Monday, November 23, 2015

blog talk: selling/buying cards on the blogs

A while ago, highly respected blogger jaybarkerfan posted a mess of relics for a buck each (plus $2 flat shipping). Me and Junior Junkie called dibs on a few, but that was all the action he got.

It kinda seems like trying to make money off your card blog is taboo. I know the few times I've broached the subject of selling cards on Baseball Card Breakdown, I've been met with the deafening sound of crickets. In a perfect world, we'd all buy cards from each other once in a while and help fund our card buying habits with the proceeds. But I suppose the grim reality is there aren't a ton of blog readers out there, and if you seriously want to sell a card at a fair market price, you have to suck up the fees that come with eBay or COMC.

I like helping my fellow bloggers when I can, and in addition to shooting $5 jaybarkerfan's way, I've also gone out and won an eBay auction or two from Judson at My Cardboard Habit a while back, not to mention signing up for some blogger-run group breaks that honestly I wasn't super excited about seeing as I'm not really a team collector, but it's fun to get involved. I'm not trying to guilt-trip anyone. I know times are tough and a lot of collectors out there have a narrow focus on what they'll spend money on.

With my recent kick of making hardcopy customs, I've been toying with the idea of "releasing" my own little set of cards. Just like a tiny print run of like a dozen or so total sets. It'd fulfill a dream of mine to make my own set. But would anybody be willing to pay money for it? Maybe a few guys would be down to trade a few cards for it, but spending money is another thing completely. I'm thinking like $20 for a "blaster" of about 20 customs, or $40 for a "factory set" of about 50 cards and a "hit" or two. Would anybody be willing to "pre-order" something like that? Probably not. And that's cool. After supplies and postage (and time and effort), it's not like I'd been reaping much profit, but it'd be fun to do, none the less.

It'd sure be the dream for us card bloggers if we could monetize our blogs, and even if not bringing in enough to live off (rent, groceries, etc), at least enough to help fund our hobby purchases would be nice. But even the top card blog out there, Night Owl Cards, doesn't seem to profit at all besides the occasional generous card package from a happy reader. Some blogs have ads embedded at the top or in the sidebar or whatever; I'd be curious to know if they actually bring in more than a couple bucks a month with ad revenue. Personally I'd rather keep banner ads off my blog, though if that works for them, God bless 'em. The closest I have to that is my Amazon link down on the sidebar. With the holiday shopping season here, please allow me kindly request you consider using that link when going to Amazon to shop. I get something like 4% credit on all sales made in a session after clicking on that link. I've got one aunt who is sweet enough to use my link when she buys expensive photography equipment and the like, and I've earned a nice chunk of credit through such purchases of hers.

Speaking of Amazon, I couldn't really think of much to ask for Christmas this year besides maybe a nicer printer for making hardcopy customs, so I've shared my Amazon wishlist loaded with various hobby boxes and blasters. Sure the prices are higher than you can find on eBay or the big online card retailers, but I'm sure my family will appreciate the one-click convenience of Amazon. And I'd be much more excited ripping open a box of cards than a pair of socks or a shirt or whatever.

But back to financial gain from card blogging.. Once in a while a blog will even get a free hobby box from a card manufacturer in exchange for a "review" blog post. Man.. I'd love to get in on that action! Are you reading, Topps, Panini, Upper Deck, Leaf, Whomever? Get in touch about sending me a free box and I'll post a nice, honest review of it for my few dozen readers.

So what was I talking about? Oh yeah, I bought a few cards from jaybarkerfan; here they are:

Five bucks paypaled got me these 3 requested cards:

Buster Posey 2013 Topps Manufactured Topps Rookie Patch
Khalil Greene 2008 Topps jersey relic
Carlos Delgado 08 Timeline jersey relic

Cool cards!

And, as Wes is notoriously generous, it should come as no surprise I was fortunate enough to receive several unannounced bonus cards in the package!

A terrific trio of Gwynns. The one of the left is #'d 700/1000, the one on the right 225/250.

The gold parallel /2008 of that same Khalil card from earlier. Nice.

And a "gem mint 10" Griffey!

Great cards! Thanks, man!

After postage that ran him $3.14, Wes' profit for all these cards was under two bucks total. Ouch, that makes me feel bad! I hope I pull a sweet Josh Donaldson parallel to send him one of these days to balance out that karma.

But yeah, this all underscores that selling cards on your blog is not a lucrative endeavor. Well, I mean, you can earn lots of admiration and cards in return, but finding monetary profit is elusive.

So for some "blog talk", what do you guys think? Have you fellow bloggers made any money off your blog? What do you think when other bloggers try to sell cards or put up advertisements? Does it bug you, or is it their God given right for the pursuit of financial happiness?

Is there a "Phase 2" that can make card-blogging profitable, or should we just accept that this will forever be a labor of love we pour our time and energy into without getting anything out of it other than satisfaction of a job well done, a bit of social interaction, and an occasional sweet trade package from an appreciative reader?

I remember reading a blog a few weeks ago (sorry, can't remember the name) where the guy was soliciting for writers to contribute to his blog, and he said something like, "I can't afford to pay you anything right now, but as soon as I start making money off the blog, which I hope will be soon, I'll definitely give you a cut." And he was being serious.

I couldn't help but chuckle at that. Other than maybe a couple bucks per month on ad revenue if you sellout and put up obnoxious banner ads (and still have high quality content to bring in loyal readers in spite of the ads), I can't imagine a card blog ever making real money.

That'd be nice, though. I'd love to do this for a living!


  1. Ever since I found that my blogposts written in Japanese reach thousands of readers in a matter of weeks (for some reason I get a spike in readership from people in Russia and Ukraine) I've thought about it. Might as well profit off of those Europeans and Russians page views right?
    Only problem is that I'd like to keep my blog one of the few places on the internet where you're not bombarded by advertisements.

    And I could never actually sell a baseball card to my fellow bloggers, nor could I actually look at the bloggers the same after I "buy" cards from them. I only "buy" from vendors and retailers who I don't really look at as collectors. I'd have no qualms about pinching every last penny regardless of how much profit they hoped to rake in. With my fellow bloggers who I've sort of gotten to know, I can't do that I'd be too generous and offer them more than I should. Same goes for if I try to sell something. I'd be too tempted to give too generous a discount.

  2. Money changes everything, man.

    I like to keep my blogging/trading and my card purchasing separate. It's way too messy otherwise.

  3. I do the occasional review for Panini but companies don't send stuff anymore. They have put their marketing elsewhere and not into blogs. When I had gotten stuff in the past, I put it back into my contests or secret mailings to people whose address I have. My focus is to give back to the hobby that has given so much to me. I don't make a dime off my blog. I don't even have a banner ad and though I have thought about using blogsense or whatever it's called, I just don't want all of that and have it be a main focus of doing what I do. I have seen some blogs with some ads not even related. I just blog for fun.

    As for selling cards on it, I am not sure how that even works. Wouldn't Google get upset by giving us a free website to blog but we are using it to make money and they don't get anything. Or does it not matter. Honestly I have no clue lol.

  4. I actually used to get like 2 ad requests a year back in the day. They'd give me $50-$100 to post their ad for a year. I didn't understand why they offered but I went for it, and the money was nice lol.

    Now I have ads, but I'm sitting at like $27 and I don't think I can even cash in until it hits $100. I don't think it ever will.

    As for the custom set, I like the idea but yeah, I don't think you'd get a ton for it. You'd have to find some really cool targets that haven't been done before or have never been done quite like that. But I'll pay for you for customs now and then possibly since you do good work. So that's cool lol.

  5. I'm with you. When I first started blogging, it seemed to me that selling a card on the blog was perfectly fine. And honestly, I don't see a problem with it now. Your blog, your card, your decision. Like you said, I've mentioned in blog posts a few times that I had cards for sale on eBay. The primary reason for that is that I was afraid no one that reads my blog would be interested in the cards I was trying to sell, while there almost always seems to be someone on eBay that wants what you have to sell.

    As for plain-sight advertising, I've never thought about it. However, I have been approached by Fan Duel a couple times about writing a post and including a link to their site in it. At first I was apprehensive about it, but they pretty much let me write whatever I wanted as long as I linked to their site. So I did it, and I made sure to make it obvious that they were paying for the link. Again, we all have our reasons, and if one blog post can net me $50-$100 in PayPal cash, I'll definitely consider it.

    As for the customs, I always worry about something made at home getting someone into trouble (using a photo without permission, player name without permission, etc.). However, I will tell you this: if you made a set of cards devoted to bloggers themselves, I would definitely throw down $20 for a set. I don't know how long I will be collecting, and if I could get a set of cards that I could look at in the future and remember all the great people I have met in the blogosphere, I would be happy to buy it. The front could have a photo of the blogger with the blog name (and unique blog header) and the back could have some stats like location, types of cards collected, and players that he or she PC'd. I think that would be killer.

    1. I do kind of love this blogger idea. I just kind of wonder about who you'd have to include though. I mean obvs like Night Owl and stuff, but then do you go all current guys who could come or go, or do you go oldies but goodies like Beardy and Collective Troll and stuff who are long gone? Regardless...could be a cool set.

    2. Ooooh... I like the idea of a set devoted to bloggers. I love the cards that Jaybarkerfan, Nachos Grande, and Fugi put their in their trade packages. A set of the most frequently read bloggers or most followed bloggers would be awesome to have. I consider many of you to be friends and to have cards of you guys would be pretty neat in a non-stalker but sentimental way.

      I agree with the idea of doing whatever you like on your blog, but I think the unwritten rules of the blogosphere pretty much frown at profiting from cards when other bloggers are involved. At least, that's my experience. I would extrapolate more, but they're unwritten. So you know, it's kind of like nailing jello to a wall.

  6. i have no problem with it - advertising or selling cards. i received a few inquiries about adding ads or making testimonials on my blog, but i chose not to do any of it - my choice and preference. as for selling, i never did it on the blog, but i sell on other formats.

    i looked through what wes had for sale and would have pulled the trigger if i had seen something i wanted. i've bought cards on comc from a blogger who wrote a post about being a seller on comc, but even then it was only because i needed a couple of the cards he was selling and the price was decent. other bloggers through the years have offered cards if you sent money to cover shipping costs, which i have done on occasion. there was one blogger who always used to talk about selling and how he was going to post cards for sale, and then he wouldn't follow through. that bugged me more than the idea of selling cards on a blog.

    finally, let me add to the votes for a blogger set - i'd lobby for a spot on the checklist and pre-order for sure.

  7. "Money changes everything, man" +1

  8. I've been approached a couple of times for testimonial type of blog posts, but declined. I really have no problem with it, but it just seemed a little fake. I don't even know if money was offered because I declined from the very beginning. I love the idea of the Amazon credit. For as much as my family uses that site I should probably do the same.

    Like GCRL if I see something on a blog that is for sell that fits my collection and the price is right I'm all for it. Wes had great prices and if I would have seen some Buccos I would have pulled the trigger.

  9. Gotta say I love your customs man just haven't pulled the trigger yet. I love the blogger card idea I'll keep an eye out for it.

  10. I don't sell my cards. Ever. I've been a collector since 1988 and I've never sold a single card. Not even a duplicate! I tend to give cards away, and I used to send out lots of free cards to members of Trader Retreat, (a card forum that was hugely popular in the early 2000s) until I found out people were throwing them away. I pretty much stopped after that, but I still send to people who I know will appreciate them. (Building a box for Mark Hoyle right now, and if I had anything else you wanted I'd give it to you too, Gavin) To me, selling a card is...wrong. I don't even trade a card if I don't have a duplicate of it. I've turned down big offers in the past - I was offered $400 for a card, which is more money than I have to spend on the hobby in 2 months' time- but I couldn't do it. I traded one non-duplicate card in 1996 and it's haunted me ever since.

    I have no problem with buying from other bloggers. But since I have to spend more than $500 a month on medicine I usually don't have a lot for cards, and also there aren't a lot of bloggers with basketball or NASCAR cards for sale. I have purchased 2 cards off of a blog. I will again, I'm sure, when I see something I must have, and have the money for it.

    As for running ads...well...I don't have enough readers on Cardboard History for it to be worthwhile for most ad people I'm sure. I have 16 followers and average about 75 views on a post. Not a lot of revenue to be had...but I would consider it if it was something that meshed with my outlook. IE, if it was something I wouldn't mind talking about anyway, I would be more inclined to do it, while if it was something I had no interest in or was actively opposed to, then it would be easy for me to say no.

    I sincerely doubt that any card companies would give me any boxes to review. Panini and I have a bit of adversarial relationship, so any chance there has pretty much sailed...and besides, they know I'm going to buy their stuff anyway, so I doubt they would want to lose that sale price. I would review something from another company, another I don't really collect other sports, perhaps my view on them would be more objective? Since I don't really know the players in other sports, I wouldn't know if they were doing it right or not, I would be judging on design, photography and set collation only. (For somebody who doesn't collect other sports per se, I have almost 1000 baseball and football each, and almost 3000 hockey....I just love cards)

    The idea of a card set of bloggers would be awesome. I'm in for that. I'd say get as many as you possibly can, both active and retired.

  11. I run ads on my blog. I hope they're not too invasive. Most people have ad-blocking plugins running anyway. After several years of blogging I think I am up over $50 earned, so in another few years I might be able to cash out the $100 minimum.

    I wouldn't be opposed to buying cards from someone on the blogosphere if something popped up that I really wanted, but when I comes to selling I prefer the bigger audience that comes with eBay. Anything that isn't worth enough to sell on eBay I would rather just mail out in a care / trade package. Money just changes the way a relationship works. For the most part I'd rather avoid it on my blog. I feel differently about other online purchases, like the Buy/Sell/Trade section of forums, Facebook groups, and similar sites. I'll buy and sell on those all day. I am also okay if a blogger wants to give something away but asks for the cost of shipping in return. To me that's different from a straight-up sale.

    I buy in to group breaks from time to time on blogs. Even that transaction changes things a little bit. I've kind of moved away from it lately, although I still participate from time to time. A bad break has the potential to cause hurt feelings and everything else that goes on when people pay money to other people. I'd rather buy break spots from the group breakers and keep my blogging friendships intact.

    I've bid on a few auctions run by other bloggers, too. To me it's okay to post a link to your auctions if you're running them and think your audience might be interested. Having them posted on eBay adds an appropriate degree of separation to the proceedings, in my mind.

    A custom set would be cool, but nailing me down to purchasing one would really depend on timing and the content of the set. Right now I am tapped out with a long want list for various hobbies, so I'd probably be inclined to sit it out. If you caught me during tax return season or something I'd probably be a little more open to the idea.

  12. I already accepted that my blog will remain a labot of love and no money will come out of it....but gives me a lot of fun, friendships, trades and a great experience !!

  13. Making money off my blog? Lol. No. As for me... I have no problems with people making money off of their cards and or blogs. I hang out with people who live off of card and sports memorabilia sales, so as long as people aren't ripping each other off... I don't have any issues.

  14. Generally, I have similar feelings on this topic as Fuji. Selling cards we've bought to fund new purchase is fine and there's no downside to trying - these blogs aren't just limited in readership to us bloggers. I want to keep my site focused right now, so I'll likely spin up a separate blog to share cards for sale to help eBay sales.

    If the selling is really in people's faces then I agree with what others wrote about money changing things. When I go to read others blogs I don't want to feel like I'm walking in Times Squares with a bunch of ads and sales pitches thrown at me. But the occasional post pointing to a page of stuff you have for sale or links to Amazon feels like a good balance, which is what I think you have now.

  15. I definitely feel that most people like to keep selling/buying and blogging separate. Its a personal choice I suppose.

    As for the blogger set I think it would be a hit. Maybe it would start slow but once people started seeing it I think it would take off.

  16. I've tried to sell on my blog a couple of times and didn't have much luck so I think I just sent the cards to the 2 people who wanted them for free. I have purchased from fellow bloggers before and have never had any issues with anyone trying to sell, but I may not always be interested in what is for sale. I have no problem with ads on blogs either.

    I think a blogger set would be awesome. On YouTube, a Tuber just did a set with about 20 guys in it. He did an amazing job with the cards. You can search for Absolute Bullshit cards. He did it as a spoof on Panini, but the actual cards he did are amazing. He actually had guys send him stuff to so he could put in patches and stuff and had them sign the card fronts and send them back to him. They are really awesome!

  17. I personally don't think a blog is the place to sell cards from your collection. However, with that being said, I don't see a problem with selling custom cards, as they are a product that a collector spent time making and producing.
    I make customs, and although I haven't ever tried printing any, if anyone would ever want to purchase any or if there were enough interest, I would sell them on my blog and maybe get a page going with a list of cards and prices. I guess since eBay is so big and COMC is big and people go on those sites to buy cards. People go on blogs to read about additions to someone's card collection. I feel that with custom card blogging, people read those blogs to check out an artists work and sometimes if a card is good enough somebody will want one and want to buy it. While there are some customs on eBay, you don't see too many, and I think something like the way Bob Lemke has his blog is nice where he has a small footer at the bottom that lets readers know that a card can be purchased if wanted.
    The blogger card set is a great idea. About 7 years ago on, a group of us 'graphers had a custom set of about 40 of us made and we even sent them to each other to have signed. We did them on Topps's site and paid like 40 bucks and got 40 or so of our own card and a complete set of everyone. It was a little tricky getting the logistics worked out, but in the end, it was worth it.