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 stamps.com. 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 stamps.com, 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.