Are you thinking about buying and selling on eBay but aren’t sure where to start? In this post, I will be giving you all my best tips and tricks for finding bargains and selling your own items for a tasty profit.
Over the past few years, the reality of fast fashion and the effects it has on the environment has been gradually getting more and more exposure. The pollution, the working conditions, and garment quality is something that many people are now aware of more than ever. And they are, like me, wanting to do something about it.
I started selling on eBay just as a means to declutter. (And make some money out of the things I had lying around the house). It’s a great way to bring in some extra cash for things you don’t use. But, you can also turn it into a bit of a side hustle, too.
Selling on eBay
First, make sure the items you sell are in good condition
Even though most items on eBay are second hand, people are still expecting the items they purchase to be in good condition. As a general rule when buying and selling on eBay, don’t sell anything you wouldn’t be happy to receive. Before you list your item, check for marks, holes, and general signs of wear.
I once bought an item from a car boot sale and listed it on eBay without checking it properly. It was only after the item sold (for much more than I paid for it) when I was ironing it to package up that I noticed the previous owner had sewn up a hole in the shoulder. As the item had already sold, I contacted the buyer and explained the situation (honesty is the best policy). I apologised, sent a photo of it and asked what they would like to do. Luckily, she was an absolute angel about it and said she didn’t mind at all. Not everyone would be this kind about it, so it taught me a valuable lesson.
Take good, clear photographs
There are so many items on eBay which would sell a thousand times better if they’d only been displayed properly with a good photo. I’ve also bought some items which I was disappointed with because the photo didn’t show it properly. I was given a mannequin (named Trisha) from my mother-in-law, and all the clothes I sell look so much better on her than they do on the hanger.
Make sure you also take clear photographs (not blurry), in natural daylight. I do edit the photos to make sure they are bright enough, but I don’t change the way the garment looks.
Write descriptive titles
At first, I was terrible at knowing how to describe the items I was selling. It’ll come as no surprise to hear that the more detail you give, the more chance there is of people finding your listing and making a bid.
When writing a listing description, try to think about what exactly people would need to search for to find your listing. I usually use the following formula:
“Brand, item (dress, top etc), size, colour, pattern, style, season, occasion, other descriptive details (neckline, sleeve length etc)“
Just like blogging, the more keywords you use and the more descriptive you are, the better. This tip is useful for both buying and selling on eBay. Make sure you also disclose any faults with the item.
Set your starting bid to the lowest value you’d be happy to accept
It’s easy to assume that just because there are people watching your item, you’re guaranteed to get some bids. That’s not always the case.
If you set your starting bid high, it’s likely to put potential buyers off. Especially when you factor in that they have to pay for postage on top of the item price. But, if you set it too low and it doesn’t get much attention, an item may sell for less than you were hoping for.
Think about what you’d be happy to pay for the item second hand. And then think about the lowest amount you’d be happy for it to sell for. If it doesn’t sell, you can always re-evaluate your price and adjust it accordingly when you relist the item. I’ve regularly gotten to the point where I just want to get rid of the item, so I’ll set the price lower and lower just so it’s not sitting in my house taking up space.
Set your listing to finish on a Sunday evening
It may sound obvious, but setting your listing to finish at a time when people are likely to be at home browsing the internet makes your item more likely to sell than a listing that finishes in the middle of the day. (Or night!)
I find that setting my listing to finish at 8 pm on a Sunday is usually a pretty good bet. That way, most people are likely to be available to bid on it. And, I still have time to package everything up to take it to the post office on Monday morning.
If an item doesn’t sell, don’t auto-relist
Here’s a trick that not everyone knows about which will help your items get more views. If your item doesn’t sell and it auto-relists, it won’t appear on eBay as a new item. This means that it essentially goes to the bottom of the list. So when people search for something which your item fits the description of, it’s less likely to come up in their search.
Instead of re-listing, click on “Sell similar”. It will keep all the photos and details from the previous listing, so all you have to do is amend the price (if you want to lower it), and any other details then list the item again. Now it’ll appear on eBay as a brand new item and will be at the top of the list.
Unfortunately, eBay has a tendency to auto-relist items and as of yet, there’s no way to turn that function off. This means that it does involve removing the relisted items and then re-listing everything manually. It is a bit of a faff, but it’s worth it to make sure you’re listing actually gets seen.
Adjust your settings
Any experienced eBay seller will tell you how annoying it is when you sell an item and the buyer never pays. There’s no way of knowing if this will happen, but there is a step you can take to prevent it some of the time.
When a bidder doesn’t pay, you can open an unpaid item case against them. If they still don’t pay, you can close the case and get your final fee credited back to you. Once the case has been closed, the buyer will receive a strike on their account. You can adjust your settings to not allow anyone with a strike against their eBay account to bid on your items. Obviously, this won’t work for first-time offenders, but it should stop anyone who has a habit of doing it from doing it to you.
To do this, go to your account, Site Preferences, then scroll down to Buyer Requirements. From there you can block buyers who have a certain amount of strikes in a certain time frame from buying from you. Unfortunately, the lowest amount of strikes you can set is 2, so even if someone has done it once before, they can still do it to you.
This method won’t stop it altogether. But, it can filter out a lot of the people who have a habit of doing this.
Hit up charity shops and car boot sales
Once I ran out of my own items to sell, I started going to charity shops and car boot sales to find things to sell on eBay. Knowing what will sell is an art that does take a lot of trial and error. In my experience, there are certain brands that sell really well, and if an item is beautiful and displayed well, it’s still likely to sell. Car boot sales are the best places to go to to find really cheap items, but make sure you check the item before you purchase it.
Purchase mailing bags
Packaging can get expensive, especially if you buy them singularly from the post office. I order mailing bags in bulk from eBay, and the most recent ones I found are 100% recyclable which is great. The last lot I bought was around £5 for 25 bags.
Use the buyer’s PayPal address
I’ve never had this happen to me personally, but I have heard of some buyers having different addresses on their PayPal and eBay account.
Most of the time there is likely a genuine reason for this. But in the event that the buyer has a dispute with the item, or if it hasn’t arrived due to them having different addresses, it’s in your best interest as the seller to have posted to the one from PayPal as that’s the one listed on the buyer’s payment method. Generally speaking, the buyer is King on eBay, so they’re likely to get their way anyway. But, you’d have more of a leg to stand on if you used the PayPal address.
Write your return address on the back of the package
Bit of a no-brainer here, but if an item gets lost in the post, it at least can find it’s way back to you so you can repost it.
Be alert at the post office
The post office is usually pretty good. But there are a few times where they’ve made errors which could’ve affected the sale if the item got lost.
Always ask for a proof of postage, because you can then claim if the item gets lost. Also, if you have a few parcels to send, watch which postcode they type into the computer. Once, the post office clerk had put the parcel upside down and was actually typing in the return address (ie my address) into the system, so my postcode showed up on the proof of postage.
Ultimately, everything was fine. But if the item got lost and I needed to claim, I’d have no way of proving the item was posted to the buyer’s address.
Now that we’ve covered selling on eBay, let’s move on to…
Buying on eBay
Check the item’s description
The description is the place where the seller should mention any important details about the item. (Such as the quality, and whether there is anything wrong with the item, etc). You don’t want to bid on something and then find out it’s faulty when it arrives because you haven’t checked the description.
Check the seller’s feedback
Always check the seller’s feedback when you’re buying and selling on eBay. This will tell you if they have a tendency to not post items, not describe them properly, or anything else that may have gone wrong with a transaction. This is something you should really do whenever you’re buying and selling on eBay.
Note: as a seller, you can’t leave negative feedback for a buyer. You can leave a positive with a note warning other sellers, but only if you go and actually read their feedback will you see this.
Know what you’re looking for
…in general. Sometimes I just want to browse, so I’ll just search the new listings for anything that takes my fancy.
If there’s a particular item you’re looking for, make sure you type in any keywords that describe it. This can be a brand name, colour, size, etc. Many people ask me how I find such good bargains on eBay, and when I’m just doing a general search I use the “style, item, size” search – a regular search on my eBay account is “boho dress 10/12”. This is good to keep in mind for buying and selling on eBay.
Only look at the auctions
…if you’re looking at clothes. I find that many of the buy it now listings are often cheap, poorly made, mass-produced items from China. Not only do they take ages to arrive, but they are often poor quality and are usually ridiculously small. Auctions are usually a lot more reliable.
Don’t bid on an item until the last few seconds
This, again, seems like an obvious one. But bidding on an item early will only end up driving the price up. If you wait until the last few seconds to bid, you have more chance of swooping in and winning the item before someone else has a chance to outbid you. It seems like a sly way of doing it, but the annoyance from being outbid on an item by 20p is REAL.
Make offers on items
When you’re buying and selling on eBay you have the option to allow offers on your items.
If an item you’re interested in has the option to make an offer – do it. When you submit your offer, you receive an email confirming your offer. This email also tells you how many other people are watching that particular item. This can give you an idea as to how much competition you’ll have when it comes to bidding. And if you’re lucky, the seller might just accept your offer, or make a counteroffer.
Etiquette tip: If an item doesn’t have the option to make an offer, there’s a reason for it. Don’t message the seller asking if they’ll accept a cheaper price.
Check Fat Fingers
There’s a great website called Fat Fingers which shows all the eBay listings with typos and spelling errors. These listings are great to find because they won’t come up in a regular eBay search so no one else will find them. You can find some total bargains using this site, so check here first before you search on eBay itself.
Pay straight away
As I know how annoying it is when a buyer doesn’t pay, I always make sure I pay straight away whenever I win an item. It’ll make you seem like a great buyer, will make sure you receive good feedback, and it’s just good eBay etiquette.
So, there you have it. These are my best tips for buying and selling on eBay. Are there any tips you’ve picked up along the way that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below.
Do you want to see a post about all the things I’ve purchased on eBay?