How To Flip Items Online and Make Extra Money [For Beginners]




make money flipping items online
Photo by chrissie kremer on Unsplash

I’ve been flipping items to get extra money on eBay and Craiglist for over 20 years now.

Flipping items online comes easy for me since I enjoy collecting various items like music, video games, and movies. It’s a great feeling knowing you can buy a collectible for a low price, then flip it to another collector at a higher price, then take the profit and re-invest into buying other higher-end collectibles.

My vision for this article is to explain the basics of flipping items online to you. I want to share the good and the bad with you.

Below, I will link to a round-up of various blog articles I’ve written about, which will cover everything I know about flipping items on eBay, Craiglist, Mercari, Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, and beyond.

Related Article: How To Get Started on eBay and Make Extra Money

1) Start Watching YouTube Flipper Videos

If you are a newbie and have no idea how to get started flipping items online, I recommend you start watching other flippers (and pickers) on YouTube.

Many flippers will share sourcing videos with you, so you can see them going to garage sales, thrift stores, estate sales, flea markets, etc. You can see them negotiate deals and the kind of items they think will sell well for a profit.

Some flippers and resellers will also show on video other parts of their flipping business like shipping and dealing with the back-end operations such as inventory.

To learn more about which YouTube Channels I recommend, check out the following article: Top YouTube Resellers, Pickers, and Flippers To Learn From

2) Learn How To Properly Check Sold Prices on eBay, For Items You Want To Flip

In order to properly source items and make a profit, you’ll need to know how to evaluate the sold price of a particular item. eBay is the main authority for looking up sold prices, whether you resell on Facebook Marketplace, Mercari, Etsy, Craiglist, or even eBay itself.

So with that said, it’s important that you install the eBay app on your phone before heading out to any thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales, or your local flea market.

The best way to master the skill of evaluating items you want to flip for a profit is to practice looking up lots of various things. Practice will make you an expert in no time. To help you get started, check out the following article on looking up eBay prices.

How To Use eBay Sold Comps Like a Pro, to Look Up Prices

You may feel weird about looking up prices in front of others but don’t worry, this is a completely normal feeling and it will pass as you practice looking up items and evaluating their true sold price in public. To help you feel confident about looking up prices in public, I’ve written the following article, make sure you check it out:

As a Flipper, Should You Feel Weird About Checking eBay Prices In Front of Others?

Next, you’ll need to think more about the types of items you’d like to source and flip for a profit, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

3) What Kinds of Items Should You Flip Online; Where Do You Find Items at?

By this point, you should have a bit of experience looking at items that pickers and resellers on YouTube are sourcing. You should also understand how to look up sold prices on eBay.

You also probably have an idea in your mind already about if you are going to sell clothing, electronics, antiques, books, jewelry, collectibles, or any other items that interest you. (If you don’t have an idea of what to sell yet, don’t worry!)

Many people ask, “Should you niche down to a particular type of product?”

The answer I have for you is the following:

Some people say to be an everything seller and others say to niche into a particular product category. Personally, I don’t think it matters when you are starting out.

Part of your success will come down to getting deals on products you can actually source. You can’t really niche down into a product category if you have no means of sourcing it for a good deal that you can profit from.

So get out in your local area and see what kinds of profitable items you can find that are plentiful, then decide if you can niche down or just remain an everything seller. There’s no right or wrong answer, regardless of what other resellers might say!

To help you get started with learning where to source and what kinds of items to pick up for flipping and reselling online, check out the following two articles:

The Best Kinds of Items To Resell on eBay

How and Where To Buy Things To Resell on eBay

4) Don’t Forget To Include Online Selling Fees When Calculating Your Profits

Whether you resell on eBay or other platforms like Mercari, Etsy, Poshmark, and the like, you are going to have to calculate online selling fees as an expense for doing business.

A lot of times, these reseller fees and shipping costs can easily make up 15 to 30% of your total gross sale price.

Typically selling fees include the following:

  • Shipping Costs
  • Merchant Fees / Payment Processing Fees
  • Final Value Fees / Final Sales Fees / Listing Fees

The exception to this of course is if you resell on a local classified ads site like Craigslist. Also, if you list items for sale on Facebook Marketplace, you will not pay any selling fees for a local sale.

With selling something local, you meet up with the buyer in person, get a cash payment, and hand the buyer the item.

The upside can be huge for big bulky items, you save a lot of money in shipping costs!

I’ve written an entire article to learn more about how to calculate eBay reselling fees. The same principles will apply to any of the online reselling platforms.

Check it out here:

eBay’s Fees Explained: A Simple Way To Calculate Them When Selling an Item

5) How To Value and Price Items, For a Fast Sale

My number one goal when listing an item for sale is to get it sold in a reasonable amount of time.

When you sell an item fast, you get your money back from buying the item, plus any profit that is on top. This frees up your money and allows you to find other things to sell and repeat the process over and over again.

Having freed up cash to take advantage of the next big deal that comes up is a position I recommend always being in, as a reseller or flipper.

When you list something for sale, you should aim to have it sold within 90 days of listing it. Some people may agree or disagree with this time frame. Some sellers might want to sell something in 30 days while other sellers might wait longer than 90 days.

How fast you sell your items will come down to the amount of demand for that item, and the price competition you have from other sellers.

Pricing (and valuing) your items for the most profit in the shortest amount of time will take some practice. On the surface, it seems like it’s easy, just look up the sold prices on eBay and everything will be fine, right?

The answer is a big NO!

Out of all the important skills to learn with reselling and flipping items online, knowing how to price your item so it actually converts to a profitable sale is the most important one to learn. Otherwise, you’ll end up with tons of things listed for sale and no cash flow!

That’s a recipe to put any reseller or flipper out of business, fast.

To learn about how to price and value your items, so they will sell and bring you some cash flow, check out the following article:

How To Value and Price an Item You Want To Sell On eBay [and Other Online Marketplaces]

Did you know?

Believe it or not, some resellers specialize in long-tail items which might take over 6 months to 1 year to make a sell on. I don’t recommend these types of items unless you buy them extremely cheap and know the items inside and out.

Final Thoughts

Making extra money by flipping items online is a great way to earn some extra cash. When you are doing it as a side hustle on the weekends, it can easily earn you an extra few hundred bucks every week.

The only warning I’d give you is that it does not scale very well into a full-time opportunity, as easily as some resellers might claim.

In order to go full-time, you’ll most likely have to source pallets, collections, or large lots of products at an auction.

In order to do flipping on eBay full-time, you’ll need stable and constant sources of quality products that you will be able to sell in a reasonable amount of time. So you can get your profit and have cash freed up to buy the next deal.

Buy the wrong deal, you’ll lose lots of money on bad inventory you’ll never be able to sell.

If the economy changes, buyers could dry up for a while and your sales will also drop off, regardless of which platform you resell on.

So, if you decide to do this full-time, make sure you treat it like a real business and not just a weekend side hustle. Put your passion and heart into it and it will reward you with lots of profit if you execute things properly.


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