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Old 09-02-2009, 05:14 AM   #1
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Default Building / selling computers for a living?

Hello. I'm brand new to these forums and looking for some information. If this is in the wrong area, please move it (thanks).

I'm looking for something I can do on the side to turn a profit. I have a good job but I'd like to make some extra income. I tried doing onsite service for computers/electronics but I live in a smaller city and didn't get a lot of business that was worth my time.


I've decided to give building computers a shot. I see some of the prices manufacturers charge people for subpar machines and I'm convinced I can profit from this somehow. I just have many questions before I get started.

Are online suppliers the route to go? I've always used tigerdirect, but I'm curious if there would be a better supplier for this type of job.

Should I shoot for high end or low end systems? I don't care what I'm building, as long as it will sell.

How much profit should I look to make per machine to make it worth my time? I was thinking anywhere from 75 to 150 bucks per rig, is this a safe range to shoot for?

Is this something that could be turned into a full time job? I'd be willing to spend 8 hours a day building computers and trying to sell them if it'd pay me what I made at my job now. I like building machines.

Is craigslist the best place to sell these machines? What about eBay? Should I run ads in the paper? What is the best way to market these machines?

What other advice can you give me? I'm looking for any and all advice. Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-02-2009, 06:06 AM   #2
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Default Re: Building / selling computers for a living?

Well, my view is that if you cant get enough business from people wanting their computers to be fixed, you don't have much hope when it comes to building for others, unless you operate in a large area. I'd say that $75-150 is proberbly a safe range to go for, yes.

You must remember that people need to choose you over places like Walmart or where ever it is people get their computers from. There needs to be a solid reason for them choosing you, over the big brands.

I would probably sell locally to BEGIN with, and then gradually increase the radius in which you operate.

It would be a great thing to do along side another job, as I doubt that it's going to be a very predictable market.
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Old 09-02-2009, 10:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: Building / selling computers for a living?

I don't see building computers as a profitable business now. 95% of the average computer users out there who want a computer just go to their local bestbuy or futureshop and buy a dell or compaq to replace their old dell or compaq. It doesn't even occur to them that there are independent builders out there.
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Old 09-02-2009, 11:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: Building / selling computers for a living?

Over the course of 2 years running a PC shop "officially", I've built 2 new computers. The other 50 or so I've done have been repairs.

In this economy, people are going to fix before they buy new. Simple as that, really.
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Old 09-03-2009, 12:15 AM   #5
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Default Re: Building / selling computers for a living?

Going to agree with the others on this one..Most buy the "barn burners" at their local retail store.

However, One thing I did years ago while I worked my first job was set up our particular stores Surveillance System along with any computer repair that was needed. My work at that store got me alot more side work at other stores in the area. When your doing work for your own place of employment you have to be careful on approach otherwise they may think the work is free and on works time. I just came to them with the possibilities and gave them estimates from outside contractors, THEN tossing mine out there.

Something to possibly look into as a means to make some money on the side. Hell just giving a business......lets say, Geek Squads rates for X services, They will definitely want to know if they have other options, Lol.
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Old 09-03-2009, 06:42 AM   #6
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Default Re: Building / selling computers for a living?

personally I think that your bes bet is to sell locally.

you'll have a bigger market if you use Ebay, but if you post across the country then you'll never get the repeat business of fixing the machines when and if they break.

personally I've always thought that computer building as a business was a really bad idea.

the simple reason for this is that to get the decent dscounts to make it worth while you really want to be building a few at a time.

the trouble is when you've got ten PC stacked on the side waiting to be sold they are depreciating.
(heck even if youve only got one sat on the side it's depreciating).

and if you don't sell it straight away then it get less and less worth to it.

especially if you;re building high end machines, what's high end this month can be old hat by the time the month/season ends. unless you're that you'll be getting these out the door as soon as they are built then I wouldn't go for high end system building .
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Old 09-03-2009, 08:33 AM   #7
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Default Re: Building / selling computers for a living?

there is really no good place to sell computers that you've built right now, the economy is crapping out all over and when people lose jobs computer upgrades are the first luxury they're gonna cut out...

another disadvantage is that retail chains are getting their parts and even OSes cheap, much cheaper than you would, you wouldn't notice by how much they actually sell the computers for (not always, but usually an arm and a leg more than they're worth) but I bet that they are getting even high end parts at better prices than the best deals that come out at Newegg because they order in bulk, which if you're a small computer builder you can't afford to do (see root's post)...

this really isn't a very profitable business, I pretty much just stick to fixing friends and their acquaintances computers and they hit me up with a little something now and then even though they don't have to, I just do it because I like to help people I know and can't stand to see them overcharged/scammed by Geeksquad and their ilk...
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Old 09-03-2009, 10:34 AM   #8
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Default Re: Building / selling computers for a living?

^That's my philosophy as well. I go fix people's computers and get 20 or 30 dollars or a case of beer or a steak supper or something like that. People do it because I just saved them $100's if a business's tech would of had to come. Sometimes they don't give me anything, but I don't mind because i do it because I enjoy it. It's nice being able to do my hobby as my job.
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Old 09-03-2009, 12:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: Building / selling computers for a living?

Quote:
Originally Posted by root View Post
personally I think that your bes bet is to sell locally.

the trouble is when you've got ten PC stacked on the side waiting to be sold they are depreciating.
(heck even if youve only got one sat on the side it's depreciating).

and if you don't sell it straight away then it get less and less worth to it.
This. (It's why I only sell new computers locally and I custom build them when the customer orders it. I don't keep parts on hand. They sit and collect dust and turn into expensive, depreciated paper weights)

Quote:
Originally Posted by wol-va-rine View Post
there is really no good place to sell computers that you've built right now, the economy is crapping out all over and when people lose jobs computer upgrades are the first luxury they're gonna cut out...

another disadvantage is that retail chains are getting their parts and even OSes cheap, much cheaper than you would, you wouldn't notice by how much they actually sell the computers for (not always, but usually an arm and a leg more than they're worth) but I bet that they are getting even high end parts at better prices than the best deals that come out at Newegg because they order in bulk, which if you're a small computer builder you can't afford to do (see root's post)...

this really isn't a very profitable business, I pretty much just stick to fixing friends and their acquaintances computers and they hit me up with a little something now and then even though they don't have to, I just do it because I like to help people I know and can't stand to see them overcharged/scammed by Geeksquad and their ilk...
All of that. (I'm $800 in the red this year. Granted a lot of that is "setup" so that I can take a loss. I listed almost every order I made as a business deduction. Take out what I counted as "shop tools"--which they honestly are--out of the equation and I'd probably be around $500 in the black; my goal for next year is to break even)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmacavali View Post
^That's my philosophy as well. I go fix people's computers and get 20 or 30 dollars or a case of beer or a steak supper or something like that. People do it because I just saved them $100's if a business's tech would of had to come. Sometimes they don't give me anything, but I don't mind because i do it because I enjoy it. It's nice being able to do my hobby as my job.
And these.
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