Selling our unwanted stuff is one of the ways that we’re earning earn extra money to pay off our debt this year. While I’m still a beginner at selling on eBay, I have learned a few things that will be helpful to anyone trying out this side hustle.
1. Set Up Your Account – I was pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy it was to set up an account and start posting items. You can link it up with PayPal and transfer funds directly to your back account. It is free to list items, as long as you set up a basic auction (seven days, no automatic relisting, only ten photographs, etc.).
2. Block International Buyers. I’ve already had to cancel one sale and issue a refund. A bidder in Puerto Rico won an auction. The cost to ship the item to her would have exceeded what I was receiving in payment. Fortunately, there is an option to cancel the sale due to shipping issues. Afterwards, I learned about a section of your account settings where you restrict the types of buyers who can bid on your auctions. Save yourself the hassle and block international sales before posting anything.
3. Research Prices For Similar Items – One of the trickiest things with getting started is to figure out the right pricing for your auctions. I found that doing a quick search of similar items was helpful in figuring out a fair starting bid. Don’t assume that your items will receive multiple bids. Many of my items were won by a bid of the starting price.
4. Add A Shipping Charge – eBay encourages you to offer free shipping on your items. I conducted an experiment by listing items with higher starting bids, but free shipping. I didn’t sell anything with that batch of postings. However, the same products sold when I lowered the price, but added that decreased amount as a shipping charge. I’m not sure whether the bidders don’t pay as much attention to the total cost with shipping or if it just appears to be a “better deal” with a lower starting bid amount.
How much should you charge for shipping? It’s tricky and I’m still trying to figure out a good strategy. eBay will estimate an “actual charge” for you or you can set your own “fixed price.” I’ve been doing the latter, with my best guess on how much it will cost. I usually charge around $3.00 for small, light items. I have been charging $5.00 to $6.00 for the heavier items. I’ve underestimated the shipping charges on numerous items, but overcharged on others.
One trick: Take advantage of “media mail” shipping if you are sending a book, DVD, or videogame. The shipping charges are much cheaper for these types of items.
5. Relist Unsold Items Without Changing The Price – If any of your items don’t sell, it is extremely easy to relist them. eBay will suggest that lower your price when relisting the item. I haven’t been changing the price much, if at all, because I think my starting bids fairly represent what I want to receive for the item. One example was a purse. I had to relist it a couple of times, but it finally sold, for my price. In comparison, at a garage sale, you have a limited opportunity to sell your stuff. So if someone comes along and is interested in an item, you may be more tempted to give in on the price. With eBay, you can keep reposting the item until you find someone who is willing to pay your price.
6. Wait Patiently For Your Money – One thing that surprised me is that your funds are held for a while after the auction ends. It does make sense; to ensure that the buyers receive their purchases before you disappear with their money. Just be aware that you won’t receive your funds for two to three weeks after the auction ends. I did receive the money faster with packages that were shipped with tracking numbers.
How have we done with our first attempts at selling on eBay?
We looked through the house for miscellaneous items to sell. I’ve been doing “batches” of postings on the weekend. I sold eight items in the first two batches of postings. The items included: a vest, couple of stuffed animals (quasi-collector items with tags, kids never played with them), some sweaters and shirts, a DVD, photo coasters, and a video game. These were all items that would have been put out at our garage sale this summer. After eBay fees, I received a total of $64.00 for the eight items (eBay charges you a fee based on the final sale price). I ended up paying $33.81 in shipping costs, so my profit was $30.19, or an average of $3.77 per item.
I’m getting better at pricing the items and estimating shipping costs. Although there is some hassle with making trips to the post office, I think our profit is higher than it would be if the same items were sold at the garage sale. I plan to continue posting some items on eBay every weekend. The profits are minimal, but ultimately, it’s another way that we’re chipping away at our debt by using all available resources.
Have you had success with eBay? Do you have any tips?