As a teen who has made over $1000 online, I have found there are many creative ways of earning money while still in high school that aren't taught in school. I've had friends who have been successful with many of the following ways to earn money, and any teen with enough determination and creativity can get really good at one or more of them.
But the key is to start small, learn the tricks of whichever trade you choose, and work your way up to earning much more. If you are willing to commit and put in the work, then the following list includes the best ways of making a significant amount of money while still a teen.
1. Make an App
I know this one sounds impossible -- but it's not. A friend of mine did exactly that and is earning income per month passively from a simple multiplication app on the iOS app store.
She didn't have much technical experience, but she was motivated to take a course on Udemy (the exact course listed below) and built the app when she was still in high school. You can also have an app built in under 3 months following a tutorial like the ones below.
If you find a certain need and market it well, you could charge $1 for every download and/or make money from in-app ads.
2. Photograph an Event
You only need one client to start a business! See if one of your parents or parents' friends are hosting an event where you can charge for your photography skills!
If you don't have a nice camera, you can rent one and take a photography class online. Once you take pictures at one event, you can get a referral to start photographing other events!
Senior pictures are also a great opportunity to use your photography skills! Put your name out there -- talk to parents, fellow students -- and get your first job.
3. Get Paid for your Design Skills
Tons of people are looking online right now on UpWork for creative people to help them design their logos/websites/media etc. You can sign up for a freelancer account and submit your cover letter/resume for available job openings. This should only be for people who already have experience in graphic design and/or art.
If you don't yet, I suggest first taking a class online like this one and building up a portfolio.
4. Write an EBook
Do you love writing? Independent writers of all ages are writing stories or informational EBooks on a variety of topics. You can self-publish on Amazon or make your fictional story available on Wattpad where fans can choose to give money to you.
This is where the book "The Kissing Booth," written by the teenage author Beth Reekles, first became popular, racking up around 19 million views!
5. Become an Affiliate (like me!)
Did you know you can make money recommending other peoples' products? If you build a following on a blog or social media account, you can earn a commission from recommending a product or service that you have tested and love (just check out some of the links in this article!).
6. Get a Music Gig
Are you a good singer? Do you know anyone who would want to be in a band? You could reach out to some restaurants/café and send them recordings of your songs and/or covers.
If they like your music, they might agree to hire you to perform in their restaurant or café (especially if it's a local, family-run place).
Gigs like this are how Taylor Swift started her career when she was a teenager!
7. Tutor Friends
Are you really good at math? Did you score really well on the PSAT? You could be a tutor and get paid $20 or more per hour!
Not only does it help the person you're tutoring and let you earn money, but it also gives you a refresher on an old subject so that you can do better in your current classes. If you tutor a subject that you love, it doesn't even need to feel like work!
To find someone to tutor, just ask your parents or friends' parents if they know anyone who needs help. Often, students are embarrassed and won't admit they need a tutor, and that's why it's important to talk to parents.
8. Make Money Organizing Events
Put those good leadership skills to work and help adults organize events! You could be paid as an assistant or even find people who need to have an event organized.
One idea is organizing birthday parties for small children. It's often a headache for parents with little time and kids with high expectations. You can take that responsibility off them by organizing an amazing birthday party with fun games and cute decorations.
If one kid goes to an amazing party you organized, they'll tell their parents they want you to organize their birthday as well. That's where you can turn this idea into a business.
9. Sell at a Farmers Market Stand
Don't be shy -- just walk up to some and ask if they're hiring at your local farmers market! Some might be interested in letting you work a shift or two throughout the day.
If you have something to sell such as hand-made jewelry or lemonade, you could also go through the paperwork of setting up your own stand!
If you don't have a farmer's market in your area, another option is to cater at an event. Unlike a farmer's market stand which usually only happens certain times out of the year, catering can turn into a profitable business that can give you more flexibility in your schedule, and of course, has the possibility of growing much more than a traditional stand at a farmer's market.
10. Start a Computer/Phone Service Company
Before you count yourself out as someone who doesn't know much about computers -- remember how much more you know as a millennial about phones/computers than your grandparents or even your parents.
You wouldn't necessarily realize it now, but as a teen, you're likely more tech-savvy than you realize. And if there's something you don't know how to do, I'm betting you'd do a lot better following a tutorial online than your older client would.
All you need is one client or family member to pay for your help setting up their phone, fixing their iTunes account, or installing some software, etc., and you're off to the races.
Ask around your neighborhood to see if anyone needs help. You only need one person to hire you to start your business: Entrepreneurship: How To Start A Business From Business Idea >>
11. Lifeguard at Your Local Pool
Lifeguarding isn't always a summer activity! Visit your local pool or gym and apply to become a lifeguard. Most (if not all) pools or gyms will let teens (over the age of 15 in most places) train to become a lifeguard.
*Tip: learning CPR beforehand is extremely helpful and often a requirement!
12. Referee Sports Games
Do you know a certain sport really well? Did you grow up playing a sport?
I know some friends who earn $100 for reffing one soccer game. That's not bad at all for a 90-minute game. You can search for reffing opportunities in your community or ask a local high school/club coach.
Usually, there's a training you need to take before getting your first game, but after that, you can decide which times/games work best with your schedule.
It does help if you're able to drive yourself because games can sometimes be far away.
13. Sign up for Wag
Round up the neighborhood's furry friends! Create a poster or online ad that lets the neighborhood know that you are available! You can sign up for Wag or ask your parents if they know anyone in need of a dog walker!
14. Sell your stuff
Another way to make some easy money is by putting your clothing or other items on websites (or apps) such as Dote, Let Go, or thredUP. You can create your own account and choose your own prices. Another option is to organize a garage sale and invite the neighborhood!
15. Babysit Neighbors' Kids
This is probably one of the most common teen jobs out there -- and one of the easiest! Ask around your neighborhood or create flyers to pin up around town can spread the word easily!
Online websites such as Facebook or Reddoor can also help. Chances are someone you know will know someone who will need a babysitter, or they will know someone else to refer you to. Don't be afraid to just ask around!
16. Start a Youtube Channel
For this option, you have to be in it for the long haul. Often, YouTubers only make under $50 their first year of making videos, but after years of creating a following, you can start to get brand deals and better revenue from ads and start earning thousands of dollars.
To make this option work, you need to make sure that the content you're putting out into the world is unique and of good quality -- otherwise, no one will pay any attention.
Starting a Youtube channel takes a ton of time, so you need to make sure that making videos is something you absolutely love doing before pursuing this option.
Here is an in-depth course on everything you need to know to start your own Youtube Channel.
17. Sell on Shopify
Did you know that you don't need to have inventory to sell online? There's something called dropshipping where you can sell other companies' items in your store and ship directly from them to the customer and make the difference. This how Gym Shark got started.
There is a great course on Udemy on how to just that and start earning money without having to invest money into building inventory which you can find here: Build a Dropshipping Empire From Scratch [Proven Blueprint] >>
18. Grow an Instagram Account
This could be a personal account to grow your personal brand or a completely separate, niche account that focuses on viral content. If you grow an account to 40,000 followers, you can start charging money to post content on your account.
Practically every large account does this. If you're not convinced, follow twenty large meme or niche accounts and take notice to what they post. Often the paid posts will only be live for a few hours. Niche accounts on Instagram (excluding influencers and personal brands) can charge anywhere from $30 to $300+ for one post. The number of followers and engagement rates are important in determining how much can be charged for a post/story.
You can also become an affiliate and recommend a product in your bio/story links that you can earn a commission from.
19. Sell on Etsy
Are you particularly craftsy? Are you good at art? You can sell your crafts on Etsy! It's a website specifically for buying and selling handmade items such as jewelry, decorations, clothing, etc. Here's a complete beginner's course for selling on Etsy.
20. Produce a Song
Did you know Billie Eilish was only 15 when she released Ocean Eyes?
If you can sing and are dedicated to learning how to produce music online, you could write and produce your very own song from your home. All you need is the necessary software on your computer Ableton Live, a studio microphone, and a lot of perseverance.
If you aren't great at singing, you could team up with a friend who is and collaborate on a song (this is what Billie Eilish's brother did -- he wrote/produced the song and she sang).
Once you produce a song you're proud of, you can put it on Spotify and promote it to your friends and family to start earning income.
21. Try out for a Movie or TV Show
It might take hundreds of auditions, and a lot of patience, but for all the stars who've made it, it's been worth it. Don't count yourself out just because you're scared to pursue this dream. All it takes is one quick google search to see auditions in your area. You could start at a local theatre or maybe a small commercial to get your name out there. If you're not afraid of hearing the word "No", you can't lose.
Remember, people aren't just born with talent. Maybe some skills come easier than others, but all actors/actresses have spent literally thousands of hours honing their craft. If this is a dream of yours, there's no reason not to start now.
22. Sell Clothes from a Thrift Store or Garage Sale
This is the whole idea behind Netflix's show Girl Boss. If you can find some cute clothes at thrift stores that you think can go for way more if styled right, you can try selling them on ThredUp, Poshmark, or Ebay to earn much more than what you bought them for. This is the buy low sell high strategy.
Here's a great course on how to start your first business: Entrepreneurship: How To Start A Business From Business Idea >>
23. Manage Social Media Accounts
If you're a teen that spends several hours per day on social media, you're qualified for this job. There are literally hundreds of thousands of businesses out there without much of a social media presence.
For small business owners, this aspect of the business is too big of a time-sync for them to invest time into. Why not ask around or reach out to local businesses to see if any business owners need someone to run their social media accounts?
Remember this rule: If you can get customers for a business, you'll always have clients willing to pay you.
So if you feel confident that there's a business out there where you can get them an online following that will give them leads, you can convince that business to pay you.
Once you start building a track record for yourself, you can get more clients and start earning even more for each month.
There are social media managers who are earning upwards of $1000 per month just for one business! Send a bunch of emails and see if anyone is interested!
24. Do Peoples' Makeup
Do you like beauty products? Can you watch makeup tutorials on Youtube for literally HOURS on end? Turn what you love doing into a job!
Round up friends and family and practice a bunch of different looks on them. Create a portfolio with all your best work and showcase your pictures on a simple website or Instagram feed.
Then, when an event (like a wedding, a school dance, reunion, party etc.) comes around, you'll be ready to offer your makeup services to get your first clients.
25. Teach a Skill
Maybe tutoring academics isn't your thing, but you have another talent you're amazing at. Maybe you can play the guitar or sing really well. Or maybe you're an amazing dancer or choreographer.
The fact is that whatever you're really good at -- there's someone out there wanting to get better at that skill. You can either try to find someone wanting to learn a skill you're good at or advertise your own lessons.
If you get really good at teaching that skill, you could even make an online course and start to earn a lot more income online.
26. Design Your Own Clothes
Are you clever and good at graphic design? You can create custom designs and put them on shirts, socks, posters, hats, accessories etc.. If you use a service like Printful (there are other companies but Printful is by far the most trusted and largest), you don't have to worry about shipping because they will ship your orders for you directly to your customers once you've made a sale.
So if you're the creative type and designing your own clothing line sounds exciting to you, you can go ahead and set up your own store on Shopify, upload your prints to Printful, and have your own clothes being shipped to customers within a week!
27. Sell Your Photos
Did you know you can sell your photos on sites like Shutterstock or StockPhoto? You'll get paid for every download. So, if you have a good camera (or rent one) and have a good eye for photography, you can list your photos for sale and earn passive income online!