Selling Used Items on eBay for Beginners

Getting Started Advice from an Experienced Seller

eBay can be a great place to get rid of old junk, but it can also be a great source of extra money. But how do you find used items to sell on eBay on a consistent basis to earn reliable income? Let his article serve as a basic guide to getting started selling on eBay for beginners.

Note: This will mainly focus on tips for selling items that you’ve physically collected, not in bulk/wholesale or arbitrage methods.

If you’re thinking about becoming an eBay seller, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You’ll need to set up a PayPal account to sell on eBay. While there are a couple other options for payments, PayPal is the easiest and most efficient.
  • As a new member, eBay will limit your selling to 10 items your first month. This is so eBay can protect its reputation and remain a safe selling marketplace.
  • You will not get instant payments into your PayPal until you’ve established yourself as a reputable seller. (This is after 90 days, 25 sales and at least $250 of items).
  • Listing and Shipping will take you WAY longer than you think in the beginning. You will get faster the more you do it.

Many people just use eBay to sell personal items – things like old cell phones, laptops, clothes, toys, board games, etc.  While it’s a great way to get rid of clutter and make easy money, it isn’t enough to be a consistent supplemental income source.

Where do you find items to sell?

If you’re looking to sell secondhand items, here are places you can look:

  • Goodwill/Salvation Army, or any other secondhand shop
  • Garage and yard sales
  • Craigslist
  • Outlet stores
  • Clearance sales
  • Estate Auctions

What can you sell?

In short, you can sell basically anything with a few exceptions.

What you sell depends on how much extra money you want to make and how much time you want to spend selling. You could use eBay just sell stuff around the house you no longer want to hold onto. These could be things like an old comic book collection, action figures, clothing, purses, electronics, or anything else that would be easy to pack and ship.

If you want to sell more consistently, you can go around to garage sales, estate sales, or secondhand shops and pick up items you know you could make a profit on, but that may involve getting yourself familiar with a particular niche of items.

For example, say you decided you wanted to get into selling vintage toys on ebay. You could research the types of toys that are selling, what’s popular, and what items are actually worth anything versus invaluable stuff.

You can have additional niches, but it helps to be super familiar with a particular group of items otherwise you won’t know what would be worth selling on eBay and what wouldn’t.

You may mind many items not worth selling at all. You want to be able to make a profit after you factor in packing materials, shipping, taxes and eBay and PayPal fees, As a general rule of thumb, if you are selling items you are personally going to pack and ship out, $10 is the minimum amount to sell an item and still have it be worth your time.

Check out: 6 Tips for Selling on eBay from a Professional

Does selling on eBay have any additional/hidden expenses?

Depending on how you decide to sell there are extra costs to take into account when getting started selling on eBay.

If you are handling all items yourself you’ll need to buy:

  • Boxes
  • Packing tape
  • Packing materials
  • An accurate scale

You can purchase a service for the shipping and handling, however it’s typically much more expensive than handling yourself for an average seller.

However if you are dealing in very large amounts of items it could be too difficult and time consuming to handle yourself.

Either situation could also cost you gas to drive your items to the post office for drop off.

If you are going to mass sell items you might also find you will need to advertise to drive views to your specific eBay account. This creates an entire area of expenses that would have to be examined and viewed daily to ensure you are getting your money’s worth.

You’re also going to need to factor in:

  • eBay fees
  • payment processing fees
  • possible bank fees

These will vary based on the price of the item sold, which service you use and your bank. It is important to keep these in mind as you can accidently lose money on a sale if you don’t calculate these correctly!

You might also need to rent a truck or uhaul if you get start going to auctions/estate sales and pick up large quantities of items.

How much time do you need to commit to selling every day?

The great thing about making money with eBay is you can set your own schedule, and put in as much or little time as you wish.

That being said, how much time you spend really depends on you, your items and how much you are hoping to make. The more time you spend (in theory) the more money you can make. However you want to make sure you are selling items that will profit enough for it to be worth the time spend listing, packing and shipping them out!

eBay can be a numbers game… Don’t expect everything to sell immediately (or at all)

eBay really is a numbers game. Each time you list a group of items, it’s typical to only sell around 20-30% of them. So if you list 10 items, 2 or 3 will sell on the first listing. Now the percentage depends on the types of items you are selling on eBay, but in general, most things won’t sell immediately.

The second time you list, you can except another 20-30% to sell, therefore you can sell off 60% of your items over the course of 2 listings.

Usually if you can’t sell the item after two listings, it might not be sellable. You have to decide on your own to re-list or not.

If eBay is doing a free listing month or you qualify for free listings, than for sure re-list as much as you can. However at close to $0.50 a listing it might depend on how much you are going to be profiting off the item as to how much you want to relist. If it’s a smaller profit item, it might not be worth it.

What are the best parts about selling on eBay?

  • You can make your own hours, and work as much or as little as you want.
  • You get instant payments when you sell items – it can be nice to have money coming in more consistently than just 1 or 2 days per month.
  • It’s relatively easy to do. If you understand how to use a computer and a camera, it isn’t difficult to get the hang of it at all.
  • There’s great income potential. I used to do it about 10 hours per week and made an extra $1,000 per month. My dad did eBay full time and made between $3,000 – $5,000 per month. A buddy of mine sold rare collectibles and made $10,000 per month!
  • The best of all is it’s actually fun to do. At least it was for me, if it doesn’t sound enjoyable at all then you might want to rethink your decision to be an eBay seller.

What is the worst parts about selling on eBay?

  • If you’re an individual seller who goes and gathers items to resell, there’s the issue of space. You can find yourself accumulating a lot of STUFF and so you need to be very organized.
  • It can take up a lot of time, especially if you’re going to estate sales, garage gales or outlet stores to try and find things.
  • Packing items – you need to always have packing materials available to you can pack up anything that sells right away.
  • Start up costs – if you are going around gathering items to sell you’re going to have to put down money for them up front hoping that you can make a profit selling them on eBay.
  • Rude and disrespectful buyers – while most people don’t give you any problems, there are some very nasty buyers on eBay and as a seller you will have to deal with it.

If you like searching for items and can keep yourself driven to do it, eBay can be an excellent way to make extra money online. Anytime someone needs some work, I suggest they can sell on eBay. Those that do try it, really are amazed at how easy it can be to make money doing this.

Not sure if selling on eBay is right for you?

If after reading this you’re convinced selling used stuff on eBay isn’t for you, there are other ways to make money online without actually having to sell anything at all. If you want to sell without having to collect physical inventory, pack it up and ship it out, then maybe you could consider looking into affiliate marketing. 

About the Author Shawn Hill

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