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5 Easy Tips to Sell on eBay Like a Pro

Selling on eBay is easy, so long as you know what to do. If you have a smartphone and a need to declutter, this blog post is for you.

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I’ve been selling on eBay for a long time. I still remember my first eBay sale. The year was 1999.

While visiting my parents, I searched through my childhood closet and emerged with a few random items: a pair of ice skates complete with orange pom-poms, a set of hair rollers last used at a sleepover in middle school, and a packet of handwritten notes I prepared while studying for the New York State bar exam. Those notes sold for a whopping $100.

eBay has changed a lot since then and has only gotten easier to use. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way. This post deals exclusively with selling on eBay using the app, although you can use a computer.

I didn’t always know all of these tips, so even if you have successfully sold on eBay, I hope that you find some new and useful information here.

* This blog post first appeared in December 2016 and has been updated to reflect new product information and updates.

Check out my downloadable list of “Ways to Save Money (without Depriving Yourself “ at the end of this post!

Before You Get Started with eBay, Download these Apps:

  1. eBay
  2. PayPal

Tip Number 1: Get the Proper Supplies

Before you even list anything, make sure you have these supplies on hand:

  • Postal scale: I have this one. I like its small size, plus the ability to use batteries or a charger.

  • Poly Mailer Bags: buy these in both sizes, small and large. This supply will last you for years. Why do you want to use a Poly Bag? It’s lightweight (important to keep shipping costs down), easy to close, strong, and takes up little room for you to store in your home.

  • Packing tape
  • Scissors
  • Bubble wrap or other packing materials: I reuse them from shipments I receive
  • A supply of cardboard boxes in various sizes: I keep a stash in my garage
  • A working printer: I’ve had an HP Envy printer similar to this one for a decade. I do have to replace the cartridges fairly often but it’s so easy to use. I print most documents directly from my phone with AirPrint.

Keep these items in a designated area so you can quickly access them on the day of your sale.

I cannot stress how much easier my eBay life has become post-Poly Bag. More on these Poly Bags later . . .

Tip Number 2: Identify what to Sell

Every so often, take stock of your belongings. Inspect your kids’ playroom. It’s even better if you can do all this when they are not home.

Organize everything into the following piles: keep, trash, donate, or sell. If you plan on donating, there’s nothing easier than using the GiveBackBox.

Which Items Sell Well on eBay?

For bulky items, you may want to try local pickup. Obviously, meet in a public place. I’ve always brought the item outside and have never invited anyone into my home.

True Story: I sold a single stroller via local pickup. The buyer saw me, majorly pregnant, and asked when I was due. I told him I was just waiting for the sale to be over as I was already in labor. Then, I walked myself to the hospital. When I sold my second stroller, an enormous Baby Jogger City Select, I tossed the entire thing into a box and dropped it off at a shipping facility.

  • Baby and children’s items: strollers and accessories, baby toys, Bundle Me, just to name a few of the things I’ve sold.
  • Children’s clothes: I try to sell kids’ clothes in “lots.” You’ll have an easier time getting rid of everything if you lump them together by style and size. Winter clothes like jackets and snow pants sell well, as do children’s shoes in good condition.
  • Toys: I’ve sold so many toys over the years that I’ve lost count.
  • Books: not only do I sell on eBay but it’s the first place I go when buying books for my kids, especially popular titles and series. If your child goes through a book in a few days, you’ll save hundreds of dollars not buying new.
  • Extra parts: have an extra part for a toy, kitchen gadget, or household item lying around? People are always on the hunt for these items, rather than replacing it in its entirety.
  • Electronics: old phones, Kindles, computer parts, smart devices.

Don’t disregard anything. You’d be surprised at some of the things people will buy on eBay. Oh, and that broken electronic device. Did you know you can sell it for parts or list it as not working?

Tip Number 3: Do Your Research Beforehand

Although this research takes only a couple of minutes, it will help you make the decision whether to sell or not. Use the app when possible.

Here is step-by-step how to list:

  • Check Amazon prices to see how much the product sells for new. Maybe, it’s not worth selling at all.
  • Type in the name of the item you wish to sell or use the camera to take a photo. Hopefully, the exact same product comes up. If not, choose the most similar item.
  • Click on “filter” in the upper-right-hand corner to narrow down your search.
  • Under the search terms, click on condition: new/used
  • This is most helpful and important, click on “show more.” Then, sort by “completed items” and “sold items.” Note, completed items also includes those that were listed but never sold.
  • Focus on “sold items” to determine the actual worth of your item, i.e., what people are willing to pay. 
  • You can also “watch” similar items that others are selling to gauge interest and determine a fair price.

*Note, if you want to sell a grouping of something such as ten pairs of jeans, use the word “lot” in your search to pull up similar listings.

Tip Number 3: Create an Honest Listing

How to Write the eBay Description

After finding the item closest to what you wish to sell, under that listing, click on “sell one like this.”

All relevant categories are pre-filled, minus the photos, details, price, and choice of payment. Snap a couple of photos while still within the app, fill out the description and add details, making sure to disclose any defects.

Be specific. I wrote this in the description when selling a children’s blanket “Toddler size BundleMe in near perfect condition. Light pink color. No stains or rips. Zipper in working order. Machine washable.”

Tip Number 4: How to Price Your Item on eBay

eBay guides you in the pricing:

For the BundleMe, eBay tells me that similar items have sold between $4.99 and $8.99. I decide to start the bidding at $6.99 plus shipping and a “buy it now price” of $15. I leave shipping set to its default of USPS Priority Mail.

Should you include free shipping for the buyer?

Follow the leads of others. Are most selling your item with free shipping? You can sort by items similar to yours using the filter mentioned above and click on “shipping” to bring up only free shipping items.

Most times, I include shipping in the price because it’s one less thing to deal with but it’s totally a judgment call.

Should You Ship Globally?

Years ago, my answer would have been absolutely not. However, eBay has made it so easy to ship internationally, that you really don’t have to do anything. They take care of it all for you.

When you click on the shipping tab, you will see at the bottom a section entitled “Ship Internationally” using the “Global Shipping Program.”

I have successfully used this feature, which basically means that upon making a sale, you send the item to eBay and they take care of shipping it overseas.

Payments and Returns

I only accept PayPal as payment and I do not accept returns.

Should You Re-List if You Don’t Sell?

Right before you list an item, you are given the option to “auto re-list” two times if the item does not sell.

By default, the listing runs for 7 days but you can change it anywhere from one to ten days.

Unless you need to get rid of an item immediately (maybe you’re moving), always re-list at least once. Many times, the item sells the second time around.

Tip Number 4: Pack Efficiently

Once you receive notification of a sale and payment (always wait for payment before shipping), it’s time to pack the item for shipment.

Use a Poly Mailer Bag When Possible

  • Weight matters. Poly Bags do not add weight. You can even tape two Poly Bags together.
  • If your item weighs 13 ounces or less, you ship it by First Class Mail. What does this mean? You don’t have to go to the post office. Simply drop the package into a mailbox or leave for your mailman.
  • For delicate items, add bubble wrap or another protectant packaging.
  • Add a quick thank you note for the buyer.

The BundleMe fits into the larger Poly Bag. I’ve managed to ship a baby mobile, a crib bumper, and a maternity coat, each within a large Poly Bag.

Weigh the Package

Once your package is all taped up and ready to go, place it on the postal scale.

Once you know the weight, eBay does most of the work figuring out shipping. Print your mailing label directly through eBay. You even get a discount on shipping. Pay for shipping through PayPal.

Ship Books via Media Mail

When shipping books, choose the media mail option. It’s a cheaper way to send media like books and DVDs.

Leave Your Package for Your Mailman or Drop it Off at the Post Office

I have a great mailman. He takes my larger packages as well, although he routinely reminds me that protocol requires me to schedule a pickup through the USPS website. I’ll tip him extra this holiday season.

If you’re going to the post office, don’t wait on line. Just tell them it’s prepaid, and they’ll ask you to drop it off on their desk.

Tip Number 5: What to Expect after the Sale

In the eBay world, your reputation is paramount.

Feedback

Give feedback after the transaction ends and remind buyers to do the same. In fact, that’s pretty much what I say in my personalized note to the buyer after I thank them.

What Do You Do if the Buyer is Unhappy?

You will have situations where the buyer is unhappy. Remember that mammoth stroller I sent out? Apparently, I included the wrong adapter for a car seat and the buyer complained to me. Rather than risk my reputation on eBay or “open a case,” I offered a partial refund which she gladly accepted.

Another time, a buyer accused me of not sending something, although it turned out that her sister had taken the package for which she apologized.

I once sent out a toy missing a piece. When I contacted the buyer, I told her I would send it off separately. Unfortunately, she never received it. Due to our good communication throughout the sale, she respected my honesty and left me good feedback anyway.

eBay Alternatives

Of course, there are good alternatives to eBay (besides donating).

Facebook Groups & Facebook Marketplace

I actually prefer the ease of eBay. Here’s why:

  • Buyers on Facebook often are pickier. I can’t count the amount of times, potential buyers stop by and then decide not to purchase.
  • It’s annoying to wait around for someone to come and then not to sell. When possible, I leave on my porch for Facebook sales and trust, they’ll leave payment.
  • People like to haggle (which I dislike) for Facebook sales. On eBay, you bid or you don’t.
  • Buyers are more likely to want to return on Facebook. I once sold a bag of my son’s T-shirts for like 50 cents a shirt. After the sale, the woman texted me and changed her mind and came back to my car to return.
  • You often have a better chance of selling on eBay. On Facebook, listings get lost. On eBay, if someone is searching for a specific item, they’ll find you.

Craigslist

I’ve sold on Craigslist but I don’t like it. First of all, I’ve had people fail to show up. I’ve had sketchy people show up at my house. I’ve had people unable to communicate with me in English. And, hardly ever has anyone wanted to pay the asking price.

Do I use Craigslist? Yes. When we moved, we sold half of our furniture there but I always make sure someone else is home with me and I give out very little personal information.

DeCluttr

Recently, I’ve learned of this app. It’s recommended for selling tech items, CDs, DVDs, and books. It’s really easy because you don’t have to wait for a bid. But I would try eBay first. I scanned a book and it offered me 25 cents when I know I can sell it for at least $4 on eBay.

Final thoughts

When selling on eBay, remember this: Communicate often. Be honest, respectful, helpful and reasonable.

Is it worth selling on eBay?

Just to put this in perspective. Listing the item takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes, including taking photos. Shipping takes another 5 or so. This blog post took you longer to read.

*Update: The BundleMe sold for $23.25 (plus shipping paid by the buyer), more than $16.00 over my starting bid price. I received 8 bids.

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Chris

Saturday 15th of December 2018

Thanks for the guide :)

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