How To Start Selling On eBay (For Beginners)

Creating an income online can be done in endless ways. Blogging, selling eBooks, affiliate marketing, dropshipping, etc. My boyfriend and I are both self-employed and due to the coronavirus, our income has taken quite a big hit. In order to pay our monthly bills, we decided to give eBay a go. On April 4th, 2020 we listed our first item and in the following weeks, we sold for over £2,000 worth of items!

I know that there are many other eBay sellers out there that make a lot more money from their eBay stores, but because this was our first ever month selling on eBay without any previous experience, I’m very proud and happy with the result! If you’re looking for a way to create a bit of extra cash online, maybe eBay could do that for you. Today, I want to share with you everything I’ve learned about selling on eBay in the last month.

How much did we make in our first month?

As mentioned in the introduction, we listed our first item on April 4th 2020. Since then, we sold 183 items and still got many others listed. We’re actually waiting for a ton of new items to arrive at our apartment so we can list and sell them in May. In total, we sold for £2,392.38!

how to sell on ebay for beginners
Our eBay account on 2nd of May 2020

At the moment, we made £1,043.58 in profit. This is the number after shipping, eBay & PayPal fees, envelopes, buying a printer (nope, we didn’t have a printer prior to our eBay adventure) and ordering a lot more inventory. Currently, the profit margins sit at around 45%, but since we’ve not sold all our inventory yet – this will only go up the more we sell.

If you’re wondering how on Earth we managed to get that many listings when new eBay accounts can only list up to 10 items. We asked for an extension on our account as soon as we listed our first 10 items and got it upgraded to 100 items. They say that you can only ask for an extension once a month because eBay needs to review your account, but we had already filled our 100 items within a week or two. Luckily, I came across a tweet from Jack Create. He said that you can email them again to get a huger item limit. So we did! Twice, actually haha! Both times, they reviewed our account and saw that we had great reviews and sold a lot. First, we got it upped to 180 items and a week later we got 360 items. A little persistence goes a long way!

I also want to make clear that we don’t spend a lot of time on our eBay business. Every morning, we take 30-60 minutes to prepare orders, create a manifest for the post office and drop them off. When we get new deliveries for items, we take between 1-3 hours to price the items and list them all. I also try to spend around 30 minutes every other day to double-check prices and see if we have to adjust any of ours. Considering how much we made from it in just our first month, I’m very happy with it!

Why Sell On eBay?

Selling online can be done on so many platforms. You can use Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, Amazon, start your own Shopify store etc. So why would you chose to sell on eBay? Especially because they charge 10% fees and PayPal also takes a cut?

The reason we decided to sell on eBay is because eBay gets a lot of free traffic. Rather then having to set up our own store, than pay for advertising to drive traffic to the store, we much rather pay a small fee and get unlimited free traffic to our products. Just think about how many people visit eBay every single day looking for the products you want to sell – there are TONS.

How Do I Start Selling On eBay?

Firstly, you need to set up an account on eBay. The best practice is to use an older account. If you have ever bought anything on eBay, I recommend using that account. This way, the account won’t get flagged for suddenly listing a ton of items. Plus, any good reviews you had from being an excellent buyer will help your sales too!

If you don’t already have an eBay account, I would recommend to buy a few cheap items first to get some good reviews to support your account. I would also recommend to not start selling hundreds of products right away, you need to build trust with eBay first. I opened my eBay account back in 2013 and I had a handful reviews on there from products I had bought over the years – that really helped me start selling things on the platform because eBay knew that I paid for things I bought and that my account was already seven years old.

What products should I sell?

Firstly, you need to decide on what you want to sell on eBay. You can literally sell (almost) anything on the platform. We got quite lucky because the items we sell are currently on a huge hype – a lot of people are looking for them and want to get them as quickly as possible. The way we started was to sell some items that we had laying around the apartment and didn’t need anymore. One niche really took off and we decided to order more online to then re-sell the items individually on eBay. When looking for items to sell, I recommend doing the following:

  • Make sure there is a (big) demand for it.
  • Check if you can sell the items with a profit margin (keep in mind eBay and PayPal take a fee!)
  • Can you order more of these items if you run out of inventory?
  • Am I allowed to sell these items on eBay? Are they risky? (Check out this list of items to avoid selling on eBay)

How to create a listing

After deciding on what product you want to sell, you need to make a listing. You can either sell the items for a specific buy-it-now price or you can start an auction. We personally don’t have a lot of experience with the auctions, so I won’t want to give too much advice on it. We only sold three items by auction and it went fine, but we prefer selling them buy-it-now. This is because in the niche we sell, a lot of products are on bids. From our experience, we sell a lot more and a lot quicker by listing them as buy-it-now with fast&free shipping so people don’t have to wait a week for an auction to end. Here are some tips when creating your own listings:

  • Use a lot of descriptive words. Writing keyword-heavy titles and descriptions are a must on eBay. This way, your products are easy to find for those who want to buy them.
  • Take basic photos for your listing. There is no need to go all out when taking photos for your eBay listing. Just make sure it’s put on a white background (or just on your table) and show the product properly. Take photos from different angles and make sure there is nothing in the photo to distract the buyer. It’s actually better to take photos from your phone compared to taking super professional photos because it makes your listing more authentic. Rather than it seeming like you’re a big company (or dropshipping), it shows that you are an individual seller that is more trustworthy.

How to price your products

When creating your listing, you also need to know how to price your products accordingly. The way we price our items is to compare it to our competition. Who is selling the same item on eBay right now and what do they charge? Check what their products look like, if they charge for shipping (and how much) and how fast they ship. If you can do any of these things better than your competition, you can charge a bit more for your product.

Keep in mind that eBay takes 10% of your price. This also includes how much the buyer pays for shipping. This is why we have chosen to always include free shipping to the UK and charge an additional 10% on top of the cost of overseas shipping. This way, we don’t lose any money on shipping abroad.

Even though we include free shipping to the UK, this is calculated into the final price. For example, a competitor is selling his item for £10 with £1 shipping. We then list our item for £10.99 with free shipping. Because shipping only costs £0.76, we make more profit compared to our competition. We also get the fast&free badge, making it more attractive to potential buyers.

Shipping your parcels

After having sold your items, it’s time to ship them. Always make sure to ship your items as soon as possible (or at least before the promised shipment date). For our first month, we shipped all items ordered before 2 PM on the same day. Because we stated that we could ship items the same day, we got a little “fast & free” badge on our items. I definitely think this helps to sell your items faster!

Pack your items appropriately. Make sure they are wrapped properly and minimize any damage that could be done to the item while being shipped. Because we sold a lot of collectable cards, we made sure they were sleeved and are shipped in a bubble-wrapped envelope to avoid them getting damaged.

Always get proof of postage. Never just post an item through the postbox! Especially if it’s shipped without tracking. We’ve been there, done that… If an item gets lost in the mail (or a buyer claims they haven’t received it), you need proof that your item has actually been posted in order to claim any money back. We found the best way to do this is by signing up for Drop & Go, creating a manifest with all your parcels and getting a date stamp from the post office. This way, you have proof of every item that has been shipped.

For items that are shipped to the UK, so far we’ve simply bought the eBay labels on the website for shipping. Because they are small letters and don’t weigh a lot, we ship them first class for £0.76 with eBay. For items that are sent abroad, we use Royal Mail’s shipping instead because it’s a lot cheaper. With Royal Mail, we can ship them for £6.41 instead of £12+ with eBay. I have noticed that we ship quite a few items abroad because we offer very cheap shipping to countries outside the UK! It’s worth comparing the prices with your post office to make sure you can send items more affordably and keep more profit.

Staying organised

One thing I would really urge you to do is to stay organized with your eBay business. Especially when you just start out, it may not seem necessary to keep an up-to-date spreadsheet of all your items, but it is really REALLY important to do so.

You want to keep track on what you are currently selling, what has sold and for how much, how much the shipping cost, where it is shipped to (and tracking code when available). This also helps you calculate how much fees you have to pay to eBay and how much profit is actually yours at the end of it. It may take a little longer to do, but it really will save you when you have more than 50 items listed. I’m super glad we started with one from the start and we will keep using it in the future.

Extra Tips For Selling On eBay:

  • Ask for feedback from your buyers: Getting a lot of good feedback on your eBay account is a must for continuing to sell on the platform. The more positive feedback you can collect, the better.
  • Avoid any negative feedback: As for receiving good feedback, you want to stay clear of negative feedback at all costs. If a buyer claims they haven’t received their item, try to solve it as soon as possible. This way, you keep your seller status high!
  • Keep track of your prices and competition: If an item isn’t selling as quickly as expected, check the current competition. Thousands of items are listed every single day on eBay and there is a big possibility that someone has listed a similar item for a cheaper price.
  • Answer messages and questions promptly: To keep your eBay status top-notch, make sure to reply to messages and questions from buyers as soon as possible.

I hope this blog post has helped you understand the basics of selling on eBay a little better and inspired you to take on this new online adventure. I’d love to hear from you what you are planning on selling in the comments!

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