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’s 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 (in some cases)
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 often start my auctions at a lower price than what others have sold it for, even if mine is in better condition. Starting with a low price can attract more buyers usually resulting in a better price in the end.
The exception to this is if the product has low demand. Then, there will be no feeding frenzy and you might be left with only one bidder who snatches it at the below-market price. So, for those items that have a niche demand, price those at market rate.
3. Take Great Photos
Good photography is 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 iPhone and Android cameras 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. Enable “Buy It Now” with a High Price
Depending on the item that you’re selling, there might be some folks who are willing to pay a premium to get the item faster. It is for those folks that it might pay to enable “Buy It Now” and set that price to a higher-than-market price.
One time when I enabled “Buy It Now”, I set it to Amazon’s suggested price. Within minutes, someone bought it after it had gotten zero traditional bids. Perhaps I should have set the price higher!
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 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.
13. 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.
14. Use eBay’s Built-In Shipping Options
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.
eBay’s built-in shipping options are not only convenient, but you also get a discounted rate.
Now, my caveat about doing this and 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!
15. 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