If you’ve ever read an article about eBay, you will have seen the kinds of incomes
people make – it isn’t unusual to hear of people making thousands of dollars per
month on eBay.
Next time you’re on eBay, take a look at how many PowerSellers there are: you’ll
find quite a few. Now consider that every single one of one of them must be
making at least $1,000 per month, as that’s eBay’s requirement for becoming a
• Silver PowerSellers make at least $3,000 each month,
• Gold PowerSellers make more than $10,000,
• Platinum Powersellers make more than $25,000, and
• Titanium PowerSellers make at least a whopping $150,000 in sales every
The fact that these people exist gives you come idea of the income possibilities
here. Most of them never set out to even set up a business on eBay – they simply
started selling a few things, and then kept going. There are plenty of people
whose full-time job is selling things on eBay, and some of them have been doing
it for years now.
Can you imagine that? Once they’ve bought the stock, everything else is pretty
much pure profit for these people – they don’t need to pay for any business
premises, staff, or anything else. There are multi-million pound businesses
making less in actual profit than eBay PowerSellers do.
Even if you don’t want to quit your job and really go for it, you can still use eBay
to make a significant second income. You can pack up orders during the week and
take them down to the post office for delivery each Saturday. There are few other
things you could be doing with your spare time that have anywhere near that kind
of earning potential.
What’s more, eBay doesn’t care who you are, where you live, or what you look
like: some PowerSellers are very old, or very young. Some live out in the middle
of nowhere where selling on eBay is one of the few alternatives to farming or
being very poor. eBay tears down the barriers to earning that the real world
constantly puts up. There’s no job interview and no commuting involved – if you
can post things, you can do it.
Put it this way: if you know where to get something reasonably cheaply that you
could sell, then you can sell it on eBay – and since you can always get discounts
for bulk at wholesale, that’s not exactly difficult. Buy a job lot of something indemand
cheaply, sell it on eBay, and you’re making money already, with no setup
If you want to dip your toe in the water before you commit to actually buying
anything, then you can just sell things that you’ve got lying around in the house.
Search through that cupboard of stuff you never use, and you’ll probably find
you’ve got a few hundred dollars’ worth of stuff lying around in there! This is the
power of eBay: there is always someone who wants what you’re selling, whatever
it might be, and since they’ve come looking for you, you don’t even need to do
anything to get them to buy it.
So you want to get started on eBay? Well, that’s great! There are only a few little
things you need to learn to get started. Read on!
What You Need to Know Before Getting Started
So you’ve decided that you want to get started as a seller on eBay. There are a few
things that you really need to know before you go and throw yourself in at the
What to Sell:
First off, you need to know what it is you’re going to sell: what’s your speciality?
You’ll do far better on eBay if you become a great source for certain kind of
products, as people who are interested in those products will come back to you
again and again. You won’t get any loyalty or real reputation if you just sell
rubbish at random.
When you think about what to sell, there are a few things to consider. The most
important of these is to always sell what you know. If you try to sell something
that you just don’t know anything about then you’ll never write a good
description and sell it for a good price.
You might think you’re not especially interested in anything, but if you think
about what kind of things you usually buy and which websites you go to most
often, I’m sure you’ll discover some kind of interest. If all else fails mention it to
your friends and family: they’ll almost certainly say “Oh, well why don’t you
sell…” and you’ll slap your forehead.
Out of the things you know enough about, you should then consider which things
you could actually get for a good enough price to resell, and how suitable they
would be for posting. If you can think of something of that you’re knowledgeable
about and it’s small and light enough for postage to be relatively cheap, then
Don’t worry if you think the thing you’re selling is too obscure – it isn’t. There’s a
market for almost everything on eBay, even things that wouldn’t sell once in a
year if you stocked them in a shop. You’ll probably do even better if you fill a
niche than if you sell something common.
Tax and Legal Matters
If you earn enough money, you should be aware that you’re going to have to start
paying tax – this won’t be done for you. If you decide to sell on eBay on a full-time
basis, you should probably register as a business.
There are going to be ups and downs when you sell on eBay. Don’t pack it in if
something goes a little wrong in your first few sales: the sellers who are successful
on eBay are the ones who enjoy it, and stick at it whatever happens.
Anyone can sell on eBay, if they believe in themselves – and if you do decide it’s
not for you, then the start-up costs are so low that you won’t really have lost
If you’re ready to start selling, then the next thing you need to know is the
different auction types, so you can decide which ones you will use to sell your
5 Easy Steps to Posting Your First eBay Auction
It’s surprisingly simple to get started posting your very first auction on eBay.
Here’s what you need to do.
Step 1: Open an eBay seller’s account.
If you’ve bought things on eBay, then you already have an account – just log in
with it and click ‘Sell’ in the toolbar at the top of the page, then click ‘Create a
seller’s account’. If you’ve never used eBay before, then you’ll need to open an
account first using the ‘register’ link underneath the toolbar, and then click ‘Sell’
and ‘Create a seller’s account’. The eBay site will then guide you through the
process. For security, this may involve giving card details and bank information.
Step 2: Decide what to sell.
For your first little experiment with eBay, it doesn’t really matter what you sell.
Take a look around the room you’re in – I’m sure there’s something in there that
you’re not all that attached to and could put in the post. Small books and CDs are
ideal first items.
Step 3: Submit your item.
Click ‘Sell’, and you’re on your way to listing your item.
The first thing you need to do is choose a category – it’s best to just type in what
the item is and let eBay choose for you. Next, write a title and description.
Include key words you think people will search for in the title box, and all the
information you have about the item in the description box.
Now set a starting price. $0.01 is the best starting price, as it draws people in to
bid who otherwise wouldn’t, and items will almost never finish at such a low
price. The next thing to set is the duration of the auction: 3, 5, 7 or 10 days. This
is up to you: longer sales will usually get more bids, but will also seem to drag on
forever. If you’ve taken a picture, add it now – items with pictures always sell for
more. Finally, tick the payment methods you will accept (just PayPal is best for
now), and where you will post to (limit yourself to your own country to begin
with). Submit and you’re done!
Step 4: Wait for it to sell.
This is just a matter of sitting back and letting eBay do its thing – buyers will find
your item and leave bids on it. Some bidders might email you with questions
about the item, and you should do your best to answer these questions as quickly
as you can.
** Remember that if your item doesn’t sell then you can list it again for free. **
Step 5: Collect payment and post it.
eBay will sent your buyer emails guiding them through the process of sending you
payment for the item. Make sure you have the money before you send anything.
Once you’ve got the payment, all you need to do is pack the item for posting
(make sure to use some bubble wrap), take the buyer’s address from the
confirmation email eBay sent you, and write it on the parcel. Put some stamps on,
post it, and you’re done!
An eBay Seller’s Checklist
Being a seller is a lot of responsibility, and sometimes you might feel like you’re
not doing everything you should be. This simple checklist will help you keep on
top of things.
Have you found out everything you possibly could about your items? Try typing
their names into a search engine – you might find out something you didn’t know.
If someone else is selling the same thing as you, then always try to provide more
information about it than they do.
Do you monitor the competition? Always keep an eye on how much other items
the same as or similar to yours are selling, and what prices they’re being offered
at. There’s usually little point in starting a fixed price auction for $100 when
someone else is selling the item for $90.
Have you got pictures of the items? It’s worth taking the time to photograph your
items, especially if you have a digital camera. If you get serious about eBay but
don’t have a camera, then you will probably want to invest in one at some point.
Are you emailing your sellers? It’s worth sending a brief email when transactions
go through: something like a simple “Thank you for buying my item, please let
me know when you have sent the payment”. Follow this up with “Thanks for your
payment, I have posted your [item name] today”. You will be surprised how many
problems you will avoid just by communicating this way.
Also, are you checking your emails? Remember that potential buyers can send
you email about anything at any time, and not answering these emails will just
make them go somewhere else instead of buying from you.
Do your item description pages have everything that buyers need to know? If
you’re planning to offer international delivery, then it’s good to make a list of the
charges to different counties and display it on each auction. If you have any
special terms and conditions (for example, if you will give a refund on any item as
long as it hasn’t been opened), then you should make sure these are displayed
Have you been wrapping your items correctly? Your wrapping should be
professional for the best impression: use appropriately sized envelopes or parcels,
wrap the item in bubble wrap to stop it from getting damaged, and print labels
instead of hand-writing addresses. Oh, and always use first class post – don’t be
Do you follow up? It is worth sending out an email a few days after you post an
item, saying “Is everything alright with your purchase? I hope you received it and
it was as you expected.” This might sound like giving the customer an
opportunity to complain, but you should be trying to help your customers, not
take their money and run.
Being a really good eBay seller, more than anything else, is about providing
genuinely good and honest customer service. That’s the only foolproof way to
protect your reputation.
What’s Your eBay Reputation Really Worth?
Your eBay reputation is everything you are on eBay – without it, you’re nothing.
Your reputation is worth as much as every sale you will ever make.
If you’ve ever bought anything on eBay (and the chances are you have), then
think about your own behavior. Buying from a seller with a low feedback rating
makes you feel a little nervous and insecure, while buying from a PowerSeller
with their reputation in the thousands doesn’t require any thought or fear – it
feels just like buying from a shop.
A Bad Reputation Will Lose You Sales.
In fact, a bad reputation will lose you almost all your sales. If someone leaves you
negative feedback, you will feel the pain straight away, as that rating will go right
at the top of your user page for everyone to see. Who’s going to want to do
business with you when they’ve just read that you “took a month to deliver the
item”, or that you had “bad communication and sent a damaged item”? The
answer is no-one.
Your next few items will need to be very cheap things, just to push that negative
down the page. You might have to spend days or even weeks selling cheap stuff to
get enough positive feedback to make anyone deal with you again.
It’s even worse if you consistently let buyers leave negative feedback – once you
get below 90% positive ratings, you might as well be invisible.
You Can’t Just Open a New Account.
Besides eBay’s rules about only having one account, there are far more downsides
than that to getting a new account. You literally have to start all over again from
You won’t be able to use all the different eBay features. Your existing customers
won’t be able to find you any more. Your auctions will finish at a lower price
because of your low feedback rating. Opening a new account is like moving to a
new town to get away from a few people who are spreading rumors about you: it’s
throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
A Good Reputation Will Get You Sales.
When a PowerSeller tells me something, I tend to believe them. They can be
selling a pretty unlikely item, but if they guarantee it is what they say it is, then I
trust them – they’re not going to risk their reputation, after all. This is the power
of a reputation: people know you want to keep it, and they know you’ll go to
almost any lengths to do so.
This is true even to the point that I would sooner buy something for $20 from a
seller I know I can trust than for $15 from someone with average feedback. It’s
worth the extra money to feel like the seller knows what they’re doing, has all
their systems in place and will get me the item quickly and efficiently.
10 Steps to Successful Selling on eBay
So you want to be a successful seller with your own eBay business, do you? Here’s
a simple, ten-step path to eBay enlightenment.
Step 1: Identify your market.
Take a while to sit and watch for what sells and what doesn’t out of the items
you’re interested in. Any market research data you can collect will be very useful
to you later on. You’ll probably see the ‘sweet spots’ quite quickly – those one or
two items that always seem to sell for a good price.
Step 2: Watch the competition.
Before you invest any money, see what the other sellers in your category are up
to, and what their strategies are. Pay special attention to any flaws their auctions
might have, because this is where you can move in and beat them at their own
Step 3: Find a product.
Get hold of a supplier for whatever it is you want to sell, and see what the best
rates you can get are – don’t be afraid to ring round quite a few to get the best
deal. If the eBay prices you’ve seen are higher than the supplier’s, then you’re set.
Step 4: Start small.
Don’t throw thousands at your idea straight away – get started slowly, see what
works and what doesn’t, and learn as you go. Remember that it’s very cheap to try
out even the craziest ideas on eBay, and who knows, they might just work!
Step 5: Test and repeat.
Keep trying different strategies until you find something that works, and then
don’t be ashamed to keep doing it, again and again. The chances are that you’ve
just found a good niche.
Step 6: Work out a business plan.
A business plan doesn’t need to be anything formal, just a few pages that outline
the market opportunity you’ve spotted, your strategy, strengths and weaknesses
of the plan and a brief budget. This is more for you than it is for anyone else.
Step 7: Invest and expand.
This is the time to throw money at the problem. Buy inventory, and start
spending more time on your business. Set a goal number of sales each week,
increasing it each time.
Step 8: Make it official.
Once you’ve made a few thousand dollars worth of sales, you should really
register yourself as a business. Don’t worry, it’s not expensive or hard to do – a
lawyer is the best person to help you through the process.
Step 9: Automate.
You’ll probably find that you’re writing the same things again and again in emails
or item descriptions. This is the time to give up on the manual method and turn
to automated software that can create listings for you, and respond to completed
auctions and payments with whatever message you provide.
Step 10: Never give up.
Even when it looks like it’s all going wrong, don’t stop trying until you succeed. If
you keep working at it then you’ll almost always find that you make a real
breakthrough just when things are starting to look desperate.
Once you get into the swing of things, you might start thinking that you should
quit your job and take up eBay selling part time. But it’s not always as easy as that
– there are all sorts of factors that you need to consider. The next email will weigh
up the case for and against taking up eBay full-time.
How to Think Like an eBay PowerSeller
As explained earlier in this guide, PowerSellers are the people on eBay who’ve
made it, recognizable by the little ‘PowerSeller’ badge next to their name. You’ve
probably seen these people around – and to succeed on eBay, you want to think
the way they do.
How to People Get the Right to Call Themselves PowerSellers?
eBay gets to decide who can be a PowerSeller and who can’t, and they have strict
requirements. To get in at the minimum PowerSeller level, you must have a
feedback rating of at least 100 (minimum 98% positive) and sell at least $1,000
worth of items every month for three months in a row. There are different levels
of PowerSeller membership as you sell items of greater value: $1,000 total is
bronze, $3,000 is silver, $10,000 is gold, $25,000 is platinum and $125,000 is
If PowerSellers ever fail to meet the required amount of sales, or their feedback
falls below 98% positive, then they lose their PowerSeller status. In short, the
only people who get to be PowerSellers on eBay are the people who have been
successful for a good while, and are on track to stay that way.
The Shop and the Marketplace
This is the most important part of understanding how PowerSellers think. They
don’t see what they’re doing as being some random bazaar, or a hobby – instead,
they see themselves as a business.
Put it like this. If you run a stall in a marketplace, the chances are that you have a
general area of business, but you mostly just sell whatever you can get your hands
on that week. If your dodgy buddy got his hands of a job lot of something at a
discount, then that’s what you’ll be selling. This might be fun – and when you
have a good week, you’ll have a really good week – but it’s no way to run a real
business in the long-term.
PowerSellers think far more like shops. They sell the same things again and
again, every week – regular stock for regular customers. They do ‘boring’ business
things like keep inventories and budgets. They know what they’re going to be
selling, how much they buy it for and how much they expect to sell for. Just like a
real shop, there can be hard times sometimes, but their income is stable and their
business can grow slowly.
The best advice I can give you on thinking like a PowerSeller is this:
don’t take long-term risks for short-term gain. Look after your reputation,
manage your selling properly, provide good customer service and the rewards will
come to you in due course. And you’ll get a little badge next to your name that
makes people trust you more!
One possibility that you might have realised so far is what eBay can do for any
other businesses you might have. Remember, millions of people visit eBay every
day – why keep everything separate when you’re starting to tap into that kind of
Choosing the Right eBay Product Category
Some people think it’s easy to choose the right eBay category, and often it is.
Sometimes, though, it might not be quite clear exactly what to go for.
Why is it Even Important?
Plenty of people use the category system to find items, when they’re not looking
for something specific. If your item is listed in the wrong category – or you’ve just
given up and listed it in ‘Everything Else’ – then these people aren’t going to find
Also, listing items in the wrong categories is against eBay’s rules, and eBay say
they will remove any auctions that are wrongly categorised. They don’t often
actually do this, but it’s not worth the risk – especially since breaking any rules
can cause them to penalise your account, including losing PowerSeller status if
you have it.
So What Can You Do?
eBay will suggest categories for you when you sell your item, if you type in a few
words to describe the item on the category selection page and click ‘search’. You
can make the best of this feature by typing in exactly what your item is, with
brand name and model number (if any), so that eBay can find the best category
If that doesn’t work for you, then search yourself for items like yours, and pay
attention to which category most of them seem to be in (you can see this near the
top of each item’s description page). Try different words and see which ones come
back with the most results. You can also browse through all the available
categories from eBay’s front page.
Remember that the more specific the category is, the better – use as many
subcategories as are appropriate. Don’t just list your HP laptop in the
‘Computers’ category, for example – list it in ‘Computers & Laptops & HP’. Don’t
worry: your item will still appear in the ‘Computers’ category, as well as
‘Computers & Laptops’, because items listed in subcategories are always listed in
every category above.
Take some time to look through all the categories and get familiar with the way
eBay as a whole is laid out. After all, that’s better than getting a few months down
the line and finding that you still think of eBay’s category system like it’s some
kind of scary jungle.
What if More Than One Category Fits?
Don’t worry, eBay have you covered. For a small extra fee, you can list your item
in an extra category, to increase the number of potential buyers who will see it.
This isn’t always worth it, though – some items only really fit properly in one
category, and listing them in extra categories is just a waste.
Once you know where to list your item, the next step is to write your auction’s
title. The title is the most important thing about your auction – the difference
between a good title and a bad title can be the difference between $10 and $100.
To learn why this is the case…
Tips on Writing Your eBay Title
Trying to be help your buyers find your auctions can be a truly daunting task.
Most people only search eBay by title, not by description, and that means that
you only have those 55 characters of the title to cover all the possible search
terms. That’s not easy. In this email, I’ll give you a few pointers.
Don’t bother with eBay clichés: There are plenty of eBay auction titles that
say things like “Super rare camera wow look low price”. These are stupid things
to put in your title, as no-one is going to search for them.
Think like a buyer: If you were looking for your item, then what exactly would
you type into that box? If you think it’d help, try searching yourself to find
someone else selling your item. What were the first things you thought of typing?
Think like other sellers: Keep an eye on which sellers are doing best with
items like yours, and try to copy their title styles – if it works for them, it can work
Be specific: You should be sure to write the item’s brand and specific model
number in the title, as people will often search only for this information. Make
sure that you also say exactly what the item is.
A few examples:
“Dell Latitude Laptop P3 500mhz Notebook PC Computer”
If you know about computers, you’ll know instantly what this auction is selling. It
has manufacturer (Dell) and product line (Latitude), followed by a few technical
specifications (P3 500mhz is the processor speed). Notice also that the title
includes the four words ‘laptop’, ‘notebook’, ‘PC’ and ‘computer’, as the seller
wants people looking for any of those words to see his auction.
“OASIS Don’t Believe the Truth CD Album (New)”
This auction for a CD is well formatted: it gives the artist name in capital letters,
followed by the album name. It then manages to include the two key words ‘CD’
and ‘album’, as well as the word ‘new’ – that means that anyone searching for ‘new
oasis cd’, ‘oasis new album’ and so on will find this auction.
“1840 Penny Black stamp, certificate, four margins”
Here’s a slightly more obscure one, from the exciting world of stamp collecting. A
penny black is one of the oldest and most famous stamps. It uses a few key words
that collectors will consider important: ‘four margins’ indicates that the stamp
has been cut out with some margins around it and so isn’t damaged, and
‘certificate’ tells you that the item has a certificate of authenticity – it’s a real
penny black. Remember to use every bit of space to squeeze in as much important
information as you can in the title.
So now that you’ve written a winning title, you need to start on a great
eBay Description Writing Tips
Once you’ve drawn the buyers in with your title, the next thing to do is to tell
them all about your item with the description. But just what should you write in
At its heart, your item description is an ad. Without making it too obvious, you
should be writing sales copy. You’re trying to get buyers excited about your
products, and that’s usually hard – but on eBay, if you have the right thing to sell
and give enough details, the buyers almost excite themselves.
Include every technical detail you know, including the item’s manufacturer, its
condition, how big it is, where and when it was made, its history, and anything
else special about it. Don’t be too boring, though: the best descriptions are
written in friendly, conversational language, and show a real knowledge of the
item. Whatever you do, make sure you tell the truth!
Remember that most of the people who’ll be buying your item will be just as
knowledgeable about it as you are, if not more – this is their hobby, and they’re
experts. Don’t feel like you need to explain the basics of the item: just go into as
much technical detail as you can. As a rule, don’t write anything in the
description if you don’t know what it means, as the chances are someone will, and
if you’ve got it slightly wrong then you’ll look like you don’t know what you’re
You might find that you enjoy writing a few things about how you got the item,
why you’re selling it, and who you think might like it. This isn’t strictly necessary,
but it gives your auctions some character and a personal touch, and can make
people more likely to trust you. People might wonder what you’re doing selling
500 CDs all at once, and if you tell them the reason, then they’ll feel reassured
that nothing dodgy is going on. If you’re selling them because you’re having a
baby and you need the space, just say so.
Write as Much as You Can
Leave nothing out of your description, even if that seems to you like it makes it
cumbersomely long. There is no way you can be too thorough: someone,
somewhere will appreciate that you took the time to write the extra information.
Don’t assume that anyone who wants extra information will email you to ask a
question: many buyers are shy and won’t do it. Think of questions that buyers
might have and add the answers to your description, as people generally tend to
ask the same questions over and over again.
Each time a buyer does email you with a question, you should both answer their
question and update your description so that it will include the answer next time.
If people ask questions that are answered in the description, try putting these
parts of the auction on a line alone, or in bold, to make them easier to notice.
10 Tips for Increasing Your eBay Response
So you’ve got the buyer in front of your auction, and they’ve read the description.
They’re must be interested, or they wouldn’t be looking… but just how can you
push them over that line and make them leave a bid? Read on for some tips.
Improve your picture: In all that description writing, you might have missed
the vital importance of your item’s picture. A picture with bad lighting or an
intrusive background looks amateurish and won’t make anyone want to buy from
Add an About Me page: You’ll be surprised how much you can reassure
bidders just by creating an About Me page and putting a little bit about yourself
on your business on there. You can also have a few special offers there for people
who bother to look at the page, and let people subscribe to your mailing list so
that you can email them updates.
Use SquareTrade: Signing up at SquareTrade and displaying their logo on your
auctions shows that you are committed to have them resolve any disputes that
arise. You always see this on PowerSellers auctions – it makes you look more
Write terms and conditions: Have the ‘small print’ clearly visible on all your
auctions, giving details of things like shipping times and prices, your refund
policy, and any other business practices you might have. This helps build
confidence with buyers.
Show off your feedback: Copy and paste a selection of the feedback comments
you’re most proud of to each item’s description page, instead of making bidders
go and look for it. If you have 100% positive feedback, be sure to write that on
every auction too.
Add NR to your titles: If you have extra space in a title, put ‘NR’ (no reserve)
on the end. Bidders prefer auctions that don’t have a reserve price, and doing this
lets them see that yours don’t.
Benefits not features: Make sure your description focuses on the benefits that
your item can give to the customer, not just its features. This is a classic sales
technique. If you have trouble with this, remember: ‘cheap’ is a feature, ‘save
money’ is a benefit.
List more items: If you want more people to respond to your items, then list
more items! You might find you have better like listing items at the same time,
instead of one-by-one. There’s no need to use a Dutch auction – you can just keep
two or three auctions going at once for an item you have more than one of in
Accept unusual payment methods: To reach those last few buyers, accept
payment methods that many sellers don’t, like checks.
Buy some upgrades: The best upgrade is the most expensive one, which makes
your item appear first in search results. In crowded categories, you might find
that this is worth the money.
Once you’ve got some buyers, you want to keep them coming back to you!
As this guide draws to a near end, we’ll conclude this awesome roller coaster
guide to eBay selling with a list of often-used terms and jargons in one of the
world’s highly trafficked auction site!
All the best and have fun! To becoming the next PowerSeller!
The eBay Glossary
Bid: telling eBay’s system the maximum price you are prepared to pay for
Dutch: an auction where more than one of an item is available.
Feedback: positive or negative comments left about other users on eBay.
Mint: in perfect condition.
Non-paying bidder: a bidder who wins an auction but does not then go
on to buy the item.
PayPal: an electronic payment method accepted by most sellers.
Rare: used and abused on eBay, now entirely meaningless.
Reserve: the minimum price the seller will accept for the item.
Shill bid: a fake bid placed by a seller trying to drive up their auction’s
Snail Mail: the post, which is obviously very slow compared to email.
Sniping: bidding at the last second to win the item before anyone else can