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Sell me your broken computer

Repairing Macs for Income

Hi John,

Thanks again for sending me the link to this forum.

I wanted to ask you some questions I had after watching the interview you did with Louis Rossmann. I thought it was a VERY interesting interview. I am not sure who is at fault when it comes to taking people doing great work like you off amazon. I have a sneaky suspicion that its apple. But Louis made a good point when he said that you may see a drop in sales, but if you have your own site with the right promotion you should be ok.

QUESTIONS:
~ TLDR - Id like to do it to myself and would love some pointers ~

1. Do you think that this is still a profitable business after amazon made their decision on refurbished apple products?

2. If I were to get started as a complete noob, where would you recommend someone go to get into something like this?
I am interested in getting into the repair game as well. I am sure that will get many "sighs" filled with contention. It has always interested me since I have a computer background and love working on them for fun already. I live a pretty simple life without much need for a lot of money and I think this might be a cool thing to do for some money on the side.

3. Would you consider this your main focus as a business?
I notice you do glitch art as well. I ask because I have a few passions that Id like to follow like music, art and podcasting. This is something I would love to do and do already for friends and family for no charge. I'm just not sure if it is "Do-able" for a source of income. I'm happy to keep doing it for free for those I know.

I am sure these questions are loaded ones. Any direction would be much appreciated!

Comments

  • edited November 14
    Hi Dorison! Thanks for the thoughtful post!

    The Apple/Amazon move to dump small businesses will certainly hurt our ability to sell Apple devices, making perhaps 30% of the total online marketplace off limits to us. But there's still a ton left, and plenty of opportunity. The small businesses kicked off Amazon will move to other platforms such as swappa.com, which will gain legitimacy due to increased traffic. That said, we need to push back on these horrible decisions by major corporations, because what if Apple decided to bully all the major marketplaces -- what if they made the same arrangement with eBay, Walmart, Newegg, etc., and 98% of the online marketplace was off limits for used Apple devices? That is a future we have to fight against.

    I could write for hours on these topics, but I'll try to summarize. First, I'd recommend you go to my "Videos" section, and under the "Misc Tutorials" is one labeled "Repair Business Workshop". In this video I give a rundown of my business and how I got started. Also, on talk.ifixit.com, I did an extensive AMA and wrote dozens of pages answering tons of questions, so that's a good repository of material. And if you look through the questions on this site, there are also some on related posts.

    But anyway -- it sounds like you are in the right frame of mind to be experimenting with this type of business. And that's good, because it's best to be in a relative stable place in life (financially and mentally) when testing out a new concept. I always recommend doing a proof of concept first, which is a small version of the larger business that you hope to one day have. It's small enough that if it fails you're not putting yourself at risk. A proof of concept could be that you want to turn $1000 into $3000 within a month. Basically it's a science experiment. You have your hypothesis, i.e. I think I can buy broken computers, fix them, sell them, and make money. Then there's the experiment phase, which involves actually trying it out for a period of time. Then you evaluate the results -- did you meet your goal? If not, what went wrong? If you were to do the experiment again, how could you improve? Then, do it again, and again, until you inch your way to success. Once your proof of concepts start being successful, you can take the risk of doing it for real. And at that point it's no longer a gamble, but a proven concept.

    By trying a proof of concept, you might also discover that you don't like repair/refurbishing, that you aren't good at it, etc. To be honest, most people fail, or don't like it, or aren't good at it. And that's OK! At least you haven't risked everything in order to come to that conclusion.

    Look to ifixit.com for repair guides. They also have an "answers" site that is great for posting questions. You can buy broken devices on CraigsList, and also on eBay. My main rule for purchasing broken devices is to never pay more than you can sell them for broken -- that way, if they show up broken, you still got a good deal. The second you pay more and have an expectation that something should be working, the purchase turns into a gamble, and you're going to be disappointed and out $$$. It's a hard rule to live by, but you have to do it in order to stay safe.

    Yes, I do this full-time, and it's been my only source of income for more than 10 years. Because I am so highly specialized and I've been doing it for so long, it's gotten easy, and I now have extra time to devote to other hobbies, such as the glitch art. It takes years of dedication and long days before it starts getting easy though, so it's important to NOT go into this expecting an easy life.

    Again, I could write volumes. If you have additional specific questions, let me know, and I'll answer them.

    Thanks!

    John
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