How To Make Money Online As A Teen – With No Investment

By Jamie McSloy / July 15, 2018
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How To Make Money Online As A Teen – With No Investment

I saw a young and budding entrepreneur on Reddit this morning. He’s a teenager, 16 years old, and wants to get started in the dangerous world of making money online. He has no starting capital (as can be expected from a sixteen year old) and so can’t really put any money into his online shenanigans.

That’s actually a good thing.

But we’ll come back to that in a moment.

Let’s first talk damningly about Reddit, who, after reading the kid’s original post (or so you’d think) suggested things like:

  • Flip items by buying low and selling high
  • Look into Tai Lopez
  • “Forget it. It can’t be done.”
  • Pest control

I have to stop there because each time I refresh, it gets worse.

I’ve got this theory that reading comprehension and success are strongly correlated, and Reddit proves me right every time.

When a kid asks for business advice with no investment and you offer businesses that involve investment, you aren’t answering the question.

(Time Out: If you’re enjoying this article, then you should probably sign up to my mailing list, where I give out ideas and business tricks that I don’t share publicly. Click here, fill out your details and get yourself on the list! You won’t leave this page.

Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)

Anyway, let’s move on.

Why It’s Good To Start With No Money

When you’re a kid, you’re not so great with investing, expenses and not getting scammed. That’s OK, because you’re a kid.

It’s good when it comes to business because if you start with nothing, you really have nothing to lose.

And there are plenty of young guys who start making money – online and offline – without putting any money into it.

James Holt and Nate Schmidt are two guys that regular readers will be familiar with.

James started at 16-17, started freelancing, saved up enough money to build some niche sites, went into CPA affiliate marketing and then dropshipping, and is now making more than a full-time living online.

Nate started at 19-20, started freelancing, saved up enough money to build some dropshipping stores, and now makes a more-than full-time living online.

I’m comparatively a grumpy old man, but here’s the thing…

If you read the two stories above, read about my story and then read basically everyone I know who is successful at the online business stuff’s story, you’ll find a few things we all have in common.

These are the rules that teens should follow. They’re also the rules that people looking to make money online should follow.

1.     Start WITHOUT Huge Investment

I wrote about this the other day. You can buy established sites with your college fund, or buy into online business turnkey operations, but here’s what will likely happen:

You will lose your money.


Because if you have no skills and no experience, you won’t know what to do to keep things afloat.

Everyone wants to jump to the “Earn 10k a month passive income” stage, but you won’t get there by magic coincidence. You won’t get there by buying your way there either.

Instead, you want to pick some skills and other ideas that you can start without investing a lot of money.

Let’s use an online example.

This was the very first thing I did in online business, years before I went full time. Straight out of university, with no skills, experience or anything outside of messing around with some personal GeoCities-styled websites.

I met a guy who was selling T-shirts. He had a website, but it couldn’t take any orders. So I offered to put in a PayPal button for him.

This was a simple job that he couldn’t do. I charged barely anything for it, but it didn’t cost me anything except a couple of hours to work out how to do it, then set it up and make sure it worked.

If you made $50 for this, then you’d have some money to set up doing something else.

There are countless opportunities for small-scale, helping people out styled odd jobs like this online.

And the thing is, you’re learning on the job without paying for it. Which is the next point.

2.     Get Paid To Learn

Don’t work for free. I can’t say that enough.

But pick jobs with an eye on stuff you’re interested in and would like to develop in the future.

If you’re competent at freelancing, then you can get people to pay you to learn and do all sorts of things which will add to your skill set.

As a freelance writer, I’ve worked on:

  • Ghostwriting ebooks
  • Writing blog posts
  • Creating email funnels
  • Crafting long form sales letters
  • Writing product descriptions
  • Bulk writing social media posts
  • Technical writing
  • White papers
  • Direct mail
  • Personal letters
  • Web design

And the list goes on.

For a lot of this, I was probably underpaid relative to the value I gave the companies that hired me.

On the other hand, people probably pay hundreds of dollars for courses on these subjects. I didn’t pay for any of it.

I got paid to do all of it.

And now I use those skills that somebody else paid for on other business interests. And that’s great, because it worked out for everyone. It’s similar to how, back in the old days, old manual labourers would take on apprentices.

The manual labourer got to rest his tired back while a low-paid employee did the heavy lifting. The apprentice got to learn the craft from someone who’d mastered the art whilst getting paid.


If you’re young and developing, think of your freelancing and learning period as an investment in the future.

Oh, and save that money because you’ll need it when you have the skills.

3.     Be A Spy

A lot of freelancers barely roll themselves out of the bed in the morning to hit their deadlines. Some don’t even hit their deadlines.

Most don’t care about their clients in any way other than “they make me do work!” and “they pay me!”

You have to do the opposite.

Take an interest in your clients and the people you work with and for.

Ask them questions so you can help them more. They’ll never turn you down on this.

The benefits for you in doing this:

  1. You get paid better and do a better job
  2. You learn how business systems worked

A lot of guys want to jump into the “I’m an affiliate marketer making $$$” before they’ve ever tried anything.

I had worked on multi-million dollar marketing funnels before I ever spent a penny trying to build one of my own.

You can learn a lot from the companies you’re working for. Why try and reinvent the wheel when you can look at the wheels you’re already working on and then strike out on your own once you understand how they work?

4. Once You Know What You’re Doing – THEN Expand – If You Want To

In this article, I’ve framed your progression as freelancer > something else.

In reality, plenty of people stick with freelancing and make plenty of money doing that. If you start copywriting, you can work your way up to fees of five-figures plus royalties.

I know multiple people who are at that level. I’ve heard that some make considerably more than that, though don’t know them personally to confirm.

If you do web development, I’m sure there’s a similar progression up towards the stratosphere when you take on bigger and bolder projects.

And the same is true for most services, provided you keep an eye on the future, expand your skill set and your business acumen.

But let’s say you take your skills and want to expand – now is the time to invest in things. Not before.

At this point, you’ll have built a stockpile of money, you’ll have regular cash flow and you’ll have experience and the skills necessary to make successful projects.

Also, the years in the trenches with no money will have taught you the valuable skill of stretching everything as far as it will go. This skill goes hand in hand with finding angles and being creative, so add that to your bonuses list.