One of the fastest ways I know of to make money is to buy and sell on Ebay. With just your smartphone and some sellable items, you can be making money in a matter of hours.
Of course, Ebay isn’t the only place to buy and sell your items – Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, Etsy, and more exist because people want to sell items for a profit.
For years, I’ve been earning thousands purchasing everyday items and flipping them for cash on Ebay, Poshmark, Mercari, and other reselling platforms. The awesome thing about selling things on Ebay as a side hustle or as a business is that you can make it as big as you want to be. Want just a few hundred for Christmas presents? That’s totally doable, even with a full-time job or other commitments. Want several thousand a month to replace a lost income or to cover lots of bills? That’s also definitely a possibility, with hard work – even for someone with no experience.
Here’s my best advice for Ebay buy and sell tips.
#1 – Ebay Buy and Sell: Keep Inventory Costs Low at First
If you’re just getting started with this Ebay thing and trying to learn how to sell on Ebay and make money, you’ll want to keep your operation lean and mean so you can keep the profits (or put them back into the business).
So don’t start out of the gate by buying high end luxury goods for a small discount and then trying to resell them.
Instead, keep your inventory costs rock bottom low. Look through items you already own that you aren’t using. Ask your mom or dad if they have stuff in their basement or attic that you can sell. Buy items cheap at thrift stores or auctions. Frequent yard sales or garage sales to get sellable items.
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#2 – Look Up Comps for Every Item You’re Thinking of Selling
If you have no experience doing the Ebay buy and sell game, you have no knowledge of the ACTUAL worth of what items sell for on the secondary market. You might think you do – after all, if you paid $20 for an item and you never used it, that’s what it should sell for on Ebay, right?
Maybe. But maybe not. Sometimes items become more valuable over time. And oftentimes, that thing you paid $20 for at the mall is actually less valuable online.
When it comes to being profitable on Ebay, there are many factors, but pricing your item for profit – and knowing the actual probable sale price of an item – is crucial.
It’s actually pretty simple. Here’s how you do it:
- Go to ebay.com Search on your phone or computer.
- Type in the brand/type of item. You should see some results – you may need to add size, color, year, etc. until the results are similar to the item you’re looking at.
- [THIS IS THE CRITICALLY IMPORTANT PART] – Click Filter, and scroll down. Make sure the Sold Items tab is selected/green.
These are your actual comparison prices, or comps. Look at not only the price of the sold items like yours, but also how often the item sold (sell through rate). Is it every day? (great) or is it once in the last 3 months? (you’re going to be sitting on this item for a while)
So, if you’re in a thrift store, considering whether you should pay for a pair of pricey designer heels to resell, you check comps. Then you subtract your buy price from your comps.
If you’re just starting out on Ebay, don’t try to skip this step. You might think “I have a good eye” and that may be true. But to avoid buying mistakes, verify your purchases by checking comps and sell through rates to ensure you’re staying profitable.
#3 – Get Your Photos Right
You get to add 12 photos for every Ebay listing, and I suggest you take advantage of that in your listing. Don’t try to hide flaws from your customer. Take overall photos of your item and photos of details. Take photos of any flaws you’re disclosing. Your photos should be able to tell the story of your item, even without any words. Pretend your customer can’t read and use your photos to show every aspect of your item. And if you’re selling an electronic item, don’t hesitate to take photos showing your item lit up or working.
You don’t need an expensive digital SLR for your photos if you’re learning how to sell on Ebay and make money. I am still using a several generations old iPhone for my business! The one inexpensive thing I do recommend is a light kit if you plan to regularly sell items online. I use a three light setup, and for a fairly small (tax deductible expense) cost, I get really clear pictures indoors no matter what the weather.
If you just plan to buy and sell on Ebay for a bit of extra cash, just take photos outdoors or in a sunny spot so your customers can see your items clearly.
#4 – Envision How You’ll Ship the Item
A lot of people want to sell online but find themselves intimidated by how they’ll ship the item. I recommend a few tips to help you get started if you’re scared of shipping:
- Find a reliable scale to weigh your items. This is a cheap but invaluable tool if you’re selling on Ebay. You can try to get by with a kitchen scale or bathroom scale, but if you plan to do any volume, this will just make your life easier. (This scale is inexpensive and doesn’t take up a lot of space. Click for the price.)
- Order some free shipping supplies from USPS.gov. Did you know you can get free shipping envelopes and boxes from the USPS? These are only to be used for Priority Mail, but you can get them shipped free to your house. To get started, you might want some Padded Flat Rate Priority Mailers and Priority Mailing boxes. If you have these on hand, you won’t have to worry whether they have them in stock at your postal office.
- Stock up on some tape, packing paper and bubble wrap, and plastic bags. You’ll want to protect your items to make sure they make it to your customer intact.
I use the following every day to ship my packages:
- a roll of contractors paper (like housepainters use to protect flooring) – approx. $10 at a home improvement store
- clear bread bags (at any grocery or Walmart) – approx. $2 for a box of 75
- packing tape (for seam – I use this kind on Amazon, click for price)
- large bubble wrap (protects items more securely) – I use this kind, click for price
#5 – Get Some Boxes Beforehand
If you think you may be shipping small items first class or larger items via UPS or Fedex (you can’t use USPS Priority Mail boxes for those), then get yourself some cardboard boxes for your items – BEFORE they’re purchased. That way you can just pack the item and ship it, without stress. Don’t wait to find a box after the purchase.
One great place to get boxes for free is cardboard recycling dumpsters behind retail stores. Just make sure the boxes are clean! You can also buy boxes relatively inexpensively at Walmart, Lowes, or Home Depot. Feel free to reuse any Amazon or other retail boxes you have, just don’t send boxes that have alcohol advertising on them.
Before you list an item for sale, weigh it and note the exact dimensions of the item when it will be shipped. Include this info in your listing, and choose Calculated Shipping rates. That way, the customer will pay for shipping based on their location and you’ll never lose money shipping the item to them. I don’t recommend you offer free shipping on your items at first, until you feel comfortable shipping items.
Also, if possible, buy your shipping labels (even Fedex) right through the Ebay interface. You’ll need a printer, but this eliminates time at the post office and generates a trackable number for your customer.
#6 – Buy What You Know
Maybe you know a lot about luxury beauty products. Or maybe you’re an avid gamer. Maybe you’re a mom who loves buying high end clothes for your kids.
How to sell on Ebay and make money? Use your knowledge of your hobbies and profession to source goods at a discounted rate, then buy and sell them on Ebay. Where do you shop for bargains? How do you find hidden deals? To get started selling, use your personal strengths to find items to add to your inventory.
#7 – Profit from Regional Specialties
In my area, I don’t find a lot of high-end designer shoes or handbags when I’m thrifting. It’s just not a thing here. But I do find a tremendous amount of hiking gear – so I end up selling a lot of hiking gear and name brand, outdoorsy clothing for a great profit.
No matter where you live, there’s a regional specialty and proliferation of certain items that you have access to – that others want. If you live in Florida, maybe you find tons of skiwear discarded by Baby Boomers who moved there. Maybe your area has a lot of high end luxury goods. Find your specialty and regional specialization, and profit from those items.
#8 – Accept Returns
If you’re going to regularly sell on Ebay, you may need to deal with returns. It is easier to deal with if you paid minimally for the item.
Accept that returns will happen. Do your best to describe your items accurately and take pictures from every angle. Make sure you indicate any flaws in the text and photos. These steps will help to minimize the returns you receive.
What are your BEST online reselling tips? Leave a comment below!