When I first became a SINGLE SAHM, the most important thing to me was continuing to be home with my kids. I wouldn’t let anything, even a divorce stand in my way. My solution was eBay. I could make a killing on eBay, good profits, ship when I wanted to, and still be there for every second of my children’s lives. It was the best of both worlds. Although I’ve been selling on eBay for 15 years, I created a very successful, stable income for myself and my kids in a year and a half. There was no teacher telling me what I should do or not do. It was all trial and error. After all, the best secrets of how to make a living on eBay are secret right?
Not today, my friends. Not today!
Here are 7 tips to making a living on eBay you won’t hear from anyone else…
1) Start out selling whatever
When you’re first starting out on eBay, you just want to sell whatever you have lying around the house. You’d be surprised at what goes for good money on eBay, especially if you break parts up. Let’s say your vacuum just broke and you replaced it with a new one. You can literally make just as much money selling those parts off your old vacuum than your NEW VACUUM COST! Totally not kidding! Someone else may not have the money to go out and buy a new vacuum, so they buy the parts off eBay and it saves them money. They are happy. You are happy because collectively for a few parts, they just bought you a new vacuum!
2) Watch your fees
Shipping costs these days can ruin a business. It generally costs about $10-$20 to send a box of something, depending on what it is. That snow globe you thought was worthless and it actually sold for $30, by time eBay is done with you, you will have only profited $7. It’ll cost 16% in eBay/Paypal fees, about $10-$13 to ship it and another $5 in miscellaneous supplies.
Here are a couple of solutions:
- Try to always ship items that you can fit in a First Class bubble envelope. You have 13 oz to work with. It’ll save you a ton of money in shipping.
- Make the buyer pay the shipping costs (either way, you can’t ask for more than your competitors buying price plus shipping price, so you’re still pretty limited there)
- Purchase shipping from home. Use your computer to print your labels. You will save about 20% over the retail pricing they charge you at your local USPS. For this, you’ll need a scale. This is the one I use and love..
- Get your packing materials for free. I like to get my bubble wrap and peanuts from Craigslist. You would be amazed at how many businesses give GOOD stuff away for free in the Freebie section. I also like to save the packing materials I receive from purchases. Recycle it all.
3) Open an eBay store
If you want to have a successful business on eBay, you need a store. There’s no going around it. There are so many perks to having a store, one is that eBay promotes your store on search engines, so you’re getting a lot more traffic than you will not having one. Another perk is that it automatically gives you credibility. Do you know how many cases are opened with eBay by fly-by-the-night scammers?
People want to order from someone who has great feedback and has a store. Customers know you take this seriously and you have a reputation to protect. This means that if anything goes wrong, you’ll stand by them. They feel more protected and safe, so you can literally CHARGE MORE than your competitors, up to 20% more, depending on what you’re selling. If you have 100% positive feedback with over 50 feedbacks and a store, I’d say go for 20%. You’ll get the sales over others who don’t have a store or 100% positive feedback.
If you don’t have a lot of money to work with, again, look at the Freebie section in Craigslist or on local Facebook groups. You can easily get yard sale leftovers, curb alerts and free stuff all the time on there and sell what’s worth money, and give away or throw away what’s not. Think it’s not worth it? This is how I made my living the entire first 6 months after I started eBay. What really went well for me was clothes. Sometimes, I’d even resell the clothes back on Craigslist separated out by sizes.
Say someone has 500 pieces of clothing, nothing is separated into sizes, you break up the lot, sell it by size and make a lot of money. There were times where I’d even pay $15-$20 for a huge lot and make back $200. Same thing with eBay. If you have a mannequin, you could start selling them piece by piece and get a lot more than that. It just depends how much time you have.
Yard sales are great to find things, especially books and jeans. I’d get lucky and find a pair of Lucky Brand jeans for $1. Sell on eBay for $100. Keep your eyes peeled, and do your research. After a while, you’ll know exactly what goes and for what. If you keep your cellphone with you, never let them see you looking up something and then try to buy the item. You just told them it’s worth something, and you’ll never score it for a good deal now.
5) Have great customer service skills
You absolutely have to be available for questions at all times. The general rule of thumb is that you want to respond to questions within 1 hour. I know it seems harsh, but if you call a company, do you want them to call you back next week? Or do you want help now? Because I guarantee you, they’ll just go somewhere else, buy from someone else, and you lost the sale. Likewise, always be professional and polite. There are times where you’ll wanna slap someone.
I had a lady the other day who ordered something twice, I contacted her to ask her if she meant to do that, she said no. I said okay, I canceled the transaction. She said nevermind, I’ll just buy two. I shipped out two, then now she’s saying she only received one even though USPS says it was delivered. Always get tracking by the way. 🙂 Sometimes you’ll just have those customers who have nothing better to do than make trouble and drama for everyone else. It’s part of the job. You HAVE to be polite. Just know that you are protected in cases like that, and it’s just a matter of time before eBay makes a decision in your favor, but if you’re rude and mean, customers CAN slap you with a harassment case. If you’re found guilty, you can be kicked off. Even the little snarky remarks are considered harassment, so always practice fantastic customer service skills.
6) Sell weird stuff
The more oddball your stuff is, the more weird, or rare it is, the better it’ll sell. This is exactly opposite if you sell on Amazon. With eBay, the more rare the items are, the more money you’ll get, the faster it’ll sell, and the more bidders will bid. Speaking of bidding, I never hold bidding auctions. I do buy-it-now with payment required now. Just save yourself the hassle of all the thousands of non-paying bidders out there wasting your time and set your items for buy-it-now. You can do best offer, but in my opinion, it’s a waste of time. I always only got super low ball offers, like 10% of what I’m fairly asking and the ones that want to ask for less, don’t need a best offer to do so, they email you anyway.
7) Find your niche
After a while of selling, you’ll start to find your groove. You’ll start to know what people want to buy, what they like, what you’re selling well and just sell that. What do you like? What are you most knowledgeable in? You want to sell those types of things. For me, it’s Littlest Pet Shops. They make over 3,000 different pets and they are considered collectors items, since you can’t just go and buy what you want in the stores. Kids and parents alike go crazy over them and there’s an entire underground world of LPS. Another great thing to sell on eBay that is highly sought after and profitable is Lalaloopsy. Lalaloopsy’s are fairly new, so they could fade out in time, but the LPS have been selling since the 1990’s, and well I might add. You can check out my complete guide on Littlest Pet Shops here.
I hope that I have inspired you to get started selling on eBay and see the huge potential in making a fantastic living on eBay. It’ll take some time for you to get established to the point that you are steadily selling. I had over 600 LPS ads in my store and well over 5,000 LPS items when I was selling them full-time. You’ll want a large selection if you want continual sales, enough to make a great living from eBay, but most people don’t need THAT much. 🙂
You can find more information on how to make a living on eBay as well as other sources of how to make a living from home on my blog. I have been fortunate to be able to be a single stay-at-home-mom, and I wish all the best to you as well in your endeavor to work from home. In our economy and the way things are going, this will become more and more possible as the years go on. There are so many things you can do to work from home and earn legitimate money to help your family. eBay is but one way.
Sarah is a stay-at-home mom of two wonderful children. Her passion is showing other women in practical ways, how to quit the 9-5 and be able to be home with their little ones as well. From homeless to well-off, this single debt-free mom is most known for her ability to live well on $18k/year. Sarah loves encouraging others that dreams do come true if they are willing to consistently work for it. Follow her blog: Saving Money Never Goes Out of Style.