A teacher has revealed how he made £42,000 in a year selling second hand books online.
Elliott Stoutt, 26, from Brighouse in West Yorkshire, spends just 10 hours a week on his profitable hobby, while working full time as a Head of PE at a secondary school in Leeds.
He began moonlighting as a book seller after becoming restless, and stumbling across a podcast about how to make extra money.
By using a service offered by Amazon, Elliott has been able to outsource the packing and posting of his items – freeing up his time and making his side business even easier.
Now he shares his tips – including where to shop and the best places to find advice – on social media.
Elliott Stoutt, 26, from Brighouse in West Yorkshire did just 10 hours work a week on his side hustle, while working full times as a Head of PE at a secondary school in Leeds
He told Femail: ‘I have been selling used books on Amazon now for more than two years.
‘The reason I started to get into selling online was because I knew as well as teaching I had to fulfill my restlessness for making an additional stream of income.
‘The thought of one job dictating my rent, my car and my food bills frightened me enough to start’.
He explained that he was first inspired to start selling second-hand goods after hearing a podcast from Gary Vaynerchuk, an American-Belarusian entrepreneur who often shares inspirational tips and business secrets online.
‘Selling online initially began when I came across Gary Vaynerchuk’s podcast where he spoke about earning an extra income and reducing the amount of hours spent watching TV, scrolling through Instagram and actually being productive with your time.
The teacher has revealed how he made £42,000 in a year selling second hand books online
‘He dropped “Amazon FBA” [Fulfillment by Amazon] a few times into his conversation in which I was intrigued that they even had a selling platform.
‘Immediately after the talk I began YouTubing everything and reading around the subject.
‘I figured out that it actually stores your products once you send them to their warehouses and when a buyer purchases your product online, they pack it, ship it and deal with all those admin tasks we really don’t want to do.
‘In a nutshell, once the book leaves my home I don’t have to touch or deal with it again.
Elliott (pictured) explained that he was first inspired to start selling second-hand goods after hearing a podcast from Gary Vaynerchuk, an American-Belarusian entrepreneur who often shares inspirational tips and business secrets online.
‘This suited my busy lifestyle down to the tee. Data tells us buyers prefer this option making my products for attractable.
‘With this information I got £50 together and went out to my local charity shops and bought random books including a few board games and sent these in.
‘I still remember my first sale. It was a used Monopoly Yorkshire Edition board game and it sold for £40 and I bought it for £2.50!
After his incredible first sell, where made his money back 16 times, he then went on to document his ‘selling journey’ on Instagram (pictured with his girlfriend)
‘I was instantly hooked and the rest – as cliché as it sounds – is history’.
After his incredible first sell, where made his money back 16 times, he then went on to document his ‘selling journey’ on Instagram.
‘I wanted to demonstrate to ‘working’ people that it is possible to earn an extra income even with a full-time job. On here I go through everything from sourcing, to packing, to day to day hurdles you may come across.
‘The purpose of sharing my story online is to be transparent as possible and allow anyone to reach out to me for advice or guidance to ultimately empower them to sell online.
‘I wanted to demonstrate to ‘working’ people that it is possible to earn an extra income even with a full-time job. On here I go through everything from sourcing, to packing, to day to day hurdles you may come across’ Elliott explained
Elliott’s top tips for selling online
Start an Instagram page
Follow other sellers in the industry. The tips out there and value you can absorb is significant. People are always willing to help those who need it. It’s a great community to be a part of.
Keep your expenses down
You don’t need to pay for services such as re-pricing software when you’re beginning or spending money on cardboard boxes. Think thrifty. Where could you get FREE cardboard boxes from to send your products in?
Buying books or products doesn’t always have to be from charity shops or retail stores. Check out Shpock, FB marketplace or gumtree. If you finish your day job after 5pm it doesn’t matter anymore, you can still work and source from home.
Start with books
They sometimes cost as little as £0.25p yet the ROI is one of the best in the game. Plus, your bank account won’t feel so bad when you’ve just bought 10 books for £5 rather than £100 on 10 toys.
His top tip is to download the Amazon Seller App, which is free from the app store and Google store.
‘Start scanning everything with a barcode in your house. Books, toys, board games, video games etc and get used to the platform,’ he continued.
‘The app allows you to find out how much each book or product is worth, the sales rank (lower sales rank, more often it sells) and how many sellers are on the listing.
‘Specific books to keep an eye out for include academia, photography, art, history, cooking and niche books.
‘Scan everything on the shelves and do not leave a book behind, you never know, you may come across a diamond in the rough. One book can change your whole day.
‘Big tip: there are roughly 60 million total items for books, my aim would be to buy books within the top one per cent of that category. But that’s just me.’
Elliot’s also written an eBook about how to run a successful online business, to share his 45 best tips.
But he adds, he’s definitely made some mistakes along the ways.
‘When I first started out I bought every book I laid my eyes on without a thought for the sales rank and how many sellers were selling the same copy.
‘My mind-set was just to bulk buy and hope for the best. Surely if I had thousands of books I’d make thousands? Wrong. I learnt the hard way by receiving a 12 months long-term storage fee.’
Eliott shared a picture of 13 medical books that cost him £20, although they are worth more than £200
After getting hit with the loss, he changed his business model and became a ‘cherry picker’.
‘I only selected the best books that confirmed were selling frequently and the competition was not so saturated’ he continued.
‘If I was starting out again I would definitely recommend only buying books that come up on your phone as profitable and illustrate a reasonable turn around’.
Elliott spends around 10 hours a week sourcing, selling, and buying his books, usually spending is Saturdays trawling through charity shops.
‘I start sourcing books on a Saturday and it takes six to seven hours travelling around each town.
‘I then come home to price them up. This takes an hour and then I put them into a box to ship out which takes another 30 minutes.
‘I also spend roughly an hour every three weeks re-pricing and taking care of admin.
Elliott spends around 10 hours a week sourcing, selling, and buying his books, usually spending is Saturdays trawling through charity shops. He shared this graphic online of his monthly sales
‘I’m a one-man operation and my monthly product sales range between £1200-£2000.
‘Please don’t get confused though, these certainly aren’t my profit numbers. There are a few people on Instagram that post their product sales and they are significantly higher however they may only be making £10 profit on a £100 toy for instance.’
‘That is why I deal with books. They are super cheap to buy but the minimum profit I’ll look to make is £5. Sometimes a £1 book can make me £120 profit!’
Elliott spends around £400 buying books each month but this is solely taken from the business.
‘It may seem a lot of money, but I started on £50 a month. Things have just snowballed to this point and so it has become all relative’, he said.
‘With that said, because education and helping others is truly at the heart of what I do, the next goal is to empower and inspire as many people as possible to start making a side income.
Elliott (pictured with him family) spends around £400 buying books each month but this is solely taken from the business