5 ways kids can make money (or at least start thinking about it)

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There came a time when I was younger where the lightbulb went off and I began thinking about things like, “instead of spending two hours watching this movie, what else could I do with my time?”

That eventually led to an entrepreneurial mindset and thinking about how those two hours could be dedicated to trying to earn money rather than sitting lifeless on the couch. 

Now, this didn’t happen until far after my childhood or even teenage days, but I always think about what I could have accomplished had that lightbulb gone off earlier. 

Perhaps I couldn’t have done anything about it; or perhaps I wouldn’t have wanted to see whatever it was through to the next step? And, kids are busy, so it’s tough to fit in anything that requires additional commitment.

All that said, earning money as a kid or teen doesn’t have to mean adding “hours” to an already crowded schedule, or any particular formal job at all. In fact, if you were to ask around to friends and other families, most kids who are earning money are doing so in this less formal manner that resembles more of a side gig than anything. 

So, I thought it would be fun to dive into a few potential opportunities. A lot of this is fueled by what I see in the news; big headlines that of course are tailored to grab attention. But while not every child is going to find success suitable for an article write-up, it’s a great place to go for inspiration. 

Ways teens & kids can make money

1. Become a Roblox entrepreneur

Roblox is hot; has been hot, and looks to continue its hotness for the foreseeable future. I mean, why not? It’s one of the fastest-growing game creation platforms in history. 

One reason is because it’s fun to create your own game with Roblox and publish a 3D world with friends and others in the community. 

But beyond that, did you know kids can also implement monetization strategies to collect Robux, and even cash it out for real money?

(Read this: Young Developers Earned Over $30M On Roblox In 2017. It's a little older, but you get the point—”In 2017, the company paid out over $30 million to those young developers on its platform.”)

So yes, if you have a kid interested in Roblox, they may only be a step away from learning how to monetize their efforts. You can check out this coding class (middle school-aged kids) which features coding and monetization, or get started with Lua coding basics.

Until then, here are some basics. 

In Roblox, monetization is how kids can use their games to earn money. Players pay for items - like a balloon that helps them fly in natural disaster survival or a stronger sword to kill zombies  - with Robux.

Paying for something that only exists inside a game is called a microtransaction.

So, to start earning Robux, kids will need to create a system in their games that allow other players to give them Robux. This could be in exchange for an item in a game or it could be a simple donate button at the end of an obby.

If they do have an obby with a donate option at the end, they'll get 10% of the Robux spent. That means if a player spends ten Robux, they get one, however, if they have any level of Builders Club, they'll receive 70% of the Robux!

2. Game (and then some)

Video games have always been fun; but video games have also been viewed by some as time-wasters. The difference today is, while the latter statement was debatable, it’s now refuted by concrete facts. 

One of those facts is that gaming can be incredibly lucrative. Yes, if your child is a good enough gamer, they can monetize their skills through a variety of channels, from competitive gaming to YouTube streaming, and even coaching others to be better gamers (more on that below). 

Just take a look at some of these headlines:

Again, should you expect millions? Probably not, but the opportunity is there, big and small.

3. Coach gamers

Coaching is about more than being the best of the best, or most accomplished expert in the field. Just look around professional sports; most head coaches didn’t have illustrious playing careers...in fact, some didn’t play professionally at all. 

So, there is obviously more to being a coach, like being able to connect and motivate, analyze, and strategize. And if you can’t possibly imagine your child being an accomplished enough gamer to coach others, you might want to think again. 

Again, this is real stuff:

Sure, success doesn’t happen overnight in much of anything, but the opportunity is there. 

4. Develop an app

Whenever I think about this topic, I immediately think about the many young app developers out there who, when “there’s an app for that” really started to take off, rode the wave as well; programming their own apps for sale within the App Store. 

Even just looking at past iD Tech campers—there was Andrew who published multiple apps which accumulated tens of thousands of downloads. And then Cameron who created a sketch app and donated a portion of his proceeds - $20,000 - to a children’s hospital in Los Angeles. 

While those stories originated years ago, it’s still happening today. Maybe it’s less of a story because there are more young developers who are finding success? And if so, that bodes well for anyone looking to get going themselves.

5. Start a YouTube channel

Yes, there are plenty of positive and negative effects of YouTube, but with balance, focus, and supervision, there is a lot to be gained. 

One good thing in terms of opportunity on YouTube is the fact that content can truly be anything you and your child prefer it to be. From video game streaming, to digital painting tutorials, cat videos, and more—if it’s something your child finds interesting and excels with, there might be a receptive audience out there. 

To get to that point, start by pinpointing your child’s passions—cooking, robotics, soccer, comics? From there, it’s about matching those passions with the types of video content YouTube is known for. 

For example, an interest in video games can turn into Let’s Play video streaming, or an interest an art can be a tutorial on how to easily yet precisely draw a dog. Speaking of animals, maybe the content centers on vlogs where kids just talk about pets and share their favorite pet stories. 

Of course, there will need to be a little frontend work and investment to get this off the ground, including having access to and the skills with recording equipment, editing software, and more. 

And, it might go without saying, but it never hurts: The internet has tons of interesting information and can be a convenient place to connect with others. However, it isn't always the safest place. Obviously, this post is directed at parents, so kids always must be sure to navigate YouTube and other online areas with care and parental supervision.

Summer can still be saved

While a lot has been taken away from kids and families this summer, there is still plenty at our disposal. Some opportunities are purely for entertainment, some can be monetized, and many can be both! And, while earning money is one thing, there is still the need to teach kids about money (there are games and apps for that). 

If you have a child who might be interested in either, check out our virtual summer camps or private coding lessons and online tutoring

A photo of Ryan

Ryan manages blog content at iD Tech, starting with the company in 2008. He earned his MBA from Santa Clara University after obtaining his Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State. Connect on LinkedIn!