Tipping the scales in 2016 and beyond…

January is never a very profitable month for me on eBay, mainly because antiques and collectibles auctions are few and far between from November to early spring.

So that’s when I tend to spend less time looking for products to sell and more time looking for ways to improve my earnings on eBay.

Today’s eletter gives you the benefit of my findings to help grow your own profits this year on eBay.

In no particular order…

  • At a flea market last week, an old selling friend told me ‘You don’t make money when you sell, you make money when you buy’. He means, of course, that simply spending the majority of your time listing stuff on eBay isn’t the most important part of the money-making process, especially if, like many people, you buy products you think might make money when you really should focus on buying items you know will make a healthy profit.

My friend explained it like this…

When visiting dealers at flea markets, go from stall to stall, picking up anything and everything going cheap on the day, and from which they expect to make a few pounds profit on eBay. ‘People like you’, he said, pointing to me.

And he’s right: I do sometimes leave a fair with four or five plastic carrier bags filled with hundreds of different items, mainly postcards and ephemera, few of which have more than a passing chance of making a couple of pounds over what I paid for them.

My friend, on the other hand, leaves each fair with a couple of items wrapped up in newspaper and shoved into his jacket pockets.

He is selective in his buying habits and rarely buys anything offering less than £50 pure profit. He does it by inspecting just a few products at flea markets and other buying locations (like auctions and antique shops), and selecting between ten and 20 items to research for profit potential.

He then makes notes or takes photographs of items he wants to research and goes to a coffee shop, where he uses his mobile phone to research prices paid recently for similar items on eBay. When there’s a clear profit to be had he makes a purchase.

I tried following his lead at the same flea market in Gateshead Stadium. In my case I studied and made notes about 30 or so real photographic topographical postcards – among the highest-priced collectable items on eBay – and then I studied recent sales for similar items.

Ten items promised profits of £10 each or more, and the other 20 or so would just about recoup their investment. I bought those ten items and ignored the rest.

This same idea of buying only when you’ve researched an item’s potential resale value on eBay can be applied to virtually any product. Go and give it a try.

  • Aside from only buying products I know will make money, I’ve decided to focus more on repeat-sale items than one-off affairs. So instead of buying, say, an antique print likely to make £10 or £20 profit on eBay, I’m looking for original artwork that has since passed into the public domain, allowing me to copy those designs and sell them hundreds of times as prints and other decorative pieces.

I might get to pay £50 for my painting or other original artwork, but by choosing carefully I can earn £10 or £20 and maybe more from reprints. As long as the subject of the original piece appeals to a potentially unlimited audience, I can sell copies indefinitely. That potentially unlimited audience covers people interested in iconic artists like Rembrandt and Louis Wain and collectable subjects like dogs and transportation.

Other repeat-sale items guaranteed to make money over the indefinite future include greetings cards (just one design can generate a full-time living spread across marketplaces other than eBay, such as Amazon and Etsy); wedding favours (I have a bottle opener reproduced from an antique key design that’s selling several times every day as a gift for male attendants at the wedding); reproduction vintage photographs (especially topographical images, such as street scenes, which I’ve personally sold in abundance); and numerous other products alongside.

Find repeat sale products at www.goofbid.com. Choose ‘eBay Tools’ at the top of the screen, then ‘eBay Most Popular Tool’ at the bottom-right of the dropdown menu.

On the next page enter a product type into the search box and GoofBid will return listings for items achieving multiple sales – sometimes thousands of sales over a couple of months.

Use some of those listings to create your own unique products based on other people’s best-selling designs, but make yours better and more appealing.

  • I make a lot of my own products – things like jewellery and keyrings featuring various dog breeds – and they always sell and make a decent profit. But 20 items is my maximum output each day: that doesn’t take into account describing and listing those items on eBay or packing and delivering them to buyers.

Compare that to visiting art and craft fairs looking for products on display, which already match those fetching regular sales and high prices on eBay, and you’ll realise how anyone can buy many more items to resell than they might ever make themselves in the average working day.

For the record, some of my highest profits have come from selling the work of local artists and craftworkers on eBay. You’ll find fairs advertised in your local evening newspapers, usually at the weekend.

Now please go try those ideas yourself, and let me know how you get on.

This article first appeared on Auction Genie. Read more and comment here