This is nobody's business but mine, but let me chirp about it anyway. On eBay I go by the handle "Good_Machine_Hunt_Bargain." I sell mostly bicycle parts.
I made fewer purchases than usual at the last swap meet. I focused on hot deals, and left the warm deals on the table. I had a limited budget, and I needed a quick return on investment.
I photographed 95% of the items the day after the swap meet. Within two days, I started to see my first sales. As a departure from past norms, most of my listings this time are Buy It Now with free shipping. This allows people to make impulse buys, while also not doing math. I think it's working.
All of my sales have been for a premium "hopeful" asking price. The first round of listings always starts with the highest prices. Interest in individual listings can be gauged by how many people are "watching" an item. When a listing ends with no sale, you will still know if your price is in the right ballpark. No watchers? Lower the price. There is one more factor to consider: some obscure items only have a small niche demand, and will take longer to sell. Don't slash the price. Just relist until somebody needs it. If you have the only one available, then you will get the sale... but it might be next year.
I spent just shy of my $1200 allotment. In the week following the sale, I've made back about $900 after fees. I've only sold a small portion of the haul, so things are looking great. After 90% of the sales are complete, I should have at least doubled my money. The percentage of money netted beyond 2x investment is a good measure of purchasing acumen.
Buying better quality in smaller quantity is saving me a huge amount of work. With Amazon selling to fill the space between swap meets, I didn't feel pressure to maximize profits at the cost of a lot of scroungy work. (Extensive fixing and cleaning of parts.)
Early sales report:
I have many examples of tripling my investment. A portion of the "bread and butter" are small items I buy for $1-$5 and sell for many times that. These deals are abundant and low-risk. Even when people know what the item is worth on the eBay marketplace, they don't want to go to the trouble of taking a photo, writing a description, and then shipping it out. I don't mind. I've made a big effort to streamline those tasks. So when I buy a pair of Campagnolo crank bolts for $1, and sell them for $24.95 - it doesn't take much effort. Items under 13oz can ship First Class, which is a bargain. Knowing these details means I can buy a Ritchey headset cable hanger for $2, and I know that when I sell it for $24.95, I will only have to pay $1.93 to ship. (And $0.28 for the packaging.)
Dura Ace downtube shifters? $5 makes $64.95. (This is a case where some people have no clue what the demand is.)
My best sale this round (so far) isn't a bicycle part. A guy was selling a jointer plane, new in the box. How much? $5. I sold it in under 24hrs for $99.95. Making the sale felt good, but it is becoming almost typical. This is America. Somebody bought a gun book from me for $99.95. I paid a dollar.
The goal now is to stay awake and keep hunting.
- Good Machine