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Making Money From Home: How To Start Selling On eBay

We have made money while working from home in a few different ways.

Selling on ebay was what I call the Great Beginning! It was our first Work from Home gig and it started because we wanted to de-clutter a bit.

We had two bookshelves overflowing with books from my college years and my husband’s flight school days. We were looking to clean up our spare room as well as make a little cash from those expensive books.

Selling books on ebay is probably the fastest way to get started making money with online.

The easiest way to get started… Download the ebay app on your smartphone. You can take the photos of your book (or other item) and upload them onto eBay through the app. You don’t need special equipment, they offer free listings when you are getting started, and you can sell things you already have laying around your house.

Listing the item

When you are listing the item place words in the title that people would use to search. Using a title like “The Cutest Dress You Can Buy” will not help your item show in the search when someone is looking for a “medium purple sleeveless dress”. Pack the title with as many words you can to describe the product. You aren’t winning awards for your writing skills here, just trying to get your item seen in the search. In the item’s description you can get creative. But for your title, just use the basics.

When you are listing an item use as many details as possible. There are so many categories for whatever item you are selling, the more information you provide the more people will see it… if someone is looking for a paperback book and you don’t choose this option they may not look twice at your listing. Avoid this by providing more information. It will only take you an extra minute and will help you sell faster and for more.

When you are describing the condition of the item, downplay it a bit. Consider that some people may not want jeans that are frayed at all. If someone wants a new book they don’t want a rip in the cover or lots of pages previously dog-eared. If you give a condition better than what the item is you will regret it when you get negative feedback or have to refund a buyers perchase.

I always sold every item as free shipping. Some people don’t want to calculate how much shipping + the item cost.  (Your ebay fees are on both the sale price and the shipping, so you aren’t getting away with anything by charging for shipping… I still don’t understand why people do it to be honest.)

Take photos!! 12 photos for a paperback book may be overkill, but not if you are selling a pair of jeans. Clear, well-lit photos can help your item sell. If I were selling a pair of jeans I would take close ups of the tags, the bottoms of the jeans, ANY imperfections, the zipper (I would show them zipped and unzipped). I would also take photos with measuring tape so that you can see exactly how long or how wide something is. You get 12 free photos… use them!


Pricing the item

When pricing items I generally sold everything on a auction with a rather large “buy It Now”.

To price an item I would need to know how much the item will cost to ship and I would factor all fees (both ebay and PayPal fees) in so that I am not paying to sell the item. Unfortunately I learned this the hard way after paying more to ship an item than I received.

After I have everything else on the listing done I put the item into the box or bag I will ship it in and put it on the scale. (Any basic kitchen scale will work beautifully… as most items you sell will be smaller.) I figure out how much shipping would cost once it is packed up. Download the USPS app and you will be able to place the class of postage and the weight and know how much it should cost to ship.

Knowing how much the fees and shipping will cost me I start the auction just a little more than that.

You can search the sold/completed listings in order to get an idea of how much your item could sell for.

There were so many theries about when a listing needed to start and end when we were selling. But I found that I sold far more items when I had listings starting every day. Often I would start them immediately or if it was late at night I would schedule it to start the next day.

Your listing will get the most views when it first goes on and when it is finishing up. I always listed the item for 7 days.


ebay and PayPal are amazing companies, but it did take awhile initially for the first sales to make a deposit into our account. I do hope that it doesn’t take as long for new sellers now. But be prepared for the funds to be held for a little while.

I had to ship several of our first items before PayPal had “released” our funds, but they always did. Once eBay tells you to ship the item, that means they have received the funds and it is safe to ship. Keeping your handling time to a minimum will make for better reviews.

I loved how easy they made shipping. You can pay for the label from your account and print it right from your ebay page. So you don’t have to go to the post office at all. We would package everything and have it in a large bin for our mail lady to get every day. As we picked up more and more volume we found it so nice to have a label printer. Get a thermal label printer and you don’t have to buy ink, just paper. It is cheaper in the long run and so much easier to print the label and slap it on the box as opposed to printing on a regular printer and having to cut it to size and tape (not to mention wasting so much paper and ink).

Sometimes you will find that shipping priority mail will be cheapest… when that is the case make sure you use the priority boxes that are from from the post office. (We were able to order them online and our mail lady brought them right to our house, for FREE.)

Global Shipping is a wonderful program. If you opt in to this program you will open your item up for sales in many other countries. When the item sells you don’t have to worry with customs forms or international shipping… you will ship it to an addressing the US and the item will the folks working in the program will handle all that paperwork for you. You won’t pay more, and your customer base will be much larger.

Getting started can sound a like a lot to learn initially, but once you get a few sales under your belt you will love it.

After we sold everything in our house that we could live without we started going to yard sales, and thrift stores to buy more things on a discount and selling and making a decent income. Now you can find amazing deals on items on the Facebook groups near your home.

Things that sell well on ebay

Vintage toys, scrabble letters, and Legos were items I was ALWAYS looking for.

I also found that the more I liked something the better it seemed to sell… so if you don’t want it in your house don’t think you are going to get rich from it.

We eventually heard about Liquidation and were in heaven. We no longer how to leave the house to source our products. We purchased mostly clothing; bathing suits, hats, sunglasses, purses, wallets. We had also purchased a mannequin in order to best display our clothing! (Great investment if you are looking to sell clothing.)

We went to a store closing sale and made out like bandits on goggles, air filters and oil filters for a car… we didn’t set out to learn so much about these items, but they were on a deal and we searched the sold items and saw how much profit we could make.

Always keep in mind when you are sourcing that you will have to ship the item. I purchased a Kirby vacuum cleaner on a fantastic deal, but had to jump on it quickly or lose the deal. Now, I don’t mind that I got stuck with a great vacuum cleaner, but I had really hoped to flip it and make double my money… but the shipping was unreal as it was a lot of pieces and heavy.

Becoming a Top Rated Seller on Ebay seemed to take forever and was a lot of work. But once I achieved this rank and the ribbon next to our name we had far more sales and made more on our items.

To become a Top Rated Seller:

  • You must have had at least 100 sales in the last 12 months
  • You must have had 1,000 in sales in the last 12 months.
  • You must load the tracking into ebay (already done for you if you print off your label through them.) on a large number of your sales, and it must have shipped within the amount of time you promised on your listing. (We actually sold an item to someone we knew once and didn’t upload or ship the item… this put our TRS status at risk.)
  • And your customer feedback must be good.

When you become a Top Rated seller you will receive a discount on your seller fees as well as the much coveted ribbon that shows on all of your listings. Frequent buyers on ebay see this and know they are dealing with a competent seller that will treat them well.

Keep your customers happy. The feedback is a huge deal. Also, as a seller you get to leave feedback for your buyer. If they pay on time, leave them good feedback. There are many incentives to becoming a top-rated and top-rated plus seller. We did achieve Power Seller, but didn’t really notice a large difference in our business once we attained this level.

I would love to hear your experiences with selling on eBay!

Next week I will be talking about  selling on Amazon as a drop-shipper!

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Making Money From Home: Everything you Need to know to get started selling on eBay.  Listing, Shipping, and Sourcing tips to get you to Top-Rated Seller in no time.