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Going Infinite – Selling on MOTL

Monday, November 1st – I don’t remember exactly how I found Magic Online Trading League, but it’s been instrumental in developing my business and developing me as a trader.

I smelled a hint of mold in my basement. It wasn’t your typical civilized man cave; the walls and floor were bare concrete. I setup a typical tournament table and folding chairs on the right side of the wooden staircase. A bookshelf that my brother Joe made for me held a small radio in the corner of the room. This was our sanctum. It’s where we playtested for upcoming tournaments, where we cube-drafted until eight in the morning, and where we did business.

I started playing Magic in the hills of Vermont in a town called Rutland. Our card shop wasn’t really a card shop. The owner Chris was good enough to let us play Magic there on Thursday nights, but he wasn’t interested in stocking singles. He sold packs and boxes; the only singles that he had were a few boxes of commons and uncommons and a crappy rare binder.

From time to time, someone would wander in with a collection, and he’d buy it dirt-cheap then offer the singles to the tournament crowd on Thursdays. We were so starved for singles that all the good ones were bought immediately. This practice made the store a poor option for getting the cards that you needed. We all traded with each other to get what we needed, but the trades would consist of one guy giving up his playset to the next guy.

It seemed that no one had really embraced the idea of keeping a stock of extra cards. Then I came along, and my basement became the new Rutland card shop. A typical night would consist of hours of slinging cards and multiple trade sessions while we brainstormed. At the end of the night, besides having a table full of Taco Bell leftovers and half-finished soda, I’d also have a stack of new cards to add to my trade stock. Having stock came with a new set of issues.

My operation grew too big for its britches. I started to accumulate a massive amount of cards, but the demand for most of them was low in my area. These cards would eventually lose value unless I could trade them at a big tournament. I was also expected to have the cards that people needed, but the only way to get cards was either by opening product or trading for them. I needed something less random for stocking cards, and there was no profit in buying them online only to trade them at the same price. Not to mention I had yet to turn my cards into money.

It would’ve been stupid to buy cards then trade them for more cards. With this model, there’s no way to recoup your money. The fate of this method is certain. You’d build a huge inventory, and once Standard rotation hit, you’d be destroyed. I needed a way to get money out of my inventory, so that I could buy stock. I also wanted to sell rotating cards before taking a hit. This is when I found what I think is the best way to sell Magic cards.

Magic Online Trading League

I don’t remember exactly how I found
Magic Online Trading League,

but it’s been instrumental in developing my business and developing me as a trader. You’d never know it by looking at the website, but there’s a thriving community of traders and tons of opportunities inside. To take advantage of these opportunities, you need to get in the right mindset; before we talk about making a sales list, let’s set some ground rules.

References Are King

MOTL is based on references. You exchange these with each person that you trade with. References determine who will send their cards first in a deal. If you’re just starting out on MOTL, then you have zero references. It doesn’t matter who you are; zero references means that you’re sending first; you need to respect this rule. I recommend that you get at least fifteen references before putting up a sales list. You can do this in the trade forum; see below.

Always Get Proof of Shipping

Some people are unscrupulous, and they’ll claim that they never got the cards you sent. The best way to avoid this is to get a delivery
confirmation on the packages that you send. You can buy this from the post office for about $.80, but if you
use PayPal

to print your shipping label, then it only costs $.19. When shipping internationally, be sure to either ship registered (this costs about $14) or get a “Certificate of Mailing”; this is only $1.25.

Always Include “Throw-ins”

Have you ever opened a package and got something extra in it? If you’ve gotten cards from me, then you probably have. It’s an awesome feeling to get something extra, and it doesn’t really matter what it is. I typically throw in foil basics, Japanese cards, or sometimes something insanely cool. This will help solidify your place in the community and foster return business.

Price Your Cards Right

If you post a list asking full retail for your cards, you’ll be laughed out of the forum. If people want to pay retail pricing for their Magic cards, then they’ll go to a place with full stock and an awesome reputation like StarCityGames.com, not you. A lot of dealers buy their cards from MOTL, so your pricing should be competitive.

Pricing

Pricing cards right is important. Your prices will determine how fast things sell and will help develop your reputation. There’s a built-in price guide for MOTL; most people on MOTL respect this price guide. It’s based on eBay sales data. I respect this price guide, but I don’t like using it to price cards because you can only enter one card at a time.

Instead, I use another tool that is based on eBay pricing. It’s called
“Apathy House.”

This is also a great place to see how you did in a trade. There’s one thing that I don’t like about Apathy House, and that’s the foil pricing.

The foil pricing is always off because there are typically low amounts of sample data for the tool to pull from. It also doesn’t always distinguish between promo and regular foil pricing, so the data gets meshed together, and this throws off the number. For foil pricing I use FindMagicCards.com’s lowest price minus a buck or two. If it’s a foil Japanese card, then I check the recently “Completed Auctions” on eBay;
instructions for doing this here.

Now that you know how to price your cards, let’s make a sales list.

Making a Sales List

This is the moment that you all have been waiting for; let’s sell some cards! Navigating to the place where we’ll post our sales list is a little bit of a hassle. Here’s how to get there:

Open the
Magic Traders

Webite.
On the left, there is a link that says “Ultimate Bulletin Board”; click on that.

This will take you to the MOTL forums. The whole website is forum-based; to do anything, you need to start a topic. You should get acquainted with each forum. I’ll give a brief description of each of the important ones.

MTG Have/Want Lists

This forum is for trading. It’s where you create your “Have / Want” list. This is also where you can build up your references like I talked about earlier. When I first joined MOTL, I didn’t even know about the sales side of the forum. I basically live in this trading forum.

Trade Auctions & Sales

This forum is where you can post a sales list. That’s right; sales lists are posted in a different forum from the Have / Want lists. It’s against the forum rules to post sales stuff in the trade forums, so make sure that you’re posting the right list in the right places. As a side note, you should also read the forum rules, so that you don’t look like a donk.

Trade & Value Questions

This is a like a hidden treasure trove of information. It’s where the regulars discuss pricing trends and values of obscure cards. Don’t go in here and post, “How much is Molten-Tail Masticore worth?” Look it up.

Bad Trader Alerts

This is where you can find people who’ve been reported for bad trading habits. Be wary of trading with these people.

Confirmed Bad Traders

The people reported in this forum have been found guilty of a serious offense like stealing. Don’t trade with them, and check new traders against this forum based on their contact information.

Now that you know the key forums, let’s navigate to the
Trade Auctions and Sales Forum.

Click “Add New Topic.”

Enter a title. It’s always good to include card names and even prices (if they’re really good) in the title.

After you enter a title you’ll need to enter your sale rules in the body. The rules are your communication to your customers, kind of like your policies. Things that should be specified are at least these two:

Contact information and methods of contact. “Don’t pm me, email me.”
Shipping methods, pricing, and restrictions. “I ship everywhere in the US for free.”

Take some time to look at the other lists to get some ideas of what rules you should include. After you write your rules, list your cards and pricing based on the methods above. Remember each card has to have a price. I recommend that you check the options for email notification and international trading. Here is a sample sales list:

========================================

I am selling cards. Please feel free to contact me at:

Email:
[email protected]


AIM: MTGMETAGAME


CONDITION

      
Most of my cards are at least NM — unless noted. If you are sending me cards from my credit list please make sure that they are NM.


SHIPPING


FREE shipping on orders $20 or more. Otherwise it’s $2.


PAYMENT


If you make an offer be ready to pay. Deals are not final until I have payment in hand. I am not in the biz of holding cards for people. Priority goes to bigger orders and those who pay quickly.


Standard


————————-
4x Molten-Tail Masticore 18
4x Koth of the Hammer 32
8x Creeping Tar Pits 2
Xx Insert your cards here

========================================

If you don’t get any action after the first day, try to lower your prices a hair, and bump your topic. You can “bump” your topic by replying to it; this will send it to the top of the list and give it more visibility. You can only do this once a day. Try to sell some cards on MOTL, and let me know how it goes in the forums. Before I get out of here, I wanted to give you a price check on the Game Day promos.

Price Check

These prices are based on eBay sales. Both of these cards have some amount of demand.

Full Art Memnite $3.5-$5
This is seeing a good amount of play in Standard, and it’s seeing play in Legacy Affinity. This version of the card will never maintain a price higher than the set foil. These types of cards never do, because the set foil is more desirable 99% of the time.

Foil Full Art Tempered Steel $8-$12
I expect this card to see more play as this block progresses, so these may go up in price. It’s also popular with the casual crowd. The problem is that most cubes and EDH decks don’t usually run enough artifact creatures to support this card, and it’s typically cube builders and EDH players who really go nuts for promos of this nature.

Happy selling,

Jonathan