choose?
There you have it, several proven ways for teens to make money online. I’d say you should try each one of these in your spare time if you’re feeling up to it.
I structured this list in a way that ranks each idea from my most favored to least favored in terms of viability, ease of access, and safety.
Online survey sites are honestly one of the quicker ways to make money/points/gift cards. Although I mentioned before, a great deal of them requires your address and other personal info.
Just be cautious and you’ll be good.
YouTube and blogging are also lower because I personally view those platforms to work effectively the more passionately you feel about the topics you want to create content about.
Regarding YouTube, you may have noticed that there are definitely ways to game the algorithm. There’s nothing wrong with working your grind, but it is not exactly a path many people want to nor are able to keep up for extended periods of time.
Finally, if you’re on the younger side (high school) and you’re reading this, keep your priorities straight above all else.
If additional schooling isn’t for you, by all means, use this list to your full advantage.
If you’re planning on going to college in the coming years, it can be tricky to balance school and work. However, if you can, it’ll help you greatly with your time management abilities and can also add some new skills to your resume.
Most of these might not be exactly applicable for marketable/transferrable skills, but hey, any bit of experience helps these days.