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A pair of jeans is laid out with some upcycling supplies.

A Beginner’s Guide to Selling Upcycled Goods

Have you ever turned your old wine bottles into a flower vase? Or perhaps old mason jars into centerpieces?

If so, you’ve upcycled items without even knowing it.

Upcycling is when you repurpose an item into something more valuable. Or, as I like to say, something a little bit more snazzy. 

It’s not only a great way to reduce waste in your home, but it can also be a great way to make extra money. 

So if you have an eye for turning trash into treasure, keep reading. Starting an upcycling business is easier than you might think. 

In this post, I’ll share exactly how you can get started with selling upcycled goods as a beginner.

What are upcycled goods?

Upcycled items are things that have been modified from their original purpose for a different use. It can also be goods that have simply been modified to look different.

Furniture, for example, is a common item that is upcycled. Old, antique items are typically reupholstered, painted, or restained to create a more modern or unique look.

The practice of upcycling also has a great environmental impact. Reusing and repurposing items instead of throwing them away helps reduce the amount of waste in landfills. 

What products can be upcycled?

Practically anything can be upcycled. However, whether the repurposed item is actually more valuable is a bit subjective.

As you might expect, some items are a lot easier to upcycle than others.

For instance, you can easily turn a wine bottle into a flower vase by just removing the label. Whereas turning a crate into a coffee table may require a bit more time, supplies, and skill.

How do you sell upcycled items?

Selling upcycled items is no different than selling any other craft item. 

If you want to start selling upcycled items as a side hustle, here are the steps that you should follow.

Determine what items you want to sell 

Although anything can be upcycled, every upcycled item won’t sell. 

Begin by researching items that are currently selling to get an idea of what you can create as well. 

Remember, upcycling is all about creativity, so don’t limit yourself to these items. Simply use them as inspiration to create your own products.

Just typing “upcycled” in Etsy’s search bar will return thousands of items that are already being sold on the platform. You can also find some unique ideas at UpcycleThat.com.

Some popular items to upcycle and sell include furniture, jewelry, clothes, and home decor.

Ultimately, what you decide to create should not only be something that others are willing to buy, but it should also be something that you have the skills and materials to upcycle.

Acquire the right materials

Each upcycling project will require different materials. So before you begin, it is a good idea to list and purchase each item that you will need to complete it.

Your materials will include the original item that is being repurposed and any tools that you’ll need to modify it.

Depending on what you’re upcycling, you may be able to find these items in your home or for a low cost at a garage sale.

Price your items

Figuring out how to price your items can be a bit daunting. After all, your item is unique and its value is truly subjective.

Nonetheless, you don’t want to get underpaid for your work. 

Setting up a proper pricing system will ensure that you are able to make a profit so that selling upcycled goods is worth your time.

When coming up with a price, it should reflect the time and effort that you put into upcycling your goods. You’ll also want to take into account any materials that you had to purchase and fees that you’ll be charged to process that sale.

You can easily come up with a price using this quick formula:

Cost of supplies + Labor Costs + Overhead Costs/Fees = Minimum Base Price

To get the final retail price, you will multiply your minimum base price by 4, where:

Retail Price = Minimum Base Price X 4

This is the standard pricing formula used by crafters who make and sell handmade items.

Calculating labor costs

To calculate your labor costs, you’ll need to establish a labor rate for yourself. This rate can be whatever you decide but usually ranges from $15-$20 per hour.

Your labor costs will be the number of hours that it takes to create your product multiplied by your labor rate. 

For example, it takes you 30 mins to upcycle your item and your labor rate is $15, your labor costs will be .5 hr X $15 or $7.50.

Overhead costs and fees

Overhead costs are usually costs that you don’t think about but are necessary to create your products. Think about things like tools, packaging for shipments, office space, and even office supplies.

It’s ok if you don’t know the exact cost for these items. Many sellers typically use 10-20% of the material plus labor costs as their standard overhead rate.

Depending on where you sell your items, you may incur fees. 

For instance, if you decide to sell on Etsy, you will have to pay listing fees and transaction fees. These fees will ultimately eat into your profits, so when calculating your base price, you should include them as well.

Choose a platform to sell on

Now that you have your items squared away, it’s time to sell!

You may decide to sell your items in person at a crafts show or online through a marketplace. Etsy, Ebay, and Facebook Marketplace are all great options if you want to sell online.

If you choose to sell in person at a fair, consider additional fees like booth costs and travel. 

When selling online, you may also charge the customer for shipping or include it in your price.

Should you start an upcycling business?

As you can see, selling upcycled items is a unique and fun way to make extra money. The best part about this side hustle is that you can start up with little to no costs.

So if you’re looking for a way to repurpose items in your home while still getting paid, this side hustle is for you.

–By Fo Alexander

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