5 Business Ideas for Teens That (Actually) Make Cash

In today’s internet-based economy, age is no barrier to jump-starting a successful business career. Teenage entrepreneurs like Ben Towers and Emma Gonzalez have built successful businesses from scratch, proving that determination and resourcefulness can go a long way.

I remember when I was 16, selling graphic design services on Fiverr—it was the first money I ever made online.

And let’s be honest: as a teenager, earning extra cash is always a great idea. Not only does it give you financial freedom, but it also instills an entrepreneurial spirit that can serve you well in the future—I would know.

So whether you’re looking to start a business for the first time or looking for a new side hustle, this article has got you covered. We’ll explore some of the best business ideas for teens in 2023 that you can start right now with minimal investment and make a profit.

From social media management to virtual tutoring, there’s something for everyone on this list.

1. Social Media Management

Social media management is an excellent business idea for teenagers who spend extended amounts of time on social media.

As a social media manager, your job is to create and curate content for businesses’ social media accounts to help them grow their online presence. This means developing creative content ideas, writing engaging captions, and designing visually appealing graphics.

And with social media growth showing no signs of slowing, it’s a skill that plenty of businesses will pay for.

According to Statista, social media users worldwide are projected to reach 4.41 billion by 2025. Small businesses, in particular, may not have the time or knowledge to manage their social media accounts effectively, so they often seek help from others.

The first step towards becoming a social media manager is to create a portfolio that showcases your ability to create engaging content and designs. You can then reach out to small businesses in your area and offer your services.

Social media management can be a flexible business idea that can be done on weekends and evenings, leaving you plenty of time for school and other activities.

But be warned: social media management requires a lot of creativity, strategy, and consistency.

It’s not enough to just post random content whenever you feel like it. Instead, you’ll need to develop a content strategy that aligns with the business’s goals and target audience,” says Peg Fitzpatrick, a social media expert and co-author of The Art of Social Media.

You’ll also need to be able to analyze the performance of your content and adjust your strategy accordingly. Platforms like Sprout Social report that 89% of marketers use data from social media platforms to inform their business strategies.

But if you’re up for the challenge, social media management can be a fun way to monetize the skills you’ve inadvertently developed scrolling mindlessly through Instagram.

Tools to Use

Aspiring social media managers can (and should) use a variety of tools to help them manage their clients’ social media accounts effectively. Here are a few popular tools to consider:

  1. Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows you to manage multiple social media accounts from a single dashboard. You can schedule posts, track analytics, and monitor your brand’s reputation.
  2. Buffer: Buffer lets you schedule posts and analyze your social media performance. It also offers a browser extension that makes sharing content from the web easy.
  3. Canva: Canva is a graphic design tool that makes it easy to create visually appealing graphics for social media. It offers a wide range of templates and design elements that you can use to create custom graphics.
  4. Planable: Planable is a social media collaboration tool allowing you to plan and approve content before publication. It offers a visual content calendar, and you can collaborate with team members and clients to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  5. Sprout Social: Sprout Social is a social media management tool that offers advanced analytics and reporting. You can also use it to schedule posts and monitor social media conversations.

While I’m not a social media manager, I use Planable to manage my ghostwriting clients’ content on LinkedIn and Twitter.

2. Virtual Tutoring

In today’s fast-paced digital world, virtual tutoring has emerged as one of the coolest and most rewarding business ideas teenagers can pursue.

As schools continue to adopt hybrid and online learning models, the demand for personalized, online educational support is skyrocketing. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global online tutoring market size is expected to reach $24.9 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 15.7% from 2021 to 2028.

This growth points to a unique opportunity to turn your knowledge and passion into a profitable side hustle that changes lives. But don’t take it from me:

“Teenagers are ideally suited to tutor their peers since they can easily relate to the challenges faced by their fellow students,” says Dr. Amy McCready, a parenting expert and the founder of Positive Parenting Solutions

“Moreover, their recent experiences in the subjects they’re tutoring make them highly knowledgeable and equipped to teach others effectively.”

Hard to argue with that logic, no?

Essential Tools

Starting a virtual tutoring business can be an exciting adventure, and having the right tools at your disposal will make the journey smoother and more enjoyable. Here’s a friendly list of essential tools and platforms you should consider when setting up your virtual tutoring services:

Video Conferencing

Platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams are perfect for creating an engaging tutoring experience. With features like screen sharing, annotations, and breakout rooms, you can connect with your students dynamically and interactively.

Interactive Whiteboards

Collaborate with your students in real-time using whiteboard apps such as Explain Everything, Miro, and Ziteboard. These digital whiteboards make it a breeze to draw, write, and share ideas with your students during the session.

File Sharing and Storage

Keep all your documents, presentations, and worksheets organized and accessible with tools like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive. Sharing learning materials with your students has never been easier.

Online Assessment and Quizzing

Create engaging quizzes and assessments to track your students’ progress using platforms like Google Forms, Quizlet, and Kahoot!, you can tailor your teaching approach to meet each student’s needs.

Appointment Scheduling

Make booking and managing appointments a stress-free experience with scheduling tools like Calendly, Acuity Scheduling, or Doodle. Your students can pick time slots that suit them, and appointments will sync automatically with your calendar.

Billing and Invoicing

Stay on top of your finances and streamline the payment process with platforms like PayPal, Stripe, or FreshBooks. You’ll be able to easily send professional invoices, track payments, and manage your financial records.

Marketing and Communication

Promote your virtual tutoring services with social media management tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, or Later.

Schedule and publish content across multiple platforms to showcase your expertise and connect with potential students. And for effective communication, don’t forget to explore email marketing tools like Mailchimp or ConvertKit.

3. Flipping Thrift Store Finds

For teens with limited budgets, flipping thrift store finds is a low-cost way to get a profitable business off the ground in a market with guaranteed interest. In fact, according to a ThredUP report, the resale market has been growing 21 times faster than the retail market since 2016, signaling a thriving demand for secondhand items.

It involves sourcing unique, vintage, or designer items from thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets at low prices, then selling them at a higher price on online platforms like eBay, Depop, or Poshmark.

In an interview with Business Insider, Rob Stephenson, a successful thrift flipper, revealed that he makes around $4,000 per month selling thrifted items on eBay.

“I find that there’s a market for almost anything you can think of,” Stephenson said. “There’s a lot of things that I might look at and say, ‘Why would somebody want this?’ But somebody does, and they’re willing to pay for it.”

The Insider’s Guide to Starting a Thrift-Flipping Business

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of how to kick off your thrift-flipping adventure with a casual, step-by-step guide:

1. Do Your Homework

Before you dive into the world of thrift flipping, spend some time researching trends, popular items, and what sells well on various platforms. Successful thrift flipper, Nicole State, shares her finds, tips, and tricks on her YouTube channel, offering valuable insights for newbies.

Check out successful thrift flippers on social media and follow hashtags like #thriftflip or #upcycledclothing for inspiration. Keep an eye out for niche markets where you can showcase your unique style and stand out from the competition.

2. Find Your Treasure Trove

Start visiting local thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets to source your inventory. Don’t be afraid to haggle or negotiate prices, especially if you’re buying in bulk.

With experience, you’ll develop a keen sense of what items are worth picking up and which ones to pass on.

And pro tip: Look out for discount days at thrift stores to score even better deals, like the Goodwill Color of the Week sale.

3. Clean and Repair

Once you’ve sourced your items, give them a thorough cleaning and make any necessary repairs. A little TLC can go a long way in increasing an item’s value.

Invest in a fabric shaver to remove pilling and a stain remover to tackle stubborn spots for clothing. For non-clothing items, a simple wipe-down or a touch of paint can work wonders.

4. Create Irresistible Listings

Now that your items look their best, it’s time to create listings that will grab buyers’ attention.

Take well-lit, clear photos from multiple angles, and don’t forget to showcase any unique details or features. Write engaging and informative descriptions, including measurements, materials, and relevant history.

Be honest about the item’s condition to avoid disappointing your customers, as Poshmark advises.

5. Price It Right

Setting the right price is essential for a successful thrift-flipping business. Research similar items on your chosen selling platform to get an idea of the going rate.

Factor in your purchase price, time invested, and any shipping or listing fees when determining your final selling price. Remember, you can always adjust your prices later if needed.

6. Promote Your Business

Spread the word about your thrift-flipping business through social media and word of mouth.

Share your latest finds, behind-the-scenes looks, and styling tips to engage with your audience and showcase your expertise. Join online communities and forums like r/ThriftStoreHauls on Reddit, where you can share your listings and gain valuable feedback from fellow thrift flippers.

7. Provide Excellent Customer Service

As orders start rolling in, make sure to provide top-notch customer service.

Respond promptly to inquiries, ship items quickly, and handle any issues professionally. Building a solid reputation will help you attract more customers and encourage repeat business.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning,” says Bill Gates. He knows a thing or two about customer service.

Essential Tools for Thrifting Success

To make the most out of your thrifting and flipping business, use these tools to streamline your operations and maximize your profits:

Price Comparison Apps

Apps like ShopSavvy or Barcode Scanner quickly check the market value of an item by scanning its barcode. This will help you make informed buying decisions when sourcing products to flip.

Listing and Inventory Management

Platforms like eBay, Depop, and Poshmark are perfect for listing and selling your thrifted items. To stay organized, consider using an inventory management app like Sortly or Airtable to track your stock and sales.

Photo Editing

High-quality, visually appealing product images are crucial for attracting potential buyers. Edit your photos using free tools like Adobe Lightroom Mobile, Snapseed, or Canva to create eye-catching listings.

Shipping and Packaging

Invest in a postage scale for a seamless shipping process and use shipping platforms like Pirate Ship, Shippo, or ShipStation to calculate and print shipping labels. Stock up on affordable packaging materials from sources like USPS, Uline, or local dollar stores.

Social Media and Promotion

Build your brand and showcase your unique finds through social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, or Pinterest. Use content planning tools like Trello or Asana to map out a consistent posting schedule and engage with your audience.

With the right approach, a keen eye for valuable items, and the proper tools, teens can successfully turn their thrifting hobby into a profitable and sustainable business venture in 2023.

4. Podcasting

Podcasting has taken the world by storm, and as a teen, you’re perfectly positioned to ride this wave of popularity straight to the bank. Why not turn your unique perspective, humor, and interests into an entertaining podcast that resonates with your fellow digital natives?

According to Edison Research, the podcasting market has been consistently growing, with 41% of Americans aged 12 to 34 listening to podcasts monthly in 2021. With numbers like these, there’s plenty of room for your distinctive voice to shine.

“The podcasting space is a fantastic medium for young people to express themselves, share their stories, and connect with like-minded individuals,” says James Cridland, radio futurologist and editor of Podnews.

Here’s how to get started on your epic podcast journey:

1. Find Your Niche

Forget about snoozefest topics—dig deep into your passions and find that sweet spot that makes your podcast both unique and relatable. Are you a meme lord? A TikTok aficionado? Whatever gets your creative juices flowing, go for it!

2. Gear Up and Get Technical

While your phone’s voice memo app could work, investing in a decent microphone and editing software will take your podcast from “meh” to “heck yeah!” Check out Buzzsprout’s gear guide for the lowdown on all things tech.

3. Plan and Produce

Winging it might be your style, but a little planning goes a long way in making your podcast sound polished. Jot down episode ideas, create a loose script, and don’t forget to sprinkle in that ridiculous teen humor.

4. Record and Edit

Channel your inner audio wizard by recording and editing your podcast episodes. Try out free tools like Audacity or GarageBand to make your podcast sound like a million bucks (or at least a few hundred).

5. Publish and Promote

Get your podcast on platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts to reach your audience. Don’t forget to hype it up on social media, too—after all, you’ve got to flex those Gen-Z promotion skills.

“The best thing about podcasting is that you can talk about whatever you want, and there’s an audience out there that will be interested,” says Gretchen Rubin, author and host of the popular podcast “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.”

So, grab your mic, channel your teen wit, and let the world hear what you’ve got to say. With dedication and a touch of sass, you could be the next podcasting sensation.

And who knows? You might even make some sweet cash along the way.

5. Blogging

Blogging isn’t just for people reminiscing about their personal lives—it’s a platform for you, the teen mastermind, to share your thoughts, ideas, and humor with the world while potentially making bank.

Did you know that Statista estimates there were over 32 million bloggers in the US back in 2020? And guess what—many of them are raking in some serious dough.

Take Adam Enfroy, for instance. He’s a blogger who scaled his blog from zero to over $80k per month in just a year and a half. Or Ryan Robinson, who built a six-figure blog while holding down a full-time job.

“I think the biggest mistake that I made when I was starting my blog was trying to do too much at once. Instead, focus on one thing, get really good at it, and then move on to the next,” says Adam Enfroy.

Ready to jump on the blogging bandwagon and flex your teen brilliance? Here’s how:

1. Find Your Vibe

Don’t follow the herd. Tap into your unique interests and expertise to carve out a niche that’s undeniably you.

Whether it’s sustainable fashion or video game critiques, embrace your passions and let your personality shine.

2. Choose a Platform

To build your blogging empire, you’ll need a platform that suits your style. User-friendly options like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace are all great places to start, but you’ll definitely want to choose WordPress.

No other platform can compete with its flexibility. I’ve tried to switch to others, and it was an epic fail each time.

3. Craft Killer Content

Forget the snooze-worthy posts of yesteryear. Unleash your Gen-Z humor and creativity by writing engaging, share-worthy content that’ll have your audience coming back for more.

4. Promote Like a Boss

You’ve got the content—now it’s time to get it in front of the masses. Harness the power of social media, SEO, and email marketing to boost your blog’s visibility and attract your tribe.

5. Monetize Your Masterpiece

There are plenty of ways to turn your blog into a cash cow, from affiliate marketing to sponsored content and beyond. As Ryan Robinson suggests:

“The key to a successful blog is to be authentic, patient, and focus on providing value to your readers. Once you’ve built an audience that trusts you, monetization opportunities will follow naturally.”

So grab your keyboard, channel your inner wordsmith, and start sharing your stories with the world. You never know—you might just become the next blogging sensation and make some serious moolah in the process.

Teens, It’s Time to Hustle and Make Your Mark

The world is your oyster, my teenage friends, and the possibilities for creating a profitable and fulfilling side hustle are truly endless. From podcasting and blogging to thrift-flipping and virtual tutoring, there’s something for every teenpreneur to explore and conquer.

As you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, remember the wise words of Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur, and social media guru:

“Skills are cheap. Passion is priceless.”

So, whether you’re chasing that influencer life or just looking to pocket some extra cash, don’t be afraid to dive headfirst into your passions and unleash your full adolescent potential on the world.

Now, go forth and conquer, you savvy, meme-slinging go-getters!

The future is yours for the taking. And who knows? You just might become the next big success story that everyone’s tweeting, Instagram-ing, and talking about.

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