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One opportunity our kids have that we didn't have pre-Internet is the opportunity to start an online business. Nowadays, young entrepreneurs have the tech skills and resources available to earn money without ever needing to leave home, so online business ideas are much more feasible than starting a business that needs a fixed location. This is especially true for kids who want to earn an income from their creative hobbies and talents such as sewing, woodworking, writing or art.
Starting an online business is a great endeavor for techie homeschoolers because there's an incredible amount of learning that goes into launching a business idea into the great wide web. And it's not all academic. Sure, your child will use lots of math and writing skills, plus the technical skills of their craft. But, they'll also develop admirable character traits, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, creative solutions, resiliency, and perseverance.
The Internet offers lots of platforms for selling homemade items. This opens up tons of possibilities and potential for creative young entrepreneurs. A few online business options that stand out because they're easy to set-up or they mimic a typical selling model a child traditionally uses to sell their product or service. These are tried and true ideas, based on businesses other kids have already developed.
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4 Ways Creative Kids Can Start an Online Business
Sell Your Creations on Etsy
If your child has an artisan product of any kind, this is a viable online business idea. Etsy is an online marketplace filled with the creations of individual vendors. Does your child want to knit stuffed animals? Or sew baby bibs? How about design and paint home decor items? All of these items can be sold on Etsy.
Setting up an Etsy shop is one of the simplest online storefronts out there. In fact, there are exactly 5 steps to complete your storefront:
- Set your shop preferences (country and currency)
- Name your shop (search for available names included)
- Stock your shop by dropping in pictures of your items for sale, using a great graphical wizard to show you all the angles and styles you could post
- Set up the customer payment methods
- Set up how you’ll get paid
There are hundreds of YouTube videos including from Etsy themselves on how to set-up your store in minutes. You can watch Etsy's tutorials HERE.
Etsy manages all the payment details and the storefront on their website, so you simply have to decide the cost of your product and locations for shipping. There are both fees to keep products on your store (0.20 per item sold) and for online payments. This is taken from the cost of the product at time of sale and amounts to anywhere from 5-10% of the cost of the item. In this scenario, you have the product on hand and take care of packing and shipping it yourself. Therefore, shipping boxes or envelopes are an additional start-up cost.
It's important for your child to market their product to drive traffic to their store. This is one of the skills young entrepreneurs learn in the Kids2Market program.
Turn your Art into ‘Merch' with a Print-on-Demand Business
Print-on-Demand (PODs) websites offer white-label products such as shirts, hats and stickers that you can put your art, design, poem, or quote directly on. They manufacture and ship the finished product for you.
Different from Etsy, this model of online store has the owner do nothing but upload their design. Your art is literally “printed at the time of order” on a t-shirt or mug (whatever the customer chooses depending on what is offered) and the online store you host on manufactures it, boxes it and ships it to the customer, including collecting payment.
Then the store pays you what’s leftover from their ‘fee’ for this service. Yes, this a much higher fee than Etsy so your margin for profit is lower but your overhead cost in managing inventory and shipping is zero.
Self-Publish Your Novels, Storybooks, and Poems
Print on demand sites also make it easy to publish your written works and share them with the world.
Once you've got your story or poems all polished, load up your document to the POD with the dimensions, then format the layout. Add a cover (that you can design on a free graphic design tool like Canva) and you've got your book available for purchase.
As with any business, you need to use marketing tactics to find buyers, but once someone orders it, the hosting website prints on demand and ships to the customer. You simply post it and wait to be paid.
Better yet, if you sell your book on Amazon, you have the option to create a digital book for the Kindle reader, a physical book people are shipped or an audiobook! You can learn more about that HERE.
Teach Your Craft to Others by Creating an Online Course
It's not often that kids consider ‘teaching' as a viable online business idea. They get so focused on selling the actual thing they've created that they don't realize that they can sell their knowledge as well. In the Kids2Market program, some students realized that creating how-to or instructions for sale was a great way to make money. A knowledge-based business can range from creating piece-by-piece LEGO manuals and tutorials for custom made creations to producing full video courses on how to build and set up a backyard Ninja Warrior course.
Just like you need to create products for your Etsy shop or stories to self-publish, you need to record instruction videos if you want to teach others. Once you've got all your content done, there are here are several ways to offer your knowledge-based business online.
One way to deliver your course is Learning Management Systems (aka LMS) such as Teachable or Thinkific. These are free for small schools, but as your school grows you'll pay a fee for course hosting. The value of LMS is that they're easy to set up and do double-duty as your website. You can host a blog alongside your courses to help people find you.
Another option is Open Learning Platforms such as OutSchool or Udemy. These types of hosts require approval first from the platform managers. But once you have that, you could be up and running live classes or loading your how-to video quickly. They manage payment and, like Etsy, is a marketplace for learners who come to find classes so marketing is done for you.
And of course, there's always YouTube or Vimeo. Using these platforms to host your video course is free and easy to load. You make these videos private or “unlisted” and provide customers the link once they pay you. Email money transfers are an easy solution here and now you have a video course with few overhead costs.
Creator, maker, inventor, writer – whatever brilliant business idea your child has come up with might easily move to an online business in just a few easy steps. They may need a little help to get started, but once they are up and running, it’s money on the bank!
Tell me, which of these online business ideas for kids do you think your child would like to try?
- 100 Online Courses That Encourage Your Child's Interests and Talents
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