I was recently asked by someone what I did all day now that I was no longer working. No longer working?? This person did know that I sell vintage stuff online, but I guess that wasn’t seen as real work. Not a regular 9 to 5 job anyway. (Couldn’t resist the “9 to 5” movie pic!!)
I was taken aback a bit and replied that my vintage biz kept me pretty busy. But that got me thinking about the misconceptions people have about selling secondhand goods online.
Here are a few for your edification and amusement…
“It’s a Hobby, Not a Real Job”
A few years back an acquaintance asked me how my hobby was going and my face must have looked suitably blank because she continued, “You know. Your Etsy store?” Ten years ago when I was still working at an office, I might have thought of my then small store (with 30 or so listings) as a hobby (really more of a side hustle), but after I resigned, it definitely became my job.
I don’t just do it “for fun,” though I do enjoy many aspects of it. I’m in it to make money. And make no mistake, it’s a lot of work. So please don’t patronize me with “it’s a hobby.”
Typical Work Week for my Part-Time Biz
- Sourcing: 3 to 6 hours (time driving to and from venues and time searching)
- Listing: 6 to 10 hours (researching items, cleaning them, photographing them, writing the descriptions and entering the data in Etsy, eBay or Chairish)
- Shipping: 3 to 5 hours (getting items from storage, packaging them securely and taking them to the post office)
- Misc: 1+ hour (ordering new supplies, answering inquiries, dealing with inventory management, learning)
- Accounting: 1 hour (keeping track of all expenses)
- Writing blog posts: 6+ hours (generally two posts a week) Of course I don’t have to do this, but I enjoy it!
“Anyone Can Do It”
This is absolutely true and it’s not. Anyone with a smart phone or computer can create an eBay account (or similar) and list or post items. But not everyone is suited to running a reselling biz. You have to be self motivated, driven to learn, good with details and willing to put in the hard yards.
I’ve seen online listings with terrible photos–blurry, dark, uncropped (revealing unsightly things in the background). I’ve read reviews indicating that the seller was slow to ship items. Some sellers don’t take the time to give measurements, describe any damage or answer questions. I’ve seen things classified as “rare” that were as common as dirt and prices that bore no relation to reality.
In other words, any one can sell online, but not every one should!
“The Money Rolls In”
Some “experts” paint a rosy picture of reselling making it sound like the money just rolls in from day one…and keeps rolling in.
We are surrounded by merchandise in the form of used clothes, old books, secondhand shoes, and antique furnishings. Making these items available for resale is a business model that’s lucrative and easy to do to earn extra cash. Reselling has nearly doubled in recent years. Two thirds of consumers, especially women, show a firm interest in secondhand goods. The reselling market is a way to make thousands of dollars a month.TurboFinance
The truth is that for most of us, the money trickles in, especially at first as we are building our biz. (Lucrative is not a word that springs to mind.) There’s a lot of competition, periodic over-saturation of items, annual cycles to buying and selling (summer is notoriously slow) and economic factors like inflation and high gas prices that play into buying behaviors. I know full-time Etsy sellers who have had to take on other jobs recently because their online income has dipped too low to support them.
Don’t start a vintage selling biz with the expectation that it will be easy, quick or lucrative. Start small to see if you are suited to it. If you decide it’s for you, don’t let others discourage you! Go for it. I’m glad I did.
Wishing you happy hunting and selling,
“…thousands of dollars a month.” sounds a bit exaggerated for calling it “easy to do” for “extra cash.” I know things I buy are worth more than I paid, but I don’t want to go to the trouble of reselling them. Mostly the hassle of packaging things up so they don’t break. When I come home and tell my son how much something is worth, he always asks, “Are you going to sell it?” I never have! But, I did get one of those silver plate snails with the glass insert for butter yesterday for $3, and I might just sell that! If not, I like it on the shelf. Even going by the lower numbers, you spend as much time as a part-time job of at least 20 hours.
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Hi Lisa. It is a lot of work and it drives me nuts when people imply that it’s barely any effort at all!