Side Hustle #79: Flipping Guitars! ($10,000/year)

by Guest Author -

flipping guitars

[Welcome to another installment of our Side Hustle Series!! Daniella from ILikeToDabble.com stops by the blog today to share her and her wife’s experience (and profits!) selling guitars over the past few years… Which matches up nicely with our previous hustles of flipping vintage watches, classic video games, high-fashion clothing, and even collectible sneakers! But today it’s all about the *music gear* and how it can help you earn some extra money on the side… Take it away, Daniella!]

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My wife Alexandra is the real mastermind behind all of this. It all started with her own guitar collection.

She’s been a collector for years and started selling off some of her collection. She took the profit from some of those first sales and applied it towards buying other guitars to flip on platforms like eBay, Sweetwater and Reverb (platforms more specific to music gear).

Now she mostly focuses on eBay and I help with taking photos, listing detail and shipping (or try to :D).

What It Entails

First off, with something like flipping guitars for profit online, the research for someone who is obsessed with guitars is much easier than for someone who knows absolutely nothing about guitars.

So if you know nothing about guitars, it is going to be much harder for you. However, you can still use these basic steps for whatever category of items you decide to try flipping. (Start with what you know).

Research

Before we purchase anything to flip, we always refer to eBay search.

Important things to keep in mind in the initial research phase are the specs such as the guitar brand, where it was made, if it is new, used, needs repairs, the year, model, style, color and how rare it is (was there only a certain number of them made?). You want to be able to actually make a profit from your flip which means your revenue sales exceed the cost.

We look for listings that stand out as having a much lower price vs. the other similar listings on eBay, and then also compare listing prices to other platforms like Reverb and Sweetwater to see if we see anything cheaper there. Often, there are people who aren’t aware of the market price of the guitar they are trying to sell, and we’re able to snag a deal that we’ll likely be able to flip for as much as 3 to 5 times the price they listed it for.

Market Price

In order to figure out the market price of a guitar you want to flip, start with eBay search. The guitar that has the highest price among those listed in “New” condition is the current market price for that guitar.

We normally filter by completed and sold items on eBay to see what certain brands recently sold for. However, you can leave sold items unchecked to see what the current supply and demand might be as well.

ebay filtering

With filtering on Completed Listings, you’ll see how many went unsold. If there are a large amount of listings but only one sold, we will steer clear of that specific guitar or at least do some digging as to why.

You can use filtering in a number of ways in this research phase such as also filtering on Authorized Sellers and Authenticity Verified.

You’re looking for the average price across not just eBay, but the many other platforms that sell these items as well. This average is what we aim to list for.

So if a guitar is listed for $860 and we buy it for $300, we will most likely list it for about $850 with some add-ons like free picks or bump up the price a little bit more but throw in a free case. Anything to make our listing seem more appealing than any existing competing listings.

Buying Inventory

Once we’ve done the research and found items we know we can make a profit off of and are ready to buy, we are then ready to start communicating with sellers. eBay is a two way street so be ready to be just as an effective buyer as you want to be a seller.

When purchasing inventory to flip, you need to be extremely detail oriented. A photo of a guitar with some scratches can easily be doctored on eBay. We know this because we’ve seen them and received guitars in lower condition than they were listed for.

Some common questions we ask sellers are:

  • If they can send us pictures of the guitar in any angle that might’ve been missed in the listing
  • If they can provide any details that might be missing from the listing, such as where the guitar was made
  • If they can be more specific on its condition
  • If it need repairs or has any scratches
  • If there is a case included

Then we will usually go back and forth in negotiation to get the lowest price possible. Usually this also gets us more freebies like picks and cases (both hard and soft) that we can throw in our own future sales.

Listing the Inventory

Once we receive the guitar and everything checks out (and it doesn’t need repairs) we list the guitar pretty immediately.

What goes into our listings:

  • Using the correct keywords so buyers can easily find it
  • High quality photos of every possible angle (with a plain background that looks clean)
  • A real description about the guitar specs with as much detail as possible. Do not include some long story about how you got the guitar because people don’t care. They want to get the details such as brand, model, style, color, where it was made, rarity, condition, and any additional details that need to be disclosed about the condition like scratches, repair needs, etc. Anything you can think of that might be important, include it.
  • Include any freebies in the listing like picks and guitar cases
  • The type of sale and if it is an auction or fixed price. We almost always do fixed prices for guitars.
  • The minimum offer you are willing to accept.
  • Add on shipping prices which include things like weight, dimensions and how far you have to ship guitars. We live in the Midwest and we aren’t going to ship you a guitar to California unless you are willing to pay for the shipping. Sorry folks, free shipping for guitars is not worth it for you as the seller unless you add it into the price.

As long as you choose the correct keywords, it isn’t hard to appear first on eBay search. But it is much easier with a better seller rating.

To figure out the best keywords to use, scan the current 1st and 2nd position listings, and then use them as an example to work off of. You can also use this keyword research tool: https://keywordtool.io/ebay

Here are 2 guitars we recently listed for sale:

guitars for sale

And this bad boy we just sold for $800 (with shipping, and bought for a little under $300): Ibanez AF 155 (which we had some trouble selling for awhile)

Ibanez AF 155 guitar

How Much We Make Flipping Guitars

Last year we made a little under $10,000 flipping guitars and accessories on eBay, and this is on the side of our full time jobs.

Some months we make as little as $750, and our biggest month so far has been $3,000 profit. However, it is always a little slower up until right before the holidays, and there are some months where we don’t sell anything. The holidays through the new year seem to be the busiest time.

Considering most of the work is done from home (besides shipping) and only takes a couple of hours a week, I think we did pretty well for ourselves last year.

The income isn’t entirely passive as you still have to keep in communication with the buyer (and occasionally they can be difficult!) as well as deal with USPS support when packages are late, however I consider it partially passive since once a guitar is acquired and listed you’re not putting in any more time until it’s sold.

Tips for AMPing Things Up

Our top tips for really AMPing up your listings for quicker sales, and to ensure your seller profile is put in the best position to sell more in the future, are:

  • Using the correct keywords so buyers find your listing and see it before competing listings
  • Kick ass photos!
  • Making sure you charge enough for shipping (this is a big one!!)
  • Freebies (add-ons like free guitar picks, cases, and other accessories to make the listing more appealing)
  • Making sure you are satisfying the buyer’s needs as much as possible, and continually maintaining a good seller rating

Here is a snapshot of my wife’s profile and seller rating:

brazenhussy13 ebay profile

Pros and Cons

A pro to selling something like guitars is that they are high price items and are easy to make more of a profit on than something like selling clothes (unless those clothes are mega brands like Gucci).

The con to selling guitars is their size and dimensions as they can sometimes be tricky to ship (especially if you don’t have boxes on hand). We usually save all of the boxes that our inventory comes in, and then re-ship them out in the same packaging. When this doesn’t work and we run out of boxes, you can get them on Amazon for a reasonable price (measure the boxes you need first before you order them so you get the correct size).

For shipping, also be aware of the dimensions your boxes are because the price for the dimensions can override the weight.

PayPal’s print and ship is often about 30% cheaper than shipping directly through USPS (if you know the weight and dimensions).

How You Can Get Started + Resources

Anyone can sell anything online. I truly believe that.

I have a woman who is a reader of mine who has been able to flip clothes from thrift stores on Poshmark and has consistently done so for the past 6 months. She was on disability and really struggled for a while to make extra money. Poshmark has helped her immensely.

So no, you don’t have to be an obsessed guitar collector to make money on eBay. You can flip just about anything. We also don’t just sell guitars, we also sell musical accessories like amps, brand name items like purses and shoes, and computer accessories like hard drives.

Our favorite resources and tools to aid us in our flipping are:

Other platforms you can resell items on are:

Some helpful posts for flipping online:

Final Thoughts…

If you have no knowledge or interest in guitars, you might think this article can’t help you with reselling online, but you can take the basic idea behind this and tweak it for your own niche interest(s). It all comes down to what you’re interested in.

Neither one of us are musicians or are in the music industry at all. We are just a couple of gals in I.T. that have a little fun with our side gigs on the weekends. It’s kind of crazy when you start something like flipping guitars and only think you are going to do it a couple of times for the extra money. Then 3 years later you are still doing it and there are sellers that come specifically to you on eBay!!

We kind of got addicted to it. You have the rush of negotiating to get a good deal up front, and then the BIG rush from the sale at the end.

The extra money has been amazing too! At first, it helped us expand the variety of our inventory, but it wasn’t something my wife really wanted to grow into this crazy huge guitar selling business (at least not yet) so we didn’t invest every cent of our profits back into the hustle.

We’ve used some of the money to pay off credit card debt we had a couple of years ago, and then some more towards our current car loan. We’ve also put some of it in our investment portfolio of stocks outside of retirement, set some aside for our current house renovation work, and also some towards the “new house fund”.

This all came about from experimenting with selling stuff we already had. We know not everyone has guitars laying around the house, but if you have other material possessions that you have thought about selling but not sure if it would work, try it anyway.

You might be surprised.

Alexandra

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Daniella and her wife Alexandra are both side-entrepreneurs and cat lovers (a little too much, they have 5 of them). They are based out of Missouri and work in I.T. for their day jobs which is actually how they met. Currently, they are working towards financial freedom away from these corporate jobs and their side gigs help them towards this goal. You can find them at ILikeToDabble.com.

For a look at other similar hustles we’ve featured over the years:

For all 79 side hustle ideas, click here.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris February 10, 2020 at 10:11 am

This, as well as all the other side hustles in the series, legit proves that there is opportunity to make money anywhere/everywhere.

Opportunity is all around us. Sometimes we just have to look for it or at it from a different angle!

Great post!

-Chris (Money Savvy Mindset)

PS: we have had a side hustle through Zazzle for years. Might be one that you could try, or write about in the future.

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2 J. Money February 10, 2020 at 10:41 am

Sweet!

What do you sell there? Link please! :)

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3 J February 10, 2020 at 10:40 am

This is a timely post. I actually have 2 guitars that I need to sell that I just don’t have the time to learn to play. To be honest, I would need to pick my viola and violin back up first before I would pick up the guitars since I have many years of prior experience with those instruments. I’ve always wanted to play the guitar, but I wasn’t able to get lessons for very long.

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4 J. Money February 10, 2020 at 1:26 pm

Sounds like you have a good weekend project coming up!!

Make it happen! :)

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5 Small Budget Retirement February 11, 2020 at 1:33 pm

This is awesome!
Big shout out to USPS that allows you to ship all sort of stuff. That’s a decent amount of cash and a fun biz.
I just had a go with my kids breeding and selling Angel fish on eBay and it was awesome. I cash believe all the places we gut to send live fish too. Not as much money, like 200 fish, $5 we, but the kids thought we were getting rich with the orders.
Kind of cute to see their minds turning and getting ideas.
Great article. Thanks for sharing!

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