For teens already busy with school, homework and extracurriculars, squeezing in a part-time job can be tough. That’s why it may be appealing to make money from online gigs, which can give teens more control over their hours and workload.
However, many money-making sites require participants to be at least 18, and the ones that are open to minors may not be reputable or worth your time. It’s important to know the details before signing up. To help you choose the right option, here’s what you need to know about six frequently mentioned money-making websites available to teens.
If you have a skill that others might pay for, such as writing, coding or managing social media accounts, there are websites that can help you launch a freelance business. Here’s a breakdown of two options available to teens:
Fiverr: This site is geared more toward professional, full-time freelancers, but the listings include things that teens may be able to handle, like writing emails for a marketing campaign and coaching people through tough levels of video games. Listings, also called gigs, start at $5, but you set your own rates. You get paid 80% of your listing price — Fiverr keeps the rest — and there are additional fees depending on how you withdraw earnings.
Freelancer.com: With over 900 categories to choose from, like Photoshop, design and data entry, teens can find a variety of opportunities on this site to make money. It usually helps if you have an existing portfolio of work to showcase your skills. But depending on the category you choose, that may not be necessary.
You have to be at least 16 to use Freelancer.com. Those under 18 need to use an adult’s account. With a free membership plan, you can bid on eight paid assignments per month. The site charges a 10% or $5 fee, whichever is greater, if you are awarded a fixed-price project. There’s also a transaction fee of 2.3% plus 30 cents if you get paid via credit card, Paypal or Skrill.
If you have things to sell — cool stuff you’ve made or items sitting in your closet that you’re willing to part with — large online marketplaces can connect you to a wide array of customers. Here are two sites to consider:
Etsy: This site is usually the go-to option if you have art or hand-made objects to sell. LeiLei Secor, who runs the Etsy shop DesignedByLei, started selling her handmade jewelry on the site the summer before her junior year of high school. She has since used her earnings, which have surpassed six figures, to pay for college.
Before opening your own store, there are a few things you should know about Etsy: It costs 20 cents to list an item, so you’ll need access to, and permission to use, a parent’s PayPal account or credit card to get started. There’s a 3.5% fee for each item sold, and if you use Etsy payments — which isn’t required — you’ll pay an additional fee of 3% plus 25 cents per U.S. sale.
To have your own store, a parent or guardian has to manage your Etsy account, send a statement of permission to email@example.com and provide a credit card or PayPal account to handle all payments. You will also have to disclose your status as a minor in your profile’s “about” section. Check out the full list of requirements for minors selling on Etsy.
EBay: The giant online marketplace said it had 169 million buyers during the first quarter of 2017, so there’s a decent chance you can find someone who’s looking to buy your stuff.
To sell on eBay, you’ll need permission to use your mom’s or dad’s account. When you add a listing, you either set the price or let people place bids. For auction-style listings, you can set a starting price to ensure you turn a profit. If you’re selling something that’s not common on the site, an auction-style listing is usually the best option. Otherwise, fixed-price listings are the way to go.
For standard accounts, it’s usually free to list up to 50 items per month. The site takes a 10% cut of your final sale amount, including shipping costs. Plus, there’s a payment processing fee when you get paid via PayPal — 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.
Survey and rewards sites are often touted as great opportunities for teenagers looking to make a quick buck online, but there can be drawbacks to using those kinds of sites. To help you decide if it’s worth your time, here’s the scoop on two popular rewards sites that accept participants who are 13 or older: Swagbucks and CashCrate.
Swagbucks: Participants can earn points for shopping online, watching videos and filling out surveys. For every 100 points earned, you’d get $1, which you can redeem for gift cards or cash.
Watching videos may be an appealing option, since you can choose from categories like fashion, music and sports, but those are often worth just a few points. You’ll have to judge whether those are worth your time on a case-by-case basis.
For surveys, you can expect to earn 40 to 200 points upon completion. However, user reviews frequently cite issues like sudden disqualification from surveys. In response to complaints about participants being disqualified, the company said in an e-mail that members typically will get one point for the survey attempt. “We are currently testing additional ways of giving a member who has been disqualified an even better alternative reward for the time they invested, and expect to launch that new enhanced feature soon,” it said.
CashCrate: Similar to Swagbucks, CashCrate offers money to users for taking surveys, watching videos, signing up for websites and referring others to its own site. Survey payouts and completion times vary, but there are two daily research surveys that pay 80 cents each. If you were to complete those each day, you’d earn close to $50 in a 30-day month — provided you qualify for those surveys. Payments are processed and issued once you’ve earned at least $20.
Users who are 13 to 17 and have parental consent can sign up for CashCrate. As with Swagbucks, some users have complained about their ability to qualify for and complete surveys on the site. In response, the company said in an email that “the availability of surveys for teens can vary over time. So it may be difficult for them to qualify in some cases if there aren’t many surveys available for teens at that time.”
Exploring other options
These aren’t the only ways teens can make money online. If you explore other options, proceed with caution. Read user reviews before signing up for any website to avoid getting caught up in scams. At best, those are a waste of time. At worst, they can cost you money and put you at risk for identity theft. If you aren’t sure a site is legitimate, stick to the basic rule of thumb: If it sounds too good to be true — like the employer that doesn’t ask to see a resume but offers to hire you on the spot — it probably is.
Devon Delfino is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @devondelfino.