How to Sell on eBay for Beginners: 10 Radical Tips for 2020

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If you’re just getting started on eBay, you might be a little late to the party. 10 years ago people were listing everything they could get their hands on and it would sell overnight. People were buying houses with their profits. I even got a gold tooth. Not really. But it doesn’t matter because those golden days are long gone. Or are they?!

Believe it or not there are still people who are making a ton of money on eBay. The problem is, their success is overshadowed by the thousands of people who are barely making it from month to month as their flipping business slowly dies. So what’s the difference between the two groups?

Well, the group that is failing is doing everything the exact same way. They watch the same videos on YouTube, follow the same people on Instagram and have the same business model (thrift, list, repeat). If you want to be successful, you can’t do things the same way as people who are barely getting by. You have to break out of the box. These 10 tips might not be what you expect but they might be just what you need to launch your eBay business in the stratosphere and make a ton of money!

Before we get into this, I’ll give this caveat. When I came up with these tips I was envisioning a person who is just getting started on eBay and has a handful (or even a few hundred) of listings but is struggling to scale things up and really build their business. If you are just getting started, check out our How To Sell on eBay guide.

So, without further ado, let’s get to it!

1. Source the cheapest inventory possible.

When I first started on eBay I didn’t have a ton of money to invest. Couple that with the fact that I didn’t really know what to sell and I spent way too much money on crappy inventory that wouldn’t sell for a profit in a million years. No matter how many BOLO videos you watch on YouTube or how many eBooks you read, the only way to get good at selling on eBay as a beginner is to do it. So stay out of Nordstrom Rack and spend some time at the bins where you can afford to make all the mistakes you need to.

2. Don’t focus on sales.

When you first start on eBay, your goal shouldn’t be making money as fast as possible but laying a good and solid foundation for future growth. Buy good supplies, spend the time you need to perfect your photography, learn the ins and outs of listing, etc. Becoming too focused on sales might make you some money in the short-term but your stunted growth will be evident when you try to take it to the next level.

3. Don’t choose a niche

Many people who are middle-of-the-road eBay sales try to convince eBay beginners that they need to choose a niche and get extremely good at it. This may have been true at one time but, these days, you have to be a jack-of-all-trades if you’re going to make it reselling online. When you get more experience under your belt you may be able to focus on a certain area but beginners should get their feet wet by selling anything they get their hands on that will bring a sale.

4. Don’t buy anything you don’t want to list or ship

My “death-pile” is full of dozens of items that are great flips (in theory) but I just can’t bring myself to list them. Some of them are super hard to photograph, some I can’t adequately test, others I don’t want to ship, and some just don’t interest me. And so they sit…and sit….and sit. These days, however, I do my best not to purchase anything to resell on eBay that I wouldn’t be willing to go home and list that same day. For this reason, I avoid things like prom dresses that are just too difficult and time consuming for the amount of profit they provide.

5. Tell everyone what you do

When I first started on eBay I felt kind of ghetto. I didn’t feel like telling people that I dug around in thrift stores and sold used stuff on eBay for a living. Let me tell you this, there’s nothing lame of ghetto about making money or providing for yourself and your family. When I finally came to terms with my job and told people about it, nearly everyone was supportive and tons of people offered me things they were going to donate or sell themselves! People can’t support what you do if they don’t know what it is!

6. Don’t go full-time

Seriously, don’t go full time on eBay as a beginner. You might think that jumping off a cliff will make you fly, but in all likelihood, you will just splat. Even experienced eBayers often rely on their spouse’s income, start another side hustle, or go hungry during lean times. We went full-time after 2 years of selling part-time on eBay and we were premature. Needing sales so you can buy groceries makes selling on eBay a taxing and stressful chore. So keep your job, build your eBay, and think about your decision to go full-time very, very carefully.

7. Don’t take advice from people who aren’t doing what you want to do

There will be tons of people eager to give their opinion on what you do. From your parents to Instagrammers you’ll quickly find that the people who understand the least squawk the loudest. These days, I am loath to take advice from anyone on how to grow my eBay unless they sell on eBay and make way more money than me. Be wary of gurus who are selling eBooks and have a balling lifestyle but only have $5k in eBay sales per month. Pssst….their money is from preying on beginning eBay sellers….

8. Don’t focus on your 60/90 day total or the number of listing you have online

There are extremely profitable resellers (CraigslistHunter for example) who rarely have more 1,000 items listed but profit $20k per month on eBay. At one point we had 2,100 active listings and were hyper-focused on getting that number to 3,000. However, our sell-through rate was miserable and our profits were lower than when we had 800 listings. Do yourself a favor, go read the book Profit First, and don’t worry about anything but your bottom line.

9. Don’t get stuck doing things the same way

If your eBay business isn’t growing, change something. You can try to sell on alternate platforms, source in strange places, or even give up thrifting all together! The people whose businesses die are those who can’t adapt. Learning to sell on eBay as a beginner means you have to adapt quickly to a marketplace that you don’t control and is always changing.

10. Take breaks to avoid burnout

My wife and I have now been selling on eBay for 7 years. The only thing that has kept us going during that time is taking breaks from reselling. Now, you might have to grind it out for a year in the beginning, but eventually, you’ll be able to take days or a week or two off without it doing any damage to your store. We currently have about 1800 items for sale between our two eBay stores and could take a month off (besides shipping) and come back better than ever.

*Bonus Tip: Invest in your education*

The fastest way to bypass the competition and increase your sales is to increase your knowledge of what to sell. I spent my first 2 years on eBay looking up thousands and thousands of items to try and figure out what exactly worked. Luckily for you, I put all of that effort into looking up clothing brands into two huge articles! I planned on sharing them only with our followers on our Facebook but decided to just post them here to help the community out. Check them out:

And there you have it! While none of these tips are going to make you money by themselves, if you weave them into your business you’ll end up making way more money faster than you thought possible!

Selling on eBay as a beginner can be pretty difficult and scary but, with a bit of luck and spades of hard work, it can still happen. So get out there and get busy! Happy sales!


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