- Personal Finance
Making Money Offline: Some ideas to get you thinking
SELLING AT CAR BOOT SALES, MARKETS, GARAGE SALES, SWAP MEETS ETC
These events can either be locally run small affairs or large professionally managed events and are a good way of attracting a lot of potential customers who are there to spend money.
The great thing about these sales is that the only equipment you need to get started are, one or two folding wallpaper pasting tables, a large dark coloured sheet or tablecloth, some small sturdy boxes, some carrier bags, wrapping paper and a plastic sheet cover (in case it starts to rain).
Although you could do this yourself it is better if there are two of you as this gives you the opportunity for a break and have someone else to help deal with customers, as well as an extra set of eyes to mind the stock.
You can get your items from a number of places, such as your own or family and friends’ houses, junk shops, charity shops, local fairs and fetes etc. General and Estate auctions are a great place to get bulk lots which can then be broken down and sold individually. There are also some online sites that offer free items to anyone who is willing to uplift them. Check if these operate in your area. Just make sure whatever you buy can be easily transported and carried, and is priced at a level you can hopefully make a profit from when re-selling.
What to Sell
Some items that are said to always sell well are: any type of vintage collectibles, vinyl records, gothic clothing, designer clothing, clothing for larger people, leather suitcases, gardening equipment, incense sticks, recently published revision books, recent technical books, coffee table books, leather suitcases, DVD’s (especially those for children), old photographs and albums, DIY tools, home made food items and garden produce.
Things which seem to struggle to sell are: anything which is cheap or looks cheap, mass produced or common place items (e.g. most kitchen gadgets), musical instruments, giant stuffed toys, ornaments, toiletries, drinking glasses, things that were free when issued (such as a CD that was free with a newspaper or magazine), and anything that is too large to put in the average family car.
Just remember when choosing what to sell tastes will vary from area to area and also one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. Anything will sell at the right price if you can find that one elusive person who is interested in it.
Warning: If you are planning on selling any type of electrical equipment you must have it professionally tested and certified safe. You do not want to have to live with the death of someone on your conscience for the sake of a few pounds as well as spending a long time in jail. Also be aware that there are age limits on the selling of some goods, such as knives.
There will (hopefully) be a lot of people around on the day of a sale and most will be walking past your stall, so you have to do something to make them stop and look. Shouting out “come and see what is on offer today” does not work, you have to be more subtle and let them think they have made the choice to view your items.
The following are some suggestions that could help attract people to your stall.
● Do not just place all your items on the top of your pasting table. Get a nice dark coloured sheet which is big enough to hide the table and some small boxes to place under the sheet. This will give your stall some depth which will make it look more professional. Place your more valuable items on the boxes to make them stand out.
● Arrange the contents of your stall by grouping all the same type of items together. Do not have masses of clutter, as people are put off with an untidy mess that makes no sense. If your stall looks neat and tidy people are more likely to stop and look. Keep any surplus items nearby so you can show them to anyone who expresses an interest in the same or a similar type of item already on display.
● A large bowl of water placed beside your stall will show you care, and potentially attract those that have dogs, and while the dog is drinking they will be looking at what you are selling.
● Put some wet wipes and tissues on your stall and offer them for free. Have a sign with wording along the lines of; “if you need one please take one” placed next to them. This can help to bring in people with small children, who may even be grateful enough to thank you with a purchase.
● Have a “conversation piece” that stands out from everything else, even if you are not planning on selling it. Something which makes people smile or comment on will draw them in, and then interact with you when they ask questions about it. Although it should be gender neutral as you do not want to alienate any section of your customer base, you should try to have something that is timeless and appeals to adults and children alike. My suggestion is that you think along the lines of a large replica of any popular Disney character.
● Try and avoid pricing your items, instead let customers ask you for the price. This also gives you the chance to interact with them and keep their attention by perhaps telling them more about the item they are interested in, or showing them similar items. This strategy may not be suitable for everyone, especially if you have lots of different items at many different prices, which will make it difficult to remember them all. Alternatively you could have a set range of prices such as £1, £2, £5 and £10 (or dollar/euro equivalent), and put colour coded labels on your items so you can quickly work out the price.
Once you are open for business be prepared to barter as it is expected at these types of events. You may have to reach an agreed comprise on the price of an item, but be firm as well as fair. Do not be coaxed into selling items for less than you paid for them just to please someone. Answer any questions about price confidently, such as “I can let that go today for £5 just for you”. If you hesitate, or sound unsure, people see that as an opening to drive down the price.
Warning: These types of events are a magnet for thieves, so always remain alert to the possibility of your stock being stolen. This is where someone helping you is invaluable as a favourite trick of thieves is to work in pairs, with one distracting the stall holder while the other steals something.
There are a growing band of individuals, known as “mystery shoppers”, who go undercover on behalf of retailers to find out what people really think of their products and services.
Several online sites offer the opportunity for you to register for free and become a mystery shopper. You will then be offered tasks depending on you meeting the specific criteria required by a business, such as age, gender, eating habits and life style. Although you may not be able to accept all assignments, you are more likely in the future to get the higher earning offers if you start out by being flexible.
The amount of time you devote to being a mystery shopper is entirely up to you, but this should only be seen as part-time or spare time work. It would be very difficult, and perhaps impossible, to make a full-time living as a mystery shopper.
The assignments vary enormously and can involve anything from eating at a new restaurant, to trying out a hairdresser, or staying overnight in a hotel, or buying an item from a retail store.
You can sign-up with as many companies as you like. There are some people who are registered with 20 or 30. But you do have to be aware that it is not just testing or trying out a product or service, you also have to produce a report usually consisting mainly of yes/no questions, along with any receipts, and normally within 24 hours, so make sure you have the time to do everything asked of you.
Although there are no qualifications or special training required you do have to be a good confident communicator, as you are sometimes required to ask questions of staff and also do things that can be difficult for some people, like returning merchandise to a store and asking for a refund. You also have to be a good observer and have acceptable writing skills in order to complete the reports.
The main thing to note about being a mystery shopper is that you are not normally reporting what you thought about your experience, but you are detailing what actually happened.
Potential Earnings: You can earn between £5 and £75 per assignment completed. But as fees vary enormously depending on the assignment it is difficult to give average earnings figures. As a rough guide some of the simple assignments pay around £5 to £10, plus you are also refunded any monies you paid to purchase items such as food and drink.
Warning: There are a number of scammers operating in this industry. Just remember that legitimate companies will not ask you for a signing on fee. Most of these are registered with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) so if you want to know if a company can be trusted then check the MSPA website. There are reputable companies which are not members of the MSPA so you will have to use your own judgement and common sense to decide which ones to sign-up to.
HOMEMADE GOODS (COTTAGE INDUSTRY)
This can be almost anything you like, from working with wood or clay, to painting or making candles.
Most of the other marketing rules throughout this book apply about starting this type of business. Such as: Does your product have a market? Is it value for money? Is it of high quality?
Check online auction sites, galleries, retailers, local gift shops and craft fairs to get a feel for the market you wish to get involved in.
You really need honest feedback about your items. Friends and family are not normally going to be objective, so it is better to go out and about and visit local gift shops and market traders and show them your work, and ask them what their opinion of it is.
To sell your work it must be of high quality. Craft buyers will inspect a product thoroughly before they even think about purchasing it.
You must know your costs, not just for the materials, but also for your time spent creating an item. The price of your product will be a precarious balance between your costs and the amount people will be willing to pay.
If you are serious about starting a real business can you produce enough to meet any high demand for your products? Failure to complete orders will quickly earn you a poor reputation.
Promotion and Marketing
If you are selling at markets or craft fairs do not forget that presentation is everything. The most wonderfully crafted item in the world will not be noticed if it is poorly presented. People are drawn to colour and contrast so have a table, board or display case that will draw someone’s eye to the product. Keep it simple, attractive and clean.
You should create a photographic portfolio of your items so that you can show or send them to businesses and collectors.
Get some business cards. There are a number of online card sellers who will give you an initial order for free. Once you have a design you like, which is attractive and stands out (e.g. brightly coloured), then leave them on store bulletin boards and hand them out to potential customers at shops, markets or craft fairs.
Other ways to sell yourself, and hopefully your product, is to join relevant online communities, have displays at craft or community fairs or, if you are confident enough, give talks at libraries or senior group centres or other relevant venues.
You could also approach the owners of local coffee shops, wine bars or restaurants and ask them if they would display your items. As an incentive offer them a percentage of any sales. If you do this make sure your name and contact details (phone, e-mail or website) can be easily seen by anyone looking at your work.
If you are producing excellent in-demand products then this is a business that could do well on the internet. There are a number of online market places that are free to join and offer you the opportunity to sell your homemade goods. If you decide to go down that route do not forget to add the extra costs such as listings, commissions charged on sales, postage and insurance. Taken together these could add 25% to your costs per item.
TV AND FILM EXTRA
I have included this final offline pursuit for those who have always had a passion for the film and television industry, or maybe just a secret longing to be on the stage.
You will not get rich or become famous, unless you are very lucky, but you could earn some money as a TV or Film extra with a walk-on part. There are also opportunities to appear in commercials and music videos.
You do not need to have any previous acting experience, but you do have to be reliable, punctual, be able to blend into the background, and take directions well.
Getting picked depends on how you look and for walk-on extras producers usually only want normal everyday people. So anyone has a chance of getting chosen no matter what they look like, as long as they are right for the part.
Sometimes an extra’s role will require a special skill or talent, such as playing golf or tennis, skiing, cycling, driving, singing or dancing.
One thing you will need is patience as there is a lot of hanging around, usually in a holding area, with very little happening. You will not be allowed to freely wander around the set looking for famous actors’ autographs, so take a book with you.
There are many casting agencies which you can sign-up to. They work like temping agencies so you can join as many as you want. As with every other industry there are dishonest people out there, so check out the agency thoroughly before you commit to anything. A good place to start is to be aware that none of the reputable agencies will ask you for money up-front.
Agency fees are usually about 10% to 20% of any earnings you make, and in some cases a registration fee is required (around £20 to £40) but all fees are only paid when you get work.
Once signed up you will have to be patient as calls can be rather infrequent, and will depend on how close you live to the film location, and the number of extras needed.
Potential Earnings: Film extras can get around £100 to £150 per day depending on the requirements of the part and the time of day of the filming. TV extras get paid slightly less, but if you manage to get a walk-on part with dialogue you can earn up to £300. A bonus is that you will usually get free meals which are well known in the industry for being excellent.
Extract from my first Amazon ebook "Web Sight 2014"
@ 2014 Brian McKechnie (aka WorldEarth)