With shows like Storage Wars and American Pickers all the rage, and personalities like Gary Vaynerchuk espousing the practice, it's no wonder that reselling used items for a profit -- i.e. "flipping" -- is a popular side hustle.
But what does it take to become a successful flipper? Metalhead Money talked with Heather Lawson, a postal worker and music lover who started an online selling hustle in May 2019. Now she's making between 15 and 20 sales each month on her eBay store, with great reviews and a growing customer base. Lawson told MM about how she got started with flipping and what she's doing to build her business.
Metalhead Money: What inspired you to start an online selling side hustle?
Heather Lawson: My main job is a clerk at the Post Office. Times are very uncertain right now and I wanted to have more control over my destiny. I saw videos that Gary V. was putting out about flip life. He was going to garage sales. I asked myself, why would a millionaire go to garage sales? He is showing us how to do it. He talked about bringing people out of homelessness which is very close to my heart. I was completely on board when I saw how he was helping people. I thought to myself, I can do that!
MM: You started doing online retail last spring with eBay and Etsy, but recently switched to all eBay. What were your reasons for making this switch?
HL: I wanted to make it easier on myself to focus and learn one platform. I'm still learning. I also noticed I was selling about three times as much on eBay so that's the platform I wanted to focus on. I've tried others but they weren't for me.
MM: What kind of products do you sell in your eBay store, and where do you acquire them? What made you choose these kinds of products?
HL: I sell records, vintage items, and my personal photography. I tried several things when I was getting started and quickly learned these items sell the best for me, so I focus mainly on these products. This will be different for everyone. Some people do great with clothes or toys. Not me, it's records and vintage! I mainly go to estate sales and yard/garage sales. Sometimes I check out Facebook marketplace. There's lots of stuff out there to find.
Below, an item from Lawson's store that combines her love of vintage glassware with her love of rock n roll!
MM: In June of this year, you had 226 sales so far! That’s 15-20 a month... Sounds pretty darn good to me, especially with 100% positive reviews! How many sales are you up to now? How do you work to ensure the best possible customer ratings?
HL: I have 206 on eBay. I had 54 on Etsy before I closed my shop. I make sure I ship out items in one business day. I also make sure I pack items very well to avoid damage during shipping. I try to answer questions in a timely manner. And I always leave feedback for the buyer.
MM: What kind of steps do you take to market your store?
HL: I have an email list which I need to do a much better job marketing to. I also have a Facebook business page and an Instagram business page. I also try to cross promote with other like minded business folks.
MM: Any tips for pricing items and shipping so that you maximize your profits but still make sales?
HL: I try to find current listings and past sales of an item if available. Shipping is very tricky. I work at the post office and have messed up on this myself. I always charge for shipping at a calculated rate. Offering free shipping just doesn't work for me.
MM: You’re also into nature photography and you run a music performance and discussion group on FB. How did you get into these hobbies? Do these endeavors ever “cross streams” with your eBay selling?
My photography started when I used to sell real estate years ago. I changed my focus to nature photography because I enjoy nature and I am always looking for things to take photos of. I always have my phone with me and if I see something interesting, I try to get a photo. I do sell some of my photography. I may focus more on it in the future.
My Facebook group, Happy Hour With Heather and Guest, was started as an assignment for a marketing challenge I participated in given by Curtis Dewar, Matt Bacon and Keith Chachkes. I honestly didn't think it would grow the way it has. I am so pleased it has taken off and I hope it continues to grow. Andrew Davie helps me run the group and we want to shine a light on artists and musicians. Especially with all the struggles going on at this time.
MM: You mentioned that you have an individual selling account rather than a business one. At what point would it make sense to switch to business? Do you think you’ll take that path, or stay individual?
HL: I am looking into making it a business. I eventually would like to do it full time.
MM: Working for USPS and running an online store, you are on the front line of any shipping difficulties! How have the pandemic and political climate affected USPS? Have you noticed any negative effects on your eBay store?
HL: Mail and packages are taking longer to get to their destination. Unfortunately there has been a lot of illness due to Covid-19 which has had an impact. There are also a lot more packages being shipped. We have Christmas level volume without Christmas help. With stores being closed or inaccessible, it's very convenient to order online and have it shipped to your home.
My sales did slow down when the news reported all the shipping delays. Now customers know more of what to expect so sales have picked up again.
MM: With a couple months left to go in 2020, what are your goals for your store this year?
HL: I want to get more items in my store. I have plenty to list, it takes time to do it. That's what I need, more time!
MM: Any last pieces of advice for aspiring flippers?
HL: Be sure to have the time to properly care for your customers. You will make mistakes and that's ok. There's lots to learn.
Check out this Linktree for Heather's eBay store, Facebook group, social media, and more: https://linktr.ee/HeatherLawson
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