The Brag Media
Features May 11, 2020

How to make money selling second-hand records online

Rodney Laws
How to make money selling second-hand records online

Money is one of life’s enduring necessities, but it matters even more right now than it usually does.

Plenty of people have been furloughed or fired after lockdown measures caused many businesses to slow down or even shut down, and most of the classic low-cost entertainment options — largely involving meeting up with friends — have been ruled out.

So maybe you’re just trying to make ends meet, or maybe you’re looking for some extra funds to pay for a new games console and whatever else catches your eye on Amazon. Either way, you consider the options available to you and decide upon classic retail. You have a good collection of records that you don’t play so much now. Other people have money and the desire to listen to music while waiting for this all to blow over. Seems like a match.

In this post, we’re going to set out the basic framework for selling second-hand records online with minimal fuss. Let’s give it a spin, shall we?

A stack of vinyl albums (including a Beatles' Greatest Hits album), likely released on major labels

Now that plenty of people are stuck at home, there’s a good match to be made

Choose your business model

What do I mean by this? Well, there are two ways you could approach your new operation. You could make it a one-time burst of activity, a way to clear out what you have right now, or you could turn it into a long-term business involving selling and buying.

If you just want to make some quick money from what you have, then you’re best served using a marketplace like eBay: it doesn’t have to be eBay specifically (Discogs is a marketplace dedicated to music), so look around and compare your options. Each marketplace will have different terms concerning what you’ll be charged and how things will work.

If you want to set up an ongoing operation, you should consider starting your own store. You can build up a great seller page through a third-party marketplace, but you won’t be able to keep as much of the profit. Starting an online store is pretty fast and easy, and if you go with a system with great templates (something like Shopify) then you can be up and running within days.

Keep in mind that you can create your own store and have your records listed in several marketplaces. You can even use a third-party fulfilment service to make life easier (you send your records to a fulfilment centre, then all the shipping is handled for you when you get orders — the only downside is that you’ll be charged for the convenience).

Focus on your area of expertise

Once you’ve decided which business model you want to use (which is the hardest part), you should pick out your area of expertise. There are plenty of sellers out there already, and you probably can’t beat their prices, so you need a niche — something to set you apart.

If you’ve collected music from a specific genre, that will help: perhaps you could build your operation around that genre. Regardless, one of your goals should be to set yourself up as an expert with musical taste that other people can rely on.

If you already have a music blog (like this one), use that for promotion — if you don’t, set one up as soon as possible. Imagine having a blog all about new wave music from the 1980s, linking to your storefront featuring top albums from that genre and period. It could be very effective.

Remember that your presentation needs to be fantastic. Like I said, you can’t win just by having the lowest prices, but you can win by doing an exceptional job of selling people on how special certain records are (or how great it is to get music on vinyl in general). If you can be the person to convince someone that they should get a record player, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be able to sell them some records in the process.

Offer strong delivery options

Another way to stand out is by offering strong delivery options, particularly during this strange time. At a minimum, you should have decent tracking on all your regular shipping, and you should offer click-and-collect using whatever schemes are available in your area (it’s really ramping up). If you live in a populous area — and this is a short-term gig for you — then you could just drop some orders off for nearby buyers (in a safe way, of course).

If someone’s feeling down because of the lockdown and they want to cheer themselves up with a record, they’ll probably want it as soon as possible, and asking them to wait will likely push them to look elsewhere. Vinyl records are already near-enough luxury items anyway, so don’t be afraid to ask a steep price if you think it’s justified.

Now that plenty of people are stuck at home, there’s a good match to be made between those looking for nostalgic comfort and those looking to make some money by clearing out their collections — and it isn’t that hard to sell online. Decide the approach you want to take, figure out your brand identity, and make it convenient to buy from you. Simple.

RELATED: Discogs have revealed the most expensive items ever sold on the site

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.

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