how to start selling on ebay

Selling on eBay – how to sell your stuff as a complete beginner

Have you ever thought about selling on eBay to make a bit of extra cash? If you ask anyone I know, they’ll tell you I’m a big fan of eBay.

Why do I love it so much?

You can sell pretty much anything on there, that’s why and it’s so easy!

Do you want to start making money by selling on eBay as well? But you’re not sure where to start? Hopefully, this guide will help you out!

I started selling on eBay by flipping a Primark handbag.

The bag was on sale for £1 in one of their bargain bins back in college (yes, Primark has sales and bargain bins!)

It turns out it was a bit of an impulse purchase and not my style one bit.

I didn’t just want to throw it away, so I decided to stick it on eBay and see what happened.

So put it on auction and got £12 for it in the end and from that point on, I was hooked! Since then I’ve been flipping anything I can find on eBay.

Things to do before you start selling on eBay

1. Have a massive declutter

To start selling on eBay, you’re going to need some stuff to sell. If you’re looking for things to flog on eBay, your home is a fab place to start.

You can sell anything from clothes to electronics and even unwanted toiletries! declutter before selling on eBay If you have a few things you’d like to sell on, I think a decluttering session can be really useful.

Every now and then, I like to have a good decluttering session to sort my life out. I get everything out, throw it all on the bed and then go from there.

Then I put things into four boxes when I do this:

  • Keep
  • eBay
  • Car boot / donate
  • Throw away

It’s a great little system that will stop you feeling overwhelmed if you have a lot to go through. eBay declutter Now I’m not saying go and sell everything you own.

Just look at things you’ve not worn in let’s say a year or unwanted pressies that are gathering dust in your loft.

Think about all the times you’ve said to yourself:

‘I’ll keep hold of this dress in case I lose a few pounds and can fit back into it’

‘My parents got me this camera for my birthday 10 years ago, I can’t possibly sell it!’

‘I’ll keep this box of stuff in the cupboard because I’ll probably need it in case (insert denial here)’

Sound familiar?

You have to be pretty strict on yourself when you’re decluttering!

Just think about all the lovely cash you’ll make and all the room you’ll have for items you actually love in your home.

2. Set up your eBay & PayPal account

Before you get started selling on eBay, you’ll need an eBay and a PayPal account.

Both are free to join and most buyers and sellers only accept PayPal payments.

So this is basically like your eBay currency and bank account, all rolled into one.

how to sign up to ebay

How to set up an eBay account:

Firstly, set up your eBay account and choose a username. This can be something quirky or simply your username with a few numbers.

Now it’s time to set up your PayPal account. 

You’ll also need to link up your PayPal account to your eBay account which literally takes less than a minute:

  1. Go to ‘My eBay’ at the top of most eBay pages when you’re logged in
  2. Click the Account tab
  3. Follow the ‘PayPal Account’ link on the left side of the page
  4. Click the Link My PayPal Account button
  5. You’ll be asked to log into PayPal to finish linking your accounts

Now you’re all set to start the fun part!

3. Research similar items on eBay

Before you go to all the effort of listing your item, it’s good to check the demand is there.

After all, a quick sale means less clutter in closet and more cash in your pocket! To have a sneak peek at what similar items have sold for:

  1. log in to your account
  2. search for your item in the top search bar
  3. click the ‘sold’ and ‘completed’ section

how to check sold and completed item listings ebayThis is a good way to get an idea of how to price your items and see what people are willing to pay.

You can also look at best-selling items on eBay on the homepage when you scroll down to trending items.

4. Take quality photos on your phone

I cannot stress how important photos are when selling on eBay.

They are the first thing that will entice your buyer so make sure your pics catch their eye.

You don’t need a big fancy camera for this, you can take nice photos of your items on your phone.

I have an iPhone 7 and the camera on that is good enough for me

. I’ve used my iPhone 4 and 5 previously and even they’ve been fine for selling on eBay. eBay hobbs dress pics Here are some of the ways you can take your best pics.

Find the natural light in your home

Finding natural light is the best advice I can give, plus it doesn’t cost a thing!

For me, the natural light comes through my kitchen window so I set up to takes pics there.

It stops your pics looking yellow and really helps your products look better to buyers.

Use a plain backdrop

Using a plain, light background will help catch the light and won’t distract your buyers from looking at the lovely details on that fancy skirt or lovely tea set you’re flogging.

Again, you don’t need to rush out and buy a fancy backdrop. I use my white wall in my kitchen as a background for my pics for selling on eBay.

Take advantage of the 12 free photos

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words so imagine what story you can tell with 12 free photos??

Try and use all 12 photos or at least try to cover the details.

Say for example you’re selling a dress, take the following pics:

  • Front
  • Back
  • Sides
  • Labels
  • Any zips
  • Quirky details like collar or embroidery
  • Close up of any imperfections like marks
  • Any pockets
  • Buttons

It sounds like a lot of effort, but it’s worth it to sell your items quicker!

Showcase any special features

If there’s any unique element to your product, make sure you photograph it.

If you’re selling a Moroccan print rug, have a close up of the print.

Selling a Beanie Baby that has a tag error? People are going to want proof. You get the idea 🙂

Include pics of any flaws

Just like showcasing your item’s features, you’ll also want to be completely transparent about any flaws.

If your item has a mark or a hole, you can still sell it most times.

Your item just might not go for as much. It’s better to be completely honest, though.

Style your items

This is completely optional but sometimes if I have a nice skirt, I’ll pop a shirt on with it or add a bag with a jacket.

I find this really helps buyers see themselves in the clothes I’m selling on eBay.

Always remember to put in your description the items that are and aren’t included to cover yourself. E.g. bag not included.

Just in case they think they’re getting the whole outfit!

5. Work out your fees before you list your items

You get 20 free listings on eBay every month.

After that, you’ll be charged an insertion fee for selling on eBay (35p) and 10% of the final value of the item when it sells.

There also PayPal fees, which are 3.4% of the entire transaction plus 20p. ebay fees Different fees apply to different categories, such as eBay Motors, so be sure to check the fees for every eBay category.

It’s so important to get these right so that it doesn’t cut into your profit.

I got so giddy when I started selling that I completely forgot to factor in fees. Oops!

Your fees are definitely something to think about if you’re looking to sell your item at auction, starting at 99p.

This can work really well if your item is a popular brand, but it can also mean your auction could end at 99p as well.

Think about it like this:

You sell a pair of shoes at auction but they only go for the 99p starting bid. Not a great start! Here are your fees from that sale:

  • Insertion fee: 35p
  • Final value fee: 10p
  • Paypal fee: 23p

TOTAL = 68p So out of 99p, you’ve made a shocking 31p. Not much to show for all your hard work, eh?

If you’re struggling with calculating your fees, I use this handy eBay fees calculator to make sure I get it right.

Expect an invoice from eBay every month with a total of your fees and just make sure you keep some of your funds aside to pay this.

5. Measure & weigh your items

A lot of couriers will ask you about the weight and size of your parcel so they can charge you the right amount.

It’s best to have all this information ready before you list your item. I also use this handy Royal Mail size guide my sister got me for Christmas (bless her!) Royal mail sizing guide This helps me determine whether I can send my items as a large letter or a small package. You can use a number of couriers, but here are the prices of the most popular ones:

Using standard scales like these should suffice to weigh your general household items like clothes and electric stuff.

6. Stock up on postage & packaging supplies

It’s good to stock up on some basic supplies before you head to the post office. What they charge for jiffy bags and parcel paper is absolutely ridiculous! ebay supplies

  • Polybags – I like to use these cute polka dot ones but if they’re too much for you, you can also get these grey ones
  • Jiffy bags – I have a pack of these eBay branded padded jiffy bags for things that will fit through as a large letter
  • Boxes – you can pick these up for free or ask friends and family, but if not then there are lots of boxes available on Amazon depending on what you’re selling
  • Tape – I buy tape in bulk so I’ve always got it, but you can pick it up from Poundland
  • Parcel Paper – for bigger items, I wrap them up in this parcel paper from Amazon. It’s really strong and thick so won’t tear
  • Bubble wrap – again try and get this for free, but if not pick up this one from Amazon to make sure you never run out

Listing your items

Once your items are all good to go, it’s time to start listing! list an item on ebay Log in and at the top of your toolbar, hit ‘sell’ to get started.

Choose a category for your item

Enter some keywords and click search to look at the categories and select the one most relevant to your item.

You can only pick one for free so make sure you select the right one, which is often the one that eBay recommends.

Write descriptive titles with relevant keywords

Buyers will search for brand, name, size, condition and even the style of clothing.

If you want them to find your item, always think about what you would search for if you were looking for it yourself.

Words like ‘authentic’ ‘vintage’ and ‘genuine’ will glam up your title and people are more likely to look at a listing with an attractive title.

It’s also good to learn the lingo, like a few eBay acronyms and buzz terms.

ebay descriptive title

Here are the most popular eBay acronyms I like to use:

  • BNIB (brand new in box)
  • BNWT (brand new with tags)
  • BNWOB (brand new without box)
  • BIN (Buy it now)
  • NWT (New with tags)
  • VTG (Vintage)

Put it this way, what looks better to you? ‘Ladies Marks & Spencer Twiggy Vintage 60s Dress Size 10 BNWT’ OR ‘ladies dress’ I think I know which one I’d bet on for selling first!

Plus, you get an 80 eBay title character limit so it’s best to fill this up with as much detail as possible.

Ditch words like ‘pretty’ or ‘lovely’ – they take up your character limit and won’t necessarily drive viewers to your items.

List your items in season

You’ll get more for a pair of sunglasses if you list them in Spring / Summer than you would in November.

Likewise, any Winter coats or jumpers will sell well around October – Feb rather than June.

Write a good, honest description

Like I said before, it’s best to be honest and include as much detail on your item as possible.

Include a description of your item and make sure you include things like the size and any other relevant features. how to write ebay descriptions To measure your items, pick up a fabric measuring tape like this and lay your items out flat on the floor to measure dimensions:

  • Bust
  • Waist
  • Hip
  • Length

Check out this helpful guide from Andrea and Nic over at Adventures in Reselling to help you measure clothes if you’re a bit stuck or unsure

. I always put myself in the shoes of my customer and think how gutted I’d be if I bought something that wasn’t in the condition they listed it as.

Unlike your title, I find it’s good to add more personality here.

After all, people buy from people and this will really help them visualise themselves using your item.

Select the condition

The condition is another mandatory field to help buyers find your stuff. condition of item ebay Choose from either:

  1. New – brand new item with tags
  2. If it’s new with defects – brand new with defects (maybe not with the original box or a mark somewhere)
  3. is it new without tags? – a brand new item not with original tags
  4. Used – previously worn or used item

Again, honesty is key! The buyer will be able to tell as soon as they receive their item in the post whether it’s new or used.

Don’t discard really used items

You’d be surprised what people buy! If your item looks like it belongs in a bin to you, someone might love it. One man’s junk and all that…

Upload your pics

Remember those stunning pics you took? It’s time to upload! zara white top ebay Remember to upload all 12 for better sales 🙂

Name your price

It all depends on the format you choose to list your item as. Auction prices should be the minimum you want for your item, whereas buy it now should be the maximum you’re willing to take.

Choose auction vs buy it now

There are two main options for selling on eBay, auction and buy it now. It all depends on what you’re selling and how quickly you want to get rid of your stuff. Zara blouse ebay

Auction

As a rule, you should really only opt for auctions if you know your item will attract a lot of attention.

If it’s a good brand I know will attract attention like Hobbs, I pop my clothes on auctions.

With bids, people tend to panic in the last few seconds and bid more.

This way, your item price could skyrocket if bidders end up in a bidding war, such a satisfying feeling!

You could get a really duff price for your item, but that’s the risk you take with auction items.

I personally would never start an auction at 99p, like eBay often recommends. This is very risky!

ebay bids

Buy it now

With electronic or general household items, I’ll choose ‘Buy it now’ with the ‘accepts offers’ option.

With buy it now you can also choose the option to make them pay as soon as they offer a price. (you can’t do this on auction and people might never pay you!)

This is great because it means you can ship it out quicker and make some quick cash AND room in your home.

If you’re thinking you’ll get some silly offers for way lower than it’s price, don’t worry.

You can choose to auto-decline any offers under a certain amount. If you can’t decide, you can do both! I think it costs a couple of pence more but it’s worth it.

Set a reserve on really valuable items

To avoid disappointment in price, you can set reserve prices on valuables like cars and watches.

I’ve never done this personally but check out this useful guide on how to set a reserve price on eBay to find out more.

Select a start time & how long you want to list your item

You can choose between 1, 3, 5, 7 or 10 days when selling on eBay via auction.

If you’re selling your item using a fixed-price format, you can also choose a 30-day or Good ‘Til Cancelled listing. List your auction items for at least 7 days so it gets more exposure. I usually put my buy it now on for 30 days. the best ebay duration I used to do ‘good till cancelled’ but having it on 30 days means I can re-evaluate if my item’s not sold by then.

It’s also good to check the ‘auto relist if my item doesn’t sell’ to save time going back in and doing it manually.

If you’re going for the auction option, I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s a well-known fact that eBay auctions ending on a Sunday evening are the most profitable and popular time to schedule your listings to end.

Listing on a Thursday for 10 days at around 8-9pm means you will get ultimate exposure over two weekends and loads of weeknights.

This is when most people browse and not distracted by the soaps or having their dinner, winning! If you’re going for the ‘buy it now’ option, it can also help to try and schedule these to end on a Sunday, too.

Use the ‘sell one yourself’ function to save time

If you’re unsure about the specifics of your item, it can be a right pain trying to research these and it can also waste your valuable time. sell it yourself ebay Instead, why not search for it on eBay and check under the photo for the section where it says ‘sell one yourself’ and all you have to do is add your own pics and fill in the description. It auto-fills all the specifics for you! That’s a pretty great feature, right?

Selling on eBay – bundle similar items together

Speaking of saving time, if you’ve got lots of similar items, sometimes it’s worth selling them together in the same lot. Selling in bundles has worked really well for me in the past with items like:

  • magazines
  • free samples
  • clothes that are the same size
  • toys

Stuff like this 🙂 mens sample bundle for ebay Make sure you take a photo of the items together, then singular photos so that buyers can see everything that is included in the listing.

I’d also list each item in the description, although sometimes it’s just not worth it, especially if you want a quick sale and you’ve taken lots of photos.

Also, use key terms like ‘bundle’ ‘job lot’ and so on in your title to attract buyers.

Ship globally with eBay’s global shipping programme

It’s a great scheme by eBay where your item can be seen by more people worldwide without any risk on your part.

Ship it to a UK eBay shipping point and they’ll post it on from there. Fab! selling on ebay global shipping Find out more about eBay’s global shipping programme.

Pick your postage & dispatch time

There are a number of options for sending parcels on eBay. ebay postage options Going off the weight and size of your parcel, pick an option and make sure you select a dispatch time that you can actually stick to. weight of item Then hit list and wait for the money to roll in! listing an item on ebay

Posting your sold eBay items

You’ve made your first sale, how exciting! Now it’s time to ship off the item to its new owner.

what to do when your ebay item sells

If you’ve never posted a package before, it can be a bit of a minefield! Hopefully, this next section will help you suss it out.

ebay packages ready to go

Ship your items ASAP

DO NOT ship your item until the buyer has paid when you’re selling on eBay. Once you receive payment, don’t hang around to send it.  dispatch time ebay Package it up and head to your nearest courier to ensure they receive it within the time you promised to dispatch it.

Which courier should I use for eBay items?

Sometimes I post my items via Royal Mail and I think it’s still one of the most popular choices for shipping eBay items.

That being said, eBay has recently launched their new eBay Shutl’ programme, where you can buy small package post labels from as little as £2.85.

This is great because you can choose from couriers like Collect + and Hermes, and you can also opt for a pickup or drop off service. ebay parcels If you work full time like I used to, you can get them to pick up the item from your workplace, or you can drop yours off after work at handy drop off points like the Co-op or McColls.

As the post office shuts at 5.30pm and always seems packed at lunch at my local one, it’s not as flexible as eBay Shutl options when you’re selling on eBay.

Print your eBay labels in advance

eBay lets you purchase and print your labels in advance. Again, this is why it’s great to know your exact weight in advance to help you get the right cost before you send your items when selling on eBay. more ebay parcels Buying your labels in advance has sooo many advantages, including:

  • Less time queuing at the post office (you can just hand in your items and get them to print a receipt straight away)
  • Cheaper pricing on eBay – this won’t save you a fortune but every penny counts (saving you about 10p)
  • Less room for error – if you’re printing straight from eBay and not writing out the information yourself, there’s less chance of messing up an address or the assistant misreading and typing it wrong
  • It automatically marks the item as shipped and adds a tracking code – if you choose a signed delivery option, then once it’s scanned it will add tracking without you having to manually enter it after you’ve dropped the item off

So many benefits!

Ask for proof of postage & store it in a safe place

Keeping your receipts mean that if there are any problems or your item gets lost, then you can take your receipt to the courier and ask them for a refund.

Some naughty people will try and claim they haven’t received their items you’ve sold to them. If you have your proof of postage you can follow it up with eBay customer service.

store your receipts in a safe place

Final thoughts on selling on eBay…

Try to be polite and answer any questions you get from buyers when selling on eBay. Regardless of how silly or rude they come across.

Download the eBay app to respond to offers and messages ASAP.

Also be patient – your items will sell on eBay eventually and make you some nice cash 🙂

You can’t please everyone – some people will just never be happy with their purchase!

Again, just be polite and accept any returns, even if you don’t normally. It will save you hassle in the long run.

Over to you…

Let me know what you’re going to sell first in the comments! (This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you purchase the products I have recommended)

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2 Comments

  • Andrea

    Great article, and thanks for the link to our blog 🙂

    May 11, 2018 at 1:49 pm Reply
    • Collette

      Thanks! Aww no problem, you guys give fab advice and I love your vids too 🙂 x

      May 11, 2018 at 1:58 pm Reply

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