3 Ways Kids Can Make Money on the Internet

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Categorized under: technology trends

For each new generation, it is important that they gain an understanding of how business works as early as possible. This makes these kids more successful as they get older because they are better able to recognize and monetize emerging trends. When I was growing up, my first job was in retail bagging groceries at Jewel (our local supermarket). A bit later, I transitioned into newspaper delivery for the Chicago Tribune. Following those experiences, I added pizza delivery driver at Domino’s Pizza. Given emerging trends (decline of retail, web-based news) and technological innovation (drone delivery & self-driving vehicles), it is quite likely that these jobs will not be around for the current generation of kids. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still abundant opportunities for them to learn about the emerging economy from a young age. Below we highlight 3 Ways for Kids to Make Money on the Internet.

1.       YouTube

While many kids consume lots of content on YouTube, it is also a robust advertising platform for business. In fact, one of the biggest stars on YouTube, Ryan, is only 5 years old. His channel generates millions of dollars annually in advertising revenue based on unboxing, playing with and reviewing toys.  As of this post, Ryan’s channel has over 13 million subscribers.  Now some might say that it all the good opportunities like this are already gone. Keep in mind that Ryan’s channel was started in March of 2015; that is 10 years after the initial founding of YouTube in 2005. Similar to the early websites or blogs, video specifically vlogging (video blogging) is emerging as one of the biggest trends for web 2.0/3.0. There are likely many undiscovered niches that could generate millions of followers which the right mix of passion, perseverance, and hustle.

2.       Twitch

Playing video games is something that lots of kids really enjoy doing. As highlighted above, video is one of the biggest emerging trends for web 2.0/3.0. In fact, the platform Twitch enables broadcasters to stream their video game playing. The most popular Twitch channels generate millions of dollars in revenue. This platform was launched relatively recently; going live in 2011 – just 7 years ago. So, while there are those who have figured out how to monetize this platform early. There are also many additional opportunities that are waiting to be discovered by the next generation. In fact, there are over 100 million viewers who watch their favorite broadcasters play video games.  Perhaps even more telling is that the average Twitch viewer spends 2 hours/day watching broadcasters. While that seems impressive, when you compare it to YouTube’s 1 billion monthly viewers; one can see that there is a lot of potential for growth. 

3.        Alexa

4 years ago in 2014 Amazon launched Alexa. Alexa is described as a smart speaker connected to a voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service. This past week, I had an opportunity to setup Alexa for my Aunt who turned 76 years old in January. She quickly fell in love with the web-connected device that seems to know everything. I describe it as an evolution of Siri that takes the best of Google search and turbocharges it with a lot of other useful web-based activities (shopping, listening to music and playing games). However, as we have learned from the Apple App Store devices are nothing without useful applications. Recently Amazon has opened up their platform to developers to build ‘skills’ for Alexa. These skills can be published in the Alexa store for consumers to download and purchase. In fact, there is already a 22 year old college student that is making a 6 figure income developing Alexa skills. As before, the Alexa platform is still a toddler and there are going to be many more skills developed for those who are willing to dive in now and learn the platform. While Amazon doesn’t break out specifically the numbers for their emerging businesses, there are estimates that ~20 million Alexa devices were sold during the most recent holiday season. Judging from my Aunt’s enthusiasm about this new device, I think that is just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, if we compare to the 1 billion Apple devices that are out there; we see that if Amazon keeps innovating with Alexa in partnership with their developer community that there is plenty of headroom.

While we have highlighted just a handful of the emerging opportunities for kids to make money on the internet, one of the key things to realize is that we are still early days. And, the biggest insight is that content creation and development is able to be monetized more than consumption. In addition, those who have created or own these platforms like Google (Youtube), Twitch (Amazon), and Alexa (Amazon) are gaining differential rewards through lines of codes that their engineers and developers have written. Another thing to recognize is because they are kids they don’t need to make millions or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Since they don’t have families to support or bills to pay, making money on the internet should be thought of as a developmental learning activity. Can they initially attract 25 people to their YouTube channel? Can they have 10 customers using their Alexa skills? And then from that initial base, what does their growth and retention rate look like over time? Children’s learning is a marathon, not a sprint. The more they get out there and try new things, the gains of knowledge become cumulative and perhaps they will best position themselves to launch their own world-changing platform like Amazon in the future.

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