If there is one area that a motivated seller will stand out above their competition, it is in their knowledge base pertaining to the items they sell. If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be this: Start with what you know, and then broaden your knowledge from there.
You really do not have to know much to sell usable items, clothing, and other non-collectible items online. You simply identify the item in an auction or on the Amazon marketplace, describe the condition, and then make it available for purchase.
However, other items such as collectibles, high-end electronics, computer equipment, and auto parts require the seller to have some background knowledge before selling the item. In order to be able to describe the item sufficiently so that a potential buyer is comfortable buying it from you, the seller has to understand what type of information the buyer needs for them to determine value and functionality.
Start selling what you are familiar with. If you grew up collecting sports cards and memorabilia, and you have boxes of baseball cards in your closet, start by selling your excess cards. You already know how to describe your cards to buyers. You can ‘speak the language’ to collectors on eBay. You know what an insert card is, and how to identify a rookie card. You know how to describe the condition of the card to a potential buyer.
Get yourself a current price guide for your sports cards so that you have an idea of the current market value. Then, collect a number of cards that you are interested in selling and type the player’s name and year of the sport card in the search bar on eBay. Click on the checkbox on the left side of the screen that says ‘Completed Listings’. You get a list of the ended auctions from the last three months with your search description. The average ending price is what you should expect to sell your card for, if the condition is also similar.
The same process can be applied to any subject area. When you have an item that you want to determine value on, take a look at the last three months of sales on eBay. You should be able to make a quick determination if the item is worth your time. If you are considering selling the item on Amazon, locate the item in the Amazon marketplace using the search bar, and see what the average price listed is.
EBay completed listings can also help you in other ways. Let’s say that you found a vintage Pioneer audio receiver for free at a garage sale. Good for you! Now, how do you make a profit on it, if you have never dealt with electronics before?
If you plug it in and everything works, you just hit the jackpot. Look on the back of the unit and find the model number. Type it into the search bar, and see what similar working units have sold for, and list your receiver starting at the low end of the completed listing’s end prices. You want to encourage bidders by starting at what feels like a bargain to the bidder.
If you attempt to test the receiver and it doesn’t work at all, don’t fret. You actually may make more money by disassembling the receiver and selling the parts.
The trick is to determine which components and parts to sell. You should have an idea what parts are going to be sold BEFORE taking the receiver apart, because some larger components are more valuable whole then totally disassembled. For instance, if your vintage audio item has a record player, you will want to keep the entire tone-arm assembly together to sell it.
In order to determine what we are going to sell, we use Completed Listings again. Type in the model number from the receiver on the main eBay page. Most of the time, the search will return many whole receivers that were for sale. But, it will also give you a list of parts and components that other sellers have listed and what the ending prices were.
For instance, with vintage Pioneer receivers, you would probably find that the outer case was worth listing (and would make you some good money, if it was wood). You would also note that the knobs, feet, emblem, and face plate were worth money. Usually the tuning mechanism, display, and some of the internal workings will also be listed.
You may also want to go to the ‘Vintage Electronics’ category and look at the Completed Listings for the entire category. This will give you a general idea of some of the parts that are often valuable, regardless of brand. You would probably note that large power transformers are usually worth money, and since your Pioneer has a similar transformer to the ones that you saw in Completed Listings, you would want to list your own transformer in the category that you found the others in.
A good seller is curious. If you are at a garage sale, you should be looking for new sources of income. If you find something interesting, look it up in Completed Listings when you get home, and see if it’s worth your time.
I spend a lot of time just browsing Completed Listings in given categories and looking for new areas to list items in. If I find an interesting listing that did really well for another seller, I look at the auction page and try to figure out why it did better than others in the same category. Were there certain words used in the item title? Were the photos showing a certain aspect of the item? Was the item described in a particular way? If I can pick up anything useful, I use similar wordings in my titles or descriptions.
You may also find totally new areas to sell items in. I remember one night browsing Completed Listings to see if any 1980s-era magazines were worth buying at garage sales, because I was seeing them quite often. I found that 95% of the magazines I was seeing were not going to be worth the time it took to list them. But, I saw some listings in other categories that were interesting.
Other sellers were listing just the advertisements from magazines and newspapers for pretty decent money. Often, the magazines the ads came from could be found for $1, but the ads within could be worth up to $20 apiece. People were looking for ads containing celebrities or certain products (like vintage autos, or Atari 2600 games) and framing them for décor in their homes and businesses.
So I picked up a bunch of magazines, and clipped interesting ads out. I scanned the ads with my scanner, and listed them on eBay. I made several hundred dollars selling magazine ads in a relatively short time. I looked at a number of sellers’ listings, and it was apparent that they sold only magazine ads and did quite well.
I sold ads for a while, but I quickly realized that you have to make a lot of listings to make any real money, and I found it quite monotonous clipping and scanning, so I moved on to more interesting ventures. If you are interested in selling ads, there are books available on Amazon for identifying and pricing print ads to get you started. The startup cost is almost zero, and you will make some money if you can find some older magazines to pull ads from.