The first installment of the Buy/Sell/Hold series is officially in the books, where in the space of 19 weeks we were able to generate over $1,900 profit from a starting cash balance of $1,000. Due to the fact that we were so focused on rolling from one successful week of transactions into the next, there wasn't too much opportunity for reflection, and analysing the aspects of the series that worked well, and others which can be improved for future series. All in all though, if you told me way back in early June that the series would've almost doubled its original target by the middle of October, I would've bit your hand off. But there were little moments throughout the series which I now look back on and realise we could've easily squeezed another $500 profit from our inventory at different stages. But without further spoiling the article, let's reflect on some aspects of the series which will become valuable learning lessons for when Buy/Sell/Hold rolls back around in 2024.
Predictor Flipping : One of the major ways that we were able to generate a major chunk of our profit was through buying and selling various types of predictors throughout the 'Home & Away' season. While I can't stress enough that 'predictor flipping' is probably the highest risk way to make money in trading cards, given that their values can plummet in a matter of moments, if you stick to a strict framework of when you're buying and importantly when you're selling, it can obviously be a viable option. Throughout the course of the series we obtained two eventual winning redemptions, but as I tend to always do with predictor purchases, we cashed out just prior to their conclusion. Did we leave a few $100 on the table? Sure but riding out predictors as "investments”, no matter how likely they look to succeed, wasn't what that part of the series was about and not something I'd recommend to anyone reading. If you are interested in more information regarding buying and selling predictors, be sure to check out my article 'When's The Right Time To Sell Your Predictors?'. Back to the series at hand though, through 19 weeks of transactions we made $562.20 on flipping predictors which made up almost a quarter of our total profit margin. Big tick!
Buying For Scarcity : Another strategy throughout the series which provided fruitful returns was targeting scarce cards which both do not appear very often, but also where there's no competition on eBay. That doesn't mean that you have to ONLY buy higher end cards to turn a profit, which will be explained further below, but it can't be denied that purchasing cards with a lack of external competition is a sustainable way to make yourself a cheeky 30% ROI. Looking at some of the cards we purchased that fit this mold include ; Platinum Draft Pick Signatures, Supremacy Rookies, Marquee's, and Franchise Future Signatures.
Buying In Bulk : Another strategy that helped us towards the series profit goals is buying cards in bulk lots, which is something I'm leaning towards more with my own personal transactions. Buying cards at unit prices, as opposed to regular individual prices can be beneficial for both the buyer and the seller. For starters, the seller gets to move cards which most of the time are considered 'non-liquid' which would take an eternity to sell individually. The buyer on the other hand receives cards at risk-free prices, but obviously has to go to the time and effort to list, sell and package the cards which are eventually purchased. Lucky for this series we had time to burn, and were happy to facilitate cash-outs in exchange for future upside in the form of profit.
Inventory Management : Touching on something a little less tangible, I think something we were able to be consistent with throughout the series was managing our inventory of cards. Scrolling back to our first ever purchases, almost all of our first 5-110 weeks of transactions no longer feature on our books. Making sure we weren't hoarding cards and unable to regenerate our floating cash balance was a big reason why we were able to clock over $5,000 in total sales and why the series could continue to roll on pretty unhindered.
What Could Improve!
Patience, Patience & more Patience : As I mentioned above, looking back on the series I think I left a considerable amount of money on the table. What was the root cause of this? Sometimes it felt as though as soon as a card entered my possession, I was quick to try to flog it off. There were instances where this frame of thinking was necessary, but to say it was applicable for every card we sold would be a lie. When dealing with in demand cards, you as the seller have all the leverage power in the transaction, as at the end of the day it's your card. I think I lost sight of this concept a couple times throughout the series, in particular with cards such as the Corey Durdin Futures we picked up, and some GEM cards we acquired in the early stages of the release. The rush to constantly move cards and circulate money was a strength of the series as it meant we weren't left with stale inventory, but in the same breath it also would've cost us a few paydays along the way. When this series returns, understanding which cards need to move fast, and which cards aren't an immediate burden to continue to hold, is a slight nuance which could further maximize our transactions.
Cash Balance Management : I touched on a few times throughout the series that I never thought that having too much cash would be such an issue for the progression of the series, but our stagnant cash balance was probably the reason why we fell over at the final hurdle. Having too many cards on hand is not an ideal situation, but in terms of generating profit, you can also be too cash-heavy. At the end of the day, I could only buy cards from certain places, and at different points of the series market activity peaked and waned. That period between GEM and Legacy's release was probably the moment you could pinpoint and say we didn't inject enough money into cards as we should've. Maybe it's something we tweak slightly next time around, but I suspect the series will run for a longer period which may alleviate this issue.
Steering Clear Of 'Dead Cards' : No matter how cheap some cards can get, in order to make profit you have to find a buyer for an increased price. If you scan through the cards that are left in our inventory, a majority of them follow a similar pattern. Teams or players who either underperformed or left a sour taste in their collector bases mouths. A key driving factor to selling trading cards is positive consumer sentiment, which if you guessed it, sub-par performances don't provide. So even though cards may pop up for good prices, it may take months or in some cases years to close sales purely due to the impact of on-field (or off-field) performance. A good example of this is our Tarryn Thomas purchasing smack bang in the middle of the series. Yes, for $77 that bundle posed great value, but due to the lack of hype surrounding North Melbourne in recent years, regardless of how Tarryn's performance is trending, it's really hard to get immediate excitement for what's currently happening down at Arden Street. I'm sure you'd reap a decent return on those cards at some point in the future, but in hindsight I would've rather have the $77 in my pocket and invest the money into more liquid areas in the market.
How The Series Can Evolve!
The aim of Buy/Sell/Hold was to constructively educate collectors on ways in which you can enjoy the hobby you love, and make a little bit of money on the side to try to alleviate some of the cost pressures associated with trading cards. To that I think we succeeded, and as the weeks rolled on it was great to see more and more people asking questions about an area of trading cards which I think is largely taboo. While we could just run the series back and progressively build upon a bank balance, I think it probably ends up being a regurgitation of the last 19 weeks. With everything I do, I like to keep content as relevant as possible and try to align with real life scenarios that different collectors constantly face. Some people don't want to just accumulate money and assets, and rather be able to build a collection which they can look back on and be proud of. That's where I think this series can take the next step, and I think building a collection over the course of a year provides tangible outcomes besides some numbers on a spreadsheet. Thankfully, I've got time to mull over things and ensure that Buy/Sell/Hold will be must-read weekly content, but that's the direction I think this series heads when we enter 2024!