How to Sell and Make Money on eBay at Home by an eBay powerseller

How to Sell and Make Money on eBay: Listing Strategies

I have been selling on eBay since about 2002. It wasn't until recently, however, that I was able to make really good money on eBay. The most frequent complaints I hear from people is that 'I can't make good money on eBay' or, 'I did sell something, but I took a loss.' As a business owner, why would you ever accept taking a loss on your sales? There is a secret to selling on eBay. I have scoured the Internet to find it, but I was completely unable to find it. Turns out, I had to experience it myself. There are a few milestones that people get to and then give up thinking it's impossible to surmount them. I am writing this 'selling on eBay guide' because I believe that ANYONE can sell on eBay they just need to know the secret. . .

This guide is to serve as a step-by-step guide on how to start your eBay business without shoveling upfront huge amounts of money in order to obtain products.

First off, there are some things that you should know before selling on eBay. If you have not received an EIN number or other business numbers required by your state, get them now. They will serve you better in the long run. We'll get to why in a moment, but just make sure it's one of the first things you do before we start getting to some large volume selling.

Another thing to remember is that eBay success does not come overnight. If you're not making money on eBay, don't blame me if you haven't put up anything for sale. I've heard many complaints: “I'm not making any money and I've read all your material!” To which I say, “So what?! You haven't put anything up FOR SALE!” If you want to make sales, then you have to have products to sell!

To make money on eBay you have to do 2 things incredibly well. First off, you must have great listings. The reason for this is because this is your billboard or flyer. This is what you'll need to accomplish to sell to the people AFTER they have found your listing. There are many people who are more impulsive buyers. These are the ones that see a great picture and terms, and then buy it. The other is the more skeptical buyer. They are the ones that want to have a lot of information about the item before you make the decision. The great thing is, you can appeal to both parties in one listing. This is because both elements are there in order to attract them.

The second thing you need to keep in mind is that you have to have great research. Think of it this way: You can have an incredible listing; bells, whistles, and every incentive to buy the item. However, if you have not done the research to observe the behavior of that item, then what's the point? I mean, if you've done all the work on that listing, but no one is seeing it, then, how do you expect to sell it? Sure eBay has a lot of traffic coming to the site, but if you're buried on the bottom of all of your competition, you'll be stuck with listing fees and again, taking a loss.

Let's begin with the listing.

eBay gives you the option to use a simple form to make a listing, and they also give you a 'form with more options.' Throw the simple listing outline away, it just doesn't make any sense to use it. Now, each element of the listing must have carefully thought out effort.

eBay listing title: This is probably the most critical element of your listing. The reason for this is because it is how people find your item. They give you 55 characters to utilize in the title. If you cannot use every single one of them, then get as close as you can. The more characters you use, the more keywords you can shove in it. Keywords are important because they are the things people type in to find your item!

Here's a scenario:

Buy this exquisite display of floral elegance. l@@k! NR

Okay, now, what is this item? Is it a flower pot? Is it decorative china? Is it something else? Let's assume it's a flower pot. Now this is close to the worst of the worst of titles. One thing you don't every want to put in a title is punctuation. The reason for this is who types in '!' and wants to find a flower pot? The same thing goes with the adjectives used. Who types in the word 'exquisite' to try and find a flower pot?

L@@K! Has got to be the worst thing that happened to eBay since DSRs. (more on those later.) It isn't a very good tactic to use because people don't act on that instruction. Keywords are better suited here because this is how someone finds your listing. Remember, every single element in your title needs to point to your item. Nothing else. Only TWO adjectives are acceptable to use. 'New' and 'Rare'. This is only the case if it's true. Other than that, no one types in 'beautiful' alone and expects to find a lunch box. Test each of your keywords against each other to see if it relates to the item you have.

Here is an example of an excellent title. (pulled from eBay)


Think of all the combinations of words someone can type in to find this item: Reusable bed pads, washable pads, waterproof pet pads, pet bed pads, etc. Think of all that traffic this listing could receive and all of the combination of words that direct people to it! Every keyword stands alone and they are able to exploit the combinations of keywords for people to find this item.

The next thing is the picture: Now, the picture needs to be good. Seriously, you can read hundreds of blog posts that poke fun at some terrible eBay pictures. It's actually not that difficult especially with a digital camera.

If you were selling a media item, such as a book, CD, DVD, then eBay actually has you covered. They have a vast library of stock photos you can choose from in order to display your item. This is fine to do, and won't hurt you too bad especially if you have a great title. However, nothing beats an actual picture of the actual item. It could even set you apart from your competition.

The picture should be of good quality. I'd say a camera of about 5 mega-pixels should be fine. Make sure that the item is naturally lit from behind. Do not use flash, and have a contrasting background. If you need to zoom in or out, don't do it with the camera feature, simply move in or out to have the desired effect. Also, one thing to make sure of is to take precautions of taking pictures of reflective items. Or, if you do, make sure you're wearing clothes. Many people have seriously been caught in the act of taking pictures of tea kettles and mirrors without their clothes. If you want to be famous on the Internet, then you can do it. But if you want to make money on eBay. Avoid it. The picture is the thing that people see first when the listings pop up. If you don't have a good picture, or if people cannot tell what it is, then you can have many people skip over the item.

The next thing I want to touch on is the return policy. Always, always, always have a return policy on your eBay items. The reason is really simple. First off, they're rare. If you adequately describe your item they will be 100% sure of what they're getting. Second of all. If you say 'No Returns Accepted' then people are really going to wonder why. Is it broken? Is it unsafe? Is it not as represented? To say 'No Returns Accepted' really puts an unnecessary negative on your item. You don't need to say that because returns are so rare. Additionally, if you're untruthful about the item your selling in the first place, then you really should be responsible for returning the item.

When it comes to who should be responsible for the return shipping, this really is up to you. On some of my items I am super-confident in their quality. In that case, I would say I would be responsible for return shipping. This puts an additional vote of confidence in my items and will put buyers even more at ease. However, I would only do that on items that have a good track record from you. On items that do not, then I would put that the buyer is responsible for return shipping. This is to prevent against 'buyer's remorse' if they just don't want it anymore. Remember this, though: It is always good practice to be responsible for the return shipping if it was something you're fault. You really need to tailor to your buyer's needs because the negative feedback they give you can often cost more in the long run then the return shipping. It's the whole 'under-promise and over-perform' technique. If they see that you are going out of your way to help them, then you'll be okay.

Now, shipping: This is one of the most hotly debated things on eBay. In order to attract more customers, it is a good idea to offer free shipping. This, of course, is dependent on your research. (More on the research strategy later) Only offer free shipping if your research supports that you can afford it. What this means is that the total price of the item sells at a price where offering free shipping won't be cost prohibitive. Think of it this way. If an item sells for 30 dollars and 10.00 shipping, then it sold for 40 dollars. So, would it be conceivable that you can afford free shipping if you sold it for 40 dollars with free shipping?! Of course! The research process is fun because more often then not, the items that sell for free shipping are often prices higher then ones that want to cover their shipping costs. Thinking like a buyer when selling can do you wonders. Now, if you must offer shipping, make sure you're competitive, but I don't usually charge shipping because of the added traffic I receive. It's funny how buyers see 'FREE SHIPPING' and automatically think they're getting a better deal.

I would say the second most important thing you can do for your listings, and the item that people are most weak on, is the description. You really, really, really, need to be explicit in your descriptions. First off, make sure you have large fonts, color, center justification, bullet points, etc. This gives a better look-and-feel to the items and make it look like a more professional listing.

I would always suggest you put a listing designer around your description. (This is why we don't use the simple form) it costs .10 usually, but is is very, very worth it. When choosing a listing designer, make sure it is in a similar color scheme as your picture that you took. This will minimize what is called a 'bounce rate' or people who see your listing and automatically leave. The similar color scheme puts the whole theme of the listing consistent.

Now, your content really needs to be thorough. One of the worst things you can do for your items is say: “If you have any questions, contact me.” The reason for this is because your buyers will more often then not ignore that request. They will go to your competition, that already answers their questions in their descriptions, and buy from them. They don't want to wait for you. If you ARE asked questions about your listing, then that is proof your description was inadequate. Put your answer in the description from then on.

One of the easiest ways to make a good description is to answer these questions: What is is? What does it do? How does it work? Why do you have it? Why are you selling it? What condition is it in? What are your shipping and return policies? Now, these answers shouldn't be bullet points. They really should be elaborated on. A paragraph per question isn't unreasonable. The format of your narrative can be personal. That's okay.

There are a couple of elements that you can slip into your description to help with conversions. One thing you can do is put in incentives, calls to action, and a retail price. An incentive is really 'why they should buy from you.' “Free shipping!” “Sent out same day of closed payment” Remember the skeptical buyers? They love this stuff. Also, a call to action. A call to action is really telling the buyer what to do. 'Buy now and receive your free shipping-This item will go fast!' 'Don't wait! Limited stock available!' By telling your buyers what to do, they're decision making abilities fade. They don't have time to mull it over, ask their wife or husband, or fast and pray about it. This really is a technique that is very good in increasing conversions.

Next the retail price. This is a good idea because it gives people a good idea of what kind of deal they are getting. Make sure this is a true statement though. Find the retail price of your item at its most expensive and label it. If you say the retail price for something is $150.44, then conceivably, they can bid up to 140 bucks and see that they are still getting a good deal! (Because they don't have a hidden cost of shipping-everyone hates to do math)

Utilizing these principles when selling on eBay, or, making just a listing on eBay is really going to help you in making money with eBay. Buy remember, this is just one part of it. To truly make money on eBay you need to do 2 things: Have a great listing, and have great research. The next installment talks about having great eBay research.

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How to Sell and Make Money on eBay from Home

From and eBay education Specialist
From and eBay education Specialist

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Comments 4 comments

Patti Ann profile image

Patti Ann 6 years ago from Florida

Great advice - I have also found that it helps to have your listings end in the evening - around 8:00 p.m. has been best for me.

miss1magination profile image

miss1magination 4 years ago

I found all your ebay idea's very effective, Thankyou for sharing:) I'm on the look out for a new camera, 'digital canon for about $150.00' would these cheap ones be great on picture quality or would it be wise to spend more on a better one.

WaffleCheese profile image

WaffleCheese 4 years ago Author

It actually doesn't matter. Cheaper ones are fine. The pictures are so small anyway, so long as the pictures are crisp, lighting is natural, and object is focused.

More importantly, the description needs to be incredibly descriptive to leave no ambiguity of the condition, just in case.

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

i want to sell my own handmade greeting cards at ebay but having problems with calculating the cost. I know the formula should be:

materials + labor + expenses + profit = wholesale x 2 = retail

Problem is how much the ebay and paypal cost? Shipping fee- use air mail or courier service? I am from Malaysia.

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