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Where to Track Your Sports Card Collection

Where to track your sports card collection is entirely dependent on what you want to do with that collection! Are you the type of collector who never sells a card from their PC? Or is your relationship with the hobby more entrepreneurial that requires close monitoring of your purchase and sales prices? The answers to these questions will help guide you towards the best platform for you to track your what sports cards you have in your collection. To help guide you through this process, I've put together the decision tree and have a brief overview of each solution available.


A decision tree used to decide what solution to use when tracking your sports card collection



Excel Spreadsheets or GSheets

Spreadsheets are a tried and true solution to track what is in your collection. Its not the sexiest or most exciting exercise for many people, but having all relevant information readily available is extremely useful. Not to mention, the ability to document where your collection was at a point in time or send out a collection listing to an insurance company or an accountant.


Pros:

  • Free (GSheets are at least with a GMail account)

  • Customizability - Complete control over how to structure your data, allowing you to create a system that's suited for your needs

  • Secure Data Control - You are the only person who has your data

  • Analysis & Visualization - You have all of the analytical tools native to spreadsheet software. Structure your data correctly and easily perform any analysis you'd like

Cons:

  • Time-Consuming Set Up - Creating an inventory tracking spreadsheet from scratch can require a significant amount of start up time and ongoing maintenance.

  • Limited Visual Appeal - Spreadsheets and photos don't play well together.

  • Lack of Integrated Features - No integrated price tracking or market value analysis available without significant programming knowledge/wizardry.

  • Potential for Data Loss (Excel) - Without proper backups your data could be lost due to hardware failure or user error.

  • Learning Curve - Effective use of a spreadsheet for collection tracking may require a certain level of proficiency with spreadsheet software that not all collectors have.

  • No Community Features - Inability to interact with other collectors through a spreadsheet.


Card Ladder or another Collection Management Software

Collection Management Software has been developed to fill in all the shortfalls of tracking your collection in a spreadsheet. Beautiful user interfaces highlight photos of your prized cards while documenting your purchase and sales price along with the latest comparable sale. Some have features where you can scan a graded card label and automatically and it will automatically populate the details of that card to your collection. Others integrate with selling platforms so you can list cards seamlessly. I LOVE Card Ladder and have been using them since they launched in 2020, but there are many competing apps that fill a slightly different niche I encourage you to explore.


Pros:

  • Specialized Features - These applications were built specifically for collectors to improve their collecting experience.

  • User-Friendly Interfaces - They typically offer a more visually appealing and intuitive interface compared to spreadsheets, making it easier to view and manage your collection.

  • Community and Networking - Many of these platforms have built-in communities where you can connect with other collectors, trade cards, and share information.

  • Automated Value Tracking - Some software can automatically update the values of your cards based on current market trends, saving time and providing real-time insights.

  • Ease of Adding New Cards - Adding new cards to your collection can be more streamlined, with pre-filled information fields and databases of existing cards.

  • Secure and Regular Backups - Cloud-based platforms ensure that your data is backed up regularly, reducing the risk of data loss.

Cons:

  • Cost - Many collection management tools require a subscription or one-time purchase, which can be a significant con for collectors on a budget.

  • Limited Customization - While user-friendly, these platforms may not offer the same level of customization as a spreadsheet, potentially limiting how you organize and view your collection.

  • Dependence on Service Provider - You rely on the continued operation and support of the service provider. If the service is discontinued, you may lose access to your data or be forced to migrate it to a new platform.

  • Learning Curve - Although generally user-friendly, there's still a learning curve involved in understanding and effectively using all the features of the software.

  • Data Privacy - Using an online platform involves entrusting your data to a third party, which might be a concern for collectors who are sensitive about privacy.

  • Internet Dependency - For cloud-based systems, you'll need a stable internet connection to access your collection, which could be limiting in areas with poor connectivity.


Instagram or Flickr

Instagram and Flickr are both social photo sharing apps that encourage users to tell a story through the content they post. Is that not what we are trying to do when we curate our collections? While Instagram and Flickr struggle mightily with recording hard data (Purchase date, sales date, location, tags, etc.), they excel at community building and providing access to your collection for others to enjoy. Collectors tracking their collection here have access to tens of thousands of fellow collectors and are able to network with each other in ways spreadsheets and collection management apps are not able to.


Pros:

  • Visual Showcase - Both Instagram and Flickr were created to enable users to share photos with their friends and followers. They set the gold standard for visual appeal.

  • Community Engagement - Sharing your collection on these platforms allows you to connect with a wider community of collectors than you have access to through spreadsheets or collection management software.

  • Ease of Use - Uploading photos and basic details about your cards is straightforward and can be more enjoyable than entering data into a spreadsheet or database.

  • Free to Use - Both Instagram and Flickr offer free accounts.

  • Storytelling - You can share the stories behind your cards, making the collection more personal and engaging.

Cons:

  • Limited Organizational Tools - These platforms are not designed for collection management, lacking features like sorting, filtering, and valuation tracking.

  • Privacy Concerns - Sharing your collection publicly can raise privacy and security issues, potentially exposing you to theft or fraud.

  • No Backup for Collection Details - If the platform shuts down or if your account is compromised, you could lose your collection data. This is exactly what happened with PhotoBucket and many collectors lost all their photos.

  • Data Limitations - The information you can include with each image is limited compared to what you can record in a database or spreadsheet. Not likely you'll be putting purchase price, location, and date on an IG post.

  • Dependence on Platform Stability - Your ability to access and showcase your collection is dependent on the ongoing stability and existence of the platform.

  • Internet Dependency - You need a stable internet connection to access and update your collection.


 

I use spreadsheets as my source of truth for purchase and sales information, Card Ladder to visually enjoy my collection and monitor values, and Instagram to connect with fellow collectors! I encourage you to find what works best for you. Maybe you stick with one of the solutions above or maybe you use all three! Wherever you land, its important to develop your own system. An essential part of building out that dream collection is knowing what you already have!

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