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How to eBay for Newbies

Updated on December 21, 2014

How to Make Money on eBay Auction

New to eBay? eBay trading with bids and online tool auction can be a great way of making money online. Learn the basics here and avoid common errors and newbie mistakes. It will be well-worth the learning curve as you learn to make money on eBay auction.

One of the biggest challenges to selling anything online is getting traffic, getting people to FIND your item for sale. No problem at eBay, for it is a marketing machine of epic proportions. The traffic is already THERE, making eBay a powerful place for selling online.

Here you can learn how to get started to make money on eBay auction. It can be fun and also lucrative. Learn the process of listing, selling and shipping by taking one step at a time.

POLL: Buying on eBay

Ever Bought on eBay?

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POLL: Selling on eBay

Ever sold on eBay?

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Common Errors - Making Money from eBay

Common errors that might hurt your chances to make money on eBay auction.

1) Poor title in listing The title is critical in terms of key words that will allow buyers to FIND your listing in the first place. Keep in mind there are millions of listings, and your title is the front door. Use every character and do NOT waste on words like 'nice' or 'look' since people don't use those words in the search box. Think in terms of ONLY what words might be used to search your item. You can also use well-known abbreviations such as 'NIB' for New in Box or NR for No Reserve.

2) No photo or poor photo. Never expect to sell without good photos. I actually saw one once with an item placed next to a filthy ashtray! EWWW! Now would THAT encourage you to bid? Close-up and clear non-fuzzy photos are essential for sales. Watch what is in the background and eliminate that distraction whenever you can. Also consider placing a well-known item like a dime or quarter in the photo for size-reference. Some sellers even include a ruler in the image next to item to verify size.

The more photos, the better! Posting several photos from many angles of an item builds trust with bidders. eBay only allows one photo per listing without paying extra fees, but if you use a system like Auctiva, you can post as many as you like with no extra fees at all.

3) Incomplete or poor description People have choices and will often choose to bid on the item that is described in the most detail over another, even if items are exactly the same. Wouldn't you? It's ok to research elsewhere and copy/paste if needed and MUCH better than no description at all or a very short one.

4) Charging too much postage. Don't try to gauge buyers with inflated postage if you want to create a reliable reputation on eBay. You will lose bids and worse, lose the reputation as a trusted seller. It's fine to add a handling fee but keep it reasonable, a couple of bucks unless you are shipping something that will take hours to prepare, like maybe a set of fine china or other very delicate item. For books and media, I generally offer free shipping since media mail is so cheap anyway. Free shipping brings out the bidders.

5) Be honest about the condition of your Item. Always mention and photograph any flaws. It is NOT worth the trouble you will have later not to do so. Bidders will find it easier to trust you as a stranger when they see you are taking the time to reveal the product EXACTLY as it is.

6) Spelling Words Incorrectly. Misspelled words can be death, especially key words in your title. Triple check these for accuracy and see more about misspelled words below.

Make Money on eBay Auction

Learn about Making Money eBay: Learn to Use this Online Tool Auction as a Buyer

Before you begin to make money on eBay auction sales, learn to use this online tool auction as a buyer. Anyone can look around on eBay as a guest, but in order to buy or sell you first need to register for an eBay account, so do that first if you don't have one.

There are many inexpensive items for sale on eBay, many for only 99 cents. Try the books category. Then select a few titles by clicking 'watch this item' and they will be saved for you.

Before buying on eBay, what to watch out for:
1) What is the feedback rating of the seller? We ALL started somewhere, but I'd avoid those with less than 10 or so for now.
2) Watch shipping rates closely! Shipping for a book should be $2-4 max.
3) Watch item descriptions, photos, terms. The main reason for doing this is to learn, so pay close attention to detail.
4) If you like hunting for eBay bargains, check out these two sites:

ebay auctions ending in less than 1 hr for less than $1


eBay auctions ending soon with no bids

How much is my item worth on eBay?

Setting a price for your online auction

eBay is a great source to determine current value of an item. While there are many price books available, these become outdated quickly. Search eBay to find what that item has sold for recently.

Begin by typing keywords that describe your item best into the search box. On that page, then look at the sidebar on LEFT of screen. Scroll down the left side of the screen until you find the words 'Show Only' and underneath that, check the box that says 'Sold Listings' . That link is invaluable to find what sells on eBay and for how much.

The next screen that comes up will show the completed listings for that item. Look for the sold prices in green, giving you a fairly good idea of the going price for that item. If you don't find anything, try different key words in the search box.

This method tells you what a given item has sold for very recently, which is usually a much more accurate indicator of what a given item will sell for than any pricing guide published in print. If most of the listings of that item category DID sell, then you know you have an item worth listing and that it will likely sell.

Ways to Get More eBay Bids

Improving listings to make money on eBay auction

Even though eBay gets a ton of traffic, that doesn't mean your item will automatically get noticed in the avalanche of listings there. It is frustrating to go through the trouble to list something only to have it not get any bids. Here a few things you might consider to assure your item will get noticed and get bids.

1) Choose items to sell carefully. Some things won't sell no matter what you do, so choose carefully by checking the 'completed listings' tab as described above in the 'how much is my item worth?' section of this page. If your item has been listed before with zero sales, you might not waste the time. On the other hand, just because you cannot find a same item listing, don't assume it won't sell. It could be a rare item that collectors would love to own. I did this once with a rare vintage toy made in Germany and it sold for $150! ...and it was broken! There were no listings on it at eBay but I did find one at another auction site with a very high price tag, and only ONE found on the web means rare. A bit of research before listing can really pay off.

2) Consider offering 'free shipping'. This gets attention since the buyer generally pays shipping fees. Some buyers will search only those listings marked free shipping. Now shipping is not cheap so you might consider this only for certain items. Media mail is the cheapest rate, but can only be used for books, music CDs, Shipping media mail for a book or CD will only cost a few bucks so you might offer free shipping at least on those types of items to get more bidders.

3) Offer the 'buy it now' option. Some buyers just don't like auctions or else they might have interest in your item but forget about it by the time 7 days goes by. Offering the option to 'buy it now' might make a difference in selling or not selling. If you think your item might be worth a lot, in that case you might not want to offer a 'buy it now' price because it stops all auction activity when your item might have gone much higher. However if you know for sure that an item is worth no more than say $20, then you'd be wise to include that option.

4) Build a strong feedback rating. Many buyers will not bid on an item if the seller has a very low number for a feedback rating. They want to see an established record of success, trust as a reliable eBay trader. Building a feedback rating takes a bit of time but is worth it. You do gain feedback as a buyer, so several small purchases do help. Also when you start selling, start small! Save your more valuable items to sell when you have a bit more experience AND a better rating as a reliable seller.

Shipping Your eBay Purchase

Successful eBay sellers work smarter, not harder to make money on eBay auction.

You can drive to the post office with your your packages, wait in line and ship it each time you sell on eBay ...but there are MUCH simpler ways.

For example, Paypal will allow you to buy postage and print your own shipping labels for no additional fee. Then you can either give the package to your letter carrier or just drop it off at the post office and skip the line.

If you have several packages you can even login to the post office website and submit a request to have your eBay sales packages picked up at your door. Free!

Free Online Class ======>> Selling on eBay

Here's a free course that arrives by e-mail to help you learn the basics of selling online.

Great free eBay sellers course, and the info applies to any internet auction website.

Goofbid - Helpful eBay tool finds mispelled words and other goofs.

Spelling a key word incorrectly is a HUGE mistake on eBay because that key word will not show up in a search - making it impossible to get bids or sales. The tool at the link below allows an automated search for whatever key words you feed it to be collected and sent to your favorite feed.

Heard the story once a John Deere tractor that was bought for only ONE dollar? The unfortunate seller misspelled John Deere and did not hold any reserve amount on the aucton. The misspelled listing (Deer not Deere) was found by a lucky buyer.

GoofBid: A Clever Site for Make Money on eBay Auction - Goofs are common on online tool auction sites, and this tool finds the goofs - to your advantage.

Recommended Book about eBay - 3 Weeks to eBay Profits

Many learning links are available on the eBay website itself for free, so DO spend some time there prior to investing in information elsewhere. However it takes a huge amount of time to sift through endless pages to find pertinant information and the free info is limited. Also eBay policies do change over time, so connecting with active networks of sellers regularly is wise.

Skip McGrath is a well-known eBay sales pro. He's one of the most respected authors when it comes to eBay sales and auctions. He is an experienced gold seller, has written several books and also does a radio show.

If you want the inside scoop on how to get the most out of eBay auctions, you can't go wrong with Skip McGrath, maybe THE best resource you will find to learn eBay.

BEFORE you Sell on eBay...

Learn the basics of online auctions before you buy on eBay.

Before listing an item for sale on eBay, make sure you at least have completed the items below.

1) Buy a few inexpensive items & leave feedback for the seller.

2) Use the 'watch' list tab. Find a few items and 'watch' the auction unfold.

3) Use the 'completed listings' tab to get an idea of recent sales and price ranges.

Get Started Now to Master the eBay Puzzle

Start learning online auctions one step at a time.

Learning anything new is like putting together a puzzle, and there's certainly a learning curve to master about selling on eBay. Be patient, one step at a time. It can feel overwhelming, but focus on the goal. What a thrill when those puzzle pieces FIT!

Before you know it, the eBay puzzle will be familiar to you and online auctions might even become fun! Just start small. If you want to sell more high-end expensive items, don't start with them. Get some selling experience under your belt first.

eBay Questions or Comments? Join the discussion.

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    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      @Wednesday-Elf: Yes, IS only books, but books are sold on the regular eBay site as well. Generally I sell books on eBay only in lots or groups (for example a set by same author or same topic), find that worth my trouble much more so than the tedious one book at a time, since the average title sells for so little. An exception is a special copy like leather bound or 1st edition or vintage or autographed or very rare ... and in those cases I've sold ONE book for quite a bit.

      Individual books are MUCH simpler to sell on where all you do is enter the ISBN# and poof, the listing is created FOR you in seconds including photo with description and reviews...ALL of it. You only enter condition of book and your price and it's done. You can literally list dozens of books in minutes this way. Still books don't generally sell for much, yet a perfect way to 'get your feet wet' rather than starting out selling high ticket items.

      Here's another good link for starting out on eBay:

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 8 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Cross, I've been thinking of selling on Ebay and appreciate this info. I've also been told about, which I understand is the books-media side of Ebay, but don't really understand how it works and how to do it. Do you have any information about it? One section of Half talks about linking your item to your Ebay account. It's really confusing and I can't find anyone who knows the "ins-and-outs" of I've had an Etsy shop for awhile, so know about uploading pictures, descriptions, pricing, shipping, etc. Just can't seem to take that 'first step' into Ebay ... seems to intimidate me :-). Enjoyed reading the information in this lens.