Making a Full-Time Living Selling on eBay

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Quitting your job.  Working for yourself.  Everybody’s dream.  Or even better, next time your boss is being a jerk, being able to tell him, “Hang on a second, I don’t actually need this job, I don’t need your money,  and I certainly don’t need to deal with abuse from you simply so I can stay here and get a miserable paycheck!”  
Reselling on eBay has been responsible for paying many of our bills, sending us on vacation, and padding our savings account.  We were recently thinking about the ramifications of me leaving my job and working on eBay full time.

Luckily, we did all the math and asked ourselves a few tough questions before I just impulsively told my boss to shove it!  If you’re thinking about heading out on your own, ask yourself these three questions first:

Can I consistently source enough product to stock my store?

If my wife and I put in another 20 hours a week on eBay, it would do very little for our bottom line.  The reason being that we are already picking over all of our nearby thrift stores several times a week,  as well as purchasing from Facebook groups, craigslist, closeouts, etc.  In other words, we’ve maxed out our local resources.  For many people who want to do eBay full time, it is not realistic to find enough quality items from thrifting only.  There is not enough time, there is a finite number of things to be thrifted, and you should be spending that time listing anyway!  So, do you have a reliable way to acquire product?  Can you buy large lots of items?  Can other people thrift for you?

After acquiring the product, do I have enough time (energy) to list 2-3x as much as I need to sell per day?

First things first, figure out how much profit you need to live how you want – and then figure out how much you’ll have to list to accomplish that!  We decided that it’s not worth it for us to go full time at the moment and here are our numbers…

$100 a day in profit

Average sale price: $38

Average Item Purchase Price: $8

Average profit per sale after costs, fees, etc.: $24

If we sell 8 items per day, we’ll have $100 profit and $92 to reinvest.  Because we want to grow our business, we will set the goal of selling 10 items a day which will give us our $100 profit and$140 to reinvest (roughly 15 things).

So to have $100 in profit and grow our business as we would like, we need to source and list around $800 (sale price) worth of product per day.  Of course, this number will decrease over time as the number of things in our store grows.  Most stores have a 1-2% sell-through rate,  so we are sure that with our current quality of product and our profit margins, we could make a living maintaining a 1,000 item store.  But keep in mind that we have no kids (yet), and these are simply numbers that we’d need to make ends meet…before taxes.

Summary of what doing eBay full-time would look like for us:​10 sales per day totaling $350-400.Source and list 15-20 items per day.

Not exactly the relaxing, lucrative part time work we were hoping for…as this number is before taxes and we have a baby on the way, our numbers would have to be a bit higher than this.  No doubt if you have little business experience, you’ll find these numbers to reflect an absurd amount of work for the amount of profit.  While we admit they are rough and we had to extrapolate and make several assumptions, they are correct according to our eBay experience and research.

What would happen if eBay suspended me tomorrow?

We’ve been selling for long enough and have made enough mistakes that we have been suspended from eBay twice now.  Once erroneously for copyright infringement, and once for an item which did indeed turn out to be fake (unbeknownst to us when we listed it).  Both times we were suspended for a week and had to scrabble to pay fees that had built up, make rent, etc.  Most experts say that before quitting your job you should have at least 6 months of expenses saved up.  Could you survive for 6 months while you get eBay where it needs to be?  Could you get your old job back?  What if you’re permanently banned from eBay?

The internet is rife with stories of power sellers who wake up to find their eBay account indefinitely suspended.  So before leaving the safety and security of your job, save and diversify!  Sell on eBay, Bonanza, Facebook groups, and Amazon so that you don’t have all of your eggs riding in a basket that you’re not even carrying.


Unfortunately, full time eBaying is not for us at the moment.  We’ll keep working odd hours to grow our business and find consistent sources for product.  We hope this did not dissuade you, but gave you a realistic view of what it would look like to make a full time living on eBay.  It was quite sobering and even a little disheartening to us.  We love to tell people things like, “Yeah, we make $50 an hour for the time we spend on eBay…”  But when we try to acquire more product and work harder, we often hit the point of diminishing returns.  If we weren’t careful, we’d end up working for eBay at minimum wage before long!  

What do you think?  Is full-time reselling for you?  There are lots of people that make it work!  Chase the dream and become one of them!

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