6 Tips For Selling on eBay From a Professional

Throughout the years, I have learned some useful tips for selling on eBay that I don’t mind sharing. I’ve been selling for the better part of 20 years now, so whether you are looking for advice as a total newbie or struggling to get your stuff to sell, these eBay tips can significantly increase the amount of income you can make as a seller.

#1. Find a niche within eBay

This is my single biggest tip, and why I listed it first. If you are going to sell individual items and not try the mass selling route – learn one type of item and stick with it.

While you will always find deals and items to sell outside your niche, try to limit those items to what you can handle.

Personally, my niche was camera equipment and electronics, while my dad dealt with toys and tools.  I have a friend who sells exclusively paperweights (yes they have collectors for those).  

The more specific your niche, the easier it will be for you to become an expert on those types of items within eBay and learn all about them. Eventually you can get to know what will sell and what you can actually make a profit on.

For example, I used to go to auctions to find things to sell for eBay. One time I bid on a bunch of old office phones for $2 a piece – I was the only bid, so I ended up taking them home. You see, I knew these things sold on Ebay, and for much more than the $2 I had bid! I ended up selling the phones for $75 each!

Another time my father found a toy sword at an auction that everyone thought was junk. However because my dad’s niche was toys he knew that this sword would sell for around $2,000 on eBay in great condition. Of course he snatched it up and sold it for a huge profit.

If neither one of us had spent the time and energy focused on a specific niche, we probably wouldn’t have been aware that those items would be selling for as much and missed out on the opportunity to earn a lot of extra money!

#2. Pictures are worth 1,000 words!

No matter what you are selling one of the biggest advantages you can have over other sellers is pictures.  While it is great to describe what you are selling and give people details about manufacturer specs or owner history, for the most part the person buying found your listing because they know what they want and are trying to find one that looks good.

Just try not to use stock photos unless the item is new and unopened.  Take as many pictures as makes sense.  Try to think of anything YOU might want to see before buying and include that picture.  At the very least you should try to have 4 pictures.  

#3. Use Keywords

Another good tip is to think of keywords that match your item and include them in the title. If there are alternative phrases or titles your item may go by, include as much of that information as you can to try and get people to find the listing.

For example, if you are selling something like Magic the Gathering try to also include MTG within your title. This is simply the shortened version of Magic the Gathering, but some people will search for MTG instead of the entire written out term.

In the example above, it’s Magic the Gathering Eternal Masters. The lister has included both the abbreviated MtG and EM within the title.

This way people will find the listing by the full name OR shortened version, which will increase the visiblity within search.

Also be as specific as possible, you want to list items with their full name so people can search it and know they have found the correct item. If there’s a model number, include it.

eBay’s current search engine is pretty helpful in getting people to your listing, but it never hurts to work with the system.  Think of your item and what people might search for and try to include it in your title.

#4. Keep an eye on the pricing

This is extremely important if you want items to sell. You don’t always have to be the very cheapest seller, but you should try to keep close to the market price.

A simple search on Amazon, Walmart.com, eBay or similar store websites should help you get an idea of what your item is worth. Typically people are looking for a good deal, but as long as you sound trustworthy and aren’t over priced you should be fine.  

When you check eBay prices, make sure you are looking at the price of what has actually sold and not just the listings. Remember that people can list an item for however much they want, but it’s what people are actually going to buy the item for that matters. Consider the Princess Diana beanie baby example above. This may be an extreme example, but it illustrates the point.

#5. Stay away from selling anything for under $10 (unless you’re selling in mass quantities)

Unless you are a mass seller, stay away from any item that won’t sell for $10 or more.  Now this is a personal preference and a piece of advice.  

However to help you understand this better I can show you an example:

Say you hope to sell an item on eBay for $5. Let’s say it costs you $0.50 to buy it. Then you spend $1 for the envelope and/or packaging, + $1 in fees (eBay + PayPal)

That leaves you with $2.50, and don’t forget the gas it may take you to get to the post office.

In addition to all that, remember that you will be paying taxes on this income as well. For simplicity sake, let’s take out another 75 cents for taxes and 25 cents for gas.

Now your total profit is $1.50!

So really unless it takes you minutes to list that item, you made close to nothing.

Again this if for those who don’t want to mass sell.  If you can list 50 or 100 of said item, than you aren’t worried about only making $2 or less per item.  In reality mass sellers often make less than $1 per item.  They are trying to sell 100s per day instead of just a dozen or more.  

#6. If your items aren’t selling, take a step back and re-evaluate

Lastly if your item doesn’t sell, take a simple look at why it might not have. Examine the price, pictures, description or time of day. Sometimes if you do nothing but re-list it will sell the second time. However it is important to re-evulate because there could be an underlying issue.

  • It could be that the price dropped at the local stores and now you are overpriced, so definitely check that.  
  • Maybe you only posted it with two pictures thinking that was enough, so go ahead and add a couple more.  
  • Re-read your description, are their typos or wrong information?  Try to ask someone to read it and give feedback.  
  • The time of day is also an important factor, as a lot of people wait until the last minute to buy an item from eBay.
  • Also, the busiest times for the internet are Sundays and Mondays.  So try for evening times on those days or at least for the day you are listing.

Keep in mind, however, that if you aren’t selling super high demand items they’re not all going to sell on the first listing, and the majority of your listed items will just need to be re-listed a few times.

 These problems usually aren’t an issue for mass sellers, but even then it helps to keep some of this in mind.

These tips can make the difference between running a profitable eBay business or wasting a lot of time, so keep them in mind when you start selling your first items!


Do you have any other tips you’d like to offer, or any questions about selling on eBay? Drop a comment down below!

Article by Shawn Hill, eBay seller since 1999.

About the Author Shawn Hill

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