People who know me know that I have gone through a gazillion jobs and I’m an expert at all of them… I’m also really good at exaggerating and sarcasm.
But, I really have had lots of jobs and have started and run several businesses.
I’ve done everything from building fences and weeding to tutoring college students, being a marketing advisor and running an online eCommerce focused on health.
Yet, in all of my experiences there has been one thing that has shinned through as an easy and profitable way for anyone to make money and that is, flipping things on eBay.
Now, if you’re curious why eBay, it’s because eBay has a particular feature which makes it the easiest to work with… we’ll get to that in a minute, but first let’s talk a little more about flipping.
What Are The Pros & Cons Of Flipping?
- You can make a good full-time income
- Work from home
- Schedule your own work
- There’s not a ton of skill needed
- It takes a little money to get started
- It does take some time to learn
- It can be hard to be successful in small areas
Where To Find Products To Flip?
There are so many places to find products.
My personal favorites are Craigslist and some of the cheaper thrift stores in my area.
Thrift Store Hack: Salvation Army is ALMOST ALWAYS going to be a better deal than Goodwill. Local thrift stores will probably be an even better deal.
You can also find things in these locations:
- Yard Sales
- Flea Markets
- Regular Stores (either clearance items at big box retailers or salvage stores like Big Lots)
Now for the best part…. How It Works
You go onto Craigslist or to your local thrift store, yard sale etc, and you look for goods that are in demand to resell on eBay.
Knowing which goods are “in demand” in part comes from experience, but eBay particularly has a feature that will make this easier.
If you’re on a computer you can hop over to eBay and on the right of the search bar you’ll see an “Advanced” button. Click it!
Now, you’ll want to enter your items information (be detailed if needed) and then under the “search including” you’ll want to hit “completed listings”. Once you have these two things filled out hit the “search” button.
What’s going to come up is a mix of sold and unsold items. The sold items will be displayed in green.
If you’re on your phone, the easiest way to find the advanced search is to google “eBay advanced search” for some reason they don’t make it easy to find on the app or mobile site. But, it should come up easily if you Google it.
What Kinds Of Items Sell
Honestly this is such a difficult question to answer. For a while I made $8,000 a month selling red wriggler worms and live tadpoles on eBay. My mom on the other hand has made great money selling books.
In a lot of cases I don’t know what it is I’m really selling, but I’ll look it up on eBay and it’s selling amazingly well at great prices so I buy it!
The key is to know what it is you’re looking at or be able to ask someone what it is you’re looking at. I’ve had great success with game boards, vintage items, sporting goods, instruments, books, live plants and random electronic parts.
At one point I even sold running shoes for a $75 profit.
The key to making not just a good profit, but a great profit, is finding items that are unique and undervalued by the current owners.
Define Your Criteria
Now when you’re looking at items, you’ll have to come up with your own criteria for determining if it is worth trying to flip. What is worth it to you might be different than to me, but here’s what my criteria was.
More sales than not.
First, I only bought products to flip that were selling MOST of the time on eBay. This means that as I scrolled I expect three out of four listing to be green.
I also, want to make sure the green listings (sold ones) are the exact product I’m trying to flip and not a variety (AKA: pay attention to the model numbers and such).
The second thing I want to look at is how often the item is selling. Typically I want to see a sale every day. That’s a good indicator I won’t have to hold onto the product for very long.
In some cases, products will become less valuable the longer you hold onto them… not to mention you want to make a profit as quickly as possible!
The only exception to this for me, was if the product was worth a lot of money and was worth waiting for sales.
For example, I bought vintage speakers once for $25. When I looked them up, every set of speakers had sold within the last year, but there were only a few listing for that year which could mean two things.
The speakers were rare enough they were hardly available, but they had an enthusiastic audience.
Because the speakers were vintage they had a limited audience and availability.
In the case of 1, I would be able to sell the speakers quickly, but in the case of two I would have to wait for just the right buyer, which could mean having a listing up for a rather long time.
With that in mind, I looked at the sales price and noticed that the speakers were selling for well over $1,000.
Since all of the speakers had sold over the last year, I decided that regardless of the reason there weren’t many selling, they were worth holding onto for the profit.
I listed them and they sold within 6 months and I made a profit of $1025…. Not bad even with the wait time.
If that profit had been $10 maybe it wouldn’t have been worth cluttering up my house over. But maybe it would be to you!
Lastly, I take a look at the ROI, or return on investment.
In other words, how much money will you actually make if the item sells?
If you’re without a job or have more time than money, maybe the return doesn’t matter as much to you at the start.
But, my rule of thumb was always that I wanted to make enough to pay for my time. After all, you have to buy the item, list the item, package it and take it to the post office.
If you make $1.00 and it takes you 2 hours is it worth it? Maybe your answer is yes, or maybe you need to make a lot more than that.
My standard is something like buy under $20 and sell over $100
Packaging, Postage, And Shipping
Just keep in mind as you’re finding things to sell that you will have to properly package it, pay for postage and potentially insure the item.
For small, light, non-breakable items this might not be a big deal, but if you’re selling a cello or vintage speakers, make sure you think about this before making the initial purchase.
The last thing you want to do is spend $100 and then find out it will cost $250 to ship the item and $100 to insure it when you only sold it for $200.
eBay itself does have a calculator, but one of the best ways I found to manage all of this, was to find a local mail room that handled everything for me and gave me flat rate charges to cover everything.
I could call them up, tell them what the item was and they would give me an estimate so I could decide if it was worth getting.
I personally don’t specialize, but if you live in a bigger area you could choose to specialize in one type of merchandise.
For instance, musical instruments, shoes, designer clothes etc. This will save you research time when you’re shopping for items to flip.
It could also allow you to create a “branded” eBay with a name and picture that represents your specialty and gives people more assurance of the quality of your products!
So, there you have it! You’re now all set to start your flipping journey. If you need any further help or advice leave a comment down below and I’ll try to help you out!