Written by Markus
The story is based on Markus' personal anecdote and experience, and this is a gentle reminder that every experience may be different :
I give my 17 year old daughter 150 Euro pocket money per month. With this she buys the clothes that she wants (instead of what I believe she needs), buys tidbits, school lunch, dinner with friends and whatever teenagers think they need.
Knowing roughly what her spend can be, this should be enough. Nonetheless I expected her to come to me regularly for extra pocket money, as that was what I did when I was her age. But she doesn’t. Never. But she did show up with a new phone. So I checked her bank account and saw she has close to 1000 euro balance. Worried weird things are happening, I asked her what is going on.
I found out she has several ways of earning extra money, without it impacting her study time. She takes in about 500 euro’s a month in a stress free and flexible way. I thought it is good to share these revenue streams with you, so you too can inspire your kids to generate an income themselves and teach them the importance of having your own earned money and safe for bigger things. But then in a modern way.
Below options I mention only to inspire. I have no affiliation with them.
1. Usertesting: On this website users are asked to complete surveys regarding testing of new websites or parts thereof. Surveys you get take about 20 minutes to complete. For example the latest test she did yesterday was regarding the feel and look of a not yet launched fashion website. To my surprise she gets paid $10 per test and does around 5 a week, earning her $200 a month. She showed me her list of completed test and payouts to her Paypal and there are about 100! https://usertesting.com/
2. Trading game items in the Steam Marketplace: Apparently kids spend big money on, in my opinion useless, virtual items you can use in various Steam games. This includes virtual weapons, clothing but even odd things like an egg. You can earn these things in games, but you can also buy and sell them. Hence they created a marketplace that uses real money, but is for gamers that are most often children. With this she earns around 200 Euro a month, but she says this is just the start. https://steamcommunity.com/market/
3. Dropshipping of virtual items: We all know those horrible adverts that sell you gadgets, but when you order one, it takes months to arrive (if at all) as it is shipped directly from manufacturer or wholesaler in China and is often of very low quality. She does the same, but with virtual items, for example entry tickets to theme parks, gift cards, game licenses and much more. These items can be send instantly by email and are verifiable valid. She links sellers on Ebay to Marktplaats and vice versa. She does not sell a lot, but does create a profit of around 100 euro’s a month by simply receiving, editing and sending a few emails. She tells me: “ I won’t do it anymore unless my profit is at least 10 euro per email”.
When I was told above, I was very impressed. But when I was told about the Steam Marketplace, it sounded very interesting to me. I’ll zoom in on what she told me, hoping you and your kids can together kick start something similar.
On the Steam Marketplace she looks for items that cost 1 or 2 cents and there are no more of around 1000 pieces available. It doesn’t matter what item it is or for what game it is. Note that prices start at 1 or 2 cents, but some are asking a lot more for the same items. Of course if someone wants to buy an item, they will buy the cheapest one(s).
Once found, she buys all that are available up to 1 euro per piece. The result is that where the average price was perhaps 1 cents, it now is 1+ euro as all the cheap ones she bought up. So she increased the average price 100 times. She does this for about weeks, snatching below 1 euro offers as soon as they come available and waiting for the cool-down period of 2 weeks to pass (need to wait 2 weeks after buy before you can sell it). But then she creates a listing of 0,99 euro per piece while she keeps buying anything that is offered below. She also creates many listings that are way above, for example 5 euro per piece. And don’t forget, we are talking in the example about a virtual egg that can only be used in a game I have never heard of.
Now here comes the trick: On this platform bots are active. These are computer programs that buy and sell in an attempt to earn money in an automated way. She found that these bots behave predictable. They are triggered to buy if the average price of an item is shooting up. They will automatically buy the cheapest available, often set with a maximum of a round amount.
So knowing this, having bought all the items available up to one Euro, she after one week starts releasing them at 0,99 euro and as a result, these bots start buying her items giving her a nice profit. They will not buy for 1 euro, as most will have a limit to only buy if below that.
This lasts for about one week, as then others notice the price of an item has shot up and start obtaining these items from the game (called farming) and then sell them. So the market is flooded and it goes too fast to keep buying cheap ones and force bots to buy your ones. So then it is time to move on. But she has perhaps spent 20 euro on buying 1000 pieces and she only has to sell 20 pieces to earn it back. According to her, this happens in few hours when she floods the market with her “cheapest” items due to those bots. The rest is pure profit. She put’s away 10% of these profits and re-invests the rest the same week on a new “project”.
So what she is actually doing is trading by manipulating the market. This in an informal environment where this is allowed, buying and selling virtual things that are completely useless but people like to collect.
I told her in real life this is highly illegal. She smiled and said this is not true. She told me, and remember she is only 17, that Elon Mush manipulates crypto’s using twitter. He then indeed gets a fine, but that fine is less than 1% of what he earned by doing this. This is no different that the transaction fees she pays on the Steam Marketplace. My mouth fell open and I had nothing to say except “baby, if you come close to reaching the option where you can manipulate crypto’s, let me know”.
When I was her age, I had a newspaper route. I also worked on Saturday in a factory, shoving cookie dough into a machine and on Sunday in an animal shelter shoveling shit. This while trying to balance school and work time, earning maybe 100 euro a month. My daughter though earns around 500 euro a month using her phone and does this while travelling up and down to school by train. She found things that do not conflict with school and study time (she’s a straight A-student, doing her A-levels), earns way better than I did at that age and on top is smart enough to not spend it all.
I wonder what she comes up with next. I know one thing: times have changed.