People have always asked me how they can turn trading magic cards from a hobby into a more permanent source of income. Whether your goals are starting a store, being able to play standard for free, or just making some extra money on the side, it’s important to be able to network. Networking is one of the most important aspects of MTG finance that I think people too often overlook.
Numbers v. Customers
More often than not I see people focusing on numbers far too much. They are so worried about squeezing out the extra fifty cents or dollar in a trade that they don’t see how annoyed their trade partner is getting.
Permanent customer relationships are far superior to making a few bucks in a trade. Especially if you’re at your local store, it is very important to remember that every trade you make is a potential customer in the future. It is important to make good relationships with people that you’re going to see on a regular basis.
You’re not just turning cards into dollars. You’re providing a service. If you can build up a loyal client base that know you can reliably provide cards for them at a fair price, which is far more valuable than making a few bucks on one trade. Having good relationships with your customers is ideal for long term sustainability. Everybody knows about “that guy” at a shop. Your reputation is valuable and is something you should always keep in mind when conducting business.
Building your Network
Your network is vital to being able to move cards. The more “outs” you have, obviously the better. This is why maintaining and forming relationships is key. It lets you move your inventory quickly and change cards that aren’t moving into cards that you can make money on.
For example, it’s valuable having a market for Legacy, Standard, and Commander cards.
Some options for expanding your network are:
Twitter: This is awesome for keeping in touch with other people in the global MTG finance community, keeping up with trends, and even selling cards.
Facebook: There are so many groups on Facebook, I feel like this is the feature that is keeping Facebook alive. There is most likely a Facebook group for your local area or state. Something like Indiana MTG Trade, or anything like that. These groups are great for buying collections, selling cards, and hooking people up with the cards they need. This is really the grassroots and where you want to focus on acquiring customers and satisfying customer needs.
Vendors: These should be your best friends. Some people just refuse to deal with vendors and that’s such a horrible mentality to have. A lot of the times vendors, especially at GPs pay a buylist price that is close enough or sometimes greater to what you would be able to get selling it online. Plus they save you time, shipping costs, and you get the cash immediately. Something just turning over the cards quickly and putting that cash back to work is more valuable. If you can establish good relationships with vendors they can often throw you better prices and will be able to work with you more and sometimes even tell you cards they are looking for and what they can pay well on. They know there are floor traders out there and they love working with them. They get the cards they need on the floor that they often can’t reach and you get cash. It’s a win/win. Plus once you start trying to branch out to doing shows (booths), professional connections will be very important. Don’t burn bridges.
Online Selling Websites/ Forums : These are things like MOTL (Magic Online Trading League), TCGplayer, and PucaTrade. These help your really expand your network globally. I’ve done business with people in many different countries through MOTL and it’s awesome. There are many vendors in different countries that pay top dollar on a lot of random stuff. The more buylists you have access to, the better. TCGPlayer seems to be the place a lot of traders are turning to out their cards for cash now. Remember to keep in mind shipping costs and fees when deciding whether to sell a card there or not. I find for smaller cards (< $5) it’s usually more cost efficient to sell this to a vendor, especially if they are EDH/casual cards. These cards usually have a high turnover rate for vendors and they pay top dollar on these cards.
Shows: These are really important. They let you put a face with a name for a lot of people and there is nothing like in-person contact. This is where you can talk to dealers and more importantly other floor traders. Some people starting out are afraid of dealing with other floor traders since “you’re both doing the same thing” but my favorite trades are with other floor traders that you have a good relationship with. When you sit down, don’t waste each other’s time. You know you’re sitting down for business and not to try to play games and screw each other over. You should be focusing on moving inventory around in a way that benefits both of you. Keep in touch with other floor traders, they can help you find specific needs and you can help them if they are looking for something. Plus it always helps to exchange information on the floor, like if a card is becoming hot this weekend or a price spike is happening. Information is valuable.
Overall, the whole concept of having a network is useful in moving cards quickly and efficiently. The faster that you can turnover inventory the better. Having close relationships with customers, traders, and vendors can help you develop your network and improve your business in the long run.