How To Sell On eBay For Beginners: A Step By Step Guide

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That’s probably the first response we get when we tell people that we buy stuff from thrift stores and sell it on eBay for a living.  Even after we explain exactly how to sell on eBay, that, yes, we do make a decent living and, yes, there are literally thousands of people that do the same thing around the world, people want to pinch our cheeks and give us an “awww…you and your little business…that’s so cute…”

​Even those who are interested in learning how to sell on eBay are shocked when they come into the community and learn that there are people who make six figures selling out of their spare bedrooms.  Selling on eBay has opened the door for anyone to get started in an online home-based business. 

However, learning how to sell on eBay as a beginner is a daunting task. With millions of listings active it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees. Luckily, here’s the truth: no matter how big a company is on eBay they list their items one by one, just like you will be doing. There is no crazy magic sauce. Once you’ve got it, you’ve got it. So you won’t be an eBay beginner for long!

Three Steps to Help Any Beginner Sell on eBay:

Getting started on eBay is super easy and shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes. Here’s the condensed version of how to sell on eBay for beginners:

  1. Find a product you want to sell. Most resellers find their inventory at thrift stores or auctions but, if you’re just getting started, go find something from your closet, kitchen cabinet, etc. to sell. If you need some ideas of what types of things sell, check out our What To Sell on eBay page.
  2. Head over to and click the “Sell” button in the upper right-hand corner.
  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to set up an account and list your item.

That’s all there is to it! For your first listing, the price and settings aren’t very important. Just put in what makes sense to you (or just follow eBay’s suggestions if that’s easier). Don’t worry about messing things up, after all, we’ve sold over 10,000 items on eBay and have messed up dozens of them. It will be a learning experience and won’t affect your profit overall!

Selling on eBay as a Beginner vs. Having an eBay Business

Selling on eBay is an incredible opportunity. On one side, there are people who sell for a little extra money on the side or to get rid of clutter around the house. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are people who employ those exact same eBay listing skills to make tens of thousands of dollars per month. What you get out of eBay is entirely dependent on what you put into it.

Even when I was just starting out as an eBay newbie I was interested in making as much money as possible. So if you are interested in more than a side hustle: let’s talk about how to sell on eBay from a business perspective.

Why eBay is an excellent business model for beginners:

Sell on eBay is, perhaps, the purest business model that exists. You go out, find a product for cheap, and sell it for more. While its simplicity is a major draw, there are other benefits:

  • Minimal start-up money is needed. Beginners can literally start on eBay with no money in the bank. People get things to sell on eBay from trash cans, donations from friends, and their own closets.
  • No business experience. No business experience? Well, eBay is a great place to start! No high-school diploma? eBay and your customers don’t care! If you provide value, you can make money.
  • You can start profiting you the very first day. In fact, you can be making money within minutes. If you price your items well and they are in demand, you can have a profitable business very very quickly.
  • No networking/finding supplies/etc is required (at least when you start out).
  • Your profits are limited only by your smarts and your willingness to work. If people complain that there isn’t money to be made on eBay, they just aren’t working hard enough.
  • Lots of users/potential customers. eBay offers you the ability to connect with 182,000,000 potential buyers throughout the world. No other platform has such a reach.

As the last point in favor of eBay, your new side hustle has nearly unlimited growth potential.  There are couples who started 10 years ago selling out of their basement as a side income and now they run companies with hundreds of employees that process thousands of orders a day.  There are also couples that started selling out of their basement 10 years ago and stopped selling within 6 months because it was “too hard.” Which one will you be?

I’ll assume that, even as a beginner, you’re dedicated to making this work. Whether you’re just trying to make some extra side money or grow an income stream you can do it!

How To Maximize Your eBay Profits as a Beginner (7 Tips)

1. Set A Goal

One of the main reasons that people fail at a project is because they have an unrealistic idea about the amount of work needed to reach their goal.  I have a buddy who keeps a picture of a 280-pound bodybuilder as his phone screen to “motivate him” but then works out maybe once a week.  Once you find someone who inspires you, ask yourself, can I imagine reaching the point they’re at doing what I’m currently doing?  Can I imagine that the people who are leaving their jobs and making money on eBay are sourcing and listing just 5 items a day?

If you want to learn how to sell on eBay to start a business, we must treat it as a business and focus on growth right from the start.  However, no matter your goal, we’re going to start in the same place.  By finding something to sell!

2. Learn To Source Great Inventory Consistently

If you want to sell on eBay, your profit and longevity on the platform will be dependent almost entirely on the quality of the inventory you are able to source. When I’ve done store reviews, the most common reason people aren’t having sales is that they are selling crap. Or, in other words, they are selling things that anyone could go find at the local thrift store anytime.

When you first start on eBay, I would recommend sticking to thrift stores, yard sales, and Facebook Marketplace for sourcing. The cheaper you source inventory, the less your mistakes will cost you, and the faster you will learn.

Now, the real key to sourcing inventory regularly is to increase your knowledge of what sells. If you’re a beginner selling on eBay, your knowledge of brands that sell well will probably be pretty limited. My wife and I thought we were pretty brand conscious but we spent our first months in thrift stores looking up 75% of the brands that we came across.

Luckily, that is the main focus of this site and we have tons of articles for you to peruse!

Check them out:

3. Become A Listing Master

Sourcing a great product for eBay doesn’t make you any money. In fact, I know several people who “sell on eBay” but really just spend all of their time sourcing inventory and storing it for some future time. In other words, they are in the storage business, not the selling business.

Listing items is where the rubber really meets the road. If it’s not listed, it can’t/won’t sell. Don’t fall into the belief that you have to list every day. In fact, I’ve gone through phases (when I have a day job) where I list 50 items one day on a single Saturday. You have sales because you have things for sale, not because you list them in a trickle. So get them listed!

Related Reading:

4. Manage Your Inventory

managing inventory is necessary for learning how to sell on eBay
A good example of a bad system…

Creating processes that keep you organized and efficient will ensure that you can maximize your profits on eBay. You need a space to keep your inventory and a system to so you can find things quickly.

Related Reading:

5. Learn To Ship Items Quickly & Efficiently

I hate shipping. Unfortunately, shipping items that we’ve sold on eBay. When I was a beginning seller it took me the longest amount of time and caused me the most stress. However, since shipping people the items that they’ve paid for isn’t really optional, we simply need to learn how to do it as fast, cheap, and safe as possible.

If you’re asking how to sell on eBay, you’re really asking how to ship items so here are the tips:

  • Get polymailers for any soft or clothing items
  • Ask local businesses if they have boxes you can have for free
  • Contact a local newspaper or print shop and see if you can take bundles of newspaper they would otherwise throw out
  • Get a home shipping set-up do all your shipping without leaving your house

Once you get your systems in place, shipping supplies should not cost you any money. Remember, any money spent on extra shipping supplies comes right out of your profits!

Related Reading:

6. Repeat and Scale

One of the main pulls of an eBay business is that you don’t need much.  Don’t let that change.  People build fluffy businesses that look really cute and make them feel cool but aren’t any better at generating profit.  A lot of people face a problem and ask themselves, “What Tools Do I Need To Get This Done?”

Related Reading:

7. Continue learning, growing, and developing skills

Every time eBay changes you’ll find hundreds of eBay sellers who claim that the end has come and that there is no more money to be made flipping things online. These people are the ones who refuse to change with time and see their businesses shrivel and die.

As a beginner eBay seller you’ll be tempted to think that the way eBay is when you joined is how it’s always been. But really that’s just your personal square one. Change is the only constant when it comes to online business and eBay is no exception. If you ever reach the point where you’re coasting and not learning, your sales are sure to be on the decline. Following along here, joining a community or Facebook group, or researching new skills and brands are good ways to keep things headed upward.

Now, I know if you’re a new seller you’re probably a bit overwhelmed at all there is to learn. Ass you wanted was a step-by-step guide on how to sell on eBay for beginners and I gave you this colossal novel. If so, let me put your mind at ease. Selling on eBay is incredibly easy. When it comes down to it, you find something good at a thrift store, take a few pictures and get it listed. The rest of these tips and articles will help you massively increase your profits over time but, if that takes you a year or two, that’s fine! It’s your business, do what makes you happy and comfortable!

So now that you know how to sell on eBay, get out that and make some money!

How To Sell on eBay – Quick FAQs

How much does it cost to sell on eBay?

It shouldn’t come as a shock to you that it’s not free to sell on eBay. The short answer is, it will cost you around $0.30 to list something and 10% of the final price (meaning shipping included) when something sells. This changes a bit if you have an eBay store but the changes aren’t huge.

Most other reselling platforms have similar or high fees and have much lower traffic than eBay. For the service they offer, eBay fees are well worth the cost.

Lots of people ask us how to sell on eBay for free….well you can’t. There are people who avoid their fees (and have their accounts deleted) but, since not paying for services offered is a bad business practice, we won’t discuss any of their methods here.

Related Reading: How Much Does eBay Take

How long does it take for things to sell?

We’ve had things well within minutes of listing and other items that have failed to sell even after spending 2 years on eBay. If you’re looking for items that sell quickly, stick to newer electronics, trendy clothing, and shoes. Vintage items are some of our slowest sellers.

If you want to sell on eBay long-term, you’ll need to come up with a consistent strategy of lowering prices, having sales, and even donating unsold items to make sure you don’t end up storing things forever.

How much money can I make selling part-time?

This is obviously an impossible question to answer. We’ll do it anyway. I firmly believe that anyone who is serious about selling part-time can profit $1,000/month within 2-3 months. If work full-time and only have evenings and weekends to dedicate to eBay, you’ll likely top our at $3-5,000 a month in sales. You might do better, you might do worse but that’s about where we were at.

Full-time eBay sellers stand to make much more. In fact, how much you make is entirely dependent on how you grow your business. There are resellers who take it to the level of buying massive close-out lots from major retailers and have dozens of employees that list and ship their items, making millions in sales per year. However, if you are determined to go it solo, you’ll likely top out at around $12-15,000 (in sales) per month working your fingers to the bone.

Are there valuable things to be found at thrift stores?

People scoff at us all the time when we say we find designer items at thrift stores. I don’t usually tell them that, if I saw their clothes at the thrift store, I’d leave them on the rack.

People with way more money than you or I donate their items the same way (or even more wantonly since they have the money to replace them). In fact, members of the reseller community regularly find items donated by celebrities, athletes, etc.

Even people who don’t know how to sell on eBay get lucky sometimes and I’ve had friends (and even my mom) text me with amazing things they’ve found.

Related Reading: 12 Most Valuable Thrift Store Finds on All Time

How do I deal with an angry buyer?

angry eBay customer

As a business owner (and your own customer service department) you’re going to have to deal with some very angry customers. Sometimes this will be because you messed up, sometimes it will be because the person is crazy.

The best thing you can do is respond like a robot. Don’t insult people (even if they’re idiots), don’t argue, don’t use profanity, etc. If you keep your cool and follow eBay guidelines, eBay will side with you if someone opens a case against you.

Related Reading: Dealing with Returns on eBay

How to source inventory consistently

When we are doing some spring cleaning (or are particularly low on inventory) we often end up looking through our house and garage for things to sell.  The more “stuff” we buy and sell the more we realize how easy it is to acquire more things.  I would almost always rather have money in my account rather than an infrequently used item in my closet.  If I miss it that much, I can always buy another!

If you know the types of items you want to sell but just can’t seem to source them consistently, this might help:

How to grow your eBay Business

One of the main pulls of an eBay business is that you don’t need much.  Don’t let that change.  People build fluffy businesses that look really cute and make them feel cool but aren’t any better at generating profit.  A lot of people face a problem and ask themselves, “What Tools Do I Need To Get This Done?”

Now that we understand how to sell on eBay, check out our 14 Tools for eBay Sellers article for the few things that you need to take your business to the next level!

In conclusion:

In this age of making money online, figuring out how to sell stuff on eBay can both put money in your pocket and keep you moving forward in life. I firmly believe that anyone can learn how to make money on eBay, not just young people, tech people, or thrift-store-lovers…anyone.

So if you’re looking to start a side hustle and make money, why are you still here? Go find something to list and get selling on eBay! Happy hunting!

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