How to Do Freelance Work if You're Under 18

Published June 2, 2019
Teen girl babysitting boy

You're sitting at the counter of your local fast food joint imagining how great it would be to be your own boss. While being a freelancer is great, it's also a lot of responsibility. Not only do you need to get work, but you need to complete it on time. Learn the ins and outs of how to become a freelancer as a teen and discover some jobs available.

What Is Freelancing?

The thought of being able to set your own hours and get paid what you want might seem great, right? In a nutshell, that is what freelancing is. Rather than working for a company, you work for yourself providing your skills, products, or services to a client. You get to be your own boss. However, before your eyes fill with dollar signs, you need to realize freelancing comes with a lot of responsibility and work. It's not all about just working when you want to.

How Does Freelancing Differ From Employment?

Many times, as a teen you work at a company like McDonald's for an hourly wage. You get a paycheck every week or two weeks depending on your schedule. The money you receive is yours. You don't have to worry about taxes or social security; the company does it for you. As a freelancer, you are responsible for everything. Not only do you need to set aside money for you state and federal taxes, but you will set your own hours, workload, rate, etc. You are completely in control of how much money that you earn. But you're also responsible for finding your own jobs.

Finding Freelancing Jobs

How you find your freelancing job is going to depend on what type of job you want. If you are looking for online jobs, there are job boards all over the net that teens can use to find work. However, if you aren't online, you can still find work through:

  • Creating business cards to hand out
  • Creating posters to put up around town or on job boards at your local market with your number.
  • Word of mouth recommendations

Getting Considered

You've been contacted for a freelancing job but landing the job is up to you. You need to let your work speak for itself or show that potential client why you can do the job. You might send examples of websites you've created or provide a letter of recommendation from a client. These types of praise can help to land you the job.

Big Rewards Mean Big Responsibility

If freelancing is starting to sound daunting, don't be scared. With the right planning and organization, freelancing can be the perfect job. But you can't just get all willy nilly, and hope things work out. There are a lot of things you need to consider.


Taxes are a huge thing to consider before jumping into the freelancing game. You are your own boss, and the federal government realizes that. Therefore, you'll be responsible for paying a self-employment tax of 15.3% as of 2018. Not only that, but you need to keep track of all your income. This includes income earned on a 1099-MISC form along with any cash you earn. Every single penny needs to be reported to the IRS. Thankfully, you can also write off any money that you spend on your business as well. This might include the gas that you used or that new camera you bought. It can even include the top-of-the-line computer you needed. But it's more than just supplies. Travel, meals, education, and home office expenses can all be written off.

Finding Clients

Being your own boss means you're responsible for finding your clients. Whether you take pictures, create websites, or write on a blog, you need to find advertising and clients to bring in the money. If no one visits your site or wants your pics, then you aren't going to make money. Getting clients not only takes time, but it takes a lot of work until you're established. Thankfully, the web helps you out a little through freelancing job boards in areas like online writing, computer programming, and other part-time from home jobs.

Meeting Deadlines

Deadlines are crucial. If you say that you are going to deliver a product within 24 or 48 hours, it had better be delivered. If you miss a deadline, you'll lose clients. Losing clients is bad for your reputation. You might get negative stars, bad feedback, etc. This means that car you've been saving for will become harder and harder to get.

Only Do What You Can Handle

Maybe you don't want to work on weekends or working around basketball practice is impossible. One of the joys of freelancing is that you can set your own hours. But with that joy comes a big responsibility. Taking on more work that you can complete will make your freelancing career flop really quick. Start slow and see how long it takes you before taking on more work. Remember, time management is key.

Charge What You're Worth

Look at the market for what you are doing and be sure to charge what you are worth. Don't charge $10 for something that will take you 5 hours. And always look around to see what others are charging too.

Offer Services You Excel At

Maybe you're an amazing web designer but only a mediocre brochure creator. Stick to web design and don't worry about graphic artist skills. Do what you are best at so your freelancing career can flourish.

Have a Contract

Don't just take someone's word for it. Your work is important. Even if it's a simple contract, having something in writing is better than nothing.

Potential Freelancing Opportunities

You know the responsibilities and rewards of freelancing, but what about the jobs? Freelancing has no age limit, so what you can do online or in the real world as a freelancer is pretty much limitless. In the world of freelancing, thinking outside of the box is actually a good thing, so don't limit yourself.

Online Jobs

The internet is an amazing thing. Not only does it connect us to everyone one all the time, but it makes becoming a freelancer super easy. Just a few of the jobs you might find include:

  • Writer or editor - Write articles, poems, etc.
  • Programmer - Create apps or programs to sell.
  • Graphic designer - Create online ads or brochures for companies.
  • Website builder - Create websites for clients.
  • Blog writer - Write blog articles or create a blog.
  • Survey completer - Complete surveys through websites or write reviews.
  • Online buyer - Buy games or items you use through specific websites and earn cash back.
  • Create an online store - Create a store through Café Press, Etsy, or eBay and sell your swag.
  • Create an online resale shop - Use eBay or Etsy to create an online resale shop.
  • Online tutor - You can use a service or set up your own website to get paid for your smarts.
  • Online marketer - Online gurus can help other companies market their stuff.
Teen girl working online

Selling Products or Services

Freelancing doesn't stop with online jobs. You can sell your services or products to others as well. Remember, if you make over $400, you need to claim it. Just a few different jobs might be:

  • Selling baked goods at a local market
  • Selling signs that you make at a flea market
  • Mowing lawns for a landscaper during the busy season
  • Walking dogs for all your neighbors
  • Cleaning houses in your neighborhood
  • Babysitting
  • Grocery shopping for elderly
Teen boy mowing lawn

Becoming a Freelancer

Freelancing is awesome, but it's also a lot of hard work. Being your own boss and setting your own schedule can be great and daunting all at the same time. Just remember to manage your time, do what you're best at, and start slowly. With that in mind, freelancing will be a breeze.

How to Do Freelance Work if You're Under 18