Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.
If you have loads of clutter that you’re dying to get rid of, then consider selling it on eBay.
eBay makes it easy to get rid of unwanted items. But while it’s a great platform to make extra cash, it can be intimidating for first-time users.
Here are 20 essential tips that you’ll need to confidently start making money on eBay.
eBay now allows up to 1,000 free listings a month, which is more than enough for reselling your things!
However, although eBay will let you know you’re listing your item for free when you put it live, you’ll still pay a final value fee. This is 10% of the final cost of the item, including postage. PayPal adds 3.4% (or 3.9% for international sales), plus 20p, for each transaction.
It’s not a lot, but something to be aware of when looking at how much you’ll actually make on each sale. When you set up your selling account, the easiest method to pay these fees is by direct debit each month. You’ll get an invoice of how much you owe.
You won’t pay a final value fee if your item doesn’t sell. So if it fails to attract any buyers, try again. You can choose to automate this process by ticking the box to allow relisting if it doesn’t sell. It may be that the right buyer wasn’t around at the time, so don’t give up!
If you sell often it’s worth downloading eBay’s free app. Using it to post listings is quick and easy – and it means that you can keep an eye on your listings and respond to queries on the go. You can take photos, create your listing, and keep track of how auctions are going all in one place.
With one billion live items on eBay, making your listing stand out is crucial.
When buyers search for an item, eBay only looks for words in the listing’s title, so always use keywords such as brand names, colour, and sizes. Double check spellings so people can find your items!
A little bit of copying and pasting with a few adjustments and tweaks will save you loads of time and effort when writing up descriptions for products. But never copy descriptions or pictures wholesale, as this infringes other sellers’ copyright.
Look at other successful sellers to see how they describe their products and learn from them.
If you sell lots of the same thing, write up your own template and save it on a file on your computer or phone. Then you can copy and paste it, fill in the particulars for the item (size, colour, etc.), add photos and you’re pretty much done!
Auction listings are great if you’re unsure of the value of your item or you have unique and hard-to-find items that could attract demand and spur a bidding war.
Although the final price may be unpredictable, if you get several people who really want your item, they may try to outbid each other, raising the final price.
Remember never to put a starting price that’s lower than you’re willing to sell for! But if it’s something not too valuable that’s just lying around anyway, an auction may be the way to go.
Make sure you’ll be around when listings end to post the items within the timeframe you’ve agreed to.
If you want to make a certain price on something, though, go for a fixed price sale.
This is a safe option if you absolutely don’t want to sell your item for less than a certain price. You can tick the ‘allow offers’ button if you might be willing to negotiate, or leave it off if your price is firm.
Some sellers prefer buying through fixed-price listings because they don’t have to wait for an auction to end. Just make sure you’re available to post the item within the time limit you’ve agreed to on your listing. With a fixed-price listing, it could sell at any time while it’s live on eBay.
Alternatively, get into the habit of listing your seven-day auctions each Sunday night to maximise your bids on an ongoing basis.
You can even schedule your listings to start at a certain time. So if you’re writing up your listing at 3am, you can have it start at a better time so it ends when more people are browsing.
Whether you’re selling a couple of items or dozens of boxes of stuff, you’ll need to stay on top of everything. Use a calendar to mark when auctions are ending, and make sure you’ll be around to post items promptly.
If you’re away from home a lot or maybe too busy to always go to the Post Office, schedule listings to end when it suits you. For example, if your only free time is Saturday morning, have listings end on Friday evening so you can post them the next day.
Fixed-price listings have certain advantages, but as they can sell at any time, you’ll need to make sure you’re always available the next day to post things.
If you need more flexibility, you can adjust the postage settings on your listing to say it will be dispatched within a couple of days instead of one day. But this might turn some buyers away, especially as most people are used to fast deliveries these days.
This is the most important advice I can give. If you send an item recorded delivery you can track its whereabouts.
This prevents any sellers claiming they have not received an item. And if it is lost, you are covered by insurance.
It’s important to choose the correct postage options so that a buyer knows how and when they will receive the item.
When posting a listing, eBay has a handy tool which provides postage recommendations based on how other sellers have posted items like yours.
If there’s no recommended postage option for your item – or you’d rather set your own price – you can choose your own postage method. To get an idea of what you should be charging, use eBay’s Postage Estimator. Royal Mail also has a Price Finder tool for figuring out the costs, both for the UK and abroad.
You can also send parcels to any UK address from a CollectPlus store (CollectPlus.co.uk), which means you avoid the lengthy queues at the Post Office – and cut costs. What’s more, the 6,000 shops that offer this service are all open late, seven days a week.
Also worth a look are parcel and postage comparison websites such as Interparcel.com, Parcelmonkey.co.uk or MyParcelDelivery.com. These sites buy postage slots in bulk from big courier firms such as UPS or DHL and sell them to the public – saving you a bundle in the process.
But bear in mind that you’ll be dealing with a middleman company, not the courier itself. So if things go wrong and need sorting, you will have to go via the comparison site which will deal with any inquiries, but can be more time consuming than you might think.
While cheap postage may attract more buyers, always remember that underestimating postage costs can quickly eat into your eBay profits.
If you’re flogging larger items that aren’t feasible to post, select ‘local collection only’ and the buyer will need to collect the item in person.
Ensure that you ship sold items carefully, as if it arrives broken you must give the buyer a refund.
What’s more, if you leave buying your packaging until the last minute, you’ll end up forking out more than necessary. Cut costs and recycle used jiffy bags and bubble wrap.
If you must shell out for brand new packaging, look online for the best deals. Retailers such as Amazon sell job lots of mailing bags, which come in a variety of sizes, for as little as £3.
Pound shops and other discount stores are also great for cheap packaging, whether it be parcel paper or bubble envelopes.
With each listing, you can list up to 12 photos for free. Take advantage of this so that potential buyers can see what you’re selling.
Adding multiple good-quality photos to your listing to help you increase sales and give your buyers a more accurate idea of what to expect – and reassure them that you’re a legitimate seller.
Aim for a well-lit, clutter-free, plain white background and always take photos from several angles highlighting the condition of the item. Be honest about any imperfections (nicks and scratches, etc.)
A clean kitchen table or counter could be good options. Use a plain white sheet if need be.
It’s also important to make sure you list your item in the right category; if you don’t, the chance of a good sale goes down.
For an extra fee, you can list your item in two categories to maximise your item’s visibility.
Building your eBay reputation as a trusted seller is very important in making cash on the online marketplace.
To build your eBay reputation, you need to get positive feedback from customers so that you can get at least 95% rate as a trusted seller. The best way to do this is to be the kind of seller you would want to buy from yourself. So, offer good customer service, describe the item accurately, reply to queries within 24 hours, and make sure you mail packages within the advertised period.
Establishing and maintaining buyer satisfaction helps you build a solid reputation as a trustworthy seller on eBay, and ultimately helps drive your sales activity.
If you’re a new seller with little or no feedback, buyers might be reluctant to make purchases from you.
So, before you start listing items, you might want to make a few small purchases to accumulate positive feedback, and to get used to the eBay process.
Take note of things like how they describe their items, postage times, and packaging. See if you can get any inspiration, or note anything you’d do better!
When you get questions about things you’re selling, reply as soon as you can. If you take days to reply, you might miss out on a sale. Ideally respond within 24 hours.
Once your listing goes live, don’t just sit back and hope for the best.
Promote your items on your social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Use relevant hashtags and get the word out there. Also, let your friends and family know so they can spread the word too.
Just because something seems too large, impractical, or expensive to ship, it doesn’t mean you can’t sell it. Simply offer the “collection in person” option – this means that the buyer and seller can find a convenient time for the item to be picked up.
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. So even if you think some of the things you’ve got lying around are useless, think again!
Even broken or not-working items can sell for parts or to enthusiasts. Sometimes if you sell a bundle of broken electronics you can make good money on them. Just always be honest about the condition of the item.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
Relist unsold items and tweak your posting to grab the attention of buyers. For instance, changing the title, adding a better description, and changing the format of your listing (buy it now or auction-style) can all help.
Take new photographs or add extra photographs to your listing. Photos are absolutely key, so note how other successful eBayers are doing it and put in the effort!
Are you an eBay ace?
Have you had some weird or wonderful experiences selling on eBay?
Check out our quick-start eBay guide for more tips, and share your best eBay selling tips in the comments below.
Also, check out our Sell Your Stuff hub for more ways to sell your unwanted goods!