Can You Really Make $200 a Day Selling Old Magazines on eBay?

Grace Kelly on Time cover

Grace Kelly on Time Cover

Starting your own online used magazine business is easy, inexpensive and quite profitable. Best of all, it’s a business with flexible hours, so you can run it in just an hour a two a day, on your own schedule. Before you can sell old magazines, you need to buy them. Since garage and estate sales are excellent spots to pick up magazines cheap, plan on spending a couple hours every Saturday checking out local sales. It’s a lot like a treasure hunt, and the rewards can be amazing. It’s not uncommon to pick up magazines for 50 cents each that can be resold on eBay for $10-$20 each.

The most important factor in your success is picking the right kind of magazines. Stacks of magazines in an attic or garage can be tempting, but they must be appealing to collectors. There are about two dozen ordinary magazines, like Time, Life and the Saturday Evening Post that can bring a tidy profit online.

Magazine collectors like issues that feature well-known authors, photographers and illustrators, and will pay far more for those special issues than ordinary issues. For example, most of us are familiar with the work of Norman Rockwell, who produced hundreds of magazine covers and ad illustrations during his long career, including 317 covers for the Saturday Evening Post. But not many folks are familiar with Jessie Willcox Smith, whose memorable illustrations of children also bring top dollar even today from collectors. Even a single page magazine ad done by Smith can bring over $100.

When a famous person is featured on a magazine cover, that issue is worth more to a collector, especially if the celebrity is deceased. There are over 100 celebrities with the “star power” to attract collectors, among them movie stars like Rock Hudson and Judy Garland, sports stars like Joe DiMaggio and Hank Aaron, or the infamous, like Adolph Hitler.

Newer magazine issues – less than 10 to 15 years old – are a hard sell, unless they have desirable “how-to” information in popular areas, such as gardening or woodworking. As a rule of thumb, the older the issue date, the more collectible the magazine and the higher the price.

Although many of the larger sellers of old magazines have their own web stores, you’ll find most sellers have listings or a “store” on eBay. Why eBay? Because that’s where the buyers are! Millions of people search the eBay listings, looking for their special interest, whether it’s Life magazines from the 50s or John Deere memorabilia. John Deere ads from old magazines are collectible, bringing as much as $10-$15 for single page ads. Other collectors will pay similar prices for full-page ads for Chesterfield cigarettes, Packard autos, Kellogg cereals, Coca Cola and many other products. With as many as twenty full page ads in old magazine issues, those profits can add up in a hurry.

Other collectors willingly pay high prices for collections of clippings from old magazines about their favorite movie star or celebrity, from Frankie Avalon to Frank Sinatra. A recent eBay auction of Grace Kelly clippings brought over $200.

As you can see, there are a variety of ways to make a good spare-time income with old magazines, magazine covers, magazine ads, even magazine clippings, on eBay. The ability to search the internet for that special collectible item has turned millions of folks, baby boomers in particular, into collectors, and it’s still quite an affordable hobby, with most old magazine issues still available for $10 to $30 each. It doesn’t take many $20 sales to bring in $200 a day, as many sellers are discovering to their delight. To learn more about this fascinating and profitable business, read Old Magazines Into Gold.