How to Make Money From Auctions

by Lisa McQuerrey; Updated September 26, 2017
Online auction. Gavel on laptop. 3d

The auction process -- whether conducted live, silently or online -- is a way for people to buy and sell a wide range of consumer goods. Money can be made as the individual selling the merchandise; as a buyer who purchases goods and resells them for an increased profit; or as an auction professional who hires himself out to perform various auction-related services.

Online Auction Venues

Make money from popular online auction sites by taking high-resolution photographs of unwanted household or collectible items and writing compelling descriptions of your products. Sell to the highest bidder, collect the payment and ship the item to the buyer. You can make money by selling a few items here and there, or turn your endeavor into a small business with a continual supply of merchandise.

Auction Consignment

Sell goods through an auction house as a consignor. Using this approach, you deliver merchandise to an auction house to be catalogued and advertised to potential buyers. Merchandise typically is sold in a live auction via a professional bid-caller. When your merchandise sells, the auction house generally retains a percentage of the proceeds and you get the rest of the money. You can make money by selling your own unwanted goods or by searching thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets and buying low-priced yet valuable goods you can send to auction.

Fix and Sell

If you have a knack for fixing or repurposing old or broken goods, buy merchandise cheaply, clean it up, then resell it in auction or another venue. For example, you might buy an old piece of rough-looking furniture, refinish it and sell it in a local furniture boutique for a substantial sum. Visit storage unit auctions or estate sales for “finds” that can be restored and sold in consignment shops or antique malls. Specialize in a particular product, like Victorian-era furniture or hard-to-find auto parts, and develop a reputation for being a go-to seller for niche merchandise you seek out at auctions.

Auction Services

The auction process employs many individuals, often on a temporary, part-time or for-hire basis. You can make money offering services. Among them are positions as an auctioneer, who runs the auction, auction clerk, who records bids and transactions, cashier, who checks in bidders and completes financial transactions, or ring man, who helps the auctioneer display merchandise for sale. Auction companies also pay for services such as food vendors, movers and clerical help. Inquire with auction house owners, clerks or auctioneers about job openings. Expect most positions to be on-call and paid with an hourly wage.

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