This page is here to share everything I’ve learned about selling on eBay. I will update it as I continue to learn new things.
I created an eBay account when I was about 13 years old using my moms information (she was aware and okay with it). I had a bunch of nice clothes that didn’t fit anymore and wanted to see if I could make any money off them. Ever since then, I’ve used eBay to sell things I no longer needed and make some of my money back. It’s been a great way to keep clutter out of the house and more money in my wallet.
Around the time I started this blog (April of 2018), I started to look into actually turning eBay into an extra income stream by buying things for cheap and selling them for profit.
My total profits to date are $4,862.35. This is the amount of money that I’ve made after taking out the costs of buying the items and all of the fees associated with selling on eBay.
eBay is a great way to make extra money and it’s one of the tools I’m using to achieve financial independence faster. I may even turn eBay into my full time income stream eventually, if I can make enough money from it. I wish I would have thought to flip things on eBay instead of getting a job because I’d probably be earning six figures doing it by now if I had started when I was 18.
You can see what I sell each month in the What Sells on eBay Series.
The reason I love the idea of becoming a full time eBay seller is you get to own your time. You don’t have any deadlines or schedules to follow and the only person you have to answer to is yourself. You determine how much money you make by how much you’re willing to work at selling things. If I can get to the point where I’m selling on eBay full time and quit my job, it will kind of be like becoming financially independent, before actually having enough money in index funds to support my expenses. Sure, it takes a lot of time to list things, but once you have a big inventory, you will continue to sell things even when you aren’t listing items. I’ve heard of people taking several months off from listing things and still making enough money to pay their expenses.
Another thing I love about selling on eBay is that I get to choose what items I buy and sell. I love hunting for old, unique things that you won’t find at retail stores. I find the item and then I find the customer that’s looking for the item and make them happy by providing it for them. I think it’s cool to dig through the things that have been forgotten about in my community and ship them all over the world to people who are looking for them.
I also feel like I’m doing the world a service by taking things that are on their way to the waste stream and placing them back out into the world. America is so wasteful and the things you can find in the trash would shock you. Some people look down on the idea of selling junk but I think it’s a good, environmentally friendly deed. The most profitable items I’ve sold so far were in a box that was going to be taken to the dump. It was a box of vintage cb radio equipment that had some pieces in it that are nearly impossible to find. If I hadn’t found them, that piece of history would have been destroyed for good.
What it takes to be successful on eBay
Selling on eBay is simple. With that being said, you have to have the right mindset in order to turn it into a long-term business. If you worry a lot and can’t motivate yourself to work when no one is telling you to, eBay isn’t for you. You also need to have patience to deal with customer issues because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about eBay, it’s that you’re going to have customer issues.
Here’s a list of things you should probably have if you want to make substantial money on eBay:
- An eye to find things that are valuable.
- Negotiation skills – when you’re trying to buy the valuable things you find, you need to be able to negotiate with people to get the item for as cheap as possible.
- At least a basic understanding of how to use computers and printers.
- Research skills to find information about the items you’re selling so you can create better listings with more information in them.
- Be able to motivate yourself to list things. Taking all the pictures and writing the descriptions is definitely the “work” part of selling on eBay. You need to be able to stay motivated to push through the boring parts of selling. Otherwise, you’ll stop listing things and in turn, stop making money.
- Be able to learn new things as eBay is continuously making new rules.
- Be professional when it comes to dealing with customer issues. Customers can be really rude and it’s easy to get mad at them but it’s best to just deal with them in a professional and patient manner.
The physical things you need to have for selling on eBay are:
- A computer and printer.
- A good place to store things – I store most of my stuff in my garage. Storage is probably the biggest obstacle when it comes to selling on eBay.
- A camera – I use my smartphone as a my camera.
- A small scale – For weighing your lighter items.
- A Large scale – For weighing your heavier items.
- Boxes – I get mine from scavenging local grocery stores.
- Packing tape – For packing the boxes.
- Bubble wrap – This really comes in handy for shipping fragile items and it’s totally worth the expense.
- Poly mailers – I ship a ton of things in these. Especially clothes and shoes.
- Bubble mailers – These provide a little more padding than poly mailers and I use them all of the time for hard goods.
- Good scissors.
- Carton sizer – For resizing boxes (super handy!).
- eBay shipping labels – It’s a lot quicker to use these instead of having to cut the shipping label page and tape it to the box.
You don’t have to have all of this stuff when you’re just starting out but everything listed will improve your eBay business in the long run. You do need a computer, camera, printer and something to ship the items in though.
What should you buy to sell?
This one is really up to you. A lot of people start out by selling clothes. Clothes are an easy item to ship and a good way to get your feet wet. If you already know a lot about something, you could start by trying to flip items in that category. Part of the fun of selling on eBay is selling things that you think are cool. I personally will sell just about anything if I think I’m buying it at a price that is low enough for me to make a decent profit on. I’m trying to only sell things that at least bring a profit of $20 or more.
Where to find things to sell
There are a ton of places to find things to sell on eBay. Americans are so good at buying new things and discarding their slightly used stuff so the waste stream is piled with valuable items.
- Yard sales – this is my favorite place to buy things. Usually, people just want to get rid of things sitting around their houses and will sell them to you for super cheap. There usually aren’t any yard sales in the cold months so you can only shop at them when it’s warmer. I use the Yard Sale Treasure Map app to find yard sales in my area.
- Estate sales – these are like the fancy, more sophisticated cousin to yard sales. Items are usually more expensive at estate sales but you can still find things at good prices if you look hard enough. I use the EstateSales.net app to find local estate sales.
- Thrift stores – I’m not really talking about Goodwill (although I still go there sometimes). The best thrift stores are the small individual ones, usually ran by churches. Most of the time, they’ll have piles of stuff all the way to the ceiling. It’s our job as scavengers to pick through the piles and find the treasure inside!
- Retail stores – brand new items aren’t really what I look for but you can find plenty of items on sale at different retailers that you can sell for a profit on eBay.
- Auctions – you can buy a ton of things for cheap at auctions and usually get great deals if you know what to buy and where to draw the line if the price gets too high. You can find auctions in your area with AuctionZip.
- Social media – you can find all kinds of things for sell on social media that might be cheap enough for you to make a profit on.
- Craigslist, Letgo, Offerup – these are a few of the places you can find things online to flip.
- eBay – You can literally find things to flip on eBay, on eBay! Sometimes, sellers are just trying to get rid of things and sell them for a lot cheaper than they could actually sell for if they just listed the item higher.
How to list your items
I wrote a pretty detailed post on my process for listing things and I’ll update it if I ever find better ways of doing things. I’m not a perfect seller so you might come across a better way of doing things that I haven’t noted here. I have been trying to learn as much as I can about selling on eBay for months now though and feel like I’ve got a pretty good grasp on it.
Keeping track of what you buy and sell
I use Googlesheets to keep track of everything I buy and sell. When I buy something, I put it in the spreadsheet and make note of how much I paid for it. It’s good to do this so you will have a way to show your cost of goods sold at tax time. Here’s a snapshot of my spreadsheet for last month to give you an idea.
I use this calculator to see the fees and profit of each item I sell. I can’t say for certain that the calculator is 100% accurate but if it isn’t, it’s extremely close to it.
Dealing with customer issues
Customer issues come in all shapes and sizes. The most common is return requests. If you didn’t do anything wrong in the process of selling the item that the customer wants to return, you shouldn’t have to pay for the return shipping. You will need to have your preferences set to “buyer pays for return shipping” in order to be able to avoid having to pay for the shipping. If a buyer refuses to pay for the return shipping when you haven’t done anything wrong, you should accept the return and wait for them to ship it back until you refund them. A lot of times, the customer won’t even ship it back and you won’t have to refund them.
Join the scavenger community
If this page doesn’t satisfy all of your eBay needs, join me over at Scavengerlife.com and check out the forum section. This is the best resource for everything eBay that I’ve come across and I really enjoy Jay and Ryanne’s podcast.
I haven’t done taxes for eBay yet but I will fill this section in or make a separate post when I do.
If you’d like to see what I’m selling, you can check out my store here.
Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means you’ll be supporting this blog by doing your shopping through them. Thank you for that!