How to Make Money Online as a Teenager

In recent years, the World Wide Web has grown exponentially in size and scope. In 2020 alone, it is estimated that there were 4.5 billion unique website visits globally — nearly three times the number from just four years earlier.

While the number of websites is certainly impressive, it doesn’t tell the whole story. In 2020 alone, there were 13 million unique visits to affiliate marketing websites — an increase of 79% from 2019. In other words, nearly everyone is visiting the web, but not all are effectively making money online.

The Dangers of Establishing Identities on Social Media

Let’s say you’re a teen who wants to make some extra cash. You decide to get a job as a social media influencer or content creator, connecting with a large audience over the internet. In your early 20s, you establish yourself as an “influencer” or “creator” with a following of millions of people. You then get paid to promote products and services to your audience.

While the job sounds easy enough, things aren’t always what they seem. Every month, you receive countless pitch emails from brands looking to partner with you. Many of these brands offer money in exchange for your endorsement — often with strings attached. Most kids are not aware of the dangers of accepting such offers, believing that they’re simply paying you for sharing their products.

The Rise of Microtransactions

Branded content has been around for a while. Take Groupon, for example. Launched in 2008, the company sold discounted group travel packages for a limited time only. To get the deal, you had to visit a specific group of partner businesses — all of which were located within a 20-mile radius of Groupon’s headquarters in Chicago. Should you choose to visit a business located outside of that 20-mile radius, the discount would be voided and you would pay full price.

To make the deal more attractive, Groupon included an option for the user to donate to a charity for each purchase — and 20 million users chose to do so each month. In 2020, Groupon changed their structure and implemented a micropayment system where users could purchase individual deals or pay with a cryptocurrency.

The Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

Since the start of the pandemic, the number of individuals searching for ways to make money online has increased by 12%, according to Google.

In March 2020 alone, Google Search interest was 33% higher than it was in March 2019. And this is just one piece of the puzzle. A study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2020 found that 23 million American households had at least one person who was either self-employed or worked remotely. That’s more than half of the country.

The income and wealth levels of these middle-class families have increased in the wake of the pandemic. In fact, 40% of American families now earn more than $75,000 per year. Those affluent families are more likely to have the resources to spend on expensive technology that can help them make money online.

But at the same time, the cost of living has increased dramatically. Energy bills are high. Rent is high. And with so much financial uncertainty, people are turning to cash-flow-generating activities — like online earning — to make ends meet.

Now, it’s not easy to succeed as a YouTube creator, Twitch streamer, or social media influencer. These are highly competitive industries, and it takes years of experience to build up a sizable audience. But for those who do show an ability to consistently bring in money, the opportunities are there.

What you need to know to become a successful content creator

To be able to succeed as a content creator, you need to be able to connect with your audience. In 2019, Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that 69% of Americans get their news from social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

The news is consumed differently today. In the past, individuals would read the newspaper and watch the news at night, with half-hour blocks devoted to different issues. Now, with our endless scroll of feeds and constant connection through our smartphones, attention slowly starts to decline.

As a content creator, you must engage with your audience. But how do you do that? One option is through video, which currently makes up 82% of all web content.

Here are some of the things you need to know to become a successful content creator.

Basic Website & Video Equipment

Even before you start creating content, you need a website. However, a basic website doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice quality or features. In fact, you can use a free website like WordPress to build a professional-looking site that will serve as a portfolio or staging site for your work. (And don’t worry — you don’t have to look like a professional web developer to do so.)

Next, you need to invest in good quality equipment to record your videos. Don’t just purchase any old camera — invest in at least a 5-megapixel camera with an integrated lens array, for the best quality possible. Similarly, don’t settle for an audio-recorder app on your smartphone — invest in a high-quality microphone to ensure you’re capturing audio of the best quality possible. (And, for the love of podcasting, don’t skimp out on the microphones — five different microphones are on the market, all of which are exceptional.)

Podcasting

Another great way to connect with your audience is through podcasts. Podcasts are great because they can act as an extension of your website. When someone visits your website, they can click a logo or link and immediately begin listening to a related podcast. (And, don’t worry, you don’t have to podcast about computers or technology — you can use any subject matter you want!)

Podcasts aren’t just for audio content either. You can use images, infographics, and even video — anything that can be presented in audio format can be a podcast topic.

The great thing about podcasts is they can allow you to connect with your audience even when they aren’t listening to you. (And let’s face it — who isn’t listening to their podcast while they’re driving?)

YouTube

YouTube is the second-largest video platform globally, with users spending an average of 4.5 hours per day on the platform. And the trends are clear: more people are wanting to make money online through video content.

The majority of YouTube users (68%) say that the platform helps them gain valuable knowledge about a variety of topics, and that it provides them with inspiration for future content.

If you’re looking to succeed as a YouTube content creator, here are some of the things you need to know.

Create Consistent Content

No matter what platform you choose to be a part of, creating content is key to generating interest and support from your audience. Even if you only have 100 subscribers, you should be creating content on a regular basis — at least a couple of times per week. (And if you want to make money online, now is the perfect time to start.)

You can use multiple channels to grow your audience. According to HubSpot Blogs research, users engage with online content the most when it’s consistent and relevant to their interests.

If you want to succeed as a YouTube content creator, create content that will engage your audience and keep them coming back for more.

Build A Following

If you want to make money online, you must first and foremost want to connect with your audience. If you have 100,000 followers on Instagram, for example, and you decide to start a YouTube channel, you’ll have the perfect platform to do so. (And, again, consistency is key — be sure to populate your Instagram and YouTube channels with content that relates to your new channel.)

The first step is to build a following. This takes time, so be patient. Once you have a decent amount of followers, you can use the platform to grow your audience.

Regular Updates

Consumers expect regular updates from businesses they’re doing business with. Should you sell products or services over the internet, your customers will expect you to keep up with the latest news and happenings — especially when it comes to new product announcements or exciting promotions.