The job market can be a tough place for a teenager, but, with a little resilience and ingenuity, you can find several ways to make money. Aside from browsing your options with employers who are known for hiring teens, you should also think about opportunities to become an independent contractor of sorts, a budding entrepreneur who sells wares or provides services all on your own. Whether you think you want a basic summer lifeguard gig or to start your own landscaping business, make sure you explore your options beforehand in order to find the one that suits you best.
Method 1 of 4:
Doing Odd Jobs
Babysit for friends and family. How to make money for teenagers without spending anything and help out in the community is babysitting. If you’re responsible and you like children, consider giving it a try! Ask family friends who have young children if they need any help with childcare and start developing a client base.
You can start by getting CPR certified and taking some basic first aid classes in order to make your new employers feel more confident leaving their kids with you. Community centers, hospitals, and local Red Cross chapters often offer these courses for free or at discounted rates.
If you don’t have any prior experience taking care of children and your new clients are nervous about this deficiency, ask them if you could have a probation period. The first few times you babysit, you can do so when a parent is home and available to supervise.
Do yard work. Many people are too busy for basic yard maintenance, but they don’t want their homes to look unkempt or neglected. These people are often more than willing to pay someone to mow the lawn, rake leaves, or trim hedges, especially if they can hire a neighborhood teen or family friend. Start by asking your friends and family if they need help, and, if you don’t get enough business, post some signs around the neighborhood offering your services.
In the winter, you can shovel driveways and sidewalks for people in your neighborhood.
You can also consider teaming up with friends or family members to do numerous landscaping and maintenance tasks. You’ll have to split the proceeds, but you’ll also get done more quickly.
Do household cleaning chores. Since you’re a part of the family, you should already be pitching in to the keep the household in shape, but you can ask your parents if you can take on additional responsibilities for a reasonable fee. After all, chances are that your parents already have a lot of daily tasks and worries, so they would appreciate the help. You can negotiate your compensation by asking for half of what a professional cleaner would charge. You could also do other people’s yardwork and get money.
Some experts recommend that parents and teens can also benefit from negotiating rates based on performance. So, for example, you could agree on $30 for an adequate job cleaning out the garage and gutters. If you exceed expectations and do a stellar job, though, you could agree that you’ll receive a pay hike to $40 or $50. Such a plan incentives your work while teaching you a better work ethic.
Run errands for an elderly person. A lot of senior citizens have mobility or dexterity issues, so they can find it difficult doing some basic daily tasks. If you know any elderly people in your area, ask them if you can help them out by getting groceries, moving furniture, fixing computer problems, or watering plants. Just be sure that your arrangement is up-front on both sides: the last thing you want is to do work thinking you’ll be paid while the other person considers your efforts a favor done out of kindness.
For example, if your grandparents host a bridge party every week, ask if you can come over next time they meet in order to offer your services to their friends. They can prepare their friends by letting them know that you’re trying to earn some extra cash, and you can give a sales pitch when everyone is gathered.
Walk dogs in your neighborhood. While most people enjoy walking their dogs, they’re often too busy to do so during the day. Their dogs’ welfare is important to them, though, so they are willing to shell out some real cash for someone to take them for walks and exercise. So, if you like dogs and have a lot of energy, put your interests and enthusiasm to good, monetary use!
Becoming a part-time walker is easy than ever now with the advent of mobile apps for job seekers. You can sign up for a variety of mobile apps, such as Wag! or Rover, which connect available dog walkers to needy clients.
How to Avoid a Boring Life
Tutor your schoolmates. If you’re a particularly strong student, find out what your school’s rules are regarding paid tutoring. You may not be able to work or advertise on campus, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work privately with another student at a public library or one of your houses, for example.
You can also try to sign up for an online service like WizIQ or Tutor Hub that connects you to other students needing tutors. Many of these sites require a high school diploma, but others are more flexible about their stipulations.
Don’t give up on this idea just because you’re not a brainiac! If you’re very good at a sport, musical instrument, or hobby like carpentry, you can get paid for private lessons.
Advertise your services. No matter which odd jobs you decide to do in order to earn money, it’s essential that you get the word out! You can place a cheap ad in the newspaper or hand out some flyers, but it’s probably easier—and often free!—to advertise online. Think about placing ads on craigslist.org or boosting awareness for your start-up on your personal social media pages and feeds. You’ll be surprised how many people in your personal circle need help with chores and other basic odd jobs, so put some feelers out and see what happens.
Once your odd job service is off the ground and running, you can think about creating separate social media accounts for your services like a small business would do.
As always, you need to be particularly careful about advertising or doing any other business online. Make sure your parents are aware and approve of all the ads and forums you’re using—for example, if you’re advertising on Instagram and Facebook, make sure your parents know about both of these social media portals and can help you regulate them—and have them come with you if you’re going somewhere to mow lawns or babysit for the first time.
Method 2 of 4:
Finding Work Online
Sell stock photos. If you have a decent camera and know how to compose an image, try taking stock photos and selling them online. They don’t usually make much per sale, but remember that you’re also developing a useful skill and a relaxing hobby. Plus, if you put a lot of time and practice into it, you can actually end up making quite a round sum of money.
There are a number of stock photo agencies that purchase photos online, so don’t give up if you’re rejected from the first place you go. Companies like Shutterstock, Dreamstime, and iStock are some of the biggest buyers, but you could also check out boutique agencies once you get good.
Check out mobile apps that pay you for running errands. If you have a smartphone, you can find a number of apps that hook you up with local businesses or people who need small tasks done for paid compensation. Not all the tasks pay very well, but they’re usually easy—for example, a business or marketing research company might pay you to take a picture of yourself at a certain establishment—and you can look at it like a kind of adventure or scavenger hunt.
GigWalk, WeReward, and CheckPoints are some examples of this kind of app, but there are many more out there, so browse around and experiment with different ones! Just make sure that the program accepts teens before signing up.
Do online surveys. Marketing research is very important for big businesses, and paid survey sites are one of the many ways firms complete this research. Most of the surveys are quick and painless, and you can do them from the comfort of your own home. Take some time to search for a reliable site—or sites—that doesn’t require a registration fee and accepts teen participants.
Filling out surveys isn’t the most lucrative online earner—the average wage surveys is $7.00-$8.00 an hour but it’s easy and stable work.
You can also participate in paid marketing research focus groups. Unlike online surveys, these focus groups meet in person and pay between $50.00 and $150.00 an hour.
Websites like SwagBucks, SurveyJunkie, or SurveySavvy offer money per survey, rather than after a set amount. The average amount earned for each Survey in Survey Junkie is around $0.50 for each survey.
Start a YouTube channel. You can earn money from uploading videos on free services like YouTube because of the advertisements it plays before and during popular content. While there are millions of users and competing channels, don’t get discouraged before you try it out! After all, many of the most successful YouTube stars started out as teenagers looking to make a few extra bucks while having some fun. Just make sure that you keep your parents abreast of what content you’re putting up and have them help you handle user comments in order to stay safe.
While fashion vlogs and video game walkthroughs are perhaps the most common types of content on YouTube, don’t feel limited to this arena. If you like to pull pranks on family members or put on living room skit or comedy shows, consider filming them and putting them up on your channel! You could also form a YouTube book club or fan group where you lead discussions about your favorite novels, music, and movies.
You can start with your laptop’s basic webcam and home lighting, but as you strive for higher quality and production value, you’ll probably need to invest in a better camera, editing equipment, and professional lighting.
Participate in local studies. Many universities and pharmaceutical companies pay people to take part in studies or clinical trials. Some of these studies take up an afternoon, while others will require a longer term commitment, so make sure to read all the conditions and requirements beforehand.
To find current trials and apply for them, check online classifieds sites as well as official university and clinic websites.
Most clinical trials will not be open to teenagers, but you can find some if you search for teen studies in particular. Just be sure to ask your parents for their approval, as they will need to sign off on the trial should you be accepted into one.
Method 3 of 4:
Selling Crafts and Household Items
Organize a yard sale. Even if you don’t have anything valuable to sell, your family probably has some stuff lying around the house or garage that is just taking up extra space. Ask your parents if they’d be willing to clean out some old junk and let you collect the proceeds as long as you do the grunt work. If they say yes, empty out your closet, attic, or basement and advertise your sale around the neighborhood.
Even though it may seem odd, don’t price anything! People often start bartering at prices which far exceed what you had been expecting, so let an interested buyer name a price before you say anything.
You can make a little extra at a yard sale by offering cheap beverages or snacks. If it’s nice weather, offer lemonade or soda; if it’s cold out, offer hot tea or cider.
Take old clothes to thrift shops. While charity shops like Salvation Army take clothes on donation, other for-profit thrift and consignment stores pay money in exchange for used items of clothing. Gather up any articles of clothing and accessories which you don’t use or like anymore and take them to a local recycled fashion store like Buffalo Exchange or Crossroads. The store attendants might not purchase your items if they’re out of fashion or in poor condition, but you can always donate the refused items to a charity shop.
Make sure you wash the items before offering them to the store, as their cleanliness and condition will influence the shop’s consideration and evaluation of your clothes.
Consignment is your best option for articles of designer clothing. You don’t get any money up front, but you’ll get a higher cut of the proceeds once the item sells.
List collectibles or unused items in online classifieds. If you have any big-ticket items like valuable collectibles which you are willing to part with, you can auction them on websites like eBay. Unlike the random passersby who come by yard sales, you’ll find people who are specifically interested in what you’re selling and thus willing to pay a higher price.
The most important thing about listing your items online is including good photographs of your wares. Buyers won’t take the risk if they can’t see a high-quality, detailed image of what they’re bidding on, so use a nice camera and good lighting to capture your inventory before listing.
Make sure to talk about Craigslist-transaction safety with your parents beforehand and have your parents present if you’re doing an in-person transaction.
Make crafts to sell. If you’re good with your hands and you enjoy art class, try making your own crafts that you can sell online. You can make friendship bracelets, beaded jewelry, origami, or silk-screened T-shirts, depending on the equipment you have and how much money you have upfront to pay for materials. Start by advertising your new storefront and crafts on your personal social media and by word of mouth to friends and family.
Browse around Etsy for a while to see what kind of options you have and what kind of crafts seem to sell particularly well on the site. Doing your research first can save you some valuable time and costly mistakes.
Eventually, you’ll want to be charging about twice what you spent on materials and production, but you’ll probably want to start pricing at more moderate levels so you can start building a customer base.
If you’re not sure you want to go all-in with an online store, try making some seasonal crafts during the holidays that are easy and require minimal investment. For example, you can gather mistletoe and/or pinecones, tie them into bunches with ribbons and cheap bells, and sell them as decorations. If it goes well and you enjoy the process, think about opening a more permanent storefront.
Method 4 of 4:
Taking a Service Industry Job
Check with local grocery stores for openings. Many grocery stores take teenager employees as baggers or stockers, and these kinds of jobs can be good experience for your budding resume. You won’t be paid much more than minimum wage, but the money will be steady and consistent, as long as you show up for your shifts and become a reliable worker for your employer. Chances are, you’ll also get to work and hang out with other like-minded teens. Just make sure you can stand on your feet for several hours at a time, as bagging and stocking are both somewhat physically demanding.
If you don’t have a car, make sure the store is within walking distance, or that your parents or siblings are willing to give you regular rides to work. If you do have a car, make sure you’re factoring gas money into your calculations of how much money you’ll be earning.
Become a busser at a restaurant. While most restaurants require servers and bar staff to be over 18 or 21 years old, many do hire teenagers as bussers, food runners, or delivery drivers. In these jobs, you have less interaction with the customers, but you gain valuable experience in the restaurant industry and often receive a cut of the servers’ tips. It’s also a physically demanding job as you should expect to be on your feet for the duration of a shift, so keep in mind any mobility issues you may have.
Working in a restaurant also has some safety hazards such as slipping and burns, so make sure you go over proper safety regulations before you begin working and that you receive proper training from your employer.
Work at a fast food restaurant. It’s not the most glamorous job on earth, but the fast food industry is one of the biggest employers of teenagers in the world. The work is fairly easy, but you should be prepared for a high-pressure environment during peak business hours. Also, be aware that some economists and workers’ rights advocates claim that teens should avoid the fast food industry at all costs. They cite the lack of benefits, rights, and education as ways which employers take advantage of their young employees, so do your research before taking a job in this field.
Like other restaurant jobs, there are some workplace hazards you should be aware of ahead of time. Slipping, burns, and cuts are all possible problems you’ll encounter, as well as potential hearing damage from drive-thru headsets.
Ask for openings at recreational facilities. Places like movie theaters, amusement parks, swimming pools, and YMCAs pull a lot of their employment pool from the teen age group, so consider doing something in this field if there’s one available locally. You’ll need to undergo some training and swimming qualifications if you’re trying to be a lifeguard, but many of the other opportunities don’t require any kind of prior experience.
Also think about seasonal opportunities like summer camps and haunted houses. These jobs hire a lot of teenagers, can be a great way to broaden your social circle, and are almost guaranteed to give you some wild stories!