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Ebay: Have Your Online Sales Crashed? Join the Club!

Updated on August 4, 2012

Are you an Ebay seller? Or perhaps I should rephrase that question: did you used to be an Ebay seller? If you frequent certain sites on the web, it seems as if quite a lot of people are leaving, have left or are contemplating leaving the ‘big dog’ of auction websites.

Personally I’m one of the ones who’ve already left, and quite some time ago now at that. I was never a powerseller nor did I ever sell stock in significant amounts. In fact I was one of the ‘noisy’ sellers basically selling vintage oddments and books – the flea-market ‘noise’ who often seem to feel themselves persona non grata at Ebay these days. I was a business seller and appropriately registered for tax, but that was more of a necessary formality than something that reflected the size and seriousness of my little side-business.

Problems With Ebay?

If it had been financially viable I’d still be at Ebay now. Ironically I got into the online sales game just prior to the first round of really big Ebay shop fee increases. At that point, the fee for a basic shop, and the listing fees for items within it, were a bargain, and made profitability possible even for small-fry sellers like myself. However, the rise in 2008 of all shop fees, combined with a huge increase in listing fees in basic shops, made me plump for the more expensive shop a step up – along with a hefty increased monthly fee.

Buy Ebay Selling Books On Amazon

Making A Living On Ebay?

I gave it my all, I threw everything I had at it – and in the end I threw in the towel. There are people still making a living on Ebay – but they’re people with more business nous, better products or cheaper suppliers than I had access to. I couldn’t make that damn shop turn a profit. I could blame Ebay, I could blame myself, I could blame the economy – but I don’t think a ‘blame’ mindset is going to be particularly profitable. Appropriately apportioning blame won’t pay the bills!

I don’t particularly hold a grudge against Ebay for making it no longer financially feasible for me to sell items on there. Business is business, right? It really is. And in business people seek to maximise their profits and reduce their expenses (which include customer service for noisy little sellers.) I do feel bad for all the sellers who feel that Ebay’s changes had a deleterious impact on their livelihood – if you haven’t come across any of them, just check out or But I think it’s better to move on and start looking for alternative ways to make a dollar – both on and offline – rather than sit around and wait for Ebay to change its mind about the direction it’s going. It’s not going to happen, people! Truly, the phrase ‘nobody owes you a living’ is key here, even in relation to Ebay.

Ebay Alternatives: What Are They Like?

So, have I moved on? Have you? Well, kind of. I’ve got myself a real-world job (yay! Kind of…) And in addition to that I do sell, still, on, and occasionally on Etsy. Etsy I find kind of expensive for the sales it actually yields (although I believe this depends to a great degree on your product. Maybe if I was a better crafter I’d make better money there!) Having paid the seller-plus initial fee on, it’s free for me to list items at Ebid. Which is nice! That said, it’s certainly a fact that Ebid just doesn’t have the traffic that Ebay can command (or used to be able to. Some Ebay sellers are also complaining about this issue lately.) However, I do have periodic Ebid sales – just not a flood of them, or anything to rely on in terms of regular income. Some sellers – who probably work harder and take it more seriously than me, as well as having different products – are happy with Ebid’s performance (according to the forums there) and have daily sales.

I’m helping to do my little bit with this: when I need to buy something, Ebid is now the first place I look. I don’t buy on Ebay anymore, not because of any great grudge, but just, y’know, I don’t sell there, I don’t spend time or hang out there, why would I buy there? I got a great present for my sister in law on Ebid just the other week and she loves it.

Is Ebay still thriving despite an exodus of small sellers? Well, there were complaints about its last financial reports being a touch impenetrable on the likes of auctionbytes, so perhaps it’s hard to say! Although it’s hard to imagine the owners of PayPal ever being short of a bob or two… It might be significant that a recent Guardian news story in April, however, reported that the Ebay ‘brand’ had plummeted in value by close to thirty per cent.1

So what are the options if Ebay is over for you? Lord knows a real-world job is hard to get a hold of these days – but there’s still no harm in trying. And there are umpteen online auction and buy-it-now sites out there you can switch your stock to, anytime you feel like. The results, judging by reports, may be mixed – but there’s no harm giving it a go, and most of them are pretty low-cost alternatives (or even free, if you’re careful how you list and read the terms and conditions.)

Or you can try selling your product line in the real world, via all kinds of venues – sale or return in other shops, your own shop or booth, craft fairs, flea markets, Craigslist, market stalls, the list just goes on. Ebay may have ceased to work for you as a venue. But they ain’t got your leg in a ball and chain keeping you there! You can move on, at any time you choose. The choice is yours!


1. Sweney, M. 'Google 'still world's top brand'. The Guardian. 28/04/2010: Berliner.


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