In the last article I discussed a couple suggestions for generating a self-sustaining hobby if you have 10-20 hours a week or more to put towards buying and selling cards.
Well, you may not have that much time. Or, even if you do, you may not want to spend that much time listing cards and filling orders. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you don’t have options to generate a self-sustaining hobby. You just have to use an approach which is less labor intensive.
In my experience, these following two suggestions can both work, but they carry a couple tradeoffs. You are gaining free time, but are potentially taking on some additional risk and/or more selling expenses.
Option 1: Buy and sell higher dollar cards
One option is to focus on buying and selling higher dollar cards. It takes me quite a bit of time to fill the 200-300 or so orders I receive each month on Sportlots and eBay. A focus on higher dollar cards has the potential to provide a similar amount of profit while only having to handle a fraction of the transactions.
That being said, it also carries with it some additional risk. Buying $50, $100, or $200 cards to flip can lead to solid profit, but if those cards start to drop you may get stuck. I’ve also found it a bit harder to get cards like this at great prices. Unless the seller is in desperate need for cash, most of them know these three figure cards are worth something so they’re not going to give them away for nothing. You may need to pay 60-80% of comparable sales which decreases the amount of cushion you have in your profit potential.
However, if you are willing to take on some additional risk and develop your ability to “buy right”, selling these types of cards can allow you to generate some profits with a lower time commitment.
Option 2: Utilize a consignment service
The second option I want to discuss (and my preferred choice) is to utilize a consignment service. There are a number of individuals and companies out there who are willing to take your cards, and for a fee will scan, list, sell, and ship for you. Make sure to do your research to understand the fee structure and trustworthiness of whichever consigner you use.
My consigner of choice is COMC.com. Because all I have to do is box up the cards I want to submit and then set the price once they are ready to list, COMC allows me to almost infinitely scale my business. They handle all the categorizing, imaging, listing on both COMC.com and eBay, payment processing, shipping, and customer service. They do that for a fee of .50 per card plus a sales commission comparable to the other marketplaces I use when I sell direct.
For me, that additional selling fee is well worth the ability to scale up. In my time as a COMC seller, I’ve submitted about 23,000 cards which I would have otherwise had to list individually on eBay. That’s a huge amount of time savings.
Now, that .50 per card listing fee does mean you can’t send in everything. There are cards that don’t make sense to send in because the listing fee would be more than the selling price! My rule of thumb is to send in cards which sell on COMC for $1-$20 or so. I’m still going to clear .25 or so on those dollar cards, and because my labor cost is almost nothing, I can send in a bunch and let the volume of sales generate profits.
Both of these options still require some effort, but they can allow you to sell cards without having to spend quite as much time listing and filling your own orders.
The great thing about striving for a self-sustaining hobby is whether you have a lot of free time, or very little, there are options. You can test, experiment, and try out these different strategies, selling platforms, and consigners to see what works best for you!