When I started this challenge, I knew that the three things that would present the most difficulty would be:
- Setting a budget and sticking to it
- Paying off my credit card as quickly as possible
- Making extra income
So far I’ve been pretty happy with my progress on those first two bullet points. In the last two months I’ve learned to budget better and have paid down almost $1,000 on my credit card. And I’m optimistic I’ll keep learning and improving in those areas over the next few months.
But that third bullet point has turned out to be the hardest of all. Why? Well, I think it’s because I dedicate most of my time and energy during the week to my full time job, and on the weekends I prefer to recharge and spend time with people I care about (not to mention household chores!). I suppose if I was in desperate straits I’d be more motivated to use that spare time to find ways to make extra money.
On the other hand, I do want to make the most of this challenge and to follow the Zero Debt Action Plan as closely as possible. For Week 8, the Action Plan has three sections:
1. Start Your Own Business
2. More Tips for Freelancing
3. Buy and Sell Items for a Profit
(If you want to get the Zero Debt Action Plan, you can sign-up here)
Of course, we also specify that “not all these suggestions will be right for everyone.” In my case, starting a business is not possible at this time, and freelancing is not realistic either. As for selling items for a profit, I tried to do that last month and basically crashed and burned (see my Week 4 update).
So I thought long and hard about how to approach Week 8 of this challenge and decided on two goals:
- Goal 1: Learn what type of freelancing opportunities were out there, in order to get a sense of what I would be getting myself into if I ever wanted to try that.
- Goal 2: Make an actual, honest-to-goodness sale on eBay.
That’s it – just two simple goals! With that introduction in mind, read below for the results…
I like to write, so I decided to focus my search for freelance work on writing/editing gigs. Using tips from Week 8 of our Zero Debt Action Plan, I looked at websites like Elance, Craigslist, etc. Based on my research, here’s a sample of the types of freelance jobs that are available for a writer:
We have an online catalog with 300 products. We need someone to rewrite the product descriptions and make them more descriptive and exciting.
I need help in editing a paper that I’m writing. The paper is on ********* by *******. It will be 8-10 pages long. I need help with structure, flow, style, grammar, etc. This is an academic essay. Total word count: 1635.
I need 100 articles to be written on a variety of health issues. Topics and articles titles will be provided. Each article should be at least 550 words, if not more. They must be well researched, grammatically correct, unique content and written in a formal and/or conversational tone. These are very easy to write subjects.
I have about 40 hours of audio files which explain financial concepts in laymen’s terms. The audio tapes need to be transcribed and made blog friendly.
We’re looking for articulate, concise writers to craft some 500-1000 word, keyword-rich articles for our blog. You will need some background experience researching keywords and keyphrases using the Google Keyword Tool and Google Trends. Topics can be extremely varied, as long as they are about relevant, trending topics.
Which of the ones above looks the most appealing to you?
All I can say is there’s definitely a wide range of tasks available, but finding the right one seems tricky. I saw quite a few listing searching for someone to write blog posts or short articles. However, many of those listings did not seem like good options for me – either because the tasks were extremely tedious or because the pay that was being offered was not reasonable. Overall, I’d say that only about 20-30% of the freelance jobs I looked at seemed like they would provide a fair amount of compensation for the amount of work that was required.
But I’m definitely glad I looked. If nothing else, I’m now convinced that the rise of websites like Craigslist and Elance are making it easier than ever to connect with short-term job opportunities all over the world. (But that also means you have to compete with freelancers from all over the world to get those jobs!)
With Goal #1 for this week completed, I turned to Goal #2…
Trying Again on eBay
After failing to sell my item last time, I was determined to use the lessons I’d learned to make a sale this time.
Those lessons could be summed up as:
- Start the bidding low – as in, 99 cents
- Sell things that people want
- Be willing to part with your item for a few bucks
With these thoughts in mind, and with the tips from Week 8 of the Zero Debt Action Plan, I got to work. In Week 4, the task was to sell things from your house. In Week 8, the challenge was to find a good item for eBay by searching at yard sales or pawn shops.
I opted for a yard sale.
On a Sunday afternoon, I checked out a yard sale that had been going on since late morning. I was afraid I might be too late, and at first it looked like all the good items had been taken. There were some old clothes and a few worn-looking home appliances – not exactly eBay gold, as far as I could tell. But after a little browsing, I came across two pretty cool items that were both still sealed in their original boxes.
One was a wall decoration for hanging tealights (candles):
And the other was also a candle holder, but for a table:
I bought them for a total of $5 – pretty good deal, right?
Pleased with myself, I went home and listed them on eBay. I made sure to list them for $0.99 each!
And then I waited…
Sure enough, when the sale period closed… I had made my first official eBay sale! A buyer in New York had purchased the item and made an immediate payment:
I was excited to actually close my first sale. Of course, a big portion of that $20.35 had to cover the shipping costs, and the other candle holder did not sell, so at first I wasn’t even sure if I would make money on the sale. After I shipped the item, I added up all the costs to see how much money I made (if anything):
Item 1 purchase price = $2.50
Item 2 purchase price = $2.50
eBay listing fees = $0.30 (for extra photo on each item)
eBay’s sale commission = $1.83
Shipping = $11.15
Total costs = $18.28
Sale price = $20.35
Earnings = $2.07
Well… it’s not a very impressive amount, unfortunately. But it’s something. And more importantly, I made my first sale. Plus, I have to admit – I got some satisfaction from helping this item travel from one person who no longer needed it, all the way across the country, to another person who in fact wanted it very much…
Maybe it’s just all those Toy Story movies running through my head, but I think that’s worth something.
What do you think?