Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

How to sell stuff on eBay

A woman packs a box.

You want to sell something on eBay, but you’ve never done it before. I know how that feels.

A few years ago, I had an unexpected hospital bill that was as much as a month’s rent. So, I decided it was time to sell a piece of art I’d commissioned from artist Karen Hallion. I was loath to part with it, as it was not only made by an artist I personally knew but also, I loved it. It was a painting of Princess Leia in the Art Nouveau style of Alphonse Mucha

But, bills. So, I read everything on the site about selling and combed through sites about selling on the site. Here’s a tip I learned from the bottom up.

It’s on you to invest in getting the item to the buyer quickly and with appropriate packing protections. I’ll go through all the things you have to do to sell it, but in the end, you are responsible for being responsible for actually getting it sent.

How to sell on eBay

Create a user name. The name you choose when you create an eBay account is the name buyers will see. Be creative, but keep your buyer in mind. If you are selling a serious collectible maybe don’t use GiggleBaby20 as your listing name. Think of what you would call your very own shop if you were to own one. When I was selling nerdy art,  I chose something like: Obie1Collections.

Creating a headline. Include exactly what you are selling. If you have a pair of Rye boots you think are worth $350 that you bought but never wore, you wouldn’t write: Getting rid of old cowboy boots. You’d write: Frye Boots, Billy pull-on, cowboy style, never worn.

Brand name – product – style/description – hook

Description: You’ve read so many product descriptions in your life that you are an expert without even knowing it. Lead with brand and product names and then give all the details you’d want to know if you were buying it. You can look up the product description if it’s still being sold. Or, you can check out how other people describe similar products on eBay or other websites.

Let’s go back to those boots:

These Frye boots, ‘Billy’ pull-ons, a western fit and flare style, have never been worn. They are still in the box they came in. I include photos of the box and receipt in the gallery. These red Frye boots are not currently sold on the Frye website. Purchased two years ago. Size 8. Leather sole and interior.

Whether you are selling clothing, an accessory or a piece of furniture, make sure to include all the measurements: length, width, height. You can even include a tape measure in a photo to give buyers an idea of the size of the object.

Photos. This is so important. Take good photos and they’ll do most of the work for you. Here’s how to do it with your smartphone:

  • Make sure you are taking photos in HD, you’ll see that choice in settings under camera if you have an iPhone. HDR should be toggled to green.
  • Now clear the space around your item. You don’t want anything but the object you are selling in the photo. Take a test shot with just natural light, then add room lighting and see what it does.
  • Use as much natural light as you can. If you want to get fancy and you have a flexible reading lamp, aim it at the ceiling or a wall opposite to the object you are capturing. This will bounce a soft light onto the item.

Flat price or bidding price. eBay lets you decide if you want to sell your item for a fixed price or if you think an auction would net you more profit. If you have something that you know people are looking for, like an authenticated collector’s item, then an auction is probably your best bet. If you are selling something valuable, but there’s not a lot of demand, you may choose to either set a flat fee or a “buy it now” price.

There’s no right or wrong answer. If you choose to auction your item off, you can usually set a reserve price for the lowest acceptable bid. For auctions, eBay encourages you to set a low price, but if that makes you uncomfortable, set a reasonable price instead. Make it a good deal, especially if you have a reserve price set.

eBay also offers to help you price your item by searching for similar items on the site so you can check out the competition.

TIP 1: I said it before, but it’s worth saying again: the cost of shipping the item is on the buyer, but you, the seller, have to go do the actual shipping. And, you have to pack it for shipping so that it arrives undamaged. Packing costs are on you. Some people choose to limit the geographic area in which they will ship to lower the chances of breakage.

Tip 2: Another cost is eBay’s fee. The first 50 listings are free, but the company takes a percentage of almost every sale on its site. It’s typically 10 to 12 percent.

Getting paid: To get paid, you must be prepared to pay. You have to set up an account using PayPal, debit or credit card before selling. This is so that eBay can collect its fee(s) from you.

After the bidding war ends, the buyer has an hour to change their mind, unless you are so eager that you process the sale immediately.

Finally, check your account to make sure you have received the payment before rushing off to the post office or FedEx.

Now, go and sell

And, that’s it. The process of selling something on eBay is less confusing than you might think. And the eBay website guides you through it all step by step. You can come back here for tips if you need to, but once you get started everything will fall into place.

Now go monetize all that stuff you’ve been keeping because it’s too nice to throw away.

–By Nic Desmet


SmartCents Mom