How to Sell Your Stuff on Ebay

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How to sell on ebay for beginners

7 steps to put your stuff on eBay

As part of my de-cluttering process, I unload a lot of my stuff and random items by selling it on on Ebay. If you have never done it before, you will probably be surprised at how easy it is and how quick you can make a little money. Last time I de-cluttered, I made over $200 for only a few hours worth of time. This is a perfect follow-up to some major closet simplification. So, if you have a few hours of spare time, this may be a good way to make a few bucks.

Here are a few more ways to make money selling your clutter…

1. Open an eBay account

This is a very quick and easy process. Click here to get started.

2. Buy a few items to get some positive feedback

(This step is optional, but it will probably help) -Small items are fine, anything you can find will work. The reason is that your credibility as an Ebay seller is primarily determined by your feedback score. By purchasing a few items and paying for them quickly, you will be able to get some positive feedback, thus giving you at least a little bit of credibility. Think about it, if you are buying an item wouldn’t you rather buy from a seller has feedback proving that he actually delivered his products rather than a seller who has never used eBay before?

3. Decide what to sell

I only sell name brand or easily defined unique items. When selling, you have to think like the seller and ask “how would I search for this item?” If the answer isn’t clear, it may not be a good item to sell. For example, I had a pair of fake leather pants (don’t ask) that weren’t a brand that anyone would care about, but I knew that people would be searching for leather pants, because it is such a unique item. Often times buyers will search for a brand name and a size, and this is why brand name items are good to sell.

Oh, and I also don’t sell items that aren’t in great condition – you can, but one person’s definition of “small hole in sleeve” can be completely different from another’s. I consider it to be dangerous territory, so proceed with caution.

Just FYI, about the fake leather pants, I had gotten them for about $3.00 on a clearance rack and ended up selling them for about $15.00. So, the $12.00 profit helps offset all the harassment I received for owning them in the first place. ;)

4. Get Pictures of your items

Grab your point and shoot digital camera (if you are still taking Polaroid pictures, then see step #2 and make a digital camera one of your purchases) and start shooting. Use a well lit room, with the simplest, nicest looking background you can find; e.g. a hardwood floor or a plain wall. Take a few pictures of each item and get close ups if needed. Check out this article for more tips about Ebay pictures.

5. List your item

Now you are ready to list your items. I suggest doing all of your listings on the same day. This will enable you to do the shipping all on the same day, eliminating wasted trips to the Post Office.

Be as detailed as possible in the listing title. Include as many that apply to your item:

  • item names and similar names
  • Brand names
  • Model names or numbers
  • Sizes
  • Colors
  • Men’s, women’s, or kids
  • material
  • any other details that stand out about your item

At the time of this writing, if you search for “dress shirt” on eBay it will yield over 12,000 listings. However, if you search for “M banana republic dress shirt blue” we only get 5 results. As sellers, this is what we want – limited competition when people search for our item. If your listing title just said “dress shirt,” then your shirt would now be thrown in the world’s largest bargain bin with 12,000 other shirts for people to dig through. The more detail you put in the title, the easier it is for your buyers to find it.

The first picture is free, but Ebay does charge to add additional pictures. I suggest adding at least one additional picture, unless you are convinced that the item doesn’t need it. Buyers like to see products from different angles and with detail.

Use the description field to fill in any and all detail that you couldn’t squeeze into the title section. The more detail the better. I learned the hard way when selling my wife’s clothes that a lot of the eBaying women like to know the measurements of each item before bidding on it.

A few more things to keep in mind:

  • open a paypal account (free, simple, and will make it easier for buyers)
  • Check for misspellings in your title (this could dramatically affect sales)
  • International shipping can be expensive and time consuming, so you may want to limit your shipping area

6. Answer buyer’s questions

Buyers may email you with questions about the product, it is in your best interest to respond quickly to them. They are clearly interested in buying the product, otherwise they wouldn’t have spent the time emailing you about it. You can respond to their questions and see what each item is going for from your Ebay account.

7. Ship your eBay items

Try to get your items shipped ASAP to get positive feedback from your buyers. Look for old boxes (without writing on them) or for some items you can use brown paper bags to package it in.

I have had the best luck with the good ‘ol U.S. Postal Service. The standard shipping at that Post Office is almost always cheaper than UPS and FedEx. There are some occasions where this is not the case, but from my experience, the USPS is the best way to go.

As with anything, the more you do it, the faster you will get at it. And of course, some items will sell, and some won’t – I just give the unsold items to Goodwill. Good luck!!

Click here to open a FREE eBay account

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75 Comments
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  1. Hey, could you write a little about setting shipping costs? That is the one reason I have never sold an item on eBay.

    • I bought a small package scale. We weigh the item w/ the box on it. Then I go to the USPS site and calculate the shipping. I know the approx. shipping that way. There is a place to calculate their shipping by zip code on ebay. I get my boxes from the grocery store. They’re free and without writing on them!

  2. @Cory
    You know the easiest way to do it is to see what others are charging for shipping and that should give you a decent estimate of what to charge. Most sellers don’t just charge what it costs to ship, they add a small amount of handling charge to it. Once you ship a few items, you will get a good feel for what things cost to ship and it will be a lot easier to estimate. There are probably tools available online that could help you as well – and you could always go to the post office and check if you are really ambitious… Hope that helps.

    • Also, the US Post Office website has a “Postage Cost Calculator” on their website and they also have the flat rate shipping boxes…..

      • I use the “calculate” feature for shipping — you have to know the weight of the package to do this but it saves the guesswork and, unless you have a heavy item, it less expensive for the buyer than the flat rate boxes.

  3. Hey – Bob. Just listed my first three items. Shoes. I’m excited. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  4. @cory
    be careful – it can become an obsession ;)

  5. I am not sure how I can add money to my ebay account, every bank in town says not and post office says no, where do I go. Thank you to who can tell me…..

  6. anonymous

    ok,the key to better selling is selling things cheap.im going to sell my dsi with accessories for 120.00!my dsi was worth more than that!but don’t go overboard.don’t say 5.00 for something expensive.that’s going WAY overboard.

    keep up the awesome work!

  7. Uchenna O.

    I’m writing from Lagos, Nigeria, i’m a Christian and i have a very young music Management company here in Nigeria, right now i have under me a Gospel Artiste that has a single recorded track that is up to international standard which he wanted me to promote and also market it for him worldwide.

    I need help on how to go about worldwide music marketing; i need to know about successful ways to market a single track internationally through electronic, internet and others, where do i go to and what is the right thing to do to get a positive result when handling music promotion and marketing?

    Thank you to who can tell me what to do…..

  8. can i sell now

  9. FullyJoyful

    Thanks for this beautiful blessed article. I was a bit sceptical at first clicking on the link. But I’m so happy that I did, and I must add that I had help from the Lord directly first. I was praying to click on the right link. And our beautiful Lord led me right here. I’m so happy.
    I really want to start selling on ebay, and I pray for it to be productive, and rewarding on both ends…for me as a seller and for my buyers.

    To Uchenna, in Nigeria. I think that one of the best arenas for you to start on to promote your Gospel music is ITunes. Also you should make ring tones, and you should network with Christian websites. Offer free clips and don’t be afraid to share. Remember that God is in control and he will provide for you.
    You should blog about your singers, your writers, and your music. Journal your experiences and what led you down the road of Gospel music.
    Have a Myspace Account, youtube, facebook, twitter. And update everyday or even a few times a day. Start your own little website and link to everyone. Network with other known Gospel artist. But above all of this Pray to Our Father in Heaven in the Name of Jesus. Knowing that he will answer you.
    Explain to God that you want him to be your Business Partner, and include him in all of your deals. Tithe your earnings to him, and be faithful about it.
    Let the Lord be your partner, but never forget that he is a serious partner.
    Consider the Lord when making your decisions and know that it is truly the Lord who brings recognition and reward. Be thankful always and at all times..and He will clear the way for you.
    I’m already a customer! So just let me know where to buy!!!
    God bless you Bob and your beautiful wife forever.
    And Thank you for making this site to help all people.

  10. I recently found a good way to earn cashback on all your purchases on ebay and many other sites.
    It is very clearly explained on ebay auction 180436909304
    Gives you a good cashback on other sites as well.
    Can be combined with bing cashback also.

  11. In the description, be sure to mention all defects and wear to your item to make sure that the buyer will be happy with it. USPS is usually cheaper for small items under 2 lbs. For medium and large items, Fedex costs less. USPS is usually cheaper for international shipping. — Corey Chambers on eBay

  12. hi,
    thought provoking suggestion, but i dnt get the Decide what to sell part.
    ..where do you source the items from? you mean selling second hand stuff? or buying it from somewhere and selling it cheap?

    i’ve a source where i get cheap but original good quality raymond brand clothing, people in india love custom tailor made pant and shirts. so how to start off?

  13. Judith Trailer

    How do I get my picture from my camara to my lap top?then come up on e-bay?

    • Hi, to get your photos from your (digital) camera to your computer/laptop, you can either use your USB cord, or a plug-in USB memory-card converter device. On the first, you plug the USB cord into your camera and the other end into your computer and this will link the two; you then download your photos. On the latter option, you remove your camera’s memory card and place it in the USB memory-card device then plug it into your computer, then download the photos. Hope this helps.

  14. Bob,
    Thanks so much for this info. I’m a professional organizer and have been reticent to start selling things for people on eBay. But, I also love knowing that things are going to a home where someone will actually use them. eBay seems like the best place to find that sort of closure.
    Nonnahs @ Get Organized Already

  15. can I upload the pictures I take of my items directly yo ebay from my phone?

  16. do I get cash from these items? like how do people pay me from their paypal cause I need cash asap!

    • Lisa Parkin

      they would transfer ‘cash’ from their PayPal account, into your PayPal account. Once this has cleared, you can withdraw the money into your bank account, which you will have previously linked when setting up to PayPal. Hope this helps.

  17. Any tips on printing out the shipping lables? should i go to the post office or just print them off ebay?

    • Rori Rodriguez

      Printing them through your own printer is the easiest if you have Paypal.

  18. Hi,

    I have been on ebay for a while. And I love it its a good money maker! I have had a lot of good success with baseball cards and video games. If you want to make a good ammount of money from some baseball cards here is what I do: First I pick a really popular product and order 5 to 10 of them considering how expensive they are. So after that with all that money you spent you get free shipping frome the website. I reccommend blowoutcards.com. Now you list them all on ebay for about 10 dollars more than they are with free shipping and you should make a $50 to a $100 dollar profit considering how many you sell.

  19. alexander

    Bob,
    I live in Ukraine and i dont have Paypal or a bank account can i use a friends bank account to make a paypal account so that i can buy some stuff from ebay? Also do all accout infomation have to mach between bank account, paypal account and ebay account in order to buy and sell stuff on ebay?
    Thanks, and God Bless.

  20. If I am not mistaking there is a step 0 in “starting an ebay business” with is: create a company !

    correct? if so what kind do you recommend? if not is it legal to sell stuff as an individual?

    thanks for this great article!

  21. Thanks for explaining step by step, this will help us a lot for selling our stuff we are just concerned about ebay charges, are there any websites where you can sell your stuff free of cost.

  22. Thank you for this article. That’s all I can say. You most definitely have made this blog into something specified. You clearly know what you are doing, you’ve covered so many bases.Thanks

  23. Millicent

    Thank you. In essence we are birds of a feather…we love the Lord too and want to begin paying off debt. Your tips were an answer to a prayer for advice to get started on eBay. We had a Dave Ramsey seminar at church, so here it goes. Wisdom cried out in your bio and tips. We have been blessed by you. Blessings are coming your way.

  24. selling on ebay is fun but you can not make a good profit unless you work very hard

  25. I sure want to learn ebay for profit your way…. I have written some books and i sell them online. I would like to start an ebay store for ebooks… Or just sell them individually, one auction at a time. What would you suggest???

    • i would not open a ebay store simply for books, you would take a big hit paying the monthly 19.95 fee for the store front then what you would make from selling………..and also if you want to sell ebooks, i would highly recommend selling ebooks through amazon or the ebook reader store……..you will get bigger crowds that way

  26. Thanks for a very straight forward set of instructions and iseas.

  27. Wolly Really

    Thanks for the blog…
    but you always got to be careful.

  28. I’ve bought many things on ebay, but I’ve never sold anything. I’ve been thinking about it, though. This is really helpful…thanks!

  29. how can i ship with usps from greece to malasya

  30. Dose it cost anything to sell suff on ebay?

    • yes it does, ebay will take a final value fee away from what your total sale is, also ebay will take an insertion fee to list your item if you go over 5 days for a listing, add more pictures and so on…………….now also paypal will take a small fee out as well for selling so you actually get hit a couple times but nothing really dramatic for you to notice in the final net pay to yourself for selling

  31. Thanks for your tips. We’ve been trying ebay on and off for a while. I have to add to be prepared for the learning curve. The first item we listed (a pair of shoes) took my daughter and I two solid hours to post. Navigating the posting pages was a nightmare and I’m not an Internet dummy. Then, we waited and not one person was interested by the end of the 30 day, buy it now period so I quit checking, quit checking the email address I set up for the account and assumed ebay took the shoes off as they were supposed to. Then, two months later I get a phone call from ebay wanting to know why I hadn’t mailed the shoes someone had paid for. We had no idea.
    I immediately mailed them, made peace with the buyer and ebay and tried again. I listed some books and handbags. Got my posting time down to about 10 minutes per item but still haven’t sold anything. I just ordered a new camera which is to arrive today. Hoping better pictures will help and we will start again next week.
    Here are my questions…if you go auction, how do you set a starting price? An experienced person told me to start at 99 cents. But what if I end up giving the thing away? Why would you go auction when you can do buy it now?
    Sorry this is so long. :)

    • Carol I always just like to look at other people listing the same or similar items and see what they use for a starting price as well as shipping rates, this has served me pretty well.

    • Angelzspkle

      Always SET your Prices on Ebay for WHAT you would like for the item ..That way you are not disappointed & you also learn if it doesn’t sell ..then you have to chat w/yourself if you would rather list it lower…

      Sometimes its not the Listing you are writing its the time of year you are selling it ..think about Time frames & what you would be looking for this time of year ..its always helps in selling your items ! Wishing you Well God Bless & Happy Bidding

    • Lisa Parkin

      some people prefer starting bidding at a 99p/cent starting price, as opposed to a buy-it-now price for a couple of reasons 1) the lower starting price will attract more people and you could end up receiving more than you expected and 2) with a buy-it-now price, eBay takes a higher percentage fee from your higher starting price listing. Ebay explains some of this on the listings page, you need to just click on the link. Hope this helps.

  32. I have mixed results selling on eBay. The biggest issue is price. eBay recommends not setting a minimum, but I have ended up “selling” items for 99 cents so often it’s frustrating. Other items have surprised me and bid up quite high. I don’t buy the items I sell – I’m just getting rid of “stuff” I don’t need – but it’s frustrating to take the time it takes to list and then have a valuable item go for so little.

    • I have had that problem too. People say to price it at .99 to be competitive, but there are so many items for sale that I have often sold it for .99, which is painful. Now I price it for the bare minimum I would like to accept. Then, if it sells at that price, I am content. If it has watchers but doesn’t garner any bids, I relist it at a lower price and it usually sells.

  33. Kathleen K

    I’ve been buying and selling on eBay for several years. It is easy once you are used to it, but the learning curve can be pretty steep. I have several suggestions:

    1. Open both eBay and PayPal account. The PayPal is useful for many internet vendors now. Once you accumulate money in PayPal (think of it as another bank), you can use it to buy online, and not just from eBay. You can also transfer money to another bank account.
    2. Sell what ships easily. Books ship very easily. Shoes, clothing, small items, very well. A coffee table? Not so well. Keep a stash of cardboard boxes, packing material, etc on hand for shipping.
    3. Be overly descriptive. Your buyer can’t touch and examine the object. The more descriptive you are, the more likely it will sell for more money. Also go to the effort of taking GOOD pictures. Not blurry, underlit ones please.
    4. If this isn’t your full time business, list in batches when eBay runs a listing special. Do many at once, with them ending within a set time frame. That way, when the auctions are all over, you can take the packages to the post office and be done.
    5. If you are just starting, ship only to US buyers (or whatever your local country)–the extra efforts of Customs aren’t worth it.

    Hope this helps!

  34. thats a very useful article. i have found it an easy and speedy way to make some cash instantly. still not very convinced about the shipping part….

  35. Thank-you for shedding some light on the E-bay process. Have you any suggestions on how one would go about applying a price to an item? What if the items are antiques, collectors items, heavy or large, etc.?

    Thanks :)

  36. Nancy Juracka

    Hi, I also need to know about pricing. I justed listed 3 things and none of them sold. Is it better to list lower so that you can get bids going?

  37. you’ve inspired me to sell some of my unwanted and unnecessary items on eBay!! wish me luck!!

  38. hello,
    im from CYPRUS, AND i want to sell some clothes on ebay!
    is it easy to do that?the shipping how will work from Cyprus?
    Thank you!

  39. I have a question about charging sales tax on Ebay? Do you need to charge it and if you do, how do you calculate it? Thanks so much!

  40. Stephanie

    Hi Josh!
    Check out the article above all the comments, starting with #1. “Open an ebay account”. Good luck!!

  41. I tried some of these methods. Looks due to heavy competition and merchants offering with lower rates, there is no movement in my ebay. I need to still try to make my first sale. Thanks

  42. hey,
    I tried to sell somethings a few weeks ago, but the buyer said he transfered the money, but it never ended up in my account so i canecelled the item any tips on how to make sure this doenst happen again

  43. I just sold my first items on Ebay this past week. A few I made money on – those I listed as Buy It Now items or as auction items with minimum bid that was acceptable to me. Bombed out on the listing that I tried to “follow Ebay’s advice” and start at .99cents. That one I sold less than I paid for it. I have learned – list it for what I want for it. I also had good results using free shpping to get my item chosen over others, and I just priced the item up to cover it. Biggest problem – when they say to pack the box BEFORE you list it, wow! that is really important! Make sure to measure and weigh the box and choose the right mailing. Mostly I used Priority Mail, and I got free boxes from Ebay/USPS online and at the post office. The flat rate boxes are awesome! Listing the items was much easier than I thought…I had been putting it off. Even shipping the items isn’t as bad as I thought it would be since now I make sure to pack the item BEFORE I list it! Good luck and God bless!

  44. Lisa Parkin

    I’ve sold books to Amazon (who then sell them on). By using Amazon, they supply a postage label – they pay for the postage to Amazon, which is great. They also first advise how much you will expect to get from the book, if it is in good condition. Once they’ve received it, and checked it over, they credit your Amazon account with the amount pre-agreed/stated. The difference with selling books on ebay is that you will have to check with the Post Office what the weight/cost for posting is, and add this onto your listing in the packaging & postage (P&P) section.

  45. James Bates

    Well explained for newbies, thanks.
    A few questions I want to sell a powered bath seat.
    Paid £90 for it would like £75 tops and no lower than £45.

    If i started at £45, Do I have to pay eBay if its not sold?

    Should I start at the lowest possible price and wait for the bids possibly using the buy now option?
    Is it safe to estimate the packaging, this could be a mission for large item as this bath chair.

    Thanks God bless

  46. Let me share a cool tip to make the most profit on ebay:

    A friend of mine recommended me to look for coupons and
    sell the on ebay.

    With coupons there are literally no shipping costs compared to other products
    and people are always looking ways to shop for less than others.

    I wish you great success for your ebay business guys!

  47. As a private seller, I want to sell an item worth £1000 after it sells , tell me if I’m right, but when sold I am charged not only ebay fee but Luxembourg VAT at 15% plus Pay Pal fee and postage so I will be lucky to end up with £800 the thing is as the original owner of this item I have already paid UK VAT of 20% doesn’t seem right to me!

  48. The most important thing that I have found when selling stuff on eBay is an accurate description. I know it has already been mentioned, but make sure you detail every single thing that is defected in any way, because it’s not worth going through the hassle of somebody opening a claim on your item.

  49. Selling on ebay, now days a hard task due to high competition in tech world. Good rating, timely delivery with correct listing also important.

  50. christine

    I just tried to sell back my diamond ring to Shane company. I have the receipt and formal appraisal letter. I purchased it in 2007. they said they would buy It from me for $600 but the retail appraisal is $1200 and I could sell it for that much on ebay which is what most people do. they cleaned it up for me, put it in a new box and gave me a new appraisal letter to go with it. it is in perfect condition.
    I have never did ebay and I am afraid of making a big mistake and getting ripped off. what I ship it off and never get paid. what other bad things should I watch out for in this kind of deal? should I not do this ? I am a single mother with three kids and I really need the money to pay PGE etc. please help advise. thanks

    • Ebay is pretty tough to get scammed on if you use Paypal (which is pretty much what everyone does) and as a seller you should never ship the item until you have been paid.

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