Before we get into the nuts and bolts of this blog, it’s important for you to understand several things about yourself. First, what do you hope to accomplish by using this information? Are you looking for a second income? Are you time strapped, and only have time to save your family a little money? Are you considering a new business opportunity?
In my opinion, you should always leave yourself the opportunity to expand your efforts into at least a significant second income. What the heck, it costs you very little money to obtain your selling inventory, and there is the potential to make fairly easy profits. Why not take advantage of that?
I started out buying collectible items at garage sales for 5-25 cents, and then re-selling them on EBay for up to $250 an item. That was a cash cow for a while, but as more and more people found out how easy it was to sell on EBay, the competition got fierce, and the amount of collectibles in the marketplace drove the selling prices down considerably. So, I started researching other ways to diversify, and not rely so much on collectible items.
Now, I prefer selling items that people are always going to need, and also have a value that is determined outside of popular demand. I enjoy finding items for free while I am recreating, and then sell them for easy cash. I mean really, if you’re going to have a serious hobby, make it one that actually makes you money. Why throw away big money on a golf course, when you can spend time shopping for investment items, or attempting to locate $1000 valuables with a metal detector on a beach?
As I started adding new avenues for income, I found that I could use my “hobby” as a second income for my family, and my wife could stay home with our young children, instead of working and paying for childcare. Obviously, that was a huge incentive to step it up and go for it.
When we started making significant money, I knew that we needed some kind of business plan. There are thousands of people selling odds and ends on EBay and other places online. The ones that actually make significant money are the people who: #1: ARE NOT LAZY, #2: Are not stupid, and #3: Are resourceful and are willing to do some research.
I started thinking of my second income as a business. I claimed my earnings on my income taxes, so that I could write off business expenses, such as vehicle mileage and meals while I was finding inventory or going to the scrap metal dealer. I kept track of receipts. I knew how much actual profit I was making after subtracting gas cost and EBay listing fees. I wrote off a home office and storage room deductions on my income taxes. All of these things are actually very easy to do, and make you more money for your business.
Even if you are thinking that you are only going to sell some items and materials from around your home, I can guarantee you that if you put some effort into it, you will at least expand into having your family, friends and neighbors save you items that they would normally throw away, and then you, too, will be on your way to an easy second income. So, what I am telling you is, you might as well save yourself even more money and start right off thinking of this as a business.
You have to consider more than just your initial cost and end sales price for an item and/or material that you have sold. The biggest mistake beginners make is not considering the actual cost of selling a particular item.
For instance, consider two potential sales items. The first is a book that you find at a garage sale for 25 cents and then sell for $20 on EBay. The second is a box of insulated electrical cords that you have collected at your house and then sell at the scrap metal dealer for $20. Which is the better sale?
The answer is: It depends! All things being equal, the box of cords is the better deal, because the only time that you had into prepping the cords was about five seconds to cut the plugs off and stuff them into a box. In order to sell the book on EBay, you have to: 1) photograph the book 2) upload the photos 3) type up the listing, and 4) package the item for shipping. Time is money, and you have to take that into account.
However, if you live in a rural area, and the nearest scrap metal dealer is 45 minutes away, you have the additional travel time and gas money to account for. You have to remember that some avenues may seem on the surface to be great deals, but by the time you factor in your time in preparation, hard work and gas money, they may not be your best alternative in making money.
You are looking for things that you enjoy doing anyway, have a renewable supply of, and are comfortable in selling. You also want to be able to sell the items quickly and without an overabundance of preparation time.
The last thing that you have to consider before starting is, how much storage room do you have available to you? There are a lot of items that you can make good profits on that take up a lot of room. Do you have room to disassemble vehicles or appliances on your property? Do you have room in your home for large bookshelves for storing book or music inventory? If not, you will have to concentrate on smaller items to sell, or items that you know that you can sell almost immediately. Your significant other is not going to want to have your stuff lying all over his or her counters or on the floors in your home.
HOW AND WHERE TO SELL
Before you start accumulating items and materials to sell, it is important to have a good idea where you are going to sell it. Finding the good stuff to sell is only half of the battle. You need to know where to go to get top dollar when you go to re-sell it.
In my experience, the best and quickest way to sell most things is to sell them on eBay. While the sales prices on many items have come down over the last five years or so, there is always going to be a market for items that people need, and you can’t beat the convenience and potential deals on eBay for the bargain hunter.
Even if you are intimidated by selling on the internet or don’t have the desire to do so, you should still be familiar with how eBay works and how to sell an item there. It will not take you long at all in this line of business to figure out that eBay is the best location to sell many different types of materials, including some that you may have previously thought were only sold elsewhere. Scrap metal is an example.
Consider this. If you sell copper to your local scrap metal dealer, you are selling to a middle-man. Your dealer still has to sell your copper again to a metal wholesaler for his business to make any money, so you are therefore offered considerably less for your scrap on the deal, right?
On eBay, you offer the same box of scrap copper to thousands of scrap dealers and investors. The bidding on your lot is determined by the free market and the spot copper price, not by an individual scrap metal dealer, who often has very little competition in his local marketplace. For more information on selling scrap metal on eBay, visit the applicable web pages at Eric Michael Books blog and Garage Sale Academy.com.
Just about anything you can think of that is bought and sold in any physical marketplace is also sold on EBay. We will get further in depth into the world of EBay in later chapters, but just realize for now that EBay gives you the best opportunity to diversify your sales, and the potential for buyers to bid higher on items than you may have thought the item was worth to begin with.
I remember in our first year of internet selling, my wife and I were at a garage sale. We had a few odds and ends that we were going to buy, and my wife saw a cheap looking plastic beer sign in the ten-cent box near the pay table. She picked it out on a whim, and we paid for our stuff and left. The sign was only about 4 x 8” in size, and made of a thin Plexiglas material.
We offered the sign at auction on eBay, starting at 99 cents, and a week later, two competing bidders had raised the ending price to almost $250! The winner e-mailed us and asked if we had any more signs from the beer company that was advertising with the sign my wife had found. He informed us that the beer company was a popular brand in the state that he was from, and that the brewery had gone out of business over twenty years ago. The signs were impossible to find and were very collectible. Who knew?!