Do you want to start making some extra money? Making money on eBay can be a great way to supplement your income or even make a full-time living. But it’s not as easy as just listing a few items and waiting for the money to start rolling in.
There are a lot of factors to consider if you want to be successful selling on eBay, from choosing the right items to sell to pricing them correctly. In this blog post, I’ll go over how to get started as well as my best tips after doing over $100k in sales on eBay. So whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been selling for years, these tips will help you make money on eBay.
Just a heads up: I have a free ebay training for beginners if you want to start there! It goes over what you need to get set up on ebay, how to figure out what to sell, how much you need to sell to make $500, how to list items, and I’ll share some items I’ve sold for $50 to $300!
Otherwise, keep reading 🙂
Find some stuff to sell (for free!)
Most articles you’ll come across about how to make money on ebay will get you started with the very basics: sitting up an account, fees, blah blah. All that boring stuff. But unless you have stuff to sell, it’s pointless so let’s start there.
Let’s just jump in and find stuff you can sell first so that you can see where you’re at in terms of having stuff to actually make you money.
I always tell people to start with what they already have. Most of us are bringing stuff into our homes or apartments constantly and rarely decluttering. When I started back in 2016 as a stay at home mom, I was just in full on declutter mode! I was finding stuff in our closets and the rest of our house that I didn’t want and putting them into piles then figuring out what to sell vs donate.
So your first step is to get a box together and just start pulling stuff from around your house that you don’t want or need. You’re going to make some extra money from stuff that’s sitting around AND get to have a much cleaner, more organized living space. Win, win!
And don’t even worry about “will this actually sell?” just grab stuff even if you’re not sure. As long as it’s in decent condition or working condition, then you’re good.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Purge your closet, your kid’s closet, your linen closet
- Check for electronics you no longer use like digital cameras, video game consoles, old cell phones, etc.
- Look through kitchen cabinets for appliances or gadgets you rarely use
- Do you have a jewelry collection? If you have some pieces (they don’t have to be fine jewelry!) that you don’t want anymore, they could make you a few dollars
- Go through your wallet or desk drawers and pull out old gift cards you haven’t had a chance to spend
- If you have a garage, you’re sure to find some stuff you stowed away that you no longer use whether it’s tools, a box of old toys, etc.
Once you have a handful of items you’d be happy to sell then you can move on to the basics!
Get your account set up + understand the basics
There are plenty of articles and videos out there about how to get started with the basics on eBay so I won’t make this too long. In fact, I created a video a couple of years ago about how to get started selling on ebay for beginners so you can watch that below if you’re interested.
Set up your eBay account
If you’re using the internet, you can probably figure this part out. If I’m being honest, I don’t remember the exact steps because it’s been over a decade since I signed up for ebay, but they will walk you through everything you need to do to get started.
Get your bank account linked
If you’ve been using ebay for years, you’ll remember the days of Paypal. But now ebay manages payments on their own so you’ll need to get your bank account linked so that you can get the money after you make a sale. You can also select how often you’d like to get paid. I personally just have it deposit weekly, but you can also select to get payouts each day. You can find more detailed payments about ebay payments here.
Understand ebay fees
Unfortunately, ebay isn’t the most straightforward with their fees. That’s because they have slightly different fees for different categories, etc. But in general, you’re looking at around 12.5% + .30 per transaction. Here is a full explanation of ebay fees.
You don’t need to sign up for a store
Unless you have money to spend right away, you really don’t need to pay for a store subscription right away. The cheapest one is $4.95/month with a one year commitment so it’s not much, but until you get the money rolling it’s not really needed. It’ll save you in some fees once you’re selling more than a few things here and there. For more info on ebay store benefits click here.
Here is an ebay beginners guide video:
Research your items
Remember all of that stuff I told you to gather? Now it’s time to see if it’s worth selling. This is such an important part to learn when it comes to how to make money on ebay. Why? Because believe it or not, not everything will sell and you don’t want to waste your time, money, or effort on items that won’t sell!
For each item that you’ve picked up, I want you to search for it like you’re a buyer. Pay attention to what similar items are priced at and look at completed and sold listings to see if they are actually selling. Usually, items that are selling for $5 and there are 1,000 of them listed with hardly any selling aren’t worth listing.
If you’re at the point where you’re just trying to list a few things you already own and start building up sales and capital to invest in more items later, then selling items for $5 or $10 to get the ball rolling isn’t bad! Just make sure that those items are actually selling. I go a lot more in-depth about how to do this in this post: How To See Sold Listings on eBay to Help Price Your Items
Take some notes on which items are worth selling and how much you want to list them for. Also, take notes on the photos and the titles being used for items that have actually sold so you can make sure to do similar.
List your items
Now it’s time to list your items! At this point you should have a handful of items that are worth selling along with some notes about how much you want to list them for and an idea of how to take the photos and create good titles.
Take clear photos
The first step is to take clear photos in a square format. If you have a smart phone, that’s all you need! No need to go out and buy a camera for this.
Some basic tips for good photos:
- Bright with a clean background
- Accurate representation of colors
- Take photos from every angle, of every tag, etc. so the potential buyer knows exactly what they’re buying
List your item
You can list on your computer or via your phone. I personally prefer to just do it on my computer because I can work much faster, but if you prefer your phone that’s great too! You can do the whole process on your phone and even edit photos as needed in the ebay app.
Most of the fields are pretty self explanatory but here are some tips”
- Title: make sure to use important information that people would be searching for such as brand name, style name, colors, styles, good descriptive keywords, etc. Avoid opinion based words like “cute” or “funny”.
- Description: Keep it short and sweet and include condition details and any flaws. Measurements are always helpful as well.
- Price: I always suggest pricing competitively. You looked up what items where selling for and if you price too high you may not sell it, if you price too low you may be leaving money on the table. But at the same time, don’t spend too much time worrying about a few dollars. Just price it and move on. You’ll gain confidence in pricing as you gain experience.
- Always Use Fixed Price: I always recommend listing something as fixed price, not auction. Unless you have a very rare or valuable piece that will have a lot of competition, your best bet is to do a fixed price listing and let it sit at a competitive price until it sells.
- Shipping: this is the most complicated part for most people. I highly suggest getting a shipping scale and weighing the item plus the packaging you’d use to send it and then using “calculated shipping”. You input the weight and the dimensions then select the service you want to use. For under 1lb I recommend USPS first class and for over 1lb I recommend USPS Priority Mail. There are also Priority Mail flat rate boxes that you can order here which can save some money, but don’t let shipping overwhelm you. It’s another thing you’ll get used to with time.
What to do when something sells
The first time you make a sale on ebay it’s such an amazing feeling! But then what do you do? Luckily, ebay makes things pretty users friendly. Right when you log in your notifications should pop up and it’ll show you that an item has sold and been paid for. If it hasn’t been paid for yet and just shows as sold, definitely don’t ship it until it’s been paid for.
You can click on the order to see the item that sold, get that item all packed up, and then print a shipping label via ebay. If you don’t already have a shipping scale, I highly recommend one! This one is under $20 which is very affordable and will help you ship items from home. Of course, you’ll need a printer to print labels as well.
When you go to print shipping and enter the weight of the item, ebay will provide you with all of the available options for the dimensions and weight you input. I always go with USPS First Class for items under 1lb unless the buyer has paid for a different shipping option.
Then you can just put the label on and drop it off at the appropriate location. Make sure you pay attention to what kind of label you print out (USPS, UPS, FedEx) so you drop the package off at the right place and don’t delay the package at all. If you ship USPS, you can also schedule a pickup at your house.
Tips for reinvesting your money into more inventory
Now that you’ve made your first sale, it’s time to reinvest that money into more inventory! As tempting as it is to take that profit as your income, this is the key to growing your business on ebay. For the first few months of my ebay business, I didn’t pay myself at all. I took all of my profit and reinvested it into more inventory so that I could grow my store and my income.
Reinvest as much as possible at first
For at least the first month or two, building up your inventory is important so that you can start increasing your sales. Once you get to a point where you’re selling a good amount, you can start paying yourself a little at a time. I recommend reading the book Profit First to figure out how to allocate your funds between your business and yourself.
Profit is made by buying the right inventory
Research is so important, especially when you’re a beginner, but even when you’re a seasoned reseller. Knowing what to buy and only buying items with a good profit margin is key to making a profit. When you buy an item, always consider the cost of the item, the fees that you’ll be paying, etc. and make sure there’s enough profit to make it worth buying. If you’re unsure, it may not be worth investing your money into.
Always be looking for sourcing opportunities
Most resellers love shopping at thrift stores, but don’t limit yourself! There are also yard sales, estate sales, clearance sections, discount stores, and more. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across items to sell when I wasn’t even looking. I am always keeping my eyes open for items that I can sell for a profit. When I’m grocery shopping, when I’m at the mall, when I’m on my phone browsing Facebook Marketplace. I’ve come across clearance items on more than one occasion that have made me a good profit just because I kept an eye out for things to sell. So try to keep sourcing for inventory in the back of your mind even when you’re not actively sourcing.
Below is a video I did about sourcing profitable items
Tips to get (and stay) organized
Keeping organized is a big part of having a successful ebay business. If you’re not organized, it’ll be difficult to keep track of what you have in stock, you may not know your numbers, and when something sells you may not be able to find it!
Process inventory immediately
When I come home from sourcing, I try to immediately sit down and “process” that inventory. I have a system in place where I take each item and input it into my inventory spreadsheet (get yours for free here) so that I know exactly what I have, how much I paid for it, etc. at a glance.
Once it’s in my spreadsheet, I will physically put the item away. Clothing items that can be hung up are hung up to prevent wrinkles and anything else is nicely put away in bins that I know are filled with items that need to be listed. This way I know where in my office to find items that need to be photographed and listed when it’s time.
List items as soon as possible
Every reseller will tell you that their favorite part of reselling is sourcing. We all want to just shop thrift stores all day and it can be hard to find the motivation to do much else in the business. But it’s crucial to list items as soon as possible. Why? Two reasons:
- You’ve already invested your money into them and if they’re not listed they cant sell.
- Trends change and the value of the item you purchased could change in months or even weeks.
Getting items up as soon as possible ensures they’re available for buyers looking and you don’t want to miss out on a sale because you took too long to list an item. The quicker you get things listed, the quicker they can sell and you can reinvest that money in more inventory.
Have an inventory system in place
When you’re starting out and have maybe less than 50 items listed, having an inventory system can seem like overkill. But as you grow your business it will be harder to put one into place. Starting with one before you feel you need it will save you so much headache down the road.
There are a ton of different ways to keep track of your inventory. Many resellers use numbered or lettered bins and note the bin an item is in in their ebay listing so they can find it when it sells. You can take a look into my favorite ebay inventory system here.
Use tools to keep you organized
I already mentioned my free inventory spreadsheet which you can grab here. The spreadsheet will let you track everything you need to know about each item in your inventory so that you can have everything organized.
In addition to the free inventory spreadsheet, I have an upgraded version called the Reseller Dashboard which also includes tabs to track your sales and more. You can check that out here. It’s just a one time purchase for the template and you can use it with a free AirTable subscription (AirTable is like Google Sheets or Excel, but better!)
Another option is a subscription-based service like Vendoo. Vendoo has been around for a few years now and started out as a cross listing service. They now provide analytics and so much more that can help you keep your reselling business organized, give you a look into your analytics, and more. If you want to check out Vendoo you can click here for 25% off your first month.
I hope these tips help you get your ebay on the path to success! If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me or leave a comment below. And don’t forget to grab your free inventory spreadsheet here. Happy selling!