I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from my post on Selling Textbooks on Amazon, so I decided to give another great strategy for starting a business online that anyone can do on nights and weekends.
Before I begin, I would like to disclose that I do have affiliate links in this article. However, I only promote links that I use, so if they are here, I believe they are the best out there.
The absolute easiest way to start an online business is to sell the stuff you have. I mentioned textbooks earlier, but you could also sell old CDs, DVDs, books, video games, or any other odd item you have lying around that you haven’t used in years. In fact, the first thing I ever sold online was my old Nintendo game console and the games I had.
Where to Start
Let’s look at the perpetual battle: eBay vs. Amazon. If you are going to be selling your crap: books, CDs, or DVDs, I strongly recommend Amazon.com.
If you are going to be selling anything else, especially if it is collectible, I recommend eBay. eBay is a great online marketplace that connects buyers and sellers from all over the world. The great thing is that it allows your product to be seen worldwide. I have shipped my items to countries all over the world!
Finally, if you have something large and bulky, such as furniture, try Craigslist (or these 20 Craigslist alternatives). I have sold a bunch of stuff that I thought was junk, but was able to make $20 on! I even sold an trashy light fixture that I was going to throw away!
The main take-away is that you never know what someone else would pay for your junk. I am a huge believer in selling everything I can instead of throwing it away or donating it.
The Next Level
Once you have started getting some sales through the sites mentioned above, you will soon be running out of your own stuff to sell. Now, you will have to go out and buy something to resell it. Don’t worry, it is not as hard as it sounds. I have two tried and true strategies for finding great things to sell online.
First, don’t hesitate to try your local retail store such as Target or Wal-Mart. About four times per year, these retailers change their electronics departments to have the newest and greatest products. What that means for you is that they markdown all the old products. A great place to look for stuff to resell is the clearance endcaps at these retailers. You can find a lot of small electronics marked down to sometimes 75% off! Then, you can take those products online and resell them – potentially doubling what you paid for it!
Second, look in your local paper for estate sales and garage sales. Some of my biggest gains ever were from estate sales. They usually start on Thursday or Friday, but you can usually get the best deals on Saturday afternoons or Sundays, because the sellers have to get rid of everything that is left. When I go to these, I look for small collectible items – such as books or china. These are easy to sell online, and you can usually get a great deal on them. Don’t be afraid to haggle over the price. If you don’t buy it, they may not sell it at all!
Making the Big Bucks
If you have started getting a successful stream of revenue going from what I mentioned above, you can start making some easy additional money on top of that, and get great leads on where to get new products. This is where it does get a little challenging, but if you can pull it off, you will be getting some easy money for your hard work.
First, you need to setup a company and a website. For most states, you need to get a sellers permit, and some cities and counties require some extra paperwork. You can usually do this for a little time and less than $20. However, I will warn you, this will make you a legitimate business and you will need to report your income to the IRS (you should have been all along anyway though). Also, you need to create a website that reflects your company. You need to purchase a domain name, and then make a website for it. I recommend Bluehost because you get a free domain name when you sign up for hosting.
You will also need to host your website. I strongly recommend BlueHost, as it is the lowest cost hosting solution I have found that gives you unlimited storage and bandwidth! Plus, their customer support is top-notch. I’ve used them for multiple websites and had great success. When you sign up through this link, you’ll get 50% off hosting plus a free domain name.
Finally, you will need to create your website. I created my first website, San Diego Estate Sales, to achieve just this purpose. Creating a website takes a little work, but you can probably create a decent one in a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. You could simply create a WordPress blog using the software provided by BlueHost, or you could go and purchase a program such as Microsoft Expression Web to help you create your site.
Once you have created your site, you need to include the following key elements to help improve your business:
- SEO or Search Engine Optimization: This is what allows search engines such as Google or Bing to find your site. If you create a WordPress Blog, you can download a Plugin that will do this for you. However, if you make your own site, you will need to spend some time getting this nailed.
- Affiliate Links: This is where the easy money can come into play. You need to create some affiliate links that are relevant to your niche. I would strongly recommend Commission Junction, where there are a lot of affiliates and it is very easy to get some links up and running.
- Link your eBay and Amazon pages to your website so that visitors can see what you are selling. Also, if you use Amazon or eBay, you can create affiliate links to your own products. So, if someone does buy your product, not only do you get that sale, but you get a commission for referring someone to your product that sold on those sites! Easy money!
- If you are really moving product, you may want to consider something like ProStores – an eBay Company, which would allow you to manage your online sales and orders easier.
- Finally, to give your business that official touch – especially if you are meeting clients that found your website – it is important to get business cards and return address labels. I recommend Vista Print for all your printing needs!
While this may seem pretty easy, it does take some time and effort. I will be posting more updates on these subject later on, so please stay tuned!
Readers, what are your thoughts on starting an online business? Is it worth it to take it to the next level?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.