What I Learned After 3 Years Selling on Ebay

What I Learned from 3 year selling on ebay

As I sit here I’m blown away by where selling on ebay has landed us. When I first started I was a stay at home mom selling on ebay to declutter the house and make a little extra money.

Selling on ebay led us to saving over $10,000 for our emergency saving funds within the first year which allowed us to pay for some big home repairs for our rental home in cash, something we would have never been able to do in the past. It’s led to my husband being able to quit his job when our daughter was born so he could stay home and be self employed with me.

Selling on ebay has been a catalyst for our family to create the life we’ve always wanted to live. I’m not saying it’s been easy AT ALL or that we’re rolling in money (our grocery budget is $100 a week thank you very much), but we are happy to be together at home everyday.

Today I want to share everything that I’ve learned from selling on ebay for the last three years. First as a stay at home mom selling on ebay and then as a full time ebay seller.

If you don’t list it, it can’t sell.

This seems so obvious it’s painful, but it hasn’t stopped me in the past from listing things because I didn’t want to go through the trouble of listing an item that was a little more difficult to photo. Or buying more items to sell when I had plenty at home sitting, waiting for me to list it so that it can sell. What a mistake! The perfect buyer could come along at any time and if that item isn’t listed, you may have lost your chance to sell it.

Don’t wait too long to list

Procrastination kills in the resale world. Prices are always changing and waiting even a month to list something could plummet the value of the item to the point where buying it wasn’t worth it. So if you purchase something because you did your research and it looks like it’ll make you a profit, make sure you get it listed ASAP.

Sales will always go up and down. Always.

One of the hardest, most frustrating parts about selling on ebay is the ebb and flow. You can list consistently every day and still have a really slow day seemingly out of nowhere. The key is to accept that this is how the business works and just keep going.

Sourcing well is possibly the most important aspect of reselling

If you’re buying crap, no one is going to buy it and you’re wasting your money. You can’t just go around buying anything and hope to make a business out of it. So make sure you’re sourcing smart and only purchasing items that will help your business grow.

You can start reselling with $0 (I did)

I literally started this business with $0 out of my own pockets. I started selling stuff that I was decluttering and just reinvested that money back into buying more items for the first few months. It grew really fast and I eventually started taking a little money out here and there.

Here’s a post on how I started my business for $0.

Shipping is the one thing that holds the most people back

Don’t let shipping scare you! I’ve been shipping online for over a decade so it’s not an issue for me, but unless you’re shipping giant, heavy items you really can’t mess up that badly. Once you’ve sent a few packages you’ll find the confidence to get going. You just need to get through those first few.

Don’t worry about what other resellers are buying

What you find in your area to resell, with your knowledge/eye for what sells, is going to be totally different from other people! Don’t worry about what you see other people reselling I will literally go sourcing for inventory and dig through the same racks and bins that other resellers are looking through and still find good stuff. Keep your eyes on your own business.

There is a lot of information out there, choose wisely

There are a lot of people out there giving out information and advice about reselling. I’m one of them! But keep in mind that most of their advice is based on their business model, their lifestyle, their area and their opinion. Learn from experience or someone that you trust.

Just do the work

One of the hardest things for me at the beginning was listing. I just wanted to source and I didn’t want to list. But once you accept that it’s what you need to do, you are going to grow much faster. You just have to do the work.

Ebay wants more of your money

The reality is, ebay is not the way it was when I was selling back in high school (over 10 years ago). With ebay rolling out Promoted Listings, they’re hoping to take even more of your money to get your items sold. It’s becoming more pay to play and you can either accept it or try to find a way around it.

Reselling isn’t going anywhere

The market will change, the people selling will change, the way we sell will change, but reselling is always going to be around.

It’s important to diversify your income

While ebay continues to be our largest source of income, it’s not as “easy” as it used to be to resell on ebay. The fees are higher, there’s more competition and don’t get me started on how awful their website is with all of it’s glitches. There are so many simplified (for the buyer and seller) platforms out there and it’s important to utilize them. If your ebay sales tank, you should have something else to fall back on.


Source smarter

I’m one to want to “save” everything. But I don’t have time to list 100 items that are only going to sell for $10. It’s much better for my lifestyle to be a little choosier, spend a little more time out sourcing and spend less time, space and money on really good items.

Of course this only applies if you can find “better” items to sell. If all you can find is $10 items, you’ll need to figure out the best way to structure your own business.

You need to learn to pivot

Things change and it’s so important to learn how to adapt to those changes. Maybe the sourcing spot you usually go to closes or raises their prices. Maybe, worst case scenario, you make a few mistakes and ebay kicks you off their platform. It’s ok to be upset or frustrated, but give yourself some time and then start figuring out ways to move on and up.

Create systems

Learning to work more efficiently has been the key to us having a somewhat balanced home and work life. We know exactly the process something goes through and who is responsible for what tasks. We have a basic schedule we try to follow so we know exactly what we should be doing at all times. There’s a lot less thinking and decision making involved and a lot more just getting the work done and making money involved.

Related: Get more done with calendar blocking

Pay yourself sooner than later

During those first few weeks or months you probably want to continue to reinvest in the business to grow it, but you really need to pay yourself. Don’t go a year without paying yourself for your work. You need to figure out how to make your business run WHILE actually making you money. I highly recommend reading Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. It changed the way we handle our business finances.

It’s been such an experience selling on ebay. There are definitely a lot of frustrating and hard to deal with parts, but all in all it’s enabled my family to be together at home everyday and for that I’m thankful!

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