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A Beginners Guide To Ebay

Updated on February 23, 2012


Ebay is a very useful website. You can use it to sell old possessions you don't want or need anymore, or buy and resell items to make profit, or just buy something you want or need. This is my basic guide to using eBay.

The options for viewing searched for items.
The options for viewing searched for items. | Source

Buying Items

When buying items, be sure to put specific search terms in when searching to make the whole thing a lot easier.

To the right is a menu that orders the items based on price, time, distance, or best match. After searching for an item, to the top-right of the page there is this pull-down menu with these options. Best Match simply shows you the best matching item to your search terms. Distance: Nearest First shows to items being sold nearest to your shipping address. Price + Shipping: Highest First shows the most expensive items first while Price + Shipping: Lowest First shows the cheapest items first. Time: newly listed show the items listed closest to the time of your search. Time: Ending Soonest shows the items ending soonest. If you use this menu wisely, it can help you find better deals. For example, if you are searching for something that seems to have a lot a auction style listings, then using the Time: Ending Soonest can help you find great deals to bid on that are ending soon. However, sometimes using the Price: Lowest First can be a pain. Say you are searching for "Ipod Nano". If you do Price: Lowest First, the search will come up with hundreds of cables, chargers, and accessories for the Ipod Nano, rather than an actual Ipod Nano. You might have to go through page, after page, after page to find the right item. Learning to use this menu wisely for different items can help save time and money.

More choices to narrow your search.
More choices to narrow your search. | Source

To the right are the tabs in the top-middle of the page of your search results. The "All Items" tab, naturally, displays all of the search items. "Auctions Only" shows only items up for bidding. The "Buy It Now" tab displays only items with buy it nows, for getting your item quick and without the guesswork as to wether you're going to get your item or not.

Careful What You're Buying

Whenever deciding to buy an item, be sure to read the item description! Especially when buying really expensive items. Some sellers won't ship very valuable items, and require you to fly to them or they will fly to you. Also, good descriptions specify quantity, item condition, shipping conditions, and much more. You can get into lots of unnecessary trouble for not reading the sellers specified terms.

Selling Items

Whether reselling items for profit or just selling old junk you don't need, how you do it is very important. The look and feel of the listing can influence the buyers decision.


The name of your listing is very important. A good name will show up a lot in search results, which makes the item more likely to sell. Example: say you were selling a card from the Magic the Gathering trading card game. If you just put "Kazandu Refuge" for the name, or it won't show up high in the search results. But if you put "mtg x4 4x Kazandu Refuge Zendikar NM/M" it would show in someone specifies a quantity of "x4" or "4x" and the mtg gets rid of any other search results that don't have "mtg". That name also tells the buyer what condition the item is in, Near Mint/Mint.

Item Description

As I've already said in the "Careful What You're Buying" section, the item description is very important. Its a good idea to say about how many business days after the purchase you will ship the item. Or, as I said, if the item is very valuable, you might not want to ship it, because of the dangers of shipping, and you don't want to have to buy another one. I've only seen this done on items of around $15,000 or more. Seller/Buyer insurance in also a very good idea for expensive items you are shipping, anything about $100 and up, or fragile items, like glass.


When selling an item, if your simply guess at a good price, you most likely won't sell your item. Search for the thing you're selling and look at others prices, new and used. Also, check their shipping prices, and make yours reasonable. Always make sure to check the competitions prices first, then decide on a price based on item condition. If you want your item to sell quickly, when you search for the item you're selling, click on the Sort By: box (I talked about it back up the page) and select lowest first. You can select buy it now only or not, it just depends on you. Then make your item just cheaper or maybe just a little higher then the cheapest ones.

Buy It Now VS. Bid

When deciding to add a Buy It Now price or not, or just do Buy It Now, or just a bid, decide based on this:

Buy It Now: Use Buy It Now when you want to sell your item fast, maybe get some quick cash. Like I said above, go to Price: lowest first, then price your item based on those prices. If you're selling lots of one item, don't go list 50 of the same listings. List one Buy It Now only listing and set the quantity to how ever many you have. This way, the more of the item that sells, the higher up in the search your item will come.

Bids: Using bids can be risky. If its not a very popular item on eBay, you might want to go with Buy It Now. But if you know the item is popular i.e., lots of listings for it, a bid could be very smart. Bids allow buyers to fight over the item, pushing to price higher and higher. Sometimes the bidding will go higher then if you put Buy It Now.

A lot of times, a combination of the two is smart also. You could set a medium-high buy it now price, and a very cheap starting bid, and hope people bid the price up or someone just buys it Buy It Now.

Best Offer

Best Offer is an option for when selling with only Buy It Now. It allows people to send you offers for your item, then you choose to accept the offer or not. You could set a medium-high Buy It Now price, then either hope someone buys it Buy It Now, or sends you a reasonable offer.

Final Tidbits

Paypal: If using eBay at all, whether buying or selling, it is an extremely good idea to set up a Paypal account. It makes it much easier to send and receive money. Also, from Paypal, you can transfer money directly to your bank account.

eBay Stores: If you sell on eBay a lot, it is a good idea to set up an eBay store. It makes it much easier to manage your sales, and, depending on how much money you're willing to spend, gives lots of benefits.


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