Selling your stuff on eBay is a great way to de-clutter and actually make some spending money. I’ve been consistently amazed at how much I can get for stuff that I thought had very little value (i.e., I got $76 for an old guitar neck??) on eBay. Here are my best tips for selling effectively and getting the best prices for your goods online.
1. Research Prices – You Might Be Surprised
You might also wonder whether your item is worth the hassle of selling on eBay. You’ll have to clean it up, photograph it, find the accessories, write a description, pack it securely, and then ship it. It can be a pain, so you’ll have to consider the value of your time vs. how much money you’ll get. Check what other people received for similar or identical items in sold eBay auctions – you might be surprised. The auction process has always amazed me in finding people who are willing to pay more than I thought the product was worth.
For example, I was going to throw away an old VHS VCR before I discovered it was selling for sixty dollars on eBay! I have no idea who’d want to pay sixty dollars for a used VCR, but there’ someone out there who was willing!
In my experience, electronics, music instruments, and other equipment fetch good prices on eBay. Jewelry, household appliances, not so much. Don’t waste time selling items that don’t fetch enough to be worth your while. Consider donating those.
2. Start with a Price Below Market Value
This might sound counter-intuitive, but starting with a low price can start a feeding frenzy that gets you a higher price in the end. I always start my auctions at a lower price than what others have sold it for, even if mine is in better condition. This can be scary for beginners, but starting with a low price attracts more buyers usually resulting in a better price in the end.
3. Take Great Photos
Good photography also critical to maximize your return. Make your photos attractive by using good white light (daylight or white light bulb) and filling the frame with as much of the product as possible. Take photos of every angle of the product so buyers won’t think you’re hiding something.
You don’t need a crazy expensive camera or photo studio. Modern iPhones and Android phones have built-in cameras which are pretty darn good.
Be sure to show all of the accessories that you’re including with the item, including the box, cables, manuals, etc. Do NOT use stock photography that you find online for the product photos!! Use actual photos of your item!
4. Include the Original Packaging
If you have the original packaging, definitely include it and show it in your photos! It helps demonstrate that you take good care of your stuff and will get you a higher price.
5. Use a Dress Form for Clothes
If you are selling clothing, photographing them on a dress form will make them look 1000% better and get you higher prices compared to laying them on your bed or a cluttered floor. If you’re only selling one item, it might not be worth buying a form, but if you’re selling a lot of items, look into it. You can always eBay it when you’re done!
For pants, lay them flat on a nice clean surface.
6. Write a Good Headline
The headline is a critical part of your ad. Look at similar products to see some examples of headlines. Make sure the keywords that people are likely to be searching for are in the headline, such as the product’s model number. Utilize eBay’s suggested title if provided.
7. Be Detailed and Honest in the Description
Needless to say, make the description detailed, honest, and accurate. Include specs and as good a description as possible.
Be honest about the product’s defects! If you don’t do this, it could definitely haunt you later in the form of returns and bad reviews.
8. Accept Returns
I accept returns. This gives buyers peace of mind and ultimately a higher price due to more willing buyers and more competition. If you’ve been honest about the description, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about.
9. Don’t Sell Early
But side from that, selling early is usually not a good thing to do. Every time someone has offered this to me, they have offered less than what I eventually got from the auction. That is because the products tend to get bid up at the last minute, so even if your product has very low bids, or no bids for most of the time, there is a good chance it will sell for a good price in the end.
10. Use eBay to Help Estimate Shipping Cost
One of the most common questions about eBay is “how does shipping work?” Basically, after your auction is over, you wait for the buyer to pay, and then ship the item as soon as possible (I select the two-day option to give myself some leeway).
Fortunately, eBay takes away much of the hassle of shipping. If your product has been sold before on eBay, they will often give you an estimated shipping cost outright, so you don’t even have to do it.
If your item hasn’t been sold before, you’ll have to enter the dimensions and weight, and eBay will estimate shipping cost from there. Just make sure your measurements are accurate.
Or, just look at how much other people are charging for shipping the same product.
Once you’re ready to ship, you can purchase your shipping label and print it right at home. It’s pretty easy!
11. Don’t Allow International Sales
To minimize hassles, I don’t recommend allowing international shipments. International carriers are less reliable (depending on location), more expensive, and, in my informal survey of eBay scams, more prone to fraud (just Google it and you’ll find a lot of fraud from foreign sales).
Save yourself some hassle and do not allow international shipments unless your item will fetch significantly more in another country for some reason.
12. Don’t Accept “In Person” Pickups
You might get an inquiry from someone who wants to avoid delivery costs and instead wants to pick up the item in person. eBay is just not set up to handle this situation well, and it could lead to problems down the line. eBay’s payments are tied to online confirmations of shipping. So, if you don’t ship, you’ll have to refund the buyer’s money on Paypal, and conduct the transaction through other means. This brings with it a whole other can of worms. They buyer can haggle at the last minute, for example, and you’d have no recourse. Or, they just might not show up and you’d lose the sale. Worst case, they could rob you!
So, it’s best to avoid in-person pickups when selling on eBay unless you are selling something big and bulky. More info on this here.
13. Don’t Pack the Item Until the Auction Is Over
Don’t pack your items until they actually sell. The reason is that you could get questions about the item that you didn’t think about initially.
For the seven items I sold during my first sale, I got about five questions. If I had packed them up, I would have had to unpack them to answer their questions and take additional photos, then re-pack them. So, leave them unpacked until you are ready to ship.
14. Make Sure You’ll be Around to Ship It
You should make sure that when your auction ends, you’ll have ample time to pack and ship the items promptly. eBay auctions usually run for 7 or 10 days. In other words, don’t put your stuff on eBay right before going on a two-week business trip or else you won’t be able to fulfill your sales!
Also, remember that people won’t necessarily pay immediately. They have up to four days to pay before you can nullify the sale, so make sure you are free between seven and eleven days from when you start the auction.
If you work full-time during the week, you might want to schedule your auction to end on a Friday, so that hopefully people will pay by Saturday and you can pack and ship on the weekend.
15. Print Your Own Shipping Labels
Okay, you’ve sold your item, congratulations! Now, you should wait for them to pay before shipping. As soon as they do, ship as quickly as possible to get a good review.
A big question is whether you should use eBay’s built-in shipping and print your shipping labels at home through Paypal, or take them to a UPS store or whatever. Let me weigh in this right now. I am a BIG fan of printing your shipping labels at home, AS LONG AS you have an ACCURATE scale to weigh the packages.
The two main reasons I like to print my own labels are to save time and for accuracy. Here’s what the process looks like if you don’t print your own labels. You go to the shipping center and fill out a form with your address and the recipient’s address. Then, the clerk manually copies the info from this hand-written form into the computer. When I shipped five packages this way, I double checked everything at the end and found two errors made by the clerk! If you print your own labels, the information never passes through human hands so it’s accurate and it’s a lot less hassle for you!
In addition, I compared the cost of Paypal’s shipping labels vs. the brick and mortar shipping store, and Paypal’s shipping cost was significantly less, ranging from $1 to $10 less depending on the size of the package!
Now, my caveat about printing your labels at home is that you have to have an accurate scale. A bathroom scale won’t do. If you plan to do any kind of serious eBay shipping, then you should invest in a shipping scale. If you have an inaccurate weight or dimensions, it could delay your shipment big time. Many of the shippers use lasers to measure dimensions, so accuracy is important! Always round dimensions and weights up!
16. Pack it Well
Needless to say, once you’ve chosen a shipping method, make sure to pack your items well. Don’t skimp on packing material or you’ll risk having an irate customer and bad reviews on eBay.
I hope these tips help you have a great and profitable eBay selling experience! Let me know how your eBay experience goes. – Brian