6 Lessons I Learned Selling on eBay

I’ve bought a few things on eBay and have always been a casual browser, but Amazon is where I do the majority of my online shopping. However, I have learned quite a bit about selling on eBay over the years. If you want to be more efficient and actually make some side cash on eBay, here’s what you need to know.

1. Create Descriptive and Detailed Listings

Take a look at these eBay listings. There’s a variety of watchers, views, and bidders. It’s not necessarily anything to do with pricing either, as they’re all actually great deals.

What really separates the popularity is the listings themselves.

Here’s a listing that’s been up for probably 90 days total now. It’s because the item itself is a bit obscure in the U.S. (a French Aerogarden, which itself isn’t exactly in every home).

It also doesn’t have a very good description. So it doesn’t get many views, and nobody is watching it.

By comparison, this listing for a Link AKC smart collar is very popular with high views, watchers, and preliminary bids.

This collar was only listed for 7 days before selling.

The description matters.

Be as detailed as possible, and include all the information you can. Fill out every form, and take the time to look up whatever information you don’t know.

You’d be surprised what you learn about the value of your own things by doing this simple search.

2. Take a Lot of Pictures

It’s also important to take a lot of pictures of whatever you list on eBay. You’re given 12 free pictures with every listing – use them.

Be sure to document the product from every angle, and condition of the box, any accessories and manuals, and whatever else is necessary to sell.

Great pictures are the key, so I like using granite and wood backgrounds a lot in my product pictures.

Timex Q Move Black Strap Smartwatch

It also helps to use a DSLR camera instead of your phone. Lighting is also an issue, and you’ll want as much as possible for the most vibrant photos.

I also find it useful to use a photo tent occasionally.

These photos not only help items sell, but, if you ever have an issue with a buyer (which you inevitably will if you sell long enough), you’ll need these photos to protect yourself.

3. Use eBay/Paypal Tools for Your Protection

While I haven’t had many issues selling or buying on eBay, a small percentage of people will try to take advantage of you or run scams. Still, eBay is much safer and less sketchy than Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace everywhere I’ve been, from small towns to big cities.

I’ve tried taking shortcuts on things like shipping, but, while it saves money in the short term, it comes to bite you in the ass later.

I recently had an issue with an eBay user purchasing a bluetooth speaker that was in perfect condition. He claimed it didn’t work, and ended up defrauding me by opening a case with eBay for a refund.

Because I skimped on postage knowing it would go through, I lost both the speaker and the money for it. It was a valuable lesson I’ll never forget.

Be sure to understand all your seller protections through both eBay and Paypal, and document everything to ensure you’re covered in the event a deal goes bad.

4. Know When to Auction or List

Ebay offers two ways to sell your goods. While older generations may be more familiar with the original auction-style listings, static classified listings with the option to accept best offers are also popular these days.

In fact, there are over 250 million eBay classifieds users and currently around 1 billion items for sale.

To decide whether you want to list yours as an auction or static price, think about what you’re willing to accept for it, what it’s selling for online currently, and what it’s actually worth.

Many expensive electronics (especially new), I often list for a static price of ~10% off the Amazon Prime price in order to make it a good deal. I generally will listen to offers of 20% lower after 30 days, if the item needs to be relisted. Or, if it’s a large item, I’m much more open to negotiation just to get it out of my house.

Auctions are what I used to get some quick seller feedback and earn my first star rating. It’s a great way to sell items you don’t care what they sell for or are willing to accept selling for half off.

Keep in mind many bidders will wait until the last minute to bid, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get any bids the first few days.

5. Wait a Week Before Leaving Feedback

I have a lot of great feedback on eBay, and so far only one bad review (which I personally don’t agree with, but whatever).

However, I’ve listed about five times as many items as I’ve received feedback on. It also took a little while to realize how many issues can come up during shipping and within the first few days of a buyer receiving their item.

I often found myself leaving good feedback for someone only to have them turn around and bite me in the ass, sometimes even being rude, a few days later.

As a rule, I now wait for a few days after the buyer received my shipment to leave feedback. That way I’m still timely while not accidentally praising the devil.

6. When All Else Fails – Ask eBay

There are always going to be random situations that come up, no matter how long you’ve been on the site.

Someone will always try to talk you down, etc.

With that being said, the vast majority of eBay users (especially those who make it their business) are super helpful. Even the times I’ve had to dispute anything with them have been mostly great experiences.

Whether the community forums or customer service staff, you’ll have a positive experience asking eBay, so don’t hesitate.

That’s all I have for now. Next month, we’ll delve into some of PayPal’s benefits and eBay’s partner program, which I use to monetize this blog.

Stay tuned…



Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer.

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