Smart Ways Millennials and Gen Z are Making Money

Dollars and Sense

Smart ways millennials and Gen Z are making money

Learn how you, too, can take advantage of a digital gig economy and earning power of social media.

By Bana Jobe

You can’t scroll through your newsfeed without reading about a whip-smart young person leaving their day job (voluntarily!) to become a well-paid influencer. These stories are amazing and encouraging, as many of us rethink our career paths, perhaps after leaving the workforce during COVID-19. It also makes us wonder: What money-making tips can we learn from Gen Z and millennials?

The financial ingenuity of the younger generation is aptly timed, with roughly two-thirds of college graduates taking out student loans upwards of $30,000, surveys show. Some millennials are reportedly carrying that debt into their 40s, causing them to delay homeownership and cut back on retirement savings. Plus, many young people may have seen their parents struggle to build wealth, perhaps earning enough to raise a family but not having the financial independence to create the life they want.

Fortunately, a digital gig economy and the potential earning power of social media are changing the money-making landscape. And we all can take advantage of it. Read on to see how you, too, can rake in the dough.

Freelance online

Platforms like Fiverr and Upwork have created a space where budding writers, graphic designers, and other consultants can experiment with self-employment. People of any age are able to monetize their skills and flex their creativity outside of their 9-to-5 job. And if your side hustle starts to pick up, take comfort in knowing that three in four people who quit full-time employment to freelance make the same or more than they did before, one survey found.

That's not to say it's without risk: Freelancing can be a slow grind, with gig workers having to sort through low-paying jobs to find more lucrative client relationships. And with more people considering side hustles post-pandemic, the potential for competition is another thing to consider.

Set up a virtual shop

Years ago, starting a retail business involved major investment, like leasing a retail location, keeping the lights on, and paying (and insuring) staff. Now, sites like Etsy and ArtFire have made business ownership more attainable for jewelry makers, woodworkers, and other crafters through a virtual shop.

But like any retail startup, the risk is that your products may not sell—a potentially crippling blow to those who invest in inventory and materials. In addition, the site that hosts your shop often takes a portion of your sales, which can impact your profitability.

Become a social influencer

Open Instagram, TikTok, or other social apps, and you're likely to see a post where someone is promoting a certain product or brand. That's called influencer marketing, and the trend is growing exponentially: Companies budget thousands or more for influencer programs, and 71 percent of digital marketers expect those budgets to get even bigger, reports show. While your income depends on your followership, you don't need a million followers to make money. Some expert analysts claim you could pull in $100,000 with just 5,000 Instagram followers and a little more than 300 influencer posts.

A few keys to being successful on social media are picking a niche, having a unique approach, and connecting with your audience, experts say. Just keep your expectations in check. Despite the buzz about millionaire influencers, it can be a slog to build up your following—and even more challenging to prove to brands why they should pick you over others.

So, what's next?

The opportunities for making money are as creative as you are, whether you get a commission from people buying products from your website or you write and sell an e book that teaches people a skill you specialize in. Whatever strategy you choose, keep in mind that success isn't guaranteed; consider the potential risks and rewards.

With people rethinking their careers post-pandemic, now's a good time to explore new income streams. And it's always a good idea to build good financial habits and feel better about the steps you're taking to improve your finances. Upwise can help with that.

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