Published February 27, 2012
The popular auction site eBay sees billions of dollars in sales each year. From books and clothes to cars and real estate, sellers can place almost anything on the market. If you want to start generating profits from your cast-off belongings, here is basic guide to selling your stuff on eBay:
Abide by the rules
You will have to create a seller account before you can start listing items. Once you are ready to start, note that eBay has a set of regulations that make sure sellers stay responsible and within the limits of the law. The seller policy is primarily concerned with prohibited or restricted items, as well as goods that may infringe upon intellectual property rights.
Choose a smart price
Once you have chosen what to sell, you should decide on a starting price. A quick search can show you the general price range for similar items. eBay even allows you to search completed listings, so you know exactly the amount paid for these items. Note that heavy objects will increase shipping costs, which may deter someone from bidding. eBay will charge you an insertion fee, which can range from a few cents to several dollars depending on your starting price and whether you want to auction or sell at a fixed price. For auctions, this fee is waived for the first 50 listings each month, but you should be aware of it if you intend to start a full-fledged eBay business.
Take bright pictures
People are taking a risk when they bid on anything, but a clear picture will minimize that risk for them. If possible, include a catalog or runway photo of the item. eBay recommends taking photos with natural light or evenly distributed artificial light, which will both take brighter photos than a camera flash. You should also take pictures from multiple angles. Depending on what you are selling, you may want to include a common object in the picture to help the bidders gauge size. Someone auctioning a locket may want to include a dime or quarter for comparison. If you are selling clothing, you want to show how the clothes hang on a human model, dress stand or hanger.
Write a clear description
When shoppers browse eBay, they are often faced with a huge list of options. A clear and appealing title can help someone spot your item easily. The best way to choose a listing title is to imagine yourself performing the search. Use the words that you would type into the search bar. Try to use standard phrases: while it may sound poetic to list vintage pants as ”trousers,” it will also be harder to find. eBay has set an 80-character limit on titles, so you have to pack a lot of information in a little space. Avoid punctuation, which will only use up characters. Prioritize important details like era, color, size or a relevant brand name. If you still have room left over, include a jazzy adjective to describe your item.
“Watch List” and “Buy It Now”
eBay offers options for people who do not want to commit right away and for those who just want to buy items immediately. While viewing an auction, the bidder can add the listing to a “Watch List.” This list allows the bidder to keep track of the auction without bidding. As the seller, you can view how many people are watching your item, which gives you a gauge for the amount of general interest. If you know exactly the price you wish to sell an item, you can list it with a “Buy it Now” option, which allows buyers to pay a fixed price instead of going through the whole auction.
After the auction
Once the auction ends, you can send an invoice to the winning bidder. eBay requires you to offer at least one method of electronic payment, and the most convenient, although fee-filled way, to be paid is PayPal. After all of your auctions, contact the buyers, thank them and let them know when you will ship out the item. eBay’s feedback system rates the quality of sellers and buyers. Leave positive feedback if everything went well, and wait for their positive feedback in return. If your item did not sell, simply try again, perhaps with a lower price or better pictures.