Art

February 13, 2016 by  
Filed under How To

How to collect Art
“I would like to learn how to collect art but it’s a little overwhelming”.

If you’ve ever said that to yourself then you’re not alone. Many people have experienced that same disconnect with the art world.

Collecting art is not all that difficult. Once you know what to look for and what you’ll need to know. But before we talk about what you’ll need let’s first clear up what you don’t need.

What you don’t need is a formal background in art – a formal art education. Don’t get me wrong it never hurts to have as much information as possible.  An art education will definitely give you some great insight but it can also be a hindrance. More about that in a minute.

Art itself falls into a very unique category.

Where else can you find a topic both so universally appreciated as well as intimidating. Think back to what you learned in school about cave drawings. What started as just a method of basically story telling is now serious business.

Art is simply communication. Turning it into a commodity is a modern concept.

I’m a huge fan of art. I’m also a sculptor – on some days anyway. And I know as well as the next collector that the value of art is 99% subjective and 1% objective. I might even be too generous with the 1%.

“I want to learn how to collect art but where do I start?”

I should also state that value and collectability are two distinctly different things. Some pieces obviously are highly collectible. In those cases the value as a commodity follows the collectability. Understanding those differences will set you ahead of the masses when it comes time to decide on buying a piece for your collection.

Take the example of a block of stone or the stretched canvas of an oil painter. Sure it has a value as a commodity but no more than a replacement value.

But let an artist go to work on them and with just basic carving tools that same block of stone will come to life. The story within will be set free. Same goes for the artist and their palette of paints and handful of brushes.

I could go on about the technical aspects of art such as negative space, textures and shadows etc. But it boils down to one thing …the story. No matter what that finished block of stone or piece of canvas looks like it’s still  simply a story. A story that’s being told by the artist.

Something else to be aware of is that the finished story makes up only part of the equation. I’m referring to the history on that particular piece of art. This history is referred to as it’s provenance. Basically the details of its lineage.

When a collector buys or sells a piece they’ll usually request the provenance. What they are asking for is everything recorded about it. It’s list of notable past owners. As well as galleries, exhibits and collections it may have been part of.

It will also note awards and distinctions it may have received. Auction and sales prices it has commanded. And of course it’s artistic attachment. Who was the artist as well as their personal and professional history in the art world. This is all about branding the piece.

You could almost think of it as the resume of the particular piece of art.

The next part of this equation is about you as the collector. Define exactly what you want from this piece. You need to be clear as to why you are collecting it.

“How to collect art can be approached in several different and unique ways.”

While there’s a multitude of variations, two basic extremes are at work here. The first is because you hope to make some profit on this piece. And along with that maybe enjoy some notoriety seeing you are now a part of it’s provenance. This is a more objective, analytical approach.

The other extreme is quite possibly from the moment your eyes found this piece it spoke to you – in volumes.

You simply can’t imagine not looking at this piece each day. This is the more emotionally connected approach.

Be honest with yourself as there are no right or wrong answers. Your reasons are completely valid no matter what they are. But different approaches require different strategies.

How to collect art …provenance or passion?

If you belong to the first example, then provenance is something you will have to consider. More about provenance in a minute.

If you side more with the emotional approach then provenance will be less important. Culture, romance and story will fuel your passion to follow the particular piece.

Govern yourself according to your goal.

If you’re a passionate collector then your method doesn’t require much explanation. You are governed by what moves you. Buy and sell as you see fit. If it’s for your own collection then all that matters is that you love that piece.

For some the provenance may actually interfere with the creative vibe or philosophy behind the piece itself.

There are those that feel true art shines and will find it’s way. For those collectors, the provenance matters less and in fact could be considered almost too “establishment” – running contrary to the true meaning of art itself.

When it comes time to sell.

While you may not have a piece with provenance your passion could very likely be shared by someone else.

I suspect with that passion you probably have the blood of an artist running through your own veins. If I’m correct then that too will shine through affecting the desirability of the piece. Passion is contagious in the art world.

How do I find it’s provenance?

If you’re driven by the branding and politics of a piece then you have some work to do. You’ll want to gather as much information as you can about the particular piece as well as it’s accuracy.

Information can be found from gallery owners, other collectors, auction houses and the artists themselves.

Make sure to get your information in writing.

Provenance means documentation. With documentation more is better than less. Even something as peripheral as a past insurance policy or receipt can contribute to the credibility.

You’ll need to do the same with regards to the artist.

Get a detailed biography of their artistic history. They are part of the brand – the provenance.

Look for newspaper and magazine articles written about the artist and their work. Reviews, awards and interviews. This is easily searchable online nowadays.

Again, talk with gallery owners, auction houses and other artists. Even professional art photographers may have an old shot or two that puts your artist in a desirable light. Look for historical connections as well.

This will give you a few directions with which to chase down more documentation. You may even uncover something new and significant that increases the collectability.

This is just a beginning when it comes to learning how to collect art.

Best of luck and collect well.

Peter
SmokinMonkey.comut

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Start Blogging about your Collection

January 10, 2016 by  
Filed under How To, New

Start Blogging about your Collection
If you’re like me you enjoy conversation about your hobby of collecting. You probably have an interest at least in reading about it or you wouldn’t be here.

So why not take it a step further? Why not start blogging about your collection?  Others would probably like to read about your stories too.

When I started out with this I had no idea that so many people would share my interest.

Collecting means many things to different people. If you ask 10 people what collecting means to them you may very well hear 11 answers…yes, 11.  It can mean something different to everyone and can sometimes mean more than just one thing.

Some of the conversations I’ve had about collecting included everything from stuffed exotic pets ( bizarre but true ) to bartering for war-time propaganda posters. If anything interesting exists somewhere, anywhere at all, chances are there are some people collecting it.

Collector’s stories have provided some of the most interesting reading I’ve experienced.
Many people can be closet collectors.

They prefer to collect under the radar. At first I was under the impression they were keeping a low-profile in order to find deals. Now I believe it could also mean that it happens to be very personal or simply private for some. They may want to enjoy it without any scrutiny or questions.

Think about your own situation and your personality. You may be living proof of that.

For those of you that are not actual collectors you may be thinking that collecting means baseball cards and souvenir spoons… well think again. While it can include those it’s so much more.

The truth is that all collecting can be categorized under a loosely defined range of topics. Each of those topics is further made up of several smaller niches – sometimes dozens of them.

Those niches can now splinter down into even smaller micro-niches. If you’ve been through my site you will see article topics 0n activities such as collecting stamps, coins or even guitars. Think of those as good examples of very broad collection terms.

A smaller niche could be one that focuses on a specific period in history or geographical location as well. For example, the term “coins” is broad. If you re-title it to something like, “American coins from the 1800s” now you have a smaller niche.

You could keep going.

This is where you could splinter off even a more specific topic to create a micro-niche. Let’s now include a person or group of people. For example, your new title could be something like this: “American coin collections – from the 1800s – owned by famous people”.

Further still: “Historically significant American gold coin collections – dated from the early 1800s – owned by famous Rock Stars of 1980s”…and so on.

Consider a ghost writer to start blogging about your collection.

That exercise was simply for the sake of an example but just the act of writing it out fully makes me want to Google it. I’m guessing you could probably come up with a few lead-ins yourself. If your looking for ideas on what to collect it’s a great way to generate ideas.

This is really a fascinating subject.

You could slice the categories a hundred ways into the most obscure micro-niches and still find someone else in the world that shares an interest in it.

Why am I bringing all this up? Well, as the title reads, start blogging about your collection – there is no shortage of interest when it comes to this activity. Collectors are some of the most fascinating people I’ve ever encountered.

Maybe you have had similar experiences. If you’re a collector that means, to someone out there in the world, you are fascinating too. I have come across some individuals that go above and beyond what I would consider routine collecting. I would love to read a formal study on the psyche of a serial collector.

So why not write about your own interest in collecting or in a particular collection. You’d definitely find an audience.
Nowadays it’s easier than ever to start a blog or website for any topic you may have in mind. This is something I have done several times over. There is nothing more satisfying than discovering an audience for something you have written.

Most writers will say finding topics is the toughest part of the equation for them. Most will talk of writer’s block. To that I say, as a collector you have much to write about. If you have an interesting collection you’re already ahead of the game. Collectors have some of the most fascinating stories imaginable.

You could start with where your interest in collecting began.

Was it a chance gift? Maybe you are following where one of your parents left off. What were the circumstances and who were the people that influenced you the most? Some people begin collecting as the result of a celebrity encounter. Collecting items surrounding the history of someone they admire.

“Hardest part when you start blogging about your collection is finding a lead-in”.

Or maybe you could write about your own journey as you built your collection. What hurdles were in your way. Where did you find the motivation to discover that prized piece in your collection.

Why not talk about the most obvious part of all – your collection itself? Does your collection represent a strategy or system for finding each piece. What was your first find? Your last? What is your favorite item?

Any future plans for your collection? Will it be passed on to family or traded and sold when the time is right?

Don’t let the idea of all the techy stuff stop you.

There has never been an easier time to set up a WordPress site. There are a ton of free website templates available from WordPress. You could also check out any one of the hosting provider’s websites. Don’t forget you will need a domain name before you do anything.

Get out a pen and paper and start to play around with domain name ideas. Keep in mind your search will not be easy. Great names are tough to find unless you have deep pockets. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I have 50 + domain names on reserve at any given time.

Don’t forget to check out domain auctions as well. I’ve bought several names as they were set to expire. The advantage to auctioned names is that they usually have some history which could mean Alexa ranking, Moz ranking or domain authority.

That may not mean much to you right now but believe me, it’s better to pay the cost for a mature name rather than to try and age one from ground-zero. Either way works but why waste the time? A mature name is always more responsive to SEO.

You will also need to set up your domain on a website.

Check out as many tutorials as you can find. Talk to others and read blogs. The sooner you get great information means the sooner you can get back to creating your own great content.

Another big plus for me is the customer service. I mentioned earlier that I only have limited experience – less than 2 years. I needed a hosting company that would respond quickly to any inquiries. I have to give my own hosting provider a ‘thumbs-up’ on all accounts. So what are you waiting for?

Isn’t it time to start blogging about your collection?

Best of luck and collect well.

Peter
SmokinMonkey.com

“Links in this post may be affiliate links. By clicking + purchasing I would receive a commission.”

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Become the Expert

January 9, 2016 by  
Filed under How To, New

Become the Expert
To become the expert in most fields normally requires years of study.

Don’t forget to also factor in the additional years of practical hands-on application. In the past you may have been required to live in the shadow of a mentor or label yourself an apprentice.

To become the expert in anything usually means intense study through immersing ones self in that particular subject. While it’s possible to fast-track the process; that would usually require access to a consistent flow of educational materials. This is not always available to the average person.

It sounds tailor made for the collector-type of personality.

Being considered an expert has many benefits for the niche collector. Whatever the circumstances that brought you to this point don’t really matter.  What does matter is that you take full advantage of the situation.

So go ahead and declare yourself the ‘expert.  At the very least, acknowledge you’re on-the-road to expert status.

What exactly does one have to do to become the expert?

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it. An expert is…

“someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study.”

I’d also include that in order to become the expert you must be that one individual that steps forward when no one else does.

Let’s use the ‘whatzit’ as an example.

You may be one of only a handful of people in the whole world that collects ‘whatzits’.

  1. What if you acknowledge publicly, through a blog or website, that you collect whatzits?
  2. Now, what if you’re willing to share (establish credibility) information  you’ve discovered about the whatzit ?  (I’ve listed 10 bullet points down below, to help you do just that).
  3. What if you’re the only one available to answer questions at that moment when questions are being asked about whatzits?

Does that qualify you to become the expert?

I would say that if you can answer “yes” to any of those additional qualifications that not only could you be considered an expert but you may possibly be considered a ‘leading’ expert. Maybe even a leading-world-expert.

Not to undermine the actual background knowledge aspect but you can see that many factors go into determining who is the expert. Of course a deep knowledge is the backbone but once you factor in more criteria you can rocket to the top of the pile.

It has a lot to do with the context in which surrounds the situation.

Okay, so you’re now the self-proclaimed expert on whatzits.  What good is it?

You probably want to take some time for a reality check and think seriously about what your goals are. We’re all familiar with the internet and its reach. You are here now, so I think it’s safe to assume you’ll utilize the power of the web in your quest for expert status.

I should probably add something here. The information I’m giving you is by no means exclusive. This is fairly straight-forward stuff that you would no doubt find on your own. I’m giving you my boiler-plate version. This is what has worked so far for me.

If you have made it this far it’s time to share the news. This is one of my favorite sayings.

              “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it…does it make a sound?”

Okay, I know that’s a little cliche. But I think it makes a good point.

It’s the same with your expertise. If no one knows you or that your collection of whatzits exist…then guess what…they don’t, and neither do you. Maybe a cliche will drive that point home. Here’s another saying I like to use.

 “Perception is reality.”

You need to establish your place in the pecking order of things and then hammer-home your credibility.

If you want to be an expert start by letting people know about you and your collection.

The fastest way to leverage what you know and let people know you even exist is to start a website or blog. There are a ton of choices out there. You can look into some of the free blogging platforms. Keep in mind there are pros and cons to everything.

One of the biggest cons to a free hosting platform is that you can have your site removed at any time. Not to mention your image as an expert may be questionable on a free platform.

You can still pick up a template, or theme, fairly inexpensively as well as a good hosting package. You want to consider reliability and usability for both you and your readers. Read reviews for as many themes as possible.

Don’t go unheard.

We live in the most socially connected time in history. Social networking is a topic unto itself. One that could fill volumes. Read up on as much as you can regarding promoting (PR) yourself , branding and social networking.

There was a time we all existed and communicated without the internet and without online social networking skills. Those days are long gone. Especially if you want to be known beyond your dining room table. Promoting yourself and your collection is absolutely necessary if you want to create a larger than life footprint.

My best advice in a nutshell.

Build a blog and post regularly to it. Check other blogs for ideas on style and format. It’s easy to feel a little intimidated but remember that even the biggest website in the world had a first day.

Writing about something you love is generally not that difficult. Writing about it gives you a voice. This is a big step in building your credibility. Grab a pen and a notepad and simply start a conversation with yourself…just don’t forget to write it down.

Here are 10 straight-forward ways to get heard, gain credibility and become the expert.

  • Write reviews or guides on either your whatzit, or something closely related such as a service. Make sure to use your expert voice. EBAY is a good place for this. Remember to link-back to your site or blog.
  • Guest post on another blog or send in an article about your collectible item, again in your expert voice. Don’t forget to link-back.
  • Look for magazines or newsletters that share your particular interest. If you can’t find one on your exact collectible look for a more generic topic like ‘collecting in general’ or a sub-service like insurance for collectibles. Contact them and offer to write an article. Make sure a link-back is part of the deal.
  • List one of your related collectibles for sale on an auction or classified website with a link-back to your blog or site. At the very least make sure your contact info is available to anyone that may have questions.
  • Post a picture of one of your items on your Facebook or Google+ page. Issue a challenge to guess what it is or what it does. Use an attention grabbing title. Include a link-back whenever possible. You could create a whole site around the mysterious whatzit including fresh trivia mixed with a “guess this” photographs.
  • Offer your services as an appraiser for items similar to your collectible. In this case, whatzits.
  • Decide on some facet of your collectible (history etc.) and create an interesting ebook. If your are not up to writing it yourself hire a ghostwriter. Create a non-fiction work or even a fiction piece centered around your collectible. Bring awareness to it. This again would be done in your name and expert voice.
  • Do a search for charitable silent auctions and donate one of your pieces. Create a bio about yourself – remember to write about your expert background. Donations to silent auctions usually come with some free promotion.
  • Look up free stock photography sites and submit pictures of your item. Include whatever information you are allowed and again link the photo back to your site or blog. If your photography skills are lacking contact someone locally to provide some great shots.
  • Host a forum on your site. Invite comments, articles, posts or whatever. Becoming the hub of information is a good way to be perceived as the go-to guy or gal.

So what is the benefit of all this effort in the end?

My suggestion would be to monetize what you know and what you share. That includes your blogs or websites. For monetization the list of strategies is limited only by technology and your imagination.

And once you learn the ropes for building a blog, or site, the next site comes much easier. It doesn’t take a big imagination to see the possibilities of how far this could go.

Okay…so that’s the most obvious benefit. What about some more subtle ones? With the blog comes an increase in your credibility as an expert. You could build upon that using all or some of the 10 bullet points I mentioned above.

Creating your expert status may be part of a bigger plan. You now have the attention of listeners or readers. You could use your new status to cross-promote into another category…something that was originally less accessible even.

Think strategically!

Your name as author on an ebook would be a huge boost in credibility. In turn it will bring more traffic to your website…and another boost in your credibility.

Remember too, you can always hire writers, photographers, graphic artists or PR people.

All this recognition as an expert will drive traffic to wherever you choose.

Conversely, the additional boost in traffic builds your credibility and furthers your expert status. Some other benefits include owners of the best examples of whatzits will now be contacting you for advice or to make deals.

Your collection will gain traction and value just by being associated with an expert owner. So that’s it in a nutshell. Today is the day you step forward and become the expert.

Best of luck and collect well.

Peter
SmokinMonkey.com

“Links in this post may be affiliate links. By clicking + purchasing I would receive a commission.”

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How to take Ad Photos

December 8, 2015 by  
Filed under How To, New

How to take Ad Photos

Throughout this site I’ve been writing about how to make cash collecting. Usually that means when it comes time to sell or trade your collectible. Now it’s time for some good ideas on how to take ad photos for those collectibles.

“By applying these tips on how to take ad photos you should see measurable results.”

These are ideas I’ve experimented with or used and developed over the years. You may have different ideas or additional ideas. Most of the techniques or strategies I mention here can will be discovered by most people eventually through trial-and-error. I was simply able to figure out what worked well early on since I write ads on a regular basis and track results.

Keep in mind that these ideas will apply to whatever item you decide to sell. They should be applicable to most classified Ad site platforms. I’ve used the following photo tips for all of my online classified advertising with great results. These tips should do as well for you too.

Here are my 7 tips on how to take ad photos and what to avoid.

  1.  No matter how used your item is make sure it is clean. Wear and damage is reasonable – grease or mud is not. Taking the time to clean your item shows respect for your item, the sales process and your potential buyers.
  2. Choose your photo background well. If you’re selling a power tool try to set it up on a work bench or at least in a  shop environment – preferably one that relates to the item being photographed.
  3.  Take pictures from as many angles as possible. You will need a master shot (showing item in its entirety) and close-up shots that depict small details such as the model number and serial numbers. Don’t forget to depict any damage as well. Clear away items from the background that may ‘turn off’ potential buyers: like food containers, cigarettes and ashtrays.  That goes for your pets too. Depicting a dog or cat close to the advertised item could lose potential buyers.
  4.  Make some reference to your item’s size in the photo. You could place a recognizable object next to it – like a soda can or coin. I try to use something that makes sense and relates to the item I’m selling. For example, if I were selling a power drill I’d place some ‘bits’ beside it.  Just remember to include whether or not the bits were included in your ad description. You could place a ruler or open tape measure alongside your object to make it even easier .
  5. If your classified or auction site only allows for a single photo stick to a good ‘master’ shot. If you have software or a scanner you could make a composite of several photos. Create a single file from the composite and it will count as a single photo. This is a good to know when listing on sites like EBAY where you are charged for each addition picture.
  6. Take the time to light your item well. If there are dark areas or hard shadows use a flashlight to fill-in that particular area.
  7. Take a photo of the item in-action if possible. If you can’t create an ‘action shot’ look for a royalty free download. Make sure to mention in your description that particular photo is generic and not the actual item for sale.

By paying attention to selling trends, pricing your item well.

Best of luck and collect well.

Peter
SmokinMonkey.com

“Links in this post may be affiliate links. By clicking + purchasing I would receive a commission.”


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Aluminum Can Collecting for Money

October 27, 2015 by  
Filed under How To, Spotlight

Aluminum Can Collecting

Most of us now realize there are tons of opportunities to make cash recycling various items. From human hair (yikes) to circuit boards and everything in between. While the list of recyclables seems to be endless but I’m going to talk about just one of those items, aluminum can collecting for money.

“Aluminum can collecting for money could net 2.5 cents per can at current prices”.

Discarded cans are pretty well everywhere you look. And it’s no surprise really when grocery store aisles are dedicated to canned soups, sauces, fruits and vegetables. Canned soft drinks are even more prevalent.

Cool Facts about the Aluminum Can collecting.

1.   More than  80,000,000,000 aluminum cans are filled every year.

2.   An aluminum can could be back on the grocers shelf in as fast as 60 days after recycling.

3.   Aluminum cans are the single most recycled item in the U.S.

4.  An aluminum can – can be recycled repeatedly – forever.

5.   Recycling just a single aluminum can saves the energy equivalent to powering a TV for three hours.

6.   There was a time aluminum was more valuable than gold.

7.   An aluminum can thrown into landfill will, in theory,  still be there 500 years from now.

A garbage bag full of cans could be worth $12 – $15. You could collect four or five bags with some planning.

So to be a ‘canner’ yeah, that’s what they call themselves, you need to have a plan. Most of them probably started out of necessity. Some specific reasons cited are, “I don’t answer to a boss” or “I can make as much or as little as I need.”

It’s clearly the route to a little independence for some folks.

The activity itself is low impact since the cans are easy to handle. They weigh very little making them easy to carry or haul on a wagon.

So that’s fine if your happy with $15 or $20 a night. But what if you’re looking for $100 or $150 a night? I’ll go out on a limb and say, “yes” I believe it’s absolutely possible. If you want to make cash recycling cans – serious cash, it will require planning and dedication. Let me go step-by-step through what I figured out.

Here’s a true story.

Several years ago I rented a ground floor apartment. I loved this place because of it’s size and because it had two entrances. One being the door from the interior hallway and the other was the door from my patio.

I had a sliding patio door complete with a fenced in patio area. I even had a little gate. This was ideal. It made it easy to move bulky items in and out as well as giving me a direct route to the garbage bin and recycle bins. I could simply exit out my sliding door and make my way to one of the appropriate containers.

The best reason for aluminum can collecting is they’re plentiful.

This building had designated recycling bins as well as a large trash bin. By the time trash day arrived those containers and bin were jammed full. And there were boxes of additional cans and bottles sitting on the ground.

Having an apartment within viewing distance of the bins gave me a chance to witness all kinds of activity. But the most notable was the visit from ‘midnight-man’.

He actually showed up once a week around 3am.

The first time he woke me I thought it was close to midnight and the name just stuck.  So anyways, on that particular night I heard something rattling around the trash. I cracked open my blinds expecting to see an over-sized racoon digging around but instead I saw a professional canner.

This guy was middle-aged and looked a bit weathered. He had on tradesman type clothing, you know – the canvas pants and matching jacket.  In the moonlight I could see his shaggy mane and beard. He kind of looked like the Lon Chaney version of the Wolfman.

But what caught my attention was his mode of transportation. He had a mountain bike all decked out to haul loads of cargo. Behind his bike was what appeared to be a small platform trailer. It was definitely homemade. The back wheel of his bike had a shelf – a long wood plank that extended straight back from the seat post.

And there were two large canvas pouches, one on either side of the back wheel. This guy wasn’t kidding. Oh, one more thing, he also had a small plywood shelf that sat above the front wheel. Some serious thought had gone in to setting all this stuff up.

So all of this got me to thinking.

Why would this guy go to the trouble of building that rigging for his bike and creep around at 3am just to handle sticky cans?  I mean, he did it for the money of course. But I still wasn’t convinced he was making more than a few bucks. But what if there was a way to make a hundred or more a night. I wanted to learn what I could so I watched for him.

Each time he arrived he was already fully loaded up.

I have no idea where he was putting the additional cans from the apartment dumpster but he found space. And when I say he was loaded he had what looked like at least two full large garbage bags on his makeshift trailer. They were tarped and tied with bungy cord.

He also had full saddle-bags and more full garbage bags stacked up behind his seat. They sat higher than he did. And all of it lashed with rope or bungy cord.

If you ever saw the animated special, How The Grinch Stole Christmas…think of the overloaded sleigh after the Grinch robbed the town of their toys. That’s how this bike looked. It was crazy.

And yet here he was at this dumpster – still looking for more. This guy was my hero.  I only saw him at most once a week but he was obviously doing a route that ended somewhere around my place. I mean, he had no more space on that bike – he had to be at the end of the route.

Anyways, I started to tinker with some ideas as to what kind of money he was making. By doing so I came up with a few strategies that most anyone could use to make money at this.

There are probably even more ways to expand on what I came up with. If anyone feels up to sharing please leave a comment with your thoughts on this. So what I did was to first try and figure out Midnight Man’s strategy.

His transportation was well engineered and practical.

I bounced around the idea of having a pickup truck but it wouldn’t allow for stealth or access around some of the narrow walkways. Not to mention the added cost to run it.

So for the collection part, the rigged out bike was ideal.

Nowadays you could improve on it with one of those electric bikes but he had a great system. Now you need a staging area or storage while you wait for drop-off to the recycler.

A good strategy would be to stockpile each night’s haul in a garage or storage unit. Once you build up a certain amount use an  appropriate vehicle to deliver to the recycle center of your choosing. Yes, it’s an expense but it’s a single trip per full truck load.

Free or low cost storage would, of course, be ideal. Your truck should be fitted with some kind of rigging to carry the bike and trailer as well.  That way you could drive the truck to each neighbourhood you were working on that particular night. Park it somewhere safe then off-load the bike and trailer.

Make your rounds and come back and fill the truck.

Load the bike and trailer onto the truck and drive back to your storage area. Unload your night’s haul and get ready for the next night.

Once a week make your trip to a recycler or if you were working a neighbourhood that was close to a recycling center, take a load in beforehand. That way you get one out of the way and make the best use of your fuel.

Midnight Man didn’t have a truck, that I saw anyway. But it could definitely help to expand his operation. Imagine if you partnered up with someone. Or maybe developed a route and contacts you could easily turn a hobby of aluminum can collecting for money into something more serious. Maybe this could even become a full-time income.

Best of luck and collect well.

Peter
SmokinMonkey.com
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Sell Something to make Money

October 21, 2015 by  
Filed under How To, Spotlight

Sell Something to make Money

At a certain point in life you may be faced with stressful decisions related to needing money. With the exception of the silver spoon crowd we’ve probably all been there at some point. I’m talking about having to sell something to make money.

It may be all the more difficult because of looming deadline.
I’m referring to real dire straights. Maybe you have a rent payment due or need gas for the car or groceries for your kids etc. Bottom line is you need money fast. But all the while you stress out about it the clock is ticking. Time is against you.

There are a few strategies here to get you cash fast.
Since everyone has a different set of circumstances I’ll use mine. What I do, and have done for years is to maintain a fully stocked storage unit.

You’ll know when the time is right to sell something to make money.

If you’ve read some of my other articles you may recall I’m a collector / picker. I use those terms to cover everything to do with gathering cast-off items, found items and renovation/demolition throwaways, for resale. I do this through Kijiji, Craigslist and EBAY.

 Assume you have collected some items worth selling.
And those items have enough value to cover your needs. Which direction to take next is determined by how dire are your circumstances.

Do you need to have money in two days or two weeks? Next determine how much your items are worth. Finally it’s time to pick a platform from which to advertise your items. Some things to consider would be the size of your item. Shipping costs money so a larger item would do best sold locally. Small and light can ship which means that as well as locally you could consider selling/shipping through EBAY.

Something else to consider is how much time you have to collect the needed money. An EBAY transaction will deposit cash into your PayPal account at the time of the sale. A local sale can also be dealt with quickly without the additional shipping cost.

Time to think strategically.
Let’s stay with the example of old sports gear. This is a good choice for something you could move locally through Kijiji or Craigslist. Don’t be in a rush to simply list it everywhere.

In our example above, the sports gear probably originated from your own closet or from a source in your community. That tells me it’s been used in an activity participated in locally.

EBAY might be a waste of time for a localized sport. While it may pay-off eventually, at this time we are looking for quick fixes.

 This is where a little research pays off.
Craigslist and Kijiji are both essentially huge platforms that do the same thing. And they each have their pros and cons. I’ve also noticed a different type of clientele for each.

The one big take-away for you here is that buyers tend to use one platform or another. Depending on what I’m listing I use one or the other.

Let’s get back to our sports equipment example. . Get as much information on the sport itself as possible. You want to know if it’s currently in-season or out-of-season. You want to know how popular it is.

Popularity climbs during a playoff or world series type event.
Has it been in the news lately? Look up any articles. Buyers have been known to create a feeding frenzy over the simplest item during a world class sporting event.

Track some of the more popular athletes as well. Sometimes good / bad public behaviour can affect their brand value.

What teams are in the news right now? Look around for anything with their logo – the older the better but anything will do. Now look up what others are charging for your identical item. Go to all the platforms, such as EBAY or Craigslist etc and search for your identical sports gear. Take into account an honest evaluation of the condition.

As inquiries come in make sure to keep notes.
If you find three listings on Craigslist and none on Kijiji, I’d suggest listing on Kijiji. In addition, you could write a completely separate ad, undercutting all three of the other sellers, and place it on Craigslist as well. Keep track of all your items with their respective prices. I have a large notepad on my desk for just that. The notes help me refine my ads by addressing caller’s questions and concerns.

If you have only a single item listed for sale you may obsess to the point of staying awake at night. My strategy is to maintain between 50 – 100 items at all times. You may not have that many but aim for several at least. That way, assuming you have priced your items fairly, you’re getting inquiries and sales often.

You need money fast.
Back to your situation. And, you might not have sports equipment. Other hot sellers are seasonal items. Look around for garden tools and hardware. There are always new homeowners that haven’t gotten around to buying all the tools needed to maintain their new property. They are happy to buy something ‘used’ just to get them through the first winter or summer or specific project.

Quick Note: You can make money from old tools very easily. You will find all kinds of people doing a single renovation type project needing an inexpensive used tool for exactly that.

Which opens up yet another option when dealing with this type of item – and this works extremely well. Say, you have an old bicycle or lawn mower or even snow thrower. Things used in a household.

A good example strategy for cashing these in are to write your competitive ad for Kijiji (remember, someone already selling one here). Make sure to list it accurately and price it ‘below’ the competing ad.

Next, go to Craigslist and price it slightly higher (no competition here). Since it’s seasonal and local, go to as many grocery stores or gas stations or whatever and post a hand-written ad on their community bulletin board. These boards are usually set up close to an entrance or exit – very easy to see. With the bulletin board, price it the same as your lowest online price or even lower.

“The whole point here is to sell something to make money as quickly as possible.”

Bulletin boards traditionally have some of the best prices you will find.
Chances are shoppers will do a quick online search to price shop after reading your posting. And that’s what it will come down to with this type of item – price point.

You may be wondering, “why not list it everywhere for the identical price?” Good question but consider this; have you ever seen the same ad for something over and over and said to yourself, “what’s wrong with it?” Or, “that’s been for sale a long time.”

Now the reality is it may have been or not but to plaster it everywhere gives people that perception. It gets bigger and louder in their memory.

This is a trick even pros on EBAY use.
That’s why I break up the selling price. You appear to be more than one seller. Secondly, you are basically steering those searches to your best price by sacrificing a poor one.

You could even write several ads for the same item using different pictures within the same platform. You will have to vary your price though.  Some online stores will test a price by listing it for a variety of prices.

While you still want to sell something to make money, depending on your item’s value there are options. If you have items of high value, gold jewelry for example, there are dealers that offer cash for gold. The same goes if you have a longer period before needing the money.

Best of luck and collect well.

Peter
SmokinMonkey.com

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Make Money from old Stuff

October 20, 2015 by  
Filed under How To, Spotlight

Make Money from old Stuff

It’s no secret that you can make money from old stuff.
Whether for reasons of nostalgia or the overall belief that older is better, many of us prefer older tools and hardware. We naturally associate the weight and feel with durability and longevity. You yourself may have used the expression, “they don’t make them like they used to.”

“I’m a big fan of vintage power tools. There’s something about the solid metal casing versus the economical plastic housings you find on today’s tools that’s a big plus for me.”

“To make money from old stuff you first need access to old or interesting stuff.”

Where do you start?
You’ll need to get your hands on your favorite old stuff before you can begin. If you don’t have your own warehouse of inventory then it’s time to go looking for some. The first thing you should do is decide what area, or niche, interests you.

I started many decades ago. It began with auto parts. As a teen I would run home after school to continue working on my first car – a 1968 AMC Javelin SST. I was 14 and too young to drive but I loved that car. I tore into it …removing and replacing pieces, cleaning and rebuilding parts as I progressed.

What’s your Javelin?
The work generated a surplus of parts that I sold off to finance the buying of yet even more parts. I soon learned I could make money selling old tools as well. It happened very naturally and grew organically over the years. So that would be my advice to you.  Discover your own Javelin and jump-off.

Assuming you have your area of interest, the next thing to do is make a list of everything you have good access to. For example, consider your surroundings and geographical location. Are you located near an ocean or desert, or maybe a mountain range? Do a search on EBAY. You’ll be shocked to see what people are paying for natural items such as shells, rocks and small pieces of driftwood.

Regardless of where you are located something is being discarded or overlooked by the locals. Do you reside in a big city, small town or maybe you’re isolated in the country? Are there any recognizable landmarks or industries within travelling distance? People from around the world may collect branded items from those landmarks or industries.

All these questions are simply to get you thinking of opportunities you may have not considered. I mention auto parts as being my jumping-off point but over the years I’ve deviated into many areas. That happens as your interests change or new opportunities arise.

Years ago I worked near a large open quarry. I had access for a period of about two months. I made full use of that access by collecting pieces of rock that contained fossils.

And there were tons of fossils to find after blasting. I sold them as pieces for gardens. Knowing what I know now I could have spun it even farther my making molds and selling the casts – that’s another story.

Surprisingly you can make money from old stuff.

Think big-picture.
When I started, all my buying and selling was done through classified ads in newsprint. I would have to phone-in the ad copy every Tuesday. It would show up in print by Friday that same week.

Then all responses were through the single phone line in the house – without an answering machine. Today with an internet connection, email and the smart phone the frustrating part is taken care of.

So, wherever you are located I can almost guarantee you are in a position to make money from old stuff somehow. I will continue to add articles outlining several ideas I’ve used. In the meantime grab yourself a journal or notebook, and do some brainstorming.

Best of luck and collect well.

Peter
SmokinMonkey.com

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Make Money from collecting Stuff

October 12, 2015 by  
Filed under How To, Spotlight

Make Money from collecting Stuff

If you want to make money from collecting stuff a great source of cashable items can be Estate Sales. These are also known as content sales. These refer to the liquidation of household contents. This is sometimes done to facilitate a faster ‘move’ by the residents. They simply might not find value in packing and shipping their old belongings.

To make money from collecting stuff means going to the source.

Other reasons for holding the sale may be the homeowner has gone into a senior care facility or passed away. In situations like this the property is usually prepared for resale. But it must be emptied of items first. The estate agents will catalogue and price each item to be included in the sale. This can sometimes take days even weeks.

To give you a frame of reference, I’ve been to small homes where a homeowner has passed away. They had only a few boxes of possessions, barely filling a single room. And only a 2 or 3 buyers inside. I’ve also been to a large two-story home vacated by a couple that went into a care facility together. The home was full of items, from decades of raising their family.

Those children, now living abroad, were not available to deal with the home and contents. This particular home took two weeks to catalogue. It had 7 or 8 rooms, absolutely full of items. And the items continued out into the yard, garage and the driveway.

To get an idea, first realize that this home was occupied by the same family for over fifty years. Besides the appliances and furnishings there were tools and sporting goods. There were bicycles, vintage board games, rock collections, model cars, electric train sets and Barbie doll collections.

On the higher end, they had Waterford crystal pieces, dozens of Lladro figurines, as well as other collectables.

More than two hundred people arrived the first morning to take part in the three day sale. Dozens of people arrived hourly for the next two days. These sales are planned and coordinated using the sales agent’s website and classified ads. Sometimes you may see an Estate Sale sign on the day of the sale.

The first in the door are usually the professional buyers. They may’ve been given email notice about the upcoming sale. Notification is as simple as signing on to an email list. And it’s not just the pros going to these things. Regular people looking for interesting items to collect make up the bulk of the sales traffic.

When it comes time to enter it’s usually done by number.You check-in upon arrival and you’re issued a number. Every sale can vary a little but usually they admit blocks of numbers. Ten or twenty people may be given access. When they leave another group is admitted.

This keeps some sense of order and doesn’t tax the hosts of the sale. You can also estimate how long your wait will be, giving you a chance to get a coffee. Be forewarned, do not bring young children. You may be denied access. Please remember you are a guest on the property.

“To make money from collecting stuff means being in the right place at the right time.”

If you are a collector of a specific niche you may want to get there early.As for deciding what time or day to go, it all depends on your goal. If you are a professional that searches out antiques then first day first hour is best. The prices will be at their highest but quality and availability of deals will be at their greatest.

I think for the average buyer just looking for interesting or practical items, you can afford to go after the first big push. The prices become more flexible with every passing hour. Remember the organizer wants maximum revenue. They could collect a final commission around 30% or higher. And they don’t want remaining items at the closing bell.

Anything left over has to be handled, carried or disposed of. You may want arrive during the last few hours, for the best deals of all. But only the most picked over items usually remain at that point. One exception might be that someone had not returned to pick up an item placed ‘on-hold’.

Overall there are great items to be found in estate sales. If it’s a quality address to begin with, chances are they have some collectible items. These sales can last for days, giving you time to decide on a purchase, assuming no one else buys it.

Prices are usually high to start but trend downward steadily.You can, and should, bargain. The hosts are experienced at pricing but it’s still in their best interest to collect as much as possible. It’s only on the last afternoon that they go into “just sell it” mode. This is all about the final numbers.

Estate sales are a lot of fun if nothing else. It can be a great way to spend a few hours. Another idea for you is to source out a big sale on your next business trip. Instead of being stuck in your hotel between meetings, why not explore a sale?

Do an online search for “estate sales”, followed by your destination. For example – Estate Sales Chicago. This can be a great way to see a city and learn about a community. You may even unwittingly make money from collecting stuff while your away. Or at the very least add some unique souvenirs and memorabilia. to your existing collections.

Best of luck and collect well.

Peter
SmokinMonkey.com

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Buying and Selling Stamps

October 10, 2015 by  
Filed under How To, Spotlight

Buying and Selling Stamps

The first postage stamp ever produced was by the British government back in 1840. The image used was that of Queen Victoria and was referred to simply as the “Penny Black”.

Within the twenty years following it’s introduction, the number of stamp dealers and stamp collectors grew by the thousands. Buying and selling stamps soon became mainstream and a new hobby had been born.

Buying and selling stamps is participated in all around the world.

Collectors were now thriving throughout Europe and North America. The rest of the world wasn’t immune either. Collectors began to dot the entire planet.

This holds true still today as evidenced by the range of collections and their prices which have grown exponentially. For example, the Penny Black can still be found. Currently you could pay anywhere up to $200 for a good used specimen. On the other hand, an unused specimen, while rare, could cost you up to 40 times that …or more.

Think about that next time you grumble over the cost to mail a letter.

Let me give you even more perspective on this fascinating hobby. As far as twenty years ago stamps were already being sold at auction for one million dollars or more. Yes… one million, that’s not a typo.

People of all ages and backgrounds are fascinated by the intricacies of postage stamps. They may collect examples based on a historical reference, general theme or specific characters. But it doesn’t stop there. You could also see collection worthy examples based on a geographical region, specific plants, animals, or a notable event.

True enthusiasts are always in search of hard to find specimens. Such an example would be postage stamps issued with a printing error.

What you’ll need.
Actually, beyond a passion for collecting not much is needed to enjoy this hobby. But the basics that are required include stamp tongs to handle the stamps. These look like tweezers but with soft rounded tips. This is necessary as the oils from your skin will ultimately damage the stamps when handling them.

For storing your collection you will need a stamp album or stock book with plastic sleeves. You will also need a magnifying glass to observe fine details. All of these are available at any stamp dealer or stamp shop. You could also search online for all the items mentioned.

Decide on a niche and search for the appropriate price guide and catalogue.
Stamp shops also carry stamp catalogues. There are hundreds of these available. You will find catalogues listing countries, periods in history, flora and fauna, people etc.

No matter where you are, chances are good you will find a group, club, or organization dedicated to stamp collecting. One of the biggest in the U.S. is The American Philatelic Society. It has greatly increased awareness and expanded the reach of collectors especially since the internet arrived.

Countries themselves have taken an active role in exploiting the popularity of stamp collecting by printing limited-run, commemorative issues. Some nations have even come to rely on it as a revenue generator.

“Buying and selling stamps is a good departure from video games.”

This is truly a great activity. Not a great deal of knowledge is required to start and the cost of entry is low. Gift stamps can be found everywhere as can commemorative stamps.

Children often start this activity after they’ve been given a gift of stamps. What a perfect gift to bring back from your travels abroad. It may even have the added benefit of encouraging hand-written mail with a pen-pal to exchange stamps from abroad. I wish you the best of luck with buying and selling stamps.

Best of luck and collect well.

Peter
SmokinMonkey.com

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8 Tips for Storage Auction Success

October 10, 2015 by  
Filed under How To, Spotlight

Storage Auction Success

So you’ve looked at storage auctions and decided you want to try to make some money from buying and selling contents. I’m going to outline some things you need to consider at a bare minimum before jumping into an auction.

There may be additional considerations depending on your location, the nature of the auction and facility policies, so do your research. Bottom line is to have storage auction success you need to plan ahead.

Okay, let’s set the stage…it’s the morning of the auction. You arrive a few minutes early to get your bearings. You notice there’s already a variety of trucks and trailers staged in the parking area.

You think to yourself, it shouldn’t take long to figure out where the action is. And before you know it you spot a crowd gathering as they wait for the auction to begin. That’s pretty well all there is to know about getting integrated with an auction. You may be asked to sign-in on an attendance sheet but even then it’s a very casual affair.

And that brings me to my…

Here are my best 8 tips for storage auction success

1. Transport
You will need a suitable vehicle or trailer. If you bid successfully, you will be expected to remove all the contents you have bid on. That can mean within 24 hours or less. This is something specific you need to inquire about at that particular auction site, preferably in advance.

All contents are expected to be removed from the unit and that includes the garbage. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can cherry-pick and leave the junk behind for the site manager.

To make things even more difficult some of the auction locations may not allow the use of their garbage bins. That means added time, labor and cost for you. All the more reason to bid wisely.

2. Helpers
Getting those contents from the unit to the truck will require people. Even a small unit could require hours of going back and forth to empty it. Keep in mind, the unit could be a fair hike from the parking area.

3. Moving Supplies
Along with helpers I suggest you bring at least two types of moving dollies. I use the stand-up dolly, and an adjustable flat dolly. Bring sash cord or elastic cords to secure items and free up your hands. You may want to bring some inexpensive plastic drop-sheets in case of inclement weather. You could use tarps but drop-sheets are much lighter and easier to deal with.

“I also bring gaffer tape with me. In some locations you will encounter automatic doors operated by sensors. Put a piece of tape over the sensor ‘eye’, to keep doors open while moving materials. This is generally not allowed but if you let the management know, I find they give you some leeway on this. Just remember to remove it when you are finished.”

“For storage auction success treat it as a chance to learn while you earn”

4. Evaluation Equipment
When the door rolls up and before the auctioneer begins you have only a few minutes to check out the contents. You are not permitted to enter the unit. You may also have to look through a group of taller people.

One idea is to bring a small folding step stool. Stand back from the crowd climb up and look over their heads. You can also use a scope or binoculars. Scan the contents looking for indications of value. Some people use a powerful flashlight as well.

5. Homework
Attending storage auctions does not obligate you to bid. I went to many where I simply watched and learned. For me just understanding the auctioneer took time. In time you will get almost a feel for contents as well. Household goods are fairly consistent from auction to auction.

There may also be the occasional unique item mixed in such as an old drafting table or old style retro telephone.

Even if you go only to observe make note of what you saw in the unit. Do your homework afterwards – calculate values. Figure your costs for the time to move what you saw. Don’t forget the expenses to cover your helper. This is a great exercise if you plan to make money from this.

6. Safety Wear
If you are successful in bidding you will now be permitted access. Make sure to bring safety gloves, glasses and dust masks. I would also suggest safety footwear, kneepads and a hat. Some units have precariously stacked boxes or furniture. You may encounter broken glass from crushed picture frames.

Don’t forget to bring a small first aid kit, with bandages and wound cleaner. Bumps and cuts happen when rushing to move items.

“A headband style lamp will free your hands and save a lot of time.”

7. Locks
Depending on how many helpers you have, you may have to walk away from the unit to load up. It’s good practice to bring a couple of designated locks. I have a marker tag on my lock, identifying it as “winning bidder”, while walking to and from my truck.

Just in case someone from the management office happens by and “cuts it off”- thinking they overlooked it earlier. The second lock is for your truck.

8. Money
This should be obvious but it’s worth mentioning anyways. Bring enough money to cover your bid. Before placing any bids make sure you are familiar with their payment policies, whether cash or credit etc.

If you are paying by cash make sure your money is secure. While moving boxes and climbing in and out of a truck is enough to knock your wallet from your pocket. I find a wallet chain to be extremely helpful.

If you do decide to check out an auction come back and share your storage auction success story in the comments. Or if you have any additional tips to share that’s even better. The best advice in the end is to treat it like an adventure and you will never be disappointed.

Best of luck and collect well.

Peter
SmokinMonkey.com

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