At 13 years old, Timothy Olsen was already an investor and author of The Teenage Investor: How To Start Early, Invest Often and Build Wealth.
At 13 years old, techpreneur Hilary Yip had already founded a language-learning app called MinorMynas, which now includes students from over 50 countries!
As an early teen looking to make money online or through a side hustle, you’re probably faced with tons of drawbacks.
Poor household financial situations, unsupportive peers, age limits, and a generally belittling attitude from everyone you share your big ideas with can get you down in the dumps.
Hold it right there! Don’t let your dreams of being a student by day and CEO by night go unrealized. When it comes to making money or at the very least, getting a grasp of basic financial literacy, there’s undoubtedly no minimum age requirement.
In fact – the earlier you start, the better! Your worth is endless, and you’re guaranteed to surprise yourself at how much you’re capable of.
This guide will walk you through how to make money as a 13-year-old in 2020, plus some crucial tips and tricks you’re going to want to take note of at the end.
Another point to note in this guide is that it is created for typical 13-year-old teenagers. If you’re a bit more enterprising and want to start an online business instead. Check out our free guide on how teens can make serious money running online businesses.
1. Tutor Students
Perhaps you’ve got a mean science streak, or maybe algebra may come effortlessly to you.
If so, tutoring other students in your subjects of expertise will not only help you make money fast but keep you grounded in your studies at the same time as well.
First things first, identify which subject you’re particularly good at and zone in on that. If mathematics is your thing, you want to be known as “that math whizz” or “the kid to go to when you need help with maths.”
The unfortunate thing is that online tutoring platforms usually require tutors to be at least 16 years old. But you don’t need to utilize those! Start small within your very own school compounds. Once you’ve got the hang of it, advertise your services online.
But before that, ask yourself these questions:
• What grade range will I be tutoring? (E.g. Grade 5 – Grade 8)
• How familiar am I with the syllabus and examination criteria of these grades?
• What materials am I going to provide my students?
• Where will I conduct my lessons?
• How much should I charge per hour? (ranges anywhere between $15 – $75 per hour, but as a 13-year-old just starting in tutoring, price your services on the lower end first)
*when figuring out your rates, remember to factor in costs for travel, materials, and marketing!
Now you’re ready to let the world know of your services. Most likely, you’re already casually tutoring some of your classmates.
Now, we’re not saying you should charge your friends for every question they ask. When students come to you for help, continue to teach them the best that you can. Afterward, simply pass them a brochure and let them know that you can help them with a lot more than just a question.
Also, make sure to read our guide on how to start a home-based tutoring business in 2020!
2. School Lunch Meal Prep Business
The topic of what the school cafeteria will be dishing up for lunch is a hot issue students can be rather passionate about.
It’s either not appetizing enough, not healthy enough, or isn’t enough to satisfy students’ appetites. Most of the time – it’s all three!
Meal prepping to schoolmates can be a great side hustle to earn extra side income. You’ve already got an existing audience of unsatisfied and hungry kids, are familiar with their demands, and won’t even have to worry about the logistics of delivering the meals.
Here’s a brief step-by-step:
• Find out what type of meals students in your school want. Is it healthier food or just food that’s tastier in general? Gather data on what meals or cuisines, in particular, are highest in demand by sending out surveys.
• From there, craft out your menu. It’s wise to start with a weekly rotating menu to minimize ingredient wastage and simplify the cooking process.
• Calculate the costs involved and find out how much you should be charging per meal. Remember to look at the bigger picture – ingredients aside, there are also overhead costs for cooking and fees for packaging too.
• Raise capital to get your meal prep biz off the ground. If your customers are paying on a pre-order basis, your start-up expenses won’t be very high. Here is where you can either use your savings or rope your parents in as investors.
• Create a website where customers can easily view your menu. We’ve got some neat tips on how to promote your website too.
Your schoolmates can finally bid goodbye to the forlorn mystery meat they’ve grown accustomed to!
Within the Neighborhood
1. Pet-sitting Business
It sounds cliche, doesn’t it? Pet-sitting, along with selling lemonade and babysitting, seems way too outdated as side hustles for middle-schoolers.
But as the average person gets busier and busier, the time they get to spend with their fur babies gets shorter and shorter too. This works in your favor as a pet-sitter!
Traditionally, pet-sitting involves caring for someone’s pet when they’re away from home. That means the pet stays in your yard, or you stay in the client’s home during this period.
Let’s answer some of your pressing questions about pet-sitting as a side hustle.
How do I start pet-sitting?
Design a poster (Canva is an excellent tool for this) to be printed out as flyers. These flyers can then be distributed not only to friends and neighbors but also pinned up in your local veterinary clinic and nearby pet stores.
Before commencing work with any clients, it is of utmost importance that you draft up a pet care agreement. This agreement should be as detailed as possible, including information about any health conditions the pet may have. Use this free template.
How much should I charge?
Pet-sitting rates vary greatly depending on what’s included in the services, but generally, $10 – $20 per hour is the norm.
How can I stand out from the crowd?
Break free from the boundaries of traditional pet-sitting. Aside from the usual responsibilities, you can also offer grooming and obedience training either incorporated into the rates or as a separate charge. Maybe even a healthy pet food bakery?
On that note, consider offering an incentive when your clients recommend you to friends. For services like pet-sitting, word of mouth is key.
Within the Comforts of Home
Who says you can’t own a business in your early teens? Not us. Your early teens are the perfect age to start learning and experimenting – as long as start-up costs are minimal.
Take it from me – I started my first online business at 14!
Too bad, I wasn’t very well informed at the time. Instead of directly shipping the products to the customer’s doorstep, I had them shipped directly to me, where I then repackaged the goods and posted them out to customers individually.
Because there were essentially 2 rounds of shipping, there were periods where I barely managed to break even.
Not the smartest move, right?
It turns out there’s a term for shipping products directly from the supplier to the customer without it ever touching your hands. That term is dropshipping!
There’re a lot of ways to make money online through eCommerce, and dropshipping is just one of them. However, the method most suitable for young hustlers like yourself since start-up costs are almost next to nothing.
We won’t delve too much into dropshipping here since we’ve got a ton of resources on it already, so check out this comprehensive guide for more.
In many industries like medicine and journalism, for example, audio files such as recorded interviews and speeches need to be converted to text so that they can be referred to more accurately.
This is where transcribers come in. They listen to audio files and type them out to convert the audio into text format.
Transcribers need to be:
✔ Have excellent listening and typing skills
✔ Possess an excellent grasp of the language they’re transcribing
The going rate for freelance transcribers is about $0.70 to $3 USD per minute of the audio file. As a newbie transcriber, you can also expect to take anywhere between 5 – 10 hours to complete one hour of audio.
You might think that transcribing is an easy job – just type what you hear, right?
Well, not really.
Some hurdles that can give professional transcribers a tough time include poor quality audio files, strong accents, and having multiple speakers.
The context of the file plays a huge role too. In situations where the topic at hand is entirely foreign to you, technical terms used may not ring a bell, and this will severely hinder your workflow.
Below are some resources and tools to get you started on the right track:
If nothing on this list seems to fit your bill, try venturing out into the world of freelancing!
Freelancing means that instead of being tied down to a full-time job with one specific company, freelancers usually work for several different companies at the same time, and generally on a remote basis.
Freelancing as a side hustle will be perfect for you if you have a certain skill that really shines, be it writing or coding. As long as you’re relatively good at said skill, are passionate about it, and (most importantly) are willing to improve on it continuously, freelancing holds immense potential as a side hustle.
Some of the skills that are highest in demand include:
• Content writing
• Graphic design
• Web developing
• Social media management
• Video editing
• Virtual assisting
How do I start freelancing?
1) Identify what service you’re going to offer, and then narrow down even further! If you’re a photographer, for example, are you going to specialize in business headshots… or perhaps wedding photography?
2) Got samples? We get it – if it’s your first time getting paid to do what you do, most likely not. That’s fine too! Create samples of your own; they don’t necessarily have to be commissioned from clients. The key is to show prospects what you’re capable of.
3) Create a killer portfolio. Now that you’ve got your samples, showcase them to their fullest by creating a website to serve as your portfolio. Though you could use the various portfolio sites available like Behance, we highly recommend going the extra mile to make your own WordPress website.
4) Start marketing your services! Here comes the tough part. But trust us when we say that once you’ve overcome this initial hurdle, everything becomes a whole lot easier. There are a couple of ways to go about finding your first few clients:
You might have noticed we didn’t mention much about rates yet. This is for the simple fact that if you’re new to the freelancing economy, with no samples to back you up at that – money shouldn’t be on your mind just yet.
Instead, focus on learning and building up your portfolio first. Once that’s done, do more research within your niche to pinpoint the rates you think suit the level of value you’re providing best.
4. Sell Handmade Goods on Etsy
Put your crafty streak to good use by selling handmade goods on Etsy.
Whether your hobby is needle-felting, making gorgeous goopy slimes, or making phone cases out of dried flowers, there’s money to be made. Wouldn’t we all love to turn our hobby into our side hustle?
While Etsy is and has always been the go-to for crafted goods, the downside is that Etsy takes 5% of your sales as transaction fees.
On top of that, there are also costs for listing items and receiving payments.
Despite the extra costs, we do recommend Etsy as a platform to get your small craft business out into the world and heard.
Attending craft bazaars is also an excellent method to involve yourself in the local craft community while advertising your store.
5. Flip Stuff on Online Marketplaces
While your peers flip burgers as a side hustle after school, you’ll be flipping furniture on eBay and raking in larger profits for little effort.
You may have heard of flipping in the context of websites, businesses, and properties before.
Essentially, to flip something means to buy at a lower price and to sell it off at a higher price for a profit quickly.
It’s not just buying and selling, though. To successfully reap gains, you have to be able to identify items that are worth more than their selling price.
Flipping items as a side hustle can be a viable way for you to earn a side income with minimal effort involved. This is provided you:
• Have a keen eye for undervalued items
• Can take decent pictures
• Have enough capital to begin with (remember, you have to buy the items before selling them off. Don’t forget the costs involved in repairing and polishing up the items too)
What are some highly “flippable” items?
✔ Collectibles like figurines and comic books
✔ Wooden furniture
✔ Branded clothing with the tags still on
✔ Board games
✔ Home appliances
✔ Musical instruments
Where do I find and sell these items?
Used items of value can be found anywhere, beginning from your own home! Carve some time out to go on a treasure hunt in your garage, your friend’s garage, local yard sales, thrift stores, and auctions.
After doing any necessary repairs and polishing up, give the items a sweet photoshoot. You want to make sure your listing stands out from the rest and looks as high-quality as possible.
These marketplaces themselves can also be harboring some handsome deals you might not want to miss out on!
6. Become an Administrative Assistant
You want a side hustle that doesn’t involve mowing lawns and filling in questionable surveys. Instead, something closer to a job in the corporate world.
If that’s so, a job as an administrative assistant will be right up your alley.
As an admin, you’ll typically be tasked with:
• Data entry
• Operating printers and relevant office machinery
• Managing documents and files
• Basic customer service (sending emails, receiving phone calls)
There’s no shortage of companies looking for administrative help. Bad news though – most job postings are in search of full-time positions and those aged 16 and above at the least.
This is where you bring out the inner businessman/businesswoman in you!
• Start by familiarizing yourself with general office software included in G Suite and Office 365. No need for expensive courses here – Youtube is your best friend.
• Get name cards and flyers done for your admin services. Specify what services you have to offer. (E.g., can you do basic bookkeeping?)
• Don’t be afraid to start small. Approach nearby mom-and-pop shops to pitch your services (you will face a lot of rejection, but always leave your name card and flyer with them just in case).
You may even consider approaching parents of friends who you know to be perpetually busy or who may be running businesses of their own.
The Easy Way
But maybe you’re not ready to take such big steps into making money just yet.
And that’s completely fine!
There is a multitude of easier, breezier ways to make money online at a young age.
1. Test websites on Testbirds
To put it simply, Testbirds is a platform that pays you to give opinions and find bugs in digital applications. Some of their clients so far include BMW, Audi, and DHL.
Be it websites, online stores, mobile apps, or games – developers and designers alike want their products to be completely free of errors and bugs for the end-user.
This is where you (and the 400,000 other testers registered with the site) come in. The basic test involves using a website, completing certain specified tasks, and giving your overall review.
And if you manage to find any nasty bugs, you make money from that discovery too!
Get paid: Anywhere between $8 – $50 per test, depending on the difficulty
2. Review websites on Userlytics
Another usability testing site, Userlytics is a 100% legit site that pays you to review websites.
As a Userlytics tester, you will be asked to do some basic tasks like react to advertisements and compare sites, all the while being recorded through both your webcam and microphone.
Sounds creepy, doesn’t it?
Well, Userlytics does this because the feedback you provide will actually be spoken reviews! They’ll be able to gauge if you’re frustrated, angry, or satisfied.
Get paid: $10 and above per completed test
3. Review recorded calls with Humanatic
Most of us know that our entire conversations are recorded when we make calls to our mobile service provider or bank helpline.
The recordings are usually stated to be for quality assurance purposes, yes?
Well, who listens to these calls and reviews them?
It turns out; anyone can get paid to review calls through Humanatic. The pay is rather measly, but the job itself is simple enough. Listen to pre-recorded calls and categorize them.
You’ll need a PayPal account, as well as a minimum of $10 in your account before you are allowed to cash out.
Get paid: Anywhere between $1 – $4.50 per hour
4. Complete surveys on Survey Junkie
It may sound too good to be true, especially with the abundance of paid survey scams all over the web. Despite this, you really can get paid from just filling in surveys!
With Survey Junkie, every survey you take earns you points. Points per survey vary greatly depending on the length and complexity of the survey, but you can expect between 5 to 90 points or so per survey.
Each survey typically lasts between 1 – 20 minutes.
100 points = $1. Once you have $10, you can cash out your extra moolah!
Get paid: Estimated $1 per 2 – 8 surveys
But before you start making money..
Do understand that as you start earning your own income, you’ll learn many valuable lessons along the way.
Despite this, it never hurts to start off with a good foundation, so here are a few lessons to bear in mind as a 13-year-old before you put on your money-making hat.
Lesson 1: Always live within your means
“Living within your means” means not spending more than you earn. At the ripe young age of 13, you might feel pressured or influenced by your peers in school to buy certain large purchases that you can’t afford.
If you’re taking allowance from your parents, this is where you might approach them to ask for extra allowance so you can buy that item you want.
By doing this, you’re already living above your means. Asking for an extra allowance from your parents for that purchase is almost akin to taking out a bank loan – it’s borrowed money that you have to return on time or risk consequences.
You should only use “borrowed money” for expensive needs like houses or cars. For less necessary wants like toys and entertainment, only buy it if you can afford it.
Lesson 2: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
What does it mean not to put all your eggs in one basket? It means you shouldn’t concentrate all your time, resources, and efforts into one particular area. If you do so, you risk losing everything if things don’t work out.
This is also why all the recommended side hustles in this list require 0 to minimum capital to start.
Lesson 3: Learning over earning
Earlier in this article, we mentioned that when just stepping foot into the freelance world, your focus should be on learning and building your portfolio first instead of worrying about how much to charge.
We’re all about making money fast. But when you’re just starting to earn side income of your own, it’s easy to get sidetracked into working just for the money.
Remember – In the long run, learning is earning.
A Brief Overview
Whew! That was a lot to take in, huh?
Here’s a quick recap of how to make money as a 13-year-old in 2020.
• Tutor Students
• School Lunch Meal Prepping Business
Within the Neighborhood
• Pet-sitting Business
Within The Comforts of Home
• Sell Handmade Goods on Etsy
• Flip Stuff on Online Marketplaces
• Become an Administrative Assistant
The Easy Way
• Test websites on Testbirds
• Review websites on Userlytics
• Review recorded calls with Humanatic
• Complete surveys on Survey Junkie
• Money Lessons for Early Teens
Lesson 1: Always live within your means
Lesson 2: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Lesson 3: Learning over earning
Pssst! We’ve also got a ton more ideas on how to make money fast for you in our nifty Side Hustle Checklist.
Jesslyn has been a senior content strategist and writer for personal finance and side hustles for the past 4 years. She believes in the power of an idea and breaking the rules whenever necessary. Above all, balance is everything. When she’s not writing up a mad scramble, she leans towards wine bars and yoga studios on the weekends.