7 Lessons I Learned Selling on eBay
Selling on eBay is anything but easy…. Yeah, I've made over $50,000 on the platform but it was no small feat and sometimes it felt like a full time job. Once you have been doing it a while it can get annoying but its like anything else there are things I like and things I don't like about it. It's easy to list an item and get it sold without ever having to haggle or waste gas meeting people – Yes, I'm talking about the dreaded Craigslist messages you all receive when you have something for sale on Craigslist. eBay is a 100X better use of your time because you are not dealing with local people but millions and millions of online shoppers who want to buy your item!
1. Good Pictures Sell Your Product For More Money
Taking good pictures sounds easy but it's half science and half art. You don't need to have a $3,000 camera to take a great photo of the item you want to sell but you do have to understand lighting and angles. Most Power sellers on eBay have photo studios just for their items! Here is an example setup where a seller is taking a picture of women's shoes.
Professional Sellers Use Mini Photo Studios
A mini photo studio might seem extreme but it will save you time and your pictures will look professional which means you will get more $$$ for your listing. The great part about these is that you can even use your smartphone and get a pro-quality looking shot that will look a million times better than your competitors listing. If you are serious about starting an eBay business I would recommend this mini photo studio https://amzn.to/1Uauqdv.
2. Keep A Close Eye On Shipping Costs
This sounds pretty basic but I can't tell you how many times I have “estimated” shipping costs only to be shocked after I have sold my item and the shipping cost is 3X more than I estimated. It was so bad in a couple cases I even lost money since it was such a heavy item like guitars, printers, etc…. It sounds pretty basic but I just wanted you to be aware of it. Also when shipping small items it might be better to ship not first class mail but priority mail because you can ship a small flat rate box for around $6 so it's not worth the hassle for trying to ship first class mail for let's say $4 when an extra $2 gets you faster shipping and a happier customer. People are used to getting items fast thanks to Amazon's two day shipping so you need to ship fast because it's expected.
3. Put SafeGuards in Place
It's all about minimizing your risk when you are running any type of business and selling stuff on eBay is no different. A few key rules I try to follow are
- Always Purchase A Tracking Number
- Put All The Item Details In The Listing
- Don't Be Sketchy – AKA – “Don't Sell a PS4 Box for The Price of a Real PS4”
- Ship Within 1 Business Day & Use Priority Mail When Possible
- Be Honest With Buyers At All Times
- Work To Resolve Conflicts When They Arise
4. Always Communicate With Buyers
Communicating with buyers is not that hard. In most cases they are just wondering if you have shipped their item or what the tracking number is for their item but most of this can be avoided if you are proactive. Some simple rules I like to follow that will make your life easier are
- Upload Tracking Right Into eBay (Or be a badass & use Stamps.com to import orders and upload tracking)
- Message Buyers When Their Item Ships
- Respond To Messages in 24 Hours or Less
- Put A Message or business card in The Package Asking For 5 Star Feedback*
5. Sourcing Inventory is Not Impossible
Most people get confused about buying products to resell on eBay. It's not as hard as you might think but you have to understand the marketplace. The marketplace is more for used and vintage goods. Yes, lots of new items are sold on eBay but you can not possibly compete with sellers who are buying in bulk from huge multi-national suppliers. (Trust me I have tried and failed) I even imported a bunch of item from Alibaba a few times and did pretty decent but I don't recommend it. I have to spend $2,000 on a single order to get a good deal and then there were so many competitors selling the same products so it turned into a price war which is never a good thing. The best places to find items you can resell on eBay are
- Garage Sales
- Estate Sales
- Flea Markets
Some of you might be shocked but you would not believe some of the deals I have found at garage sales over the years. I love technology and people think that an old ipod is only worth $20 so I buy it then I flip it on eBay for a cool $75! The trick here is to never buy an item without first researching on your phone to minimize your risk. Check eBay on your smartphone and make sure the exact item is selling and get the average sale price in an advanced search. You don't have to plug it into the fee calculator but it wouldn't hurt. The general rule of thumb is to pay as minimum as possible because you will have to list the item for 3X to 10X to make any money after fees and shipping expenses. Once you get the facts you can negotiate the price with the seller.
6. You Don't Have To “Own” An Item To Sell It
Yeah, I have sold stuff on eBay and once the buyer purchased the item I got it shipped from the supplier at the warehouse. I made a cool $1,300 doing this with one item last summer but it was tricky. Once a order was placed I contacted 2 different suppliers and had the parts shipped to the customer. Then I uploaded the two different tracking numbers to the item tracking so the customer would know it was shipped and on it's way to them.
I can't reveal the item I did it on because it's a seasonal item but this strategy only works on items that have a higher value. The average sale price of the item I was selling was $350 and my costs from the two different suppliers was about $200 so even after fees and shipping I made a cool $100 profit per sale which is exciting to say the least. I can tell you that this was a very niche item but my general advice would be to find a hobby you enjoy and you might just find a business idea along the way.
7. Keep An Eye on Ebay & Paypal Fees
Most experienced eBay sellers are not phased when you show an example of the fees like this but other people who don't sell on the platform get shocked sometimes. They wonder why anyone would pay huge fees to a marketplace when you would be doing all the work. Well at the end of the day eBay is providing a great service and they deserve a cut because they are giving you access to the millions of buyers on the platform who want to buy your product just from seeing a few pictures. However, whenever you sell on eBay you need to use a calculator like this one to try and measure out your fees in-advance of selling an item. Here are a few links to eBay & Paypal Fee Calculators
Selling online is not rocket science but it does take some strategy and planning because otherwise you will lose your ass. Usually I get the data from this calculator and put it into an excel document to track my items profit. I track everything from purchase price, eBay fees, Paypal fees, shipping fees, mileage to post office, etc.
7 Important Lessons I Learned Selling on eBay
Those are the 7 important lessons I learned from selling $50,000 worth of products on the platform. Please leave your questions or comments below.