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I Want To Start Building Computers To Sell On Ebay Need Advice!!!

hey guys i've been working on computers now for several years and I want to start building them and selling them to students at the college i go to as well as to gamers on ebay.  I was just hoping for some advice on what kind of systems are the most profitable and where to get good deals on parts.  Is this something that i can actually make a living doing out of my home?
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danielwebb
Asked:
danielwebb
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5 Solutions
 
_Commented:
Tough question. Too many varibles involved. Like:
where are you located?
how many people in your area are doing computer work? (competition)
what kind of profit margin you need to have verses how many systems you can build and get out?

As for what kind of systems:
CPU:
AMD for the most part is probably the best bet. Good mid-range (collage use) and highend (game) selections. Although the new Intel stuff is suppose to be closing the gap.

Video:
Nvidia SLI 7800/7900 series for gaming. But the 1900 ATI Crossfire is closing that gap.

Parts:
newegg.com
monarch.com
tigerdirect.com
are good starting places.
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PCBONEZCommented:
"Is this something that i can actually make a living doing out of my home?"
Probably not.
~ You can't compete with the bulk buying power the biggies have and still have a profit margin.

You are competing with companies like Dell and Emachines that pump zillions of cheapie computers that are far cheaper than you can build them for. You have to consider not only the hardware cost but the cost of putting a legal operating system on it and some software. ~ Not to mention a monitor..
The software alone will cost $100-150 and up.

Look at Dells B110 offering:
Pentium® 4 Processor (2.80GHz, 533 FSB)
Windows® XP Home Edition
256MB DDR SDRAM at 400MHz
160 GB Ultra ATA/100 7200RPM Hard Drive
15 inch E156FP Analog Flat Panel
 ~~ $399 ~~
http://www1.us.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/odg/odg_special49?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&redirect=1

If you want a home buisness go into repairs and upgrades (maybe a mobile service) or become a dismantler/eBay seller.
.
Something I did for a while was being the 'on call PC guy' for several small professional offices. (Lawyers, Accountants, Doctors) Their offices are small, usually 5 to 10 PC's, so they don't need a full time computer guy. Individually they don't need things done often but when they do they pay GOOD. (I typically charged  $50 for a Service Call Fee - Just to show up. - and $50/hour. - They thought that was cheap. In that area it probably was.) If you are good they talk to each other and word gets around too. (Be exceptionally nice to receptionists too because they call each other and ask: "Hey, the boss' PC is broke. Who do you call for this?" !!!)
.
Now, I'm not saying what you want to do is impossible. I'm just saying it's WAY harder than you seem to think it is.
.
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PCBONEZCommented:
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_Commented:
That's the one I couldn't remember.   : )
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PCBONEZCommented:
I thought so.... ; )

I remembered another:
This place is little known, great prices, small inventory, but sometimes they have what you need.
http://66.216.68.88/
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PCBONEZCommented:
danielwebb
Where are you located?
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danielwebbAuthor Commented:
I'm in charlotte north carolina
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danielwebbAuthor Commented:
i was just wondering because i asee some of these high end gaming computer priced at like 6 or 7 g's on ebay.  they can't cost more than a couple thousand to make.
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danielwebbAuthor Commented:
i like the idea of trying to be the "software guy" for small firms.
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danielwebbAuthor Commented:
computer guy rather
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freebuddyCommented:

Dear Danielwebb:

Try this site, seems to be really good:

www.zipzoomfly.com

Peace,

Freebuddy
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PCBONEZCommented:
danielwebb:

I suggest you track some of those auctions you are seeing on eBay and see what the outcome is.
I'd bet that not many of those actually sell right off and they get relisted several times.
And the seller pays fees based on the asking price ~ even if they don't sell it.
It adds up and eats the profits.

Also take one of those systems and -on paper- build one yourself.
Find the actual amount it would cost YOU to build it. (AND the cost to advertize and sell it!)

..........

Actually the best answer might be to combined all those jobs into one job.

Be the PC guy for small firms. (Highest pay)
~ Advertise this locally. The paper, the 'freebie' paper, buisiness cards, bulletin board ads, get a website.
Be a mobile PC guy, house calls. (Next highest pay)  
~ Advertise this locally too.
Be a dismantler/ebay reseller. (Steady and can do in volume. You need a fair amount of work/storage space.)
~~ Buy some small new items in bulk to build your reputation.
~~ Look for things that are worth more as parts than as systems.
~~~(You REALLY have to know how to research and the current value of used parts for this. It changes fast.)
~~ Look for lots (even pallets) of used PC's. WATCH SHIPPING $$$. Make sure there's something worth something there.
~~ You can resell your 'pulls' from upgrades from the first two jobs through this outlet too.
Build PC's. (Most fun but lowest profit and lowest volume.)
~ With the other higher profit/volume jobs taking priority you can be an opportunist wait for the really good deals on parts to come around. Don't expect a volume you can actually live off of though. Look for other larger niche markets. Gamers usually like to build their own PC's but how many regular people wanna be able to convert their VHS to DVD? Build systems for whatever niche and hoot'n'hollar about the feature.

As you get more and more of the higher paying 'contracts' you can do less and less of the lower paying work, but you'll be all set up with that as a 'back-up job' when you hit a lull for the better paying work.

Don't ever forget that your time is money. Making $10 turning a part around doesn't mean much if the time to collect(buy) /test /advertize /track /process /ship the item adds up to 3 or 4 hours. You actually LOST money if you could have made more doing something else in that time.
.
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mandude0Commented:
Wow, 6 or 7 Gs? I built my gaming box for around $2500.

AMD Athlon64 3700
3 gig PC 3200
couple of HDD 1x80 gig and 1x250 gig
nVidia 7800GT (Single not running SLI)
A nice Logictech mouse (Forget the model and I'm not at home to look at it)
19 inch LCD
A nice gamer case (Viper) and changed the original PSU with an Antec 550 True power 2.0

If you can get even 5 Gs after that, you might do well if you can get the bidders.

Right now, I could probably build the same box for around $1500

On the most part though, I would have to side with PCBONEZ on pretty much everything he has said. It's a long shot regardless of how well you may build them to make a serious living from it. But then, business is always a risky thing. If you are willing to take that risk, go for it.
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BillDLCommented:
All I would say is that you have quoted two entirely different end users, ie. "students at the college I go to as well as to gamers on eBay".

Drop in on a couple of "Gamers" discussion groups, and you'll be made immediately aware that they don't tend to buy complete computers.  many of them practically live on eBay and build their own from components purchased there, or they hang around computer spares shops getting in my way as they discuss the merits of 800 watt PSU's and garish LED fans to stick in the side panels of their cases.  Gamers aren't content with beige cases for their base units either.  It's an aesthetic thing for them, and the more the case looks like a Corvette Stingray decorated for Christmas, the better for them.  You build up a base unit intended for resale to a gamer, and the first thing they look at in the potential purpose is how many components they can upgrade, modify, or change.  Not an easy market to sell completely "built" computers to.

On the reverse side, many students are more likely to be contented with a beige box containing medium to medium-high spec components, because a large proportion of a student's need for a computer is likely to be practical and in pursuance of education.  Of course, students play games too, but in general I would hazard a guess that they don't have as much money to squander on etched glass side panels, highlighter-green glowing round cables, and water-based cooling ducts that belong in the basement of a New York skyscraper.  A student who needs a computer as an aid to study is more likely to buy a functional Walmart eMachine preloaded with Windows XP and MS Office for $499 than to buy from a fellow student who is unable to offer a vendor warranty or guarantee customer support when they need it.

I would suggest that you settle on a clearly defined end-user, then cost out a range of 3 different spec computers on paper, and then start checking your costings against competitors' offerings.
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BillDLCommented:
Another thing.  If you were looking to maximize profit to the same extent as the bigger builders, you would have to look into getting contacts in places like Singapore to import bulk orders of RAM, etc.  There's guys making big money on eBay by working as "order takers" and then importing such things as RAM.  You'll see how close together they place their ad's for identical lots like 512MB of DDR400 RAM.  They compile all the winning bids into one order and buy fairly large quantities of the same products on a repeat basis.  On many occasions, the Far East supplier will separately post the goods to you, and the handling change (import duty) is included into the post and packing cost tacked onto or your eBay payment by the "order taker" (ie. eBay seller).  
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_Commented:
As a side note on college students, around here I have noticed that they are looking for used laptops that are a couple of releases old, to carry to class. A thousand bucks is alot of money to a student that doesn't have a Daddy footing the bill.
Just something to check for in your area.
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rindiCommented:
Don't forget the software. To be able to sell PC systems, you at least need an OS and some Office stuff on it, also some antimalware and removal tools etc. Most customers still want M$ s*#t, which isn't going to be cheap, and these prices often go forgotten, as they are included in the price of a dell etc. You'd have to buy that extra. You'd probably be looking at ca. $100.-- to $150.-- (most won't want th ehome version of XP, as that is really retarded) for the OS, and at least another $100.-- for the rest. You may be able to replace m$ office for the free and better openoffice, but also there you might find a lot of would be customers that want the m$ stuff.

If you set the systems up with linux, that would probably work and be free, but it would be a hassle to teach the buyers how to do things with if they are even prepared to buy the system with linux. Also there are many peripherals, mainly printers (multifunction printers in particular) that don't provide drivers for linux. Another note, many of the mainstream games won't run natively on linux...
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PCBONEZCommented:
Thanks for stressing that.
He may have missed importance where I mentioned it because I didn't push the issue.
That one NEEDS pushed.... It can make or break you...
.
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danielwebbAuthor Commented:
Ok.  I'm a college junior.  Do you think small firms would be willing to hire me on?  And if so what do you think would be a good fee to charge them?
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PCBONEZCommented:
Find out what the going rate is for a call-in on-site tech.
Pretend you're one of the small firms and call a few competitors for rates.
You are just getting started so undercut their fees bigtime.
If they charge $50 then you do it for $25. If they do $75 then you charge $40 or so.
You want to charge significantly less than the others do so your customers feel like they are getting an awesome deal.
That way they will remember you next time as well as hopefully tell others about you...
.
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PCBONEZCommented:
Remember there is usually a fee just to show up in addition to the hourly fee.

Don't forget to take advantage of free advertising.
Make up some 3x5 card ads or some business cards.
Leave them in places potential clients will see them.
(Like Bulletin boards in big office buildings, grocery store, city hall, golf courses, ......)
Use a phone number and an email as contact info.
I'd put your LOW fee right on the ad but if you do remember (write down) where in town you put them all so if you change your fee you can find and change out all your ads.
.
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BillDLCommented:
Thank you war1 and GranMod
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_Commented:
Thank you much.    : )
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