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How to make money by starting an online resell business

Looking for ways to bring in extra cash this year? One option is selling stuff online. You may be surprised to find the value of some of your old electronics. Here are 10 vintage tech gadgets worth a ton of money.

Starting an online resell business will take things further. It takes work and dedication but can become a rewarding, full-time job. Here’s how to get started.

Start from the beginning

The practice of buying and selling things online dates back to the early days of the internet as we know it, but eBay is where things took off. It made it easy for anyone to buy or sell anything online.

Today you have a myriad of options beyond the eBay juggernaut. You can even post listings on social media.

First, answer the following questions: What are your goals? Is this a side hustle or a full-time gig? How much time and money are you willing to invest? Will you have help? Write all this down, along with any pros and cons.

That brings us to the next question. What are you going to sell?

Though you don’t need to be super-specialized, it helps to establish a theme, so people recognize your online store for what it is. It could be anything from baseball cards to car parts to shoes.

It helps to pick something that interests you. That way, your passion comes through in your business. It also comes in handy to know the value of your wares beyond a quick Google search.

As time passes and business picks up, you can branch out and sell anything you want or even start multiple specialty stores.


Now you have to get your hands on inventory! There are many ways to do this, depending on your budget and schedule.

Start at home

Dig through your attic, basement, closets and dusty boxes and you could strike gold. This is an excellent way to get your fledgling business off the ground since you don’t have to spend money on inventory.

Ask friends and family if they have stuff they wouldn’t mind getting rid of. Offer to haul it away for free!

Have any of these old video game accessories lying around? Here’s how much you can get for them.

Hit the pavement

If you’re ready to branch out, check out the following hot spots:

  • Flea markets.
  • Goodwill shops.
  • Trade shows.
  • Garage/yard sales.
  • Storage units.
  • Retail clearances.
  • Store liquidations.
  • Estate sales.

Put in some miles and don’t forget that haggling is expected, but remember that sellers are also trying to make a living. Bring your phone to look up prices so you know what’s worth picking up.

RELATED: Safe ways to get free stuff in your neighborhood

Online sourcing

You can also source products by purchasing inventory online. You want to get the best deal possible to maximize your profits, but this can get pricey when buying in bulk.

Log into any major online retailer, plug in search terms like “wholesale” along with what you’re looking for, and check out the results. Be sure to read the descriptions carefully. Some sellers sell blind or uninspected boxes, which is a buyer-beware situation.

If you find a reputable seller who isn’t offering what you want (check their reviews and history), direct message them to see if you can work something out.

When going directly to a business specializing in wholesale, consider the following:

  • The total cost, including shipping. Would they give you a break on shipping for ordering more items?
  • Find out if there are hidden fees.
  • Get a thorough understanding of return and refund policies.
  • Ask how long it will take to fulfill and ship the product.
  • Will you have to commit to a certain number of items or spend a minimum amount?

No matter where you source inventory, know that risk comes in many forms. Your items could arrive damaged or never reach your doorstep (the fault could lie with the seller or shipping company). A shady seller could send you the wrong item on purpose or take the money and disappear.

Make 2023 your year: From jury duty to renting out your backyard, here are more ways to make money online.


Are you good with your hands? Creating your own inventory gives you more control over the entire process, from sourcing to selling.

You may have a hobby you didn’t realize you could profit from. Things like restoring/crafting furniture, jewelry design, rug weaving, model making, pottery, bead crafts, candlemaking and more. What’s your talent?

Here are some advantages to going the DIY route:

  • Produce one-of-a-kind products.
  • Maintain control over product quality.
  • You have complete control of inventory.
  • Appeal to a specific audience and build customer loyalty.
  • Handmade products are generally held in higher regard, giving you room to set your prices accordingly
  • You can change to a new type of product anytime.

You do have to worry about the cost of materials and labor (time is money, after all). You’ll constantly search for resources to craft your products and need space for your work and inventory.

As you scale up, you may not be able to handle the workload yourself — worry about that later. Baby steps!

Here’s a different take on DIY: Help others make their own stuff. That is, sell starter kits with materials and instructions for your customers to take on projects. Think jewelry, knitting, painting and woodworking. Check out hobby and craft stores to get ideas.


This will take some sharp communication skills, but try partnering with local businesses or artisans or seek them out online. See if they’ll commission their wares or offer them in bulk.

Before making any deals, research the seller to ensure they’re legitimate and reliable! The Better Business Bureau is an excellent place to begin.

Where will you sell your stuff?

When it comes to e-commerce, you’re not just limited to one site, though it’s a good idea to start with one as you learn the ropes before expanding. Here are some links to seller resources on popular e-commerce sites.

Listing fees will vary depending on where you sell (some sites just take a commission). Tap or click here for more information on these sites and others.

Check out popular products on each platform to see where yours will fit best. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the company with questions. After all, your business is their business!

Creating your listings

A well-crafted listing will always perform better than a rush job or one riddled with errors. Your listings represent your business and your wares, so put some thought and care into how you present everything.

Here are some basic guidelines to follow:

  • Describe the item’s condition accurately: Look for imperfections like stains, shelf wear, scratches and repairs. Be clear in the listing description, or you’ll face returns and negative reviews.
  • Take good photos for your listing: Your smartphone works just fine, especially if you throw in some good lighting and a tripod. Use a contrasting background to make the item stand out. Take pictures from every angle and don’t forget to show imperfections and damage.
  • Look for similar listings: Check similar listings from other sellers to get an idea of pricing. Some sites let you view sold prices, giving you a more accurate market picture.
  • Spellcheck: Double and triple-check your listings for errors. Careless writing may make people think you’re careless with your business.

Shipping supplies

Shipping can eat into your profits and should factor into prices. Figure out shipping costs by package weight and size, expected delivery time, shipping distance and postage. And will you use a post office or shipping service?

Some sites take care of shipping for you (for a fee, of course), while others offer their own shipping options. Take the time to see what’s available.

Did you know the United States Postal Service offers free shipping supplies? That’s one route to take if you use the service. Go here for more details.

UPS also has a limited selection of free shipping supplies. Check online or at local stores for more offers.

You won’t find everything you need for free, so here are some essentials:

Shipping boxes

Packing tape

Shipping scale

Bubble wrap

Label printer

Measuring tape

Light box

Smartphone tripod

Get the word out

Even if you’re not active on social media in your personal life, these platforms raise awareness of your business. This is entirely optional and you can be successful without it.

Create posts highlighting products and giving your audience an idea of your brand. Take note of how your followers interact with your page to see what’s working and what needs more work. With a correctly set up business page, you can link directly to products from your posts.

Not sure where to start? Search for similar businesses to yours and pick and choose what you like. Combine what you learn with your unique flavor to stand out from the rest.

As with your listings, good photography is a must.

Check out the followings links to create business pages on a few of the most popular platforms:

Advice from an expert seller

Kim recently spoke to Nina Justman, owner of the DivineWhimsyShop on Etsy. Catch Kim’s interview with Nina below:

The DivineWhimsyShop is a Star Seller on Etsy, which means the e-commerce platform recognizes the business for excellent customer service. Nina sells mid-century memorabilia and collects it herself.

Nina started her shop after retiring from a career in the entertainment industry and has some pro tips for people who want to build their own business online:

  • Be sincere with your customers.
  • Fulfilling requests goes long way to building loyalty.
  • Notes and small gifts add a personal touch your customers will love.
  • Be patient — it could take a while for your business to take off. You’re at the mercy of the algorithm (as we all are).
  • Start by selling the most desired items, even if you don’t make a lot of money at first.
  • Be fair and reasonable with prices.

Tap or click here to check out the DivineWhimsyShop.

You may also like: Buy and sell old coins, or just see how much your collection is worth

We may receive a commission when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

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