Can you make money selling postcards on ebay?
Can you make a living selling postcards on ebay?
Buying and selling postcards on ebay is a popular hobby but some have taken it a step further and either supplement their existing bricks and mortar postcard businesses with online sales or run a pure online business.
Are postcards sales through online sites like ebay or Delcampe a way of generating enough income to earn a living though?
Certainly postcards are one of the most popular ebay sale items - there are a huge number of hobbyists out there who are willing to pay top dollar for the right card. And there are such a wide range of cards from Toppographical (Geographic scenes such as towns, streets, castles etc), animals, sporting cards, comedy and artistic cards that appeal to these hobbyists that means there is a ready market.
The first issue though is to understand the market and then source the postcards that you will serve that market. The problem is that there are thousands of cards out there and probably 75% are worth pennies. You need to be able to find the cards that people are willing to pay the extra for. If you look on ebay on any day of the week and search for the latest postcards listings you will see that some are being bid to quite large sums - but why are these cards so special?
Well to some degree it is down to what a collector wants to complete his collection. He maybe has a specialism in a certain town and great card showing a unique view of that place will attract his attention and maybe others. The typical tourist cards will not be worth much but an unusual take on a place will. Usually collectors are more interested in older pre-WW2 cards, although some cards from the 1950s, 60s or even 70s may be of interest. Condition of cards is also key - good condition with minimal corner wear and unused is preferable, although a card with some damage that is unique may also be attractive to buyers.
There are also rarer cards by certain artists or of sports teams or individuals as well as movie stars that will always attract a crowd.
Getting a view of these sort after cards is possible from certain postcard guides as well as just viewing what is going on ebay or the other popular sites like Delcampe or ebid.
Sourcing them is another issue. You can buy these obviously on the online auction sites - sometimes buying a bulk load of cards online may allow you to find a hidden gem, particularly if this is being sold by an individual not in the postcard selling game. There may well be competition for that purchase with a crowd of others.
Local auction houses may also be a source - many have house clearance sales and sometimes a good collection may pop up but again other postcard seekers may be out there. Flea markets, individual house clearance sales or car boot sales are other options.
Ultimately there is no easy way of finding the right material - building experience and contacts are more likely to help you understand what works and what does not.
Selling postcards online itself is relatively easy, though it can be time consuming to scan cards (many printers allow you to scan multiple cards at once making it easier to do this than take indiviudal photos). A good description is important, detailing the condition, used/unused, maker of card, if it's a real photo (an important differentiator for many) and date.
When selling them also ensure you provide a cardboard backed envelope to post the c`rd on to ensure it reaches its destination unharmed.
Ultimately, like any business, you can make some money, but dreams of tens of thousands of dollars are unlikely unless you can find a good source of those elusive cards that collectors crave. Its hard work out there and always has been....