How do some sellers make money? (newbee seller here)

New guy on here looking form some input.
Even though I am afraid i know most answers.

Little intro....
50 year old ex-pat German living in California.
Used to collect stamps as a kid as we all did, but as an adult life got more time consuming so i sold it all for like 100 bucks. I really had just common stuff as that was all I could afford to accumulate as a kid.

Few months ago found an awesome collection of US, Germany (mostly Bund, and GDR some Berlin and Reich), some Vatican and a ton of Yugoslavia. I thought about 10K worth all in glassine on cards, sorted, scott numbers next to it. You know it. End of sale as usual was 50% off so I asked if he makes a deal if I take them all.

Sure thing got the whole shebang for 500 bucks (half of the half off clearance price).

Only later I realized that most Bund and US had multiple qty in almost every glassine. 3-15 some even more. US had 12+ in each. Seems they ended buying in the late 80s or so. Almost all MNH.
I was stunned of the number of Semi-Postal German stamps. Those were so hard to get as a kid, as they had the 50% charitable surcharge. Some sets I got 12-15 of them.
Also the high value regular stuff LOTS of multiples.

Was depressing to find the prices have completely imploded. I researched that big auction/garage sale site for a few weeks and tried tweaking the numbers to make it work.

I have a very profitable online business, but it's brutal work and I have a 5 year plan to build something else up. Hence my name vintagepaperheaven. I thought stamps and postcards fit in nicely.

I listed a few on that site, but no matter how I twist it, the listing fees there are too much for such small margin, slow moving items.

Then I found this site....

Listing fees here are awesome and some sellers move a LOT of stuff. I was really impressed.

But then I saw the prices.....
Stuff listed on that other site at $1.99 cheapest here sells for 25-40 cents and $0.05 add. shipping.
No matter how i twist the numbers, if just doesn't seem to make sense.

I like that I got quantity on 95% of my stuff, so the listing process is nice. One work = 12 potential sales.

But not at those rates people here charge.

Found one seller based on feedback he sold 41 items to one buyer. All items were 25 cent SINGLE quantity listings. Shipping $2.00 + $0.05 additional. He made a whopping $14ish sale. Now I sm aure packing is quick easy and cheap, but the listing effort puts him at what ? 5 bucks and hour?

I am sure most of you think: Don;t sell the cheap junk. But clearly people like those items and if I build this into a decent sized inventory with 10s of 1,000s of items I would like to cover it all.

Any positive input on this?

I was thinking, if I buy in bulk, which I am sure almost everybody does.... just weed out the junk and sell in lots or what? And then just focus on the better stuff?

I have some German stamps on that other site. 103 listings so far in less than a month. 3 sales.
I am not gonna list US stamps there as they are ALL at 99 cent free shipping. So no point there.
But I will use those I got as postage to send out my orders.


  • 27 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Oh another thought on that.

    Since I can list 100K on here for 15 bucks listing fees are basically negligible.\

    So maybe list my common stuff at 99 cents and let it sit?
    If I have 20,000 listings each listing only costs me 0.075 cents.
    Just have to focus on the multi quantity stuff, even when buying more stuff.
    Just buy old dealer stock unless there is good stuff mixed in.

    Like 20 sales a month puts me into the profit.
    I am not planning to get rich on this, but a little return by somewhat getting back into the beloved childhood hobby would be nice.
  • So I compared some of my West German stuff from eBay to here....
    Amazingly ebay is much higher on most. Likely due to the very discouraging higher fees and less competition. But WOW.....
    e.g. West Germany Scott 901 Kennedy cheapest MNH on ebay is $4.35 and here it is 20 cents among tons gradually going up from there.
    Or West-Germany 1515 stamp day on ebay $1.99 here $0.42.

    eBay prices are total here add s+h to it. but tyhe add. items are mostly near free on most sellers here (most only charge 5 cents or less for add. items.

    Problem is, they sell on eBay much much slower so the fees there are a huge factor.

    I guess I am trying to find out a fair shipping / overall cost per item.
    I can not and will not sell anything for 25 cents or so with shipping incl. that's nutso! If I need a non profitable hobby I will go fishing.
  • edited October 2019 3 LikesVote Down
    On the answer to your OP,there are basically 4 different types of sellers on here that all have different types of goals.
    First is the collector seller that is just trying to sell some of their duplicates to raise some cash to buy more more stamps for their collections. Second you have some sellers that are trying to liquidate an estate by themselves to try to maximum their return. Third you have the part time sellers Forth you have the full time sellers. Some of the sellers are NOT making much of a profit,but then some are not in it for the profit to begin with.

    Now as for what you are trying to do the first thing you need is figure out what your goals are. There is no one size fits all in this business. You need to figure out what type of buyers you are trying to service. Some of your questions at that time
    will be self evident as to what you should do. If your goal is to take in $5,000 a month it's going to be really hard to do it on lower value stamps. If your goal is only to take in a couple of hundred that changes what you will be able to do and what you won't to meet your goals.
  • Thanks Michael,
    yes that all makes sense and mirrors my 22+ years of online selling experience.
    For what it's worth, I have a main business that is back breaking, labor intensive and comes with tons of headaches at a daily basis. I am making real good $$ though, so my 5 year plan (end of 2025 the year I turn 55) is to build up a paper business subsidizing it with profits from main business.
    I am already on my way in the ephemera business and plan on adding postcards and stamps to it.
    It will be more or less a semi retirement as my lady still has many years towards retirement. So no need to actually FULLY retire. As a hard working immigrant from Germany I would actually be bored to death,
    So it will likely be part time sellers as part of my overall business model.
    If I can make $1,000+ a month in take home profit after building this on the side for 5 years I would be pretty happy.
    Then there is also of course the opportunity to do nothing BUT stamps. But that would probably take a lot of fun out of it. :smiley:
    So thanks for your input I will start adding stuff in a couple weeks when I m back from a short vaca and see how it goes. Overall I LOVE the layout of this site and the fee structure definitely is a HUGE well really the MAIN factor why this might work.
    I will probably over time buy a small collection here and there and hopefully get some gems in the process.
    I know I will. I used to be a massive bookseller and bought ginormous quantities and it is a numbers game, the more you buy in bulk the more homeruns you get as well.
  • To profit $1,000+ a month here you will need 100,000+ listings.
  • Rod
    that's not what I gather from researching sellers on here.
    Maybe with nothing but low end stuff under $2. But I plan on having and finding some better stuff as well, as is to be expected when buying collections in bulk. I also plan on heavily do multi quantity listings of the lower end stuff.
    I also do not plan on making any profit (if counting my hours) for at least a couple of years.
    I am pretty sure there will be a little profit after a few 1,000 listings are up and running. And just build from there. The listing fees are just so low, that it does not take a whole lot to make SOME money. I sure as hell am not scanning 1,000s of items for a nickel a piece. :smiley:
  • No nickels for me either, just dimes and more.
  • Rod,
    How many listings one needs is going to be dependent on what you set for your average selling price. If ones average selling price is under $1 you're going to need a whole lot more listings than someone who's average is $3 a listing or say a $25 average selling price. And of course it will depend on what your profit margin is.

  • edited October 2019 1 LikesVote Down
    Even at $25 average sell price you still need 100,000+ listings to achieve that monthly profit here. 20 times less listings are required on that other venue. I don't wear rose coloured glasses, but have been selling here and on eBay for some years, long enough to be able to crunch the numbers.
  • No you don't and I have the paper work to prove it. I have been doing this full time for the past 15 years and this is the first year I have gone over 100,000 listings. I also have my yearly tax bill to prove it.
  • Rod, it most definitely depends on the quality of your items.
    If I would have high demand $25 stamps all day long they'd go where the traffic is.
    And I would not worry about the 3 -5 cent fees per month/per listing (anchor store with over 10,000 listings).
    That being said most of my stamps will be in ok demand but LOTS of other sellers, so slow sellers.
    I guarantee you in theory you could make $1,000 a month on here with 1,000 listings. Just have to be the right ones purchased cheap enough.
    I have 16,300 listings with a little over 21,000 items total in my other line of business on that site and gross well over 50K a month. I make a LOT more than $1,000 profit on those 16,300 listings. But they aren;t stamps. Just saying.... Money can be made.
  • edited October 2019 0 LikesVote Down
    The rate of turn over on your inventory is going to make a difference also. The lower your turn over the more listings you will need. The higher your turn over rate the lower number of listings you will need. And part of your over rate will be affected on how common the items are that one is listing.
  • An interesting topic,I live overseas so making a profit is 10 times harder than local (USA) so cannot sell under $5 + postage price has to be factored in.I sell 20 times more by auction than store but only list 20-30 auction items a week + 1 relist.Input welcome on that one am I better to relist 5 times???.Ebay prices are far too high but how much do they sell at those prices,not very many I think.Have a look at DelCampe to compare prices as you can also find what does not sell as some high cv items do not sell even at 10% of cv & post war Germany & Yugoslavia are 2 hard to sell especially in the USA.To sell low value lots will need a lot of them & in Store.All the best,Mike.PS am going to rejig my store input very welcome.
  • eB ay fees are very high. 10,000 items there cost $300 a month for a US seller (less in some other countries). 50,000 items on eBay cost you $2,300 a month. You can only sell high end items or LOTS :LOTS AND LOTS of lower priced stuff.
    Hipstamp sales are much slower,. but if you don't need fast sales it is worth it. I p[lan on buiildiong a big inventory and just not plan on making money fpor a few years. I do not need a profit right now, but can take the time building it to where I can make an ok profit. (2-5 years).
    Pricves are strange,. Most items on eBay much higher. Minimum price for store there is $0.99. Lots of 5 cent items here. Waste of time. My minimum wil be 48 cents and even that hurts.
    Funny thing a lot of common items that have 10+ items on eBay have none on hipstamp.
    You say Germany anf Yugoslavia are bad in the US? That sucks my estate sale purchase has LOTS of both countries. Also United Nations Geneva and some Vatican, Mostly US, which are almost all cheap, so I use them for postage.
  • Just because it has a high cat value does not mean it's not fairly common. A US C18 MNH has a cat value of $75. So it's got a good cat value but if you look at the number of listings there are 163 copies of that stamp on Hipstamp at the moment. How long is it going to take to sell out that type of quantity even though it's a better cat value item when you have that many copies to begin with?

  • edited October 2019 2 LikesVote Down

    If you do it right you can make the sales on Hipstamp outpace the sales on Ebay. It will take a while but you can get there.
    My best sales month was on here last year. I used to have a full time store on Ebay but after I figured out I could do better on Bidstart then on Ebay I worked on getting Bidstart going so I could use Ebay as an add on. I have gotten to the point where I no longer have to list on Ebay anymore and I am doing better here then I ever did on Ebay because of the fees.
  • edited October 2019 1 LikesVote Down
    back on here after the wedding festivities have stopped :)
    Few days of chilling then back to work.
    I have done some more looking around and comparing on here.
    It seems 99% of items are priced at where there is no way to make a profit over a few bucks per hour.
    No matter how fast and efficient someone is (and I believe I am one of the most efficient people ever) there is just no way one can scan individual items, list and sell them below 25 cents and make a decent profit.
    If I want to make minimum wage I will flip burgers. And even minimum wage seems to be questionable at the prices here.
    Of course on eBay your enemy would be the high fees.
    I hve to reallt set things up and start playing with some listings to see where I end up.
    I have multi qty in most of the German stuff I acquired but the other stuff, Vatican City, Yugoslavia etc are mostly singles and people dumping them on here for under 20 cents. Madness....
    Problem is, even at 99 cent min on ebay the fees would kill it, especially now with the managed payment min fee of 25 cents per ITEM (not order). They aren't nicknamed greedbay for no reason, lol.
    I found a seller here earlier that has over 300,000 listings and a little over 300 feedback last 30 daYS OUCH!!!
    (Edit: I looked at his FB and he sells better stuff only, so that works. But good luck bulding an inventory of 300,000+ better items)
    Maybe I need to reconsider the stamp business altogether. It's a shame, it would be a lot of fun.
  • Martin,

    I will send you a message.
  • edited October 2019 3 LikesVote Down
    How to make a million dollars in the stamp business? You start with two million.
    Martin it all depends on how you value your time. Perhaps open a store and sell very part time and
    weigh your results.
  • edited October 2019 1 LikesVote Down
    I am disappointed with this site. When you first look it seems like the site has great potential but it does not work for me sales-wise.

    I am doing great business on ebay where buyers pay better prices for first day covers and stamps - more often - and with higher shipping fees. I now regard this site as just a "shop window" for my items or sort of low cost advertising with the $5 monthly fee resulting in a few orders now and then paying for my presence here. However even that does not seem to be working anymore? - as I have not had a single sale in nearly 3.5 months.

    I think very few Hipstamp sellers make any money/profit. I hope that you can? Good Luck!
  • Tania,

    Just a quick question for you. When people tried to help you with some suggestions on how to help you did you ever make any of the changes that were suggested or did you continue to do the same thing you were doing in the first place and expecting different results?
  • edited October 2019 1 LikesVote Down
    And looking at your store and you're trying to sell fdc's without a cat number even though most of the buyers on here are looking for those items via cat number NOT by year date. Even adding an SG number would help you out some and that would also help your sales on Ebay. It's a simple fix but you didn't do anything about it when it was suggested to you. (I just did the sort on your store by recently listed. ) They can't find them in the proper place if you don't use cat numbers. It's that simple.

    Just because some things work OK on Ebay does not mean it's going to work as well on here. It's a different site with a different type of buyer base than what you on Ebay. Most of the buyers are no longer coming from Ebay but from other sites. If you don't set it up to cater to those buyers you're going to struggle. It may be harsh but it's the old adage adapt or die. You can't change the things that are outside your control but you are the only one that has the control on how you present your listings and what you are going to put in those listings. How you scan the items is on you. Whether you use cat numbers or not is on you. How you write your titles is on you. No one else.
  • edited October 2019 0 LikesVote Down

    I am not saying that to be mean but here an example of what is happening when you only put a year in the title as opposed to a cat number

    That is what the buyers are seeing when they sort for Great Britain 1999. There are over 890 listings for that search. Most of those are not Scott 1999 or SG 1999 but stamps issued in 1999. Do you think it's going to be a little difficult for the
    buyers to actually find an SG or Scott number 1999 and not stamps issued in 1999? And it's the same way for any years between about 1840 and 2019.
  • Tania
    there is some great advice coming from Michael. I am a Noob on here and when researching sales of other sellers I am also wondering how they make any actual money.
    Here are my biggest realizations so far.
    YES eBay will always outsell almost every other site in any category. But the fees will kill you.
    I have a primary line of business, with high demand high ticket items that move FAST!
    eBay is unbeatable there.
    My paper/stamp business I am working on building for my 5 year semi retirement plan is totally different,
    I took 2 weeks off for getting married and a short honey moon. I am feeling that in my primary business not listing for 2 weeks.
    My small paper business is totally unaffected as everything in there is slow moving stuff.
    All my paper items are either extremely slow moving AND/OR very low ticket items.
    Some of the higher end items still do ok on eBay due to the higher price. I can not see to make low end stamps work on eBay. BUT as a (wannabe) serious stamp dealer I want to have the inventory that caters to all. That means I will have a LOT of the 98% stamps that sell under $1.00.
    My personal advantage is, that I do not need to make any $$ of my stamps for a long time. So it really does not matter that things are slow here.
    I am building my hip store at home a few hours a week.
    Michael has giving me advice on how to be efficient as I can be.
    Luckily almost everything I sell has multi quantities so stock photos are a solution for that. (NOBODY that buys a 50 cent stamp WANTS that exact one pictured IF YOU MENTION THAT IS A STOCK PHOTO. If they do, go to the other seller.
    I just started here a week ago and have barely broken into the 150+ listings. Still tweaking the bulk lister and my processes.
    But I can list over 200-300 stamps an hour for my multi qty listings.
    Prob 50+ for singles. Not really done that yet, so not sure yet on those numbers.
    I know people sell stamps for 1 to 20 cents all day long.
    I don' minimum is $0.48
    So multi listings I list $24+ RETAIL per hours.
    Hundreds of $ for the multi listings.
    This is ALL more or less long haul stuff.
    This is where I look at the fees.
    eBay charges at the highest level store $0.02 per listing (enterprise add on packages of 50K listings for $1,000 a month). So you actually NEVER have an average listing fee under 2 cents.
    So let's say a stamp sits on eBay for 5 years. You just spent AT LEAST $1.20 for that listing.
    And I have seen many listings for stamps with multi qty on there that had 3 sales in like 8 years. NO KIDDING! They lost money and aren't even realizing it.
    Now take the same level store on here.
    $45 a month for 150,000 listings I compare to eBay enterprise with a 50K addon package.
    At that level you spend 1.8 cents per listing for FIVE FRIGGIN YEARS TOTAL, LOL. Less in 5 years than 1 month on eBay.
    Since I am doing long haul I am counting on a sale here and there on my slow inventory.
    I also of course get better stuff and I am sure that will move faster. As I also plan on putting some stuff on eBay.
    Now, if eBay works for you. AWESOME! I love eBay, been on there since 1998 and make 98% of my income on there.
    But hip has a real advantage for the long haul sellers.
    Finally.... I had ONE sale so far on here. Someone bought 4 stamps at 48 cents. All single qty items.
    1st stamp had 17 listings cheaper than mine
    2nd stamp had 3 stamps cheaper than mine
    3rd stamp had 13 cheaper than mine
    4th stamp had 8 cheaper than me
    All that with 100 listings total.
    If I would have 10,000 listings I am sure the seller would have bought a lot more.
    Ity's all up to you what you make work.
    Maybe my model will NOT work. Ask me in 2-3 years, seriously. It might not.
    I also know that stamps most likely never will be a HUGE factor of my income.
    Here is my personal plan....
    In 5 years I want the 3 lines of my paper business to make me:
    Line 1) $5,000+ a month
    Line 2) $2,000+ a monthj
    Line 3) $1,000+ a month (this is my stamps line)
    Things may change. Buy I am very optimistic it will work.
    No matter what line of items I have looked at in over 20 years selling online.
    There is always a few that do ok, few do REALLY well and a LOT are scraping by, losing money what not.
    I consider myself smart and can analyze what the more successful guys are doing and adapt, copy, imitate and improve.
    It will work. No worries. Just find what works for you. If it is eBay go for it. But eBay is tricky.
    I used to be a mega book seller 200,000+ listings over 400 sales a day. made good money. Took me a long time to figure out how to incorporate eBay but got it done. Finally made money on eBay.
    Then Meg Cluesless Whitman decided they had too many sellers and raised the store fees. I think from 2 cents to 5 cents or whatever. With my huge inventory it ate up all the profit we made. Had to close the store.
    So I would NEVER trust the big guys ever again. I am also banned for life from the river as a seller, because my inventory management software screwed up...... Yup, the same software that is OWNED by friggin Amazon.
    Good luck and happy sales wherever they come from.
  • Martin, its not so badburger
  • Michael:

    Your are quite right - I did not follow your suggestions - probably due to lack of time being busy with ebay (very time consuming listing items) where I also sell collectables and vintage jewellery plus the fairs and boot sales I attend. I suppose I was also lazy because of this by just importing my listings over from ebay as they were.

    It's funny though as I do remember reading your advice and adding SG cat. numbers to later listings on ebay in the second box below the tilte "item condition" which has helped with sales on ebay from buyers using the mobile phone app and also adding them in the "item specifics" to help the ebay search engine.

    When I get time I'll start changing all my titles here to include a SG cat number and see if that helps sales?

    Thanks for your comments
  • edited October 2019 0 LikesVote Down

    On Hipstamp you can also help yourself with the years. Hipstamp does have a line in the listing form for the date of issue. (It will help if people are searching your store by year dates. None of your Great Britain FDCs are showing up in the date searches.) When you go into your store and click on Great Britain you should see a box on the right hand side for being able to do year range searches. That should help you out a bit too.

    It all has to do with the way they set up the searches on Hipstamp.
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