Since starting this blog, I’ve been tracking how much I profit from selling items on eBay. I’m only tracking things I’ve purchased to flip and not items that I already owned. In the past month, I’ve made an extra $221 ($426.43 if you include things I already owned) and it looks like I’ll be getting close to $1,000 in profits once my current listings end. eBay is an easy way to make extra cash but can be confusing if you’re just starting out. This post will take you through all the little details and show you how you can successfully start making money on eBay.
Create the accounts
To start with, you’ll need to create an eBay and Paypal account if you don’t already have one. Once you have those created you need an item to sell, something to ship it in, packing tape and a printer for the shipping labels. If you’ve got all of that, you’re ready to go!
Sell something you already own
For your first item, I suggest selling something small that you already own and would like to get rid of. If you don’t think you own anything of value, check out my listings to get an idea of what I sell. People will buy just about ANYTHING on eBay. Beware, once you start selling stuff around your house, it gets addictive so you might become a minimalist in the process.
Find the value of the item
Now that you’ve got an item to sell, let’s begin! The easiest way I’ve found to know how you should list an item is to look up the item you want to sell and set the search filter to “sold”. Doing that shows you how much the item has recently sold for. A lot of times the same item will sell for various prices. I like to search for the ones that have sold for the most and copy the way the seller had it listed. You can do this by clicking “sell one like this” and eBay will start a new listing for you and automatically fill out the title and item specifics using the information of the item that has already sold. Just make sure to double check everything so you know you’re describing the item accurately.
Do your research
If you aren't able to find the same item you have to sell in the ebay search results, it's time to go into detective mode and search for it on google. I've found that searching through google images has been the easiest way to find things. If you don't find it within a few minutes then think of as many ways you can think of to describe the item enter them all in the search. Usually, you should be able to find it with enough research.
Take good photos
You’ll need to take good pictures of the item and upload them. The more pictures, the more likely your item will sell. You can post up to 12 photos so show off your photography skills and shoot pictures from every angle.
Auction or buy it now?
Determine if you want to list it as an auction or buy it now. In my opinion, I think that listing your items as buy it now with best offer and setting the listing duration to “good til cancelled” is the best way to sell on eBay. Sure, every now and then I've listed items and had bidding wars take place. This is a pretty rare occurrence though and usually if your item sells on auction, it will sell for the opening bid. To prevent this, you can just list your item as buy it now and set the price high with best offer.
I like to think of it through a buyers perspective. When I've shopped on eBay in the past, I usually always purchase items that are buy it now. I don't want to have to worry about someone outbidding me and having to wait until the listing ends to know if I won the auction. I think listing your items as buy it now will result in more sales in the long run but I don't have actual data to back that up. Selling as buy it now allows you to list it and forget it and move one to selling more items.
You'll be able to keep better track of your eBay store by selling all of your items in one particular way. If you feel like you have an item that could really start a bidding war, then start the bid at the price you would ask for if you were selling it as buy it now and see what happens. If it doesn't sell, then switch it to buy it now and move on. It will sell eventually.
Write a decent description
In the description, put a decent amount of information but you don't have to go crazy with it. Just describe the item as good as you can and be done with it. If you're going to get serious about selling on eBay, you won't have enough time to write an entire story about each item.
Pack it well
Last but certainly not least is shipping. You can choose to have the buyer pay for shipping or offer it for free and take it out of the total that you charge. Obviously, your item is more likely to sell if you offer free shipping. I do not list my items as free shipping though. There's really no such thing as free shipping because someone has got to pay for it.
I always have the buyer pay for shipping and set it to “cost calculated to buyer's location”. This way, I don't have to worry what area the buyer lives in, the shipping will be calculated when the buyer pays for the item and will be included in the cost. You'll need to weigh the item while you're listing it so eBay will be able to calculate the shipping costs properly. I ship anything over a pound as Priority mail and anything under a pound as First Class Package. I participate in the global shipping program and that's the only way I handle international shipping. You can use any box you like (except for the USPS specific rate boxes) when you ship through Priority Mail or First Class Package.
You're now an eBay seller
Congrats! You’ve just listed an item on eBay! Once your item sells and you’ve been paid, you can print the shipping label and tape it to the package of your item. If the item will fit in your mailbox, you can put it in the box and the mail carrier will pick it up during their normal routine. If your item is too big to fit in the mailbox and you’re shipping it via Priority Mail, you can schedule to have your item picked up for free by USPS. If you’re worried about the package being stolen, you might want to just drop it off at the post office. I work from home so I can watch our front door like a hawk.
So that should cover how to sell an item on eBay. Now let’s talk about where you can buy items to flip. I do most of my eBay shopping at yard sales, Goodwill and thrift stores. I would stick to buying things you know a lot about before taking risks on items you’re unsure of. I love yard sales because they seem to bring the best return. A couple of weeks ago, someone gave me a box of junk for free and it turned out to be full of vintage CB radio equipment. It looks like i’m going to be making about $500 off of that free box of junk! You can also flip items you find for great deals at retail stores.
To keep track of my profits, I enter what I paid for my items into a google sheet and I use Easy Auctions Tracker to pull all of my sales get the true net profit.
I hope this has been helpful and maybe you can start your eBay side hustle after reading this. Selling on eBay is a fun and profitable hobby. You end up learning a lot about different items in the process. If you have any additional eBay tips feel free to leave them in the comments below. Happy selling!
** I ended up making a total profit of $728 off the box of CB radio equipment that I got for free. **
Nathan has been a personal finance writer since early 2018. He and his wife reached a net worth of one hundred thousand at the age of 25 and are on their way to financial independence. His favorite way to make money is selling things on eBay and has grown his eBay business to earn five figures selling part-time. He loves sharing what he learns about finance and any eBay tips he comes across. If you’re interested in becoming an eBay seller, check out his reseller Facebook group.