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Surely you’ve heard the saying, “One Mans Trash is Another Mans Treasure”, that’s exactly what my dad said when I shared this story with him.
We all have those trinkets that we hold on to and we often don’t even know why. I had a few magnetic therapy products sitting around from over a decade ago. I guess I kept them because I believe in alternative medicine, but in reality, I simply was not using them any longer. I had tried to sell them at a yard sale a few times, but the right people just hadn’t stopped by; meaning that no one who knew the value showed up. Now at my yard sales, I was selling these items for $10 and $25 respectively. Fast forward to last week; I was cleaning my office and these magnetic therapy products somehow ended up on my desk (like lots of things do). In a moment of frustration, I threw one of them in the trash along with my Lyft Glowstash that I earned while driving for Lyft last year (as a side hustle).
I’m not sure why I decided to check out eBay, but to my surprise, I found one of the magnetic therapy products selling for $200. I decided to price mine for a quick sale (just to get rid if it) and sure enough, it sold within an hour for my $99 “Buy it Now” price and the money was in my bank account in less than 48 hours. At this point, I thought to myself that I should have put it up for auction and had people bid on it because I know I could have gotten more. In reality, however, I had just pulled it out of the trash, so I was pretty happy with my new found money.
For the next few items, I did decide to use the auction feature to allow people to bid up the prices. I ended up selling the 2nd magnetic therapy device for $30 and even sold my Lyft Glowstash for $45 (I had no idea these held so much value). Figuring I was on a roll, I put a few of my domain name for sale that I was seeking to liquidate (or let expire) and I sold two of them; one for $25 and the other for $35. Even at those prices, I made a profit because I had purchased the $35 domain through a GoDaddy expired domain auction for $25 (I wanted to experience the process of buying an expired domain) and the second domain, I had purchased through a wholesale source for just $5 and renewed for $8.29. The domain sales were not wins to write home about, but a profit is a profit, and when the alternative is letting the domains expire, that’s a win.
My eBay Seller Mistakes
It had been years since I had sold anything on eBay. There was a time when I was much more active and according to the system, I have sold several thousand dollars worth of goods over the years. In full disclosure, I have also bought lots of stuff on eBay, so I am sure I am not “ahead”. In fact, in the early years, I used to buy stuff like musical equipment off of eBay and my coworkers would have fun trying to guess what I had bought as the packages kept rolling in. But I digress J
I do want to share a few mistakes that I made so that in the event you want to start to sell on eBay, you don’t make the same mistakes as I did.
- Wrong Selling Format. As I mentioned above when I first decided to list my magnetic therapy device for sale, I was not thinking big profits. In the end, I left money on the table because I sold via Fixed Price instead of Auction Style. I do also feel good about knowing that I gave someone a great deal. Those kinds of things tend to come back to you, so never feel bad about blessing someone. And as my wife says, “don’t have sellers remorse, have buyers gratitude.”
- Wrong Product Category. If you list your product in the wrong category and people are looking in the category it should be in, they won’t find yours. I made this mistake with one of my domain name listings, but once I corrected it, I was able to sell my domains. A key to finding the right category is to search for the product you want to see and see what category it is listed in. Don’t just assume it’s right, however; compare it to the other available categories and make sure you choose the best one.
- Wrong Ending Time. The best time to end your auction is on a Sunday evening, around 6PM, Pacific. You can schedule your auctions to start on a specific day and time such that it ends at that time.
- Wrong Pricing Strategy. What I have found is that people like auctions that start at lower prices. Starting too high reduces the number of people interested in your auction. I do recommend using the Buy it Now feature if you want a quick sale. This way you don’t have to wait for the auction to end and if someone really wants your item they don’t have to wait either. Using a reserve price can help when you want to make sure you get a certain amount of money for an item, but there is a small fee for using that feature (whether the item sells or not). Lastly, a great way to gauge where your price should end up is by searching completed auctions (using the advanced search feature). Remember to account for PayPal and eBay fees in your pricing as well.
- Shipping vs. Handling Fees. When pricing shipping, make sure to not mistakenly add a price to “handling” as this is in addition to your shipping cost. It ultimately makes your pricing higher because people take the shipping & handling costs into account. In fact, one of the better strategies is to account for shipping in your desired price, so you can list your product as “Free Shipping” which gets people’s attention. I made this error and had to wait out 4 auctions that were running because by the time I realized the error, it was too late to edit (you can’t edit an auction as it nears its end). Once I revised this handling fee error and added the Free Shipping label (and dropped the price by $10), I sold one of the items within 24 hours using the Buy It Now feature.
- Not Buying Postage Through eBay. The cool thing about eBay is that you can purchase postage right through eBay after the sale. Even better, is that they offer discounted postage. I am not sure why I was hesitant to use this early on, but on my last sale, I was able to give a faster shipping option for the same price. It also saves time because you can print the postage label and have your package ready to drop off at the post office or shipping company without standing in line.
eBay Seller Best Practices
Here are my recommended best practices for achieving maximum success as an eBay seller.
- Use PayPal. I recommend using PayPal because it will make your like so much simpler. It is well integrated in the eBay universe (because it used to be owned by eBay) and when you pay for shipping through eBay, it will come right out of your PayPal account using the money that you were just paid, so it saves from pulling shipping costs out of pocket.
- Communicate with Your Buyers. When you list your product, you have the option of letting the buyer know how soon you will ship the product after the auction ends and they pay for it. I typically choose 3 business days because it doesn’t bog down my weekends with worrying about shipping stuff and I think it’s pretty reasonable. No one has ever complained, but I will also say that I communicate with my buyers as soon as they pay me (respecting their money) and let them know when I plan on shipping the item. The last item I sold, I shipped the same day, which I trust makes people happy (I know it would make me happy). I used to send another message with the tracking number after I shipped the item. Now that I purchase the postage through eBay, it is automatically entered, which also saves me communication time.
- Give Feedback. After the transaction is completed and the buyer has received your product, I recommend asking them for feedback if they have not already given it. I typically let them give feedback first in case any issues arise and that way I have not done it prematurely. Some people might say it’s best to take the first step in giving positive feedback and I can’t argue with that.
If you are looking for some extra money, perhaps eBay can serve you as it has served me. In the past 60 days, I have earned $323.99 and that is just based on stuff laying around my house that I decided to sell. If you have a source for wholesale – or digital – items that you can sell at a profit, you can develop a consistent side hustle using eBay.
If you have stuff to sell and don’t want to go through the hassle of selling your stuff on eBay, you can also use the eBay Valet service where you ship your items and thy sell them for you and give you 25% – 80% of what they sell it for. They will even ship you back the stuff that doesn’t sell.
If you happen to have books, CD, or electronics to get rid of, another great option to get paid is the Decluttr app (stay tuned for a free money offer). With Decluttr, you simply scan the barcode on any item and they will tell you right up front what they will give you for it. They will then mail you a shipping label so you can ship it to them and then they will pay you electronically once they receive it. It makes it pretty easy to get paid for your stuff and you won’t have to deal with multiple sellers. If you want a referral code to get an extra $5 with your first order, use referral code FISCALLYS5 and you will get an extra $5 send to you with your first payment. To register visit Decluttr.com then click on Sign In >> I’m New Here to add the referral code.