The world’s largest business is a reseller that scaled to massive heights.
They operate on the principle – buy low, sell high. How to resell can be summed up with that concept alone.
Luckily, we don’t have to build an operation as large as Walmart to make money reselling.
Today, I’ll share with you how to make money reselling after earning thousands reselling items online myself.
How to Make Money Reselling (3 Steps)
Many people overcomplicate reselling, but in reality the process has three steps. We’ll unpack each one together.
1. Items Worth Reselling
Before we can start making money reselling, we need to explore what makes a “good” item to flip. Although anything can be resold (if bought at the right price), the goal is to focus on highly profitable items.
Factors that make a great resell item:
- Decent Buyer Demand – must have
- Decent Profit Margin – must have
- Easy to Find – nice to have
Keep those factors in mind as you determine whether something is worth flipping or not.
Most buyers use eBay sold listings to determine buyer demand and profit margin (steps below). However, if you plan to sell on Amazon or start a Shopify store, the process is more involved.
You can estimate buyer demand by the volume of sold listings (more sold listings = higher buyer demand), and profit margin by subtracting the market price from the price you’ll pay for the item.
Now that you know how to tell if an item is worth reselling, here’s a cheatsheet of 13 things to resell:
- Winter jackets
- Remote controls
- Funko pops
- Limited edition items
- Vinyl records
- Vintage electronics
- Sports equipment
- Printer ink
- Trading cards
- Automotive parts
- Costume jewelry
2. Find Items (aka Sourcing)
Now that we know what’s worth reselling, how do we find stuff?
For many resellers (including me), this next step feels like treasure hunting, and is one of the most enjoyable parts of the process.
Popular ways to find items:
- Garage Sales & Estate Sales – Not only can you find incredible stuff, but you can also negotiate lower prices. My biggest garage sale tip would be to use an app like Yard Sale Treasure Map to easily find sales near you.
- Thrift Stores – visitors to Goodwill, Savers, and Salvation Army have exploded in recent years, as more people get into reselling. It usually takes visiting 4-5 thrift stores in your area to find one with great items that are fairly priced.
- Retail Arbitrage – refers to buying items from big box stores like Walmart, Ross, Target, and Marshalls and then selling them online for a profit. Retail arbitrage is most popular for Amazon and eBay resellers.
- Online Arbitrage – refers to buying items online (ex: eBay, Walmart, Amazon, Alibaba, etc) and selling them online for a profit.
- Pawn Shops – usually have amazing items, because they are so selective when purchasing. Getting items from pawn shops with decent profit margins isn’t easy, but many resellers make it work.
- Flea Markets – are like a giant cluster of garage sales. There’s usually great deals to be found, plus you can negotiate to get better deals if you’re comfortable doing that.
- ‘Free Section’ on Craigslist – believe it or not, people give away surprisingly good stuff on Craigslist all the time. Simply type into google ‘free stuff Craigslist [type name of your city]’ and you can see what’s available.
I recommend starting out slow in the beginning.
It takes time to develop an eye for what sells well, and how quickly things sell. If you plan on getting into retail arbitrage, whitelabeling, or liquidation this is even more important because the investment is usually larger.
3. Sell Items
When it comes to selling, you can choose to sell something online or locally.
Fortunately some selling methods allow you to do both, which is convenient.
If you want to resell online, the most popular platforms to use are:
- eBay – great for the reseller wanting to sell a wide range of items both new and used.
- Amazon – has one of the steeper learning curves, but very high earning potential due to FBA capability (FBA means Amazon handles the shipping and return processes, which allows sellers to scale faster). Recommended for people most interested in retail arbitrage and/or online arbitrage.
- Mercari – most beginner friendly platform, with the same versatility as eBay. You can even ship items locally by having an Uber driver pick up and drop off shipments! Don’t miss these other Mercari selling tips.
- Facebook Marketplace – primarily used for local sales, although you can ship items if you want. For local sales, it’s the preferred method over Craigslist since identify verifications are required with Marketplace, while not on Craigslist.
- Poshmark – a hybrid between reselling and social media. It’s mainly used to sell clothes, shoes, and accessories. So if you only want to resell clothes, selling on Poshmark is probably worth it.
- Shopify – allows you to set up an online store of your own. It’s more involved than other platforms, but in return you have significantly more control over your business.
Although these platforms have minor differences from each other, the core selling process is pretty similar across each one: (1) create an account (2) add product photos in your listing (3) add product details, and (4) set the price.
Once something sells, use our shipping cheatsheet below to maximize your savings.
My personal favorite reselling platforms are eBay and Mercari, because they allow a wider range of products to be sold, you can sell locally or online, and their platforms don’t have as many seller requirements as Amazon.
Can you make good money as a reseller?
In my experience, you can definitely make good money as a reseller, if you work hard and build the right systems. Once again, the largest company on the planet, Walmart, is ultimately a reseller that scaled their operation to massive heights.
Most resellers I know earn an estimated $500-$6,000 profit per month. The specific amount will depend on how hard you work, what systems you have in place, starting investment, and a tiny bit of luck.
That said, there are resellers who earn significantly more. According to Amazon, 15,000 sellers broke $1 million in revenue on their platform.
On eBay, there are many sellers who consistently earn $20,000+ per month, such as these sellers who share their earnings online: Craigslist Hunter, The Hustle Bee, and The Posh Hanger.
Scaling to serious money takes time, so be patient with the process and never stop learning.
Hopefully buying and selling online seems a little easier now. Good luck!
John-Paul Cody has been an avid online seller for years, across platforms including eBay, Mercari, Craigslist, and more. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from UNC Chapel Hill, and works in data analytics and marketing.