Selling on Auction Sites
eBay vs. Garage Sales
Becoming an eBay Power Seller
My Story: Selling at Auctions
Lots of folks are looking for ways to supplement their income. What about selling on Ebay or other auction sites? I have bought many things on eBay, and I have found some really great deals. I've also corresponded with many sellers who were stay-at-home moms or retirees looking for extra income. Some even buy at second-hand stores and resell. It sounds fabulous. Does anyone know anything about the selling process or have any advice on how to do it successfully?
How to Sell on eBay: Spend the Necessary Time
I am a stay-at-home mom and I, too, have dabbled in eBay. It's a fairly simple process. You list items for sale at auction for a small fee and a small percentage of the selling price. Auctions last seven days, and you work with the winning bidder to make shipping arrangements. Of course, there are more details, but that's pretty much the basic idea. I recently went to a second-hand store and purchased a brown paper bag full of clothes for $1. I turned around and sold them on eBay and came away with about $60 in profit.
The only drawback that I find to eBay is that it is a little time consuming and then you have to haul all of your items off to the post office to ship once the auctions are over. But, if you have the time to devote to it, it can definitely be a nice little side job to bring in some extra cash.
How to Sell on eBay: Get Familiar With It
The best tip I can offer is to familiarize yourself with Ebay by following the auction of some items that are similar to the ones you plan to sell. Get an idea of what they sell for and the routine. eBay has extensive "how to sell" help sections and public forums where buyers and sellers can discuss issues. All of this is available to anyone without risk. I have successfully bought several items without a problem. Canadian sellers need a credit card to register. Good luck and have fun! One person's junk is another's treasure!
How to Sell on eBay: Do Your Homework
My friend and I sell mostly clothes on eBay. We buy from thrift stores and garage sales. Mostly, we sell items that are in style and have designer labels.
- Read fashion magazines to find out who the top designers are and any other available literature on the subject. In other words, do your research.
- Next, check out the fee structure on eBay and PayPal (other billing services as well). For instance, eBay has a basic insertion fee that is based on the amount you start the bidding on an item, extra picture fee, ten day verses seven day fee, and final value fees (possibly other fees). You might need $3 (or more) to pay just the fees, so do the research.
- Do a search on items similar to what you want to sell. You want to see what others are getting prior to selling anything.
- Decide what your profit needs to be minus expenses. Now go out and buy things that are in very good condition that will cover all fees and expenses, and can provide a profit. Remember, everything doesn't sell at the starting price, so don't get discouraged. Just try to sell something different next time.
How to Sell on eBay: Start Slow and Stay Organized
I've been making extra money selling on Ebay since 1999, and lately, I've even been paid to do consultations. Here's a bit of useful advice for anyone looking to make extra income from online auctions:
- Sell what you know. (And if you don't know, research it first.)
- Be prepared to respond to emails and ship in a timely manner.
- Sign up for PayPal or some other similar online payment option. (I originally started by only accepting money orders, which is technically possible, but you can lose a lot of potential buyers that way. Also, it slows everything down.)
- Be as organized as possible.
- Start out slow, listing three to five items per week until you get the hang of it. Also, be prepared for the fact that people are generally leery of those who do not have feedback ratings yet, so be prepared to list items that aren't particularly valuable at first (and save the higher dollar items for later.)
- Be very clear about everything on your listings. Describe the item in as much detail as possible. Maybe run a spell check in a word processing program before pasting it into the description field. Describe your shipping options. For instance, I don't ship UPS because it's inconvenient for me, but buyers will need to know if you do since UPS will not leave delivery items without a signature.
How to Sell on eBay: Find a Niche
If you can find a good niche, it can be great! I live near the only outlet for a nationally-known, high-end breastfeeding attire company. I go to their outlet and buy up quality returned merchandise and sell it on Ebay. Although at home with three small children, I cleared about $10,000 the first year, and I was able to serve lots of other women who couldn't afford to pay retail for these clothes. I have found that other local women have discovered the same great idea, so there's more competition now, but if you can find your own niche, it can be great! Alternatively, you can just sell your own "stuff." It's amazing what folks will buy!
Michelle in Massachusetts
How to Sell on eBay: Sell What You Know
My family started to sell on eBay when my daughter was 17 and wanted a car. It just happened that we also owned a lot of antiques and collectibles. I was tired of dusting and my daughter needed a car. $10,000 dollars and a '97 Saturn later, we cleaned house and she was tooling to school and work in her fully-paid-for, three-year-old car.
I suggest you sell what you know. Are you knowledgeable about beanie babies? Or maybe Norman Rockwell plates? Everyone knows about something and that is what you should sell. You must be honest and clear about the item's condition and be a power shipper, so items don't get damaged in the mail. We have a standing return policy if anything isn't right or arrived damaged. Your rating is very important. We made a few mistakes early on and learned from them.
I wrote out descriptions for my daughter and she did the photos and listed the items. Back in those days, you needed your own website from which to bring in the photos. Now, it is a breeze to list items in minutes. I still spring clean on eBay with decorative items we no longer need or want and have cleared out old tools from our business successfully.
Take the Next Step
- To check out ebay.com, click here.
Debt from my past is preventing me from saving for my future! Tell us: Yes, debt is hindering my ability to save and I could use help dealing with it! or No, debt is not a problem but I am trying to get ahead financially!
More Money Tips & Tools
- 10 places to look for $500 in savings
- 9 savvy strategies to save for a rainy-day fund
- 5 big bills you can cut fast
- Money-saving secrets of the rich and frugal
- Is debt consolidation a good idea?
- Ways to save on medically related equipment not covered by insurance
- Retirement strategies for a non-working spouse
- This week's Readers' Tips