What is the one issue that nearly every kind soul who visited my blog complained about? Well, I am sure some of my acquaintances hate me because I did not speak of them too nicely, but I am not talking about that. What most of my “fans” such as Another Loser were skeptical about is this one thing: I never made any money online. As such I should not try to teach others how to do the same. I am going to refrain myself from explaining for the nth time why, in today’s scenario, learning from someone who just started up is far more valuable than studying what anyone did to monetize a Web site in the past ten years. Of course, I am not making any money because the project is brand new, and shaping up a site into an authority blog is a very long and tedious process. Today, however, I want to underline a fact, which some of you may have missed: I have indeed made money on line in the past. Thirteen years ago, making money on eBay was my cup of tea. In the course of three years, I made around $100,000, possibly a little more. I spent a little less than $30,000 to buy my stock, which leaves a net profit of about $70,000, or $1900 per month. However I wasted around $40,000 buying other stuff for myself, so I only put around $30,000 in my pockets. Considering that in Malta, where I live, the average wage is $2000, I could have easily made a living off from that. Derek Halpern will forgive me for rounding up these figures; I just feel that adding cents to them to play mind games with my readers would be insulting towards their intelligence. Hence I am not going to look for my spreadsheets with the exact data. Now, before you start rubbing your hands, know that the method I am going to describe is outdated. It is no longer possible to make money using this system otherwise I would still be doing this myself. Nonetheless, I decided to write this article and share my system with you for two reasons. First, a few of the obstacles that no longer allow me to engage in this business may not apply to you. Second, I intend to use most, or possibly all, of the concepts I am about to describe for making money on eBay; they will unquestionably help me in my new business, which is domaining. In this article, I will be going over the way I approached my business on eBay.
Three Things I Did Right Making Money On eBay
#1 Know Your Market — This is rather important and what actually gave me an edge over many of my competitors. I was dealing in vintage toys, and, as those who read my life history know well, I am an avid collector of Masters of the Universe and Transformers action figures. There are many ways for making money on eBay. Among the most popular, nowadays is finding high value merchandise on Craig List and reselling it on eBay for a substantial profit. I cannot even try this method since we have no Craig List in Malta therefore I do not know whether it works or not. At any rate, it is all about finding common, sought-after merchandise well below retail value and selling it at nearly retail value. Buyers and competitors alike make up an infinite number, for this tactic.
What I was doing was totally different, focusing on items that were very rare to find. A Transformers toy from Hasbro in a sealed box could be bought for $16.99 back in the 1980’s. Today that same toy may be worth at least a grand! These collectibles owe their value due to being extremely rare and hard to find. If one misses on buying a Panasonic TV set today, there will be no need to pull all the hair off since one can be confident enough that another will show up in a few days or maybe a couple of weeks in the very worst scenario. If one misses on a vintage Transformers toy, there will likely be a wait of months or even years to have another chance. “Arthur, this is hard!” you may be thinking right now. “Finding this stuff for cheap must be next to impossible. Maybe one can be lucky enough to find one cheap collectible every month or every year, but that’s it.” How wrong you are! I could find a couple of them every week. Sometimes I would find a few vintage toys that are worth $50, but getting ones that were worth $300 wasn’t anything special. I got a doll that is worth a grand for $350 and my biggest deal ever: a sealed in the box Grand Maximus for $250. That monster (he is a very huge toy) is worth several thousands of dollars today!
Finding the stuff to sell is not that hard when you know the product well. This is similar to the “A”, which stands for “Action”, in the PEACE method for building websites. You should not build a Web site on gardening if you are not a gardener yourself. Likewise, do not try to sell collectible toys if you are not a toy collector yourself. Knowing the product is important for two reasons: one should be a part of the community to make the right connections and find the best deals. Moreover, the value of the merchandise needs to be assessed carefully. This last point is crucial otherwise there is a risk on missing on many good deals or buying crap and losing money. Price guides do not help much. I used to refer to them, all the time, when I started out. I quickly quit doing that within a few months as I learned that half of the time the toys were undervalued and the other half they were overvalued. For example, I had a box full of a Master of the Universe accessory called “Scubattack.” The price guides all valued it at $20. The truth is that buyers were paying $150 a piece for these. Gaining such deep knowledge of the items we sell on eBay can only come with time and experience. Understanding subtle differences between items that look the same can give a real headache, but is crucial for making money on eBay successfully. For example, in the Princess of Power toy collection there is a troll-like figure named Loo Kee. He is extremely rare to find on American card. A sealed American Loo Kee used to run for $500 back in the day, but a Loo Kee on European card would only go for $100. We’re talking about the same exact figure, both made in the same exact factory in China. The only difference between the two packages is that that European version has Italian and French descriptions printed on it in addition to English. However had I bought the former for $250, I would be in for a very good profit, not so much had I bought the latter for the same amount. Here is another example with pictures. Look at these two dolls.
The one that looks like a butterfly is named Flutterina; the other one is named Spinnerella. Do you notice anything interesting or odd about them? Spinnerella is just a repainted version of Flutterina with a different dress and accessories. Even though she is a repaint, she is the doll that used to sell for $1000, which I mentioned earlier. Buying her for $350 was a great deal. But what if I bought Flutterina for the same amount? I would probably have cried for days with my head under the pillow because she was only worth about $30. That was in the early 2000’s when I was in business. Today she is worth more, but I honestly have no clue how much because when I quit this job, I stopped keeping up to date with the prices.
I have been fairly successful with this business and made a considerable amount of money. So you may trust me on this one. Knowing the product is the most important thing to do when selling rarities to a small niche on eBay, far more important than finding venues to buy stock for cheap or developing tactics to sell for high prices. That is due to the fact that without this knowledge I would have inevitably ended up buying the wrong items at the wrong prices. Rather than making money on eBay, I would have lost money on eBay!