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Old 10-24-2013, 03:47 PM   #1
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Default Best ways to make money from computer skills?

Hi,

I really enjoy working with computers and was wondering if it was realistic to be able to make some extra money from computers from my situation. I know that it's possible but I'm hoping to find out how best to go about it. I don't want to make a fortune (At least not just yet :P ), but I would like some extra cash because I haven't yet left school and I want to start my own business and start earning my own money asap. Obviously I'm ruling out getting a job at this stage.

My skills at the moment: (Not very much compared to you guys)

I know a bit about advertising, you can advertise for free or very cheap on facebook, gumtree, ebay (+ similar), local papers, business directories, posting leaflets, crossloop (not looked into how useful this is but the idea seems good) blogs, free ads, word of mouth etc

I can google stuff. This sounds stupid but I've managed to fix 4 computers recently (not many I know) from viruses and general slowness by googling how to fix things.
Mainly by using simple tools like system restore, msconfig (start menu), AVG antivirus, Spybot, CCcleaner, disc cleaner, defragmenting hard drives, also restoring to factory settings or re-installing windows (not done this one yet but I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem) as a last resort.
I know there's other methods like loading virus scanners in safe mode, that I am prepared to practice before I do it for real but I first wanted to ask what the best methods of making money from computers are so that I can choose which areas to focus on learning.

This article also looks good and I'm hoping to find and bookmark a lot more like it to help me learn other useful tricks:

How To: Clean an infected PC

So I figured there's a few ways to make money from computers that I can think of:

Buying and selling:

Buy old / slow / virus ridden computers, fix them then sell them on. Also look for bargains going on ebay etc and snap them up before selling on at a profit.
I know there's a lot of people with old computers lying around collecting dust because they've slowed down or caught viruses and the owner has decided to just buy a new one rather than fixing the old one but is this a realistic way of making money?

Possible issues:

Travel: I should be able to work around this.
Pricing: I'm thinking I could use a website that buys laptops to guestimate a price and then haggle from that to buy a laptop, then either add a percentage on to the sale value or look on ebay and other 2nd hand computer sales places to guestimate a selling price.
Inability to resolve: Learn more skills, google, ask on forums, learn by practice, test before buy, sell parts if all else fails.
Advertising: Using advertising methods stated earlier plus any others that I can think of.
Advertisement quality: Research how advertising works and copy and adjust other peoples ads that look good
Other unforeseen: ???

Fixing:

Well I know there's a lot of people who get frustrated with their old, slow, virus infested computers but don't have the skills or time to learn how to fix them. I checked out the going rate for fixing PC's and I would be more than happy to have a go at fixing peoples computers for a lot less than half of what the pro's charge. I guess this is a good way of making extra money but I'm worried my current skills will mean that I could end up looking stupid if I offered to fix somebodies computer and couldn't. How many more skills would I need to learn before I could advertise myself as somebody who can resolve PC issues?

Possible issues:

Travel: I should be able to work around this.
Pricing: I'd just do it on a very cheap hourly rate to start with, plus a bit if I need to pick up or drop off the computer.
Risk of damaging property: Insurance / disclaimer / extreme caution
Inability to resolve: Learn more skills, google, ask on forums, learn by practice.
Advertising: Using methods stated earlier plus any others that I can think of.
Advertisement quality: Research how advertising works and copy and adjust other peoples ads that look good
Other unforeseen: ???


Building:

This one is probably more difficult as it would involve more skills and investment to start in parts and soldering irons etc but if it's a lot more profitable than the other 2 options together then I'd be happy to give it a go.

Possible issues:

Learning: I'd need to learn this all from scratch.
PC's going out of fashion: As far as I know building laptops isn't a viable business option and not many people want tower computers nowadays.
Pricing: I'd have to find out how to buy cheap and work out how much I can sell it for
Inability to get it working: Trying to build an expensive PC from scratch then finding it doesn't work isn't really an option I want to think about.
Advertising issues: As above

I guess my problem is that I really want to learn how to make money from computers (even if it's just a small amount) but I don't know how realistic any of these ideas are or how many more skills I need to learn in order to actually start making money for them.

I know I have a lot to learn but could I make even a little bit of money with the skills I have or do I need to learn a lot lot more before taking on this challenge, if so can anybody point me in the right direction of what I need to learn and if possible where I can learn it and basically what I need to do to make it happen?

Any advice is much appreciated, even if it's just to tell me I should get a paper round.
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Old 10-24-2013, 06:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: Best ways to make money from computer skills?

Hey,

Welcome to CF.

First off from some advice from my experience trying to do something similar.
It's HARD!
The reason it's hard is for many reason but a couple of them are the market is flooded with people like you, and me trying to do the same thing.
Also the market is full of Giants buying things in cheaper as they are buying in 1,000s and selling them on at a much smaller margin.

If your average retail price of a product is £100 they might buy it in bulk and get them for £70 and flog it on for £80 only making £10 profit but because they are doing this by the thousand load its a lot of money. As an individual you will struggle to find the same product to sell on for £75 odd then your going to want to make a profit . . . .

Building is a potential but then the trouble I found is the money you can save by building a computer that is selling in PC World for £700 is cancelled out by the fact that when you sell it, people are expecting a "2nd hand discount". ie if it's on eBay they already expect to pay less than in PC world so it has to be cheaper, then there are many other people competing with you.

So the PC World price is £700, you might be able to build it for £500, but you will then have competition from other people having the same idea selling that machine for as little as £550, again very small margin and that's if you can make the sale.

Repairs and stuff could be a market.
Probably your best option, here you can fix almost all software issues for only the cost of your time (and transport cost).
Hardware repairs also have the potential to make money, if you can find a trustworthy supplier and buy in the 5+ category at a time there is a couple of quid margin you can make on hardrives etc and then the cost of fitting them and re-installing windows / transferring data.

My advice would be to not get your hopes up to high as many people have tried and failed, but at the same time don't be put off. I think it's good to see ambitious people out there.

A qualification is always good to have, look at Microsoft courses of Comptia A+ is a good general computing course.

Finally I would ask you to consider development potential.
If you invest the time and do a web design course, or .net programming course then you can look at doing some freelance work.
Programmers can charge £200 - £500 a day outside of London and more inside for Company contracts.
You can also look at doing individual work for people, look at PeoplePerHour.com.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: Best ways to make money from computer skills?

My advice,
learn more first.

I've put together plenty of computers and never required a soldering iron to put together a machine, maybe to repair a machine that has a physical fault...

I don't want to say that you've got no hopes, but just what you've written there tells me that you're perhaps not ready to take your business that far.


If you really want to succeed then I'd suggest that you spend your remaining time without employment in school learning as much as you can and getting good grades, then take an entry position in a company dealing with computers, or try getting inside an internal IT department at a local company or something, then you'll have plenty of new experiences and problems thrown at you every day. that experience will help you greatly when you;re starting your new business.
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Old 10-25-2013, 06:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: Best ways to make money from computer skills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssc456 View Post
Hey,

Welcome to CF.

First off from some advice from my experience trying to do something similar.
It's HARD!
The reason it's hard is for many reason but a couple of them are the market is flooded with people like you, and me trying to do the same thing.
Also the market is full of Giants buying things in cheaper as they are buying in 1,000s and selling them on at a much smaller margin.

If your average retail price of a product is £100 they might buy it in bulk and get them for £70 and flog it on for £80 only making £10 profit but because they are doing this by the thousand load its a lot of money. As an individual you will struggle to find the same product to sell on for £75 odd then your going to want to make a profit . . . .

Building is a potential but then the trouble I found is the money you can save by building a computer that is selling in PC World for £700 is cancelled out by the fact that when you sell it, people are expecting a "2nd hand discount". ie if it's on eBay they already expect to pay less than in PC world so it has to be cheaper, then there are many other people competing with you.

So the PC World price is £700, you might be able to build it for £500, but you will then have competition from other people having the same idea selling that machine for as little as £550, again very small margin and that's if you can make the sale.

Repairs and stuff could be a market.
Probably your best option, here you can fix almost all software issues for only the cost of your time (and transport cost).
Hardware repairs also have the potential to make money, if you can find a trustworthy supplier and buy in the 5+ category at a time there is a couple of quid margin you can make on hardrives etc and then the cost of fitting them and re-installing windows / transferring data.

My advice would be to not get your hopes up to high as many people have tried and failed, but at the same time don't be put off. I think it's good to see ambitious people out there.

A qualification is always good to have, look at Microsoft courses of Comptia A+ is a good general computing course.

Finally I would ask you to consider development potential.
If you invest the time and do a web design course, or .net programming course then you can look at doing some freelance work.
Programmers can charge £200 - £500 a day outside of London and more inside for Company contracts.
You can also look at doing individual work for people, look at PeoplePerHour.com.
Thanks a lot for the advice, it's very helpful and much appreciated. Web design is something I've looked into and is definitely something I'm interested in long term. £200+ a day sounds awesome too!

With the buying and selling side of things I'm not hoping to compete with the the big businesses, what I was hoping was that I could buy somebodies old, slow unwanted laptop for about £20, make it run like new again then sell it on for about £40. If I could do this 5 times a month and fix 5 peoples computers a month for £20 a time over the next year then I'd be very very happy.

I've already found some local buying and selling groups on facebook that I could use to advertise the 3 areas that I'd be looking into (Buying, selling and repairing) and then I've got the other advertising options that I posted in the first post to use as well.

Do you think it's realistic that I could persuade 5 people a month to sell a laptop for roughly £20 that I could speed up and sell for roughly £40 and then maybe persuade another 5 people to pay me £20 to fix their computer for them?

I looked on ebay for a while and found that good working computers with 512mb RAM and 50gb HD seem to go for about £40-£50 + P&P so I think if I could persuade people to sell me them for around £20 then I should be able to reach my goal. I guess I just need to find out if people will be willing to sell laptops like this for £20-£30 or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by root View Post
My advice,
learn more first.

I've put together plenty of computers and never required a soldering iron to put together a machine, maybe to repair a machine that has a physical fault...

I don't want to say that you've got no hopes, but just what you've written there tells me that you're perhaps not ready to take your business that far.


If you really want to succeed then I'd suggest that you spend your remaining time without employment in school learning as much as you can and getting good grades, then take an entry position in a company dealing with computers, or try getting inside an internal IT department at a local company or something, then you'll have plenty of new experiences and problems thrown at you every day. that experience will help you greatly when you;re starting your new business.
Thanks for your advice
I agree with the first half of your post and with some of the second part, I have no knowledge of building computers and it would be something I'd have to learn from scratch.
From the sounds of it it may be unrealistic to think that I could make any money from building computers right now but I do want to start making money somehow now rather than in 2 or 3 years time and while I agree that I need to work hard at school, I don't think attempting to fix peoples computers or buy and sell old computers is going to negatively effect my grades or my ability to do well in the future. So while trying to build expensive computers probably isn't something I'm anywhere near ready for, I hope that fixing computers or buying and selling old ones is something that I can start doing to earn a bit of money now.
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Old 10-25-2013, 10:21 PM   #5
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Default Re: Best ways to make money from computer skills?

I love my solder gun^^. I do everything from some wood burning (not very often) to fixing mobo's and motors on RC helicopters . To the OP. To actually make any money off of this, I'd think you need more practice. Go to garage sales, local thrift stores. They often have old old computer stuff. What my brothers did fora good time, was that they went to a garage sale. found a couple old computers that were $5 bucks. They asked if they worked, if no one knew, they negotiated to get them for free. We'd go home, take it all a part, and see what works. Then go to ebay, buy cheap but decent parts, and put the computer together, and sell it for cheap. This might not give you much profit. But it gives you tons experience. Just from doing that, and reading "maximum PC" magazines, they learned how to build and fix computers so well, that one of my brothers fixes computers for cheap, and better then the "pro's" at our local Pc Healers.
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