eBay is a great way to find customers, generate income, and sell items easily. The advantage of eBay is that it handles many everyday tasks involved in online selling, such as providing a platform, website, and transaction software.
Running an eBay business doesn’t mean you have to dedicate all your attention to it. eBay can be one of the channels you use to sell products and make money, or it can serve as a stepping stone to kickstart your business before creating your own website.
If you’re looking to maximize your earnings on eBay, here’s a helpful guide.
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Why Sell on eBay?
Selling on eBay opens the door to a vast audience of 159 million active buyers worldwide, with a significant 77% of website traffic coming from the US. Surprisingly, 80% of Amazon sellers either currently sell on eBay or have in the past.
Whether you’re looking to declutter, make some extra cash from your eclectic collection, or seriously boost your income, eBay has something for everyone.
The primary perk? You can run your eBay business comfortably from home, wearing pajamas and slippers (because every day is Casual Friday in my office). But the advantages of selling on eBay go well beyond loungewear.
Unlike traditional startups that require hefty investments, stockpiling inventory, building websites, mastering SEO, and acquiring customers, eBay levels the playing field. Even a garage-based startup can kick off with minimal funds, thanks to eBay’s ability to bring customers to your doorstep.
Just keep in mind that eBay restricts registration, buying, and selling to those aged 18 and above, so it’s crucial to handle all transactions yourself. Your kids can assist, but supervision is a must.
How Much Does an eBay Seller Make?
On average, eBay sellers make around $35,000 annually. However, there’s a wide range of earnings.
The top performers can rake in as much as $70,000, while others might bring in just a few thousand dollars each year. Your earnings depend on factors like how much stuff you can sell, the prices of your items, and any extra costs you have, such as shipping materials.
To get a better grasp of eBay statistics, it’s a good idea to gather more information to help you navigate the platform effectively.
How to Sell on eBay and Make Money
Step 1. Create a seller account on eBay
Let’s open an account now. The registration page allows you to open a business account if you’re a registered business (sole proprietor, LLC, etc.). When you register, you will need to provide your business name, type of business, and address.
- Visit the Registration page.
- Enter your name and email address.
- Choose a password.
- Select Create an account.
Simply enter your business information and create a username. Upon clicking Continue, you’ll be redirected to eBay’s home page.
For details, you can read our guide on eBay seller account registration.
Step 2: Find products to sell on eBay
Finding merchandise to sell on eBay is as easy as checking your garage and as tough as climbing up to the attic. Just about anything you bought and stashed away (because you didn’t want it, forgot about it, or it didn’t fit) is fair game.
Think about all those unwanted birthday and holiday presents (hey, it was the thought that counted — and the givers may have forgotten about them, too). Now you have a place you can try to unload them for cash. They could even make someone else happy.
1. Sell your own stuff
In your closet, find what’s just hanging around:
- Clothing that no longer fits or is out of fashion: (Do you really want to keep it if you wouldn’t be caught dead in it or you know it will never fit?) Don’t forget the pair of shoes you wore once and put them away.
- Any item with a brand-name label: Especially if it’s in new or almost-new condition.
- Gifts: Have you received many well-meaning gifts that you’ve never used? You stashed them in the closet, right? One man’s trash (mathoms for the LOTR fans) is another man’s (or woman’s) treasure.
- Kids’ clothes: (They outgrow things fast — sometimes before they wear them. Use profits from the old items to buy new clothes they can grow into. Now, that’s going green.)
Have the articles of clothing in the best condition possible before you put them up for sale. For example, shoes can be cleaned and buffed till they’re like new. According to eBay’s policies, clothing must be cleaned before shipping.
And consider what’s parked in your basement, garage, or attic:
- Old radios, stereo and video equipment, and 8-track systems: Watch these items fly out of your house — especially the 8-track players (believe it or not, people love ’em)
- Books you finished reading long ago and don’t want to read again: Some books with early copyright dates or first editions by famous authors earn big money on eBay
- Leftovers from an abandoned hobby: Who knew that building miniature dollhouses was so much work
- Unwanted gifts: Have a decade’s worth of birthday, graduation, or holiday gifts collecting dust? Put them up on eBay and hope Grandma or Grandpa doesn’t bid on them because they think somebody needs another mustache comb!
Saleable stuff may even be lounging around in your living room or bedroom:
- Home décor you want to change: Lamps, chairs, and rugs (especially if they’re antiques) sell quickly. If you think an item is very valuable but you’re not sure, get it appraised first.
- Exercise equipment: If you’re like most people, you bought this stuff with every intention of getting in shape, but now all that’s building up is dust. Get some exercise boxing up all that equipment after you’ve sold it on eBay. Remember: The USPS will pick up for free.
- Vinyl records: Have a few boxes of vintage vinyl? If you’re not buying a turntable any time soon, put them up for sale! (Think records are dead? You may be very surprised.)
- Autographs: All types of autographs — from sports figures, celebrities, and world leaders — are popular on eBay. A word of caution, though: A lot of fakes are on the market, so make sure that what you’re selling (or buying) is the real thing. If you’re planning on selling autographs on eBay, be sure to review the special rules that apply to these items.
Don’t forget to check out eBay’s prohibited item list.
2. Source products from China with Alibaba
Selling your own brand or private label product on eBay has proven to be a successful strategy. You can source products from Alibaba to create your own brand.
Using high-quality photography and compelling copy, you can stand out from the competition. You can save a lot of money if you purchase products from China. Alibaba has a lot of suppliers you can work with.
3. Find products to resell at retail stores
Buying and reselling items from Walmart, Target, or your local grocery store is a classic eBay business model. You can make money from retail arbitrage if you’re consistent and know what to look for.
Researching retail arbitrage products is easy-you can do it while shopping.
Buying clearance items, toys, and electronics in the electronic aisles or clearance section of your local store can lead to higher profit margins on eBay depending on demand.
You can check the sell-through ratio of products using the eBay app on your phone.
4. Visit local thrift stores
You can find some hidden treasures at thrift shops if you search hard enough. Thrift store shopping is like going on a treasure hunt. These make for easy eBay flips.
Be on the lookout for:
- Vintage and designer-label clothing on consignment.
- Toys, video games, or board games that are used but still functional.
- VCRs or DVD players that are obsolete. There are plenty of old electronics in thrift stores that people are still willing to pay good money for.
- There are TONS of used books at thrift stores! It may take a lot of time rummaging through rare titles, but you may find a highly valuable book that a particular purchaser is looking for.
When in doubt, check eBay! It might be worth a few bucks. Eventually, you’ll develop a knack for finding profitable thrift store items.
5. Shop at garage sales/estate sales
It’s common for homeowners to be eager to sell their furniture, books, artwork, clothes, and other knickknacks that have accumulated over the years, so don’t be afraid to negotiate a bit. There is a possibility of finding something worth big bucks if you are consistent.
Unlike auctions, estate sales tend to include everything in the house. At estate sales, you can find a variety of unusual items, as well as fine jewelry.
For local garage sales or estate sales, check out these websites:
Both are free and will show you all sales in your area! You can also use Garage Sale Finder’s app when you are out sourcing.
Step 3. List items
Now that you’ve set up your eBay account and prepared your items, let’s talk about how to create a listing that grabs people’s attention. eBay’s quick-listing tool handles the technical details for many popular items, so you can focus on making your listing stand out. Here are some tips to help you:
Be Transparent About the Item’s Condition
When it comes to pre-loved items, condition is king – and that’s likely what you’ll be selling. When crafting your listing, pick the right condition category (new, seller refurbished, used, etc.).
Then, you have the chance to add some extra info to paint a clear picture of the item’s state. If there are any hiccups, be upfront about them. Honesty is key to avoid surprises and potential disputes later on.
Craft a Clear and Detailed Description
Your item description is your time to shine as a seller. Describe your item thoroughly and clearly. For instance, if it’s a laptop, highlight its top features and specify details like screen size, model year, and processing speed. If you’re selling clothes, don’t forget to mention size, color, and age.
Use proper grammar, complete sentences, and concise language to show buyers you care. Add a personal touch by wrapping up your description with a friendly note like “make it yours today.”
Include Relevant Keywords
eBay users search for products using keywords. eBay helps buyers find merchandise that meets their search criteria so they can quickly decide what products they wish to purchase.
By including relevant keywords and product identifiers, your listings will appear when shoppers search for the products you sell.
Filling out the item specifics as thoroughly as possible advantages your item in eBay’s search algorithm. Translation? It could show up near the top of the list of items for sale.
Include High-Quality Photos
A picture is worth a thousand words, especially on eBay. Your smartphone camera will do just fine. Place your items on a flat surface against a plain white background. Snap pics from different angles and showcase important details. Aim for sharp, high-resolution photos.
Good lighting can make a world of difference amidst a sea of mediocre images. No need for fancy gear – just try shooting near a window without using the flash. If you’re selling small items, you can create a budget-friendly lightbox using white poster board, a cardboard box, and a couple of lamps. You can always upgrade your equipment later if you choose.
Learn more about how to list items for sale on eBay.
Step 4. Provide Excellent Customer Service
Customer service is the bedrock of any successful online business, and on eBay, it’s your ticket to stellar reviews that can boost your profile. These reviews assess various aspects of your service, including communication, product accuracy, shipping charges, and delivery speed, culminating in an overall positive feedback score displayed as a percentage. Each sale presents an opportunity to enhance (or harm) your rating.
To ensure positive feedback and foster trust with your customers:
Deliver on Your Promises: Ensure that your products live up to the expectations you’ve set.
Swift and Professional Communication: Respond promptly and professionally to buyer inquiries and concerns.
Speedy Shipping: Ship purchases quickly and efficiently to meet customer expectations.
Fair Shipping Rates: Set reasonable rates for shipping and handling to avoid dissatisfaction.
Positive feedback not only drives sales but also builds customer confidence. Conversely, negative feedback can tarnish your reputation, leading to potential selling restrictions and reduced visibility in search results.
A Special Touch: Sending a Personal “Item Shipped” Email
For high-value items, consider adding a personal touch to your service by sending a “item shipped” email. Use the buyer’s email from the transaction record to:
Congratulate the Buyer: Make them feel good about their purchase with a friendly thank-you.
Shipping Details: Include the item name, confirmation of shipment, shipping method, and tracking number (already input into the selling record). Mention the approximate delivery date.
Customer Care: Express your commitment to their satisfaction and urge them to contact you immediately if any issues arise.
Personal Connection: Provide a phone number and express gratitude for their business.
Encourage Feedback: Suggest that you look forward to receiving their feedback if all goes well.
Include a Thank-You Note in Every Package
Add a personal touch by including a thank-you note in every shipment. This note should serve a dual purpose:
Express Gratitude: Thank the customer for their purchase and mention your anticipation of future transactions.
Promote Your Brand: Provide a link to your website to promote your brand and foster repeat business.
Prompt Shipping Matters
Timely shipping is critical for excellent customer service. eBay simplifies shipping cost calculation and label printing, but it’s your responsibility to:
Secure Packaging: Ensure items are securely packed to prevent damage in transit.
On-Time Delivery: Dispatch packages promptly to meet delivery expectations.
Communication: Keep customers informed with delivery tracking and updates.
7 Best Tips for Selling on ebay
1. Open and customize an eBay Store
Members of the eBay Store have access to tools that help them differentiate their products. It is easy to elevate your brand professionally by customizing your eBay profile and seller ID. Subscribers to the eBay Store enjoy these benefits:
- Selling fees are lower
- Enhanced visibility in search results
- eBay-branded shipping supplies at a discount
- Ownership of their own branded or unbranded store pages
It’s a good idea to open an eBay Store to expand your brand recognition on eBay, especially if you maintain consistency between the look and feel of the store and your individual product listings.
2. Research your competition
You can find out how to price your items, see which items are selling well, and determine which ones to stay away from. In the Search box, which is at the top of every eBay page, type the words that describe the item you want to sell and click Search. To see past sales, select the Sold Listings or Completed Listings check box after you perform your first search.
You can then sort these past sales by price, from highest to lowest, and see a snapshot of how your item has sold on eBay in the past couple of weeks. You can also sort by distance to see how nearby competitors are doing, or sort by oldest or newest listings to get a sense of price levels over time.
Research not only shows you what to expect as a price for your item but also gives you the following useful information:
- Which keywords to use in describing your item
- Which category on eBay to place your item in
- Which features you should mention about your item
- The current level of supply and demand for this item on eBay
Here are the main questions you should answer while doing research:
- Are the items I want to sell doing well on eBay?
- Are the prices the items are selling for enough for me to make a profit?
If the answer to either question is no, you may want to find other items to sell instead, before you invest time and money on a product line that’s wrong for eBay.
3. List your item as an auction
There is a wide range of prices offered by sellers in eBay’s marketplace. The most important factor in making a purchase decision is a competitive price, but buyers look at a number of factors, including selection, shipping costs, and sale terms.
Many sales on eBay are auctions. You know the kind: 1, 2, 3, Sold to the highest bidder! But rather than waving their hands enthusiastically, bidders place a bid on your auction by using their computers.
On eBay, you have the choice of offering your item for sale as an auction or for a fixed price, so the buyer can click and buy immediately.
When you’re trying to decide whether to list your item as an auction or at a fixed price, here are some of the top reasons to consider an auction:
- Auctions attract people’s interest. Shopping on eBay has become more than a matter of buying items. It’s a form of entertainment, with bidding, competing, and winning. After people bid on an item, they’re more likely to follow the auction to its completion and stay emotionally invested in acquiring the item.
- Auctions move merchandise faster. When you sell items on your own store or by using an eBay store, it can take days, weeks, or even months to find the right buyer. With an eBay auction, you can sell an item in five to ten days, on average, and find your high bidder, and some interested underbidders, more quickly. Think of the auction as a call to action, where the buyers decide to respond.
- Auctions cost the seller only money per item, not per month. When you operate an eBay store, you’re paying a monthly fee regardless of how many items you sell. In an eBay auction, you pay a small fee to list the item for sale, as low as 10 cents, and another fee if the item sells.
- Auctions let you test the water. Rather than launch a full-blown store for your items, you can run a few eBay auctions and gauge the interest of the buying community. You can get an idea of success before investing in website design and programming.
Of course, auctions have some drawbacks. The fees involved in running auctions can add up if you’re continually trying to sell something that receives no bids. Although the short time frame of the auction helps move inventory, it’s also quickly forgotten in the minds of the buyer.
You have to run a lot of auctions to build the constant presence needed to remind buyers of who you are. Without repeat buyers and the constant flow of goods, it’s hard to build a sustainable flow of revenue by putting up random auctions every week. Still, auctions provide an excellent piece of the overall eCommerce business plan.
4. Provide international shipping for a minimal fee
When you indicate that you will ship internationally, your item shows up on the eBay International sites, which is a fantastic way to attract new buyers! (Although, you will pay extra for U.S. seller’s listings to appear on the International sites.)
eBay has lots of good international users, so you may want to consider selling your items around the world. If you do, be sure to clearly state in the description all extra shipping costs — and that the buyer is responsible for any customs charges.
The buyer pays for shipping (unless you choose to offer free shipping), and this is the point at which you must decide how much to charge. You also have to calculate how much this item will cost you to ship. If it’s a small item (weighing under a pound or so), you may decide to charge a flat rate to all buyers.
To charge a flat rate, click the Flat Shipping Rates tab and fill in the shipping amount. Before you fill in the amount, be sure to include your expenses for packing
Although I recommend offering flat-rate or free shipping to attract customers, you may want to use eBay’s versatile shipping calculator. Because UPS and the U.S. Postal Service now charge variable rates for packages of the same weight, based on distance, using the calculator simplifies things for your customers (and you).
Be sure that you weigh the item and know how much your handling charge will be. The calculator allows you to input a handling amount and adds it to the overall shipping total but does not break out the amount separately for the customer. The calculator also conveniently calculates the proper insurance amount for the item.
5. Deliver a branded shipping experience
By branding your fulfillment process professionally, you can build trust with your customers and encourage repeat business. Be a “seller of choice” for your customers by following these best practices:
- Deliver purchases on time.
- Whenever possible, do not cancel orders.
- Make your order look professional by investing in branded shipping supplies.
- Provide a clean, orderly, and impressive fulfillment experience.
- Get honest feedback from your buyers.
By following these practices, you’ll reap the benefits of shoppers searching for your listings first or bookmarking your eBay store and coming directly to you for future purchases.
6. Make use of Promoted Listings and Promotions Manager
Promoted Listings is a tool used by eBay sellers to make their products more visible to more people. Your placement in search is improved so that you reach more buyers and drive more traffic to your site. Using Promoted Listings has increased visibility for many sellers by 30%. Any eBay Store subscriber can take advantage of this service.
If an item sells, sellers using Promoted Listings only pay for the service. In addition, users of Promoted Listings receive additional tracking tools to assist in adjusting campaigns and maximizing sales.
Promotions Manager allows you to create even more unique offers that will move inventory and encourage purchases. With Promotions Manager, you can offer:
- Discounts based on order size
- Buy one, get one free offers
- Sale events
- Shipping discounts
- Codeless coupons
As much as 11% of sales have been increased by sellers using Promotions Manager.
7. Be cautious about prohibited tactics on eBay
eBay is no stranger to tricks people use to avoid paying fees or bending the rules. If you attempt these tactics, you’re likely to get caught, and eBay will cancel your listing. Do it once, and you probably won’t get your listing fee refunded. Do it repeatedly, and you’ll be banned from eBay.
Here are some things you can’t do:
No raffles or prizes: In your auction, you must sell something, not offer a chance to win a prize. You can, however, give a bonus product with a sold item.
No advertisements: Your eBay listing should describe your item, not be a sales pitch for something sold elsewhere. Exceptions exist in the Real Estate and eBay Motors categories, where you can run classified ads to sell property.
No bait-and-switch: Don’t mislead buyers by pretending to sell something you’re not. Some users use familiar brand names in their titles to attract attention to unrelated items; eBay calls this keyword spamming.
No mixing categories: Don’t put your item in a high-traffic category where it doesn’t belong just to attract more views. eBay may move it if needed.
No emojis: eBay doesn’t allow special characters, superscripts, or subscripts in titles and subtitles, so avoid using emojis.
No duplicate listings: You can’t have more than one fixed-price listing for the same item simultaneously. If you’re running an auction, you can have multiple listings for identical items, but eBay will filter them, showing only one without bids at a time.
The Costs of Selling on eBay
For the beginning seller (without an eBay Store), eBay charges the following types of fees for listing on the site:
Auction and Fixed-price insertion fees: Up to 50 listings are free per month. After that, $0.35 per additional listing. (Canada $.30)
Real estate listing fees: These vary because you have the choice of listing your property as an ad rather than an auction. Because eBay real estate auctions are nonbinding (due to legalities), you may be better off running an ad. (eBay Canada charges the same fees for auctions or fixed-price real estate listings). eBay charges different prices for different types of real estate:
- Timeshares, manufactured homes, and land
Auction-style/fixed-price: 1-, 3-, 5-, 7-, or 10-day listing ($35); 30-day listing ($50)
Classified Ad format: 30-day listing ($150); 90-day listing ($300)
- Residential, commercial, and other real estate
Auction-style/fixed-price: 1-, 3-, 5-, 7-, or 10-day listing ($100); 30-day listing ($150)
Classified Ad format: 30-day listing ($150), 90-day listing ($300)
Motors (Automotive) fees: For low-volume sellers (who post six or fewer vehicle listings per calendar year), both eBay U.S. and eBay Canada allow the first six listings free, with subsequent listings $50; motorcycles are only $20.
Additional reserve-price auction fees: $5; auctions with reserves over $150 are charged 7.5 percent of the reserve, with a maximum of $250.
Final value fees: A percentage of the sales price. eBay takes a small insertion fee when you list your item and then a commission on the back end when you sell your item. This commission is called the final value fee (FVF) and is based on the total amount of the sale (the selling price of the item, shipping, and any other fees a seller may charge, excluding any sales tax).
Optional fees: Vary.
Managed Payments and PayPal fees: PayPal currently charges 2.9 percent of the total collected and $0.30 per transaction. Discounts are available as you move more money through the service, but if you bank on that, it’s always a safe estimate.
eBay is a great place to make money online and start your business. The tips we’ve covered can boost your success and help you earn more in your niche.
To succeed on eBay, do your homework, work hard, and stay patient.
eBay stands out for its wide variety of unique products, giving sellers a chance to offer items you won’t find elsewhere. Enjoy the diversity and make the most of your eBay experience.
Can you make $1000 a month selling on eBay?
Absolutely! Many eBay sellers are raking in $1000 or more each month with their online businesses. If you can identify profitable products and optimize your listings, you stand a chance to feature your items prominently in eBay searches, reaching millions of potential customers.
How much does the average eBay seller make?
As of 2022, the average yearly revenue for eBay sellers is around $42,000. Some sellers even earn up to $70,000 annually, showcasing the potential for eBay to serve as a primary income source.
What’s the most profitable item to sell on eBay?
The profitability of items on eBay can vary seasonally. However, consistently high-demand categories include home décor, furniture, clothing, and apparel. To determine whether a product is truly profitable, it’s advisable to use a product research tool to analyze sales data.
What can a beginner sell on eBay?
New eBay sellers typically have a limit of 10 items or a total value of $500 per month. This standard limit applies to all new eBay sellers.
Is it difficult to sell on eBay for the first time?
No, setting up an eBay account is relatively straightforward. This is evident from the millions of eBay account holders. However, achieving success on eBay involves employing effective selling strategies, which may take some time to master.
Is eBay a good platform for beginners?
eBay can be competitive due to the presence of long-established sellers. However, the platform is beginner-friendly, especially if you opt for the dropshipping model.
Dropshipping allows you to start an eBay business without any initial capital or inventory management. With the right strategies and guidance, beginners can thrive on eBay using the dropshipping approach.