Frugal Tuesdays: 10 Tips for selling & making money on ebay

10-tips-for-selling-&-making-money-on-ebay Have you ever sold anything on ebay?

I have.

I’ve been selling things here & there for about 7 years. It’s not a business for me, but rather a much easier way to have a yard sale. And it’s kinda fun!

I admit, I love selling stuff & I love getting positive feedback, & of course, the money is great too.

Plus, you get rid of junk you don’t need anymore, someone else wants it, you get some cash & you have less clutter at home–a win-win-win. I’ve made somewhere around $1800 in the last year selling stuff on ebay–not bad considering most of the stuff were things just laying around my house. I did also buy a load of gently used designer jeans, coats, & other clothing items from Goodwill for $5-10 & sold them for $15-$25 as well.

In the last 12 months I’ve sold over 150 items. And, not to toot my own horn–okay, I guess I will–I have a 100% feedback score from buyers in the last 12 months. 100%, as in perfect. I know, big whoop, I’m a *perfect* ebay seller. But I’m actually really proud of the fact, because it wasn’t always so. In fact, in my earlier days of selling on ebay, I got some negative feedback from buyers on a variety of things from incorrect item descriptions to poor or late shipping. I learned through trial & error, & less than perfect feedback from buyers, what to do, & what not to do.

So, if I may, let me tell you why you should have an ebay account, as well as a some tips for selling.


10 little tips for selling & making money on ebay 


1. Why you should do it–it’s free!
(until you sale something)

You’ve got nothing to lose, except maybe for the time you put into listing an item (which doesn’t take that long). If you don’t sell anything, you don’t pay any fees.

Currently, ebay offers sellers 50 free listings per month for non-business accounts. Once your stuff sells, you do have to pay a 10% commission of the sales (& 10% of what you’re charging your buyers for shipping). In my view, that commission buys you potentially millions of eyeballs & prospective buyers who are looking for what you have to sell. More eyeballs = much better chances of selling, but then again, see tip #4–if it’s priced right, you can sell anything on ebay.


2. Ditch the yard sale idea.

You know all that stuff you’re “saving” for that yard sale you’ll have someday? Sell it on ebay. Yes, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, easy peasy, & you don’t have to sit out on your front lawn for half a day. Also, you’re bound to get a higher price for certain items like electronics, kitchen appliances, art, quality clothing, shoes etc.


3. You can sell anything on ebay.

I’ve sold the most random things on ebay–special light bulbs, a yoga strap, old dvds & books, kitchen appliances, jeans, shoes, curtains–as long as it’s priced right (including a reasonable shipping cost), it will sell.


4. Even though you can sell *anything* on ebay, consider craiglist for bigger items.

There are some things you’ll just want to sell on craigslist. Or, a yard sale (though I only think a yard sale is worth the effort if you have a lot of stuff to get rid of). Bigger items such as couches, beds, tables, dressers, bikes, strollers (depending on size, weight, & condition) & other things that are just too heavy to ship economically (ie. the shipping is a lot more than the selling price of the good) are all things that are better to sell on craigslist.


5. Price your item right.

I know it’s easy to get $$ signs in the eyeballs when you realize what some things are selling for an ebay. But temper that with a dose of reality. The goal is sell your item at an honest price. Remember–win-win. No one will bid on your item if the price is too high. Conversely, don’t short yourself either. I once sold a designer pair of jeans for $1.99. The buyer got a steal, but I didn’t even recoup the $10 I paid for them at Goodwill.

I generally look at what the item is currently going for from other sellers & price my item at the bottom of the list.

Offering a competitive fixed price, or reasonable starting bid is key to selling your item. If the item is going to auction (ie. needs a starting bid), you want a lot of folks to be willing to bid on it. More bids more often than not, means a higher final sale price. That said, there are some items that are better sold at a fixed price (the “buy it now” option), rather than at auction.

It may take a few weeks & re-listing some items a few times, but sometimes it just takes that long to find the right buyer. If it hasn’t sold after a re-listing it once or twice, you’ll probably want to lower the price or starting bid.


6. When listing your item, include a lot of pictures & be as accurate in your product description as possible.

Think of what you like when you’re looking at making a purchase–you want to know what you’re buying, right? Take all the guesswork out of your item & include as many details as you can. Ebay makes this very easy & often will furnish you with suggested detail or item descriptions depending on what you’re selling.


7. Check often to see if you get any messages from prospective buyers & respond asap.

You can make or break a sale by your interactions with prospective buyers. Answer questions as quickly & as thoroughly as possible & make your responses public (ebay will let you know how to do this), so other prospective buyers who might have the same question can see.


8. Buy a postage metering scale & don’t buy postage at the post office.

It’s important you set your shipping fee for each item accurately. Otherwise, you can lose a lot of money paying the difference or you can turn away buyers who are turned off by unreasonable shipping charges.

I’ve been burned a few times by “guessing” on shipping charges. One time I sold an item for $10, charged $3 for shipping, & it cost $16 to ship!! Add that to the seller’s fees, & I ended up paying ebay to sell my stuff. Please learn from me & don’t “guess” or approximate what you charge for shipping. Get an accurate scale & weigh your stuff before you list it so there are no unfortunate “surprises.”

I got a free scale through You get one if you sign up for a free 30 day trial, though you do have to pay for them to ship you the scale, which is worth it, since a postage scale can cost $25-$50. It only weighs items up to 5 lbs., so for heavier items I use my digital weight scale. I always weigh my item (with the box it will be shipped in) & then calculate shipping before I list. I add 10% to what it will cost to ship (including the cost of the shipping materials–box, envelope, packing paper, tape, etc.), because ebay charges a commission on your shipping charges. I think it’s silly to try to make money off of shipping. Just charge your customers what it will cost you to ship. I think that’s fair, & my buyers do too.

I purchased my postage for a few months through, but then switched to exclusively shipping through ebay since they make it so easy to ship through them & their prices can’t be beat–you can buy & print shipping labels at a discount directly through their site.


9. Upcycle old boxes, envelopes, & other packaging materials.

Whenever I get something in the mail, or buy something in a box that could be used for shipping, I save it. This saves a ton of money, because new shipping boxes can cost a good chunk of change & you want to offer your buyers the lowest shipping charge possible. Not just to give them a good deal, but to remain competitive as well.

If you ship through priority mail–which is a good choice for some items–you get your box or envelope for free. You still will have to pay for tape &/or packing peanuts/bubble wrap to cushion item in shipping, so remember to include that in your shipping cost.


10. Mail the item the day of the sale, if possible.

I get awesome feedback on how quickly I ship stuff. This is because I keep track of when auctions end & as soon as I receive payment, I pack & ship the item. I have a USPS mailing center a few minutes from my house, so this is easy to do. I try to underpromise & over deliver on shipping. Buyers get an email that item will arrive in 7-10 days, for example, & it’s always a nice surprise for them to get it in 3-5 days because I shipped it the day of.

Have you ever sold anything on ebay? Bought anything? What tips or tricks have you learned along the way? Please share. 


  1. Janell
    on April 12, 2016 at 10:37 am said:

    Love the article! Thanks for sharing your tips! I have been playing around with the idea of selling some things on Ebay, but was always nervous about how to figure out the price of shipping. This has given me what I needed to feel comfortable and get started selling!

  2. Jessica Pretz
    on March 2, 2015 at 11:27 am said:

    So, I see here that you were purchasing postage through stamps, but stopped and use Ebays postage instead. Do you weigh the items you are selling and then calculate the shipping cost through ebay and stamps and see which is better? Or do you just let ebay calculate for you (or is that how you got “burned” before). I am trying to be cost effective and get bang for my buck for items I sell. I haven’t sold through ebay before so the more I know before I set up an account would be super helpful!

    • Janae Wise
      on March 6, 2015 at 1:49 pm said:

      Hi Jessica! I realized for me, that Ebay offered across the board better prices on shipping. I still use my scale from though. Does that answer your question?

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    on December 4, 2014 at 7:24 am said:

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  4. scarvesilove
    on October 16, 2014 at 9:28 pm said:

    Some great tips! I have been selling on eBay for over 12 years. I have sold 25,000 items all over the world. It sure has changed in those years! There have been many attempts but I don’t think there is anything close.

  5. Luke
    on September 15, 2014 at 12:23 pm said:

    Yes I have a confession. I too sell on ebay. Made about ten grand. I wrote a book and sold hundreds of them, all of which were sent via email. As far as I know they (Ebay) won’t let you do that anymore but I am sure some slip through the cracks. When selling an item research it well for pricing. If you want to make the item sell for a higher price, tell the story of that item. For instance, my mother cleaned out all my old possessions that I left when I moved out. Now, this has been about 25 years ago. An interesting thing she sent was a huge bag of pennies that I had as a child. Those pennies have been in that bag for 25 years, and if you look up “penny” on ebay you will see why that story would add value. Its a true story too, I do no lie on that site, actions like that come back to bite. Another thing I did is slick. I found an item that sold for 500 to 600 dollars. On ebay I found a company that made these items. So I listed the item, and when it sold I would contact that other company and pay for one to be made and have it shipped to my buyer. So, the moral is you do not need anything to sell as long as you can locate something in demand and pass it on for profit. I would clear $75 per item and the buyer would save about $100. Its good business really.

  6. Melanie
    on October 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm said:

    Another thing you can do is see if your city or neighborhood has a Facebook virtual yard sale page (or start one yourself). I discovered one for where I live, and people post stuff all the time. Local pickup = free shipping and less hassle. People can call you for pickup so you don’t even need to leave the house. Kind of like Craigslist I guess – though we don’t have a Craigslist available where I live!

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  8. lfwfv
    on October 23, 2013 at 9:07 am said:

    I have a stack of stuff i need to sell and this is extremely helpful. Thanks!

    • Janae Wise
      on October 23, 2013 at 9:10 am said:

      Do it! You’ll love the extra cash & to be lighter on the clutter/stuff in your home 🙂

  9. luminousvegans
    on October 22, 2013 at 9:52 pm said:

    Excellent tips! I have never used ebay myself, but my partner has extensive knowledge of it. I’ve had him sell a few things of mine on it but don’t think to use it enough. I definitely will have to keep this in mind as I foresee a fairly large purge in the future.

  10. Dana
    on October 22, 2013 at 2:50 pm said:

    I am so glad you posted this, Janae! We have been stockpiling so many outgrown, but still nearly new, clothes to put on eBay but never, ever seem to get around to it. I would love to free up that space in the spare bedroom and could certainly use some extra jingle in my pocket. I forwarded your post to my dearest partner as a very subtle (haha) suggestion that we start trying to sell the 8 winter jackets before spring rolls back around! : ) Fingers crossed.

  11. April
    on October 22, 2013 at 9:28 am said:

    Yes I totally sell on eaby! I’ve been doing it for many years-probably 8 or 9. Here and there. I go thru spurts. I have not made nearly as much as you have-I might have made 2 grand over the entire 8 years. Just recently I’m on a roll though and I have made $200 this week. We normally don’t actually *see* the money since it goes into paypal and I usually spend it before it can transfer into an account (I do a lot of online shopping rather than in stores). But it’s a great way to make some cash! Good tips!

    • Janae Wise
      on October 22, 2013 at 10:47 am said:

      That’s awesome April! Isn’t it awesome how you can get rid of stuff you don’t need & then get paid for it too? I especially love when I can sell stuff that I bought on ebay for about the same price I bought it for!

      I think ebay is one of the greatest inventions 🙂