Do you have any tips to be successful in selling on eBay?

I want to clear out my basement/closets and sell some nice items on eBay. I have lots of things that are brand new! I want to get a fair price, any ideas on how to move things? Do you put a longer time to bid? Do you always set a minimum?? Can people really make extra money doing this??

2 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
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    The basics in getting started can be found via online tutorials and books. But to get to the nitty-gritty of listing an item:

    Be honest and accurate in your descriptions – One-sentence descriptions are for lazy sellers. One paragraph should be sufficient for most items. My general guideline is the more expensive (read higher priced) an item, the more you should ‘talk it up.’ It won’t be time wasted. Use lots of adjectives in your descriptions. Adjectives make prose and your items come alive. Without them, prose is dull and your items less appealing.

    Be professional - use good English with no spelling errors


    ALWAYS include at least one picture, more pictures for higher priced items. Make sure your pictures are clear. There are far too many pictures on ebay that are dark. If prospective buyers can’t see your items clearly, your items, more than likely, will not fetch the closing prices they deserve. To remove darkness, use any photo editor to add some brightness and a wee bit of contrast.

    Eliminate clutter. Prospective bidders don’t want to know what kind of cereal you eat or what kind of kitchen table or bedspread you have. Use a SOLID backdrop when taking your pictures as you want to focus all of the attention on your item. In short, the one and only thing you want in your picture is the item being sold. A SOLID white or light blue backdrop is best. However, there are certainly items that won’t show well on a light backdrop. In these cases, use a darker backdrop. And for gosh sake, don’t even think of using a plaid blanket as a backdrop for your pictures as I once saw on ebay. You should also crop the photos in your photo editor. Good pictures can add 5% to 10% to final closing prices.

    GOOD DESCRIPTIONS + GOOD PICTURES = GOOD PRESENTATION. This is what you should strive for.


    GOOD Communication is a must - Always notify buyers when you mail their items. It is not only a courtesy you would want and expect as a buyer but it is also both good customer service and good business practice. After all, you are the 'President & CEO' of your 'company' running your business but using ebay as your selling medium. In short, conduct your business so that it reflects well on you as a person. Treat everyone as a human being, not a living being, and this includes people who have inquiries about your items, not just your buyers. They could be your buyers and repeat customers.

    You may want to use an email along these lines after you mail the buyer’s item:

    Hi Buyer’s FIRST NAME HERE,

    Just to keep you updated……………………….

    Thanks for your payment! I mailed your widget this morning via USPS Priority Mail from Schickshinny, PA. You should receive it Saturday or Monday. I have also posted positive feedback for you. Please do the same for me if everything is satisfactory when your widget arrives. If, however, you are displeased with your purchase and you feel the item is not as I described it, please email me. I will rectify the situation to your satisfaction.

    Again, thanks for bidding and congratulations on winning!

    It has been a pleasure!


    Your name here


    Do not limit your auctions to one country. SELL WORLDWIDE. The reason is elementary. You now have access to the largest market ebay has to offer. Limiting your auctions to only one country also limits your potential profits. A basic business tenet is, 'the greater the potential market, the greater the potential to maximize profits.' But do note in your listing that PayPal is the only form of payment you will accept from overseas bidders/buyers. Through experience, you will learn that there are certain problem countries. Italy seems to be one of them. Mail sent to buyers in Italy very often ‘mysteriously disappears.’ If this is the case, just note in your listing you sell to all countries EXCEPT (name(s) here).

    However, if you decide to limit sales to only one country, such as the USA, never say NO when you receive an email asking if you would ship to Taiwan, Germany, Australia or wherever. The reason is that you have a ‘FISH ON THE HOOK!’ This person will bid! When he or she does, this may force a previous bidder to enter another, higher bid or force later, first time bidders to come in with higher bids. So always say YES to these emails if you want to maximize your profits. But do say that PayPal is the only form of payment you will accept from these overseas bidders

    Do not limit your payment options – Offer all of them. Sellers who offer only PayPal or only money orders or money orders and checks are further limiting their potential market and, in turn, reducing their potential to maximize profits. Some people will not bid on items that do not have PayPal as a payment option. Then you have a smaller percentage that refuse to use PayPal and prefer to pay by check only or money order only.

    NOTE: Effective late October 2008, ebay will no longer allow payment for items by checks or money orders.

    Ebay sellers are increasingly complaining about the high cost of ebay and PayPal fees. I say, try establishing your own business and reach the tens of millions people that ebay reaches and find out how much your expenses are. To these complainers, I say ‘Kwitchurbellyakin.’ There is always a cost of doing business. Many sellers have left ebay for other auction sites to save on fees. I don’t think this is prudent. They may be saving a few bucks on fees but an item that sells on another auction site with far, fewer members for $10 would likely sell for substantially more at ebay with its much greater membership. This is a classic example of “stepping over a dollar to pick up a penny” and being “penny wise and pound foolish.”

    These smaller auction sites are great for buyers for the same reason they are bad for sellers:

    Fewer potential bidders = Less competition = Lower closing prices.

    These smaller auction sites ‘dangle their worms’ with low and no fees but they certainly won’t tell new sellers their items will sell for less than at their sites than they will sell for at ebay. There isn’t another auction site on the web that can hold a candle to ebay and the tens of millions of members it has. Many have tried and many have failed and yet, many are still trying. Ebay has a virtual lock on this business. This is where you want to sell as ebay has the largest potential market.

    The ebay formula:

    LARGEST auction site by far = MAXIMUM competition = HIGHER closing prices

    Avoid selling ‘nickel and dime’ items. People who list and sell a steady stream of items that close for $5 or less are wasting their time. Less expensive, similar items ($5 or less) are best sold as a group to save time. If you have a large number of these cheaper, similar items, divide them up into sub lots of four or five.

    More expensive, similar items are best sold separately to maximize profits. There are ebay ‘vultures’ who just love to swoop down on similarly grouped items in one listing. When they win these auctions, they turn around and sell the items individually and, in most cases, get one and a half to 2 times and sometimes three times what they paid for them on an average item basis. I know this works. When I had more time (read unemployed), I was one of these ‘vultures.’ This is one of those situations where the parts are worth more than the whole. However, do be cautious if you venture into this arena. You have to know your merchandise. Stay in those areas you are familiar with. You can’t jump in blindly to any and every auction that has grouped items.

    If you can buy a large lot of similar merchandise for $100 to $200 and turn it around for $300 to $600, it works out very nicely, indeed! Most buyers of these large lots will be vultures as well so you could be ‘butting bids.’ Keep in mind that the higher the closing price at ebay, the less your profit on the turnaround. It’s not an exact science and it does take a little experience to really know what you’re doing but you can’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is. When I see an auction of grouped items it tells me loud and clear that the seller is far more interested in getting rid of their stuff the quickest, easiest way possible and ‘be done with it’ rather than in making a decent profit or profit at all.

    Short of items to sell and where to find items to sell? Garage and yard sales, church bazaars, flea markets and estate sales are obvious as are ‘junktique’ shops. If you want to let your fingers do the walking, you too can be crafty ‘vulture’ like a select group of other ebay sellers. Become a member of several smaller auction sites and search for bargains there. But as before, ‘stick with what you know.’

    If you want to do your listings OFFLINE, download the TURBO LISTER program free from ebay. Once you have finished with your listings, you can upload them anytime or schedule a date and time when you want your auctions to start.

    Lastly, keep in mind that experience is the best teacher. Start off slowly listing only one or two items and see how that goes for you. Once you get your feet wet and gain confidence, start listing more items on a weekly basis. You will soon learn the ins and outs and the dos and don’ts in short order and ultimately settle on a system that works best for you. If you are conscientious and put in a little extra effort, you will do well. If you are lazy or indifferent in selling your items, you won’t. Good luck & happy selling tgirl!

  • 1 decade ago

    I have been earning my living selling items on eBay since 2003. It started with selling my own items and then I began looking for other things to sell. These articles will help you:

    Tips for a Successful Store

    There aren't Really Any eBay Secrets

    How to Make Your Listings Appear at the Top of Searches

    Tips for Taking Good Photos

    Good luck!

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