If you’re like me and you need to be focussed on something to stay sane, this post is for you. Don’t get me wrong, I love to binge a full season of Netflix from time to time but I much prefer more thought provoking pursuits. Here’s 3 side hustles you can build in your spare time to earn some extra cash. Who knows, it may even turn into something bigger…
1. eBay arbitrage
The thought of selling things on ebay doesn’t sound sexy, but it never fails to amaze me how much money there is to be made. A survey has shown that the average home has £1,000 worth of stuff laying around unused that can be sold on ebay. That’s enough to pay for your summer holiday!
That’s fun, but we’re still talking small numbers, I’m interested in earning a little extra and creating a more sustainable income stream. ‘Arbitrage’ basically means finding the difference in price for the same item and exploiting it. It’s simple, buy low and sell high! Your job is to find products that you think are underpriced, buy them and then list them on ebay for a healthy margin. In the beginning, try to look for products that you actually have an interest in as this will make it much easier for you to describe and sell on a competitive market like ebay. Not sure where to find cheap products? Here’s a few ideas:
Alibaba is essentially a catalogue of cheap products made in China that can be flipped for a profit. The key to alibaba/ebay arbitrage is finding the right supplier. Here’s some tips I had to learn the hard way:
- Do your due diligence – Make sure you research your supplier before placing an order. If they aren’t a ‘Gold Supplier’ don’t even give them the time of day. Here’s a great article I found when starting out the helps you spot the fakes.
- Ask for samples – Expectations and reality are two very different things. Be sure to ask for a couple of samples before committing to a larger order. For lower ticket items, the supplier will usually give you the samples providing you pay for shipping which is normally around $25. List these samples on ebay and if they sell it’s a good indicator to buy more.
- Ask for lower order volumes – You’ll often find suppliers minimum order number is 100 units, however, the last thing you want is to be sat on inventory that you can’t sell. Ask the supplier if they’re willing to lower their minimum order. Try to make yourself sound bigger by referring to yourself as ‘our’ to imply you’re a company, and give the impression you’ll be looking at long term orders. This may mitigate the perceived risk on their part and give you a lower order volume. Alternatively, you could try AliExpress which is a little more expensive but you can by lower volumes.
Whether it be out of the goodness of their heart or a change in home circumstance, people give items of great value to charity shops that you can buy for pennies on the pound. With a little experience and trial and error, you will get better at picking products that will sell. When looking at products think about a potential buyer profile. If you can’t think of anyone that would buy it, it’s a safe bet to avoid it. Here’s a few things to look out for:
- Retro – Do your research, fashion comes in cycles and you can often find authentic clothing from the past that people will pay a great deal for because it’s back in fashion.
- Pet clothing – People will do anything for their pets and will buy anything that makes their pet look cute, trust me.
- Lego – Lego is quite expensive if you buy it new so parents will turn to places like ebay to buy it cheaper.
- Inspirational stuff – If your mum is anything like mine, her house will be drowning in inspirational home decor and quotes. Keep feeding it to them!
Here’s a useful guide on how to find hot selling items on ebay if you need some further reading.
Listing on ebay
Ebay is a fierce marketplace and one reason people choose to open their own eCommerce website as opposed to selling on ebay is because they’re stuck in a price war. With hundreds of comparable products listed side-by-side it’s often hard to differentiate. Here’s some tips:
Price – Have a look around at similar products in similar conditions and gauge what you should be selling at. You ideally want a 100% markup on what you paid to make it worth your time so price high and come down if you need to.
High quality image – Smartphones cameras are high quality today so you have no excuse really, here’s a great guide from my colleague Dean on how to take great product images (without fancy equipment). If you’ve sourced your product online, it should be easy to find a high quality snap somewhere, just make sure it isn’t watermarked.
Description – The product description is your chance to make your product stand out over the next. You’ll find your own style but try and be as detailed as possible when describing the product. Try and find an emotional connection between the buyer and your product and you’re on for a winner. I found this article really helpful when starting out.
Tell the truth – Ebay take feedback very seriously and a negative review will stifle future pursuits. When writing your description try to sell it as best you can without bending the truth too far, as the products will just get returned.
2. Set up your own shop
Marketplaces are great to get selling experience but the problem with the likes of amazon or ebay is (as previously mentioned) your products will be listed next to tens or hundreds of other similar items. This means that you’re going to be in a price war with competitors which will reduce your margin.
[quote]“The best way to win a price war is to avoid it”[/quote]
The key to avoiding a price war is to build a brand around your product(s) and increase it’s perceived value. This is a longer game and it’s going to take a lot more time and effort than flipping stuff on ebay but will give you the opportunity to build a customer base and potential turn a side project into a ‘real business’.
To build a brand you have to look the part which I’m afraid can’t be done on ebay. Without any experience it may seem daunting but there are plenty of services out there that give you all the tools in one place at a low monthly cost.
Here’s a free eBook I wrote on how to start your own online shop, from start to finish. Good luck!
Freelancing is essentially selling your time and services (much like a job), but contracted to do a particular task for a set price. People often think you need to have a specific skill to be a freelancer but this is not always the case. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a designer, engineer or experienced copywriter you stand to make much more per hour, but there are other tasks on listed that people just don’t have the time for such as data entry.
Here’s 9 top tips from top rated designer and developer on Upwork, Sukhwant Singh