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What I learnt from selling on eBay UK.
Who am I and why should you read this?
Well, first let me establish one thing - I am NOT an amazing eBay sales expert offering to tell you how you too can make a zillion pounds / euro / dollars each and every week. You've read a lot of what those people have written on-line and what have you learnt? You've learnt half are scam-artists and the other half are deluded twelve year old kids, who having sold ONE item are now convinced they're a financial genius.
I am not a financial genius (I wish I was), or scam-artist (Isn't that what a scam-artist would say too?) and I was born in 1968 (of course kids do lie about their age on-line). I am just an ordinary fellow who been selling on eBay since 2008.
Do I make a fortune?_______ANSWER = "No".
Do I make a decent living?___ANSWER = "Ah...well, um...you see...*sigh*...No".
Do I make peanuts?________ANSWER = "Some weeks, Yes. Some weeks, No."
However, for what it's worth I shall list the highlights of my years of selling on eBay : So you can learn from my mistakes or if you're doing better than me, feel better about your own sales.
I will limit my entries to items that did much better or worse than expected and try to draw a lesson from it. I'll also add a few of the stranger items that actually sold.
What does not sell.
Everyone, myself included, wants to know the answer to the question, "What items will sell on eBay?".
There is a more important question a new seller should ask, "What does NOT sell on eBay?"
Most sellers learn the answer to this themselves, but they waste a year or two doing so. If you are NEW to selling on eBay read this section, it is the MOST IMPORTANT section of all.
---------------------- Do NOT try to compete with the shops ----------------------
Sad truth time : A never used, thing-a-ma-bob, still sealed in its box is worth a tiny faction of what an identical thing-a-ma-bob sitting on some international mega-store shelf is worth, now that YOU are the one selling it.
You list it for 3/4 shop price = Doesn't sell
You list it for 1/2 shop price = Doesn't sell.
You list it for 1/3 shop price = Doesn't sell
You list it for 1/4 shop price = To your disbelief and outrage It STILL doesn't sell.
You list it for 1/10 the price = This time it DOES sell, but was it worth it, especially after fees and other costs?
-------------------------- The big secret to selling on eBay --------------------------
The time to sell a thing-a-ma-bob is when it can no longer be found in the stores. The people who will pay a decent amount for a thing-a-ma-bob are the people who live countless miles from the nearest store who still sells it, say in another country (I make the most money from my International sales). Better profit still is if the thing-a-bob is no longer sold in any store anywhere at all. The real money is if YOU are the only owner of a thing-a-ma-bob the buyer is ever likely to find.
Bottom-line = The least competition from other sellers for an item the more you will make.
I know you are thinking, "This is bloody obvious. I don't need some-one to tell me this."
I say, "Yes it is bloody obvious. In hind-sight, anyway. It took me two years to learn this, and I STILL have to keep reminding myself, because I STILL keep making this mistake. Good job you're smarter than me and don't need to be told this."
Points to readers eBay listing and says, "What about that thing-a-ma-bob then? That one right there, there's a million of those for sale."
2008 - My Selling Begins
Please forgive the quality of the photographs, I had a very cheap camera back in 2008.
Interestingly the much better quality photos I put on my eBay listings these days have NOT increased the number of sales I have made, nor the final sale price.
LESSON THAT I LEARNT - What you have for sale is more important than presentation.
People will buy something they really want, even if the picture is *blah*. A fantastic picture of worthless rubbish no-one wants, however, won't make the worthless rubbish sell. Of course one persons rubbish is another persons treasure, so...it might be worth the gamble of listing it the ONCE.
ANOTHER LESSON LEARNT - A decent quality photo (or better yet multiple photos) will greatly reduce the time spent answering questions.
Demon Diary : Complete Series ( Vol. 1 to 7 )
£ 13.99 ( UK buyer in Chesire )
My very first sale (Third item listed) : A complete set of Manga books.
First listing (No Sale) was a cheap kung-fu DVD.
Second Listing (No Sale) was novelty Halloween bubble bath (with free toy spider).
LESSON - Manga books will sell if sold as a set.
I should point out that It is very hard to sell a lone Manga book.
Batman : A Death in the Family ( 1st UK Ed )
£ 2.70 ( UK buyer in Hampshire )
I made a collector very happy, when I sold this first British edition, early Graphic Novel (technically a trade-paperback issue collection, not a Graphic Novel, if you want to nitpick definitions).
I later found this was worth more than I thought.
LESSON - Graphic Novels sell, but cheaply.
LESSON - Do some research before listing an item
Boxed Corgi Batmobile 1976
£ 92.09 ( UK buyer in Lancashire )
A 1976 Corgi Bat-mobile in excellent condition. Comes in it's original box, which is intact, but slightly battered. Comes with ten of its twelve missiles (Nine still attached to clip).
The final sale price of this auction came as a complete shock (I started it at £9.99 and hoped for at most £25).
LESSON - Your childhood toy might be highly collectable
Great Mazinga (Mazinger) 1970s
£ 51.09 ( To buyer in Spain )
Jumbo Shogun Warrior
Slightly discoloured head and some fine scratches, otherwise good. Comes in the original box, which is rather battered. Has all ten missiles.
LESSON - Mazinger is very popular in Spain, Italy and France (To Judge by all the emails I received when I listed this).
Not one email from a UK buyer : Probably because none of the Mazinger cartoon series were ever shown in the UK, so very few British people have ever heard of this character.
Corgi 007 Lotus Esprit (Spy Who Loved Me)
£ 5.72 ( To buyer in Belgium )
Hoping for a repeat of the Bat-mobile sale, I listed this James Bond car that I got for a birthday in the mid 1970s.
Still in amazing condition and with nine of its ten missiles.
Fires four missiles at a time, often into the face of the child playing with it. No Heath & Safety nonsense back in Britain of the 1970s. These days you have to wear goggles and gloves to play conkers.
Evidently this is worth only a tenth what the bat-mobile from the same period is worth.
LESSON - Not all your childhood toys are highly collectable.
Maybe it was the lack of a box? Or maybe there were simply too many of these made.
007 Moon Buggy (Diamonds are Forever)
£ 6.55 ( UK buyer in Wales )
I was going to bin this, instead I listed it on a whim, hoping it would draw attention that would then bid on the 007 Lotus Esprit that was listed at the same time.
Defects mentioned in the listing were -
- In-ground dirt
- Chipped paint
- Left claw won't grip
- Broken seat prevents hatch release
- Radar-dish no-longer rotates, when vehicle is pushed
It sold for more than the perfect, "Spy Who Loved Me" Bond car. ( huh ? )
LESSON - One persons rubbish is another's treasure.
Norton 360 Ver 2 ( New & Sealed )
£ 41 ( To buyer in Jersey, Channel Islands )
December 2008, I decided to treat myself to a better computer for Christmas. I let the salesman talk me into adding this Norton 360 to my purchase as, according to him, there was no anti-virus software pre-installed on the computer (He fibbed, but store refused to accept the software's return, despite it having not been unsealed).
So I listed it on eBay and the watch counter says 85 people looked at it.
It sold for more than what it cost me (half-price with purchase of computer).
LESSON - Sell the unwanted software you get with your computer purchase.
2009 - New computer, same old camera
Bought a new computer, when I should have brought a new camera.
I think the camera light sensor was defective : In anything less than blindingly, brilliant sunlight (uncommon here in England) the photos came out murky. Picasa and Windows Photo Gallery Fix and IrfanView helped, but the best thing was to take ten times as many pictures and pick the one that was least horrible.
----------------------------- Now for a quick off topic rant -----------------------------
Oh, and that new computer that was ten times more powerful (on paper) than my old was running VISTA, so after tweaking it for a year it actually runs stuff as well as my old computer.
LESSON - Vista sucks (Actually, by 2011 the new PC runs twice as well as the old PC)
I am a qualified *bleep*ing programmer, it shouldn't take me TWO YEARS of tweaking to make a computer TEN times as powerful as the previous one work TWICE as well.
LESSON - Vista sucks
Tokyopop ( Five Volumes of Manga Previews )
99 pence ( UK buyer in Yorkshire )
To clear some space on my bookcase, I listed these Manga comic previews. Each had been given away by the local bookshop for free. They sold for a pittance, but as they hadn't cost me anything, I said to myself, "Hey, free money. Gosh, I wonder what other FREE stuff I could sell?"
I had a unasked for SIM card arrive in the mail, so I listed that. It sold for 75 pence.
I then went a little crazy, thinking I'd found an easy source of money. I requested lots of free SIMs from various websites and tried to sell them. Zero expense way to make a small profit, which would add up if I sold enough.
I sold NONE, as the first SIM card sale was a fluke. I ended up throwing away all of them. At least this lesson cost me nothing.
LESSON - Free stuff can sell, but it's not worth the effort.
LESSON - One fluke sale doesn't equal a trend.
LESSON - There is no such thing as a free lunch.
A Dog Shaped Teapot by Bob Hersey
99 pence ( UK buyer in Herts )
I'd thought this would sell for more.
LESSON - Perhaps novelty teapots don't sell well.
Teapot Shaped like Duke of Wellington
99 pence ( UK buyer in Essex )
Unused, brand new, novelty teapot with box.
LESSON - Yes, novelty teapots don't sell well.
Rock Collection - Treasures of the Earth
£ 5.50 ( UK buyer in London )
People may not care for novelty teapots, but they will buy a bunch of rocks.
LESSON - Supply and demand can be strange.
Coalport Snow Globe "Hold on Tight" + Box
£ 14 ( UK buyer in Essex )
Same day I sold this ( 26th July 2009 ) I also sold a CoalPort, "Line Dancing" Father Christmas Snow-globe for £ 13.49 to a buyer in Durham.
So around £ 14 (plus cost of postage for 1.4 kg item ) seems to be a typical price for a second-hand CoalPort Snow-globe.
I wonder if I would have made more waiting until the Christmas period? Or would I have made less because of the greater competition from everyone selling Christmas stuff? Hmm?
LESSON - There's a UK market for Coalport Snow-globes.
Ladies Full Length Winter Coat
£ 23 ( UK buyer in Gloucestershire )
September in the UK and people start thinking about how cold they were last winter in their current coat. So they look for a warmer one. So now is the time to sell a real heavy coat.
Same month I sold this one, I sold an Oasis coat for £ 22.25.
LESSON - Coats sell for more when winter looms.
Border Fine Arts ( Collie on Chair )
£ 26.76 ( UK buyer in Northumberland )
Ornament entitled "Caught Napping", showing a border collie on a chair. The cover of the magazine is peeling and there is a small area of mild paint chips on the chairs back.
Border Fine Arts almost always sell and if they are cute and/or show animals they sell well.
This heavy ( 1743 gram ) awkwardly shaped ornament was an absolute nightmare to wrap, as I'd misplaced the original packaging. You have to wrap things well. Remember every postal sorting office is obliged by law to employ one person who can't handle anyone's parcel without dropping it onto the floor and then treading on it.
LESSON - Wrap things well (Or else!)
LESSON - Having the original packaging saves SO much time and effort.
Oh, the buyer says it arrived in perfect condition, if you were wondering.
Dog Coat by WeatherBeeta
£ 8.99 ( UK buyer in Scotland )
Britain loves its pets. So after they've bought their own winter coat, the dog owner thinks, "Oh, I've forgotten about Fido".
£ 7 to £ 10 seems to be the usual range of final sale price. Dire forecasts of imminent snowfall of the likes not seen since the Ice-age can increase this a further £ 4. After winter has passed, halve these figures (assuming it sells at all).
LESSON - Dog coats sell when winter looms
2010 - eBay Takes Over My Life
Spent seemingly every waking moment during this year thinking about eBay. Upped my efforts ten-fold compared to the previous years effort. DID NOT MAKE AS MUCH MONEY.
LESSON - Quality, not Quantity, makes you money
LESSON - Don't let eBay consume you! Life is too short.
Corgi : Mr Bean Mini and Resin Figure
£ 21 ( UK buyer in Lincolnshire )
This surprised me. Recently made toy cars don't usually sell for much. I listed this at a start price of £ 2.49 and would have been pleased to get £ 5.
LESSON - Sell stuff related to anything with a Fan Base. The Fan will pay more for something than you would.
To quote SpaceBalls , "Merchandising, merchandising : Where the real money from the movie is made. SpaceBalls - the T-shirt, SpaceBalls - the Colouring Book, SpaceBalls - the Lunch box, SpaceBalls - the Breakfast Cereal, SpaceBalls-the Flame Thrower."
Rainbow Heels ( Size 7 ) by New Look
£ 27 ( UK buyer in Cumbria )
LESSON - Bright contrasting colours attract more interest.
Any photo that stands-out from the surrounding ones, will get lots of views, which hopefully means lots of bids.
Harry Potter - Wizard Chess ( by Mattel )
£ 16.20 ( UK buyer in Devon )
Remember the movie scene with the giant, moving stone chess pieces. Well these are NORMAL sized chess pieces, made of real PLASTIC that do NOT move. How cool is that! With the Wizard Chess set YOU TOO can experience chess battles EVERY-BIT as EXCITING as the battle Harry and his friends had ( C.G.I. not included ).
LESSON - Sales pitch-ur-us, maxi-zealous-ur-us (But please, don't forget to include the facts).
The Simpsons Cluedo ( New & Sealed )
£ 17 ( UK buyer in Buckinghamshire )
LESSON - Same as the last.
LESSON - If you find an approach that works, repeat.
Sailor Girl Costume ( Adult Size )
£ 4.09 ( UK buyer in Cumbria )
Lilliput Lane Cottage "The Chocolate Box"
£ 21 ( To buyer in Canada )
Lilliput Lane Cottage : New with Box + Deeds.
Having received emails from interested buyers in Canada and Australia, I opened up my listing to outside of Europe. Ever since I have included postage for these countries to my listings.
LESSON - Don't be afraid to sell outside of Europe
LESSON - Make sure you know the postage before quoting anyone a figure.
I undercharged on this one, but I was lucky, I still made a decent profit. Also the buyer was pleased.
I see on the eBay forums some sellers make the (understandable) mistake of asking the buyer for MORE money after the sale ends, because they underestimated the postage - NEVER DO THIS! Chalk it up to experience and get the postage right on the NEXT sale.
LESSON - Buyers goodwill is worth more to you than what you lose on the undercharged postage.
Multiple Choice : Which would you prefer?
- - - - - Option One - Lose a pound on a SINGLE sale.
- - - - - Option Two - Gain a NEG that will lose you bids on ALL your future sales for a year.
2011 - The year I learnt nothing
Well I learnt to use my new ( Second-hand ) camera and so finally retired the old one.
No words of wisdom to impart for this year, so I'll just post pictures of some of the more interesting items sold.
Snoopy Ceramic Cauldron ( 1958 )
£ 2.50 ( To buyer in Australia )
Little ceramic cauldron made by United Features Syndicate in 1958.
I'd hoped that, because it was old, it was worth something. I was wrong.
Gold Mining ( Pyrite Digging Kit ) Kidzlabs
£ 3.99 ( UK buyer in Kent )
New and sealed kit that teaches you how to mine for gold : Using for demonstration purposes the included fake rocks (made of plaster) containing fake gold (iron pyrite).
Armadillo Handbag by Accoutrements
£ 5.10 ( UK buyer in Kent )
Words fail me.
Vintage Pink Panther Trinket Pot
£ 21.01 ( To buyer in Italy )
Ceramic trinket pot with lid.
Clean, no chips, no crazing.
Two barely visible scratches - 1/2 cm and 1/4 cm
LESSON - Polystyrene is excellent for packing items.
LESSON - Cutting Polystyrene blocks into the needed shape makes an incredible mess. You will be picking it off the carpet (and out of your hair) for HOURS.
Hey, I DID learn something in 2011 after-all. Yay me!
2012 - Trying to attract more customers
This is the year I decided it wasn't good enough to wait for customers to come to me - I had to do something to lure them in.
Er, - that came out sounding a bit sinister.
Auction Bump ( .co.uk )
First thing I tried to bring more traffic to my eBay listings was to investigate these things called Auction Bump sites.
They all seem to work much the same way. You upload a picture of your item, cut and paste its eBay listing number and write a single line describing the thing being sold. It's good manners to limit the number of items you are promoting to three (don't hog the site).
Now, once this is done, others that are using the Bump site will see what you've listed and hopefully will want to buy it. They click on your items photo and are taken straight to your full listing on eBay, where with luck they will decide to purchase it.
LESSON - Extra customers for free, is a good thing.
LESSON - There are a lot of Bump sites, but most are for eBay USA.
LESSON - There is a Bump site for eBay UK sellers ( Auction.Bump.co.uk ).
LESSON - Make sure your photos are SQUARE or they'll look distorted.
Below is a Link to the Auction Bump Site
- Auction Bump UK
Promote three of your items that are listed on eBay UK using Auction Bump UK
Second thing I tried was going to this site called Squidoo. This was an article site like HubPages, however it no longer exists.
Well, anyway, near the bottom of this HubPages article you should find I am advertising my current eBay listings as I use to do back on Squidoo.
Royal Mail Address Finder
- Postcode Finder - Find Any UK Address
Find up to 50 UK postcodes or addresses a day free with the online Postcode Finder. Use this simple tool to find business or house addresses and postcodes. You do not need to register with the site to use.
Incompete UK Delivery Address Tip
Find a Postcode or an Address
If you sell on eBay there will be times when the delivery address given by the buyer is incomplete, confusing, misspelled or simply gibberish.
Now if it's just nonsense, you will have to contact the buyer for clarification. If however, the address is merely incomplete, you don't need to bother your buyer simply because you're a worrywort (Like me) concerned that this isn't enough for the postman to find them. Royal Mail provide an on-line tool to enable people to obtain complete UK addresses and postcodes.
Click on the Link on the right to use------>>
Just fill in what you know of the address and the whole address is then displayed for you.
2013 - I'm still selling...and this article is getting really long.Click thumbnail to view full-size
2014 - I'm still selling...and this article is getting even longer!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Where to find me on eBay
I am a British seller ( Mangafan_123 ) selling on eBay UK
I sell mostly to Europe, Australia and Canada.
I am willing to hear from the rest of the world.
What am I currently selling?
- Click here to reach my eBay page (eBay UK)
Non UK buyers if you see anything you like, place a Watch on it, then log into your OWN countries eBay site, before bidding. So if you win you are invoiced with the correct postage. Please read the listed postage to your country, before you bid.
This Weeks Special OffersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Weird Al Yankovic - eBay Song
As a treat for staying with me to the very end of this rather long article, here is a Weird Al song.