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How to Sell on eBay

How to Sell on eBay: The Official Beginner’s Guide

Last updated: June 26, 2019
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eBay.com is the go-to spot for used goods and collector’s items. Whether you’re in the market for a pair of Air Jordans or trying to find a first-edition copy of some rare comic book, this is the first place you should look.

And selling stuff of eBay is a great side hustle, especially if you’ve got a lot of extra stuff around your house. Want to get rid of all those Beanie Babies you have piled up in the basement? Sell ‘em online!

If you’re looking to learn how to sell on eBay, we can help.

In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to know about using this platform. Whether you’re just looking to earn some extra cash or trying to start your own eBay business, this step-by-step guide should help you get going.


Choose What You’re Going to Sell

Before going too far into this process, it’s important to consider what you’re going to sell on eBay. This is because, while eBay is a marketplace for people to sell used and secondhand items, it is not a marketplace for junk.

In other words, you can’t just clean out the underside of your porch and sell whatever trash you happen to dig out. Well, you could try, but you probably won’t have much success. It’s true that your garbage might be someone else’s treasure, but eBay is a marketplace, not a dumpster.

Instead, this website caters to hobbyists and enthusiasts looking for hard-to-find items or other objects of value. eBay has a market for everyday items like clothing and textbooks, but they’ll only sell if they have value.

A good thing to do is to look at eBay’s Trending section, which can be found on the homepage. This will show you what people are buying so that you can get an idea of what you might be able to sell.

ebay trending

Tip: Sell What You Know

A good rule of thumb is to only list items that you know a lot about. When you post something for sale (more on how to do that later), you’ll need to provide a description. You’ll also want to have answers if an interested customer reaches out with questions.

So if you hate fashion, or know nothing about it, then maybe clothing isn’t the best niche for you.

Instead, focus on what you can describe and explain in a detailed manner to give yourself the best chance of success.

Are you into high fashion? Want to sell luxury clothing and accessories? Try selling on Poshmark!


Make an Account

Once you’ve figured out what you’d like to sell, it’s time to become an eBay seller. The first step is to create an account.

Here’s how you do it:

Go to the eBay site and Click “Sell”

The icon is located in the top-right corner of the site. Click that and follow the instructions.

ebay signup

Choose a User ID

Your username is an important aspect of your eBay account. It gives potential customers a sense of who you are and what your online store is about.

You can set your user ID in the Account Settings section of the platform.

ebay user id

Try to make it something serious. This isn’t Instagram or Twitter. You want to come across as a professional. If you can make it a variation of your name, even better.

Fill Out Your Profile

This is a chance for you to share a little bit more about yourself. Take your time and fill it out carefully. Buyers on eBay tend to be more interested in who they’re buying from than on other platforms.

Uploading a photo is also a good idea because it creates a sense of familiarity with the customer.

ebay profile

You can access your profile from the eBay homepage by clicking your name in the top-left corner of the browser or My eBay in the top-right corner.

Link Your PayPal Account

Don’t forget to add your PayPal account. If you don’t have one, sign up for PayPal. That’s how eBay sends you money for the things you sell – the customer pays with their debit or credit card and eBay transfers it directly into your account.

You can add your account info by clicking your name in the top-left corner of the homepage, then clicking Account Settings. There’s a PayPal Account link located halfway down on the left-hand side of the page.

ebay paypal account 1024x474


Research the Competition

You must realize you’re not the only person selling things online. This platform has a ton of users. There’s a reason the total value of eBay sales exceeded $37B in 2018.

Currently, there are more than 1.1 billion active eBay listings. Therefore, you need to find ways to convince people to buy from you.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to know what your competition is up to.

To learn about your competitors, spend some time researching them. Look for the sellers who are having success. What are they doing that you like? More importantly, what are they not doing?

For example, maybe some sellers are not including information you think is useful. Perhaps their photos could be better. Whatever the case, spotting their weaknesses will help you run a stronger business.

Competitor research will also give you an idea of prices. How much are buyers willing to spend on similar items?

You don’t have to copy your competition’s price listings down to the penny, but you should use theirs as a ballpark. Pricing too low will cause you to lose out on money while pricing too high cause you to lose out on customers.


Take Good Photos

Once you’ve made an account and sorted out what you’re going to sell, it’s time for photos.

Pictures are arguably the most important part of this process. After all, this is how you entice people into purchasing your item. People want to see what they’re buying before they commit, especially when it comes to used items.

As a result, it’s imperative that you take high-quality pictures. These days, you can use your phone, but if you have a nicer device, use that instead.

Make sure to put the items in front of a white or neutral background so that viewers can see them more clearly. Also, make sure to take the photos in an area with good lighting. Natural sunlight tends to work best, but fluorescent overhead lights are suitable as well.

ebay photos

Photo: shoe_ace/eBay

Lastly, make sure to photograph every item from multiple angles. If there is a tag, serial number, or anything else you want the customer to see, make sure to include an image of it.

Here’s where “selling what you know” comes into play. If you’re familiar with the niche, you’ll have a better idea of what people are looking for.


Create Your Listing

When you’ve got your photos and are ready to make a listing, go into your account and select “Create Listing.” From there, you will be asked to upload your pics and provide a description.

It’s important to nail the description. Along with the photos, it’s going to make the difference between actually selling and wasting your time. So, make sure to write a good title and put some work into the description.

The description will vary according to the product. If you’re selling clothing, make sure to include the brand name, size, fit, and material. If you’re selling electronics like iPhones or Xboxes, describe their condition in the description.

Prioritize details over sales pitches. Remember, eBay is filled with hobbyists and enthusiasts. If a collector is looking at your listing, the chances are that they’re already interested. Therefore, you should focus on telling them about it instead of trying to convince them to buy it.

Plus, eBay buyers tend to be smart. If they suspect you’re trying to pull one over on them, they’re likely to go somewhere else.

Looking for more places to sell your old things? Check out this list:

The 7 Best Sites to Sell Stuff Online


Set an Attractive Bidding Price

eBay’s auction system is partially what makes it so unique. While there is a “Buy It Now” option, most customers buy collectibles and rare items through a bidding process. Every potential customer bids on the product and when the auction ends, it goes to the highest bidder.

Oftentimes, this works out in favor of the seller. The more customers that bid, the higher the price goes.

ebay price 1024x683

However, you have to be smart about setting your lowest bid. If you set the lowest bid at $1.00 and only one person bids, you might as well be giving it away. That amount won’t even cover the insertion fees and shipping costs, not to mention the taxes you might have to pay.

To avoid this, you should set the starting bid at the minimum amount you want for the item. That way, you’ll only need one bid to earn what you want.

Buy it Now

As mentioned above, eBay also has a Buy It Now feature. This allows you to sell the item at a fixed price. Many customers love it because it lets them skip over the bidding process and buy the item on the spot.

In a lot of ways, the B.I.N feature is more similar to Amazon than what we traditionally think of when we think about eBay. This works for more everyday items, such as clothes, where there is less interest in bidding.

When rare and unique items, setting a B.I.N cost can help you drive your prices up faster. Customers who are eager to win the item will bid against each other in hopes of getting it for lower than the set price. And if someone wants it bad enough, they’ll just buy it outright, putting money in your pocket almost immediately.


Establish Good Shipping Practices

You need to respect your customers’ time and money. Good customer service will prevent negative reviews, which can ultimately help you make more money.

Here are some best practices for running an eBay store.

  • Provide accurate shipping cost estimates: No one likes surprises
  • Give reasonable shipping time estimates: Be realistic with people so they know what to expect.
  • Protect your product: Your customer won’t be very happy if their purchase is broken when it arrives.
  • Communicate with your customers: Let them know when they’re products are on the way. They’ll appreciate it.

If you plan to do a lot of business on eBay, you might want to establish some more standardized practices for shipping goods.

Perhaps you can arrange a plan with your local FedEx, UPS, or USPS store to ship things out faster. You could also set up an eBay Store which works like a dropshipping service. This is for people who plan to ship high volumes and need help managing their inventory.

For more relaxed sellers, your system might be to ship stuff out on Mondays. This will give you time throughout the week to gather and pack your items.

As long as you’re open, honest, and consistent with your customers, the exact nature of your system shouldn’t matter.


Communicate and Leave Feedback

Reviews are a huge part of eBay. The more happy customers you interact with, the better your ratings will be. A better rating lets potential buyers know that they can trust you to hold up on your end of the transaction.

The best way to boost your rating is to communicate with people and leave positive feedback.

If someone inquires about an item, try to get back to them within 24 hours. After they buy it, keep them updated on where it is and when it will arrive at their house.

ebay feedback 1024x683

When the item sells, make sure to go in and leave a review for the buyer. Typically, they will return the favor. Everyone wins!

If someone doesn’t leave you a review, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask them to do so. It only takes a few minutes, and it can be a really good way for you to boost your profile and make more money.


Evaluate and Repeat

As with any business, it’s critical to be aware of what works and what doesn’t.

In order to get some momentum and learn about how the platform works, you should experiment with your listing.

For example, you might try listing the item with one description and then rewriting it a few days later to see which one brings in more bids. You can decrease the starting price (in small amounts) to see if you can attract more customers.

Take note of what’s successful. Repeat what works and change what doesn’t. Over time, you can use this data to sell more things faster and make more money.


Bonus Tip: Buy Some Stuff!

A big part of your success will come from your ability to build up a strong profile. If you get a lot of positive feedback, your eBay items show up higher in the search results. If you get a lot of negative feedback, your listings are pushed down.

If you earn enough positive reviews, you could eventually reach Top Rated Seller status. Once you get there, your listings will get more exposure (and you’ll have way more customers).

However, it can be hard to get there at first.

One way to try and boost your profile is to buy some stuff from other people.

ebay purchase 1024x683

It doesn’t matter what you buy. Just order it and then make sure to leave some positive reviews.

The purpose of this is to get some established sellers to leave you good reviews and jumpstart your profile. That way, you’ll already have a good reputation when you list your first items.

Of course, try not to spend a lot of money doing this. The point of buying stuff is to make money, not lose it. But a few small purchases can make it much easier to start selling on eBay.


Conclusion

eBay selling isn’t necessarily easy. But it’s not really that hard, either. All you need is a computer, a camera, and something to get started.

We’ve outlined how to use eBay and what you need to do to be successful on the platform.  But, keep in mind that every niche is different. Just because you’ve listed an item doesn’t mean it’ll sell right away.

So, it’s important to be patient. Most people fail their first time. If you’re able to stick with it and try out new things, however, you’ll eventually get the hang of it. Before you know it, you’ll be able to sell items like a true e-commerce mogul!

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