A blog about "nothing"!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Selling on Ebay

I've mentioned before that I've been selling stuff on Ebay to clean my house out, primarily stuff that I inherited when my mom passed away, but also a bunch of my own stuff.  I've noticed that when I tell people that I'm selling on Ebay, I get one of two reactions--"gosh, that must be really complicated" or "I should try that, I have stuff I want to get rid of, it should be easy".   Let me just say that it's neither complicated or easy!  I think it falls somewhere in between, but it IS time consuming and there are things you need to do beforehand to avoid feeling overwhelmed or end up completely disappointed.

The basics:  first you need to set up an Ebay account.  You may have already purchased stuff on Ebay, and you can use that account to sell with as well.  There are some things you need to set in your selling preferences in advance (ie.--selling internationally, who can't bid, etc).  You then also need to set up a Paypal account if you don't already have one, and need to add information to that so you can receive payments.  Setting this stuff up well in advance of listing items will save you a lot of time so that when you are ready to sell, you can get moving.

Next:  do some research before you list items.  A lot of times something you think will sell well might not, and vice versa.  You need to not only look at what is currently available for sale but also look at completed auctions.  Sure, someone may ask $35.00 for Fun In The Sun Barbie, but did anyone actually pay that for it?  This helps give you an idea as to whether or not an item is worth listing and what price to start it at.  Keep in mind that both Ebay and PayPal charge you fees based on selling price as well as shipping fees!  My general rule of thumb is if I can't sell it for $5 or more, I donate it.  There are plenty of people who sell stuff for less than that, and they probably do okay, but for the limited amount of time that I have to dedicate to this, it isn't worth it for me.

So--you know what you want to sell, you have your accounts set up--what's next?  First you need to photograph your item.  There used to be a time when Ebay would let you list stuff without photos, but not anymore.  You can put 12 photos with your item at no charge, and I've found the more photos you have, the better.  You don't want them to be high resolution either, so either use a lower setting on your camera, or edit them.  Next, find a box that your item will fit in and weigh it.  I can't stress how important this step is!!!  I am usually pretty good about this, but recently I sold an item that I thought would fit in a box I had, only to find out it didn't--argh!!!!  I wasted almost an entire morning just trying to find a box for it to fit in, and then I lost money on my shipping fee because it ended up costing more than what I had charged.   Once you have that all out of the way, you can go to the USPS website and figure out what it is going to cost to ship it, or you can use the shipping calculator on Ebay that only requires you to put the weight and the box dimensions in.  To me the shipping part is the worst part of the whole process.

Now you are ready to list your item.  Be sure to give a good description of your item, I am always amazed at how bad some of the descriptions are on Ebay--and I'm sure those people wonder why their items don't sell, or why they have issues with buyers after the sale.  Be honest about it, if the item has a scratch on it, the box is dinged--whatever--be sure to state it.   You might get a little less for it, but you aren't going to get negative feedback for it either. 

Buy It Now, Auction--which is best????  I've done them all, and it really is kind of a personal thing.  If you are someone who loves the thrill of the end of the auction, then the traditional auction route might be fun.  Just be sure to list your item so that your starting price is the minimum amount you are willing to take for it.  You an also do auctions that can be either--not a huge fan of this, but have sold a few things this way.  Buy It Now is currently my favorite, either they want it or they don't, you only have to monitor your sold items.  I list mine as 30 day Buy It Now, after the 30 days are up I can relist it if I want to and reduce the price if necessary. 

After the sale--once the item has been paid for, ship it and be sure to leave feedback for your buyer.  I am still surprised at the number of people who don't leave feedback, buyer or seller, and it's frustrating.  It's how the system works and without that feedback, there might be issues (particularly with a seller) that a potential buyer isn't aware of.  If you have an item that is sold and isn't paid for within a reasonable time, file a non-paying buyer report.  DO THIS!!!  I am stunned by the people who won't do this for fear of retaliation, but it's the only way that sellers can get their fees back and repeat offenders can get their accounts suspended.  I take it one step further and block these people from bidding on my auctions.  I don't have time for that kind of crap.  I guess there are people who do this for fun.  What floors me is most of the ones that I have had were for items under $20--seriously?!  If you didn't have the $20 to pay for it when you placed the bid, you shouldn't have bid in the first place.  (can you tell this is a hot button topic for me? LOL)

I'm not getting rich off Ebay, but it also isn't a full time job for me.  I'm using it to unload items of value that I no longer have use or space for and make a little extra cash.  I have a friend who uses it to rotate her kids clothing on a regular basis as their sizes change.  A lot of sellers who have been selling on Ebay for a long time have been very critical of recent fee changes and so forth.  My feelings are such:  if you don't like it, you don't have to sell your stuff there.  Try opening a physical store front where you have significantly higher overhead and see where you are at after a month of those expenses in comparison.  To me it is a much better way of selling stuff than a yard sale too, I've had plenty of those over the years!  Ebay hits a much much bigger customer base, and the prices you can get for some things is dictated by a national average as opposed to your local average which results in a much higher return. 

Just to give you an idea of how much time to list items:  today I listed 10 items.  I started at 9:00AM and finished a little after 1:00PM.  I did eat lunch, take the dog out to pee and did some laundry, but for the most part I was concentrating on Ebay--taking pictures, folding/fitting boxes, weighing items.  Most of my items had around 5 photos, sometimes (depending on what it is) I may only have 2 pictures which takes less time. 

I hope this has helped anyone interested in selling on Ebay.  I sold years ago when Ebay was in it's infancy, took a break, and now I'm back.  Sure, I've had a few screw ups and disappointments, but overall it has been a good experience.  Just like anything else, you have to find what works for you and work the bugs out.  Everyone's experience is going to be different, but that's what makes it fun.  Good luck!!!
Laundry basket of dolls heading for Ebay!


Wendy said...

Excellent, accurate advice! I go between Ebay and Etsy for selling. I usually do the 30 day BIN, too. Lately I've been doing more shopping then selling. :) And, yes, listing items is time consuming for sure.

JoKnows said...

These are great tips! I have yet to sell on Ebay because I am nervous about the pricing and the shipping details. :)

dan said...

To sell on Ebay is a good idea, and with your advice it doesn't seem too complicated!