Selling on eBay
If you're reading this, then you must have some interest in selling on eBay.
They say that the average person has about $3,500 in items not being used around the house. Just take a look around, I’m sure you have dozens of unused items that are taking up useful space. If it all just seems intimidating, believe me, anyone can do it.
Every seller had to start somewhere, I’ve been selling & buying for about 5 years and earned myself ‘Top Rated’ & ‘Power Seller’ rankings.
Whether you’re just spring cleaning or trying to earn extra cash for the Holidays, you will need to know the "basics" of selling on eBay. These tips will help you get started. Once you’ve got a few transactions under your belt, you will feel like a pro.
STEP 1: Create an eBay account
Creating an eBay account is pretty easy. From
homepage, just click “register” at the top of the page. From there you will enter your information. They don’t ask for anything too personal, just the basics.
I would have to say that the hardest part about registering with eBay is coming up with a username. When choosing a user name, remember that it will reflect on you as an eBay member and this is how other members will know you. Poopypants17 (at) hotmail.com is probably not a great idea. It definitely wouldn’t make a good first impression on me. If you’re having trouble, the username availability checker can help.
STEP 2: Create a PayPal account
PayPal is not a requirement; however it is the most common way to transfer money for eBay transactions. I highly suggest registering.
I have been a member of eBay & PayPal for over 5 years and have not had one security issues. PayPal is basically the “middle man” between users, so your account information is never exchanged with anyone.
I have to admit that PayPal does not win the award for “most user friendly” sign up process. However, since they are dealing with your account info, I think it’s a good thing that there are several steps.
home page, click ‘Sign Up’ at the top of the page, from there you will choose what type of account you want. Unless you will be selling thousands of items per month, a personal account is more than enough.
Once you decide on the type of account, you’ll enter your basic information. PayPal will then send you a confirmation email providing instructions to follow to confirm your identity. Now you officially have a PayPal account.
I highly suggest going in and adding your bank account info, this will confirm your address and show other eBay members that you are most likely not a scammer.
If you decide to add your account info, PayPal will make 2 small deposits (usually about 5-10 cents). PayPal will then ask you to verify the amounts to verify your account. Once you verify the amounts, you’ll be ready to start collecting money.
STEP 3: Make a purchase
Have you ever made a purchase on eBay before? If not, I would say this has to be the next step. If you don’t know the basics of buying, you can’t expect to be a successful seller. It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive; you can buy anything from coupons to your favorite ink pen. This step will get you some good feedback fast. Successful sellers know what eBay looks like from a buyer’s point of view.
Since the eBay community is based on feedback. If you have feedback score of 0, then buyers may not feel comfortable buying from you. Having some feedback gives buyers that cozy feeling.
STEP 4: Deciding what to sell
You probably have an idea of things you’d like to sell on eBay. Maybe it’s your children’s clothes or those painfully new shoes at the top of your closet. Extra kitchen gadgets and old cell phones usually top peoples list. Buying & reselling is a great idea once you understand the resale value of the items.
Clothing, accessories, electronics, household goods, toys and sporting goods are some of the hottest sellers on eBay. Name brands tend to sell the best. Unless it’s an uncommon item that someone may be looking for. Gymboree & Children’s Place top the list for children’s clothes.
You can sell items in a “lot” or individually. A “lot” is simply a collection of more than 1 item, sold as a group.
STEP 5: Do your research
Above all, my advice is to know what an item is worth today. I’m sure you love those Guess Jeans you paid $159 for 7 years ago and only wore a handful of times, but you will have to realize they are no longer that valuable. The best tool that eBay has is the “Completed Listings” search.
Let’s use the Guess Jeans as an example. From eBay’s homepage, I would search for ‘Guess Jeans’, all listings with those words in the title will show. On the left side of the page you can narrow your search, I would then click on ‘used’ so that I know I’m comparing apples to apples (or used to used…ha ha!). There are also options for gender & size; I would then select ‘women’ & ‘size 10’. This gives me all of the active listings for Women’s Guess Jeans, Size 10.
The magic “Completed Listings” button is on the left side bar, towards the bottom. When you select this button, you will see all listings that have ended (completed). Red means the item did not sell and green means the item sold for the amount shown. Seeing the sold items will give you the most accurate and realistic price that you can expect to sell an item for. I absolutely love this tool and highly suggest you do your research prior to listing. It will save you both time and money!
STEP 6: Take pictures
Any digital camera will do, I use my 2 year old Kodak or my cell phone’s camera. Find a room with lots of natural light and make sure the background of the picture will be clear, not loaded with random clutter. If you have a white or black sheet, you can use that as a backdrop. If it’s something small, I usually take the picture on my kitchen counter top (make sure it’s clean) or laminate floor (also important that it’s clean). I have found that including several pictures, showing several angles tend to get more bids. The first picture is free, eBay charges for additional photos. I do suggest adding at least one extra, unless you really think it’s not necessary, buyers like to see exactly what they’re bidding on and won’t be disappointed. If there are any flaws, make sure to show a picture and describe in your listing.
STEP 7: Creating a Title and Description
Your title is the first thing buyers see, like a headline on the front page of a newspaper. It’s also what eBay uses for search results. Building a strong “headline” is very important. Choose keywords that are specific (i.e.: brand, size, condition, color, model number). You can use up to 55 characters, take advantage of this and include as much as you can. Most importantly, make sure the spelling is correct. A miss-spelled brand name will ruin your entire auction.
Use the description to explain the item to your visitors. Use this space to let them know exactly what they will receive if they win your auction. If it’s clothes or shoes, buyers love to see measurements. It may take you an extra 5 minutes to add this info, but the buyer will feel better in knowing exactly what they are bidding on.
If there are any flaws, this is the time to let your visitors know. I cannot stress this enough. It will come back to haunt you when they receive the item and are not satisfied. You will end up refunding their money and risk receiving negative feedback.
As my mother taught me “honesty is the best policy”.
An important item to add to the description is your refund policy. I would describe this exactly and as that the buyer please not bid on my item if they are not in agreement. There are very nice ways to state this and buyers are usually pretty understanding. More info on refunds in ‘STEP 9’.
One more piece of advice I have regarding the description is to take advantage of the “Item Specifics”. All you have to do is choose the appropriate description from the drop down categories. If you skip this step, your item will automatically be categorized as "not specified". I don’t know any buyers that look in there. This is just one more step to ensure that your item is seen by the most number of buyers.
Basically, the more info you provide the happier your buyer will be. Happy buyer means good feedback.
STEP 8: Starting price
EBay sellers often have their own opinion of the starting price. From personal experience, I have found that the lower your starting price. This is something that I have experimented with over the years and it always works for me.
I usually tend begin listings at $.99, I honestly find that more people are willing to bid on lower prices, the more bidders the better. For example, I once had a “lot” of my daughter’s clothes listed, starting at $19, I was hoping to sell them for around $30. I was a newbie and was kind of sad when it didn’t sell. I have lots of views, but not one single bid. Being the researcher that I am, I went to Google for info….I read on someone’s website that starting a listing low, would attract more bidders. Buyers don’t like to be the first bidder. If there’s no bids then they think it must not be worth bidding on. I was scared of the risk, what if my item really sold for only $.99? OMG! I decided to just go with it and take the risk, for “learning purposes”. Would you believe that my lot of baby girl, size 18-24m, clothes sold for $73? There were about 30 bids on it! I was ecstatic.
I tried starting higher a few more times; however, I’m convinced that starting lower is the way to go.
STEP 9: To offer a refund or not to offer a refund. That is the question…
My personal advice is to stand behind your product.
I can completely understand why you wouldn’t want to offer a refund though. What a pain it would be if someone sent something back because it didn’t fit, or any other random excuse your buyer may have.
In the past, I’d only offer a refund if it was my mistake and I described something incorrectly. I have found that offering an unconditional refund is appealing to buyers. Your selling success will definitely increase by adding this. I describe all of my products as well as I can and am pleased that I have never had to issue a refund.
If you really do not want to offer a refund, that is completely acceptable by eBay. I would highly suggest that you at least offer a guarantee that you have described your item exactly or you will offer a refund. You must include your refund policy in the listing form; this is required by eBay, even if you do not accept returns. Again, eBay does not require that you accept refunds.
STEP 10: Decide on the duration of your listing
Again, from personal experience, most bids occur within the last 24hrs of an auction. I usually stick to a 3 day auction, mixing in a few 1 days. As a buyer, I rarely bid on anything that has more than 3 days left to the auction, I might put it on my watch list, but I won’t bid until the last day.
STEP 11: Communication
If you received any questions regarding your item, it is very important to answer as soon as you can. As a buyer, I can say one of the most annoying things a seller can do is not answer your question. You should instruct your listing visitors to contact you with any questions and reassure them that you will answer the question as timely & honestly as possible. I add this verbiage to my description.
Your item sold! NOW WHAT???
STEP 12: Leave feedback
Once you receive payment, you should leave feedback. Sure you can wait, but I would hate to forget to thank my buyer for their purchase.
Sample:Excellent buyer! Thanks for the fast payment!
STEP 13: Package & ship your item
Package your item securely. I always package my item as if it were being sent as a gift to my grandmother. I double check that I have included everything and include a small thank you note. I even shake the box to make ensure that the item does not rattle all around. Your buyer will be pleased when they receive their neatly packaged item.
Packaging can become costly if you’re buying everything new. I always recycle what I have. I am always on the lookout for good boxes and padded envelopes.
Shipping often intimidates new sellers. It’s very common, so no need to get overwhelmed.
My preferred method of shipment is USPS. I typically don't a have a lot of time to run around going to the Post Office, so I use Stamps.com to print and ship from home. Signing up is super easy and they take the worry out of shipping late.
If your item sells for more than $15, I highly recommend adding delivery confirmation. This will provide a tracking number for you and your buyer.
I know that you might have some questions in the beginning. Feel free to
and ask any question you may have. Hope this info helps you get started selling on eBay, have fun!