How to sell on eBay

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I sold some clothes. I sold some through a store that buys used clothes and I sold one pair of shoes on eBay. This month I wanted to finally get rid of a few things that I thought would be good to sell online.

I had a broken iPod classic that had been sitting in a drawer for a few months. Since Apple is no longer making iPod classics, their prices are surging online and people are buying old or broken iPods for half the cost of what a new one would cost.

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This was the first time that I’d tried to sell something major on eBay. I’m comfortable buying things on the site – as long as you check the reviews and read the description carefully, you’ll usually end up happy.

But selling? That’s a whole other ballgame. eBay sides with the buyer in most cases so if you get someone who claims that you gave them a wrong description or that your item never arrived, it can be bad. Still, I didn’t know where else I could sell my iPod where I would get the best price.

In the end, I sold the iPod for $158, which was much more than I expected. Here’s what I learned:

1. Be honest

You’re not a used car salesman, so why sell like one? On eBay, your reputation is everything. If I see a seller with negative feedback, I won’t buy from them. It pays to list every defect your item has, even if you’re worried it’ll drive people away.

2. Take good photos

I have a DSLR that I use to take all my photos with. Even though it’d be faster to take photos on my cell phone, I don’t think I’d make as much off my stuff. A good photo will show the details of your item better. That way, people know that your iPod has a few scratches and won’t be surprised when they get it in the mail. A good photo shows that you’re serious about selling and that you’re investing more than just the bare minimum.

3. Lower your costs

Shipping is one of the few costs associated with selling online. Luckily, you can control that cost. If you print your shipping label on eBay, you can save money off postage. You can also estimate your postage costs before you ship. You can use a scale to weigh what you’re selling and then a postage calculator to get an idea of how much you should charge. Then you can charge the buyer the accurate cost of shipping, instead of paying for it yourself.

If you don’t have any boxes or shipping materials at home, go to stores to see what they have. Liquor stores often give away boxes for customers and even your office might have boxes they want to recycle. Buying a box can eat away into your profits, especially if it’s a low-cost item.

4. See what works

I like to look at other listings for similar items that have sold to see what condition their item was in, what their description was and what kind of photos they took. Search for the item you want to sell and check the box that says “Sold listings.” That’ll give you an idea of what to list your item for and what you can reasonably expect. There’s even a button that says, “Have one to sell?” that will let you copy some of the info from that listing.

5. What’s worth selling?

Clothes, I’ve found, are often easier to consign or donate. You can also arrange a clothing swap with your friends where you each bring a set of items you don’t want anymore.

Why sell on eBay? You can get more money for your item than on Craigslist. You don’t have to meet creepy people in a McDonald’s parking lot. Plus, the more you sell on eBay, the easier it gets. Some people I know make a side business off flipping items on eBay. I generally try to only sell things that I already had, instead of hunting down valuables at Goodwill that I can resell.

Do you sell on eBay? Or are you mostly a buyer? What’s stopped you from selling online?

Want to sell on eBay but don't know where to get started? Tips from someone who sells frequently!

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