If you have items lying around your house that you no longer need and/or use, then these tips for making money on eBay are for you. Just because you no longer find value in an item, doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t. Alternatively, you might specifically acquire items to resale for a profit or make your own items to sell. In either case, these tips for making money on eBay should help your sales efforts to be much more effective.
Research: What to Sell and How to Price
Of all the tips for making money on eBay, the ones covering what items to sell and how to price them, are the most important. If you are just starting out with selling items on eBay and you don’t really have a specific plan, it’s best to just start off by selling items around your home that you are no longer using. Obviously, not everything will sell on eBay so you should do a little research, to determine what items sell well. More than likely, no one else wants that fruitcake that your Aunt Flo gave you for Christmas. However, if you follow the suggestions outlined below, you should be able to effectively determine what to sell and how to price it.
- Search eBay and other eCommerce sites to determine if there’s a demand for your item and what it’s worth.
- Craigslist can also be useful, for helping to price used items.
- Sometimes it is more profitable to sell your items locally, on Craigslist and other classified/sales sites, since you don’t have to pay for packaging, shipping, listing fees, etc. Examples are larger/heavier items, such as furniture, appliances, TVs, outdoor grills, etc. On the other hand, for items that are considered “specialty” or “niche”, that will not have a large pool of potential buyers, eBay will be the better marketplace.
- During your price search, also make note of the key words used in the titles so that you can effectively target your item(s) to potential buyers.
- Given eBay is such a large market, even broken items can sometimes be sold, if an individual knows how to fix the item or the item can be used for spare parts.
- Focus on items that you’re familiar with, so that you can intelligently address any questions from buyers and potential buyers.
When you’re ready to move beyond simply selling unused items around your home, we have some tips for making money on eBay. At this stage, you should be prepared to dedicate a little more time and effort but if you follow what’s outlined below, your increased profits should make it worthwhile.
- Shop yard sales and estate sales to find undervalued items that you can resale for a nice profit.
- Take advantage of deeply discounted items, in retail discount stores (TJ Maxx, Ross, etc.), that you can resale for a profit.
- Find a niche market and “go deep” into it. For example, if you have a hobby, sell supplies for it and ensure customers purchase everything they need for a successful project (including irregulars/seconds).
- Find a wholesale supplier (i.e. Alibaba) that sells very inexpensive items that you can markup, for a tidy profit.
- Partner with a drop shipper (i.e. Simplex.com, InventorySource.com, etc.) that will handle all the inventory, packaging, and shipping for you (for a fee, of course).
- If you have a website, consider joining the “eBay Affiliate Program”. You will not directly sell any products but you will make a commission on any products sold from an advertisement that you will display on your website.
Pictures: Almost “Worth A Thousand Words”
Now that you’ve determined what you’d like to sell and the appropriate price for the item, it’s time to consider how you’re going to present the item to potential buyers. Since potential buyers (unless they happen to live close by) don’t have the luxury of examining an item in person, they rely heavily on pictures to guage their interest in your item. Follow the suggestions below, to ensure your potential buyers get a clear understanding of your item.
- Take many high quality pictures that show a lot of detail (including imperfections).
- If you plan to make more than a single sale on eBay, you want to ensure that you accurately depict your items, including any imperfections. Otherwise, your “seller rating” will suffer, right along with your sales.
- Avoid paying for extra photos or having file size limitations, by linking to an external source (Flickr, Photobucket, ImageCave, SnapFish, etc…).
- For newer sellers, with little to no sales history, a large number of good pictures can increase the level of buyer’s confidence.
Description: Make It Effective
Your description should complement your pictures. It should provide all the details that can and cannot be observed, by simply looking at the pictures. When reading your description, potential buyers should be convinced why they should buy your item.
- Your description must be complete and accurate.
- Ensure all fields are filled out and avoid misspellings.
- Include color, measurements, condition (new in the box, broken, etc.), any extras, and any other details that would be helpful to the potential buyer.
- The title should be “search optimized” (recall in the “Research” section, above, I suggested you make note of the key words used in titles).
- If your item is unique, rare, and/or hard to find, be sure to emphasize that, as the appeal and perceived value will be enhanced.
- Be honest and point out any issues and/or flaws, with your item. You never want to mislead and/or allow buyers to make false assumptions. Feedback impacts your ability to make future sales, positively or negatively, based on the buyers experience.
Timing: It Matters
When and what you sell will have an impact on your success. Consider the following suggestions, to maximize your earning potential.
- Use the 10 day listing, starting on Thursday, allowing the listing to be active over the course of two weekends. Weekends typically have the highest eBay traffic.
- Don’t sell your high value items first. Build up some positive feedback first, by first selling lower value items.
- Once you’ve sold several of your lower valued items and received positive feedback, move onto selling some of your higher value items.
Reserve/Buy It Now/Make Offer: Which One to Use and When?
When to use each of the sale options will depend on the type of item, your sales experience, and how eager you are to sell the item. Consider the following suggestions, to optimize your sales strategy.
- If your item is a commodity with a fairly well-known price, the “Buy It Now” is a good option. In order to allow negotiations with a buyer, add “Make offer”. Neither option adds any cost to the listing.
- Set your reserve to at least cover your costs (item + shipping/packaging/handling, if free shipping), to ensure that you don’t lose money.
- Once you’ve gained experience and know what sells well, it’s typically best to forgo a reserve (since it adds to the listing cost) and set a low starting price. It’s better to move inventory than to let it sit, making you nothing and potentially losing value, the longer you hold it.
Packing/Handling/Shipping: Tips to Minimize Costs and Maximize Buyer Satisfaction
The timeliness in which a buyer receives their item has a significant impact on your “seller rating” so give it the proper attention, by following the tips below.
- Consider offering free shipping, as buyers typically prefer it. Some sellers try to make money off shipping costs and many buyers are aware of that. However, don’t forget to consider all yours costs, associated with shipping, packaging (i.e. box, tape, and label), and handling (your time).
- Pack items well (i.e. use bubble wrap or other packing materials), to avoid any damage during shipping and to impress the buyer with the care you’ve taken, in packaging their item.
- Obviously, buyers appreciate a quick turn around time so ensure you have all the packing materials you need, before you list an item so you’re not scrambling, once the item is sold.
- For products that you receive by mail for your personal use, you can save yourself a little money by keeping those boxes and packing material (i.e. bubble wrap), to reuse for the items you sell.
- A number of shipping address issues can arise – see this eBay guide for dealing with those potential problems.
Feedback: It’s Importance Cannot Be Overstated
Of all the tips for making money on eBay, this one is the most important, apart from selecting the items you will sell. Do yourself a favor – make maintaining positive feedback a high priority.
- Be sure to provide descriptive and timely feedback.
- Encourage your buyers to provide feedback and ask that they contact you directly, before leaving any negative feedback. Offer them something (a partial or full reimbursement, a replacement, etc.), within reason, to address their dissatisfaction.
- If you don’t strive to maintain consistently high feedback, your sales will suffer.
In Conclusion: Tips for Making Money on eBay
If you follow all of the tips for making money on eBay, as outlined above, you will significantly increase your chances of being successful. It may take you a while before you start making a significant profit but stick with it and you’ll likely be glad you did. Good luck with your eBay sales!