5 Things You Can Upcycle and Sell for Cash
Are you looking for a fun way to make some cash? Upcycling is an excellent way to start a lucrative side hustle with low start-up costs. And upcycling common items isn't just any side hustle; it's one that can bring in hundreds to thousands of dollars a month, depending on how much time you spend doing it and how well you market your items.
So if you have a knack for crafts and are great at bargain hunting, this is the perfect way to boost your income.
Where to Find Items to Upcycle
Some of the best places to find cheap items are thrift shops, yard sales, garage sales, and auctions. Other great places to find hidden gems are on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and other auction sites. Sometimes you will see things listed for free, or you can also try keeping your eye out for curbside freebies around town.
Another easy way to get started is to simply search your own home and garage for items to upcycle. You might be surprised at all the things you have lying around that can be spiffed up to sell. Also, check with friends and family to see if they have anything they don't want or need anymore that could be repurposed.
Where to Sell Your Items
In order to maximize your profits, it's best to utilize both in-person and online sources. Etsy is one of the top platforms to sell upcycled items. The fees are low, and it's pretty easy to set up an account. Facebook Marketplace allows you to buy and sell locally or anywhere in the United States.
Selling your items the old-fashioned way can save costs on shipping and fees. Find festivals, farmers markets, flea markets, or host a party at your home to sell to friends and family. Sometimes local boutiques will rent a section of their shop for you to set up your items too.
The Best Items to Upcycle for Profit
Now that you know where to find and sell your items, let's dive into the top items to upcycle for cash.
1. Customize shoes.
Custom sneakers and high heels are among the top-selling items on Etsy, according to a 2018 study conducted by Just1 Shoes. Not only is there a demand for one-of-a-kind shoes, but they also bring in a pretty penny; for instance, some sellers paint beloved Disney characters on shoes, many of which bring in over $100 a pair. Blinged-out high heels are another high-end item to upcycle and sell.
Once you've purchased shoes to upcycle, you can paint your own custom designs or add rhinestones and crystals. Practice on an old pair of your own shoes to get started. Also, look for brand-name shoes at Goodwill or elsewhere, as they earn higher prices when customized.
2. Upcycle furniture.
Furniture is another popular item to upcycle. Most pieces can be restored or even remade into something else. One idea is to refinish a table with a gorgeous resin top; you can even use costume jewelry, bottle caps, seashells, and other items to create beautiful custom tables.
Old dressers, chests, and cabinets are great for refinishing with paint or stain. You can increase the piece's value by adding new hardware. Custom furniture can bring in quite a bit of money, depending on the item.
3. Transform silverware into sellable items.
Who would have thought that you could turn old silverware into something you could sell? Spoons can be made into rings and earrings—and are actually hot sellers. Forks can transform into pendants, bracelets, and rings. You can also make wind chimes, art, and even garden markers from silverware.
The amount you make depends on the piece, but if you buy silverware in bulk at yard sales and thrift shops, you can profit more per item.
4. Sell your clothing creations.
Got sewing skills? Don't toss out those old clothes. Instead, repurpose them into cool items to sell. Get started by upcycling your old T-shirts; turn them into trendy T-shirt bags or make a T-shirt quilt to sell if you're super ambitious. Some sellers even make custom T-shirt quilts out of their customers' shirts; the customer sends their old shirts, and you make the quilt for them.
Denim is always in demand, which is why repurposed or upcycled jeans are a sought-after item. Create custom jeans with lace and patches or add some fabric for retro-flair jeans. Some of these jeans cost between $50 and $195 a pair. Other items that can be made with old jeans are pillows, purses, and coasters. Check for cheap jeans at yard sales or Goodwill.
5. Make money on musical instruments.
Transform old beat-up instruments into unique pieces of art, furniture, or home decor. Guitars are fantastic for upcycling into decor pieces. Customize them with broken costume jewelry or create a mosaic on one out of old DVDs and CDs. You can also make planters out of old acoustic guitars. First, decorate them, then pop in some plants (real or faux) to make them really come to life.
If you are zealous about taking on new challenges, then move on to bigger projects such as pianos. Although these take a bit of work, the payout is also much higher. Breathe new life into an old piano by upcycling it into a beautiful piano bar; these can rake in thousands of dollars for each piece. Old pianos can also be turned into fish tanks, shelves, and outdoor gardens and fountains.
Grab old saxophones and turn them into stunning lamps, or pick up cymbals and make cool wall clocks. Upcycling musical instruments can be a huge money-maker because you can find broken ones for cheap or even free. For example, many people will give away pianos if you haul them off.