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Sunday, December 26, 2010

How to Sell on eBay

How to Sell on eBay

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Selling on eBay is exactly like selling in any other marketplace, other than the barriers to entry are virtually non-existent. As Ken Rockwell says,
If you can make money selling items at the local flea market or swap meet, if you can make money running a retail or online store, if you can make money doing sales at any level, you have what it takes to succeed on eBay. If you lack these critical business and people skills, eBay isn't going to make it any easier.[1]
Ignore anyone purporting to you that there is one "secret" that you have to know in order to make a fortune on eBay; most of selling on eBay is based on common sense, and the rest is knowing the right place to get your products from. Here, is a little to help you start on your way to becoming an eBay seller, whether you're a small home business, a big business, or just trying to sell some stuff you may have sitting around.


  1. 1
    Sign in, if you haven't already. To create an eBay account, go to eBay's Main Page, then click on register at the very top of the page.

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  2. 2
    Build your account. It's a very good idea to buy a few things and pay immediately so that you will get some feedback ratings. (Don't buy things to resell, just buy things you'd buy anyway.) This will give you experience with the site and start to build up your "site cred"; potential buyers may see a seller who has no feedback as a potential fly-by-night.
  3. 3
    Research your market. Search eBay for items like those you want to sell. Read the listings. Take note of what sort of information or photos you find most helpful to you as a potential buyer. The same type of information will be helpful to your potential buyers. What makes you think a seller is trustworthy?
  4. 4
    Assemble the information you will need to place the listing. Usually, this includes measuring the item, weighing the item so you can estimate shipping costs, and having your photos ready.
  5. 5
    Take photographs of your item. Good photographs which clearly illustrate the item to be sold can make a listing; bad photographs are little better than no photographs at all. Get a cheap digital camera or a camera-phone if you don't have one already; no photograph at all will (especially for a new seller) lead some people to think that you don't own the item at all, or have something to hide.
    • How not to do it. Are you selling a tachometer, or a screwdriver, or a plate with crumbs on it, or...
       How not to do it. Are you selling a tachometer, or a screwdriver, or a plate with crumbs on it, or...
      Make your photographs useful. In preparation for taking the photo, place the item in area where there won't be a distracting background and get rid of any nearby clutter. A simple sheet of white paper may be used to provide a nice, neutral background for smaller items. Where possible, turn off your flash and use natural light; go outside, or take a photo by a window.
    • Much better: a plain white sheet of paper, no clutter and some natural light are a great improvement.
       Much better: a plain white sheet of paper, no clutter and some natural light are a great improvement.
      Get as many photographs as your buyers will need, and then some. Take photographs of your item from every angle that you think someone will find useful. Get photographs of any unusual feature, any defects, and so on. The extra confidence that this will give buyers is almost always (except on the lowest-valued items) worthwhile. Of course, some items only need one photo; use your judgment here.
    • Don't copy photographs from other listings or anywhere else on the Internet, ever. Apart from being dishonest and fraudulent, this will almost always be copyright infringement; nearly everything on the Internet, and elsewhere, is copyrighted, whether it has a copyright notice or not. Don't become a criminal through being too lazy to take a couple of photographs.
  6. 6
    Log in and go to Sell either in My eBay or on the Main Page at the top.
  7. 7
    Enter a title for your listing. The title is the front line in getting your auction noticed. A good title will not only give potential buyers enough information to know whether the listing is worth their time to look at, it will also attract people searching for your items.
    • Include all relevant words. Experienced buyers know to look for bargains from inexperienced sellers by browsing listings and looking for those with insufficient information in the title; for example, the title "Land Rover" instead of "Land Rover Series 2 SWB 88" 2.25 Petrol". Insufficient information in a title will attract a far smaller number of potential buyers and/or bidders; consequently such an item will either not sell, or go for a much lower price than it would otherwise.
    • As a corollary to the above, keep the words relevant. Exclude fluff such as "cool" "excellent", and the like. You have very little space, so use it for what people are searching for (you can be rather sure that nobody is going to be searching eBay for items titled "L@@K"). Use a subtitle for any information that you think people will neither be searching for nor want to see immediately (this costs more; depending on the value of your item it may not be worth it).
    • Include alternative spellings and phrasings if you have space. For example, if you're selling an iPod, put "MP3 player" in your title. However, eBay's search will automatically account for variant phrasings; it will also sometimes check category names in addition to the auction title. Do a search on specific terms and look at the titles of the auctions that come up.
    • Spell it correctly! This sounds basic, but many people find bargains (and many online tools make money on commissions) by routinely checking for mis-spelled auction titles. If your spelling sucks, use a dictionary.
  8. 8
    Enter a description, after choosing a category.
    • Include any and all relevant information. This includes things like the manufacturer, compatibility (for items intended to be used with something else), size, weight, colour, condition, and so on. Err on the side of adding too much information rather than too little. A buyer can skim through information they do not need to know, but will likely hit the "back" button if they don't see the information they want; for this reason, it's best to put the most important information at or very near the beginning of the listing. Try not to make your listings into big bags of random figures; use the "feature-benefit" method beloved of marketing drones. "The camera comes with a big long lens which I don't know anything about" is bad."The high-quality 80-200 zoom lens (feature) lets you take sports and wildlife shots like the pros (benefit)" is much better.
    • Keep the design simple, if you see the need to design a listing at all. Some sellers clutter their listings with unrelated elements that that it makes the listing itself more difficult to read; others (particularly eBay's standard listing designs, which cost money) look ugly and lead to two very different, clashing designs on the same page.
    • Be honest. Be clear about any defects in the item. Buyers will find this out anyway, so let them decide for themselves what is a significant problem and what is not. Remember, buyers cannot physically touch and examine your item. They are relying on the detail and accuracy of your listing to make the purchase. Not describing any significant faults (and your assessment of what is "significant" may not match with the buyers, or with what courts will decide) is fraud, and will likely lead to the buyer leaving bad feedback. You are just as liable for dishonesty as you would be with any other kind of sale. In short, "underpromise and oversell".[2]
    • Keep a friendly tone. Many sellers seem to go to extra efforts to intimidate potential customers; they seem to think it's essential to leave several pages of threats (invariably in huge, coloured fonts) to report non-paying bidders, and so on. Don't do this! You wouldn't want to buy from a bricks-and-mortar store wherein the owner watched your every move and reminded you that you would have to pay for every item you looked at if you left the store with it. Nor would you want to shop at a store wherein the sales clerk complained about other customers. The Internet is no different; it is insulting to your potential buyers to treat them as potential thieves. If you must include additional information on your policies, ensure the length is shorter than your item description.
    • Check your spelling. This won't make up for a bad listing in other respects, but it still goes some way. Turn off your CRUISE CONTROL too; proper capitalisation and punctuationmakes listings much easier to read.
  9. 9
    Pick a selling format. You have two options; which you will pick depends on your personal preferences
    • The online auction. Despite this being somewhat de-emphasised by eBay recently,[3] this is still enormously popular. Auctions are probably best for less common items, and when you're uncertain as to what price you should sell at.
    • Buy It Now items are fixed-price items. You might want to consider this for more common items; for example, new items which people need immediately are unlikely to attract many bids in an auction.
  10. 10
    Set your price. If you are selling at auction, set this to the lowest price that you could ever imagine selling your item for. If you're brave, set it lower than this; lower starting bids attract more bidders and interest in your item, and may well result in your item selling for more. Avoid setting a reserve price. This is somewhat akin to a form of shill bidding, with bidders bidding against the seller himself. A reserve auction irritates some potential buyers because they have no idea what the seller wants, and may not bother bidding at all. If you're selling a fixed-price item, then use your judgment. You have little option but to undercut other sellers on eBay.

    Whatever you do, remember that there is no such thing as an item's "real value". Bear this in mind if you are thinking about setting a reserve price in an auction. If items really do have some Platonic dollar-value, it's irrelevant to the real world if nobody is willing to pay that for it. (And for many kinds of items, eBay is "the market", not just an entertaining side-show thereof.)
  11. 11
    Continue to go through the options, and be sure to look everything over very carefully. There's a lot to look through and you'll want to make sure everything is correct. Make sure the item is sold at a reasonable price.
  12. 12
    Double check everything before saving. Be sure that when you're done with everything at the end (you're at the overview page) to double check and press submit. If you don't press submit it won't be entered. You'll then get an e-mail confirming that your product was placed on eBay.
  13. 13
    Answer questions from your buyers as the auction runs its course. Be prompt about it, and always be patient, clear, professional and friendly. Refuse offers to buy your item outside of eBay. This is against eBay policy, and gives you little or no comeback if the buyer refuses to pay.
  14. 14
    Watch the auction. Once the item has been shipped, and they have left feedback for you, you should leave feedback for that person.

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  • Take advantage of free sales training. There are dozens of books on how to sell on eBay. You'll find at least one at your local public library.

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  • Sell inexpensive items to build up your feedback first.
  • You will have to ship the product out on your own, so you're going to have to add shipping into the price; there's a section where you set the shipping.
  • You can always go back and edit it if you don't like something. Just go into "My eBay" and go from there.
  • Try and have it so your auction ends on a Sunday. Avoid ending auctions on Friday or Saturday when people are not home to bid.
  • Help keep the feedback system honest by only placing honest feedback and avoiding the "trading" of positive feedback. A seller should leave positive feedback if the buyer pays promptly. A buyer should leave positive feedback if the item arrives in a reasonable time and is as advertised. A seller who waits for a buyer to leave positive feedback is really trading feedback. Such a practice skews feedback ratings.
  • People will look at things that have cheap or free shipping, so include the shipping price in the total price (or min bid) and people will be more inclined to buy. If you offer it, make sure they know that you're offering it.
  • Packaging is also important. If items are fragile, improper packaging can result in broken items and unhappy customers! Also keep in mind the price you pay for shipping: the box, padding, etc., to decide on a reasonable price or add it to shipping and handling fees.
  • Payment will be vital. PayPal is an extremely popular payment service on eBay, and as a seller, you will want to understand how it works and quite possibly sign up. Offering this service also may help attract buyers, because payment is instant and simple. Checks and money orders are also popular, but by nature take time. Also, be aware that payments from buyers by check does not necessarily mean they have sufficient funds! So consider what your comfort level is with these different payment types when you list your item.
  • Look for the most popular auctions so you can be sure that the item you want to sell is in demand.


  • Do not sell illegal items. Doing so can bring heavy consequences upon you.
  • A sale on eBay is as final as a contract anywhere else. If you commit to selling something at auction on eBay, then you can't change your mind because it didn't reach a price high enough.
  • Negative feedback makes buyers mistrust you and makes sellers think twice about selling to you. Follow up any negative feedback with accurate facts. Do not call names.
  • Be careful when sending feedback. You can be sued for making dishonest statements on the feedback page, so keep in mind that you are responsible for your remarks. Keep it honest and professional, and above all, don't make childish and angry remarks.
  • Don't overcharge for shipping and handling. A reasonable amount for your materials and effort is okay, but buyers don't want to pay $15.00 for shipping and handling and then see on the postage label that it only cost you $3.85 for shipping.
  • NEVER put the starting price lower than what you can afford to lose by selling it! You need to consider the fees eBay, Paypal (if you offer a PayPal payment) and shipping. It is entirely possible tolose money on an item if you put a starting price that is too low for you to at least break even if only one person bids on it.
  • Be careful of selling overseas. Most items are perfectly fine, and can increase your bidding pool. However, what may be perfectly legal in the US may be illegal in New Zealand, Turkey, or Japan (or vice versa).

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Last edited:
December 9, 2010 by Crashboombang!
Recent edits by: EllabellBoldStepFixerJordan (see all)

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Sell on eBay. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Sell on eBay - wikiHow

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