If you have been a LEGO fan for a while, you will sooner or later realize how expensive the hobby is. There will always be new sets that you really like and want to add to your collection, and you also need a good amount of loose elements to build your own creations. If you want to remain in the hobby long term, the earlier you figure out how to support your love of the brick, the better. Spending money that should be going towards living expenses and savings is never a good idea. Not to speak of ruining important relationships because of overspending on LEGO. If you can figure out a way to fund your hobby independently of your regular income, you will have a much better chance to grow and keep your collection in a healthy way. 🙂
Today I would like to introduce you to a new book I recently read, “Insider Secrets to Funding Your LEGO Hobby” with the subtitle, “How to sell LEGO, Make Money, and Always be Happy!” It is written by Brian D’Agostine, also known as Dag’s Bricks in the LEGO fan community. Brian is an active member of his local LEGO User Group in Portand, Oregon, runs LEGO camps and classes for kids, and blogs about his LEGO projects, experiences and tips at DagBricks.com. And to fund his hobby, Brian is a seller both on BrickLink and BrickOwl.
“Insider Secrets to Funding Your LEGO Hobby” is only available as an e-book via Amazon. E-books with valuable, relevant and timely information make a lot of sense over traditional paper books, especially the ones that provide how-to type information about online activities and resources that can change rapidly. And they also usually cost less than traditional books. Here is the official description of the book, to give you an idea what it is about, then I will share with you my thought on it.
Selling LEGO online is a great way to fund your LEGO hobby. You can start with very little money and grow at your own pace. Make extra money in your spare time and become a LEGOpreneur! This can be a home based business and stay that way, or you can grow to a small business or a larger pillar of your community.
This book will give you the outline needed to run your own LEGO parts store using already available online tools. You will learn about acquisition, storage solutions, pricing, following market trends, logistics, arbitrage, etc. This book also gives several practical examples throughout the course of the material to help drive the point home. The author has tested several methods using his own time and money and has figured out what works and what doesn’t.
You will also have the opportunity to become part of a community where the author will continue to keep you informed on the latest changes to the marketplace, software, and shipping, and where the best deals are. You don’t have to worry about doing this alone! The author will use his experience in evaluating sets, sales and parts to help you find the best deals and save you time. Get a real time view of how the author runs his business and follow him along.
So as you can see, the book is about selling LEGO, to fund your LEGO hobby. This makes a lot of sense, since you are likely already deeply immersed in the LEGO culture, and by selling LEGO you don’t have to learn a brand new product or business. All you need is some basics knowledge about online selling, and you are ready to open a shop. You can sell whole sets, minifigures or parts via online venues like BrickLink, BrickOwl, Amazon, and eBay. I would like to point out that while this book mentions all those options, its main focus is on selling parts and minifigs via BrickLink and BrickOwl. If you plan to sell sets, or through some of the other venues, you will still find most of the information relevant (buying inventory, storage, pricing, shipping, customer service, accounting, etc.), but you may also want to learn about the nuances of your chosen marketplace.
“Insider Secrets to Funding Your LEGO Hobby” is divided into nine chapters, and is less than a hundred pages long. This is a good thing. You get well organized, relevant information in easy to read chapters. No fluff or rambling – just what you need to run an online LEGO store. Chapter One is an introduction to the idea of funding your hobby by selling LEGO and why this makes sense. Chapter Two is quite interesting and contains some ideas that I have never thought of, even though I have been a BrickLink and eBay seller for many years. It talks about establishing a consistent online presence. While this is not necessary for selling LEGO, if you want to run an online business on the long term, it makes sense to build up a consistent presence and reputation. It will set you apart from other sellers as an expert in your field, which can open up other opportunities for you – in fact this is exactly what happened to Brian. So to have a larger picture in mind (even though you may not know what all that might contain) is a good idea from the very beginning. Chapter Two also briefly covers the most prominent online places to sell LEGO, payment types, and shipping options.
Chapter Three talks about basic supplies you will need for online selling. This includes items like bubble-mailers, shipping tape, etc., and resources for getting them. And also online services you can use to make transactions easier – like PayPal, online shipping options, etc. Keeping track of your income and expenses is discussed as well. Chapter Four covers sourcing your inventory (in other words all the place you can look for good LEGO deals), and what type of items are the best to carry. Different people focus on different things when they run an online store, so the information here is not set in stone, however the chapter gives you some good pointers to take into consideration when you decide on what you want to sell.
Chapter Five covers storing your inventory so the sets, minifigs and pieces you carry in your store remain in good condition, and they are also easy to find when you are fulfilling orders from buyers. Pricing items is also discussed, as well as uploading items to your BrickLink or BrickOwl inventory. Chapter Six goes into detail about setting up your store-terms, shipping-terms, selling internationally, leaving feedback, and dealing with problem orders. This chapter leans heavily towards discussing points that are mostly relevant to those who are selling parts on BrickLink, and may not be applicable on other platforms or when selling sets. It’s still worth reading through it, as you can find some very helpful nuggets that you can apply in general.
Chapter Seven is about shipping, which is definitely relevant for all online sellers, and not just for LEGO. Shipping is one of the most prominent areas where sellers make mistakes and can loose significant money. A seller can be buying all the right sets, packaging nicely, providing good customer service, etc., and loose everything on an order that gets damaged or goes missing. But there are ways to protect yourself, so it is worth paying careful attention to this chapter.
Chapter Eight is very thought-provoking, kind of following up on what was discussed in Chapter Two; expanding on your LEGO business and open up other venues and opportunities, including selling custom models and instructions, making custom LEGO compatible elements, selling at LEGO conventions, blogging, teaching, commissioned work, etc. In Chapter Nine Brian invites you to his blog when you can interact with him if you have questions about the content of the book or would like to learn more.
As a long-term BrickLink and eBay seller myself, I agree with pretty much everything Brian discusses in the book. There are a couple of things that I feel could have been written – or at least organized – better. The book vacillates between being an introduction to funding your LEGO hobby by selling LEGO in general, and being very detailed on selling parts on BrickLink. The author dismisses selling sets and considers them less lucrative, however many sellers do just fine by focusing on sets. It is a much less time-consuming option as there is no need to fiddle with tiny parts. Also, I feel that selling on eBay should have been discussed in more detail, because for many people eBay is already a familiar platform both for buying and selling. While it is true that BrickLink and BrickOwl are dedicated to LEGO only, compared to eBay neither of them have the kind of visibility and traffic eBay does. And they also have a significant learning curve for using their platforms. I successfully sell on both eBay and BrickLink, but use them very differently. And I would have also liked to see a chapter on selling on Amazon – another very popular option that can turn into a lucrative business.
Still, all in all I would say that this book is a great introduction to selling LEGO online. It covers most aspects of running an online business that is not specific to a particular venue. When I started selling on eBay I read a dummies book that really helped with getting over the learning curve. In a similar way, this book can be a great starter for those who want to get into selling LEGO and avoid most of the mistakes new sellers make and traps they can fall into. If you want to take a look, it is available on Amazon here: INSIDER SECRETS TO FUNDING YOUR LEGO HOBBY
If you have any questions about the book feel free to ask. I just read it a few days ago, so it is still fresh on my mind. Also, if you have questions for Brian, you can add those as well. I can ask him to stop by and answer them for you. And if you have read it already you are welcome to share your own review in the comment section below. 😉
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Sounds interesting. So would you say this book is more for beginners or for those who already have experience selling online?
I think it is great for beginners to get a head-start and to avoid pitfalls. As I mentioned in my review, I felt that some of the chapters went a bit too deep into certain areas that may irrelevant or too much for beginners, but most of the book would still be of great value. And the deep stuff is for those who already have experience, and would like to learn better ways to manage their online selling activities.
So I would say great for both beginners and experienced sellers alike. In the review section on amazon both beginners and experienced sellers praise the book for the information.
Hi Anna and thanks for the review. Something I may not have clarified in the book very well is the reason I focus more on parts and less on sets. There are already two books out there that focus on sets. Brickvesting focuses on buying and holding sets for long term speculation. Bricks to Riches touches a little on parts selling but leans more towards minifigs and sets. I wanted to fill a niche in the ebook world about the basics of selling pieces for beginners as well as some advanced tips for pros. You’re right, I focus a bit on Bricklink mostly because I feel it’s the wildcard while BrickOwl is a piece of cake to figure out. Ebay is more difficult to sell parts unless they are unique. You CAN sell 10 white 1×2 door rail plates for $4 if you like but I feel like there’s a lot more work involved in keeping listings relevant and active. Maybe I’m wrong and you’re having better luck with it.
Brian, thanks for the clarification. Yeah, it would have been a good idea to share in the book while you choose to focus on parts, and why eBay. From the few comments I read in the book it seems you were simply dismissing selling sets as less lucrative, and selling on eBay as more difficult.
I agree that eBay is not set up for selling individual parts as well as BrickLink, however I know sellers who have been doing it for years – so it must work for them. Also, selling bulk mixed lots is better than on BrickLink. In general selling sets and minifigs on eBay is more successful and selling parts on BrickLink is better. At least in my experience. But there are many other variations. Also, I know several sellers who migrated over to selling on Amazon and found it more lucrative than selling on BrickLink.