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Freelance Writing Experiment: Selling E-Books on Ebay

Updated on April 19, 2011

Question: Can a Freelance Writer STILL Earn Money Selling E-Books on Ebay?

As a freelance writer, who is now on a mission to help OTHER freelance writers, I am always looking for new, unique and creative ways to earn money through writing. These can be residual (I.E. HubPages) or active (I.E. clients).

Selling e-books on Ebay is none of those things. People (writers and otherwise) have been selling e-books on Ebay almost since the company's grand launch. In the early days, it was all the rage to slap together a book compiled of scraped content that was rewritten and make thousands of dollars selling it.

Today, things have changed. First, consumers have become predictably weary of buying product after product of rehashed information - wasting hundreds of dollars and getting nowhere. Now, more people are very selective about what info-products they buy and where they buy them. Ebay has become saturated with low-quality products and competition is such that most find themselves selling their products for $.99 or less.

The Experiment

In spite of all of these glaring negative factors, I ask myself "is it still possible to make money as a writer on Ebay?"

To find the answer, I decided to list a product of my own creation - an E-book and companion audiobook on how to become a content writer - on the site. Starting at $.99 and listing about a dozen copies of the book, I will be doing some small-scale testing.

Following the Rules

First, Ebay does not look favorably on info-products in general, and policy guidelines are very strict. If you want to deliver these products electronically, you have to use Ebay classifieds. I have chosen not to do that for this experiment.

To sell e-books on, you have to deliver them via snail mail in the form of a CD or other physical product. Many choose this option and offer free shipping. I am but a lowly writer and have chosen to charge $.70 for shipping to cover my costs. I will also experiment with a batch of the same listing for free shipping later and post the results.

Also keeping in line with Ebay policy, I have made it very clear in the listing that the book is electronic - not a physical nook, and that I am the rightful owner of the materials and the only one authorized to sell them.

Just for to cover all angles, I've also made a shout-out to the FTC with a short disclaimer about earnings. I'm interested to see if it lowers my sales rate and/or final prices.

Regular Followup

Now that the first batch of listings are live, I will be posting my findings and results over the next 7 days. This will be an ongoing experiment for at least 60 days with different variations so I can really find out whether this is a lucrative option for fellow freelance writers. Rest assured that I will post another Hub in about 60 days detailing whatever I discover.

Until then, wish me luck and check back for updates! I also appreciate comments, advice and suggestions.

Update 4/4

Of the 12 listings I originally added to Ebay, two books have sold. I've decided to change up the length of the auctions (from 3 to 7 days) and add a little bit more to the item description. Links to my Ebay listings have also been added to my Facebook page, website, and Twitter. This was not done during the first round because I want to know if it makes a difference at all.

Update 4/19

After having sold four copies of my e-product, I had some issues with my shipping company. Thus, auctions were ended to avoid any bad customer experiences. With a profit of about $4.60 at stake after Ebay and PayPal fees, I was not too worried.

I am beginning to make assumptions and create theories about selling digital products on Ebay. While I believe it has value as a way to test your market, I am not so sure it has any value for those looking to make any real money.


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    • mrfishs profile image

      mrfishs 6 years ago from Mentor Ohio

      I am interested in this area as well. Thanks for sharing your info.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I'm looking forward to reading more about this. Thanks for sharing.