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How to Increase the Money You Make Selling Your Stuff on Ebay

Updated on November 29, 2018
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Carolyn was once had an eBay business selling new and used designer fashions and accessories.


When it comes to eBay, most prospective buyers want an awesome deal. Many people shy away from selling their stuff on eBay because they don't think they will make much money. In some cases, this is true, but it depends on what you're selling and how you create your listings.

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 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
  • 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
  • Shipping supplies such as bubble wrap, boxes, packing tape, bubble packets, clear plastic bags- all dependent on what you are shipping

If you are selling clothing:

  • A mannequin, hanging bust, half-bust or dress form
  • Clips of various sizes for fitting clothing snug on the mannequin or dress form
  • Fabric steamer or iron and ironing board

If you are selling jewelry:

  • Cloud dome
  • Bust that is dark velvet
  • Photo editing software
  • Cotton gloves

What you con't need:

  • An eBay store
  • Expensive auction software
  • Expensive photo editing software
  • Professional camera


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 You Shouldn't Sell:

  • Used shoes, purses, or women's clothing that do not have a designer or recognizable label. The exception would be "vintage", these items seem to do quite well or concert t-shirts for example.
  • Cosmetics or beauty products. They don't tend to have a very large profit margin.
  • Books (unless out of print, rare or collectable)
  • CD's
  • DVD's
  • Costume Jewelry
  • Big or heavy items
  • Old VHS tapes
  • Tools
  • Smart phones (they get stripped for their parts and sent back to you)

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.
  • Electronics/computers
  • Video Games
  • Computer Software
  • Memorabilia
  • Unique or interesting items
  • Supplies- shipping, office, etc.
  • Concert t-shirts


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 Price Your Item:

Simply type the item in the search bar and then depending what it is you narrow the search on the left hand side by selecting the appropriate boxes. At the bottom of the left hand side under "Show Only" check off the "sold listings" box and sort from highest price first.

As you scroll you will see some items that sold for a high price and then quite a lot will be in the middle range with a few bottom dwellers underneath. The best way to price your item is to find the median price, and use that as your guide. This way you are likely to make the most money in a quicker time. You don't want your items sitting on eBay for weeks and weeks.

How to narrow your search results to properly price your item
How to narrow your search results to properly price your item | Source

How to Create a Listing that Will Make you the Most Money

Using a Digital Camera or Cell Phone

You will need a digital camera that is at least 5 mega pixels and preferably has both optical and digital zoom.

Be sure the cell phone you are using has a good camera on it if you don't wish to use an actual camera.

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.

Using a Backdrop

In order to increase the appeal of your pictures so they stand out to potential buyers scrolling through all the ads on eBay you need to have a background. Photos with items on the floor or on the kitchen counter top are generally less appealing. They can also visually decrease the value of the item you are selling.

There are all different types you can use. White poster board or muslin are good choices.

Good Lighting

(See photo below of a DIY lightbox)

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.

If natural light is not possible or you can only photograph in the evenings then investing in photography lights is a good idea. The minimum you would need is 2 but 3 is best. If you need both a backdrop and lighting a lightbox might be your best bet. They can be purchased from photography stores or directly from eBay!

Lightboxes work really well with smaller objects that you are selling, even shoes photograph better using a lightbox.

A DIY Lightbox

Photo Editing Software

When you done taking all your pictures you will need software to edit them.

There are many choices of free online editing software, just Google the words "Free Photo Editing" and you will see many options to choose from. I use Picmonkey just because I like what they offer and it's easy to use.

What you should be editing in your photos:

  • Crop the photo so that you don't have a lot of background distracting from your item. The edge of the photo should be less than an inch around your item ideally.
  • Brighten the photo if it seems too dark
  • Adjust the contrast to make the photos a little more vibrant in color

Improve SEO for Your Listing

When you are creating a listing for the item which you are selling be sure to check off every box that applies to your item such as size, style, where it was made, etc. By taking the time to carefully fill in all this information you are boosting the SEO of that listing, making it more likely to appear near the top of search results on the website.

Use Keywords

Yes, even keywords apply in eBay listings just as they do elsewhere on the internet.

The most important is in the title, but you should also add a detailed description that highlights certain keywords as well. Never leave your description area blank and don't skimp on any details!

Social Media

Be sure to take advantage of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., to promote your listings and make them more visible.

Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Excellent Customer Service

Good customer service is always appreciated and is a great way to increase your sales and have repeat customers.

Good customer service= good communication.

Answer all questions from people as quickly as possible.

Watch your auctions closely. Chances are you won't 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. Even though eBay automatically notifies people when you mark your item as shipped, it adds a personal touch to personally contact your buyer with information such as the tracking number, the carrier and when they can expect their package. I find people really appreciate this information.

Offer Refunds/Returns

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. Paying 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 approximate 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.

Properly Package Your Items

Invest in some clear plastic bags, 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.

© 2011 Carolyn Dahl


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