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How to Turn Kijiji Into a Side Hustle

Written by Alex McMurray

I need money. No, I’m not begging you personally for a donation, I’m just stating a fact. I need money to pay rent, internet, food, gas, insurance, and all that other nonsense. I figure chances are pretty high that you need money, too. Going to school is expensive. Being alive is pretty costly, especially in big cities. But hey—I have good news also: if you live in a large metropolitan area, there is a neat way to make some extra money that you might not have considered. My friend called this method: “The Kijiji Side Hustle.”

rich free money GIF by SpongeBob SquarePants

Background

When I was in high school, a friend of mine was working part-time for a telemarketing agency. He didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t exactly how he wanted to be spending his time. He needed money, but the income from this job wasn’t enough to cover his essential costs and his extra fun. Slowly, I began to notice that he was on his phone more and more, browsing Kijiji. I didn’t think much of it at first. Then, one day, he told me that his “Kijiji monthly income” had exceeded the pay he received from his “real” job.

mr krabs money GIF

Before We Continue…

Safety Warnings: 

Before I continue this article and offer the tips and tricks I gathered from my friend and the web, I have to make two important clarifications: firstly, this article isn’t sponsored by Kijiji. A lot of the tips will apply to Craigslist as well, if not other secondary markets. My friend just happened to focus on Kijiji.

Secondly, there are severe risks involved in this method of making money. The most significant risk is probably scams and loss of investment. For example, if you buy a phone at a certain price point, expecting to be able to sell it for more, you might not be able to find someone willing to buy it for anything above the price you paid. You might even have to take a loss. Worse still, if you aren’t careful when buying that phone, it might turn out to be broken or otherwise worth less than you thought it would be. You could lose part or all of your investment.

Also…

It’s worth mentioning that the secondary market isn’t always entirely safe. My friend is a huge, intimidating dude with relatively extensive knowledge of a couple martial arts and fighting styles. Plus, he always brought another guy of similar build and experience along with him for buying and selling meet-ups. He felt confident and never had anyone initiate violence during an interaction. But a big build and some fighting chops wouldn’t have protected him from a gun. Be careful out there, folks!

I’ll include some basic safety tips in this article as well, but the fundamental idea here is that this is an endeavour that involves risk. Make sure to do everything you can to mitigate that risk if you try to make money like this. At the very least, you should be aware that risks exist before you begin going out there and trying to make money.

angry power GIF by SpongeBob SquarePants

Ok, with that scary stuff out of the way, let’s talk about how great this is! Seriously though, my friend never had anyone pull a weapon on him and he indeed never robbed anyone. Countless people engage in secondary markets without ever being hurt or even scammed. It’s important to note that risks exist so that no one reads this article and goes off unprepared and gets hurt.

However, The Kijiji Side Hustle was a relatively safe and very lucrative source of income for my friend all through high school. I’m going to lay out the necessary process for you and offer tips along the way, ending this article with some general ideas, tricks and safety practices.

The Basic Process

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The most critical part of Kijiji selling is knowing the market. My friend would spend significant amounts of time browsing ads before making any purchases or sales. His browsing was mostly a search for three specific bits of information:

  1. What do people want?
  2. How much are other people generally selling these items for?
  3. What is the most that these items could conceivably be worth?

The answers to these questions would allow him to make money. For example, let’s say that a lot of people are searching for the past generation of iPhones since a new model just came out the previous month. He would know from past experience that this is a market that will be reliable for at least a few weeks, maybe more.

Then, say he browsed Kijiji for the specific model of iPhone that a lot of people are posting want ads for and discovered that most sellers are offering that model for around $500. He would take that number, or perhaps a range of $450-$550, and compare that with the price of an unused old model being sold on Amazon or something.

Now…

Let’s say the new, out of the box price for this model is $650. Now he has his range to work with. The process here is very similar to stock markets or basically any economic buy and sell model: buy low, sell high. Think of this side hustle as a series of short-term investments.

He would look for people who were desperate to sell, looking for quick cash, or perhaps just a little ignorant of the actual value of the product they were offering. He would buy things on the lowest end of the spectrum that he could and then offer them up for sale on the higher end. In this example, the best case scenario would be finding someone who really needed to pay rent and was willing to sell that model of iPhone for $450 if someone would pick it up that day, then buying it and posting an ad for $550 a week later when the market wasn’t so flooded.

After gas money, that would still be $80 or more in profit. In short, it’s all about supply and demand. If possible, buy stuff when the supply is high, and the prices have to be lower to compete, then sell when demand is high, and the buyers are desperate.

To Summarize:

  1. Watch the market. See what people want and how much of that product is available.
  2. Study the average buying and selling prices of various items.
  3. Find something that seems to be more valuable than the price the seller is asking for.
  4. Vet the ad, look for signs of sketchiness or fakery (I’ll speak about this later).
  5. Act quickly so that no one else snatches up this deal.
  6. Meet up and make the purchase.
  7. Gauge the market and post your ad as soon or as late as seems wise.
  8. List the purchased item at the highest possible price that you think someone will buy.
  9. Safely sell the item to a buyer.

Obviously, anything is easier said than done. The biggest issue with that step-by-step guide is that it isn’t always easy to understand the market. For this reason, it’s probably best to sell things that have values that most people accept and agree upon. As in, buying an Xbox One for less than market value is probably a better investment than buying an old carpet that some guy promises you are being sold for less than market value.

Unless there’s something notable about this old carpet and you have research that shows that there is a market for it, you may never be able to sell it at a higher price point than your investment.

Scary Scam Story

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The other main issue with this whole idea is scammers. My friend did have one negative experience that I remember him telling me about, although it was resolved quickly enough. This may be where his size and physical confidence came into play, however…

To make a long story short, he met up with someone in a parking lot, handed over the money, and they gave him a box which was supposed to contain some Bluetooth speakers. As he began to walk away, he opened the box to check the contents. The box did not include Bluetooth speakers. He turned around, yelling at the seller before they managed to get back into their car, and ran towards them saying he wanted his money back. They sheepishly gave him back his money and drove off.

How to Avoid Being Scammed

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Now, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone take this specific action. As I said earlier, if the other party had had some sort of weapon on them, the situation easily could have escalated. I’m more focused on the concept of scamming itself. This service isn’t perfect, and there are ways to game the system. Be vigilant when you shop!

Watch Out For:

  1. An ad with no photos, or very few photos. If someone isn’t willing to prove that they actually own the item and it is in good shape, that’s a big red flag.
    An ad that only has photos of a box that is supposed to contain an item. Anything can be put inside a box, and it isn’t too hard to make a box look sealed after opening it.
  2. An ad with very little writing. “Great buy contact immediately” is much sketchier than an ad that speaks about the quality of the item, reason for selling it, amount of use it has seen before being put up to be sold, whether or not the seller would be willing to haggle, etc. Real, ordinary people who want to sell something usually take the time to make people feel comfortable because they don’t want to be seen as a scammer. Lazy scammers act and write ads like a lazy scammer.
  3. Anything that seems much too good to be true. In the previous example, if these models of iPhones are usually being sold for around $500, an ad offering to sell one for $150 is pretty sketchy. At worst, this could be the set-up a robbery, or at least an attempt to sell you an empty box. At best, you’re sort of scamming some person that has no idea what they’re selling. It’s probably wise to avoid ads like these.
  4. Trust your gut! Most of us know when something weird is happening. If their ad or email is full of odd punctuation usage and sentences that don’t make sense, if someone seems afraid of doing things in a way that will help keep you safe, if an ad requests some kind of weird money transfer service instead of a straight trade, or especially if anyone wants money in advance (NEVER DO THIS), or if people are just generally “acting sketchy”, it’s probably best to move along.

Trust Your Gut

Kijiji offers an extensive guide to avoiding various kinds of internet scams. I covered a lot of what they mention, but just in case, you should probably give this a read. Like I said, trust your gut! The secondary market involves some element of risk, yes, but you shouldn’t feel scared for your money and your life the whole time you engage in it. You can even talk to sellers and buyers for a while over email, as long as both of you are responding frequently, to help get a sense of their character.

Most importantly of all, ALWAYS BUY AND SELL IN WELL-LIT, BUSY PUBLIC AREAS. Never agree to a buy or sell in some empty lot at night. It sounds like common sense, but some people will try to make you buy in weird places. This might just be because they are in a rush and that’s close to where they live, but it’s still dangerous. Malls, public squares, busy fast-food restaurants, meeting at places like these will help keep you safe.

Final Tips and Tricks

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With safety discussed, I’ll end with some tips and tricks for posting your own ads. First of all, do the opposite of any of the red-flags I mentioned above.

All About The Visuals

You don’t need to write an epic story, but spend some time personalizing the ad and making sure that you give the details that buyers would want. Be friendly and informative and have lots of pictures. Your goal is to make sure that no one will think that you have something to hide when they view your ad. You might put up a photo of your recently purchased iPhone’s screen to show that it isn’t cracked, but not post a picture of the back of the phone.

Sure, you know that the phone’s back is spotless, but how will the buyers know this? Without a photo from all angles, someone could think that you are trying to hide a flaw. Photos should be as high quality as possible, well-lit, and it can be helpful to take them in places that look lived-in versus something that looks like a stock photo from the web.

Specify A Location

When posting, there’s no reason not to maximize your reach. Most cities have sections for Craigslist and Kijiji, and these days you can also find groups on social media for buying and selling.

Optimize Your Title

Make sure that all of your posts have a good title! As people browse, they mostly just see the title of the ad and the first picture. Make the first picture your best one. As for the title, you want to describe the item and use at least one positive adjective. Compare these two titles: “iPhone for sale” or “Undamaged, lightly-used 32gig 6thGen iPhone”. The better title is obvious and will almost assuredly get more results.

The Final Touches

Depending on the item, you may want to discuss whether or not you will deliver. Are you offering to meet someone where it is convenient for you, or offering to meet up with others where they find comfortable? There are positives and negatives to both options. Let’s say that you bought a couch and it was challenging to get it home. In that case, you should mention in the ad that you want someone to pick it up and maybe list an added charge for delivery if you think it would be worth your time and energy.

You should also indicate whether or not you’re willing to haggle as you might get more responses if you appear to be flexible on the price or ready to make trades. Of course, opening yourself up to haggling can mean cutting into your profits. You’ll have to weigh the costs and benefits of this yourself. You can find more tips and tricks regarding how to make a good ad here.

Get Out There and Make Bank!

season 5 money GIF by SpongeBob SquarePants

The last bit of advice that I have is to be on the ball. A big part of this process is knowing the market. You won’t be able to perceive the changes in the market and act on them if you aren’t paying attention. Pricing an item for what it was worth two months ago when you last checked could mean that you don’t sell it. Worse, this could mean that you are one of the people that others are buying from and then profiting off of using their knowledge of the current supply and demand.

You have to be the most aware and the quickest to move if you want to make money doing this. You can make a lot of money on the secondary market with hard work and a little luck. However, it probably won’t be enough for a primary source of income, and it will never be a stable source of income. My friend had months where his Kijiji income was more than what he was making at his job, but he also had months where he earned a lot less, and sometimes he even lost money. There’s nothing guaranteed about this method.

Final Thoughts

The Kijiji Side Hustle is like modern life. There is more opportunity than ever, but also more risks and less stability in specific areas. Still, there is money to be made here. Kijiji did a study of Canadians, and while there is an evident bias to be considered, their results seem reasonable given my experience as a student who has often engaged in the secondary markets and known many others who usually do so as well. The study is summarized here, but the most basic summary is this: “The Second-Hand Economy continues to represent a consistent and sizeable part of the country’s overall economic activity.”

There’s money to be made, my friends! Stay safe, stay vigilant, and pay off those student loans!

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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.