Business and Hobbies: Differentiating Yourself in a Crowded Market by "Being Bothered"

Since it is the beginning of a new quarter, I spent a good bit of time today getting myself organized to get going again with my hobby-turned-business "Postage Stamps for Collectors" gig.


Yes, it can actually be a pretty good gig to trade little old (mostly used!) pieces of paper with people around the world. One of the cool things about it is that there is almost endless variety — an estimated half million different stamps have been issued since the first one in 1840 — and the "inventory" is physically very small... yet can be quite valuable.

spring growth
Spring growth!

The nice thing about stamps being small and light is that I can trade with the entire world and never have to worry about "shipping," over and beyond what it takes to mail a regular letter... except if it's very valuable, in which case if it still just a registered letter.

Doing It Right!

Anyway, one of the things I spent a good bit of time doing today was "cleaning" the items I am going to be listing for sale over the next few weeks. No, I don't mean that in a "restoration" sense, but in the sense of removing old scraps of paper, stamp gum and other "dirt" from the back of postmarked stamps. "Clean back" matters to a fair number of collectors... simply because it's work to clean up old stamps.

It's one of many things I can "be bothered" to do that many of my trade colleagues do not bother with.

Another thing I can be "bothered" with is taking the time for decent presentation, and proper identification. I know from my own collecting habits that I usually pass right by poorly photographed/scanned items that tell me that someone doesn't know how to use the "macro" setting on their camera/phone... and evidently can't be bothered to learn.

Identification is really important, too... as I said, there are over half a million stamps, and even if your colleting interest covers a limited area, it's still time consuming and more difficult to do from a picture on a computer screen than from actually having the stamp in-hand.

Old Danish stamp from 1875

And yet? My guess is that about 50-60% of all trader limit their item description to know the name of the country that issued the stamp, about when it was issued and otherwise "see scan" is the sum-total of their offering.

Of course, I am somewhat "selfishly motivated" in taking extra care before the sale, in that I don't want to deal with endless questions via email to provide additional information, and I don't want to deal with an endless stream of return because "This isn't what I THOUGHT it was..."

Is it worthwhile, to be "Bothered?"

I could probably have significantly higher turnover if I took less time and care... on the other hand, my "returns rate" is something on the order of 1-in-1000 transactions and I really like that, and not having to deal with "post-sale problems."

Of course, it's not a very large market overall, but I've developed a pretty loyal following over the past 20+ years... of people who appreciate that they know what they are going to get from me. Some — the "bargain basement cruisers" of the hobby — probably think my offerings are on the spendy side, but they are not really my market segment.


Ultimately, I see myself more as being in the "happy collector business" than the "stamp selling business," and perhaps that's an important market differentiation, in its own right.

At least I like to think so!

So, this is day two of HiveBloPoMo and just 28 more to go! Are you part of HiveBloPoMo?

Thanks for reading, and have a great remainder of your weekend!

How about YOU? If you are a collector of something, what do you appreciate most in those with whom you trade? Does clear an accurate presentation matter to you? Or are you more of a "if I don't like it, I'll just return it" kind of person? Comments, feedback and other interaction is invited and welcomed! Because — after all — SOCIAL content is about interacting, right? Leave a comment — share your experiences — be part of the conversation!


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Created at 20220402 23:00 PDT



I use to collect stamps years ago, then passed it onto my grandson, then never saw them again after that. Thank you @denmarkguy for an interesting post, have a great day.


"being bothered" is ALWAYS worth it - somehow, the energy of care and quality is vibed out to the customers and clients. It matters.

Gosh, haven't thought about my childhood stamp collection in several decades. 😆


Hi denmarkguy,

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