Category Archives: Experiments

Buy a Bundle, Game for Free!

So you love to play video games. You also love to make money (that is why you are here!) You want to get paid to do it. It is easier than you think, with some simple steps and a little patience. It breaks down into a few simple steps.
-Find a bundle deal on Craigslist or your local Facebook group. A bundle deal is video games with the console and some accessories.
-Sell off all of the items in the bundle you are not trying to add to your collection.
-Enjoy your cost free gaming!
First, look at the local Craigslist ads or Facebook groups. You are looking for the words “Lot”, “Bundle”, or “Games”. If you are looking for a specific title, you can search for that title instead. Determine whether you can make money on this bundle at that price while keeping the games that you want. Video games are fast sellers, especially newer titles and consoles (defined as XBOX 360 or PS3 or newer). You are going to use the lowest price on Amazon as your calculation point. Assume that you are going to lose about 1/3 of the cost to fees. All you need to do is to break even, but of course the more money you can make the more money you can put directly into your pocket!
You do a simple comparison. Use the lowest price of everything you can sell, and multiply by 2/3’s. If that value is higher than the price you can negotiate on the bundle, then go ahead and buy. Things to keep in mind:
When you sell the console, you should include one controller, the charger, and the cables to hook it to the TV.
The games might be scratched, so inspect them carefully before you buy. Light surface scratches are ok, but anything more than that you will need to pay to get them professionally refinished. That will run between 1-3 dollars per disc.
Once you find a bundle, you should contact the seller. One thing I’ve learned over time was that your first offer should make you feel slightly embarrassed. I usually offer somewhere between 50-60% of the asking price. Make sure to mention that you can bring cash and pay them today. Don’t be surprised if they say no at first, just be polite and ask them to keep you in mind. Often they will contact you back within a day or two. If you don’t hear from them, email them back a little later and ask if they still have it available. Between no shows and people not needing or wanting everything that is in the bundle, they will often still have the bundle available. Don’t worry about missing out on a particular deal, there are new ones every day.
When you go to pick up the bundle, make sure you inspect the items carefully. Do not feel pressured to buy if the items are not pristine. Have them turn it on for you, if you are comfortable going to their homes. Remember, you are not obligated to buy anything.
What you are going to do is keep the pieces you want, and sell off all the pieces you don’t at enough of a price difference to pay for the entire bundle. Every part of a video game system is usually easy to sell, especially the newer models. Xbox 360 or PS3 or newer.
My favorite way to sell them is on Amazon. You can sign up for an account to sell on Amazon in about 5-10 minutes. You do not need a pro-seller account, which makes listing your items free. The difference between a pro-seller account and a free account is an additional one dollar fee per item. If you are selling more than 40 items per month, then you should sign up for a pro-seller account, as you will break even.
Keep in mind that almost everything gaming related can sell, and you do not have to settle for the lowest price. The chargers, the controllers, the cameras, the headphones, and the games can all be sold separately.
You want your money back quickly, so the simplest way is to just match the lowest prices on Amazon. List them on Amazon, and write a good description. Read the condition guidelines, and make sure you are following them. Make sure you are on the right listing, especially on consoles. There are different versions of most gaming platforms, and a few minutes of research will show you which is which. This may sound intimidating, but it is really very simple.
Read the descriptions of the people you are competing against. Especially at the lowest price, people often do not take the time to write a good description of the condition. Use their laziness against them. Use a better description, and you can demand higher prices!
There are different versions of most gaming platforms, and a few minutes of research will show you which is which. This may sound intimidating, but it is really very simple.
When the customer orders your items, you will get an email. Package the item the way you would like to receive it, safe and pretty. Once the orders are in (remember that you will lose about 1/3 of the cost in fees), you will get paid every two weeks from Amazon. Sit back and enjoy all of your free games!
This is a very simple way to expand your gaming collection exponentially in a very short period of time. Have fun, and Happy Gaming!
-David Manning @ AmusingTreasures.com

T-shirt experiment Part 3

T-shirt experiment, part 3

OK, so the sourcing on Fiverr is amusing if nothing else. I put exactly what I require. This is what I tell them I need.

File must be a .pdf, single layered with outlined fonts, and have a transparent background 300 DPI, CMYK color pallette 12″ W x 16″ H.

I have gotten a few mockups. Quick break for some terms.
Mockup is the picture of the art on the T-shirt. You can’t send that in to the shirt company, because you will get a picture of a shirt on a
shirt.

The template is given by the company. It contains a .pdf with instructions. That is where you get the numbers that I put above.

When you are getting the work done, you need the template and the mockup, and most people want to charge double for this.
A lot of the workers of Fiverr do not speak English very well. This has led to me getting a picture of Einstein, instead of a zombie Einstein. The same artist took the Uncle Sam “I Want You” poster, put makeup over the face and a scholar cap and tried to give that to me as an old-fashioned zombie. I have opened a store at Storenvy, as they have an app that works with the Printaura company to automate the product creation and the orders so that they go straight to Printaura. You have to have enough money in your account to fund any incoming orders, which I found out when I ordered one of my T-shirts so that I could check out the quality and make sure the graphics are right. Lastly, opening a store with Storenvy means you have to sign up with Stripe, a payment service.
I have been checking out software to do some of the editing myself, so that I only need to order one picture from the workers. Then I can create the mockups, as there are a lot of them available. As always when I need software, I went to techsupportalert.com. I have been using them for as long as I can remember. They offer free write-ups and comparisons on all of the freeware that is available.
Based on their recommendation, I am now using Inkscape, a free program for photo editing and vector drawing. I have figured out how to do the layers, the sizing, and the 300 DPI. I believe I have the transparent background thing worked out, but I am still trying to figure out how to test it. I have almost no graphic design background, so this is relatively unfamiliar.
I have placed two products in the store, hired someone off of Fiverr to come up with logos, and ordered my first t-shirt myself. Follow my site at amusingtreasures.com to find out more and see some of the first designs. Has anyone else tried their hand at a T-shirt business? Anyone know some good tips for putting in a transparent background in Inkscape?

T-shirt Experiment – Part 2

T-shirt idea, part 2

So I have learned a lot about the designing part so far. I did some research, and decided to go with printaura.com for the fulfillment. I have not used them yet (disclaimer), but they appear to have all of the functions that I need, and quite a few that I would not have thought of. They can remove and replace tags. They pack the boxes with your logos, and can put on hang tags or go tagless. All of these options cost extra of course. I am choosing to go with them due to the no minimum order, and the fairly clear instructions on their website about what they can and cannot do.

As far as getting the actual designs done on Fiverr, I am learning a lot there also. A lot of the artists will send you a general picture for 5$. However, if you want more characters, more detail, color vs. black and white, different file formats, etc, they can add up pretty quickly. Out of the 34 responses, I contacted 5. Out of the 5, I have received completed work from one that I kind of like. One wanted to charge me 60$ per design, breaking it down into each individual step. One said he can do 5 shirts for 65$, and I am still talking to him.

The T-shirt company wants a .pdf, .jpg, or .png, with specific dimensions and setup. I downloaded their template, and am giving it to the artists from now on. I am also searching Fiverr for someone familiar with this company to see if I can convert graphics to this format instead of only being able to hire artists that no how to use this format.

I had a phrase from all the business books stuck in my head, of eating an elephant one bite at a time. I was also musing on the saying that if you have to eat a frog, eat it first thing in the morning. That led me to the idea for the theme of my site. I have not done any research yet (not really sure how) but I like it. I know that is the least important part, but I will cross that bridge when I get there. The idea is famous self-help or development / business quotes by zombies. I will either call it Zombies with Brains, or maybe Rotten Philosophy. I haven’t really decided yet. What do you think? My first design is for a zombie eating an elephant, and it says “One Bite at a Time”. I have also searched for quotes that I could convert over to having a zombie or eating theme to them.

Once I get 5 T-shirt designs I like, I will start a store. More information on picking a storefront on Part 3. If you would like to read the rest of this story and see how it goes, check it out at Facebook.com/amusingtreasures. Any comments, suggestions, or lessons learned, leave it in the comments below so that everyone can benefit. See you next time.

T-shirt business experiment Part 1

Trying an experiment with designing and marketing T-shirts using hired talent on Fiverr. Thought I would post the results in case anyone else thought of doing the same thing.

I have the steps broken down like this:

Get T-shirt designs made
Find online store that does drop-shipping with reasonable prices.
Run targeted ads on Facebook.
Fulfill orders.
Profit.
Start online store, become ungated in clothing on Amazon?

First ad on Fiverr was to post a gig wanted. This is the ad that I went with.

T-shirt designers! At least 5 T-shirts, Includes Graphics and text, right to republish/resell, editable file delivered, eye-catching, bold T-shirts. Ready for printing. Can you deliver?
received 34 responses in 3 days
follow-up email

Hi!
I received your reply to my offered gig. The first T-shirt I would like is a picture of an elephant with a bite or two missing out of it. A zombie in the foreground / off to the side. The logo “One bite at a time” clearly visible, but may be artistic text (could look faded, torn, etc as long as it is visible and easy to read). I would like the original files with transparent background ready for immediate upload to T-shirt printing store, and all digital and reproduction rights. If any of this does not work for you, please tell me immediately. This will be the first of at least 5 T-shirts if I like your designs. I look forward to working with you.
-David

That is where the experiment is right now. That email was sent to 5 people so far. I have eliminated all of the responses that were misspelled, not complete, or whose art I thought was not great. If you would like to see the rest of this experiment, make sure to follow me at facebook.com/amusingtreasures. If you have any advice, leave it in the comments below!

Shipping our first oversize item!

If you would just like the lessons learned, you can skip the personal story by clicking here.

We just got done with our very first oversize item shipment. It was a pretty good learning experience, so I thought that I would share. I became interested in oversized items after reading a post on the Facebook group “ScanPower”. They were discussing buying oversized toys, because not a lot of people want to deal with the hassle. I am always willing to go out there a little bit to see what can be accomplished, so I figured I would keep my eye out.

At a garage sale, I saw a Playskool Kota My Triceratops Dinosaur. He was selling for $60, and when I looked him up on Amazon, I saw that he was selling for $400-$1200. Bingo! I bought him, brought him home. To learn more about the toy, check out our other article here. I listed him for $425, and assumed that if he sold I could just take him to the UPS store. They offer wrapping and shipping, and I figured it was a one stop shop kind of thing. So wrong!

About 2 weeks later, he sold for an adjusted price of $399.99 with $22.19 shipping. I had figured a shipping price of about $75-80, based on reading some other peoples posts. I don’t know where I got that number, but I was way off. I work during the day, so Holly was stuck trying to actually get this thing taken care of.

She called me at work, saying that it looked like we were going to make about $4 on this sale. As you can imagine, I was very surprised! She had taken it to UPS, and called other companies from there. Here are the numbers that we got quoted.

Here are the measurements: 32x24x52 (estimated from UPS), unpacked weight 40.9lbs

USPS – won’t take it due to the size
UPS – $266.60 for shipping, and $27.34 for packing
FEDEX – more than UPS

Yikes! A lot more than I had expected. So I started searching for pack and ship companies in our area. I found a company called Freightquote.com, at 1-800-323-5441 and signed up with them. Special thanks to Sarah (Customer Serice) at x1102, and Anna Hanson (Senior Account Manager) x1213 for their help in understanding what I needed to do. Holly, after watching the UPS girl try to stand the dino on it’s tail (a big no-no with animatronics), decided to pack it herself, with some help for a friend. In the meantime, we had been in contact with the customer who was asking if they could get it by Christmas. In Texas. We are in Virginia.

Holly gets it all wrapped up, with final measurements of 45Lx24Wx35H. We can’t get the final weight because our shipping scale only goes to 25lbs, and we can’t read the numbers on the house scale with it balanced on top. So we estimated 75lbs, knowing we would be over. I learned it is way better to be under your weight than over, as the company can charge you a 30$ fee if you are over. After exploring several different companies, and a couple of phone calls, Anna found us a shipping company that said they could do it if we dropped it off, and the customer picked it up. We talked to the customer, who said picking it up was fine. I emailed him directions from Google Maps from his house to the shipping center.

Total cost was $166.86 for the shipping, and about $20 for the boxes and shipping material.

So final breakdown:
Purchase price: $399.99
Shipping Cutomer paid: $22.19
Cost of Item: -$60.00
Amazon Fees: -$63.33
Packing Material: -20.00
Shipping: -$166.86
Total Profit: $111.19

Lessons Learned:
-UPS pack and ship does not really help with oversize items. Between the employee not really knowing what she was doing, and no guarantee or insurance being offered, either find another company or do it yourself.
-Using a freight company was much better than trying a major carrier for the oversized item. I was happy with the service at Freightquote.com, they were friendly and knowledgeable.
-Insurance is something that we need to look into more, the guys at the freight company where we dropped it off had no idea about insurance.
-Shipping is very expensive, make sure you account for that in your initial buying expense and in your pricing strategy.
-If shipping on a deadline, dropping it off yourself and having the customer pick it up at the carriers location will save you 3-4 days of transit time.
-Ensure that if you are estimating weight, that you go over rather than under. The dimensions are as important as the weight or more. By paying the extra $3-4 dollars by overestimating, we eliminated the chance to receive $30-50 dollars in penalties.