How to Flip Items for Profit: An Easy Guide to Buying and Selling

Learn how to flip items so you can make extra money from home.

I love exploring different ways that people can make extra money from home, which is why I’m so excited to share how to flip items for profit.

Flipping items simply means buying things for cheap (or taking what you already have) and reselling them for a higher cost. In some cases, you may have to fix up the items or make them look prettier in order to resell.

Believe it or not, flipping things can be a very lucrative side hustle. In fact, there are some people who make thousands of dollars per month doing this. That kind of income obviously requires a lot of dedication and effort, but you don’t need to do this on a big-scale basis to see success.

If you want a way to make money that doesn’t have to involve the Internet, flipping items is a great option. It’s easy and doesn’t require a lot of startup capital. Plus, it’s so fun to scour the thrift stores and yard sales for hidden gems and valuable finds.   

Here are the steps you need to follow in order to flip items for profit.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. 

1) Find Items to Flip

box of miscellaneous items to flip

The first thing you need to do is find things to sell. While you can technically flip just about anything, there are some items that are certainly better performers than others. Some of the top items that people flip include:

  • Designer clothes
  • Books
  • Baby gear
  • Furniture
  • Exercise equipment
  • Sporting goods
  • Power tools
  • Appliances

This list is far from comprehensive. In fact, you can try to sell anything that you find for free or cheap and then see if it works out for you.

Where to Find Items to Flip

In your home — This is the easiest place to begin! Start with a simple declutter and see what you can get rid of. Chances are you’ll be surprised at how much you find.

Thrift Stores and antique shops — Thrift stores and antique shops can be a gold mine for items you can buy for next to nothing. You won’t find success every time, but if you keep a sharp eye out and make it a regular habit to stop in and scour the shelves, you can find very valuable items. For best results, shop stores in your area that are located in more affluent neighborhoods.  

Garage sales — After you have targeted your home and hit up the finest thrift stores in town, you can then move on to garage sales. Most people selling stuff at a garage sale are more interested in getting rid of their excess than they are making huge money, so this is always a good opportunity to get quality items inexpensively.

Auctions and estate sales — Buying at auctions and estate sales might cost you more upfront, but you can find some real valuable gems this way. If you know what you’re looking for, this is your chance to score big items for a fraction of their resale cost.

Look for discounts and special deals — Some flippers specialize in combining coupons and special discounts to get their items to sell. You’ll want to do your research before trying this approach to make sure the items you’re getting are in demand and can be resold at a higher price.

Things to Consider as You Buy Items to Flip

Flipping only works if you know you are purchasing items that you can resell for a higher price. In order to do this, it is very helpful to do some online research while you’re shopping. Consider the following as you look at items:

  • Resell value: Can you find similar items currently listed for sale on sites like eBay or Amazon? If so, what is the asking price?
  • Brand: Is this a name-brand product that will appeal to people?
  • Quality: Is the item in working condition? Does it look used or will it need a lot of refurbishing in order to appeal to buyers?
  • Ease of selling: How easy will the item be to store and ship? Do you have room for it in your house if it doesn’t sell for a while?

2) Repair or Refurbish Your Items

Once you have your items to sell, do everything you can to make them look in pristine condition. This could mean cleaning the scuff off a pair of sneakers, or polishing a toaster so that it shines like new.

If you have furniture to flip, you could even paint or refurbish it. With a complete overhaul, you could make hundreds of dollars off a piece you purchased for twenty bucks.

There’s no guarantee that your items will sell, but there is a much better chance that you’ll make good money if you put effort into making them look their best.

3) Take Quality Pictures

camera and laptop for how to flip items

When you list an item, you need to include a picture of it. You don’t need to have a fancy camera – a smartphone works just fine – but make sure the lighting and staging are good.

For instance, don’t take a picture of a desk covered with clutter and don’t photograph a shirt that’s folded on a bed. This step isn’t hard, but many people seem to forget the importance of a good picture.

Keep in mind that a picture says a thousand words. The more appealing your item looks, the more money you stand to make.   

4) List for Sale

There are lots of places you can list your items to flip, so don’t limit yourself! Here are some of the most common places you can sell your items:

  • eBay – eBay has long been one of the most popular marketplaces for people who want to sell items. Listing here is quick and easy, but they will take a percentage of your selling price as a commission
  • Facebook Marketplace – Marketplace is ideal if you don’t mind selling to people in your local area. The perks are there are no shipping fees or commissions to pay, but you do have to arrange meeting people in person, which can be a bit of a hassle
  • OfferUp – This is an app that connects you with people in your area the same way that Facebook Marketplace does
  • LetGo – This is another local marketplace app
  • Poshmark – If you’re looking to flip designer clothing, this is the place to do it. This online app connects buyers and sellers of shoes and accessories in quality condition.

When you list your item, be as thorough as possible. Include brand and condition, and note anything that the buyer may be wary about, like nicks in a bookshelf or a stain on a book page.

The more upfront you are, the more buyers will respect you and be willing to leave a good review.

If you aren’t sure how to price your items, look to see what similar items have sold for recently. You want to remain competitive, especially if you are a new seller. You can also try out the auction function on eBay in an effort to command a higher price. Finally, don’t forget to account for shipping costs when you’re setting your price, especially for large or heavy items.

5) Start Shipping

packing box how to flip items

With the right preparation, shipping your items doesn’t have to be a hassle. If you’re really interested in flipping items, start saving extra delivery boxes and packing supplies now, as you’re going to need them. You can also arrange for a free delivery of flat-rate shipping boxes right from the postal service website.

Pack your items as carefully as possible. If items are received in damaged condition, it could ruin your reputation as a seller on a site like eBay.

For convenience you can figure out postage costs right on the USPS website. If you don’t have a kitchen scale already, you might want to buy one. This little tool allows you to weigh smaller items with ease, so you can figure out exactly how much an item costs to send. You can also schedule a mail pickup right from your home, so you don’t necessarily even need to head to the post office.

6) Ask for User Feedback and Reviews

User ratings and reviews are an important factor when you’re selling on eBay. If several buyers are unsatisfied with their purchase for any reason and they rate you poorly, you might have a difficult time selling in the future.

In contrast, good reviews are a huge boon to your business. Provide good customer service and then follow up with buyers and ask if they would be willing to leave you a positive rating.

Other Tips for Flipping Items

If you want to build a successful flipping business (and just be a good, ethical person), don’t flip items that are broken, missing pieces, or don’t work.

You might be able to put some elbow grease into sprucing up an old microwave so that it looks nice, but if you know that it always shuts off after running for a minute DO NOT sell it! Not only does this kind of thing ruin your chance at building a trustworthy business, but it’s also just plain nasty to do.

Likewise, be fair in your pricing. While the whole point is to obviously make a profit, you don’t want to charge an exorbitant amount of money for something that just isn’t worth it.

There is so much out there available for free and very inexpensive. Often times, the people who have these items simply want to get rid of the hassle of owning them. You can easily resell these types of items and make a decent profit without price gauging.

Final Thoughts on How to Flip Items

Flipping items is a fun and exciting way to bring some extra income into your home. Depending on how much time and effort you’re willing to put into it, it can also be extremely profitable (some people even make six figures a year just by flipping!).

Looking for more ways to earn extra cash from home? Don’t miss some of our top articles:

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