Selling on eBay can be a fantastic way to get rid of unwanted junk and make some money at the same time, especially if you’ve got cupboards full of clutter. However, navigating your way around the maze of selling items on eBay can be daunting, especially for first-timers. We’ve collected some of the best handy hints around from seasoned auction pros to make your selling experience both pleasant and profitable. Here are our 30 top tips and tricks for how to sell on eBay.
How to sell on ebay
1) First things first: take lots of good photos. People will be able to tell the difference between stock images and the genuine article, and showing the item as-is will give them confidence in its condition, so make sure they’re good quality. Also, it’s now free to add up to a dozen. Bonus!
2) Similarly, the item details are very important. No one’s going to buy your items if they can’t find them, and giving eBay all the information you can will help your stuff show up in searches.
3) Optimize your title. The item description’s where you can really sell your product, so focus your title on making sure your item gets seen. Use popular keywords and specific details rather than unnecessary descriptive language to ensure your listing gets to the top of search results.
4) Don’t mislead in the descriptions. We know it can be tempting to palm off a near-destroyed iPod as ‘slightly used’, but an honest description of the condition will net you good feedback from buyers, and vice versa. It will only come back to haunt you otherwise.
5) Get familiar with the language. Many eBay users save time and optimize their searches by using abbreviations like BNIB (brand new in box) or VGC (very good condition). Knowing these bits of jargon can help you appear faster in searches and save you heaps of writing.
6) Feedback is a very important feature of eBay – new users have a feedback rating of zero, which can often put off wary buyers. Bump your feedback up a bit before you sell by buying some cheaper items, and you’ll be able to sell at higher prices.
7) Remember to leave your own feedback. Whether buying from others, or on your own sales, don’t forget to leave honest feedback. It will help your reputation as a good community member and encourage others to do the same.
8) Never underestimate what people will pay for. One man’s trash is another mans treasure, and eBay is awash with DIY-buffs who will buy battered, obsolete or even outright broken gear to fix up and sell, so don’t be scared to stick something seemingly worthless up.
9) If you’re not sure whether an item’s worth your trouble to sell, try having a look at how similar listings have done. Run a search for your item, and in the options on the left-hand side, select ‘completed listings’ to see the final price other auctions ended up at.
10) Mind your overheads. When you factor in eBay and Paypal’s sellers fees and postage and packaging costs, you can often find that some low-value items will actually end up costing you money to sell than you’ll make from the item, so make sure you won’t be out of pocket.
11) Know your price bracket. If you’re selling something that’s readily available, try lowering your starting bid to be a bit more competitive. Or if it’s a specialty collector’s item, price it high to avoid savvy buyers waltzing off with a bargain.
12) Get the timing right. According to eBay, the busiest time for buyers is Sunday evenings, so schedule your auctions to end around that time. Avoid times when most people will be busy, such as weekday mornings, or any big events such as sports matches or TV finales.
13) Manage your calendar. No-one’s looking for winter coats in July, or swimwear in January, so make sure you take the time of year into account. Alternatively, you can sometimes make big money by filling gaps in the market, with clever buyers stocking up before prices increase, so use your judgement.
14) If you want to get something off your hands quickly, consider adding a ‘Buy It Now’ option. This means users can bypass the auction entirely to snap it up for a fixed price. This can prevent a poorly-performing item from underselling, but it also eliminates the possibility of a bidding war.
15) If there’s something taking up space that you just want rid of, list it for a ridiculously low price as ‘collection only’ – the buyer will take it away for nothing, and you may just end up making some money.
16) Make sure you take postage into account. Royal Mail can sometimes be expensive, so ensure that you know how much it costs to ship your item including packaging. You could also look into alternative delivery services like UPS, DHL or MyHermes for potentially a better deal. Consider offering free postage to make your listing more attractive and take this into account in your buy it now price or reserve.
17) Ensure your postage is as prompt as possible. One of the fastest ways to annoy a buyer who’s paid for next-day delivery is to then wait three days before actually posting the item, so make sure to avoid bad feedback by shipping as soon as possible.
18) Make the most of free listings. Every seller gets 20 free listings per month, but eBay also offers regular ‘free listings weekends’, where you can put up unlimited items for no charge. On top of that, unsold items will automatically relist three times at no extra cost.
19) Stay away from Paypal if possible. While it’s a great system for buyers, it adds additional fees to sellers on top of eBay’s. Every seller has to list it as an option, but if an item is for collection, say you’d prefer cash for extra savings.
20) Keep your receipts. Cheeky buyers will sometimes claim an item never arrived to get a refund, so it’s worth paying the extra to get some form of tracking service as proof-of-postage.
21) Don’t be scared to refund. If an insufficiently-packaged item arrives damaged, or you didn’t accurately describe it, giving a disgruntled customer a refund is almost always a lot less hassle than dealing with their negative feedback, which can prove more problematic in the long run.
22) Be willing to answer questions. If a buyer or prospective buyer messages with you with a question about your listing, replying in a prompt and friendly manner will earn you goodwill and good feedback, and makes the experience quicker, easier and more pleasant for all concerned.
23) If you do receive negative feedback, be careful how you handle it. If it’s honest, constructive criticism, be gracious and understanding. It’s important to never get into mud-slinging and name-calling, even with the most unpleasant feedback. A polite reasonable attitude will mark you out as an especially good seller.
24) Remember, eBay isn’t the only option for selling your stuff. Gumtree is good for non-postable or overly expensive items, as there’s no fees and it’s collection-based. However, it also means you don’t get eBay’s seller protection, so be wary of potential fraudsters.
25) Don’t artificially inflate the price. Getting family and friends to bid on items to drive up the price is known as ‘shill bidding’, and aside from being completely illegal, it’s also an offence that is taken very seriously by eBay and can earn you a lifetime ban.
26) Research the available tools. There are countless free services to aid sellers, from bulk-upload tools like Turbo Lister to Goofbid’s tools for search pattern analysis. Look around to find the right ones to help grow your sales.
27) Only sell to those you’re comfortable with. By going to the My Account page, followed by the Site Preferences and then Selling Preferences menus, you can find the Buyer Requirements page. From there, you can set a minimum feedback score that buyers must meet to bid on your items.
28) Self-promotion is important. If you’re selling a lot of items in the same category, why not include a note or flyer with shipped items alerting the customer to other products they might be interested in? This kind of personal engagement can do wonders in encouraging repeat business.
29) Bundle up. If you’ve got a lot of smaller items that aren’t worth selling individually, try marketing the similar ones as a job lot, or including them as freebies with larger associated products. This gives a sense of value for money, and also helps get rid of less attractive items.
30) Look after your money. If you’re planning to do serious eBay trading, it might be worth setting up a separate bank account for your business to ensure that you can accurately keep track of what you’ve got going in and coming out, and avoid accidentally cutting into your earnings.