What You Need to Start Flipping Items for Cash Online

Over the past few months, I've shared my love of flipping by sharing easy items to flip for cash and "flippable" knickknacks that can bring in the highest profit. But knowing what to sell is far different from knowing how to sell. With that in mind, let's explore the essentials for getting started in the flipping game. Here are the only nine things you need to make money flipping your stuff.

1. A Smartphone

Even if you're equipped with decades' worth of knowledge about a wide range of items, immediate access to information is crucial. Though I've spent most of my life immersed in the world of antiques, I still rely on my smartphone nearly every time I go picking. Researching recent online sales helps me confirm hunches, learn more about obscure items, decide what's worth buying, and determine the maximum price I can pay. And I can do all of it on the go with my smartphone in hand.

2. A Quality Camera

Though written descriptions are important, great photographs sell products. Invest in a high-quality digital camera and work to develop basic photo-editing skills. Just a few minutes' worth of cropping, adjusting brightness levels, and tweaking contrast ratios can turn so-so snapshots in fabulous photos.

3. An Account With an Online Auction Site

An account or storefront on eBay, Etsy, Amazon, or similar site is the virtual front door of your flipping business — a door that millions of potential buyers can walk through 24/7. While selling locally on Craigslist is convenient for large items, many people are understandably put off by the risks associated with meeting buyers in person. Also, depending on your area, a Craigslist ad may simply not get the same level of attention as a listing on a major auction or retail site. (See also: The 9 Secrets of Highly Successful Craigslist Sellers)

4. A PayPal Account

Though there are competing payment methods, PayPal is the standard for most online transactions. As much as you may want to support the underdog or minimize your transaction fees, make your life (and your buyers' lives) easier by setting up a PayPal account and getting verified. Verified status on PayPal boosts your credibility as both a buyer and a seller, allows you to send and receive money as often as you like, and provides certain seller protections.

5. A Dedicated Space

While not a requirement, a dedicated space for inventory can help serious flippers keep track of what needs to be photographed and listed, what's listed but unsold, and what's waiting to be shipped. Find a walk-in closet or basement corner that you can devote to stock, packing supplies, and other business essentials.

6. Packing and Shipping Supplies

If you're selling primarily online, you'll need a steady supply of boxes, Bubble Wrap, and packing peanuts. To keep my overhead low, I try to source most of this material free from local retailers. Department and grocery stores usually restock shelves in the evening and are more than happy to offload empty boxes that would be destined for the dumpster or recycling bin anyway.

7. A Shipping Account

As an active flipper, you'll likely be shipping packages all week long. Avoid schlepping all those parcels to the post office by setting up a USPS account, paying for and printing your postage at home, and having packages picked up at your doorstep. FedEx Ship Manager and UPS Internet Shipping are similar services that allow you to do the same thing. Whatever option you choose, be transparent. Communicate your shipping charges clearly and make sure buyers understand their options and have accurate tracking information.

8. Basic Customer Service Skills

Just as in the brick-and-mortar world, selling successfully online takes a bit of hand-holding. Inevitably, prospective buyers will have questions, request additional details or photos, and try to get a better deal by throwing lowball offers your way. Channel your inner customer service representative and respond to inquiries quickly and respectfully. Your buyers will appreciate it and remember you when it's time to buy again.

9. An Eye for Trends

Since tastes and styles change quickly, flippers need to stay on top of trends. Particularly if you're selling clothing, antiques, or home décor items, become a student of the world around you. What items are people just beginning to appreciate and collect? What clothing trends are fading away? What parts of the resale market are oversaturated? Once you've tuned into evolving trends, you'll begin to anticipate what's next and discover whole new categories of items you can flip for easy cash.

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