Selling Collectibles Online: A Quick Guide by an Expert

July 24, 2017 Category : Selling Online Author : Daniel Halpin

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Hey all! Many of us over our lives have collected something. Baseball cards, Pokemon, Comic Books and more are just some of the most common collectibles out there. But over time, collections take up space that many of us just don’t have. That’s why eventually most of us will sell at least some of our collections. The natural place to do this is, of course, the internet! Selling collectibles online is tricky though. In fact, collectibles is one of the most effort intensive product categories on most marketplaces. As a online seller of collectibles for many years, I’ve learned that there’s a lot of nuance involved in selling in this category that just isn’t present in other categories. That’s why in this article, I’m going to be giving you a run down of the ins and outs of selling collectibles online!

Identifying your Item

Whether you’re a casual collector or a seasoned veteran, it’s easy to get confused with the many item editions that are present in the collectibles category. Simply put, sometimes publishers of collectibles will produce multiple versions of their products. This can range from “editions” which are popular in trading cards, “print runs” which are popular in comic books, and “variants” which are popular in both and often feature special art or extras that differentiates them from non-variant collectibles. All of these terms refer to different production runs of the same products. Generally speaking, the most valuable versions of items will be either the earliest or most limited.

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Figuring out which edition your collectible is could make a serious difference in how much you can sell your item for. Popular items are often reprinted with different editions, drastically reducing the value of subsequent prints. Certain variant editions of collectibles can be worth significantly more than their non-variant counterparts. Luckily, telling editions apart from each other has gotten significantly easier in the internet age. Going to a professional selling website like TCGplayer for trading cards will easily get you the information you need. You can also go to the producer’s website to get this kind of information in certain situations. Marvel and DC, the two prominent publishers of comics have detailed sections of their websites chronicling their publications.

High Quality Pictures

Sometimes more important than editions is the quality your item is in. Things that may not seem important when causally collecting like small bends or rips can seriously damage the value of your item. Luckily, in addition to writing a detailed product description, you can also include pictures! Having the proper lighting, frame view, and angles on your items can help ensure that your transaction happens as smoothly as possible.

In addition, many marketplaces like BriskSale and Ebay will allow you to have multiple zoom-able high resolution pictures.  When a buyer is spending a large amount of money, you want them to be confident in their purchase. That means providing them with as much information as possible.

High Quality Descriptions

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Going along with high quality pictures, it is important to have a high quality description to match. Descriptors like “great quality” and “good condition” are often used by less experienced sellers. What they don’t know is that collectibles have industry standard terms that are used when buying and selling. While terms like “no bends”, “sharp corners” and “no discoloration from age” are good and should be included, it’s important you determine where your item falls on the condition range that best fits your industry. Since I’m most familiar with comics, I will provide that scale as an example.

As you can see, the CGC graded comics on a 0-10 scale from “poor” to “gem mint”. While few comics you’ll find out in the wild actually rank at “gem mint”, it’s good to provide around where you think your book falls within that condition scale. The same applies to most other collectibles. Be aware, it is absolutely necessary to stipulate that you are not an official grader. Also include that the item you are selling is not graded, so as not to misrepresent your item. Graded items are worth significantly more at the top end of the scale.

Pricing Your Item

Figuring out the right price for your item can either be the easiest or hardest part of the process in the collectibles category. When you have a more common piece that is still sought after, there will be many competing listings for yours, and you can use these to create a baseline for your own price. Getting an second opinion from secondary and tertiary websites is also smart when selling collectibles online.

Ideally you don’t want your item to be priced either too high or too low. In some cases having the lowest price for an item will help sell yours. Other times, however, having the lowest price makes your item seem like there is something wrong with it. This is why it is key to price your item low, but not too low.

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In the case that there isn’t another of your item on the internet, you’re in for some research. You need to start searching forums, like those found on Reddit, to get an idea for the value of your item. Sometimes, you can even buy and sell your item on these forums. Beware though, by doing this you lose out on seller protection. What you stand to gain from selling on a forum is not having to pay fees. Fees are pretty high on sites like Amazon and Ebay, so this is understandable. However, with the fee free marketplace BriskSale existing, there’s really no need to do business through these forums anymore. Why take the risk when one can get free marketplace protection from BriskSale?

Shipping Your Item

Shipping is another important part of selling collectibles, as condition is king. Firstly, there are plenty of ways to make sure your item arrives to its new owner safely. Selling collectibles online has gained a lot of traction, especially recently. Because of this, there are many items out there specifically designed to help ship your item. Signed baseball bats have specific tubes to ship in, trading cards have protective hard plastic sleeves called Top-Loaders, and comic books can be shipped in special cardboard mailers to prevent bending.

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Before you ship in a regular old box with bubble wrap, search around the internet for shipping hacks. You’ll be surprised with what you can find, like we were when we found this video showing off a shipping hack for premium sneakers.

With smaller collectibles, like trading cards, it is sometimes tempting to just ship in an envelope without tracking. As a seller for many years, I would never advise this. Shipping in a bubble mailer with USPS first class shipping costs only a dollar or two more than a stamp. For that dollar, you get buyer and seller peace of mind. Other shipping options like signature confirmation are more expensive, but may be worth it with larger (or rarer) items. Be aware that USPS, FedEx, and UPS all offer different shipping options. By using all three, sellers have many options to offer buyers as far as shipping goes.

Wrap Up

Today we took a look inside the world of selling collectibles online. The collectibles category is truly a beast of its own, and it requires a touch of experience to truly master. Hopefully, I’ve given you a part of that experience that you’ll need. While this list wasn’t exhaustive, it should serve as a nice crash course in selling collectibles online.

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