Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to Get Started Selling on Ebay

Tis' the season.

Well, almost.

With four kids, and gymnastics bills to pay, money is not something this mama has laying around.  Over the years, I've learned to get creative when I need a little extra spending cash.  Along with vacations and birthdays, Christmas is a time of year extra money really comes in handy.

In case you haven't noticed, it's October already.  While the holidays are a little ways off, this is the time of year I prepare to spend extra money.  If you're wondering how one "prepares" to spend extra money, I'm about to share my Christmas funding secret.


A few years ago, one of my friends was selling stuff on Ebay.  Silly stuff.  It was nothing fancy or special.  I decided to try it, and I started with a "My Pet Monster" my son had gotten for his 2nd birthday.  It had been in the basement for a few years, was in great condition and no one was playing with this monster thing anyway.

So I listed it.

And I made $50.00.  True story.  That year, I unloaded dozens of items on Ebay.  I made about $1000.00, and it funded our Christmas.

For anyone who has never sold on Ebay, it can be overwhelming.  The very thought of figuring out how it all works is daunting.

But Ebay is NOT difficult to learn.  I promise.  Ebay is a fabulous place to sell old toys in great condition, brand name clothes, shoes, pocketbooks and hundreds of other items.  One man's trash is truly another man's treasure.  To help anyone who could use a little help getting started, I'm going to walk my lovely readers through my Ebay selling process.

*I will add a disclaimer now that I'm not a professional "Ebay-er." I don't have a "store" or sell all day long.  I wait until I have a few things I know will sell, and I get to work.  This is the most basic tutorial you will ever read.*

Before I begin, I will be describing selling clothes (my favorite).  Clothes are sometimes sold in "Lots." All this term means is a bunch of items clumped together for one price.  

For example: 13 pieces of 3T toddler clothes (shirts, pants, bows, etc) would be called a "13 piece lot."

Clothes with tags sell best, and Ebay language is "NWT" or "New with Tags." New clothes that have no tags? "NWOT" or "new without tags."

Ok, ready to begin?

1.  Find an item in your house you don't need or want that will most likely sell.  The best way to judge "selling value" is to go on Ebay, and right on the homepage, type in what you want to sell in the search box.

My favorite item to sell is name brand clothes.  After my kids have grown out of their clothes, I sort through what is clean and stain free.  This cuts the pile considerably.  Then I organize the clothes by size.  When I have a nice pile of clothes that are the same size, and worth selling (Gap, Gymboree, Old Navy, etc) I set the pile aside to "ebay."

To search what will sell, and navigate the results, here is an example:
Any item that has several people bidding is a great item to sell.  An item that just has a "buy it now" won't tell you much about value.  Professional "ebay-ers" sell hundreds of items, and some of their listing are just "buy it now."

Before I list anything on Ebay, I check what I plan on selling by doing what I outlined above.  How many bids?  How high is the selling price?

If the items similar to yours aren't selling, try to find something else worth selling.

2.  When you are ready to sell an item, take GOOD, CLEAR PICTURES.  They are most important. 
For every picture, I try to showcase the clothes in sets.  I want my buyer to see the outfits and the possibilities.  Clothes shouldn't be a mess.  I lay them out, and when I list (more on that below) I describe each item in every picture.

Yes, it takes time.  But if I make $25 on the "lot," then that hour I spent listing my item was worth it.

3.  Before you start listing, you'll need to open an Ebay account, and I recommend setting up a PayPal account.  THIS IS VERY EASY.  Link your PayPal account to your Ebay account, and you can accept all payments through PayPal.

4.  Start selling.  Under tab "Selling," go to "Sell an Item."
5.  Type in what you want to sell, and select a category for Ebay to "file" your listing under.
This is meant to be general, you will start your listing information on the next page.

6.  On next page, type in a good description under "Title."  Don't waste space on words no one will search for, such as "good toddler clothes."  Be descriptive.  Try, "Girl Toddler Clothes 3T 13 piece lot Gap, Old Navy, Children's Place" or something similar.  You will only have 80 characters, make them count.
If you need to, look at other listings that have bids.  How did they describe their item?

7.  Continue listing, adding pictures and a good written description  underneath.  Have the clothes hardly been worn?  Do they have tags (NWT)?  Are they perfect for back to school?  Summer vacation?  Indicate ANY imperfections clearly, you don't want to deal with unhappy customers.  Be honest.

Before you finish the listing, tell the buyer if you have no pets.  Or your home is smoke free.  They want to know the item won't come smelling of cigarettes and covered in Fito's hair.  If you have pets, just say "clean, smoke free home."

Include how soon you expect payment, such as "payment expected within a week of sale." Be clear, and the transaction will go smoothly.

8.  Pricing.  You are better off (in my experience) starting your auction low.  The bidders will run the price up by bidding against eachother.   The auction is half the fun.  Attract buyers with good pictures, a good product and a low starting price.

9.  Shipping.  I like to package everything up, and get on the scale.  Literally.  You'll need a general idea of what your package will weigh, or you can opt to ship for free.

Items that offer free shipping are very big sellers.

If you want to charge, go with a flat rate box, or weigh your item and enter the information.  You don't need to spend money on expensive packing supplies.  Save boxes from shipments, save shoeboxes.  I recommend good packing tape, and to package everything neat as possible.  Try not to add unnecessary bulk with boxes, purchase a few large bubble envelopes for smaller items.

10.  List your item.  Review the listing for accuracy.  Check your Ebay listing daily, since buyers may ask you questions.  When the auction ends, you can accept payment through PayPal.  Package your item(s) well and print the address off the PayPal information.

You can print your own shipping labels on Ebay, and this will save you a little on shipping,  If you want to pay postage online, make sure you have an accurate weight on your package.

ALWAYS invest in delivery confirmation.  Even if you like to ship parcel post (like me), add on delivery confirmation.  It's easy and it ensures your package arrived.

Ship as soon as possible, because buyers will rate you (leave feedback) on Ebay.  A good rating will make a big difference in future auctions.

As with everything, the hardest part of "Ebay-ing" is getting started.  Every item you list you will learn more, and before you know it everything will make sense.

I promise.

And then you will have that extra cash on hand for Christmas gifts.  Or vacations.  Or new clothes.

Spend as you wish.



  1. Thanks for posting this! I have a very expensive dress i wore in my sister's wedding - only worn that one time & in spotless condition. It's hanging from our curtain rod just waiting for me to take pics & get it on ebay! But i just saw that bridesmaids dresses aren't a very big seller....

    This is helpful for other things we have too!!

  2. Such good tips! I've never tried posting anything on Ebay before--my husband does with his electronics, but I've never thought about trying it out with my old clothes or other items I give away to a local non-profit. Can't wait to try it out!

  3. Thanks so much for this post! I am going to pin it. My Mom is going to start selling some of her things on Ebay and so am I but I had no clue how to go about it!! LOL Thanks for linking up with favorite thing :)

  4. Hi! I'm reading this a couple years after it was written lol ~ but I do have one other impotant tip to selling on eBay. This has to do with your starting price or in finding the value of what you are selling. In addition to just entering your item in the search box to see what things are going for... You can also click on the Pull down tab that sorts the way you see the listings. Example: lowest to highest, auction ending soonest, etc. there is also a tab to click to see what *Completed Items* sold for and it will also show the amount for which it was sold!! What I usually do is find one of the completed auction that ended the highest and look at how that person did their listing! I mean, it obviously drew bidders/buyers in for the best and highest prices so why not learn from successful sellers before us? I loved your tutorial ~ sorry I'm a bit late for the party ;)


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