CEO of Me is excited to introduce this 4 part series on the Secrets to Successful Selling on eBay by our guest blogger Christy Silkaitis from The Shoppers Apprentice! To read the other 3 parts of this series, click here.
Selling on eBay is an adventure. You can make it into a career, a part-time job, or a hobby. In this series of articles, I will discuss my history with eBay and how it has changed over the years. I will also walk you through the steps necessary to sell a particular item on eBay, and I will show you ways that you can find a niche and begin your own eBay business.
I started selling on eBay almost 13 years ago, and have seen many changes over the years. In the beginning, selling on eBay was a necessity for me and my family. My husband and I were newly married and had two children within 23 short months. We were faced with providing for our growing family on one income, since I didn’t want to return to my job as a research engineer. So we started cutting corners wherever we could, from shopping the sales at all the grocery stores to turning down the thermostat.
To save even more, I picked up baby clothes and toys at garage sales. Since my mother had an antique store when I was younger, I have some knowledge of antiques and would often see them at garage sales. My mother encouraged me to buy them and take them to antique stores to re-sell, but this was a lot of work, and the stores didn’t often pay well. She then recommended that I try eBay.
How it began
I listed my first item almost 13 years ago. It was a white Beanie Baby bear I bought for $2 at a garage sale. Seven days later, it sold on eBay for $153 — and I was elated. I had found a way to supplement our family income, while at the same time staying home to care for our children!
In the beginning, the antiques and collectibles sold very well. In a good year, I made $15k selling on eBay. The fee structure at that time was more favorable to sellers and the economy was thriving, so making a profit was much easier than it is today.
eBay has seen dramatic changes over the years. Many new rules and restrictions make it more challenging for small-time sellers like myself. For example, a package lost by the post office is now the responsibility of the seller, and we are no longer able to offer shipping insurance to our customers. As eBay has become more profitable, more and more companies have also created eBay stores in order to sell their merchandise, creating much more competition — there are literally millions of listings!
Yet people continue to bid on my auctions, and I continue to make a profit. This is an extremely flexible way to make money while at the same time being home to care for your children. One of the benefits of selling on eBay is the ability to set your own hours and decide on your own pace. Our family has since grown to include five children, and I’ve chosen to take a leave from eBay after the birth of each child. I took just a few weeks after the birth of our third child, since we weren’t as financially comfortable as we are now. When my fifth child was born, I took a 6-month leave from selling on eBay. There are few other jobs that allow you the flexibility to make those kinds of decisions with virtually no penalties (except the lack of income!).
So let’s assume you have an item that you want to sell on eBay. The very first step is to find out if it’s worth selling. In order to find this out, you will need to set up a free eBay account. Enter the name of your item in the search box and take a look at the auctions that come up. Some of them might have bidders, perhaps none of them do.
Realize that this results page doesn’t give you complete information about the way your item will sell, since many of the hot auction items won’t go up in price until the last few minutes of the auction. Now, go to the left side of the page and click on “completed listings.” You will see a new set of auction listings, all of which have been completed. You can now get a sense of how well your particular item is selling, and what price it is selling for.
Once you know the selling price, you can estimate your final profit. Is this item something you found in your house, that you were going to get rid of anyway? Then your profit is the final selling price minus the fees. Is the item something that you purchased for the sole intent of re-selling? Then you need to take the final selling price and subtract the eBay fees plus your original purchase price. Whatever is left is your profit, and only you can determine if the work ahead of you is worth that amount of money.
Deciding what to sell
So how do you go about finding an item to sell? If you’re getting rid of the clutter in your house, just sell what you have. If you want to turn this into a business, though, you’ll need to pick a product to specialize in. The best way to see hot selling items on eBay is to go to pulse.ebay.com, which will show you the items that are most often searched for on eBay (the number 2 item people search for on ebay is coupons!). The ten most popular terms will come up on the first page, but if you want to narrow your search, select a sub-category in the pull-down menu above. For example, if you select Health and Beauty, you will see that the top three search items are: 1. Mac, 2. Philosophy, and 3. Chanel. These are the items in Health and Beauty that people are most after. So if you want to develop a business, you can contact those companies and see if they are looking for sellers, or you can try to find wholesale lots of those products to resell. For example, I just searched on Philosophy, and found an auction for 224 3-in-1 Shower Gels Shampoo and Bubble Bath selling for $229.99. Now do some research and figure out if you could make a profit purchasing that lot, breaking it up, and selling these individually.
The Shoppers Apprentice
To read the other 3 parts of this series, click here.
Thanks so much for this series. eBay makes me cross-eyed! I settle for half.com because I can understand it better. I would like to have the savvy to use eBay to empty out some of my apartment clutter that is in good condition and just waiting for a new home.
You are welcome Dee! Be sure to visit each Thurs for the next 3 articles! I’m excited to learn more too!
I will…most definitely! Thanks.