Selling on eBay isn’t just for people that want to get rid of items around their house. Today it can be a part-time or full-time gig. Many readers have turned their “hobby” into a full-time gig, yet they only work 15 to 20 hours a week!
Knowing how to sell on eBay is the key to turning a hobby or side gig into a full-time income. It’s not a passive income gig, though, so be prepared to work. But when you know how to do it right, you can make a decent living selling on eBay.
What should you sell on eBay?
It’s true you can sell anything and everything on eBay, but should you?
I follow the school that believes you should find a niche. Sure, you could sell anything and everything you find, but how do you become an expert?
If you want to make a significant income selling items on eBay, you need to find the niche that you can get to know and have them get to know you. Think about it, who would you rather buy from - someone you have purchased from before and know you can trust or a new seller?
If you’re like me, you’d rather buy from a seller you’ve bought from before and know you’ll get a solid product from. It’s a no-brainer, and that’s why picking a niche is vital.
The niches you can sell in are endless. You can focus on a specific product type or category. For example, car parts are a category with endless possibilities, as are antique products, kids’ clothes, or household goods.
Do your research and see not only what’s selling on eBay, but what you can get good deals on in your area and turn a profit on eBay. It also helps if you have an interest or passion in the category or product. Otherwise, it can become more of a chore than an easy way to make money.
Watch Trending Products on eBay
As you learn how to sell on eBay, it’s important to see what products are trending if you want to make the largest profits or the most sales.
The easiest way is to use Google Trends for illustrating which products are most widely searched and when. This way, you don’t find yourself trying to sell seasonal merchandise at the wrong time. Instead, find the times with the highest demand and sell your items then.
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Where to find items to sell on eBay
Knowing where to get the items you’ll sell on eBay is a big part of the process too. Most people start selling items around their house, but that doesn’t last forever.
Every seller has different sources for getting their products, but here are the places I find the most reputable and profitable.
Someone else’s “trash” could be your treasure. Learn to comb through yard sales or even estate sales to find great deals. It helps if you have a niche before you look for items to sell on eBay so you know what to look for and how much you’ll be able to ask for them.
People at yard sales often try to unload everything they have out there, so you can usually get some great deals.
Flea markets are a great place to get items to sell on eBay too. You can often strike deals, especially if you buy in bulk. I love the unique things you can find at flea markets, too, because they aren’t products you’ll typically find anywhere else, and a lot of the time, everything is handmade.
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Sorting through thrift stores can be fun and rewarding. Like flea markets and yard sales, you’ll likely find unique items, and you’ll usually get the best prices. Even better, most thrift stores help charities or people at risk, so your purchase helps those in need while helping you make even more income.
How to price items on eBay
As you learn how to sell on eBay, pricing items properly will be a part of that. Obviously, you want to price items to sell, but you also want to price them to make a profit. It’s a fine line.
Before you get to pricing your products, though, you should understand the different formats of eBay pricing.
This is how most people know eBay. Auction pricing starts at a specific price, and then buyers place bids with the product going to the highest bidder before the clock runs out. You must know where to start the bid, though, so doing some research to see what others start their auction at helps. You want to price it, so people pay attention to it, but not too low so that you lose money or too high, so it turns people away.
Tip: Before you start an auction, set a reserve price. This is the lowest amount you’ll accept for a product. Even if your starting bid is lower than the reserve price, the item won’t sell unless the price is at least the reserve price.
You can offer a “buy it now price” or fixed price if you aren’t the auction type. Buyers willing to pay the price you’re asking click the button and buy it, just like they would in a store. This method involves less guesswork because you know exactly how much you’ll make on a product.
Cost of selling on eBay
It’s free to open an eBay account, but once you start selling, you’ll pay fees on a per-product basis.
The insertion fee is a fee everyone pays to place the listing. It’s per item and per category. If you put one item in two categories, you’ll pay the insertion fee for both.
You may also pay the insertion fee if the item doesn’t sell and you relist it, BUT eBay gives every seller 50 free product listings with no insertion fees each month.
Final value fees
The final value fee is a fee charged when you sell an item. Each category and/or item has different final value fees, but on average, it’s 10% of the sale amount, including shipping and handling charges.
Upgraded listing fees
You can also upgrade your listings for additional fees. For example, if you want to add subtitles or promote your listing, you may pay a small fee (usually a couple of dollars). If you have a large item, though, you can upgrade it to a classified ad, but the cost is steep at $9.95 per listing, so save it for large/expensive items.
Payment processing fees
If you use eBay Managed Payments, eBay charges you for the payments you collect. I often recommend this method because it keeps everything in one place and requires less work. If you already have a payment processor you like or prefer PayPal, you can handle your payments separately.
Either way, there are fees for accepting credit card payments.
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How to sell on eBay
If you’re ready to jump on board and make money selling items on eBay, use these simple steps to get started.
1. Create an eBay seller profile
Your profile is where it all starts. Create an attractive profile with an adequate description of your niche using keywords to bring more traffic to your page.
You can open either a personal or business account; both accounts are free, but if you plan to sell a lot, I’d choose the business account. Make sure to include a professional picture and any details in your profile that set you apart from the rest, such as a professional collector or appraiser.
2. Choose your first product
Choose your product carefully. Your first few products are helping you build credibility. Choose products that match the description you give them and are what buyers want. If the products are within the niche you plan to work, it’s even better because you’ll start building credibility right away.
3. Take pictures
Pictures sell products on eBay as much as the written descriptions. Take multiple pictures since eBay allows you to have up to 12 pictures. To make sure the pictures show the product in its best light, try these tips:
- Use good lighting (natural lighting is best)
- Use a solid background
- Take pictures from different angles
- Show the defects or flaws
- Crop photos as needed
4. Write a great listing
Your product needs a great title and great description. Stick to keywords and not excessive adjectives that might sound good to you but won’t help the product sell. The more keywords you use in the description, the more likely your item will show up in a buyer’s search.
Include things like the brand name and the product, such as Nike Air Force 1 ‘07 versus Awesome Nike Shoes!
The listing should also contain keywords. Again, think like a buyer and use words they would search for when looking for your item. Also include the important details about the product, including the size, weight, age, brand name, color, and any other details it may require.
Don’t forget to include the shipping cost and terms in your listing too. Make them realistic because you must stick to what you list or get penalized by eBay.
5. Time the listing
Keywords, great titles, and amazing pictures all create a great listing, but then it comes down to the timing.
You can set eBay auctions to last for 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 days. The longer you can leave the auction up, the higher your chances of getting a higher price. But even more important than the length of time of the auction is when the auction ends.
Ideally, your auction should end on a Sunday night, but if that’s not possible, avoid having your auction end in the morning and during the week. You’ll get the most action when the auction ends, so you want as large an audience as possible. Ending an auction mid-morning or mid-week won’t give you the large audience you need.
6. Price it right
Do your research, so you know how much to start the auction at, and keep in mind whether you’re doing an auction-style listing or fixed-price. Keep in mind that you can add a reserve price so you don’t sell the product for less than intended if you’re doing auction-style.
7. Collect payment
According to the eBay terms, buyers have four calendar days to pay for an item after they’ve won the auction. Keep track of your listings and if a buyer doesn’t pay within the timeframe, send a reminder. If they still don’t pay, you’ll have to decide if you want to cancel the sale, relist the item or wait.
8. Ship the item
After you receive payment, ship the item as quickly as you can. Make sure you stick to the terms you stated in the listing and ship the item as fast as you can. Buyers will rate your product and service, so the quicker you ship the item, and the more you communicate with the buyer, the better your rating may be.
I always like to email the buyer when I ship the item and provide a tracking number. If I’m running behind for any reason, I always stay in communication, so they are aware of the situation and aren’t left guessing.
9. Rate the buyer
Your final step is to rate the buyer. Remember, your business thrives on reviews, so if you review the buyer, they may review too. The review is another chance to communicate with the buyer too, and there’s nothing wrong with asking them to revisit your shop.
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Tips to sell on eBay successfully
The steps above help you learn how to sell on eBay, and now here are some of my favorite tips to scale your business and start making a full-time income selling items on eBay.
Provide great customer service to get great ratings
It’s all about the ratings. The more stars and positive reviews you have, the higher eBay will rank your listings. Like I said earlier, communication is key, but so is providing products just as you described, shipping products securely, so they arrive in one piece, and answering buyers’ questions right away.
Treat your business like a store. Be professional, courteous, and fast to get the best ratings.
Use eBay completed sales to help price your items
To find completed sales, look for the items you have to sell and click on “completed sales” on the left-hand side of the page. This will show you the latest products sold and for how much.
You can use this as a guide to price your items or to decide if an item is worth listing. If items are selling for less than you want to make or thought you’d make, consider waiting since maybe it’s not the right season or time for that product.
You can allow offers on your auction too. This is a great tool to get more buyers. Even if they want to pay an amount close to what you have set, some buyers like to feel “in charge.” Giving the option to “make an offer” may get you more bids. You aren’t obligated to accept the offer, but it can be a way to increase your sales.
Offer free shipping
Most people despise paying for shipping. If you can work free shipping into your offers, you may get better deals. In fact, some buyers will even sort listings by those that offer free shipping to try to avoid paying shipping charges.
Offer free returns
Customer satisfaction should be your #1 goal, and one way to do that is to offer free returns. Buyers may be more willing to take a chance on your products if they know they can return them if they are unhappy.
If you offer free returns, be specific in your terms under what circumstances you’ll offer returns so you aren’t taken advantage of but can keep your customers happy.
Try the quick listing format
When you’re brand new to selling on eBay, it can feel overwhelming to create listings. If you’re selling something that’s already been sold on eBay, though, all you have to do is enter keywords and eBay will pull up similar listings. When you find a listing like what you’re sellling, click “sell one like this,” and the listing is created for you.
Download the eBay app
The eBay app is a great way to stay on top of your listings while you’re on the go. You can do just about everything you can online but from your phone. This is a great way to stay on top of customer questions and requests or to counter any bids you receive. Waiting until you are back at the computer could cause you to lose sales since most people want instant gratification today.
The final word on how to sell on eBay
Selling on eBay is a great way to make a side income, and if you grow your business enough, you could even make a full-time income. Start small, even with items you have around your house, but then build your niche and get those reviews so you stand out as a top seller and can turn your eBay business into a full-time gig. Learning how to sell on eBay is honestly one of the easiest gigs anyone can start.