Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ways to Make Money Online

We have discussed a few different ways to make money online.  Today, we'll be talking to Courtney.  She is a good friend of mine and loves to buy and sell household items online.  Here is our interview:

In what ways do you sell things on the internet (what sites have you used)?
I have used MANY sites to sell things online. My favorites are Craigslist, eBay, Etsy, DiaperSwappers, and The Baby Wearer.

What are some items that are worth selling online?
Really, I think that pretty much anything worth selling can be sold on the internet. I have sold large items like strollers and carseats all the way down to little things; clothes, cloth diapers, baby carriers, toys, etc. I mostly sell children's items. I think that especially living where we do(in the middle of nowhere)people are often looking to buy things that aren't necessarily found in the local stores. 

What are some items that are NOT worth selling online?
With the exception of Craigslist where you don't need to worry about shipping, things that are not worth the postage to send are not going to be good sellers. People don't want to pay $3 shipping on a $1 item. This means that things like your child's used shoes from Walmart are probably not going to sell well. ;)  

Why sell online?  Why not a garage sale or consignment shop?
I had a garage sale. Once. Never again. They are a LOT of work, you really don't get much of a return on your time, and you are not able to target the proper audience like you can online. I can see them being profitable if you're having a huge moving sale or the whole neighborhood is having a sale and there will be lots of shoppers. Generally they are more work than they are worth, however. 

I have never gone the consignment shop route because I don't like giving someone else a cut of the profits. I'm cheap like that. ;) I can totally see it being the better choice for someone who just has no time to spare to take pictures, create listings, answer customer inquiries, etc.

I prefer online sales because I like to get the most for the things I have and it's all about finding the right buyers. When you use specialized sites like TheBabyWearer(baby carriers), DiaperSwappers(cloth diapers), and Etsy(handmade items) your target audience is actually seeking you out. Even with sites like eBay and Craigslist where products are categorized people come looking for specific items and they are usually willing to pay good money for them. Garage sales and consignment shops are not like that. Customers generally don't come looking for something specific, they are just looking for a good deal. Therefore, they want to pay as little as possible. At least that's how it seems to me and how I think as a shopper.

What things should sellers be aware/wary of?
You should always be mindful of a buyer or sellers reputation. With the exception of Craigslist, all the sites I have used have some kind of a trader rating system set up. Those are in place to protect those wishing to do business and you should check the feedback especially if you are buying.

While I have done this in the past on Craigslist and luckily have never had problems, I would be leery of sending someone a check with the expectation of them sending you a product. That's what Paypal is there for. Paypal has buyer/seller protection policies in place to keep consumers safe. With that though, you need to be sure to follow the rules to be protected. When shipping items it's always a good idea to put delivery confirmation on the package. That way, if they come back and say that you never sent it you can prove otherwise.  Also, I am always careful with local Craigslist transactions. Perhaps I'm being overly cautious, but I do not have people come to my home to purchase items unless I know them. Every time I sell on CL I arrange to meet in a central public location. Most people would rather meet you in the Target parking lot while they are out running errands rather than trying to find your house anyway.  

What have been some of your biggest money-making sales?  Biggest flops?
My best money makers are big ticket baby items like car seats and strollers. I buy things on clearance if I see that they are marked way down and turn around and sell them for sometimes twice what I paid. I once made $100 doing that. Usually it's more like $25-50 though. In order to do that successfully you really need to know what's out there and to know a good deal when you see it. Target is a particularly good place to find things to do that with. They carry different stock on and if someone returns an item they purchased online it automatically goes on clearance if it's not an item the store sells. 

This is totally going to make me look like a quack ;) but... I have a real thing about car seats. I'm passionate about safety, but I also really like new seats. My just turned 2yr old has had a total of four brand new high end seats in her short life that cost me maybe $50 total because of savvy buying/selling. I buy using discount codes stacked with sales and free shipping. She uses them for a few months and then when I get bored and the market has shifted so there aren't many sales on that particular model I sell it and almost always break even or make money. Since I don't need  to sell, I'm able to hold firm on the price.

I've used the same system with cloth diapers. That same 2yr old was diapered for maybe $60 for her entire first year of life. Buy when you see an awesome sale, take really good care of them and sell when the market turns. I use the same system for clothing my kiddos. I mostly only buy name brand high quality clothing on clearance, take exceptional care of it and then sell for about the same as what I paid to begin with. Who says kids have to be expensive. ;)

I've never really had any HUGE flops. Occasionally something won't sell for what I'd hoped, but I at least break even or maybe lose just a couple bucks. 

Anything else you would like to add?
Just one more thing. If you're selling something that is going to be paid through Paypal as opposed to a Craigslist sale that will be paid in cash, always be sure to factor Paypal fees and postage into your price so you don't lose money. If you do an internet search, there are Paypal fee calculators out there that will tell you how much fees are on a certain dollar amount. 

Thanks so much, Courtney!  How about you?  Have you used any of these sites (or others) to sell things online?


  1. First, I want to tell you that I found your blog through Pennyless Parenting. I am now following!

    I have sold on Ebay for ten years. I only do it on occasion now, as it is not very friendly to sellers anymore.

    I now earn money online writing for websites like Info Barrel. In fact, I have been writing about what to sell on Ebay this month! I have the same username there, and on Hubpages I am mommyloves 2write.

  2. New follower. When you get the chance please follow me back..

  3. I wish I was savy. I'd love to do this but I'd probably end up losing my shirt because I'm so disorganized.