Five Ways To Make Money With Magic: The GatheringDiscussion Economy
Genoslugcs · February 10, 2023 · 8 min
For most people Magic: The Gathering is a hobby - Something that brings enjoyment, an opportunity to play with friends, and the challenge of building and playing decks in such a complex game. However, some people also view the game through a financial lens. Collectible trading cards in general are no stranger to some very high-value items and MTG is no exception. Given that there is money to be had, who wouldn't want to earn money with their favorite hobby? So, today I will be giving you five ways to make money with Magic: The Gathering.
I have to add here, that I am certainly no financial advisor and I will simply be listing things that have worked for me. That said, if you're new to things like this please be cautious when investing or spending your money. Do your research, only spend/invest what you can afford to, and be responsible with your money. What's nice is some of these options don't require you to spend a dime but some do. With that out of the way, let's jump right in.
Freelance Deck Building
I mentioned above that some of my recommendations are completely without cost, so I'll start with one of those first. My first option is Freelance deck building. What exactly is this? Well, there are players out there with deck ideas that they don't know where to start building themselves. If you are an experienced deck builder, why not offer them your knowledge? It may seem far-fetched that people would pay you to build them a deck but there is certainly a market for it.
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I personally build decks for people on Fiverr.com and I think that's the perfect platform for the service. Don't expect to get rich by doing this, as most services start at $5, and after the fees from Fiverr, you'll walk away with $4 per order. It's far from a lucrative business but it is income and it does come from MTG. Having said that, before you pick this up make sure you're prepared to do a good job and can make great decks in a timely fashion.
Penny Stocks (Flipping Cards)
This method does require some investment on your part but it's sorta the point to keep things small. This method is usually done by buying a somewhat high quantity of very cheap cards, waiting for the cards to rise in value, and then selling them within a relatively short time frame. The benefit of keeping things small is that the risk-to-reward ratio is usually pretty safe.
This is strictly an example but let's say you notice that Inqusition of Kozilek has recently been reprinted. Perhaps the reprint takes the card from around $1 to $0.60 cents. If you buy 17 copies of the card while it's low, it would cost around $10. Let's say you hold onto these cards for a few months and they go back up near their original price. You're $10 worth of cards is now worth around $17. Now, this may not seem impressive but from a percentage standpoint, that's a 70% return in a pretty short time.
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The returns are somewhat low but so is the investment, and the risk. Furthermore, a card around $1 will never lose all of its value. It may not increase much (or at all) but you'll never be left with something completely, worthless. A word of advice though, keep an eye on shipping costs and selling/buying fees as they can quickly eat up profits. My advice on this is to buy just enough cards to qualify for free shipping when buying online and if you are selling pretty cheap cards, consider selling them by the playset to save on shipping when selling.
This isn't going to make you rich but if you're looking to dip your toe into the pool of MTG finance and test the waters, this a low-risk way to do so, and it can be a lot of fun.
If you're good with a paintbrush, you can make money by altering card art. It's quite a skill-intensive task to match the colors of the original card and create a unique continuation of the art. However, if you've got the skills to pull off high-quality alters, it can be quite profitable. For example, you can buy bulk lots of basic land for around $10 per 100 land and good custom lands can easily sell for a few dollars apiece. I'll let you do the math on that, but it's pretty good money depending on how long each card takes you.
If you're interested in getting started selling alters, here's some advice. First, use every medium available to you. This means using social media like Twitter and Facebook to promote your cards. Speaking of Facebook, there are quite a few Facebook groups devoted to buying and selling altered cards - Just be sure to price your cards at a fair price.
If you frequent a card shop or attend MTG events, going and passing out business cards can be quite helpful as well. Lastly, lots of people find painting cards interesting. So, consider starting a Youtube channel where you give tutorials or create time-lapsed videos of your paintings. Be sure to include a link in the description where people can order commissions, and interested customers will find you.
Magic is ever-evolving, and there is constantly fresh news that needs to be brought to players. MTG websites (like the one you're on now) are the primary way that most players keep up to date on the game. Well, every website needs at least one writer and most need several. So, if you're a qualified writer and you're knowledgeable about Magic it can certainly be a way to earn some money.
If you're looking to get the ball rolling on MTG article writing, freelance writing websites are a great place to start. While it can be tedious you can also visit sites, find contact info, and see if they're looking for writers. However, if you go this route, you'll probably want to have a background in writing and/or a resume for your work ready to present.
Long-term MTG investing is just like other traditional investments - You buy something with the thought that it will increase in value as time goes on. However, this is usually on a much longer scale than the flipping cards section above. In that case, you'll sell your cards when they go up and before they fall again. For long-term investment, you'll look for things that are more stable and will gain value steadily as time goes on. Let's take a look at what this means for Magic: The Gathering.
There is a lot that can cause price fluctuation with any given card. For example, things like reprints, card bans, and the ever-changing meta. To elaborate a bit, MTG card value, like most things, comes down to supply and demand. If a card has a high demand and a relatively low supply available, it'll usually have some value.
When a card is reprinted, the available supply increases and the value usually goes down. On the other hand, when a popular card is banned and can no longer be played, the demand for the card can disappear overnight, which also takes its value down. Therefore, single cards don't make good long-term investments. Simply put, way too much can change over the course of a long period of time. So, what does make for a good long-term investment?
The Reserved List
The Reserved List is a list of Magic cards that Wizards of the Coast has said will never be reprinted. The list features some of the game's oldest, most powerful, and most collectible cards. Given that you can be certain that they won't be reprinted, cards on the Reserved List are protected against some of the fluctuations mentioned above.
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RL cards are also in a position where they don't see bans new bans eternal formats where they see play. So, in other words, both the supply and demand for these cards are pretty locked in and this makes them pretty stable. You can find more information as well as the full card list here.
Sealed product usually refers to unopened Booster Boxes of cards. These make good investments for a few reasons. First, is that once a set reaches the end of its print run, there is a finite supply of them in existence. What this means is, while it's in print (usually a year or so after release) more boxes can onto the market should the demand warrant it. However, after the print run ends, there will be no more. So, as time goes on and more and more boxes get opened, the unopened ones become increasingly rare.
The next factor is that the exact contents of a particular box aren't set in stone. Buyers know what the set may contain, but there's no guarantee that any given pack will have a particular card. Therefore, sealed boxes are valued based on the "Expected Value (EV)." Or in other words - the average value of the cards in the set.
Therefore, sets that contain valuable, highly sought-after cards will naturally have a higher price tag. Another important element to understand here is that sealed products are supposed to cost more than the average value of the cards inside by some margin. This means that if the price of the single cards goes up, the overall price of the box may too. That said, given that the boxes are unopened and in limited supply themselves, single card fluctuation and things like reprints rarely bring sealed product prices down.
Furthermore, cards with rare particular versions of a card often called "lottery" cards are a great buffer in this department. Take the masterpiece cards from Kaladesh as an example. The Masterpiece version of Sol Ring is currently at around $800-$900. No matter how many times Sol Ring is printed, it's not going to be that version of it and the price for the highly collectible version remains high as a result.
This leads me to my last point, which is that unopened boxes have a pretty established floor. This means that, regardless of what happens, they very, very rarely drop below a certain price point. To elaborate, game stores buy boxes from distributors at a certain price (let's say $80) and sell them to customers for an increased price. It's almost unheard of for a set drop-down below this distributor price.
If you're interested in investing in sealed products do some research and consider buying sets that are about to go out of print, have some expensive lottery cards that are unique to that box, and/or have a good EV-to-price ratio. And remember, be patient. If you choose a good box and everything works how you'd like it to, it's only going to go up with time. In other words, be prepared to play the long game.
Being able to earn money with your hobby or something you are passionate about is awesome and makes doing it more enjoyable. There are certainly ways to make money with Magic: The Gathering but none are get-rich-quick schemes. They all require some knowledge of the game, secondary skills like writing or painting, and hard work. And while some are safer than others, there are risks to investing your time and your money into any option I mentioned above. Be sure to proceed with caution in any of these endeavors but don't be afraid to give them a try.