Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia founder and entrepreneur hype-man, posted a video a little over a month ago and threw out a big challenge to his fans: make $20,170 in 2017 through “flipping”.
When Gary Vee speaks, I tend to listen, so when he suggested people start rummaging through their closets, basements and local Craigslist ads to find items to flip, I jumped onboard. No thrift shop was safe, no garage sale unvisited.
I’ve done my fair share of flipping in the past; perusing junkyards full of German cars meant selling pricey parts on eBay for big profits a few years ago. This time around, I wanted to not only hit that $20,170 mark, but learn everything I could about flipping, possibly the most basic (and shockingly profitable) form of entrepreneurship.
Having just moved back to Ohio from NYC, my personal possessions were already pretty thin; anything I didn’t need had been donated. After exhausting my closet and my parent’s basement, visits to our local HomeBuys’ Amazon return section, GoodWill, junkyards and Craigslist became more and more frequent. I’d check the value on eBay of “Sold” items, make sure the profit was there while factoring in shipping and PayPal/eBay fees.
When I used to flip, Craigslist, eBay and newspaper classified ads were about the only options for getting rid of anything valuable or unwanted, but 2017 is rife with options. LetGo, OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace are the front-runners with their no-fee, local listings. Items for sale in your area are posted in a handy grid format of large photos, searchable by category or keyword.
Unsurprisingly, eBay remains my most profitable and worthwhile sales platform. It’s heavily used and reaches hundreds of thousands of people eager for some online auction therapy. The fees can be brutal, especially when coupled with PayPal fees.
More surprisingly, Instagram has been a fantastic sales platform. To be fair, I have about 5,700 watch and automotive enthusiasts followers, so this may be out of the norm. I’ve since sold a vintage Seiko to a guy in Australia, crystal gaskets to a buyer in NYC and have an ever-increasing inventory of in-demand watches which I bought well under value. Using Instagress to increase followers and engagement, plus proper utilization of hashtags, I now have a number of people eagerly awaiting my next post with a new watch up for sale.
So far, I’ve been burnt a few times. A Craftsman toolset I thought would sell well sat for 4 weeks– and then ate me alive on shipping charges. A seller left bad feedback on eBay when the USPS damaged an item during shipping.
But what I’ve found is a highly-profitable, energizing side hustle. I’m at the post office almost daily and I’ve connected online with other people who like some of the same things I enjoy.
From a business perspective, I’m a little behind if I’m to hit that $20,170 goal by the end of December, but my net profit margin is hovering around a healthy 52%.
Most of all, none of this has felt like work. Whether he knows it or not, Gary Vee issued a challenge that clued me in to what it’s like to do something purely for the love of it with profit as a wonderful side effect. I stay up late sending messages to potential buyers, spend my lunchtime browsing eBay and my evenings packaging and shipping sold items.
And I love every minute of it.
If you’re part of the 2017 Flip Challenge and are looking for a great way to track sales, check out this spreadsheet I put together.