The “American Dream” has evolved over the years. Once it was a 9-5 office job with a pension. Today it’s the ability to be your own boss and work from home. It is an ongoing evolution as many jobs become automated and as Americans discover new ways to earn an income.
Where am I in this evolution?
I am closing out my 11th year of teaching high school choir. I have two Masters degrees in education, and, truth be told, I love teaching. I love building relationships with my students and colleagues, making music, and taking my students all over the country to perform. And between all the rehearsals and performances, it keeps me extremely busy.
In this post, I’m going to share my journey on how I got started as a reseller as well as how I ended up where I am today. I’ll also share many tips with you on how you too can start reselling as a profitable side hustle. So let’s start at the very beginning, shall we?
My Reselling Origin Story
My husband and I are both teachers. We wear a lot of clothing by brands like the Banana Republic and J. Crew. You know; professional, career clothes. One day, I went through our closets and pulled out anything we weren’t wearing anymore. Most of the items were still in great shape. Some even still had the original price tags attached to them. I brought them proudly to my local Plato’s Closet, a buy/sell trade store. I expected to make at least $100 on everything. Instead, they purchased two items for a total of $5. They told me that they couldn’t accept most of the clothes I had brought them because they were “too mature.”
So I brought my tub of clothes home and started googling for other options. Some stores will accept more mature brands, but those stores didn’t exist in my small college town. As I was googling, however, I learned about an online option: Poshmark. It was an online reselling platform where buyers had full control over how their items were presented and priced. I decided to give it a try. After listing a handful of things, a pair of my husband’s shoes sold two weeks after I started listing on Poshmark.
🎣 I was instantly hooked.
I was hungry to make even more sales. I turned again to Google to see if there was any information on how to make MORE sales on Poshmark. Blogs and forums helped, but what really piqued my interest were the various YouTube channels created around the topic of reselling, specifically on Poshmark.
I devoured videos and took notes, keeping track of which brands seemed to sell well for these YouTubers and noting ideas on how I should photograph my items. I convinced my husband to go to a local Salvation Army with me to try thrifting items to sell. My online closet grew and grew. So did my addiction.
Since I started reselling on Poshmark in December of 2017, I have branched out to reselling on other platforms like eBay, Mercari, Kidizen, Facebook Marketplace, and even Tradesy. I created my own Shopify store. I dabbled in Amazon FBA. An Instagram account dedicated to reselling helped me network with the reselling community at large. I fused my love of reselling and teaching into a YouTube channel dedicated to teaching others how to do what I was doing.
💪 And now, here I am, sharing my tips and tricks on how to grow your own reselling empire!
🖐️ Do you have a gig work or side hustle story to tell? Do you have words of wisdom that might help others looking to make it in the gig economy?
Find out how we can collaborate to get your story out there. Get in touch!
How Much Can You Earn Reselling?
First, let me answer the question at the forefront of your mind right now – how much can you actually earn from reselling?
My reselling side hustle and everything it encompasses consistently brings in more money than my paycheck as a teacher.
I am definitely a small fish in a big pond. There are resellers who resell full-time. Many of them do extremely well for themselves. There are also part-time resellers out there. Like me, many make decent money on the side of whatever their full-time gig is. There are also hobby resellers who dabble with reselling but aren’t necessarily consistent with it.
For the year 2021, I set a relatively low goal for myself of $30K in profits. I am currently on track to beat that goal by a handsome amount. Add to that the amount I earn from Google AdSense from my YouTube channel, affiliate marketing, profits from my YouTube for Resellers course, and I’m on track to earn over $100K from my “side hustle” in the year 2021.
How to Get Started Reselling on Poshmark
Easy. Marie Kondo your closet. Tell others what you’re doing and ask them to give you clothes they no longer wear. Don’t invest your own money into any inventory yet. In the beginning, you’re going to be learning the ins and outs of reselling on Poshmark and making a ton of mistakes. Mistakes are much more affordable to make when they’re on your own clothing.
What Do I Need to Get Started Reselling on Poshmark?
Your phone, the internet, and stuff to sell. That’s it.
Sounds too good to be true, right? But that’s literally all I had for the first year or two of reselling, and I did just fine.
Since I started reselling on Poshmark, the only additions to my “reselling toolkit” are things like apps to create white backgrounds (I personally use PhotoRoom), shelves, and bins to store all my inventory, and an iPhone with more memory. Natural light and efficient photo editing are enough to make my pictures look clean and professional.
How to Sell on Poshmark (A Step-by-Step Guide)
Here is what happens to an item from beginning to end:
1. Find an Item to Sell
Perhaps it’s something you no longer wear or use from your own home. Perhaps you purchased it at a thrift store, buy sell trade store, Target, etc. When you’re first starting your reselling journey, my advice would be to sell items from around your own home that you no longer use but that still have a lot of life left in them. List those items and start making a profit as they sell.
Once you gain confidence from your limited experience with photographing items, listing them, and shipping them out, then you can start venturing out into the world of “sourcing inventory,” which means purchasing inventory to sell online. I started at thrift stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and local thrift stores. I worked my way up to purchasing clothes at the clearance section of retail stores to sell for higher profits. I’ve also had tremendous success selling clothes friends and family members donated to me after they learned about my side hustle of reselling!
2. Make the Item Look Appealing
Wash it, clean it up, slap a new coat of paint on it. An item that looks ragged or old is much less likely to sell.
3. Photograph the Item
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just make sure the buyer can clearly see what it is that they are going to be purchasing. If there are any flaws on the item, photograph them as well and note the flaws in your listing description.
4. List the Item On Your Preferred Platform
This is where you put the item up for sale on a reselling platform. Create a descriptive title for your item that is rich with keywords. Ask yourself what words or phrases potential buyers will be typing in order to find your item. “Cute dress” isn’t as successful as “Reformation Black Midi Square Neck Short Sleeve Dress Size 4” when it comes to potential buyers finding your listing.
Continue being descriptive in the listing description. Fill out every part of the listing you can in order to create the kind of listing that is searchable. And when it comes to pricing, see how other items that are similar to yours are selling. If you just want to get rid of the item as quickly as possible, price it a little lower than what the average going rate seems to be. If you know you have something valuable on your hands, price it high and wait for the right buyer to come along.
5. Maintain Your Listing
If people “like” the item (Poshmark and Mercari) or “watch” the item (eBay) or “cart” the item (Kidizen), send them offers. If your listing hasn’t sold after a month or two of being listed, revisit it. Edit your listing by freshening it up with new keywords and perhaps even a new price. I would even recommend deleting the listing and creating a brand new one in its place. All reselling platforms require some maintenance, so make sure you’re giving each platform the attention it needs and deserves.
6. Ship the Item Once it Sells
Each platform handles shipping differently. Some reselling platforms make it extremely easy, like Poshmark. Others are a bit more intimidating, like eBay. That being said, anyone can ship anything if they have a shipping scale (inexpensive ones can be purchased on Amazon), something to send the sold item in like a poly mailer or box, and a way to print the shipping label.
When I first started reselling, I only sold clothing on Poshmark, and because Poshmark will supply their sellers with shipping labels for items up to 5 lbs, I didn’t have a need for a shipping scale. I used a combination of free USPS shipping boxes and unused boxes and poly mailers from online purchases to ship out my orders. Finally, I printed shipping labels to my regular printer until I purchased a thermal label printer a year into reselling.
Many resellers say that it is their fear of making mistakes when it comes to shipping eBay or Mercari items that keep them off those platforms. There are, however, many wonderful videos on YouTube that teach viewers the ins and outs of eBay and Mercari shipping (including some videos of my own!). The information is out there, and ultimately, experience is the best teacher.
7. Track Your Numbers
You want to get in the habit of tracking your numbers. Keep track of how much you spend on inventory, how much you’re spending in platform fees and shipping, and how much you’re actually profiting.
Not only do you want to track your numbers for each individual transaction to ensure you’re making a profit on each item, but you’ll also want to find ways to track your numbers with the bigger picture in mind.
Keep track of your overhead expenses like shipping supplies (shipping tape, thank you cards, etc), your inventory, your earnings from each platform, and start paying attention to trends regarding what is selling best for you and which platforms are performing best for you.
How Do I Scale My Reselling Business?
It’s best to master one reselling platform at a time. I was exclusively reselling on Poshmark for over a year before I added Mercari to the mix. I wanted to learn as much as I could about reselling and Poshmark before adding on other platforms. Growing slowly and surely helped me avoid making more mistakes than what was necessary, and as a result, I was able to retain repeat customers, create attractive listings, and grow at a pace that was comfortable for me.
As I started adding other reselling platforms, I sought out ways to make the process of cross-listing items from one platform to another faster. It was tedious to have to copy and paste information from one platform to the next and to download pictures from one platform so I could import them into another platform.
Around the time I started branching out onto other platforms, a cross-listing software called List Perfectly was created. This was exactly what I had been looking for; a tool that would allow me to quickly and efficiently transfer the information from one listing on one platform to another platform. It also acts as my inventory management system so I know where all the inventory is being held in my home.
Another thing to keep in mind is the space available to you. You can maximize the space you do have, but at some point, you will run out. I would definitely recommend keeping your reselling business from physically bleeding into other parts of your life (this is the most hypocritical point I’ll make since there are currently piles of clothes I intend to resell in my dining room, office, closet, and guest room). It’s important to know how much inventory you can physically handle.
I have items I plan on reselling in what seems like every room of my house, but the majority of it resides in what is affectionately known as the “playroom.” It’s a large bonus room in my house my husband and I had earmarked as the children’s playroom. One entire half serves as my inventory storage space as well. This actually works out beautifully because my children can play while I ship, process inventory, and list.
Some of my delicate or large pieces are hung in the office closet, but the majority of my inventory is stored in the playroom. Along one wall, there are large storage shelves we purchased from Home Depot. Each shelf can house three large clear bins from Target, and each bin can hold roughly 25 articles of clothing. Each bin is labeled with numbers (ie: 1-25, 26-50, etc all the way up to 700). I put individual articles of clothing into a gallon size ziplock bag with a number on the outside.
Build an Inventory System
Perhaps I recently purchased a Theory dress to resell. I input the necessary information about the dress into my List Perfectly Inventory Management System online so I can record my cost of goods, date of purchase, and create my listing.
In the List Perfectly inventory management system, there is a section where I can input my SKU. This is where I will put the number of the ziplock bag this dress will live in until it is sold. Let’s pretend the number on the ziplock bag is 541. I enter “541” as the SKU on List Perfectly, put the dress in the “541” ziplock bag, and put the “541” ziplock bag with the Theory dress in it inside of the bin labeled “526-550.”
When I cross-list the listing from my List Perfectly Inventory Management System to reselling platforms I sell on, it will automatically transfer the SKU information over to the reselling platforms as well. Therefore, if the Theory dress sells on eBay a few days later, I will see the SKU for the Theory dress on the eBay shipping page, enabling me to quickly find ziplock bag 541 in bin “526-550.” I will pull the dress out and save the ziplock bag to use for my next piece of inventory. I love this method because it’s simple, efficient, and environmentally friendly. I have used the same ziplock bags for over 3 years now.
Finally, when it’s time, start outsourcing some of your reselling tasks.
At times, it can get very overwhelming. It feels like there simply are not enough hours in the day to check off every box on your reselling to-do list.
This is where outsourcing comes in handy. The mind-numbingly boring and carpal tunnel syndrome-inducing task of sharing my Poshmark closet has gone to a sharing company. I use List Perfectly to store all of my inventory information and cross-list to other reselling platforms.
Since my husband and I are both teachers and we have the summers off, he has volunteered to photograph my inventory for me during the summer so I can focus on listing and cross-listing. By paying others to do the types of tasks that anyone can do, I’m free to spend more time on the parts of reselling I love most: sourcing and creating content about sourcing.
Mistakes to Avoid
As with any business or side hustle, there are pitfalls to avoid. Here are some that deserve particular attention.
When I first started thrifting, I only cared about two things: was the item cute, and was it cheap? I loved going to Salvation Army on dollar days. I loved scouring Goodwill for the color of the week because I knew those items would be half off. What I failed to recognize, however, was that just because I threw something up online, it wasn’t guaranteed to sell. Learn what brands hold a high resale value and what styles are trending at the moment. There is nothing worse than being stuck with a ton of inventory that no one wants to buy from you.
Scaling Too Fast
I can’t tell you how many resellers have quit reselling because they simply scaled too fast. They got in over their heads. Reselling quickly became a thorn in their side rather than a fun side hustle. Grow slowly and assume that you will be incredibly slow at everything when you first start. You will get better and faster with time. Allow yourself to go through that growing season before buying pallets of clothes or renting out a storage unit.
Growing slowly and surely helped me avoid making more mistakes than what was necessary. As a result, I was able to retain repeat customers, create attractive listings, and grow at a pace that was comfortable for me.
Sourcing More Than you can List
Most resellers would tell you that sourcing, or finding the inventory to sell, is the best part of reselling. It’s like a treasure hunt. You go to garage and estate sales, thrift stores, and other retail establishments and search for items that are underpriced. You then list them online at a premium, sell them, and make a ton of money.
Many resellers (including myself) have acquired something we call a “death pile.” Death piles are piles of inventory that are just taking up space and not making anyone any money because they’re not listed anywhere online. Set limits for yourself. Set listing goals for yourself. Just do whatever you have to do to get your inventory listed so it can sell.
Many of these concerns apply equally to any side hustle, particularly one involving retail sales.
General Tips for Reselling Success
Reselling is a relatively simple business: you buy items at a low price and sell them at a higher one. Doing that reliably and successfully does require some knowledge. Here’s where to start.
Do Your Research
There are SO many YouTube channels (including mine, Becky Park on Poshmark), blogs, email lists, courses, Reddit threads, etc on how to be a successful reseller. When I first started reselling on Poshmark, I watched every reselling YouTube channel and read every blog post at my disposal. I learned which aspects of each different business model would work for me and which aspects to leave behind. I learned how to store my inventory, what brands to sell, and how to ship efficiently.
Know What is Selling
Whether you’re into selling clothes, video games, sneakers, or anything in between, learn your market. Learn which brands are hot and which brands have been canceled or are over. Know which styles are selling best and which styles are last season. Learn what retired tags versus new label tags look like. Learn how to identify if something is vintage or rare. Again, there is so much free information out there on platforms like YouTube and Instagram. Consume as much of this information as possible.
The Bottom Line
If I, as a high school choir teacher, can find time to earn $30K in profits in 365 days from selling people’s used clothing, you can too. It may not happen the very first year you start. As you get better and faster at all the processes that come with reselling, you’ll get there.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that this is what I would be doing with my free time as a side hustle. I am so thankful that I stumbled across Poshmark four years ago as I was googling “how to make money on my old clothes.” I have the luxury and stability of working as a high school choir teacher, a job that fills me with purpose and joy as well as a retirement plan and health care, and I have my side hustle. My side hustle has blossomed into the money-making machine it is today. And that, I think, is the 2021 American Dream.