Making money as a teen doesn’t have to be just about babysitting, shoveling snow or running errands. Today, it isn’t unusual to find teenagers running their own businesses in fashion, food and lifestyle products; when it comes to computer and Internet businesses, teens even tend to be in a league of their own (see: inc.com/john-boitnott/40-young-people-who-became-millionaires-before-they-were-20.html and teenbusiness.com/top20-2014/). With their love of exploration and creativity, teen business minds are frequently powerhouses of success.
There is another area where kids too young to drive tend to often a mark: freelance writing businesses.
While finding a niche for oneself in a world of magazines and websites run to grown-up tastes can be challenging, it is nevertheless doable; as an established freelance writer, I often give advice to high school students about how practical a choice of early career freelance writing for teens is.
Many teens do successfully establish and manage their own freelance writing startups online; writersincharge.com and b-ten.com are two examples of such success stories. This isn’t simply about making money or wanting to run the business, either.
In a world where high school students endure endless sleepless nights trying to get just one college admission essay together, turning to professional writing early enough can quickly help focus the mind, help with maturity, and offer material that can look impressive on a college admission application, as well. Today, colleges do look for proof of initiative and leadership qualities.
Entering the freelance writing business
Freelance writing doesn’t necessarily need to be about launching an all-new magazine, whether online or in print. It can be about putting original thoughts and ideas down in writing, and contributing to such a publication. Teens starting out in freelance writing can also look into contributing writing to a business blog, a business newsletter or the Facebook or Twitter presence of a youth-oriented business. Many writing opportunities open to adults are just as available to kids starting out, as well. As long as you have valuable thoughts on a subject, you’ll always find a willing audience. As someone who’s young, though, you will often need to look for new ways to get a foot in the door.
Start out with the low- hanging fruit at first
When you first start out, it can make a lot of sense to tap family contacts to build up your portfolio with. If you are able to build a list of paying clients from among the businesses run by those you know, you could quickly be on your way to building up an impressive resume and portfolio; these can be persuasive pieces of evidence when you go after all-new clients.
It makes a lot of sense to ask your parents, friends of your parents, or parents of your friends. In general, businesses tend to be extremely supportive of young people demonstrating enterprise. You aren’t limited to tapping these sources, though; a number of other options exist. Cash-strapped organizations can be an excellent place to start.
Charities: Working on a constant stream of brochures, webpages and advertising, charities tend to constantly need copywriting talent. Strapped for cash as they tend to be, though, small charities are always on the lookout for affordable prices. If you know how to write for charity purposes, you can quickly pump up your portfolio.
Startups: While many startups do come with enough funding to be able to hire truly professional marketers and copywriters, the vast majority do need to watch every dollar they spend. If you’re serious about offering quality, they are likely to pick you over experienced hands for their copywriting needs. All you need to do is to tap your local Chamber of Commerce for a list of startup businesses in your town, and apply to them.
Any of these clients, whether family, charities or startups, should love the idea of taking a chance on an untested kid, and coming out on top. Being open to young talent makes people look good, after all. All you need is to look the part.
Make sure that you appear professional
When you’re a teen trying to make it as an entrepreneur promoting your own writing talent, potential clients tend to be unsure. On the one hand, they are often nervous about hiring a young kid; on the other, when they see even a couple of attempts at professional behavior, they tend to feel such great enthusiasm, they tell everyone they know about their discovery.
When you approach a client, for instance, having a professional-grade website, a professional business card and a portfolio are all likely to greatly impress. No kid who isn’t serious would go to the trouble. You can expect results far more favorable than a grown-up could under similar circumstances.
With the freelancing websites, you can begin making money right away
Your efforts at establishing yourself will begin to pay off by and by. Meanwhile, it’s important to begin seeing an income stream; it can be extremely important for morale. Accepting work on freelance writing sites is an excellent way to both see an income stream, and to hone your skills to the point that you attain professional writing ability.
A vast number of freelance writing sites are a good idea for freelance writing for teens. While the pay tends to be all over the map, it isn’t hard to hold out for work that does pay well.
Set your own price: Constant-Content and Ghostbloggers are top freelance writing websites that are easy to get into. You get to write about whatever topic interests you, set your own prices (which can be as high as 10¢ a word), and establish yourself as an authority on the subject that you write about. Most articles that you list on these websites do tend to sell eventually, even if sales often do take months.
Quality content mills: A number of other quality destinations for writing exist if you are willing to write on demand on any topic ordered. Websites such as TextBroker and iWriter are popular in this genre, but pay a modest 2¢ a word or so.
Bid-to-work websites: Services such as Elance, Freelancer and Upwork offer profitable ways to get right to work, as well. With any of these websites, though, it’s important to remember to not underprice your services to attract custom.
Be sure to keep learning
When it comes to freelance writing, most of the money to be made lies in the area of original thought and research. Building yourself up to a level where you are able to generate original ideas, though, requires commitment. You need to read, keep in touch with other professionals, constantly learn and work on your craft. When you believe in yourself and put in the work needed (teenvogue.com/story/how-to-work-for-yourself), commanding $100 an hour for your work won’t need to remain a dream.