My daughters and I all think freelancing is pretty cool. They hope to be a freelancer artist and writer eventually themselves.

It’s not easy for a teenager to get his or her first job today. Back when I was in this age bracket in the mid-80s, filling out an application usually meant getting the job without so much as an interview. Fast forward to the present time when my 20 and 17-year-old daughters had a heck of a time landing their first positions for low-paying retail and fast-food jobs. It took so long that I had visions of supporting both of them indefinitely.

The mom in me happens to think that these jobs builds character. There’s nothing like working hard for $7.50 an hour to learn that money really doesn’t grow on trees. It’s also a pretty good argument for getting a higher education. For teens and young adults who want to opt out of the retail and fast-food environments, freelance writing is an attractive alternative. Thanks to the Internet, there have never been more opportunities to earn a living by producing words.

Tips for the Youngest of the Millennial Generation

Your teachers have been praising your writing since the first time you could string a sentence together. Although It is rare for you not to get an A on high school or college writing assignments, you assume that you’re too young to actually earn money as a freelance writer. This is no longer the case. As long as you have the skills and can consistently meet deadlines, you have just as much of a chance of making a go of it as your older counterparts. Some of the opportunities available include:

  • Content marketing writing such as on this site
  • Self-published eBooks
  • Blogging
  • Writing for sites like Hub Pages or Squidoo where you receive payment based on page views

It is important to keep in mind that most online writing sites require a writing sample as part of the initial application. Young writers who don’t have much of a portfolio yet should spend time writing on topics that would be of interest to a broad audience. Another thing to consider is that some sites have a minimum age requirement of 18. If you haven’t reached that milestone yet, save your writing samples and return to apply when you’re a legal adult. It may require persistence to find sites that will allow you to sign up if you’re under 18, but they do exist.

One of the obvious benefits of freelance writing is the flexibility that it provides. However, it requires a great deal of self-discipline as well. Unlike your parents or teachers, no one is going to keep reminding you that the work is due. It’s up to you alone to complete the work in a timely manner. Missing even one deadline could mean that you’re not allowed to work for the client or writing broker again. You will do well if you consider your other commitments carefully and carve out time and quiet space to finish each writing assignment on time.

And Now for the Parenthesis

I would also like to be an encouragement to people on the other end of the age spectrum. Yours truly here is 48 years old and has been working full-time as a freelance writer for five and a half years. I’m sure you can do the math, but that means I didn’t get started until I was 43. It would be much longer if the Internet had been around when I was a teenager or young adult.

As it is, I drifted from one entry-level office job to the next for 25 years. I had natural writing ability since grade school, but I didn’t really know what to do with it. Although I have a writing-related degree, being a journalist is a tough gig for an introvert and writing novels isn’t really my thing. Those were the only opportunities I was aware of in the late 1980s.

My midlife crisis was the best thing that could have happened to me. Frustrated and bored out of my mind with my latest data entry job, I searched online until I found the very writing opportunities I mentioned above. In April of 2011, I took a week’s vacation from my job to see what I could earn writing at home. It was about the same, but that was good enough for me. I gave my notice and never looked back.

Five years later, I have more than doubled my annual income. Most importantly, I feel deeply content to be doing what I believe I was meant to do. As I stare down that half-century milestone, I believe that the best of my career is yet to come. So take it from me and my daughters who dabble in the freelance world, you’re never too old or too young to do this yourself.