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When I first started selling on eBay I was obsessed with reading tips from other eBay sellers. I followed everyone on Instagram, read business blogs, and watched YouTube videos. While I definitely had some success, it wasn’t long before I realized that everyone was just recycling the same few eBay selling tips into new articles. To make matters worse, they were all super basic tips that anyone with a brain had already figured out.
This meant that I wasted a ton of time and money floundering around and trying different things as I struggled to build my reselling business past the $10,000/month mark. Now that I’m looking back, I’m hoping that some of my tips for selling on eBay will be things that you haven’t thought of that will ease your own journey.
It seems incredible that in 7 years of selling on eBay and almost 5 years of blogging about it I’ve never written a “tips” post such as this one. Because of that, I’m sure there will be things I miss and things that occur to me after the fact. If there are some obvious eBay selling tips that I’ve missed, include them in the comments!
I’ll also say before I start that most of these tips are not for absolute beginners. These are for people who know how to sell on eBay and are looking to refine their business and make more money. If that’s you, then let’s hit it!
Tips For eBay Sellers
#1. Put in the work
I see resellers bragging all the time about they “make a full-time income working part-time.” Then they try to sell me their course on how to do the same…
The reality is that you have to put in some serious hours if you want to make eBay a full-time job, especially with how competitive it has become. If you want to work 3-4 hours a day, you’ll probably make a great side hustle income but you’ll never be hitting six figures.
And if someone is telling you that they’re making 6 figures reselling on eBay part-time? Don’t believe them. Or send them to me to teach me their ways. Most “six figure sellers” are just hobby sellers who don’t keep good enough records to realize that they’re only making $28,000/year.
#2. Hang up your death-pile
Having your unlisted inventory in a massive pile is absolute lunacy if you’re trying to run an efficient business. Storing your inventory any way but hanging up results in it being hard to see, wrinkled, etc.
It’s also much easier to ignore stale un-listed inventory (in other words, waste money) if you’re able to simply cover it up.
We have a rack for most clothing items, a shelf for hardgoods, and a tote for shoes. Keeping things organized as they come into your business also allows you to be more efficient and group things together to list them faster.
#3. Find Other Inventory Sources
One of the best tips I can give you if you want to be successful on eBay is to branch out from thrift stores. Everyone and their dog sources at thrift stores because it’s the easiest way to get started selling. I do agree that, for beginners, there’s nothing better. It’s low-risk, cheap, and fun.
But if you’ve been selling on eBay for any period of time (or want to go full-time) then relying on “luck” to provide you with sellable inventory is not a business model. I always imagine explaining my business model to a bank agent when I try to get a loan to buy more inventory,
“Yeah, I just go to thrift stores and hope to get lucky. No, it doesn’t always work. Sometimes I just leave empty-handed and don’t work that day because someone found the good stuff before me.
Thrifting is a valuable tool in any reseller’s toolbox but, if it’s your only tool, you’re going to be in trouble as you try to scale your eBay business.
#4. Streamline your processes
Before I had a dedicated eBay space I would have to totally switch gears every time I wanted to work on something else. If I wanted to ship stuff I had to get out my shipping tote and set things up. If I wanted to use a mannequin I had to set up my light kit, get my mannequins out of the closet, etc. Everything was a time-consuming hassle.
The first step towards building my eBay flipping side-hustle into a real business was to have dedicated spaces to take pictures and to ship. My “shipping station” was a tiny desk I found in a storage locker dumpster but it made a huge difference. Being able to dedicate time to tasks that actually made me money rather than “unprofitable but necessary” things doubled my income.
#5. Invest in a lighting kit
For the first few months of reselling I could only take pictures every couple of days. The 1970’s trailer we were renting in a trailer park didn’t let in much natural light (shocking, I know) and so I was left with pictures that were yellow and looked terrible or no pictures at all.
I tried everything from setting up by windows to only taking pictures in the morning, etc. but nothing made much of a difference until I bought a lighting kit. All of a sudden I could work in the middle of the night, in a rainstorm, or even in the bedroom after our daughter went to sleep.
Now, it doesn’t have to be expensive. We use a full-kit but even a basic ring light can make a huge difference in your pictures.
- See all our gear in 14 Tools For eBay Sellers
#6. Design an Inventory System.
Our first inventory system was something like, “Oh I think I just saw that. Is it in that drawer over there?”
We kept all of our listed inventory in a cupboard, then a closet, then all over the house…
It wasn’t until we came up with a working inventory system for eBay that we realized how much time we had been wasting. Not only did we no longer have to send “I’m sorry but I cannot find this item anywhere…” messages but our shipping was much faster, things didn’t get ruined in storage, and we felt more professional.
Your inventory system doesn’t have to be elaborate. A simple spreadsheet or note on a listing is enough to help you stay organized.
#7. Be part of the community
Of all the eBay tips I’ll give you, this one is probably the one I struggle with the most. Even though I run this blog and have 10,000 followers on my reselling Instagram I struggle to be part of the reselling community. After all, I left my day job so I wouldn’t have to deal with people’s drama!
However, even at my limited level of involvement, I’ve gotten a ton out of the content that other reseller’s produce. Whether you like YouTube videos, Facebook groups, Instagram gain trains, you’ll find resellers who are eager to help.
#8. Always look it up
Reseller’s go through a predictable pattern. When they’re new, they look up every single thing they come across. It’s such a thrill to find an item that you’ve never heard of that’s worth $100 or more.
After a while, though, you start thinking you have it figured out and just fly down the aisles looking for brands, patterns, or items that you know. I’ve even seen people who just stroll down the women’s sweater aisle without checking any tags, claiming that “they’ll know” if they see something worth reselling.
If you want to increase your eBay sales, one of the best tips I can give you is to look up everything you come across. As time goes on you will have to look up fewer and fewer things but you should never assume that you know items well enough to not look up the unfamiliar!
#9. Get a thermal printer
I’ve tried just about everything when it comes to shipping eBay orders. I’ve taken all of my packages to the post office to ship them, I’ve taped labels on at home, and I’ve (finally) purchased a thermal printer.
Here’s the thing: I put off buying a thermal printer even though everyone told me that it’s pretty much a necessity for selling online. Because I was trying to save money, I wasted a huge amount of time and more money than I would have spent on the printer.
Thermal printers are not only extremely affordable, but they are nearly free to use. My labels cost about $.02 each and my printer requires no upkeep, maintenance, or ink. We use the Rollo printer (check out our full Rollo review here) but we have used several other of the best shipping label printers in our business and before.
If you don’t believe any of my other tips for selling on eBay believe in this: if you want your business to grow, you have to invest in it!
#10. Learn how to ship big & awkward items
We routinely pick up large and awkward items to sell that other people pass on because they’re scared to ship them.
Here’s a secret: everything ships the same way. You get a box that the item fits in, package it up, and ship it. It doesn’t matter in the box is 8″x8″x4″ or 60″x 30″x12″. You just pack it up and pay the fee.
Learning how to ship items via freight will also be a game-changer for your business. Most people are intimidated by the idea of putting an item on a pallet and schedule pickup but it’s something that you can easily do from your own home. This opens up your world to all kinds of furniture, tools, etc. which can be extremely profitable.
Just be sure to charge calculated shipping!
#11. Don’t become attached to inventory
This eBay selling tip went right to my heart. I still have items in my inventory that I’ve been holding on to since I started selling on eBay. Some of them I just think are super cool, some are just not worth what I’m charging, and others I paid way too much for and I’m unwilling to cut my losses. Don’t be me.
These days, every single thing I buy is simply one more piece of inventory in the cog that is my eBay selling machine. If something doesn’t sell quickly, it gets discounted and I move on. I’m in the selling business, not the storage business so if something doesn’t sell, it doesn’t belong.
#12. Keep good records from the start
Our first year reselling on eBay was an absolute disaster when it came to keeping records. In fairness to us, we didn’t really expect things to snowball as quickly as they did. I thought we’d just putter along with a cool side-hustle for a while. But when it became apparent that selling on eBay had way more potential than my day job, we decided to go full-time.
This left us floundering to update our records and retroactively catalog expenses and income.
Not keeping quality records sets you up for a nightmare when it comes to filing taxes (and an even bigger nightmare if you don’t).
Now that’s not to say that you have to use an accountant. There are several apps and spreadsheets you can get that will get you 95% of the way there.
#13. Focus on quality over quantity
In one of my recent Instagram posts, I said, “eBay isn’t saturated, your business model is just stale.” It got me lots of hate but I still stand by it.
If I could give one tip for selling on eBay if you’re new it would be this: don’t worry about your number of active listings. Your sell-through rate and average sales price are far more important. We’ve had up to 2,000 active items on eBay but made the most money when we were between 800-1000 quality items.
If you find yourself buying things from thrift stores just so you don’t go home empty-handed, it’s time to check your strategy. You’ll be far better off in the long run if you stick to only a few quality items per sourcing trip and avoid building up a backlog of cheap items that you don’t really want to list.
For a great discussion about time vs. money on eBay, check out this video from Craigslist Hunter:
#14. Include measurements (or don’t)
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to include measurements on clothing listings to have sales. People know their sizes and, in all honesty, don’t usually look at the measurements anyway.
However, if you decide not to include measurements, be sure to actually provide measurements anytime someone asks for them. If you have someone who takes the time to message you and ask for additional information, they’re interested enough to buy. Don’t let them get away!
#15. Keep eBay’s customer service on speed dial
I’ll be the first person in line that says that eBay drops the ball on the customer service end. I’ve dealt with people that I couldn’t understand, people that had no idea how eBay even worked, and people who straight up either lied to me or gave me false information because they didn’t know better. In fact, most long-time sellers have had at least one experience where they have to tell eBay’s customer service, “Uh…that’s not how that works…”
Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t call them. I think it’s important to get used to calling eBay’s customer service early in your reselling career. Just don’t be afraid to hang up and call back if you get someone that’s totally unhelpful.
Also, you may want to ask to speak to someone’s manager. Each group of reps has a “manager” that has access to do things they can’t. If you’re getting nowhere, ask to speak to them.
However, they will be times when eBay will let you down hard and you’ll just have to accept that. A few months ago we had an erroneous $1,900 charge on our fee invoice (this was after switching to eBay’s managed payments) and despite spending more than 10 hours on the phone with eBay and being told that “It’s been taken care of” multiple time it never came off. We ended up paying it to keep our selling privileges. Such is life on eBay.
#16. Don’t be afraid to “pay-up”
Some of my favorite flips are things that thrift stores recognize and put in their glass “valuables case” up front by the registers. It’s like they did all the work for me!
Recently, there was a juicer up front at a local mom-and-pop thrift store. It was a high-end unit that was much too specialized to be sold in my tiny town. They wanted $350 for it but ended up giving it to me for $250. Because eBay had such a huge marketplace, I was able to find a buyer for it quickly. It sold for $1,299.00 (plus shipping) within 48 hours of listing it.
Now, I didn’t have an extra $250 dollars to spend but I knew it would be back into my account quickly. If something is going to sell fast, I’m always willing to pay up.
Another time, I used our literal rent money 4 days before rent was due to buy a $75 down jacket on FB Marketplace. If it didn’t sell, we would not have been able to pay for our apartment. 3 days later it sold for $350. Enough for rent and gas money!
#17. Treat it like a business
If you want to introduce yourself as a business owner, act like one.
Instagram and social media have resulted in many resellers getting up late and starting work around noon…still in their pajamas. Now, I’m not going to tell you how to sell on eBay. Sure, you can make money in your pajamas. But if your want to make serious money, take your business seriously.
#18. Cross-post your items
You don’t own eBay. Or maybe you do…if so…call me…
For most of us, however, when we choose to use eBay to sell items, we’re choosing to build a house on someone else’s land. Not only will be there be times when sales slow to a crawl, but many resellers have also lost their account or been temporarily suspended (as we have…) for minor infractions.
Nothing would be worse than to go full-time and wake up one morning to find out you no longer have an eBay account. One of the ways that we diversify our reselling income and stay safe is to cross-post all of our items to another platform. Many resellers use the combination of either Poshmark/eBay or Mercari/eBay. For us, it’s Mercari and eBay. We use List Perfectly to easily copy over all of our listings. While we don’t give Mercari our full-time attention, it still gives us several thousand dollars worth of sales every month and we could build it up quickly if we had to.
#19. Don’t get stuck selling just clothing
If you sell mainly on Poshmark, I get it, until recently you couldn’t sell anything but clothing. However, if you’re an eBay seller, listen to this tip: sell anything you can make a profit on! Unless you’re willing to go all-in on a single thing (selling shoes, for example) you’ll do far better selling a bit of everything.
If I had my way, I would sell shoes, jackets, and electronics. However, because I can’t find enough of those things to keep my eBay store stocked I often have to sell books, artsy things, and (my real nemesis) jeans.
There aren’t many things that I’m opposed to selling on eBay if they can make me money! Trash included.
#20. Tell people what you do
When I first started selling on eBay I was embarrassed by it. I’m not exactly sure why, but something about the way people treated me turned me off from continuing to tell people about it. It was always something like, “Oh you sell other people’s used garbage online? That’s cute. Do people actually buy it?”
Around the time I passed $10,000/month I had a change in mentality. I’m a business owner and I’m not ashamed of having a creative job that makes money! Since I’ve started being much more open about what I do I’ve had several friends and family members who donate items to me that they were just going to take to Goodwill anyway. I honestly end up taking a few good things and donating the rest anyway but the thought is nice!
I’ve also had good experiences (mostly) by telling thrift store employees what I do. They’ll typically point things out to me, offer to check in the back, etc.
#21. Never stop learning
If you ever reach the point where you stop learning about eBay and reselling, you’ve reached the point where your business will start shrinking. Selling on eBay is an everchanging experience (I liken it to fighting a hydra…) and you have to constantly evolve if you want to keep winning.
Check out some of the following resources if you currently have your learning cap on:
- 31 Hardgoods Items To Resell
- The Best Selling Items On Mercari
- List Perfectly Guide & Review
- How To Sell Shoes On eBay
- How To Photograph Clothing
- Best Selling Women’s Clothing Brands
- Best Selling Men’s Clothing Brands
Hopefully, you found that helpful because I know I did! Trawling back through years of my reselling experiences to write this list of tips for selling on eBay has made me realize that there are several areas that I’ve been slacking in. So whether or not you plan on applying any of the tips above, take this opportunity to reflect on your own time spent reselling and come up with a plan to kick butt moving forward.
Also, if you need help specifically with upping your thrift store game, check out our 37 Tips For Thrifting. Happy sales!