Is Selling on eBay Worth It? (Real Talk From A Seller)

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eBay is saturated! Selling on eBay is so 10 years ago! There are no more profits to be made!

Believe us, we’ve heard every negative thing about eBay that the naysayers can come up with. In fact, we don’t even bother with such people anymore. My wife and I just look at each other and get back to our listing on our eBay store.

After all, what does it matter to us if eBay is dead if it’s still making us thousands of dollars per month?

In my experience, what makes selling on eBay worth it is going to be different for every person. It is worth it for us because, for the past three years, we have averaged well into the 6-figure range by flipping thrift store items online.

If you are looking to build an extra stream of income, selling on eBay is one of the most accessible methods. The majority of people start selling with minimal (or no) investment and are able to build a business as large as they want with nothing but hard work and a little bit of know-how.

What makes selling on eBay worth it?

We polled over 10,000 people that follow our eBay Seller’s Instagram (they didn’t all reply, haha) and got a good insight into what makes it worth it to sell on eBay for people. Coupled with our own thoughts, here are the general themes:

  • You can be your own boss. Most people think that working for yourself just means giving yourself time off. But it really means that you can relax, enjoy your business, and take your business in a direction you know will pay off.
  • Your success (the money you make) is dictated by how much you work. On eBay, the sky is the limit. Need more money? Work more. There is no one telling you how much you can work or setting a limit on your salary.
  • It’s fun. Let’s face it, most people start reselling because they love thrifting. While we love the thrifting aspect of it, there’s nothing quite as fun as waking up in the morning to hundreds of dollars worth of sales you made while sleeping.
  • It provides diversified income. Now more than ever you need to have a second stream of income. Selling on eBay is worth it for many people because it’s what keeps them afloat when they or their spouse loses a job.
  • It can grow/shrink to fill the time you have. When I was in school full-time we did eBay in our spare time. When we decided to go full-time we simply scaled it up. When we need a break we scale it back. The great thing is that you don’t have to be working to make money. The sales are always there as long as you have put in the work!
  • There is a great supportive community. Selling on eBay (even full-time) is not unusual these days. There are over 25 million eBay sellers and a community of tens of thousands of people who make a full-time living. So is it worth it to sell on eBay?

So it is worth it to sell on eBay? If you want to make money it is. However, nothing is perfect. There are some very loud people on the other side of the fence who are anti-eBay. While most of them are simply disgruntled people who don’t want to put in the work (or got banned by eBay) we should probably still address their concerns…and then smash them with logic.

The Case Against eBay – 4 Reasons It’s Not Worth It

While there is a lot of griping from ornery people, there are some legitimate reasons that might mean that selling on eBay isn’t worth it for you:

It’s hard work. Most people who don’t succeed on eBay never gave it a real chance. They see people sipping margaritas on the beach during a vacation and then posting a picture of dozens of sales when they get home. That’s not realistic. At least at first. If you want eBay to be worth it, make a daily listing goal and get to 1,000 active listings. Then you’ll know.

They take fees. Many people are angered by eBay’s fee schedule. If you have ever tried to build a website (or tried selling on another platform) you’d know that eBay’s fees are extremely reasonable for the service they provide. Having said that, however, eBay is not overly transparent about their fees these days and they’re higher than they’ve ever been.

You are limited by your time. Unlike other businesses, you are limited on eBay by how many items you can source and list. If you want to make a million dollars a year without hiring help, eBay isn’t for you.

eBay is saturated/different/dying/etc. eBay is not the same as it was 5 or even 2 years ago. Two years from now it will be different again. Every business changes and, if you want to own a successful long-term business, you will need to adapt and learn how to succeed despite the changes. eBay is not what it once was, though. Sales are slower for almost everyone and people are having to work harder and cross list onto Poshmark or Mercari to make the same amount of money they used to make on just eBay.

From what I have seen, people who fail on eBay would have failed no matter what business they started. If you are the type of person who can overcome obstacles then you can make a great living on eBay.

What Can eBay Do For You?

In my opinion, the person who will find the most benefit to selling on eBay is someone with a job who wants to build up a significant side-hustle. That’s how it started for us and is when we enjoyed it the most and made the most per hour.

However, that’s not to say you have to be in that position to make selling worth it. eBay sellers are as diverse as they come. There are people who have been selling for 20 years, executives who want to sell their luxury handbag collection, single moms who need extra rent money, couples trying to build an empire, and more. There is a spot for every person on eBay.

It’s also worth noting that there are people with wildly different goals who find success on eBay. A friend of mine sells part-time and uses the profits for home upgrades and vacations. Another friend (acquaintance I guess) uses his eBay store to max out his IRA and help offset his tax burden. When we started selling it was because we had extra crap sitting around but, when Kirstie had a rough pregnancy, it became our only source of income.

While it’s not for everyone, if you’re the type of person who sets defined goals, it should be fairly easy to see whether or not selling on eBay will be worth it for you and help you reach your goals.

And if it is worth it? Well, that’s why we’re here!

How To Make Selling On eBay Worth It

Just because selling on eBay is worth it doesn’t mean that it’s easy or that you’re guaranteed success. The online marketplace has more hungry buyers than ever before but it’s also getting more crowded for sellers.

Once you have the basics of selling on eBay down (check out our free guide) you want to continue expanding your knowledge. Refining your business and learning new things to sell is the key to staying profitable and building your eBay store.

There are a few things that I feel you can do that will increase your chances of success on eBay (after all, selling anything on eBay is only worth it if you’re making money):

1. Know Your Buyer

One of the first rules of selling anything is to know your buyer. This is far more important than knowing brands because you’ll be able to recognize all kinds of new things that you can make money on.

Really knowing the type of person that shops on eBay comes mainly with experience. As you have some awesome sales (and some duds) you’ll quickly learn how to get into the head of someone who is trying to save money (or find something rare) by shopping on eBay.

Knowing the person you’re trying to sell to will influence the amount you can spend on things (sometimes it’s worth it to pay up), how to take pictures, whether or not you should include a thank you note, etc.

2. Focus on quality over quantity

When we first started selling on eBay we gave in to the “list, list, list!” hype and flooded our store with merchandise that made $5-10 per sale. We finally hit the wall when we sat down, did some math, and figured we were only making $15 an hour or so. The main reason that this was a problem is that we only had 2-3 hours a day to work on eBay and we needed to net $100/day to stay afloat. Something had to change.

To make the most of your time in both listing and shipping, you must maximize the profit on each sale. These days we are very selective about the things we source and list for two reasons:

  • You are more likely to get repeat customers if they know you sell quality items. Nobody wants to subscribe to a store that sells tons of low-quality items. The more consistent the types of items you sell are (and the better service you provide) the more of a following you can build.
  • Selling only high-quality items gives us a much higher return on our time investment.  When we were trying to do high volume sales, we found that 80% of our profits came from only 20% of our sales (the high dollar items).  When we stopped sourcing the lower 80% of items, our profits went through the roof!  We avoid having a “death-pile” and only buy items that we know for sure will turn a profit for us.

3. Go the Extra Mile

There was a time on eBay when it felt like free money was being given away.  Sellers would take terrible pictures, just copy their title into the description, and sell things like crazy!  When something sold, they could get away with stuffing it in any old bag or box and dropping it off at the post office.  Thankfully, with seller standards and the feedback system, these days are long gone!  While you might still make a quick buck with such low practices, you will get no repeat customers and likely lose your store

The key to making real money on eBay is to be in it for the long haul.  You need to treat your customers like gold.

In addition to customer service, there are a few more areas where you can excel on eBay and pass by all the bums who say that it’s not worth it. Be sure to:

  • Take great pictures. A picture is literally worth a thousand words on eBay.
  • Include measurements in all your clothing listings. Selling clothing on eBay is worth it if you make quality listings)
  • Offer a customer-friendly return policy. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Keeping a happy customer (and avoiding negative feedback) is usually worth accepting a return and refunding a buyer.
  • Respond to messages promptly. If somebody is interested enough in your stuff to message you, respond!
  • Package your order professionally and ship them promptly!
  • Never stop learning! People who are stuck doing things the same way they did 10 years are dying off on eBay. If you want to keep pace then you need to have impeccable business systems that you are constantly updating.

If you do those 6 things, you never have to worry about “eBay always siding with buyers” etc. because you and eBay will have the same goals: increased profits through customer satisfaction (which makes it worth it for everyone).

Conclusion – It Might Be Worth It…

For us, yes. Selling clothes on eBay is worth it, selling electronics on eBay is worth it, in fact, selling just about anything on eBay can be worth it if you’re smart about it. There is so much money available online and eBay, as one of the largest online platforms, is a very safe place to stake your claim.

So get thrifting and get selling!

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