WHEN 15-year-old Oliver Hesford came home with hundreds of pounds worth of designer clothes, his mum was convinced he’d been shoplifting.
But the teen is actually one of a growing number who have ditched traditional Saturday jobs in favour of making money by selling online, and had raked in almost £2k flogging old mobile phones.
A survey from Barclays bank recently found one in 10 young people are making money this way, with 30 per cent of those surveyed saying they are “better suited” to this type of work.
So just how easy is it to flog things online, and how quickly do you start making real money?
We found four entrepreneurial teens earning thousands without stepping out of the house to tell us exactly that…
‘Mum nags me to save, but I prefer buying designer gear’
Oliver Hesford, 15, from Lytham sells old mobile phones online and has made £1,800 this year
“It started last Christmas when my friends got new phones as their Christmas present.
I mentioned that they could get £100-£200 for their old one, and they didn’t seem interested in selling them – they didn’t know how, couldn’t be bothered, or felt embarrassed.
So the idea just came to me – I could do it for them and take 20 per cent as my commission. I took a friend’s phone and a few days later gave him £120, which was £150 I sold it for minus £30 for me.
Everyone at school knows I will sell their phone and people at other schools know about me too.
We agree a minimum price and if I can’t get that much I’ll bring the phone back unsold.
I reset the phone to factory condition then list it on Facebook Marketplace, post into local Facebook selling groups and promote it using Instagram stories and Snapchat.
People then inbox me for more information and when someone agrees to buy it, they come and collect it from my house with the cash and I take the 20 per cent. I usually make £20 – £30 on each one.
I sell around two a week and have made £1,800 so far and think I can make another £3,000 in the next 12 months.
I really like designer clothes from Tessuti but my mum says it’s expensive so I use my own money to buy them. I don’t really save any but my mum keeps nagging me to.
I wanted to be a footballer when I “grew up” but I think I would be good at accountancy too because I’d be good at finding ways to save people money or make more!”
‘He gets it from me – I sold condoms at school’
Oliver’s mum Nikki, 33, a marketing manager, says:
“I only found out what Oliver was doing a few weeks ago when I was tucking into my Sunday dinner and someone knocked on the door. He jumped up from the table and said, ‘Oh that’s the lady buying the phone’ – and I was quite confused.
Thirty minutes later another lady turned up to buy a phone and a few hours later a third person.
I didn’t realise how much he was making until he came home about six weeks ago with a £160 designer jumper and £30 designer shorts and I knew I hadn’t given him £190 –I thought maybe he’d been shoplifting!
Both his Dad and I have businesses – his Dad has a successful car garage, and I own a co-working centre called The Small Business Academy.
When I was at school my first money-maker was getting the free Family Planning Clinic bags of condoms and selling them for £1 each at school to people who were too embarrassed to go in and ask for some. It looks like Oliver is opportunistic like me.”
Teens’ tips for striking it rich
Oliver, Joshy, Tia and Lochlan share what they’ve learnt about selling online, including what not to do
- Google it – there’s a YouTube video or blog for everything, so if you’re not sure have a search online
- Thoroughly research every product you purchase to avoid nasty surprises (or costly mistakes)
- Create a good reputation by being helpful and polite, so people are more likely to buy from you
- Pick something you enjoy – it makes it a lot easier to commit to, whether you make money or not
- Save what you make, as you’ll need to reinvest in your business to keep earning more
- Rip people off. If a product has a fault, like a phone which has a cracked screen, don’t try and hide it because you’ll get a bad reputation
- Be greedy. If the offer looks too good to be true it probably is, and you’ll lose money in the long run
- Quit too soon – it’s hard to get started and you’ll feel like you’re making no progress, but don’t give up
- Lose your temper if a deal goes wrong, there’s always another one round the corner
- Trust everyone or buy from wholesalers who have no decent reviews – being scammed is inconvenient and can really knock your confidence
‘The trick is understanding the hype’
Joshy Clare, 14, from Hertfordshire, has made £2,500 re-selling branded streetwear
“For teens, Saturday jobs are so outdated as there are so many other more efficient ways of making money.
I’m a reseller, which means I sell something I’ve bought from someone else. In particular I resell streetwear from brands like Nike, Off-white, Adidas and Supreme.
They release limited edition products, there’s only a small time frame you can buy them so they gain ‘hype’. That makes other people want them and increases the demand.
You can either queue up in front of a store for hours, much like when the new iPhone comes out, or you can buy these limited clothes online. Most people do what I do, and try online, but they can sell out in 10 seconds.
The hype means these items have a ‘resell price’ on them and this could be anywhere from £5-£1,000 on top of the retail price.
Once I buy the item, I list it on a selling app like bump, depop, eBay, then sell it and ship it.
I got the idea from Instagram influencers like Ari Petrou or Giancarlo Purch who have YouTube videos on how to do it.
A brand like Supreme, for example, will have a drop at 11am on a Thursday and I try as quickly as possible to buy the item I have my eyes on – the one most likely to make the most money.
Each month I can make anywhere from £50-£500, depending on how hyped-up the releases are that month. So far I’ve made about £2,500. I like to save my money, but occasionally I spend it going out with my friends.”
‘I can’t believe how much cash he makes’
His mum Cat, 40, PA for an estate agent, says:
“I genuinely think what Joshy is doing is incredible. I can’t believe that people pay so much money for all this merchandise.
He’s clearly very in tune with what’s popular and what’s ‘in’ and what will sell.
He loves nice things and he realises if he wants them he will have to earn money and save for them. It’s an incredible skill and life lesson for a 14-year-old to learn so young but I’m incredibly proud of him.”
‘I do so well as I’m so tech savvy’
Lochlan Bearman, 17, from Essex, sells car parts and has made £1,000 in five months
“I started racing karts when I was six years old, moved into full circuit car racing when I was 14 and was racing in the Fiesta Junior Championship.
It was my dad that suggested selling parts as we’d got an old Fiesta to use bits for my race-car and he said I should try selling parts myself. So I started in February.
I’ve bought broken cars that can’t be used on the roads from eBay and friends for a few hundred pounds, then I strip the parts and sell them on Facebook marketplace and eBay.
I can sell an air filter with ram air system for £100, bonnets for £70 and things like rear lights for £25-£30.
I strip the car down on my driveway and spend a day taking it apart, then another day researching prices online with competitors and taking pictures of the items and putting them up for sale.
I can make anywhere between £100-£300 a month and I’ve made around £1,000 so far.
Why I do so well is because I know about cars so understand what I’m selling, and I’m far more tech-savvy than my parents.
The lingo you need to know
As these savvy teens show, there’s much more to selling online than opening up at eBay account. As well as sticking adverts in the right place you need to be all over the best apps and make sure your products are in demand. Here’s a quick guide to get you started:
Part of Facebook, it’s a place to buy, sell or swap things in your local
Buyers contact you directly through your ads
A messaging service available in most apps which lets buys get in touch with you with any questions and to arrange sale
People who buy things and then sell them onto someone else
Check sites like eBay to see which items are consistently sold quickly (sportwear like hoodies, sweatshirts and trainers are good places to start)
Buying something and reselling it for a huge profit
Usually limited edition, these are must-have things like trainers or sweatshirts which people will pay a premium for because they’re rare.
Look out for when cult brands are releasing new lines and snap up the rare pieces to sell on
An app for selling clothes, shoes and accessories, it’s branded the ‘ultimate fashion marketplace’
Give good customer service to ensure people leave positive reviews – the more of those you have, the more popular your shop will be
Another app for selling fashion, this time specifically streetwear
I put all the money into my racing as it’s an expensive sport – and Mum and Dad can’t keep funding it.
I think I can make about £5,000 before I leave college. I’m on the Elite Driver Programme with MotorSport UK at the moment. That’s the plan at least.
When I get older I want to be a professional, paid racing driver as well as a driver coach.”
‘The bank of Mum and Dad is shutting soon’
His mum Xanthe, 48, a PR manager, says:
“Lochlan races single seaters which is an expensive sport so he knows bank of Mum and Dad can’t support him much longer.
He gets his entrepreneurial spirit from his dad John, a programme manager. He is always learning and encouraging new ideas. I’m a bit more cautious.
I’m so impressed with Lochlan though. He has had to deal with time-wasters, and people trying to knock him down on price but he’s been very mature in handling them and doesn’t give in.
I think that’s because Lochlan is knowledgeable and buyers realise quickly they can’t pull the wool over his eyes.”
‘I’ve stepped things up – I want to make £5k’
Tia Silverstein, 16, from Hertfordshire, has made £1,500 selling clothes
“I’ve been selling clothes for around two years now and got the idea from online articles that suggested selling things you no longer use.
Recently I decided to step things up and order from wholesalers to expand my page on Depop but I do sometimes pick up items in charity shops too. Over a month, depending on the season and what stock I get in, I can make up to £300.
My items appeal to anyone from the age of 14-100. I’ll get anything in from Ralph Lauren jumpers, perfect for the older clientele, to original vintage Nike jumpers ideal for younger clients looking for that vintage retro vibe.
What are the tax rules on making extra money?
AS the Government admits, confusion can arise when it comes to knowing whether you need to pay tax on online sales.
Rules came into force in 2017 which give causal online sellers a £1,000 tax-free allowance for selling selling online.
Another £1,000 allowance also relates to property – for example if you rent out your driveway, or your whole property. That means income below the £1,000 threshold does not need to be declared to the taxman.
Meanwhile, personal possessions sold for less than £6,000 are exempt from capital gains tax.
There’s also a £7,500 allowance for homeowners who want to rent out a furnished room, for example, on Airbnb, although this figure reduces to £3, 750 if someone else receives income from from letting rooms in the same property, such as a joint owner.
However, from April 2019 this allowance will only apply if you are also dwelling in your property for at least part of the time the room is being let.
HMRC has confirmed you can use two or even three allowances in the same tax year, but only for different money-making ventures. For example, you could use the property allowance to rent out your driveway, and the £7,500 rent-a-room tax relief to rent out a spare room without having to pay any tax.
Experts have been concerned that money makers aren’t aware of the allowance – and they could be left with a hefty tax bill if they earn over £1,000 and fail to tell HMRC.
And of course, there are various scenarios where you will need to declare your income to the taxman anyway, for example if your self-employed or you’ve earned more than £1,000 in untaxed income by renting out a property.
You can make anything from £20-£50 on a sweatshirt – it just depends on the condition, size and brand.
I used to sell shoes and could pay £150 for a pair and then flip them for £400, I did that twice.
With clothes you make a smaller amount of money but you are investing less a lot of the time.
In the past year I’ve made around £1,500, which I save or reinvest into new stock.
Occasionally I like to treat myself to some nice things but I usually end up reselling them as I find I get bored quickly.
Hopefully before I leave school I’ll have made at least £5,000.
I’m hoping to either pursue a career in writing, some kind of fashion photography or maybe even work on increasing my reselling to a stage where it could become a substantial living.”
‘Working in a shop wasn’t an option for her’
Her mum Natasha, 50, nail artist, says:
I think Tia gets her entrepreneurial skills from my husband, who has been in the property business for over 30 years.
Tia has spent countless hours talking to sellers and researching it all herself and learnt so much along the way.
She’s always been entrepreneurial though and used to be on her laptop googling things like ‘how do you make money as a teen?’ As working in a shop wasn’t an option at 14 she researched other ways.
To say I’m impressed with her would be an understatement. She is old beyond her years, with a wise head on her shoulders and she’s realistic, driven, focused and has life goals and aspirations that are so admirable. I feel proud to call her my daughter.”