How to Make Money as a Teen

When you’re in your teens and you’re looking to make money you’ll most likely run into a bunch of recommendations to sign up for programs where you fill out surveys, or get onto Fiverr or drive for Lyft or Uber. But the reality is you’ll most likely make the majority of your money working for the man like most of us did. Or you’ll start a business.

So if you’re looking to make money to buy your first car, college or just some spending money for the weekends then start looking at what’s around you. When I was young I started working in a grocery store packing bags, then stocking shelves at 4am in the morning and working for the city in the summer watering grass and picking up trash. They weren’t great jobs, but they paid me actual money.

When I was in high school I tried to start a clothing company with a few buddies. We got financed through a government entrepreneur program, we hired a designer and a local manufacturer. After a few weeks we had our first pair of pants out, hoodies and a prototype hat followed. We made no money. Absolute failure. Our next venture was doing websites for companies when flash was big, we had one client, a local car dealership, we made a bit and it was fun to drink Dr. Pepper all day with my buddy and figure stuff out, but we could have made more doing almost anything else working for the man.

So if you’re in your teens and looking to make money then take a look online and around your neighborhood, ask the businesses if they’re hiring, submit applications and get a start. And then start a business on the side. A side hustle will give you that optionality for increased income, help you expand your skills, but you won’t be entirely dependent on it to cover your expenses. It’ll also teach you how to work harder than the kids around you. Making money is hard. It just looks easy after you’ve done it.

Business Ideas for Teens

  1. Create a bath/home product with a lottery element – Diamond Candles are candles with a ring inside where it can be valued at $10 up to $5,000. They started with a stove and sold $1 million in their first year. And they were making $1 million per month by their second year. Check out this interview on Mixergy. A ton of competitors have popped up. There’s even a recent success story where they’re putting a ring in bath bombs. They sold $1.7 million in their first five and a half months with $800,000 profit. Can you think of any products you could make like this? Start it up on Etsy and get going, or better yet launch with Kickstarter.
  2. Build skateboards, or something – A high schooler sold over $700,000 per year in sales assembling custom skateboards after school. Do you have something you’re passionate about and could buy pieces and build custom items? Check out Stoked Skateboards and get inspired.
  3. Write a book – Just kidding, no one reads books.
  4. Start a website – niche websites can make some money. Start listening to side hustle podcasts to learn what people are doing and how they’re making money. One example was a guy who loved fish tanks so he created a DIY site and linked to Amazon with affiliate links. He’s making 700 per month. Check out his story.
  5. Start a YouTube channel – There’s people making millions opening toys and talking about them or just playing with them. Seriously. Find a niche where millions of views are happening and put your spin on it. Check out how a five year old is making $1 million per month.
  6. Mow grass – A lot of us did this when we were young, you can make a couple extra bucks and get a workout while doing it.
  7. SEO booster – websites need legitimate links to help their sites get noticed by google. Learn the tricks and then start charging to do it for others. People do this on fiverr, upwork, etc. and the best part is people don’t have to know you’re young.
  8. Sell stuff – With AliExpress and Alibaba you can order stuff directly from China. Then you can sell it to your friends, or online through eBay or Amazon. It takes some money, is super competitive but it’s out there.
  9. Become a drop shipper – Now I’m not a fan of this business model because it doesn’t create real value, but this is where you sell an item online, but you don’t actually carry it. Then if a sale goes through a company ships it and gives you a small profit. Just search online for in-depth guides, I’m not a fan, but it’s an option.
  10. Create a card game – Heard about Cards Against Humanity? Check out the story of the eight high-school friends who created the game, are selling millions of dollars of the game, but still keeping their day jobs.
  11. T-shirts – Or what about someone who is making $53,000 in profit by coming up with t-shirt slogans on Amazon? Check out Elaine's story here.

But these are all outliers. That's why you need a job first. Each of these businesses have competitors that make almost nothing. In fact, to make money in t-shirts on amazon Elaine in #11 above has over 1,600 t-shirt designs. And every day more competitors join the program and make it harder for her to make money. Business is tough. So get a job. Then get a side gig running your small business.

Some Tips For Your First Small Business

  1. Try launching your idea on Kickstarter. It’s a crowdfunding platform that will allow you to test your idea and pre-finance it. So say you want to make a watch, you can create a prototype and then go there to see if you can get enough people interested to pledge the $20,000 or whatever you need to do your first run.
  2. Look at Shopify if you’re doing e-commerce. We’ve used them in the past and they make amazing sites.
  3. Or try selling on Amazon, it already has a ton of traffic built in.
  4. If your business is growing you can use Amazon or Shipwire as a fulfillment channel. This lets you ship them the product and then they ship them to customers when they are bought automatically. You have to pay for the service and storage, but it’s a great way to send product while you’re at school.
  5. Check out Flippa, a popular site to sell or buy websites, it will give you ideas on what websites are making money and you can even sell your own websites through here.
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