Learning how to sell on ebay can be a great way to both reduce the amount of trash you create and increase your income.
What’s that one saying? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…
I think ebay built it’s whole business model off of that saying. And now you can profit from it!
I mean, it’s a great business model. It allows sellers to make a little cash off things they don’t want anymore. And buyers can find what they’re looking for at a discounted price because it’s used. And yes, ebay takes a little cut in the middle, as expected.
Below, you’ll get definitive guide on how to sell on ebay. Including everything from what you need to get started to how to set the right price.
your car! 🙂 I’ve been selling on eBay for several years and have made all the mistakes in the book. Thankfully, with these tips, you’ll be able to avoid the common mistakes and ensure that you’re achieving maximum profit from day one.
Essential items to get started selling on eBayIf you’re only selling one or two items on email, you may not need a lot of equipment. If your goal is to become a serious eBay’er, here’s what you’ll need:
- A camera
- A computer
- A printer and labels
- Packing material
- Cleaning equipment
- Measuring tape
- Scale, and
- Storage equipment
CameraYou won’t need anything expensive. In fact, a smartphone that was made within the past couple of years should be fine. You can use a high-quality camera but using a separate camera from your phone will add additional steps to the process. You just want the pictures to show the item as it looks in real life. When you take pictures with a camera that isn’t your phone, you’ll have to upload them to your computer and add them to the listing from there. When you take the pictures on your smartphone, you’ll be able to upload them directly from it and that will save time. I use the free Google photos app to back up my photos in case something were to happen to them.
ComputerYou don’t need a computer to list your items, but eBay is an old website and some of the features are only available through the desktop browser version. For instance, to make any changes to your account, you’ll need to access eBay on a computer. It’s also easier to make bulk edits to your listings by going through the eBay seller hub in the browser version. Sometimes, you’ll need to send the customer an invoice and that can only be done on the eBay website. Any computer with an internet connection will do.
Printer and LabelsIf you’ve already got a printer, you don’t necessarily need to buy another. I recently purchased a laser printer at a yard sale because laser printers give you a lot more prints per cartridge vs inkjet. Switching from an inkjet to a laser printer will save you money over time. If you are going to stick with an inkjet, buy your cartridges refurbished on eBay and you’ll save a lot of money. You don’t have to buy shipping labels when you’re just starting out, but they will save you time when you start selling a lot. I started out just using printer paper and it was taking me extra time to take scissors and cut the label out and tape them to the packages. I bought 1,000 sticker labels for less than $30 on eBay and now I can just print off the labels and stick them right to the package without using any tape. Another tip is to set it to not print the shipping receipt when you print the label. This uses up more paper/extra labels and is redundant because the receipt is emailed to you. There might be times when you need to print an extra label because you lost the first label, or it was damaged somehow. You can get another label by going to your eBay seller hub and clicking shipping labels in the drop-down menu then finding the label, voiding it, and printing another. Doing this prevents you from being charged for two labels.
TapeYou’ll be using a lot of packing tape, so buying in bulk is the cheapest option. You don’t necessarily want to purchase the cheapest tape you find. Having nice and sturdy tape will ensure the package is more secure and you won’t have to worry about the tape coming unstuck. It’s also a good idea to invest in a high-quality tape gun. I found one used on eBay for half the price it would cost to buy one new.
BoxesThe types of boxes you use will depend on the type of shipping service you select. I choose to use shipping services that allow me to use my own boxes – USPS Priority Mail and USPS First Class Package. I go around to retail stores and see if they have any they can give me. A lot of times, you can go behind the stores and there will be a bunch of boxes next to the dumpster. You shouldn’t ever have to pay for a box if you use your own packaging. Another option for boxes is to use the free, flat rate boxes provided by USPS. These boxes require you to use the shipping services specific to the box and if you have large items, there might not be a box big enough. The only time that these free boxes are a better option than using your own packaging is if you’ve got a smaller item that weighs a lot. Since it’s a flat rate, you won’t be charged any more for a 10-pound item than you would be for a 2-pound item.
Poly Mailers and Bubble mailersThese are the only types of packages I purchase. There’s a multitude of different sizes you can choose from, but typical sizes are 6”×9”, 9”×12”, 14”×17” and 19”×24”. You don’t have to buy all the sizes when you’re starting out. Just buy the sizes that work best with the types of items you sell. The difference in bubble mailers and poly mailers is that bubble mailers provide a little bit of padding. If you’re selling something hard that you aren’t worried about breaking, bubble mailers should work perfectly. I use poly mailers for all of my clothing sales as well as anything that is made out of cloth.
Packing materialsIf you’re selling fragile items, bubble wrap, packing peanuts and paper will be your best friends. I save any packing material I get from purchases I make and let friends and family know I’ll take anything they got. It’s worth purchasing this stuff if you can’t get it for free. Items breaking during shipping is the worst.
Scissors and razor knifeYou’ll find yourself needing to cut things all the time, and a good pair of scissors is essential. Razor knives come in handy when you need to resize a box. Sometimes, you’ll need to ship something, but all of your boxes will be way too big. You don’t want to waste packing material just to fill empty space in a box. You can easily resize a box by setting the sold item in it, taking a razor knife and cutting the corners all the way through down to a little bit above the item. Then, you take the knife and lightly drag it horizontally across the box at the level where you cut the corners down to. This scores the box, and you’ll be able to fold it down to a tighter fit. They make box resizers for this specific purpose, but you can actually make your own for a couple of dollars if you don’t feel comfortable using the razor knife to score the box with (video below).
Cleaning equipmentA lot of times, you’ll find something cool, but it’s really dirty. Part of the fun of selling on eBay is taking something that has been forgotten about and cleaning it up to give it new life. Cleaning dust off your items will probably be the most common form of cleaning you do. A good dust rag and feather duster are great things to keep around. If you’re buying used shoes, getting a horsehair brush might be a good investment. Most of the shoes I get, I’m able to clean with a wet rag. Goo Gone and a Scotty peeler will come in handy for getting sticky labels off things.
Measuring tapeSome type of measuring tape is essential. You’ll need to put in your box measurements when you’re listing your items. It’s also a good practice to include measurements of your items in your listings. People may not be able to tell how big an item is just by looking at the pictures. If you’re going to sell clothes, you’ll need to include the measurements in the listing for sure.
Small ScaleYou can get a good scale that weighs things from 1oz to 60lbs for a reasonable price on eBay. Having accurate weights on the items you list is a critical part of factoring how much the shipping will cost. Always add a couple of ounces for the box and any packing material you might pack the item with.
Storage equipmentOnce you start shopping for items to sell, you may be surprised how much stuff you start buying. Your storage space will fill up quickly! Having sturdy shelves and some storage containers will help you stay organized. I was able to find someone giving away some shelves, so I didn’t have to pay anything for them. Check places like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace and you may be able to get shelving for free or cheap.
Creating eBay and PayPal accountsYou’ll need an eBay and PayPal account to sell on the platform. It’s been announced that eBay is moving away from PayPal, but for the time being, PayPal is still what the majority of eBay seller use to process payments. You can choose to only accept credit/debit cards as forms of payment, but this will reduce the number of people that will be willing to buy from you. You don’t need a business account with PayPal to sell on eBay. A personal account will work fine. You’ll just need to add a bank account to PayPal so you can transfer the money you receive to your bank. I suggest creating a separate bank account just for your eBay business because this makes things simpler. When you have a designated bank account for eBay, you can use it for all of your expenses and be able to track your income and outflow much easier.
Finding items to sellThere are millions, if not billions of different things that are sold on eBay each week. From thimbles to pickup trucks, you can buy and sell just about anything. There are some exceptions though. While you may find almost anything under the sun listed on eBay, that doesn’t always mean it will sell. A good rule of thumb is to do a search for an item you’re interested in and then set the filter to “sold”. This will show you if the item has sold recently and you’ll be able to see what it sold for.
What items sellWhen you’re just starting out, one of the more popular categories to sell in is clothing. Clothing is good because you can find it all over the place for cheap and you don’t have to worry about it breaking in shipping. Here are 10 men’s clothing brands that sell for good money on eBay:
- Tommy Bahama
- Harley Davidson
- Brooks Brothers
- Hugo Boss
- Tommy Hilfiger
- Eileen Fisher
- Lulu Lemon
- Free People
- Dale of Norway
- Diane Von Furstenberg
- Victoria’s Secret
- Michael Kors
- Tory Burch
- St. John