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If you’re here, I assume you already know the drill.
You source inventory, you list, you ship. You source inventory, you list, you ship. Repeat ad infinitum.
I spent years in that cycle and could never figure out why I couldn’t level up my eBay business. When my wife and I finally sat down to look a the bottlenecks we decided that it was 100% listing. We could source twice as many things. We could ship twice as many things. But there was no way to get twice as many things listed every day (without hiring someone to do it).
For most eBay sellers it’s the same story. More listing equates to more money.
Which, of course, begs the question, how can you list faster on eBay? Apart from simply working more hours, we’ve found a few tips and tricks over the past couple of years that help us expedite things and increase our profit.
9 Tips For Listing Faster On eBay
If I could choose my favorite part of selling on eBay, it would not be listing. Getting paid and sourcing inventory would both come before it. However, listing items is where the rubber meets the road. No listings, no sales.
So if you have mastered the art of acquiring inventory, your income will now be limited by how fast you can complete a high-quality listing.
While some sellers are capable of listing 50 or more items per day, this is highly unusual.
Listing 20 items per day is a respectable and reasonable goal if you’re working by yourself. If you need to list more than 20 items per day maybe it’s time to start thinking about hiring help!
Before we hit the tips for listing on eBay faster, here’s a terrible secret: no matter what level you’re at, the listing process is very similar.
Sellers who have 5,000 active listings haven’t figured out something magical, they’ve just put their nose to the grindstone long enough that they are able to get a little faster every time. When I first started, I was lucky to list 10 items in a full day. Now, 20-30 isn’t out of the question. So let’s talk about a few common areas where you can shave minutes off your listing time and get more items up for sale!
1. Master Your “Death-Pile” Storage
Storing non-listed items properly will do a great deal to expedite your listing process.
First of all, get your pile off of the ground. No serious business stores their items in a pile.
Get a rack to hang things on. This will let you see what you have and stop things from getting wrinkled/dirty.
Next, don’t cherry-pick your items.
When you source new inventory, hang it at the back of the rack. Only pull off one item at a time from the front. Take it off, and if you’re not going to list it, re-donate it.
Having an item hanging around for months that you just can’t get around to listing is both a mental roadblock and harmful to your bottom line. If you’re planning on just sticking something in your inventory, don’t buy it!
The only exception to this is tip #2…
2. List Similar Items Together
If you want to get fast, you must think of your listing as a production line. Do one thing at a time, do it well, and then move on. So picture all your tops, then move on to pants, etc.
I typically group items by how I photograph them. Flat-lays together, items that go in the light-box together, large items, etc. This is a great way to limit the amount of moving around that you have to do.
3. Have Dedicated Spaces
If you have the space, have a dedicated place where you picture items, where you measure/do inventory/etc. Being able to move inventory through a physical system will help you be efficient.
While this wasn’t an option for me for years (since I lived in a small basement apartment) I still did my best to batch things. For example, I would have a dedicated picturing station set up for a day or two so I could take hundreds of pictures before taking it down. That way I saved the time I would have otherwise spent putting it up and taking it down every day.
4. Master Your Photo Stream
Taking pictures is one of the most important and time-consuming parts of listing on eBay. If you’re just starting out, feel free to use your phone. We only started using cameras in the past year or two and made hundreds of thousands of dollars from our iPhones.
When I photograph something I take the same pictures every single time.
For example, I’ll set up a pair of shoes and take “side, front, back, soles, top, insole, size tag, brand” and then move to the next pair. I have a similar set of pictures I take for pants, jackets, etc.
5. Have A “copy and paste” Description
Unless you’re selling on Poshmark, writing a unique description for clothing items is a giant time-suck. Most people know what they want, they can see what your item is, and just want the specifics. People say that your description is your chance to “sell your product,” but I have seen no difference in clothing sales when I use a generic, copy/paste description.
My copy and paste description looks like this:
If I’m selling a high-dollar piece of clothing I might also include measurements but my descriptions vary only a tiny bit from item to item.
6. Use Standard Shipping Weights
While we have never weighed every single item while listing, some sellers do. In the interest of speed, we typically estimate the weight, offer free shipping, or use a flat rate.
We’re usually pretty accurate but, if we’re slightly off, we either keep the extra or eat the cost. It all evens out in the end.
As an example, we put all t-shirts in at 13 ounces, shoes in at 2lbs, boots in at 3-4lbs, etc.
Depending on the item we typically estimate 8-16oz for a box and packing material.
The only exception to this is when we ship large items on eBay as it’s possible to lose all of your profits if you mess up the shipping.
7. Don’t Use A Mannequin If You Don’t Need To
We went through a phase where we thought that, in order to be professional and increase sales, every piece of clothing should be on a mannequin.
It looks better that way, right?
Unless you’re selling very high-end clothes on a mannequin that is just the right size, things will almost always look better on a hanger or flat lay. Your pictures may look nice, but remember, speed is of the essence, and dressing a mannequin 20 times a day is not a great use of time.
I always think of how much value I’m adding when I prepare an item for pictures. Sure, clean shoes might be worth more but is it worth the extra 20 minutes cleaning them? Probably not.
This mentality always leads us to use the fastest picturing method possible which is (almost) never a mannequin.
8. Don’t Overthink It
Just get it listed! If your item doesn’t sell, you can always tweak the listing later. If someone wants it, they’ll buy it.
I’ve put off listing items for weeks or months because I couldn’t get quite the right picture, find the model name or some other dumb reason. Just take mediocre pictures and, if it doesn’t sell, figure out how to take better ones. Having beautiful pictures and an awesome description doesn’t add any bonus points if the item is going to sell anyway.
9. Be Consistent
You don’t have to actually list on eBay every day, but set some goals and be sure to smash them! Listing every day might be helpful for keeping you motivated, but the number of listings you have online is much more important.
We have a weekly listing goal and typically list only 3 days a week, preferring to dedicate the other days to sourcing, listing, shipping, etc.
You’ll notice that I didn’t include listing software anywhere on this list. While I definitely recommend software for crossposting from eBay to Poshmark or Mercari (we use List Perfectly) I don’t find them necessary for anything else.
Just put your nose to the grindstone and make it happen the old-fashioned way.
I would, however, recommend experimenting with listing on your phone and on a desktop. Some people who have only ever tried one device are shocked to find that they list the other one way more and are able to list faster on it!
Something Else To Think About
When sourcing I always try to keep in mind how difficult something will be to photograph, list, and ship.
These days, I tend to choose only items that are easy to list and ship.
I’ve seen people who sell only shoes on eBay. They go into thrift stores, source shoes, and then go to another store.
Sure, they might be leaving a bit of money on the table by not checking other areas in the store but they more than makeup for it with expertise and speed.
If there’s a type of item that you can list quickly, gravitate in that direction!
Profit per hour is often more important than profit-per-item so “think speedy!”
While we didn’t hit it in the list above, your experience level is the most important factor that dictates how long it will take you to list an item. If you want to list faster on eBay, get more practice!
When you’re first starting out it might take you 30 minutes to list an item but soon you’ll be trimming that down to 5 minutes or less!