How To Resell Vintage Print Ads and Make Money Online

reselling vintage print ads for profit

Are you into vintage print ads? Would you like to make money online with a hobby dealing with vintage print ads?

If you answered YES to both of these questions, you’re in luck because I’m going to show you how to get started with reselling (flipping) vintage print ads on eBay, Etsy, and other online marketplaces.

Reselling vintage print ads has a niche market of buyers, mostly because they admire the cheesiness of these old print ads. Not all the print ads are cheesy though, some make great art work too. Some of the ads also make great historical artifacts.

I first got into the hobby when I started going to estate sales to buy Records, CDs, and Cassettes. I could not help but notice the piles of old Life and Time magazines from the 1940’s to 1970’s which were readily available. For curiosity, I picked some up and immediately fell in love with the full page vintage ads that were contained inside.

I personally enjoy the ads for old movies, music, jazz shows, vintage electronics, classic cars, cigars, beer, and whiskey/scotch. 

As someone who is active on eBay and enjoys listing some of my old collectibles for sale, I started looking up vintage ads to see if anyone was selling or buying them. To my surprise, the market is pretty active for Vintage Print Ads on both online marketplaces eBay and Etsy.

With that said, if you are still following along with me then you know there is nothing better than making extra money with a hobby you love. So you can either pay your bills or buy more things for your hobbies with that money. In my case, I take the extra money I make and reinvest it into my hobbies.

Let’s get into how you can get started with flipping or reselling vintage print ads to make extra money online.

Step 1, Sourcing Vintage Print Ads

When you are out sourcing, you’ll notice an abundance of vintage magazines that are available. Most people who are selling old magazines are looking to get some extra cash, but ultimately know in the back of their mind that if they don’t sell them, they will throw them out in the trash.

For you as a collector or reseller, this is great news because you’ll be able to get them cheap or for pennies on the dollar. (Maybe even free.) On top of getting a great deal, you are saving these old magazines from ending up in the landfill by repurposing them into Artwork.

Here’s a list of places where you can expect to source vintage magazines from.

Craigslist

Search Craigslist ads for vintage magazines or just magazines under the books, collectibles, or the antiques category. Search under the garage sale listings too because sometimes estate sales will have bundles of magazines for sale.

Flea Market and Swap Meets

Go to your local flea market and keep an eye out for anyone selling boxes of all old paper collectibles or magazines. I have a flea market by my house and always see bundles of magazines for sale.

Estate and Garage Sales

As mentioned previously, check the garage sale listings on Craigslist for magazine collections. Also, check out EstateSales.org for any upcoming estate sales that have pictures or listings for vintage magazine lots or bundles.

FaceBook Marketplace

Facebook is very popular with people who are clearing out their parent’s houses or clearing out their estates. They want to get rid of the magazine collections they find. This can be one of the best resources for getting vintage magazine ads.

eBay Auctions

Go on eBay and you’ll see vintage magazine lots going for auction all the time. What’s great about this is that you can set up alerts and searches to track them for you. Plus you save time not having to drive anywhere or meeting anyone to buy them.

Everywhere Else

Thrift Stores, Local Auctions, and anywhere else you can find old antiques and things for sale.

Step 2, Checking the Value of an Ad and Pricing It For Sale

When it comes to finding the value or price of a certain vintage or antique ad you find in an old magazine, you want to use eBay to value the price for you. Research the listings of what is for sale, and what has sold already by using eBay’s filter option for “sold listings”.

You can also research current listings on Etsy.

You need to take in the following parameters to successfully price something.

  1. The Condition: Make sure the print ad has no tears or rips. Also check that the color is not faded or has any weird tones to the color. If it has any major defects, it will significantly reduce its value and most likely will not be worth selling unless it’s extremely old and rare. So as you do your research, keep that in mind.
  1. Subject Matter: If the ad is about a product such as tobacco, it may have a higher value to collectors than something like soup or a food item. So as you look up various subjects, products, and brands online which are in the ads, keep this in mind. With time, you’ll quickly learn which subject matters are worth more than others.
  1. Supply and Demand: Always check the number of listings for an ad you are considering, like anything you resell, supply and demand will affect how long something will take to sell and at what price. If the market is saturated, they’ll be listings with lots of low prices which won’t make it worth your time to sell a particular print ad.

At the end of the day, you have to find a vintage print ad that is in demand, hard to find, and can sell for a price that is worth your time and the cost of shipping.

15 Dollar Price Point

My personal rule is to not list anything for less than 15 dollars with free shipping. Since the cost of a magazine is normally a dollar or less to purchase, you can easily make money from just selling one ad for a whole magazine.

Don’t Forget About Shipping!

Shipping costs will run about 5 dollars, so you still have a 9 – 10 dollar profit on your hands on a 15 dollar sale with free shipping. If you sell something for 20 – 50 dollars, the shipping is the same, but the profit goes up. So don’t sell ads that are not worth your time.

A Whole Magazine of Ads

If there are numerous ads in a magazine you can get 20 or 30 dollars for, one magazine could potentially provide a 100 dollar profit from an investment of one dollar a bit of your time. That’s how huge the potential is for making money with vintage print ads and magazines.

Step 3, Processing a Magazine To Cut Out The Ads

Taking an old magazine apart to cut out its ads to resell sounds bad when you first think about it. In theory, you are destroying the magazine. 

But in the end, I don’t mind cutting the ads out because unless that particular magazine is a highly collected issue itself, no one will ever care about it and it will go in the trash one day.

So after you flipped through a magazine and looked over its ads, it’s time to decide the value of each one, then figure out which ads are worth selling. After you do that, you’ll need to cleanly cut the ads out.

To take an old magazine apart you can use a blow dryer to heat up the spine and melt the glue away that is holding the pages together. There also might be some staples holding things together too.

Also, some magazines just have staples holding it together and no glue.

Removing Staples From a Vintage Magazine

For removing staples, you can use a pair of pliers or a knife to pry out the staples. Start by locating the inside opening of the staple by looking in the center pages of the magazine. When you locate it use your pliers to bend the ends of the staple up straight. Then on the back slide of the spine, you can slip a knife through the back of the staple and pull it out.

Trimming The Ad

From there you can safely cut out the ads and clean up the edges of each ad too by trimming them straight. I recommend using a paper cutter such as this one here on amazon (this is not an affiliate ad by the way.)

Amazon: CARL Professional Rotary Paper Trimmer 18 inch

The 18 inch design for a paper cutter is great because it will easily handle the bigger magazines that you’ll come across.

Make sure you store your ads in a folder to keep them clean, along with keeping each one in its own plastic poly bag, etc.

Now you are ready to list it for sale. We’ll cover that next.

Step 4, Listing Your Vintage Print Ad For Sale

If you already have experience listing items for sale on eBay or Etsy, you’ll find the process pretty straightforward.

If you are new to listing items online, it will take you a bit of practice to get a streamlined system down for listing items. 

Overall, you’ll find the process self explanatory. To help you get more familiar with listing items on eBay, etc. I recommend you watch other YouTube resellers and get tips from them for photography, writing descriptions, and headlines for your title.

To speed track things, let’s talk about the most important things to nail with any listing, whether it be on eBay or Etsy are the following:

  • Headline: Make sure your headlines have brand names, a brief description of the item, and any other keywords people would use to search for it.
  • Category: Make sure you list your item in the proper category on the platform.
  • Description: A clear written description will convey to the purchaser the condition of your item and if there are any defects. Also if you are selling something where size is important, disclose the item’s dimensions.
  • Pictures of the item: Make sure you take photos on a white background with plenty of light. An iphone or droid phone camera should be good enough to get the job done. But, you’ll have to experiment with different background colors if white does not work well for you.

When listing a vintage print ad for sale make sure you do the following:

  1. For your headline include the keyword “Vintage Print Ad”. Also include the brand name for the ad, the product name shown in the ad, and any slogans in the ad. Also include the year and issue of the magazine which the ad was pulled from.
  1. For your description include the same information from your headline. In addition, any additional information you could not fit into the headline itself. Such as additional slogans, the dimensions of the ad, and any other research you found that could help you sell it to a collector.
  1. For eBay and Etsy, make sure you choose the right category for listing the ad. Such as Vintage Advertising, then a sub category to describe the brand, product, or item that is being featured in the ad. A good example is if you are selling a vintage Coca Cola ad, on eBay there is an entire sub-category for that because of how popular Coca Cola is.
  1. Properly describe the condition of your vintage print ad. If there is any age toning, color fades, or rips, disclose that on your listing.
  1. With print ads you can easily snap photos from your camera or even scan them to an image if you have a high quality scanner. Experiment and see what works best for you.
  1. Once you’ve filled out all the options on your listing, go ahead and select the best shipping option and press the “OK” button to officially list it for sale. As we mentioned earlier, normally shipping with first class mail will work out at around 5 dollars.

Most Vintage Print Ads Are Long Tail Items

Some of these vintage print ads could be considered long-tail items to sell. So I’d expect to wait at least 90 days before dropping the price or updating the listing a bit to help it sell. You can always add a “best offer” option which will help encourage people to buy it for a discount from your asking price.

So be patient for that right buyer.

Step 5, Shipping Out Your Vintage Print Ads Once They Sell

The shipping process is extremely easy in 2022 and beyond. All you need is a regular printer connected to a desktop computer. Sites like eBay or Etsy have built-in printing label software which will create the label once you process your sold listing for shipment.

If you are printing a high-volume of shipping labels a day, you might want to consider a laser printer or an actual shipment label printer. Over the long run, your costs for printer ink (toner) will be cheaper than using an inkjet printer with those small ink cartridges.

When shipping out your print ad, make sure you keep it sealed in a poly bag to protect it from dirt and moisture. You can get poly bags sized by dimension, a popular size for me is 11 X 17 inches. You can purchase your bags from a company called clearbags.com

Lastly, you’ll need to purchase a rigid mailer envelope of the proper size to match your dimensions. These rigid mailers don’t bend very easily and will protect your print ad from getting folded. You can find them from any shipping supply reseller on Amazon or eBay.

Once you slip your protected ad into the rigid envelope you can seal it and attach your shipping label. The package should easily slip into the mailbox slot at your local post office. Remember, because it’s just a big envelope your costs should be right around first class mail rate. You’ll want to research for the best rates however because the shipping options are always changing from year to year.

Final Thoughts

I hope you pursue this side hustle for flipping vintage print ads, if you have an interest in it. It’s currently a growing market and has lots of upside for growth into a full time business if you have the passion to make it a real business for yourself.

If you are already flipping books, music, movies, or other items, this could be another category you can make some money in.

Thanks for reading and make sure to check out my other articles on the blog.