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How to Sell Your Stuff on eBay

Updated on August 21, 2009
If you accidently sit on your laptop, don't worry; someone will still buy it on eBay.
If you accidently sit on your laptop, don't worry; someone will still buy it on eBay.

How to sell your stuff on eBay


eBay offers an amazing opportunity to reach an unprecedented number of potential buyers all over the globe. Anyone can advertise unwanted junk; odds are that someone else is just now clearing enough space take it off your hands. You'll probably never meet that person, but you can feel good about the bond you have built through the transfer of junk into someone else's basement.

Step 1: Find something to sell

It's easy. Walk into your basement. Close your eyes. Pick up something. Whatever it is, someone somewhere wants it. They want it badly and they may not even know it yet. They covet it enough to comb the Internet looking for it when they should be working. They long for it to the extent that they will buy it sight unseen from someone they've never met and they'll pay for it before they receive it. What a wonderful world.

Step 2: Snap a picture of It

Use your digital camera; don't draw it freehand. Tack a sheet to the living room wall, arrange some mood lighting, and snap away. Take about 1000 shots; plan to use about 1 of them because the remainder will be blurry. Shoot the item from the best possible angle. Buyers assume that the flaws are always on the back anyway.

Step 3: Write descriptive copy

"Copy" is a newspaper term for fancy words that fill up a page. Keep in mind that your potential buyer might still be a little hesitant despite your flattering photo. Perhaps his mother won't give him his allowance this early in the week, or he's not quite sure how to get the package past the guards. Anyway, you must compose a heart-rending story describing what the item means to you and how your heart aches when you even consider parting with it. This makes people want your stuff even more.

Use a variety of colors and fonts in your copy. The closer your composition resembles a ransom note, the more buyers you will attract. Science has yet to determine why people prefer to purchase from perceived illiterates. If you can figure out how to make the words blink or flash, don't hesitate to do so. Capitalize every word. If you need to sound sincere, capitalize every letter.

Step 4: Create a listing on eBay

The tricky part here is deciding which of the 2.42 trillion categories under which to list your item. Experts tend to agree that they have no idea how to help you here. Do plenty of research by studying where similar items are placed. You will find no discernible pattern, but you will learn that thousands of other people are selling the same stuff you are.

You can sell your mouse on eBay, but we don't recommend it.
You can sell your mouse on eBay, but we don't recommend it.

Step 5: Decide how the Item will be shipped

It's shocking, but at some point in the selling process you will actually have to leave your home and take the item to a shipping service or an ebay drop off store. As scary as this might seem, rest assured that people have been performing face-to-face transactions for hundreds of years. You can do it! Pick a nearby UPS Store or Kinko's FedEx. If you are extremely nervous about crowds of people, head for the closest US Post Office. They are usually deserted these days anyway.

As the seller you are also responsible for packaging the item. Caution: if you sell a broken laser jet printer for 99 cents, your buyer will be suspicious if you charge $600 for shipping and handling. Simply bundle the item in clear plastic wrap and slap a few stamps on it. If it arrives damaged, your buyer will have the option of keeping it or paying to ship it back in exchange for their original 99 cent purchase price. Most buyers make the correct decision.

Step 6: Decide what payment method you will accept

As strange as it might seem, eBay does not use real money. Instead, they have created a system called "PayPal". Well, they didn't actually create it. They bought it when they realized they couldn't compete with it. PayPal allows you to open an account in any one's name, anonymously accumulate funds over time, and pay exorbitant service fees on every transaction. It's a high tech Swiss Bank Account without the obsequious bankers and annoying cuckoo clocks. By locking users into using PayPal, eBay has evolved from a system of people mailing checks to each other into a paperless system in which no one is actually sure whether they have any money or not.

Step 7: Start your auction and monitor it closely

Your auction should run for 7 days. Studies have shown that the attention span of the average eBay buyer is approximately 7 minutes. However, even more expensive studies indicate that 7 days is the average time required by the average eBay buyer to raise the money to pay for stuff they bid on.

Resist the urge to bid on your own thing. You really don't want it back, regardless of how well it photographs.

Step 8: Sit back and watch the cash roll in

This is the hard part. Resist the urge to buy more stuff with the money you get from selling your stuff. This is referred to as "churning", or "paying huge service fees to eBay."

eBay will make me rich someday

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    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      How did you get your Blog URL into your comment?

    • profile image

      ebay coom 8 years ago

      very interesting ! i guess the first step is always the hardest - find something to sale.

    • profile image 8 years ago

      Entertainingly written and informative.

      Thanks nicomp

      Especially like the resisting the urge to buy more stuff advice! But at least we make the world go around when we don't!

    • e13o13 profile image

      e13o13 8 years ago

      good points about ebay selling - it really is easier than people think!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA


    • The Old Firm profile image

      The Old Firm 8 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

      Good advice in amongst the perceptive cynicism. I need all the help I can get.