Helping Ordinary People Be Extraordinary With Their Money
12 Tips For Selling On Ebay
Since I started selling on Ebay in the summer of 2013 on a part time basis of about 5 hours a week, I've sold over 3,500 items for a total of around $105,000 on Ebay. And I have 100% positive customer feedback from about 1,800 customers. So more than half of my customers have left feedback and all of them have given me a positive rating. That's also an average sell of just over $30 per item.
First of all, I don't say any of that to brag or be boastful. I say it because I've been able to achieve some success on Ebay, and my goal in this blog is to give you some of the information I've learned along the way, and tell you exactly what I did and what I still do! Whether it's Ebay, Amazon, Etsy, Alibaba, Shopify, or whatever platform you choose, this information will help you.
There is no magic sauce to it. IF I CAN DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT!
Many of you are at home right now trying to figure out what you can do to earn some extra money. Ebay can be right up your ally. Is it going to be easy? No. Will it take some time, some learning, and some hard work? Yes.
Here is how I did it!
Here are 12 tips to help you, and what I did.
1. Write down your goals. What do you want and what do you want to become in this process? Be specific, make them measurable, keep them visible, and visit them often.
What I do:
I keep a list of my sales goals and profit margin goals in a spreadsheet that I visit once a month when I do my monthly accounting.
2. Sourcing. What are you going to sell and where are you going to get it from? Start with what you have around your house. Start with what you like. If you have extra clothes, extra shoes, or baseball cards, it really doesn't matter. Just be sure to understand how you are going to source moving forward. Some Ebay sellers source from actual stores like Marshall's or Wal-Mart. Figure out where you are going to get your stuff from and go for it.
What I do:
I source from thrift stores, Estate sales, garage sales, and other consignment type of shops. Nowadays I'm taking a hit here because I don't have a lot of unlisted items laying around, but opportunities will soon emerge and I will be back out sourcing for items.
3. Take good pictures. You will need a camera. You could use your phone and take pictures using your cell, or buy a digital camera. Good pictures are essential.
What I do:
I use a $100 camera from Wal-Mart that I've had for a several years. I use only natural lighting from the outside because it shows the most natural colors of an item. Sometimes when you add artificial lighting, the color of your item doesn't translate well to a picture. Which reminds me....be sure and answer all of your potential customers questions. You will get questioned about things like size, color, or fit. Be honest and responsive.
4. Do your research and understand the usual pricing regarding the items you are going to sell. There are items and brands that you think are valuable that the rest of the world sees very little value in. Know this.
What I do:
I started out by doing research on Ebay and Amazon. Search your items that you intend to sell on Ebay and find out what they sale for now, and what's actually sold. This is important. Always check what similar items have sold for on the platform in the past. Unusually high pricing will lead to frustration because your items won't move.
5. Talk to an accountant. My Ebay business was audited and I ended up owing the IRS about $18,000. That is a blog post that I will soon share. Stay tuned for that one! You must account for what you spend and earn. Figure out how you are going to keep track of your expenditures and sales. This could be a spreadsheet, QuickBooks, or a ledger or whatever. Your accountant will help you with this. But seriously, get an accountant, please! Be organized and follow the rules.
What I do:
I keep a ledger book, and do it old school by hand with a pencil. Call me old fashion but it works for me. I have an accountant that I consult with quarterly. I also take a small amount of every sale and put it to the side for tax purposes. I've also adjusted my withholding on my main job to account for the possible tax bill at the end of the year for my sole proprietorship. Again, an accountant is so so so important. Figure out what works for you after consulting an accountant. Whether you dropship (don't keep the inventory you sell in a location you manage) or if you actually hold inventory, there are rules to know!
6. Decide your method for holding inventory. Are you going to drop ship, which means you don't keep inventory, or are you going to actually store the items that you sell? You may want to utilize a storage unit, your basement, garage, or whatever you decide.
What I do:
I hold inventory. I use a bedroom in my home for the entirety of my Ebay business. I keep a desk, inventory, and shipping materials in this room. It also means that every quarter, I check inventory. I also have to account for my total inventory at the start of every year and at the end of every year. I actually do this monthly when I figure my Cost of Goods sold (C.O.G.S) for each month. Do you have to go to this level of detail? Maybe not. But when I was audited, it forced me to take my business serious and learn to truly treat it like a business.
7. Shipping: Figure out the absolute most efficient way to ship your sold items. Think about your customers, but don't overthink it. Be cognizant when shipping your items but have some balance. You don't have to include a handwritten thank you note in every item you ship. I know it sounds good, but your time is crucial, and you have to be efficient!
What I do:
I purchase a box of 100 large plastic mailers for around $50 (.50 cents per mailer.....dirt cheap. These thing cost between $1.50 and $2.50 each at your local UPS store). This is what I ship my large shoes in. And 3 or 4 times per year, I go on to the USPS website and order 200 or 300 bubble mailers for FREE. This is what I ship my smaller pairs of shoes in. I wrap my shoes neatly in the plastic bags you get when you go grocery shopping.
Those are free. When we grocery shop we always get a few extras and store them in the kitchen drawer like everyone else. Sometimes I stuff the shipping with the free newspaper advertisements we get in the mail. I'm always sure to remove our address from it. My Ebay shipping is down to the bare bones. I ship all of my items Unites States Postal Service (USPS) because it's been less expensive for me. I've become a master shipper. and with 100% feedback, I know how to do it very customer friendly, and extremely economically.
8. Fees. Read and understand what the fees are. Different items have different fees associated with their sell. Should you open a store on Ebay? That depends on the volume you plan to do. Just be keenly aware of the Ebay fees, Paypal fees, and store fees.
What I do.
I figure my fees in when I do my monthly accounting. Ebay has great sales reports to help you do a lot of this. Explore the website thoroughly and soak up the information that is there.
9. List a few test items to start. Like every website, Ebay has algorithms. Algorithms determine who, how, when, and what items of yours get seen the most. Algorithms play into any search engine on the internet, and Ebay is no different. There are certain key words you put in the descriptions that help push your items to the top of a persons search. And those algorithms change regularly. Learn the algorithms. Understand what are the best things to list, the best times to list, and the vital information and key words that you need to include in all of your listings.
What I do:
Every listing I do, I always do a search on Ebay for the same or similar items. This way I can gauge exactly what pops up at the top of the search for that item. I model my listing off that listing. In business it's not called "plagiarism". It's called "not trying to reinvent the wheel". I also NEVER undercut a competitor's price by more than a dollar or two at the most, because that drives prices down lower than any of us sellers want it. I always think of us sellers as a community. Yes, we are competing, but it's the integrity of the competition matters.
10. Have patience: There is a learning curve. It takes time. Remember back when you started your career, or your job, and recall that sense of patience and resolve you had to have in order to keep the job. Channel that! Don't get down on yourself or discouraged. You can do this.
What I did:
I made a decision very early that I wasn't going to quit. I had strong "why" that kept me going. My "why" was the desire to get my child through college with no debt. Figure out your why and force it to motivate you.
11. Know your audience. Know who you are selling too. Study them. This is why it's important to sort of start selling what you already know something about. It helps a lot.
What I did:
I started selling everything back in 2013 and quickly fell into my niche of selling shoes. I did so because I was a shoe salesman 12 years earlier and knew a little something about them. I settled on men and women's shoes. I chose women shoes because they shop more than men. I also purposely chose middle-aged women shoes, such as flats and comfort shoes, because they tend to be more willing to spend more money on the comfort of their shoes. I chose men's shoes because, as a man, I know men shoes. I've only worn them all of my life. And when I sold shoes at Dillard's, I specifically sold men's shoes. It was my specialty. So I ultimately dove into selling something that I had a level of comfort with.
12. Understand your numbers: Sales, profit margins, price analysis, and cost analysis. Understand your average sale price and understand what it means. These are business terms you should get to know because they will be what you use to grow profits and increase your efficiencies.
What I did and do:
In 2017, after being audited by IRS, I spent a week teaching myself some basic cost accounting principles. YouTube and Google can be very helpful. I learned the First in, First out (FIFO) method of accounting for inventory and how to figure my costs, and began keeping books like a bookkeeper. It was one of the best things I've done
I hope these tips help you. If you want to ask a few questions or talk further, please comment and send a message. I'd love to hear from you and help you as much as I can.