How to Make Money on eBay: The Ultimate Guide
Learning how to make money on eBay was a personal goal that I decided to try at the beginning of the year. With so much stuff lying around that needed to get Marie Kondo’d, I decided to give eBay a shot.
And thankfully, it did not disappoint! I am still looking for stuff around the house to get listed and am challenging myself to double my sales in the next month.
I love a good side hustle, and even better, one that doesn’t involve a huge hurdle to get started. It’s easy to learn how to make money on eBay. There’s a low start-up cost, small learning curve, and it’s only as time-consuming as you want it to be. That’s what makes it a fun side hustle for just about anyone!
Everyone knows that you can buy anything off of eBay, but most people don’t know how to make money on eBay. This ultimate step-by-step guide covers all the ins and out of selling on eBay. Learn how to find items to sell as well as how to price, list, and ship them to make some easy money!
Types of Sellers on eBay
While anyone can learn how to sell stuff on eBay, people tend to fall into a couple of different categories with their sales.
First, there’s the person who is decluttering and wants to get stuff out of their house. They tend to list small, one-off items like clothes, home decor, and electronics to get rid of them. It’s a great way to make a little extra cash to help pump up debt repayment or save up for a vacation.
Next, there are the side hustlers who make selling on eBay a part-time gig. These folks are proactively out looking for items to sell at garage sales, Goodwill, or combing their family’s attics for goodies. Chances are if you start as a declutter, you’ll move up to a side hustler. Selling on eBay is addictive!
Last, there are the big dogs – these are the dropshippers and people who open an eBay store. They purchase things in bulk on clearance or wholesale. Or they sell items that require freight shipping (like flipped furniture). Dropshipping takes a lot of study and work, but they’ve mastered how to make money dropshipping on eBay and have the sales to prove it!
You don’t have to decide right away, which you want to do, but be aware of the levels of commitment. Maybe you already know that you’re beyond decluttering and wish to take it more seriously. Or, perhaps the idea of dropshipping is too much fo a commitment.
Whatever you decide, let’s get started on the tactics it takes to be a successful seller on eBay.
What to Sell on eBay
Everyone immediately wants to know what the best selling items on eBay (not that I blame them!). We all want the quickest and biggest bang for our buck.
If you’re looking to make quick sales on eBay, these are some highly recommended categories of items to start with:
- Clothes (like jeans) / Designer clothes
- Home decor
- Electronics (watches, smartphones, video games)
- Baby items
- Fitness equipment
- Shoes (who knew?)
These are all items you can find around the house, at the thrift store, or a garage sale. Easy to find, easy to sell!
Also, don’t forget to ask yourself if there’s a market for this item. If you’re not sure, do some research on eBay. Besides just searching the active listings, you can also do some more digging to see if anyone’s buying these items.
In the advanced search features, you can check the “Sold Listings” to see how many sales there have been for that type of product recently.
You can also try checking the “Completed Listings” option. In the results, if the listing price is green, it’s sold. If it’s not, then that’s an item that didn’t sell.
This research can give you an idea if the eBay market is saturated, or if that type of item is selling quickly and at a decent price. It can also be helpful when actively looking for things to sell at garage sales or thrift stores.
Where to Find Items to Sell
- Garage sales
- Thrift stores
- Clearance at stores
- Your basement, attic, closets, etc.
- Freebie sections on Craigslist
- Local Facebook groups
- Nextdoor website
- Letgo app
- OfferUp app
- VarageSale app
- Shop at the curb/dumpster dive (if you’re brave enough!)
- Make items to sell (if you’re crafty)
- Wholesale companies (this applies specifically to dropshippers)
How to Price Items to Sell on eBay
Now that we know what to sell and where to find it let’s get into how to make money on eBay.
Next, you’ll want to do some research on how to price these items to sell. You want the pricing to be competitive, but you don’t want to get stiffed after fees and shipping. It’s a bit tricky, but with some practice, pricing gets easier.
There are a couple of different recommended places to do some pricing research.
- Google Shopping is a great way to quickly price items between multiple vendors to see what the average cost is. Usually, this is pricing for brand new items, so make sure to adjust if the item is used or has wear and tear.
- Use eBay Advanced Search to see what prices others have sold the same (or similar) things. Used those advanced search features to how others have priced their items.
Costs and fees for selling on eBay
When pricing items to sell, don’t forget the additional fees tacked on by eBay. These include:
- Insertion or listing fee: This fee is charged just for creating a listing. Depending upon how much the opening bid or reserve price is, these are anywhere from free to $2.00. eBay then tacks on additional costs if you opt into subtitles, bolding, extra photos (more than 6), multiple categories, and so on.
- A final value fee: Once your item sells, a fee is charged, which is a percentage of the final sale. It’s anywhere from 8% to 15% and is tiered depending upon how much the buyer paid. Also, each category has a different percentage as well. Rates also vary based on if the item sold as an auction item versus a fixed-price item.
- Shipping: You can choose to pay for the shipping yourself, or pass the cost on to the buyer. If you decide to foot the shipping bill, don’t forget to factor that into your price.
For more specifics on the percentages of the fees, you can review them here.
Once you have a price figured out, it’s time to learn the ins and outs of listing them.
Tips to make your eBay listings stand out
There are millions of active listings eBay right now with sales happening every second, which means that you have to figure out how to get consumers to buy your shoes versus someone else’s.
There are several key pieces to your listing that will help you stand out and make the sale:
- Take amazing photos. For the love of Pete, take good pictures. Make or buy a lightbox if you need to. Make sure the lighting is excellent, the item is staged, and everything looks fantastic. No one is going to click on something they can barely see, much less tell how worn it is.
- Make your listing title is descriptive. If your product is a brand name, put it in the title. Make the title descriptive and use the allotted title length to create a descriptive title. Point out anything that makes the product unique. Do a Google shopping search and read the descriptions of the product. Use those details to paint a thorough and enticing story.
- Offer free shipping. Be honest – are you more likely to buy something that’s $9.99 + $3 shipping, or $12.99 with free shipping? I’m a sucker for free shipping and will deter from buying something if I know I have to pay for shipping. Just make sure to factor in that cost as well.
- Make sure you have an excellent seller rating. Ask for positive feedback from your buyers. People are more likely to purchase from someone with a higher grade than someone with a poor rating, especially if they’re teeter-tottering between two similar items.
- Try grouping items. If you’re selling kids clothes, for example, group certain brands together to sell them as a group. You’re more likely to make a sale than if you were to sell them by the piece.
Now that you have items to sell, have the listing built, you’re ready to post it. There are a couple of different options as to how you want to sell.
How to Make Money on eBay with your First Sale
If you know the value of your item, and it’s not a collectible or unique, it’s recommended to go with a fixed-price sale, often called the Buy It Now option. It’s more likely to sell, and it saves you the hassle of waiting through an auction. You’re more likely to know what you’ll get for the item and won’t be disappointed.
If you have an item that’s a collectible, is rare or unique, it’s recommended to sell it as an auction instead. Chances are you’ll get more for it since no one knows what it’s worth, and there can be competing bidders to drive up the cost.
Make sure to start the bid low to drum up some responses. Don’t worry. You can set a hidden minimum reserve price so that if the price doesn’t go above that amount by auction’s end, you don’t have to sell it.
Next, you will choose how long to list the item. Again, there are two trains of thought on listing time.
You can either create a sense of urgency by only listing the item for 3 – 5 days. I know I get panicky when I see a sale’s going to be over soon and I’m afraid of missing out. This tactic counts on the fact that a lot of people often feel that way.
The other option is to list the product for ten days, which is the maximum time available. If you do this, it’s recommended to list the item on a Thursday or Friday. That way, the product will be available throughout two weekends, when eBay shoppers are more active. Sunday nights are often the highest traffic time and can lead to a lot more eyeballs on your items.
Once you decide how long to run the listing, now it’s time to sit back and rack in cash!
How to Handle Product Shipping
Now that your product has sold on eBay, it’s essential to ship it correctly.
For shipping, you can find free shipping supplies on sites like Craigslist. Or, you can get the 13 oz first class padded envelopes for free from the post office. The only catch is that you have to order them a couple of weeks before needing them since they can take a bit to show up (yes, I do see the irony there…!).
When you process an order on eBay, it allows you to purchase shipping online. Do it! You’ll save about 20% on the shipping costs by buying it online and printing your labels.
You don’t need any special label paper, print it on regular paper and tape that to the box or envelope. You can even schedule a pick up by the USPS if you want to streamline the process even more.
Take the time to review the different shipping methods and pricing so that you aren’t surprised. Luckily, it has a pretty nifty interactive shipping page where you can play with the settings before purchasing to make sure you get what you want.
Don’t forget to get proof of postage. It’s essential so that if there are any issues with the buyer not receiving the package, you have documentation that shows you mailed it. Then, pack it up and ship it out!
Customer Service Tips for eBay
Now that you know how to make money on eBay, make sure to offer excellent customer service so that buyers will come back.
- Be prompt. Whether you’re answering a question about a listing or shipping out products, do so quickly.
- Use Paypal. Use PayPal to receive payments. It can offer additional protection in case of issues.
- Set up your account’s return rules. You can set return rules for your seller account, which creates clear cut rules to protect both you and the buyer.
- Disclose any issues. If you are selling an item with a defection or imperfection, disclose it upfront. It’s not worth the knock to your rating when they discover the problem after receiving the product.
- Add in a note. When you ship out a package, add a personal note, freebie, or a business card to help the buyer to remember you and leave a positive impression.
- Have an inventory system. If you’re juggling a lot of products, have a spreadsheet or other inventory system so that you can keep track of when listings expire, what has already sold, and what hasn’t.
- Have your supplies ready. Be prepared with shipping materials before you even create your first listing. It’s a lot less work and stress when you already have all of the supplies you need.
When you have happy customers, it’s more comfortable to ask for feedback to build up that positive rating. It reflects better on you, your standing, and your sales when you are organized and have provided excellent customer service.
For even more great tips, check out this free hour long webinar!
Go Pro: How to Dropship on eBay or sell Freight Items
Once you’ve gotten a taste of eBay sales and you’re ready to go pro, it’s time to step up to dropshipping. eBay dropshipping is a popular way to make money, and many people have turned it into a side hustle.
It’s mostly the same method, but on a grander scale. For items to sell, you’re going to want to find a wholesaler that can provide products to you.
You create the listings, then when the item sells, the wholesaler ships it for you to the buyer. The product never touches your hands, and you don’t have to worry about having a warehouse to store your stock.
With dropshipping, there are some additional aspects to keep an eye on. You need to make sure that the product is in stock before selling it. Also, you’ll need to provide tracking for the shipment as well.
eBay has recently changed it’s policy on dropshipping and seems to be tightening the reins on what they’ll allow. Before you decide to go this route, you will want to do a lot of research to make sure you’re not doing anything to jeopardize your seller’s account with eBay.
Whether you’re selling stuff from your closet or setting up a dropshipping business, it’s easy to learn how to make money on eBay. The key is to be consistent with these tasks and your customer service, and you can’t go wrong.
Now that you know how to make money on eBay start searching those closets, garage sales, and apps to see what you can find!
A forty-ish web designer/developer by day, a budget & financial fanatic by night. I’m a mom, wife, avid reader, and DIY enthusiast who’s tracking our journey to debt freedom. Read More