By now you probably know more than one person who swears they make a ton of money selling on eBay. Have you considered looking into it, but feel overwhelmed? Surely there must be more to it than just listing something and watching the dollars roll in. How, exactly, do I start? If this is brand new to you, be sure to start slowly, and most importantly – learn the rules before jumping in the deep end to make sure you stay within the law (state, federal AND eBay). eBay doesn’t subscribe to the “I didn’t know better” philosophy as an excuse when their rules are violated.
What are you planning to sell?
Junk around your house will only take you so far, but is a great way to start and see which items sell better than others. (Also a great way to de-clutter your house!)
Start going through your home room-by-room and looking up items on existing eBay listings. You might be very surprised at the items that sell. Some examples of items that have value on eBay but don’t seem like they would sell for much include:
- kitchen items, dishwear, pots and pans, lids, etc.
- empty glass bottles
- craft supplies
- jewelry and watches (even broken – people buy them for parts)
- Anything new in a package, including toiletries, socks, etc.
- Empty printer cartridges
- School supplies
- Clothing items
As a new buyer or seller, start with low ticket, smaller items. You’re less likely to be scammed, and the learning curve for shipping is less expensive. Avoid buying or selling high ticket items that could be easy to counterfeit – designer clothing, bags, autographed memorabilia and electronics. Selling any counterfeit item can get you banned immediately.
Take clear photos of each item prior to listing, using a plain white background. Make sure NOT to use other peoples photos or stock photos without written permission from the owners. You may be banned if you violate copyright infringement laws.
Pricing for profit
Research before pricing. eBay has its own obscure rules, and things sell for what people are willing to pay vs. pricing something what you “think” it’s worth based on what you paid for it. Research what eBay buyers have already paid for items similar to yours, then price items to sell, keeping in mind your time and shipping costs (and how badly you want to get rid of it!)
Start with a fixed price while you get the hang of things. Once you have established yourself in the marketplace, you might want to consider trying the Auction method. It is riskier, but might be a quicker turn – this is why really knowing your market is so very important.
Decide up front if shipping is included: free shipping is a sales hook for some and not for others. Regardless, the cost of shipping is either included in the price or in addition to the sales price. Weigh each item and calculate those costs prior to listing.
Make your return policy fair and easy – because no doubt it will be tested. eBay wants buyers to feel confident purchasing on the site, so they guarantee that if an item isn’t as described or doesn’t arrive, the buyer will get a refund. If you don’t subscribe to this theory, people won’t return to your site. Require that items be returned unused in the same packaging, and you can resell it!
Understand your Limits
eBay places selling limits on all new sellers, until you can establish a positive selling history, and limit your fraud exposure. You can request higher selling limits once you have proven yourself.
Feedback Scores are a real thing
Your trading experience both as a buyer and seller determines your “score”. The higher your score, the more trusted and authentic you appear. It’s critical as you establish a positive history so that your feedback score is as high as possible in order to increase your sales. A good way to do this in the beginning is by making multiple small purchase transactions – then rate your seller and ask for their feedback as well.
Making money on eBay is a long term commitment, not a get rich quick scheme. Building a name and reputation within the eBay community takes time. But the most important aspect is learning the rules, and following them. Ethics is priority #1.
There is SO MUCH MORE to the process, this is just a quick overview. But history and a quick glance at the site tells us that eBay is alive and well – just figure out what works best for you!