How to Increase the Money You Make Selling Your Stuff on eBay
When it comes to eBay, most prospective buyers want an awesome deal. Many people shy away from selling their stuff on eBay because they believe their chances of making any kind of profit is slim. In some cases, this may be true, depending on what you are selling, but there are relatively easy ways you can increase the money you would make selling on eBay and I will explain how.
This article is written for people who are not looking to be power sellers and move large amounts of merchandise, I am writing this for everyday folks looking to sell items they have around the house they want to get rid of or small amounts of merchandise they found for a good deal. It will also help those people who need some extra money, perhaps to pay some bills, rent, or would simply like some extra spending money.
What Do I Need to Make More Money?
Here is a list of items that you need to sell your stuff on eBay AND make more money doing it:
- An eBay seller account, preferably in good standing feedback-wise
- A PayPal account
- A good quality digital camera- the more pixels the better (5 or more is sufficient) and a camera with both digital and optical zoom
- Photo editing software (there are plenty of free ones to choose from online like picmonkey.com)
- 2 photography lights or access to a bright window for natural light (natural light is always best)
- Portable photostage and/or light/white muslin backdrop
- Clips, clamps and very small heavy objects that can be used as stands underneath items
- Scale- digital (highly, highly recommended)
- Specialized templates
- Vendio Scrolling Gallery
- Shipping supplies such as bubble wrap, boxes, packing tape, bubble packets, clear plastic bags- all dependent on what you are shipping
If you wish to sell a substantial amount of clothing, or would like to sell clothing on a regular basis on eBay: Purchase a mannequin. It does not have to be the life-like full mannequin you see in store windows, you can get half-busts, or small half-busts that hang from a hook of you're tight for space. Best place to purchase one of these? That's right, eBay.
If you plan on selling very valuable jewelry or collectables that are shiny or metallic: purchase a Cloud Dome and a bust that is dark velvet or other type of appropriate jewelry display.
What you DON'T need to spend money on:
- An eBay store
- Expensive auction software
- Expensive photo editing software
- Professional camera.
Get to Know eBay
One feature that has remained and is still a valuable tool if you wish to be taken serious as a seller is the "About Me" page. You can upload photos of your choice and it's best to provide more than just a few sentences about yourself, after all, you are selling yourself on this page! This page is especially crucial if you plan on selling your artwork as a self-representing artist on eBay. Regardless of what you sell, this feature is free and is a good way to show buyers who you are and that you are serious about selling on eBay.
It is always wise to list your item in 2 separate categories if you can to gain maximum exposure for minimal cost. This is especially true when you are selling wholesale lots of items such as clothes. You want to list the clothes under the correct clothing category as well as in the wholesale category.
How long should your auction run? To gain the most exposure and therefore the most opportunities for people to bid on your item, list it for 7 days or 10 days if you want maximum exposure for a small fee. If you are listing for 7 days, the best time to have your auction end is Sunday evening. If you choose to have your item listed for 10 days, list it on a Friday so you get 2 weekends worth of exposure. Weekends is when you get the most people viewing items on eBay. Take advantage of this!
The Best and Worst Items to Sell on eBay
There are some items that just aren't worth the time and money it takes to list them on eBay. When it comes to certain categories, buyers can be very finicky.
As a general rule of thumb, anything that is unique, hard to find or what you esteem to be in high demand are usually a good choice for selling on eBay. For example, I had an old fashioned hair dryer I had been trying to sell locally on Kijiji for what seemed to be forever and nobody was interested. It was practically new, but the style was one that you sit under like the hair salons. I gave up and decided I had nothing to lose by listing it on eBay. I had countless bids and ended up selling it to someone in the UK of all things for a heck of a lot more than I ever would have imagined. eBay is funny that way. So don't discount anything unique that you couldn't sell at a garage sale for 2 cents, it might be valuable on eBay.
What Doesn't Sell or Make Much Money:
As for specifics, based on my years of selling experience:
- Unless it is an expensive designer name brand or a very unique style, I wouldn't bother listing new or used shoes, purses, or women's clothing. The exception would be "vintage", these items seem to do quite well.
- Unless they were given to you as a gifts: cosmetics or beauty products. I don't see how anyone on eBay makes a profit on these items for the ridiculously cheap prices they sell them for.
- Handmade anything, yes that includes Grandma's doilies (you may want to try Etsy for those things)
- Costume Jewelry
Great items to sell:
- New or used children's clothing (infant to size 12), especially if sold in lots of more than 4 items, the more the better.
- Video Games
- Designer anything- Manolo Blahnik, Gucci, Chanel, LAMB, etc.,
- Computer Software
Understand the Value of What You are Selling on eBay
Have something awesome you want to sell but are unsure what the value is or the maximum you could get? Do some research. If you choose to have the item appraised (such as jewelry, for example) make sure to have it appraised in person and not over the Internet. Be sure to obtain the appraisal form and be sure to list this information in your description. For most other stuff that you are wanting to list, the best place to research is right on eBay. Type in the search box the item that you are wanting to list and ask yourself:
- How many listings are there for your item? Is there just a few, or too many to count?
- What is the minimum and maximum auction starting price in the listings?
- Which auctions are getting the most bids?
- What is it about the listings with bids that differ from the rest? Feedback? Better pics? More info listed? Return policy? etc.,
- What could be the reasons other auctions have no bids? Shipping and handling costs too high? No pics? etc.
- Are their items authenticated (if appropriate, such as artwork, etc.)?
- Based on the average price that auctioned items are selling for, can you make a profit?
How to Create a Listing that Will Make you the Most Money
You know the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words? This couldn't be more true on eBay. Think about it, the people looking to purchase items on eBay cannot touch, taste or smell the item that you are offering. Therefore, you need to do everything in your power to have that potential buyer feel as comfortable as possible in handing over his/her hard earned money over to you.
You will need a decent digital camera that is at least 5 mega pixels and preferably has both optical AND digital zoom.If you are unsure what camera would be best based on your budget and your needs I highly recommend going to a reputable photography store. The people working there are very knowledgeable about all types of cameras and can suggest which would be appropriate for you based on your budget and what you plan to use it for. This was how I purchased my camera.
The next item that you will need is a background. Your kitchen counter or carpet on the floor won't cut it. It looks drab, is a terrible background for photography and decreases the value or quality of your item. What I love to use for most average sized objects is a portable photostage (see side picture). The provide a nice, crisp, seamless backdrop for most items such as DVD's books, shoes, etc., that you wish to sell. It is also excellent at reflecting light and improving the overall lighting of the item in your photo. It lays completely flat when you are finished for easy storage. For larger items I recommend either a crisp, white sheet or muslin.
Lighting is the other very important aspect in creating good quality photos for your listing. The absolute best is if you can use daylight, and plenty of it. This is not always easy for some people depending on where you live, or if your apartment faces North of all things. I recommend purchasing proper photography lights (2), this way you can take photos any time of day and get amazing results. Photography lights can be pricey, so keep an eye open in your local classifieds (such as Kijiji or your newspaper). You can also purchase them online. I bought mine from a seller on eBay.
If you know that you are only going to be selling small objects, large photography lights may not be the most appropriate. There are smaller, high quality lights that you can purchase that work quite well. Just click on the link on the right called "Cool eBay Tools Shop" and you can purchase the same set of lights that I have or you can purchase them individually if you are unsure where to find these items I have mentioned.
When you done taking all your pictures you will need software to edit them. If you already have this type of software installed on your computer than disregard this paragraph. A great free photo editing website is picmonkey.com. I use this software to brighten any images that are too dark, and to crop photos as well. You can do some pretty snazzy things on this site which is also really easy to navigate if you've never used online photo editing before.
When writing the description of your item for auction, be sure to include as much information as possible! I cannot stress this enough! just put yourself in the buyers shoes. What information would you want to have about the item you are considering bidding on? You MUST list any damage the item has or may be liable to the buyer through PayPal to refund all of their money. You should also list other information about your item such as:
- Condition of the item
- Manufacturer's Name or Brand
- Whether it is coming from a pet-free, or smoke-free home
When in doubt, some items have information about them right on the item, use it! Or go to the website of the item if you want to find additional information that may help to sell your item such as health benefits, etc.
Do not be afraid to use descriptive language, you are after all, selling your item. Be a little excited about it!
Having a customized template for each of your listings also greatly increases the perceived value of the item you are selling. It looks more professional. Ebay offers a small choice of basic templates (called "listing designer") for an additional fee (.10 cents) but if you are planning on having several listings, that ten cents a listing may begin to add up. I recommend using Auctiva. You can try it for free and if you like it, it costs as little as $2.95 a month and you have access to 1800+ templates. That's a lot of templates. It will also give you 500 MB of image hosting for your pics, a scrolling gallery and live support if you need it. For a beginner or someone just looking to sell less than 20 items a month, you don't need to dish out more money. This will work just fine for you.
If you're not interested in using templates, I recommend at least using a scrolling gallery of your items on Ebay. It is the same principle as Hub Pages. When you publish a Hub, you want links to your other Hubs available so people can visit them and keep the traffic on your pages so you can make money. When you add a scrolling gallery to each of your listings, people can see all the other items you have listed so they can click on them and see your listings. This scrolling gallery is also free and available from Vendio.
- Tips for Creating a Great Description for Your eBay Item - For Dummies
Writing a good description of the items you sell on eBay can mean the difference between success and failure. There are many ways you can improve your description, by
eBay Extras You Need and Don't Need
When listing your item there are quite a few extras you can add to your listing, each costing you a little extra as well. There are extras that are worth paying for and others that are not.
Worth paying for:
- Extra photos of your item. Always include a good gallery pic in your listing and at least 2 more additional pics of the item you are selling. Remember, this buyer cannot try on your item or hold it, they have only photos and your description to go on. Cost: First pic is free, each additional pics cost .15
- Gallery Plus Photo- enlarges the gallery photo when a person scrolls their mouse over it. This feature is especially beneficial if you are selling artwork. Cost: .35
- 10 day listing (if you need it) cost: .40
- Subtitle- Cost: .50
- Bold Title- Cost: $2.00
- Listing Designer (if you use Auctiva, which is far better)- Cost: .10
- Gallery Pack- Cost: .65
Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Communicating with (potential) buyers:
Good customer service is priceless and is a guaranteed way to incerase your sales and have repeat customers. Good customer service= good communication. Answer all questions from people as quickly as possible. Chances are you wont start getting questions until the final few hours of your auction listing so stay on top of your email that day!
When you have sold an item, be sure to send prompt email to the buyer stating when you have shipped their item, thank them for their business and if there is any other tracking info, include that as well. I like to let my buyers know the length of time they can expect to wait to wait for their parcel. I find people really appreciate thins information.
There is nothing that turns me off buying an item from a seller than seeing the words "no returns or refunds." Next! When offering buyers a return policy allow for a decent amount of time (1-2 weeks after receiving the item) and only refund them the cost of what they paid for the item. Whether you want to pay for the shipping and handling is up to you, but most sellers only refund the cost of the item itself. This way, if the person truly does not like what they purchased (or if it doesn't fit, etc) they can get most of their money back and it just looks good for you as a seller.
Packing and Shipping Your Items:
One sure way to lose money on your listings is to wrongly list the cost of shipping and handling of your item. To avoid this costly mistake, I recommend investing in a digital scale. You can purchase them from Ebay if you are unsure where to find them. Places such as Office Depot and Staples would be good places to look as well.
A digital scale will only help determine the cost of shipping with regard to weight. You need to know the approxiamate dimensions of the package you are shipping as well. Always add an extra dollar or two since you are allowed to include the cost of your time in your shipping and "handling" costs.
You will also need to determine which postal service you plan on using to ship your item. Canada Post? Fed/Ex? I sually found that Canada Post offered the best rates overall. You can also take advantage of Canada Post's Electronic Shipping Tools that allows you to avoid post office line-ups and purchase and print your postage right from your home. An advantage to this is you will save 3% on postage and an additional 5%if you join Canada Post's VentureOne program for small business. Payment for postage is charged to the credit card number you provide at the time of registration.
Always take care to properly package your item so that it is not damaged in transit. Invest in some clear plastic bags (can be purchased through Ebay), good packing tape, proper sized boxes, bubble wrap, etc. Buyers appreciate well-packaged items. Be sure to invest in the right packaging materials for your items. If you think you have 2 left thumbs when it comes to packing and are willing to spend extra money to ensure your items safe arrival (jewelry, collectibles, etc.) you can have them packaged for you at any UPS Store for example. UPS also professionally packages any artwork you might have as well.
Include a Packing Slip inside your Package
Through PayPal you are able to print up for free a packing slip that is essentially an invoice of what they purchased and the contact information of both the buyer and you the seller.
Promoting Your Listing:
Ebay does not allow you to link to your auction listings or promote your auctions on your website. You can still promote your listings on any blog or website that you might have via your "About Me" page. You can also Tweet a listing you have. Facebook is another valuable way of promoting you and your listings.
If you don't mind shipping your items internationally, it is free to list your auction on the Ebay international sites.
© 2011 Carolyn Dahl