December 30, 2020

Flip of the Week: How To Take Photos That Turned A $30 Pair of Tables Into $100

By AJ Hakimi (The Flipping Ninja)

Such an easy flip sold in just 2 days after posting! And do you wanna know why it was easy? It’s because I know how to take photos that sell.

I was going through the thrift store to look for potentially profitable items to sell and saw a pair of glass looking cubes. Turns out they were glass furniture and I couldn’t believe what I saw.

They were only selling it for $29.99.

I was excited. I thought to myself that I could easily double or triple its price on the online marketplace. Once I bought them, I brought these gems home to take the best possible photos I could using only my smartphone.

It was easy, and I’ll show you the two things you need to remember when taking photos that make money. It’s all about…


Staging: Lighting and Background.



Have you ever scrolled through Craigslist, eBay, or FB MarketPlace, and taken a good solid look at the images people post for their product listings?

If you have, then you’ve probably noticed how bad most of those photos are. That is because they take lighting for granted in their photography. And they have made a grave mistake because it is literally what the camera is capturing: Light!

Now, if you seriously want to flip items online you cannot neglect the presentation, because before people even bother reading your ad description they judge your feature image first. You have to make sure that your product is well-lit before you capture the image. You don’t need an expensive light studio to make your photo look good. I could go on and on about the intricacies of how to use lighting to your advantage but there is plenty of information about that online. I highly recommend watching tutorials on YouTube. 

But here are two basic tips on lighting that you can use right away to improve your photography.

  1. Avoid Harsh Light, Seek Soft Light – Unless your camera is specialized to capture super bright light then the result would most probably look highly contrasted. The subtleties on your item that would otherwise be seductive to potential customers would be lost. So if you are in doubt, tend towards using soft light.

    You can get soft light from many affordable sources. The cheapest most affordable one is the sun, but it has to be either during sunrise or sunset. This specific time of the day is referred to by many photographers as the golden hour since the sun’s rays are diffused and scattered which gives a soft glow to the subject of the photo.

    Golden hour photography

    But if that is too inconvenient or unrealistic in your case (let’s be real, not all of us can afford to schedule our time this way) you can always invest in a softbox. Softboxes are excellent for producing soft light and they are a cheap investment that could level up your photography. There are kits that cost only $45 on Amazon.

    (Or if you really wanna go cavalier you can use a bright desk lamp, cover it with a plastic bag—any color that is suitable—and it’ll work just like a softbox, minus the directional control.)


  2. Off-set or Angle Your Light – This is a great way to bring out the texture of your item or even just putting contrast to the shadows and the three-dimensionality of it. It makes the photo stand out.

    The photo is angled so that the light comes from the side creating a reflection that showcases its smooth texture.


    See how the shadows and the light create a nice blend that brings out the table’s smooth surface? It won’t always apply to every item, so make sure to experiment! Learning how to angle the light on your photos will definitely bring you more profit in the long-run. 


The background plays a huge role in showcasing your product because it is one way potential customers will judge, consciously or subconsciously, the legitimacy of your business. If you are selling a refrigerator and the photo it was taken from was in front of a junkyard, then you’d drive a lot of potential buyers away. They’d probably think the refrigerator is junk.

Obviously, I’m exaggerating the junkyard example here, but you get the point.

What you’d want to do is put the refrigerator in a cozy environment where it belongs. A place where it looks like it has been taken good care of. That way, people will be more likely to trust that the refrigerator is indeed worthy of their money. 

Cozy sofa at the back. Plush carpet at the bottom.

Look at the staging of the image. The tables are placed on top of a plush carpet and are flanked by a cozy-looking sofa. The image conveys a lot of messages, chief among them are:

  1. The item was treated properly and well-taken care of,
  2. It belonged to a clean & beautiful home, and because of that…
  3. It would bring beauty to your home.

Want more examples?

Be the judge: A close-up low-resolution photo of a road bike leaning on a wall (left) or A pleasant full-breadth shot of a mountain bike on the mountains (right).
Before (left) and After (right) pic of a bike I flipped. This one sold in four days.
Before (left) and After (right) pic of a folding chair that I flipped.


Now, it is important to point out that the use of this tactic could easily be used for nefarious reasons. If the item you are selling has defects, minor or major, the customer should know. Honesty is always a good long-term strategy for flipping, and also for life.


Once I applied the powers of presentation, I made sure to craft a compelling ad description. I have already written how I write my ad descriptions from a previous FOTW post which you can check by clicking here.

After that, I posted the item for sale and after two days I got a message. Sold.

Bought for $30, sold for $100 in just 2 days

Time Spent?

From buying from the thrift store to taking it home, to shooting flattering photos, to crafting an ad description, and finally, to posting it online, it took less than 45 minutes!

And someone bought it in just 2 days. Easy.

Bought for $29.99
Sold for $100.00

Profit of $70 in less than 45 minutes of work. Plus, I bought this item with a couple of other items to save myself time and potentially earn more.


Overall Rating:

Profit: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Decent cash for the time spent.

The tables were very compact and easily stashed inside my vehicle, so it was an easy transition from the thrift store to the car—not to mention a smooth ride home!

Time Spent: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Spending less than 30 minutes of my time to sell the item in as fast as 2 days was definitely worth it. 


Overall I’d give it a 5/5 considering these factors:

  • Time spent: 45 minutes
  • Transport: Fast with no difficulties 
  • Profit: $70 in less than 45 minutes of work. Although I’m used to higher profit flips, I’d give this a 5/5 just because it was simple, fun, easy, and a total breeze.


AJ Hakimi (The Flipping Ninja)

Hey there, I'm AJ, also known as 'The Flipping Ninja'. My flipping journey has been transformative, allowing me to buy sleek cars, indulge in exotic vacations, and even purchase my first house at 24, which I turned into a passive income source. With over 3,000+ items flipped and sales surpassing $300k, it's not just about the numbers. It's about the freedom and empowerment flipping brings.

After years of experience, my mission is to share this life-changing skill. I believe flipping is a powerful side hustle for anyone, from college students to working professionals. Ready to transform your life with flipping? Let's embark on this journey together.

Interested in my full journey? Read More about how I became 'The Flipping Ninja'.

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