How to Make Money on eBay – User Guide
Go to your preferred search engine and search eBay. Every country has an eBay site tailored to suit it. When searching, go specifically to your country’s site. The U.S eBay site is www.ebay.com. Visit the seller information pages.
That is where you will find their selling policies, thoroughly discussed. Play around with the search features on eBay. Check out some of the listings. Just seeing other sellers’ listings and understanding the search function will help when you decide to make your listings.
Go to the “Sort” menu and change the options to see how the search results will change. Take note of the listings that come up at the top and those that seem to get multiple bids. Usually, eBay gives you a name. However, if you pick an attractive name for yourself, your chances of selling may increase.
Your name should not be offensive in any way and it should not devalue what you are selling. According to eBay username policies: eBay usernames should not have less than two characters. Symbols cannot be part of a username; this includes the hyphen, apostrophe and the ‘at’ sign.
The username can either be an email address or the name of a website. You cannot have the word “eBay” anywhere in your username. It should also not begin with “e” followed by numbers. This policy is to prevent users from posing as eBay employees and to stop sellers from redirecting buyers to less reputable websites. Unless you own a trademarked name, you cannot use it as your username on eBay. Avoid unprofessional names because they are likely to repel potential buyers.
eBay can also block a name if it is obscene or hateful. There are so many sellers on eBay, so it is possible that your desired name is taken. Check to confirm this and think of an alternative name. It is possible to change the User ID (only once every 30 days). Avoid changing it too many times, though, lest you lose your repeat customers.
- Create an Account
On eBay’s main page, there is a “sign in” link somewhere at the top. Enter your name and email address then decide on a password. After this step, you will be prompted to select a username.
- eBay will send you an email for you to confirm your account.
- If you already have an existing business, you can open a business account. Go to the sign-up page and look for the “Start a Business Account” link. Fill in the required information.
- Set Up a Payment Method
The payment methods accepted on eBay vary depending on the country. If you are in the U.S, you should either have a PayPal account or a merchant credit card account. Either use the links on the eBay site to open a PayPal account or go to www.PayPal.com.
- Check out eBay’s payment policies to see what methods are allowed in your country.
- Buy Several Small Items to Build Your Reputation
To ensure safety on the platform, eBay encourages sellers and buyers to leave feedback. Buyers always check out a seller’s feedback ratings. Buying some items will quickly give you positive ratings.
- Buy some things that you need or want and pay quickly for positive feedback. You can always resell the items if you do not need them.
- If you have no feedback, potential buyers will be hesitant to buy from you.
- Complete Your Profile Page
If you are looking to sell small items, you may not need an elaborate profile. But a picture and a little information about yourself will prove your legitimacy to potential buyers.
- If you are selling expensive items, you will have to say more about yourself, more so if you are new.
- Potential sellers read the information to try and know you better. Display your credentials.
- Choose What to Sell
- Sell What You Are Knowledgeable About
eBay is a great platform to show off what you have. Specialize in things that you know and enjoy.
- Know What Is Not Allowed
Obviously, you cannot sell hazardous and illegal items such as live animals, drugs, illicit services and human body parts. There are other items that are allowed but restricted. For instance, those that fall under the “adults only” category. Before you start selling, check the banned and restricted items policies. Failure to comply may see your account permanently banned or suspended.
- Start Small or Just Sell What You Already Have
There are selling limits imposed on new sellers such as only five items in a month. If you have not decided what exactly to sell, you will be taking a big risk if you create an inventory without selling a few items first. List a few things and see what gets the attention of customers and the involved logistics.
- A wise thing to do is selling things around your home that you no longer use.
- Play around first before building an inventory.
- Know Where and How to Source Your Items
Sourcing items for sale takes effort and time. Before you begin, decide on a sourcing method that you are comfortable with.
- You can even find great bargains on eBay. Maybe look for badly presented and underpriced items or those with misspelled titles.
- Garage sales and thrift stores can also be useful.
- Other places to find great bargains include warehouse, outlet and discount stores. These ones are better because they might have a return policy.
- Consider the Time It Will Take You to List Each Item
Listing items is not that easy. You need to write descriptions, take pictures and know how every item will be shipped. It is an easier process, though, if you sell similar items.
- Buy items in bulk, if you can, or try to look for items that are similar.
- Find products that are easy to photograph, ship and describe.
- Find products that can be shipped in the same way.
- Consider Storage and Shipping Logistics
It may be a little difficult to earn profit from heavy and bulky items. They take up so much space and shipping them could be expensive.
- When buyers want to buy an item, they check the total cost and that includes shipping. Consider those when setting the price of your item.
- Do not take the issue of space lightly. Your stock may take up a lot of space and this might be a problem if you are selling from home. Consider setting a separate room for your business.
- How Quickly Can You Move Your Inventory? How Long Can You Wait?
Trends are always changing and sometimes they change too quickly. If you are not careful, you might end up with stale stock. In other cases, the interested buyer or collector may take some time to turn up.
- Know What Is Trending
A lot of people search and bid for popular items. Veteran sellers are usually led by their intuition and know what is hot. The good news is that eBay has a way to help you know what is popular.
- There is a hot items’ page on eBay, check it out. Fashion accessories, gold, jewelry, brand name clothing, football shirts and electronics are very common here.
- Check out completed listings. This will let you know how much a certain item sells, how much it sells for and when it is sold the most.
- There are products made specifically for sellers to conduct their research. You will, however, must pay for them.
- Understand that popular items will have so many sellers. The competition for buyers will be high.
- Listings That Sell
- Research Your Target Market
Go to eBay and search for items like what you are planning to sell. Check the completed and current listings.
- Put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer and take note of the photos and information that you will find useful.
- Take note of what makes the seller appear trustworthy and incorporate it in your listings.
- Sign in and Go to “Sell”
- Create a Title for Your Listings
- Your title is the line that gets your item noticed. In addition to attracting potential buyers who are searching for items on eBay, your title lets them decide whether your listing is worth looking at.
- All relevant words should be included in the title and make sure they are correctly spelled. If the information in the title is too little, fewer people will notice your listing. You may end up selling your items at a very low price or even not selling at all.
- Maintain relevance. Words such as “excellent” and “cool” should not appear in the title. Remember that the space you have is limited so only enter the words that people are likely to search for.
- If the space allows, include alternative phrasings and spellings.
- Take Quality Photos of Your Items
Clear photos attract buyers. Your listing should have at least one photo—the more the photos, the more confident customers will feel.
- Make use of good lighting. Natural light is always better than your camera’s flash.
- Edit the photos and enhance any features that may require to be clearer.
- Take many photographs from all angles. You can put up to 12 photos (for free) per listing.
- If an item has any defects, make sure they show in the photo.
- Get rid of dirt and clutter in the background before taking a photo. Neutral backgrounds are the best.
- Do not use photos from other sellers or other sites on the internet. This is fraudulent and dishonest. Moreover, you could get sued for copyright infringement.
- Write a Description for Your Product
The description should have all the information that is relevant to what you are selling such as compatibility with other items, manufacturer, measurements, condition, etc.
- Be careful not to add too much unnecessary information. A lot of information allows for search engines to find you easily, but a potential buyer can also get bored quickly.
- Important information should be somewhere at the beginning of your listing.
- If you decide to design a listing, keep it simple. Avoid clutter and elements that may make your listing display poorly on mobile devices.
- The text font should be of moderate size and easy to read. Do not use clashing colors and too much animation.
- If your item has any defects, be clear about it. If it has a significant problem, avoid selling it all. You will ruin your reputation.
- Select a Selling Format
Here, you choose the one that best suits your item and one that you find convenient.
- Online auctions: the auctions last for 1-10 days. They are great because they increase your chances of selling at a high price. They also encourage healthy competition among buyers. This format will suit you if your items are highly sought after.
- Buy-It-Now items: with this format, the item is shipped immediately the buyer buys it.
- Consider Your Buying Price, eBay Fees, your time, and shipping costs when setting a price
- For auction items, you can change the price before someone places the first bid while for fixed price items you can change it any time.
- When the starting bid is low, more buyers will be attracted to your item which is a good thing. If few people are interested in it, you may end up selling it at a very low price.
- You can set a “reserve” price. eBay will charge you extra, though, and buyers do not like this.
- Avoid overcharging for handling and shipping. Nowadays, many sellers offer free shipping and eBay will boost the visibility of your item if you do. Increase the Buy-It-Now price or opening bid and offer your buyers free shipping.
- Take the invoices from eBay seriously and pay on time. Consider the fees and business expenses.
- Choose When Your Auction Will Start and End
The duration of an auction will determine the price that you sell your item for. If you need to sell at a higher price, schedule the end of your auction at a peak buying time.
- Weekends are a great time to end an auction because then, the traffic is high.
- For seasonal items, consider the time of the year when they are in high demand.
- eBay has planned promotions for some categories. Be sure to check them out.
- Maintain a Friendly Tone
Some sellers tend to intimidate potential buyers. Imagine buying from a store as the seller watches your every move like a hawk. Approach your customers in good faith, not as potential wrongdoers or thieves.
- While writing your policies, make them shorter than your item description.
- It is wise to offer a return policy. You will qualify for eBay discounts and buyers will want to buy even more. Besides, it is very unlikely that a buyer will return an item.
- During an auction, answer your buyers’ questions. Be patient, friendly, clear and professional. Also respond promptly.
- Before You Save, Double-Check Everything
At the “Overview” page, crosscheck everything and then click “Submit”. eBay will send you an email telling you that your product is now on eBay.
- Check that you have spelled words correctly. Your listing will be easier to read if you use proper punctuation and capitalization.
- If there are any mistakes, fix them.
- Completing the Transaction
- Watch the Auction
Watching the auction will give you an idea. You will know what is working and what is not, then see what to adjust so the listing can be appealing to potential buyers.
- If necessary, end the auction. However, do not make a habit of it. Only use it if you really must (when the item is broken, stolen, or lost).
- Set a low reserve price. If you are not receiving any bids, consider lowering the reserve price.
- You can block buyers if you do not ship to their country, they have unpaid item strikes (two or more), or they do not have a PayPal account.
- Be Ready to Ship as Soon as the Item Has Been Paid For
- Package the Item Securely and Neatly
You do not want fragile items to get broken. An excellently packaged product is also a good impression and a buyer may feel confident buying again from you.
- If a Customer Pays Fast, Leave a Positive Feedback
Take the opportunity to encourage the customer to come back.
- Promote Your Listings
- Join eBay Groups If You Sell Handmade Goods or Original Art
These groups consist of artists/crafters who may be collectors or buyers. Engage with hobbyists and be friendly. Avoid flame wars. If you see something you like, compliment.
- Make Use of Social Networking
Make a blog about your listings. If you have Facebook and Twitter accounts, share them there.
- When Setting the Minimum Bid or Total Price, Factor in the Shipping Price
Free or cheap shipping will attract buyers and increase their chances of buying.
- Sell Cheap Items to Build Your Reputation
When two sellers are selling similar or almost similar products, buyers will go for the one with a higher rating.
- Once You Have Established Your Business, Consider Opening an eBay Shop or Store
You will have your own URL that people can search via search engines. You will be able to sell different categories of items.
- Tips from Seasoned Sellers
- Only Sell What You Can Afford to Lose
- Take photos of your products as though there is no description and describe them as though there are no photos.
- Find a book about selling and read it.
- You will not get rich overnight. Be patient and avoid scammers.
- Do not sell popular and expensive items as a new seller.
Many eBay sellers start by selling some of the things they do not use around their home—and not without a good reason. These items are usually in perfect condition and they are more likely to bring in more money if you sell them on eBay compared to a garage sale.
Almost everyone has items around the house that they do not need—all they do is eat up space and gather dust.
Selling them on eBay is a great way to test the waters. If you do not have items lying around your home to sell, start with something that you know well. Look for items that have demand; something that people are buying. Avoid selling only what you like or the coolest, trendiest things you can find.
You need to sell what the buyers want so you can make a profit. For any item you consider selling, do an eBay search to see how many people are selling the same and whether it is on sale.
If there are too many sellers, maybe reconsider. If there is no seller offering what you want to sell, do a little research and see if it because nobody wants to buy it, or it is just because no other seller has thought of selling it. When too many sellers are offering a product, check the biddings to find out how strong the market is.
- Issues to Consider
- Cost: cost does not just mean the price of the item. Factor in additional expenses like how much it will cost to ship the item to you.
- Storage: is there room around your home to store the item safely as you wait for a buyer? Shipping: after a customer buys your item, how will you ship it to the buyer? Factor in the cost and labor issues. Extremely heavy, usually shaped or fragile items can be challenging to ship. Product life cycle: for how long will your item be in demand? Some items may be in high demand today but become very hard to sell the next day. Season: before you start selling an item, consider what time of the year it is. You cannot sell sweaters and heavy coats during summer, for instance.
- Where to Find What to Sell
Your home: search thoroughly around your home for things you no longer use. Check the garage, attic and closet. Flea markets: these can be an awesome source of items that will sell very well on eBay.
Yard and garage sales: spend some time every week buying merchandise from garage sales. You will find many items that will sell on eBay for way more than you paid for them. Estate sales: you may not have much luck if a professional is handling the sale.
However, you can purchase entire estates then pick and choose what to sell on eBay. Established retailers: find a store that needs to move products that are not selling. Discount stores: this will be very profitable especially if you buy out of season and wait until the items are in demand.
Friends and family: ask the people you know if they have things that they would like to give away. When you become a seasoned eBay seller, you can start buying your merchandise from wholesalers.
Selling things online is way easier than doing a yard sale. However, you still have a decision to make between Amazon and eBay. Everyone seemed to use this company about 10 years ago, but it has since kind of lost its flavor.
Over the recent past, it seems to be making a few improvements and snapping up reputable companies. How does it make money? PayPal must be the first answer here. It is profitable for eBay and contributed to almost half of their revenue in 2014.
Back to comparing it with Amazon. When eBay was the deal years ago, they charged an insertion fee and when the item sold, a value fee. Currently, eBay gives every seller not less than 20 free listings. The final value fee is still there, though. They have tried to simplify their final value fee calculations; so, they only charge 10% of the sale price as the final value fee.
Subscription packages are available for power sellers. For a monthly fee, they get 150 to 2500 free listings, lower final value fees and a lower insertion fee (conditional). Sellers can also list their items or upgrade existing listings at a fixed price.
Fixed price listings and auction listings attract the same fees and they both take advantage of customers who need to buy an item urgently. The fee structure for Amazon is more complex than eBay’s. Amazon, sellers have two options: either list as Professionals or as an Individuals.
Individuals attract $0.99 listing fee per item and a referral fee (6% to 45% depending on category). In addition, you are charged a variable closing fee (not variable for video, DVD, books and media, you will pay $1.35 per item).
A seller can list their products in 20 to 30 different categories. Amazon sets and collects the shipping rates for BMDV (books, media, DVD, video). Buyers love BMDV categories because the total fee is easily calculated without checking the shipping rates of the seller.
Payment is done via bank transfers and the Amazon’s Fraud Protection service offers protection to sellers. eBay’s selling fees used to be expensive and complicated but ever since they streamlined their fees on May 1st, the structure is easy and looks simple.
Amazon, on the other hand, can be frustrating and confusing. It would be easy to show this using sample calculations but for both sites, structures and fees vary by category, payment option, and item weight. Choosing Amazon over eBay has some advantages. First, the site makes the buyer feel as if he is buying from Amazon directly.
There is the “1-click buying” option and you can complete a transaction without leaving the site. A seller can also choose to have his products stored and shipped from Amazon’s warehouses. A seller may choose eBay over Amazon because, then, he or she can personalize and customize listings. Also make listings more appealing and attract potential buyers. eBay has a new Valet service that gives sellers the option to have their products listed and even sold by eBay.
The two companies have seller protection services and a way to contact the buyer should an issue arise. Setting up a seller’s account on eBay is easier than it is on Amazon while the payment process is better on Amazon. A panel of experts chose to unravel 51 tips to help you become a successful seller on eBay.
Do Your Homework
- Pick a day and take the time to explore the eBay site.
- Acquire step-by-step guidance. www.ebay.com/education is a helpful place.
What to Sell?
- Start with what you know.
- Be keen and observant. Take advantage of opportunities to buy items.
- Avoid starting out with a single product or product line. Try two and cross promote them.
- Explore other categories to know what is hot. Check out www.ebay.com/sellercentral.
- Try being a trading assistant.
- Do not be too careful and take calculated risks occasionally.
- If you are selling something you are not familiar with, do not write a description before educating yourself.
- Become a verified eBay member.
- Be wise when choosing your eBay user ID. Let it be identifiable with what you are selling and descriptive.
- Have a different user ID for your business.
- Be organized in everything.
- Have a designated photography area in your business location.
- Take outstanding photos of your items.
Create Your Listing
- HTML format looks more professional.
- Avoid all capital letters in your title.
- In your listings, give a specific and complete item description. Include many detailed photos.
- Clearly outline your terms and conditions and warranty, guarantee, returns and shipping policies.
- Create a listing schedule.
- If you are an advanced user, try the seller’s assistant pro service.
While You Are Selling
- Feed the frenzy. To feed a bidding frenzy, set no reserve and a low opening bid prize.
- Avoid getting stuck in a rut.
- Just because your items are selling a lot does not mean that you are making profits. Evaluate.
- As soon as you are notified of a sold item, respond with eBay’s checkout system.
- Arrange shipping immediately, once the buyer makes a payment.
- Set reasonable handling and shipping costs.
- Have regular shipping days.
- Save time with the postage service from PayPal.
- Use the USPS web site to schedule courier pickups.
- Track a package to ensure its delivery.
- Always give punctual, courteous and prompt responses to your customers’ questions.
- Always remember the customer is king.
- Give customers the same treatment that you would give guests in your house.
- Remove roadblocks that may hinder buyers from buying your products such as not accepting a PayPal payment.
- Respond quickly to buyers’ emails.
- Set aside time to post feedback.
- Avoid being emotional while posting feedback.
- Keep your books in order using accounting software.
- Have a business or premium PayPal account.
- Keep track of your expenses.
- Use eBay keywords once you have settled.
- Monitor your competition.
- Sometimes, hold some items and wait until your competition sells out.
- Nurture your customer database.
- Cross-promote using your email signature.
- Open an eBay store only after you have completed several transactions.
- Take advantage of cross-promotion tools if you have an eBay store.
- Use services like Endicia when you become a PowerSeller.
- Do not just target buyers in the USA.
- Only accept US dollars when selling to non-US buyers.
Sometimes eBay sellers and buyers commit trading violations in their attempts to change the outcome of a sale or an auction. A good number of these violations are not seller exclusive or buyer exclusive—they apply to both.
The nature of the violation does not matter; this kind of bad behavior affects every member of the eBay community. As a treasured member of that community, you have a responsibility of looking out for these violations to ensure that eBay remains a safe venue where people can conduct their business.
If you notice a violation, do not be afraid of notifying the eBay Security Center. Unluckily, you may sometimes come across sellers who are not community-minded, and they may try to interfere with your sales or auctions.
This interference can come in several forms, for instance, a seller may try to “steal” bidders or drive up bids illegally. Shill bidding: you are not allowed to place a bid on an auction with the intention of artificially inflating the final value.
This undermines the trust of the community. Shill bidding is a serious issue and may violate the Federal wire fraud laws. It is a felony and you do not want to play around with it. Shill bidding has always been a part of auctions.
To avoid being suspected of shill bidding, family members sharing the same computer and people who live together should not bid on one another’s items.
It is not that difficult to spot shill bidders, even for users that are not conversant with IP addresses and other technical stuff. If you check the auction history of a bidder, you will be able to determine their bidding pattern. It is suspicious when one keeps on bidding but never wins. Transaction interference: you may receive an email from a seller on eBay offering to sell you an item, like the one you are bidding on, for a cheaper price.
This is what is known as transaction interference. It can hinder sellers from getting the highest possible bid. Transaction interception: an eBay scalawag can monitor the closing auctions and when they are over, they email the winner pretending to be the seller. They skillfully craft the email, making it look authentic and ask for payment. This is more than just a trading violation; it is stealing.
Fee avoidance or circumvention: this is where people go around the system to avoid paying eBay fees. There are so many ways in which an eBay user can commit this violation—sometimes, they do not even realize it: Avoid using the contact information of an eBay member to try and sell them a listed item off the eBay site.
If a reserve price for an auction item was not met, do not use the contact information of a buyer to try and sell them the item off the site. Do not prematurely close an auction so you can privately sell it to someone who has offered a higher price via email.
You can only sell unsuccessful bidders duplicates of the auction item through the Second Option. Excessive shipping charges: the handling and shipping fees that you charge must be reasonable. They should not be disproportionate to the item. Non-selling seller: when someone wins an auction, you cannot refuse payment and fail to complete the transaction.