I started selling on eBay when I was about 13 years old using my mom’s 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.
It’s worked out great so far and in 2019 I was able to profit $10,000+ reselling part-time and build my store to over 500 listings.
Selling on eBay is a great way to make extra money and it’s one of the tools I’m using to achieve financial independence faster. If I keep at it, I will most likely be able to cover all of our living expenses eventually just by flipping stuff.
I wish I would have thought to flip things on eBay instead of getting a job when I was 17 because I’d probably be earning six figures doing it by now if I had started at that age.
Here are three quick things you can do to help you improve your eBay business:
- Join the Millionaire Dojo Facebook group and ask any questions you may have.
- Check out my What Sells on eBay Series to get ideas on things you can look for to sell. I’ve been documenting what I sell for over a year.
- Start tracking your profits with Easy Auctions Tracker so you can know how much you’re actually making.
Why selling on eBay?
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. 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 investments 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 connect weird vintage things with people who are looking 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 will cherish them. It’s a way to spread more happiness through the world.
eBay sellers also do the world a service by saving things that are on their way to the waste stream and placing them back out into the hands of people who find value in the items.
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 the 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 some difficult customers from time to time.
This is what it takes to make 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, more accurate listings.
- 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 then you’ll just be a hoarder.
- Be able to learn new things as eBay is continuously making new rules. (You can stay up to date on the latest eBay news by listening to the eBay for business podcast).
- 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.
Handy tools for selling on eBay:
- A computer and a printer. I highly recommend a laser printer instead of ink. The cartridges last so much longer.
- A good place to store things – I store most of my stuff in my garage.
- A camera – I use my smartphone my smartphone.
- 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 run 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 on eBay. It’s pretty simple once you get a good system going and I’m sure everyone goes about it a little bit differently.
Some key things to keep in mind are to write informative titles that capture as many keywords related to your item as possible and take pictures of your items with a white background if you can.
Keeping track of what you buy and sell
Keeping track of your inventory and sales is very important. If you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know how your business is doing!
My process for bookkeeping is simple. When I buy something, I put it in this google sheet and enter how much I paid for it. After that, I don’t have to do anything else until the item sells.
To get my true net profit, I’ve been using a service called Easy Auctions Tracker. Easy Auctions tracker is an Excel spreadsheet that connects to your eBay account and pulls all the transactions into it.
It even pulls eBay and PayPal fees, so all you have to do is enter what you paid for the item and you will have your true net profit! This is the cheapest and most accurate way to accurately do bookkeeping for eBay that I’ve come across.
Dealing with customer issues
Customer issues come in all shapes and sizes. The most common is the 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.
Doing taxes for eBay
It’s probably best that you consult with a tax professional to do your eBay business. It should be pretty simple though if you’re keeping track of all of your business expenses and using Easy Auctions Tracker to know your true net profit.
If selling on eBay doesn’t interest you, but you want to make some fast cash, check out these ideas!