eBay Selling 101: The Essentials

eBay Selling Part 1: Make Fast Cash On The Internet

Could you use some extra money?

Okay, it was a dumb question. In today’s economy, virtually all of us could use a little extra cash, either to make ends meet or for that occasional special treat.

The key to getting a little more spending money might be sitting right in front of you, or hidden away in some closet at your home.

Everyday thousands of people are improving their cash flow by selling items on the Internet. Websites like eBay, Half.com, Etsy, and Craig’s List are designed to connect you to people who want to buy your stuff.

This series of articles will introduce you to online selling and give you the tools and hints you need to earn some extra cash in your spare time. Some people are creative enough and work hard enough to make a full-time career out of selling online through sites like eBay.

Here’s some great news: If you have access to a computer with an Internet connection, you’ve already taken care of your biggest expense to get started as an online seller. You’ll also need a regular checking account and a PayPal account.

PayPal is an online payment and banking system. Sites like eBay use PayPal for almost all their sales. Go to PayPal.com to open your account. You’ll need your checking account information. Signing up easy and Paypal is basically free.

Once you have a PayPal account, do a little exploring. Look around your house for things you aren’t using anymore then get on your computer and go to www.ebay.com and start browsing through the thousands—no, millions—of items people are selling. Can you find any of the stuff you have sitting around your house?

If so, there might be an anxious buyer waiting for you out in cyberspace.

Next time we’ll show you how to really get a good idea how much you can expect to make when you sell something on eBay and the basics of listing your items.

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eBay Selling Part 2: Is My Old Stuff Worth Anything?

If last month’s introduction to selling over the Internet motivated you to scour your closets, attic and garage for items you’d like to get rid of, today we’re going to share a few tips so you can get a feel for how much money you might make and help you maximize your profit.

By far the biggest Internet marketplace is eBay, so we’ll talk about selling your items there.

There are two ways items are sold on eBay: the traditional auction format or through a “buy it now” price. When you join eBay and start a sale, you first set the price where you want the auction the begin—the required opening bid price.

TIP: Set this price low, at something like 99 cents. It’s far more important to generate interest and get your auction going than it is to hold out for a higher opening bid.

After you set your opening bid price, you can name a “buy it now price.” If an eBay member wants to pay this price—before anyone else makes an opening bid—the auction is over and the buyer has purchased your item at your “buy it now” price. As soon as someone makes the first bid, the “buy it now” disappears in most eBay auctions.

Smart sellers generally let their auctions run for one week, so a “buy it now” sale can get the money into your PayPal account more quickly. Set your “buy it now” price high enough to make you happy with your sale.

TIP: Be sure your auctions include one full weekend for people to bid. Also, start your auctions between 6-9 p.m. Pacific Time. That’s when the most people are on eBay. Your auction will then end during that busy period and it’s the final hour of bidding when you get the most action.

When you decide to list an item to list on eBay you’ll probably search for similar items to see how much they are selling for. If you scroll through active auctions with “buy it now” prices, you might get the wrong idea about the value of your item. You have to find out what people actually paid for similar items.

TIP: Next to the search box at the top of virtually every eBay page is the word “Advanced.” This is a link that takes you to a search page with additional options. Click on the word “Advanced” and when you get to the next page, scroll down a little and select the box that says “Completed.” Now when you search for something you will only see completed auctions and what buyers actually paid, as well as when items failed to sell.

Armed with this information and these tips you should be well on you way to pricing your merchandise properly and making a few sales.

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eBay Selling Part 3: My Good Junk Is All Gone! What Now?

Folks like Dave Ramsey have made successful careers teaching on the subject of biblical stewardship and how it relates to our finances and many of us have heard sermons on the Parable of the Talents many times over the years.

I don’t have any unique insight into the subject of biblical stewardship, but I do think one thing is clear: if you have stuff sitting around your house that you aren’t using, you are wasting a resource.

You should probably either sell it, or give it to someone who needs it.

These items are prime material for listing on eBay. In last month’s article I explained how you can get a good estimate of how much you can expect to get for an item you are thinking about listing on eBay. If some items don’t seem like they would be worth offering in an online auction, consider a garage sale, donating them or giving them to friends and family members.

Start out listing a few items to get a feel for the system. In the beginning don’t take a pile of 50 items and list them all at once. You’ll be under a lot of pressure to keep up with your auctions and get everything shipped in a timely manner. This could result in some of your buyers giving you a poor rating and “negative feedback.”

Just as in the real world, you need to guard your reputation on eBay. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” On eBay, if you end up with a poor rating, you will learn first hand the relationship between your reputation and the ability to earn a little gold and silver!

Once you’re getting comfortable with selling on eBay, list as many items as you feel you can handle. However, unless you’re a hoarder like we see featured on those reality TV shows, you’ll probably run out of stuff to sell before too long.

What’s next?

If you enjoy the eBay experience you need to find merchandise to sell. The level of commitment you want to make to your fledgling business will determine your next steps. Today we’ll assume you’d like to sell a few items a week on eBay, but don’t have much left at home you want to list.

First, consider making the garage sale rounds on the weekend. Google “garage sales nashville” and you’ll get several sources that list upcoming garage sales. Make a list of the ones that look promising, then head out early—as early as possible—on Saturday morning to see what you can find.

Remember that you need to buy items at a low enough price that you can reasonably expect to sell them at a profit on eBay. In other words, drive a hard bargain and don’t be afraid to walk away if you think the profit margin would be too narrow.

Second, check out the thrift stores. Usually items here are too expensive to sell at a profit on eBay. However, many thrift stores have a “half price” day once a month. That’s when you want to shop.

However, it might be a good idea to visit the thrift store before “half price day” and see what they have. Make some notes, or better yet take some pictures with your cell phone, then go home and research eBay and see what kind of prices you could expect from the items you’ve found at the thrift store.

It will take patience. Most of what you find won’t be worth listing on eBay. However, you’ll get better at spotting the hot items as you get more experience.

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