Guest Post By: The Old Prof

Your eBay Attitude

I am a full on fan of selling on eBay. I really enjoy it. Perhaps it is because my other job is so different: I am a university professor who spends many hours on my computer grading and editing students’ papers. Selling on eBay is radically different. There is a physical aspect to it that I really like – I get my hands AND my head moving. Whatever, for me, it is a great diversion and something that give me small – as little as two minutes – breaks when I need to clear my mind.

I love sports cards – especially hockey cards. I am an Edmonton Oilers’ fan, sad as that might be these days, but I also enjoy getting to know all the hockey players – their stats, their histories, their hometowns, etc. And, hockey cards give me lots of physical enjoyment. I love touching them, turning them over to look at their backs, seeing the action pictures taken for the cards, etc. They are my little treasures, and I like messing with them.

I am now 70 years old, and when I was a kid I collected baseball cards. I got into hockey cards when my son was about 12 years old. It was something we could do together, and I learned that – in my travels for work – I could stop wherever I was, take a few hours in another city’s card shop, and come home with some Oilers’ treasures – a dime for a RC of Oilers’ tough guy Dave Semenko, for example – my son and I could sell locally for a dollar. My son is now 40, and he shares collecting hockey cards with his son – and, the beat goes on. It’s a family thing.

Anyway, if you are a collector or a mini-entrepreneur, you too might want to think about buying and selling as well. And, for me, there are a few places I love going. Flea markets are one, and I love pouring through a box of cards looking through someone else’s junk for a treasure that suits my fancy or a treasure that might also suit someone else’s fancy. That is, I look for things I might be able to sell on eBay – which is my second favorite place to look around on.

via Wikimedia Commons

I have been an eBay buyer and seller – this week – exactly twenty years. And, I like doing it. I sell cards all over the world – someone in the Czech Republic always wants a Jagr card of the card of a Czech player we know very little about. Canadians from Quebec love their Canadiens. And, stars like ‘Sid the Kid’ seem to sell all the time.

The point is that I love buying and selling hockey cards, rifling through them for treasures, listing and packing – and collecting money. If you share some of these same traits, perhaps we can share our knowledge and insights. And, I have been a teacher for almost 50 years. So, perhaps there is a young person out there who might benefit from my experience. So, here I want to offer some tips for selling sports cards on eBay. And, perhaps that is Tip #1: Find something you love to do, and do it.

Tip #1: Find something you love to do.

You better love something about selling on eBay, because (at least the way I sell) you won’t get rich. When I first started on eBay and when eBay was newer twenty years ago, there was more money to be had with a lot less quality product. Not today. I have been doing this for 20 years – as I said, this month is my 20th eBay anniversary – and it is harder to make money on eBay than it was; but, it is still possible. My point here is that, if selling on eBay is what you like to do – and I really like doing it – it can be a hobby that, instead of costing money, can be lucrative. But, if you love it, it is a great hobby.

Tip #2: Remember, this is a hobby. Don’t count your hours or expenses.

My wife probably thinks I am crazy. How can I spend so much time doing something that probably pays me less than minimum wage (I probably make $10 per hour)? Again, it is something I really enjoy so the hours and the “wages” I receive for those hours is only a bit of an issue – because I actually do like making money from my hobby; but, it is not THE issue. As soon as you start counting your time spent against your income, you are toast. And, if you count your expenses driving to a flea market or card store to buy hockey cards, given what it costs for mileage and expenses, again you won’t find it lucrative. It’s a bad business, and probably would become a loss on your income taxes. So, if selling on eBay needs to make sense from a dollar and cents’ perspective, you might as well quit. Tip #2: remember this is a hobby and, if you carefully track your hours or expenses, it becomes a business and not a hobby. It just would not be lucrative, and you should quit.

Tip #3: Find something special to do with the money you earn from selling on eBay.

History tells us that Benjamin Franklin said, a penny saved is a penny earned.” Because you won’t get rich from selling on eBay, I don’t think it is wise to simply move your eBay earnings into your main bank account. It won’t make that much of a difference, you won’t even notice, and it will be easy to miss the fact that you are actually earning income. Instead, I would suggest making an earning goal for your money and saving towards that goal. Save for a vacation, or a new car. My family is fortunate to have a vacation home in Arizona, where we can travel during Canada’s winters. My eBay earning goal is to make enough money to pay for all the expenses of that Arizona home. And, I do. My eBay earnings move into my Paypal account, which get moved to my United States bank account.

Up-coming Tips

After buying and selling sports cards on eBay for now twenty years, I have learned lots of things. I hope in this space to share some of these regularly in this great space where I hope sports card fans can talk to each other about what they do. For example, I have learned how to buy cards cheaply, how to list them quickly, how to think about saving money by re-cycling, how to organize what you sell, and the kinds of tools you need to make your work easier. These first three tips were about your attitude in starting to buy and sell. More later.