Thursday, August 30, 2007

How to Make a Few Bucks in Just a Few Minutes

Disclaimer: This article contains no secret miracles that will make you rich tomorrow. There is no information here that you can’t find somewhere else. It contains no MSG’s, and no animals were harmed in the making or testing of this article.

What it DOES have, however is a call to action. A call to get busy and do something that only takes a few minutes and make a few bucks. A call to stop being afraid and realize that this is not complicated, nor particularly difficult. It just takes effort.

Here’s what’s going on. I’ve been buying and selling on eBay for a long time. But just recently I’ve been thinking about just how fundamentally simple it is, and how much fun it is. And as simple and as fun as it is, why aren’t more people doing it? When I teach my students, why don’t more of them follow through and do it? I’m not sure.

But here’s the process I’ve been going through, especially lately. I’ve also put the time required next to each step.

  1. Sort through my stuff (30-45 minutes)

The easiest items to sell on eBay are things you have around your house already. I call this “The Electronic Yard Sale”. Everybody has STUFF they’ve got sitting around, and isn’t being used. You could throw it away, you could give it away, or you could make a few coins off of it. The beauty of this stuff is that you don’t have to worry about profit margins. It’s not costing you anything. If you were to sell something from a drop shipper or a supplier, you have to make sure that it sells for more than you paid, or you lose money. With the things you’ve got at home, just find it and sell it!

In my case, I spent a little over a half hour and found some collectors cards and a cell phone, among other things.

  1. research the stuff (15-30 minutes)

I never post an item without first checking to see how much I’m likely to get, or even if it’s likely to sell. Sign in to eBay, do an advanced search of “Completed Listings Only” for the item you’re wanting to sell. You can see how much it’s likely to close for.

You can also use Clickincome’s Auction Analysis Pro for even more detailed research. This program can tell you what day to start and end your auction, what features to choose, and how much you’re likely to get, all based on an in-depth analysis of the last 30 days of eBay history for those items.

The cool part of that is, even with the detail, it’s still only 15-30 minutes.

  1. Choose some things to sell (1 minute)

This is the easy part. Based on your research, you choose to list the items that are most likely to make you the most money! In my case, I found a few cards that could sell for as much as $15 each, and the cell phone might go for as much as $400. Kind of a no-brainer isn’t it?

  1. Get pictures, write text (15-30 minutes)

When you’re preparing a listing, you usually want to gather all of the required information before you do your listing. Write the descriptive text, shoot and crop the pictures, etc… I do know that sometimes this can be more involved, but it’s usually not too bad. In the case of the cell phone, I captured a picture from the manufacturer’s website. The cards? I just scanned those.

  1. Post it on eBay (the same 15-30 minutes)

Creating the eBay postings was simply a matter of logging into eBay and clicking on “Sell”, then filling out the form. You copy and paste in the text, you upload the pictures. Select one picture to be your gallery picture, and save the auction. This time, it really only took me 15-30 minutes because I counted the same 15-30 minutes it took me to gather the pictures and the text. Again, sometimes it could take longer.

  1. Track the auctions (totaling 15 minutes throughout the week)

Tracking the auction means that once or twice a day, I jump over to eBay and look to see how many bids I’ve got. Sometimes, I might have to answer a question or two about the item. On a 7 day auction, I might spend a total of a quarter hour in the tracking process.

  1. Close the auction, collect the money (5 minutes)

For the most part, eBay handles this effort for me. If you use PayPal, and you have a buyer that’s alert and attentive, you can have your money on the way by the time you check the emails letting you know that the auction has ended. True, sometimes there are difficulties, like a non-paying bidder, or some extra communication that has to happen, but I’ve found that to be the exception rather than the rule. The worst that commonly happens is that the buyer didn’t happen to be at their computer the moment the auction closed, and I might have to wait an hour or a day.

  1. Ship the item. (15-30 minutes)

I play it simple here. Even when I’m shipping bigger stuff. I just drive it to a packing and shipping store, hand it to them with the address and pay them to ship it. How tough is that? When I do the cards, however, I might do that myself, because I just have to put them in an envelope with some protective cardboard.

  1. Spend the money (Insert evil laughter here…)

That’s the best part, isn’t it?

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

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