Insider's Guide to Selling on eBay

Article Description: Whether you're getting started - or getting serious - about making money online from eBay, here's what you need to know. Includes how to find items to sell for maximum profit. 

If you’re like many people, over the years you’ve accumulated dozens of items you no longer use. You may have stockpiles of boxes in your garage, basement or attic filled with grandma’s old bric-a-brac and mismatched cutlery or dishware. You may have toys from your childhood, college text books, outdated clothing fashions, costume jewelry, sports paraphernalia, and so much more, all waiting in a heap to be set out at some future yard sale and sold quickly and cheaply. 

The problem with yard sales is that they tend to be a lot of work for little reward. People aren’t willing to pay what most items are worth. If you label something for a dollar, they’ll only pay you a quarter. If you want fifty cents, they’ll offer a nickel. Unless you give everything away at the end of the day, you’ll only sell a small portion and you’ll still be stuck with having to tote the rest back inside or to the town dump. 

Just because you didn’t sell the majority of your belongings over the course of the weekend doesn’t mean it’s junk – it simply means that there weren’t enough people to stir enough interest. The fact is, lots of old knick-knacks and collectibles sell very well on eBay

While it may seem like a relatively simple task to list your items on eBay, one of the most successful and versatile auction sites on the web, there are a few things you should know beforehand. 

1.  Reputation - If you’re going to be selling often, keep in mind that a seller’s reputation is of major significance. Many bidders will consult feedback from your customers before placing bids so you’ll want to acquire lots of positive feedback to maintain an excellent rating. This means being a courteous and conscientious seller. 

2. Descriptions - Pictures are wonderful, but they may not show every detail. That's why accurate descriptions are important. Most buyers know that used items are not in perfect condition. Be sure to describe chips, scratches, holes or any other defects. If you do happen to be selling collectible items, such as baseball cards or beanie babies that you’ve kept packaged and kept in mint condition, you may want to mention that in the title or heading.

3. Photographs – When taking snapshots of your items, be sure there’s plenty of light, and clean and/or polish them first. Create a pleasant background and use a flash whenever possible. Dark, fuzzy, hazy pictures are boring and will not pull in the viewer’s attention. Many sellers post photographs taken from various angles showing the front, back and any markings if they’re selling highly desirable items such as collectible glassware. 

4. Communication – Some potential buyers will write to ask questions about the article for sale. Be prepared, attentive and responsive. Do your research so that you’ll be able to answer their questions quickly. Remember, a minor detail to you may be very important to them, and may mean the difference between a successful sale and no sale at all. 

5. Shipping - Unless otherwise specified, the buyer is responsible for paying the shipping and insurance costs. There are many features available on eBay that make shipping packages easier. When packaging delicate items, be sure to pad each one carefully using Styrofoam popcorn or bubble wrap, and plug up any exposed areas using crumpled up newspaper. Glassware should be placed in boxes at least four inches apart and away from the sides, top and bottom to ensure safe delivery. Mark the outside of the carton “Fragile” and “Handle with Care.”

6. Insurance – No matter how careful you are, there’s always the possibility of breakage when shipping certain things so it’s good to familiarize yourself beforehand with the claim process. 

Getting serious about eBay 

If you are serious about making money from your ebay selling, you will need to get quite good at researching the ebay marketplace, especially before you decide which products you want to sell.

Here are some basic guidelines: 

1. Search for the most popular categories. Look at the number of listings that exist under each category. Then look at how many bids the products have. 

2. Choose no more than one or two categories, especially when you are first starting out. When you are an expert in your niche, your buyers will be more likely to trust you.

3. Examine the ratings of the sellers who are listing products in each category. Read their profiles. See how many products they are currently selling and how many products they have sold in the past. 

4. Analyze prices. Become an expert in your chosen category and know at which price a product is worth buying, as well as the expected final winning price of your auction. eBay Seller Central  is a great resource to help you with the eBay marketplace. 

Finding More Products to Sell

Here are a couple of additional considerations once you have exhausted your attic and need more products to sell. 

1. Find Dropshippers. Dropshippers sell products to you at wholesale prices, but instead of sending them (in bulk) to you, they send the individual orders to the addresses that you specify. That means you don't need to carry inventory on these items yourself, which minimizes your investment and your risk. After the auction is complete, you simply send your dropshipper the customer's address. If you decide to use a dropshipper, you need to make sure that your auction's winning price is sufficiently higher than the wholesale price you pay for the items. At minimum, you should expect to double your costs. It's also important to use care with companies that claim to be "dropshippers." Do your research and work only with legitimate drop shippers, which are either the product manufacturers themselves or authorized wholesale distributors. If a so-called dropshipper asks you to place a minimum order or to pay a fee to set up your drop shipping account, consider it a red flag. 

2. Buy from eBay. Many successful eBayers know how to buy at a good price on eBay and then sell the same products at a higher price. If you know your niche well, you can find opportunities that will allow you to buy and resell for a profit. Here again, solid research is essential. 

3. Import Asiatic products. If you are willing to carry an inventory, you can invest in Asiatic products for a low price and resell for a profit. You can easily start importing Asiatic products from the Internet at

4. Sell local products. If you live in an area that produces local products that can be bought at a cheap price and then shipped to other areas, where people would pay more, take advantage of the situation. What kinds of local products do you find yourself taking for granted? 

More Resources: 
eBay Seller Registration