Monday, December 30, 2019

How to Make Extra Money in 2020 with Amazon, Mercari or Poshmark with cash Investment

Do remember  life before the internet?  Wow, I am getting old.  I have always been an entrepreneur at heart and my wife can verify that. I have done all kinds of crazy side gigs to support our large family while pastoring over the past 30 years. When baby number one came along in 1991 my wife  wanted to stay home and that meant this full time youth pastor  had to moonlight another job to make ends meet. I started off with a newspaper route. What's a newspaper you might ask? Do they even do that anymore?  After trashing my car with thousands of extra miles I started driving a school bus  for extra cash and that was far more interesting. Then after a season of that for a few years I moved to selling  stuff through network marketing companies including one called Excel that sold long distance services to landline home phones. What you might ask, "did people really sell long distance services"? Yep, and I would sell it to you.  Then I went back to the school bus driving job when the company folded. I also  drove a dump truck for an asphalt company part time for a season, then I hung my hat up on driving jobs after a short season of being a charter bus driver.

             When the internet arrived opportunities began with companies like eBay. eBay was one of the first great ways to make money online.  In the year 2000 I started selling video email and live streaming services.  It was then that I sold over $80,000 worth of services in 4 years. That was pretty amazing at the time. Now streaming is free and what is video email? huh. 
       I took my turn at eBay and did pretty good for a few years prior to the year 2000. But I never got very aggressive about it, but it worked. I remember one item in particular I sold was a piece of stain glass window to someone in China for $600 plus shipping. Wow that was strange sale. Then Amazon came to my attention in 2015. My wife was selling off used home school books when I started digging into how it all worked. I will spare you the details in this post, but the summary is I failed for the first 6 months and finally started to figure it out and made around  $1,500 by the end of my first year.  Now remember Amazon has fees,  so when people say I sold so much on Amazon that is not what they actually made.  The average commission they keep is 15% and depending on how much you have invested you can figure for every $1000 someone says they made or sold on amazon they actually made approx $150,00 plus whatever their investment was,  In my first year I sold used books that I got for free or very cheap.  Amazon started by the owner selling used books online out of his garage  and today books are still a foundation item sold on Amazon. 
              In 2016 I sold $26,500 worth of used books. Then in 2017 I sold over $66,000 and started selling different things I would find at yard sales , garage sales and auctions. Well the figures just keep scaling up if you keep feeding the machine.  It's become a fun business, but unless I outsource parts of it in 2020 I think I've probably reached my peak as a one man operation. The irony is I actually spend less time managing  and running it now then I did the first two years. I think I spend maybe 20 hours a month to run what has become a very well working silent sales machine.

         I do find myself collecting a lot of junk along the way. I love auctions and go almost weekly.  It is sheer entertainment for me no doubt.  My biggest win at the auction was some guys toy collection in the spring of 2019.  I paid  $2000.00 over 3 weeks of returning to the auction for new toys that were collectibles. I made back my $2000 investment by July and then another $4000 or more leading up to Christmas. Wow I have fun with my side gig business and no more driving the school bus or throwing newspapers at doors.  It has become a blessing to help pay off debts and keep my kids in a Christian College.  

       In the last 3 years I have coached 7 people on how to sell on Amazon and only one of them dropped off after 7 months and said that it was not for them.  What I have liked the most about selling online is I never had to invest anything to make it work other then my time. Most businesses take a hefty investment.  With Amazon you can either pay nothing to sell from your home or pay $39.99 a month to have the opportunity to send your things  into their warehouse so they ship it to the customer. This is what truly inspired me to start selling with Amazon. The program actually started in 2006 and when I started it was only a 10 year old program.  So this past year in 2019 I have sold on Amazon 13,801 separate orders to customers.  There is no way I could have personally shipped that many items, but with Amazon shipped them for me it is well worth 39.99 a month. Typically I send in a few boxes of multiple items once a month  or I call UPS to pick up at my house 25-40 boxes of items and then I am done shipping.      

       Things I can't sell on Amazon that I often get from the auctions are numerous now. But I also do not want to throw them away or donate everything I can't sell.   I will admit I have donated way more to charity then I ever expected because of auctions. Simple estate auctions are a fun mystery I thoroughly enjoy.   In 2019 I finally hired a CPA  and a virtual assistant to help me figure the details out because things are growing faster then the time I want to give to it.  I love being a pastor so I don't want to give more than 20 hours a month. I have read dozens of books, articles and watched tons of videos on how to sell better and smarter.  I truly see this as being a life long hobby of selling online into retirement.  When it's fun its not work! 

        I've been told its harder to start an Amazon business today then it was 5 years ago. I believe that is somewhat true because they do verify who is selling more then ever to make sure you are not trying to set up a fraudulent account. But once you are approved and you follow their rules its a beautiful thing.  Recently my adult daughters told me about two other sites they sell used and new clothes on for extra cash.  One is Poshmark ( I have still yet to figure that one out well) and the other is Mercari.  Poshmark keeps 20% and Mercari keeps 10% of sales.   I started using Mercari over 1 month ago to sell stuff off I could not send into Amazon and didn't really want to donate away to thrift stores. In this short time I have made over 500.00 in selling off stuff I could not  sell on Amazon. 
          If you want to get a sense of selling online I would recommend Mercari over Amazon to start off with. It is super easy and cost you nothing until you sell something and then it is only 10% of your sale in commission. It works best from their phone app over their website and you can literally work your way into enjoying online sales or not pretty fast. Mercari is also heavily advertising on TV and other places and I believe will be the next eBay within a few years.  

       If you need any help out there I am glad to chat with you... 

Friday, November 8, 2019

What Does God Have Planned For You?

      In this life we have choices and we always will. Our God did not create us as puppets with strings attached, but rather with a free will to choose every day.  The first significant choice we have is will we trust God with our sins. Let’s admit it, we all sin and the Bible confirms this when the Apostle Paul wrote”for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23.  Do we agree with God’s Word that we have sinned against God?  
When I was growing up as a young man in Maine my parents would take me to Catechism but they didn’t live it out like it was real to them so it was not real to me either. By the time I was 11 they just stopped going to Mass. I remember my sins well and how real to me they became. How I dealt with my sins was to ignore them and not listen to my conscience.  I lied to my parents, stole money from my dad’s wallet among many other things. Within a few years I was running with the wrong crowd of kids that did even worse things. I was sinning against my family and against God’s standards for my life. I knew better but didn’t really care. 

          I willfully lived in increasing sins against God until I was 19 years old. It was then that I was faced with my own eternal reality. Did I want to admit my sins to God and ask Him to forgive me or did I want to ignore God and His plan to forgive me? I knew true forgiveness from God meant truly willing to stop all the sinning.  I became aware that the plan of God was to truly forgive me, but my part was to really be willing to stop the sinning as well.  If I was willing to stop sinning then God had a plan for me. I remember weighing out my sinful deeds & behaviors in my mind and deciding if I was willing to really stop sinning or not.  It was the biggest choice I faced as a teenager. I decided to walk away from sinful behaviors and walk toward God by faith. Those choices led to different friends, different jobs and a new church and seeking out what God planned for me.  

          At that stage of my life it became what God wanted me to do next. Since I was young it was education. God wanted to educate me more, now that my mind and heart were cleared out of the influence of drugs.  God gave me choices and I followed the ones I sensed would please Him and I desired. God was changing my desires and giving me the desires of my heart.  I didn’t know exactly what He had planned for me but I followed the path that kept opening up before my eyes. That path took me to 3 colleges before finally graduating where I met my wife. God had plans for me and I was trying to follow them and He kept leading me so I kept following what He revealed over 6 years. I believed God has plans for everyone at every age and stage of life. If you are willing to let go of your sins he will can and will change your life from the inside out. If we are willing to follow His plan and listen to Him, while maintaining a clean conscience and a pure heart He will reveal an wonderful plan for your life no matter what the past has been.  
          In my 6th year of college I meet the love of my life and married her. We celebrate 30 years together this month. What plans did God now have for us together?  Yes God has plans for couples as much as singles and He can lead people together to discover his plans and purposes.  We both wanted 4 children and God gave us a bonus and we have 5 children.  God now has plans for their lives as we have taught them to seek God and his plan for their lives.  

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

God has a plan for you as well. It starts with forgiven of sins and progresses in a wonderful journey.  Does this mean you and I will not have to experience pain and suffering? The answer to that is no. Pain and suffering happens to all of us with or without God in our daily lives.  Since we live in a fallen world full of others who do not seek God and choose to live in their sins, then we will suffer at various times and seasons. God has plans for you and can restore and make a way even when there seems to be no way. 
Seek the Lord and see what he has in store for your days. He loves you, he died and rose again for you and has plans for you.  “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.””
Joshua 24:15 
Bob Dylan wrote a song many years ago called, ‘You have to serve somebody”.  I will leave you with a few lines
 You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody”

Remember God has a plan for your life.   He created you and cares about you.  Seek the Lord while He may be found. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Pastor, What Do You Do For Fun?

   I was talking to a pastor friend this week and he mentioned how many pastors he knew who by the time they retired had nothing to do because all they did was pastor their entire ministry.  So now I want to ask Pastors young and old alike what do we do that’s fun?     

                I’m in my 50’s and have been a pastor since I was 27 years old. I have officially pastored as long as I’ve been married for 28 years. Before I started pastoring I had a bunch of different things I enjoyed. Let me list them briefly. I loved hiking, snow skiing, racquetball, swimming, baseball, softball, golf, camping and dirt bikes. Dirt bikes graduated into street bikes and camping graduated to mission trips.  I collected baseball cards as a kid and loved to ride dirt bikes and go four wheeling. I fished a lot as a kid through my teen years and found deep sea fishing to be a fun treat.  Bowling was another fun sport I did on occasion and even rolling skating some as well. 
                                Then I got married and became a pastor and had 5 kids and life shifted from being a youth pastor to a senior pastor. As time marched on I gave up the dirt bike for a street bike, went to less baseball games and started playing softball in church leagues.  In the last 28 years I have fished far less. In the last 8 years I think I have fished 4 times, sold my motorcycle twice in 8 year. I have not gone skiing at all in 20 years and bowled twice in a decade and don’t collect anything other than junk as my wife says. She's right the garage is full.

                      I know as we all get older some of my interest can change, but I honesty I still love baseball, swimming, hiking and some of the above things mentioned that I don't do because i've gotten too busy. But as I’ve aged and my kids have aged I have discovered how I have decreasingly done less of the things I enjoy. I would say much of that has been due to keeping up with the demands of church and family. But now I am realizing the things we like give us energy for the things we are called to as well.  

                                Recently I sent out an email to a large group of pastors about who wants to attend a professional basketball game for a night of fun. I got two responses back from the youngest of 40 pastors. Their responses ranged from I can’t that week, but I’d love too.  The older guys have not responded at all. I realize some pastors can’t afford it and some are busy and others probably do not like basketball, but I would venture to say the majority just have such full schedules that it just sounded exhausting to make the effort to go do another thing.  

                So what do we do for fun? How often do we do things for fun and is doing fun stuff for ourselves that important anymore?  Sometime fun things require we react spontaneously. About 5 years ago a man from my church walked into my office and said, " pastor I got an extra spot on a western Caribbean cruise if you can figure it out within 24 hours". That day I had a luncheon with a Catholic Priest who I had befriended in our community. Over Lunch I told him how I had an offer to do something I had always wanted to do, but never had the time and money.  He said what is stopping you from going? That was a great question and the more I thought about it the more fun it was to entertain the idea. After lunch I went home and asked my wife what she thought if I could pull it off. She encouraged me to take one of my week vacations and just do it.  I wrestled that day with guilt and joy. In the end I found someone to preach for me and cover my tracks for 7 days and I went and enjoyed the best fun 7 day cruise ever and to date the only cruise ever.  Pastors we need to have fun and sometimes we need to plan it in advance and other times fun will arise out of nowhere and we either jump on it and enjoy it or miss the adventure.  

                I have lived in my community for 8 years now. Before I moved here I use to play racquetball about 6 times a year. I have only played once in the last 8 years and the priest whipped but good.  I realize as we get older we can’t always do what we use to do physically or as well as we once did it, but maybe it’s because we give up our fun stuff for being so busy that we “think’ we don’t have the energy to do it anymore. 

                Pastor I encourage you to look at your past and your present and keep doing the fun things that thrill you, energize you and motivate you.  If you are too busy to do something you enjoy at least once a month then you are too busy with too many things.  Let’s not make the fun things we enjoy become a faded memory, but a recent activity.  Please don’t forget to enjoy life along the journey. Make 2018 a fun year of enjoying those things you use to do and long to do again. A happy pastor who enjoys the journey has more to give when the schedule gets demanding.  Go have some Fun!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Intentional Evangelism ?

  Intentional Evangelism ?

  How often do most Christians witness to the power and grace of Jesus Christ in their lives? I believe the safe answer is not often enough.  Witnessing is not easy on a regular basis. We get busy and caught up in the daily grind of life and probably forgot to witness more then we ought to. 
Last week just before Pentecost I realized it was my 36th anniversary of when I accepted Christ into my life. So I decided to record a quick 3 minute video summary of what Jesus did for me 36 years ago. It was easy to share because its my story.  Only God knows what He will do with that 3 minute testimony as it sits on the internet and people find it, watch it and hopefully someone is encouraged to seek Jesus because of it.  But the video was intentional. A week later I looked at it and it has been shared over 15 times on other peoples Facebook page and viewed over 1300 times.  Those 1300 plus views equals 65 hours of video testimony being seen. That is equal to me telling my story of 3 minutes for 3 days straight. Now this is really mind blowing.  Here is the link if you want to see that video
  I realize not everyone feels comfortable in front of a camera and this is not everyone’s first choice on how to witness. This week I meet some urban missionaries from the United States. Before I left them they handed me their written testimony within 3 paragraphs. I thought this is such a great low tech way to share your testimony as well when out in the market place. We use to call them tracts, but I like the idea of making up your own story with a way to  connect back.  Imagine being in the drive thru line and handing the cashier the money for your order and a piece of paper like mine below. Again this is INTENTIONAL EVANGELISM.  If we do not intentional witness who will?  We are commissioned by Jesus to Go  and Witness by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” I hope these ideas inspire you to create your own  ways of witnessing even when you are busy.  By all means that we might save some..