Whenever I need to make some extra cash quickly, I raid my wardrobe, cupboards and shelves for anything I own that I can sell on eBay. What I like about eBay is that it’s a relatively easy and quick method to gain some extra cash in your account within a week, and this has come in handy for me more times than I care to think about.
I’ve been selling on eBay for years now. I am not a business seller; I sell my own used clothes, shoes, bags and basically anything I haven’t used for a few months or won’t use. In other words, what I like to call ‘clutter’. It feels good to have a clear out every now and then and purge the house of things I don’t need and would rather have cash in the place of.
At times I have had rather a lot of things I would rather have cash in the place of…
The big pile of clothes above was the result of my wardrobe clearout a couple of years ago when I decided enough was enough; I only wore about half a dozen things from my wardrobe anyway so why did I need to hoard all this? After a bit more sorting out and decluttering, it got worse…
Once I had decided all this stuff was unnecessary, I had the mammoth task of selling it all on eBay. It took many, many hours of taking photographs, writing descriptions, answering questions, packing and posting. But I ended up with a decent amount of money and I have not missed any of the above items once. I also learnt many tips about selling on eBay to boost sales and ensure you cover yourself financially, as follows:
- Take decent photos: This is obvious but people won’t bid on something they can’t see clearly. If you can, make sure colours are true, take photos from all angles, and show close ups of any nice details or any defects. If selling clothes, I like to lay them flat on the floor and take photos of front and back as well as extra close ups. If selling shoes, make sure you take photos of the bottoms to show the condition. Make sure the background is a neutral pale colour if selling a darker item so it stands out. If selling a beige top, try not to take a photo of it on a beige background – pick something that will make it stand out. Also, take many photos. With clothing in particular, you can add up to 12 photos for free.
- Give it a good title: You sometimes see a listing described as ‘top, blue, 12’. It doesn’t tell you anything very specific about the top or make you want to click in and take a look. Buyers will be searching for specific words, like the brand name or the fabric (tip: people will buy anything with cashmere in it and will actively search using that word). If the item is new, use the well-known acronyms some people look for; BNIB (brand new in box), BNWT (brand new with tags), BNWOB (brand new without box).
- Write a good description: I don’t go over the top but will often really try to sell an item to a potential bidder through the description. Describing something as ‘stunning’, ‘perfect for a wedding or summer party’, ‘better in real life than the photo suggests’ etc does seem to help sales by helping people visualise their usage of the item and really interest them in it. Of course don’t tell fibs about it; make sure you are accurate. Include the brand, size, material, colour, pattern, fit, any special details like buttons or sequins, amount of wear and condition.
- Start the listing at a sensible time: I like to start most of my listings on a Sunday night. Research has shown that this is the most profitable time on eBay and most people are browsing the site then (guessing this has something to do with Sunday night blues where you decide to do a little online shopping to cheer yourself up over the fact Monday has come round so quickly – speaking from experience here). If you list something for 7 days, start it on Sunday night so it finishes at the same time next Sunday night. try to avoid having anything finish on a Friday or Saturday night when many people won’t be looking. Bear in mind the start time too – try not to clash with popular TV programmes. I usually start mine at about 9pm.
- Be seasonal: you’re unlikely to sell a Christmas jumper for a good price in July, so keep in mind when items are in demand. For instance sell flip flops and sarongs just before and during Summer, BBQs and garden furniture at the start of Spring, and jumpers and boots from October onwards.
- Be aware of the fees: eBay have sneakily increased their prices a great deal over the past few years. A recent (and most annoying) change has been to start charging a percentage of the postage cost to the seller (10% I believe). I don’t agree with this but I find eBay to have the most exposure of any other auction site so for now, while I am investigating other options out there, I tend to stick with it. I start all my items at 99p. I find this attracts the most buyers from the start, hoping to get a real bargain. I have been burnt a few times from this however when items have actually ended at 99p, with £3.50 paid for postage. From a total payment of £4.49 you end up with a dismal 54p to show for all your hard work after all the fees below are deducted, and that doesn’t include the cost of the packaging you sent it in.
Insertion fee: 35p
Final value fee: 10p
Final value fee on postage: 35p
Paypal fee: 35p
Cost to post the item: £2.80
- Understand you might not make a fortune: If you have decent items and brands that you are sure will sell for more than 99p it can be worth it, even if it’s only a couple of quid (I would rather have that than keep an item I don’t use). It can take some experimenting to see what works and what sells well so be prepared to be a little disappointed sometimes; it may turn out that you are better off taking many items to a car boot sale and selling each for £1. But eBay can be profitable if you have some nice things to sell and are prepared to spend a bit more time doing it. You also get often get a number of free listings per month so can skip the insertion fee if you only list a few items each time.
- Don’t spend a lot on envelopes: Buy all your postage and packing materials on eBay! There are many sellers that specialise in these items; buy plastic mailing bags in bulk on there and also bubble wrap and jiffy bags if you need them. I send clothes in plastic mailing bags without bubble wrap – it makes them slimmer and weigh less, so they cost less to post. Save all packaging you receive from anything you buy to post your own items in.
- Always get a proof of postage: Over the past few months a few items of mine have gone missing in the post, and I’ve needed to refund the buyer. Luckily I’ve kept postage receipts for all items and managed to get refunded by Royal Mail. Ensure you get a separate receipt for each item. The Post Office worker should put the postcode on each receipt.
- Drop and Go: Ask your Post Office about the possibility of setting up a Drop and Go account. You get a card which you can pre-load with funds. Instead of queuing for hours at the Post Office and holding up the queue while posting 20 items, you can leave your items with the cashier and they will do it when they get a free moment and take the funds from your card. Go back later and pick up your receipt. Easy!
- Pay eBay fees quickly: Before you withdraw all that lovely cash from Paypal, pay your eBay fees out of it. This way you don’t get a surprise bill from them a month later when you’ve possibly already spent the money elsewhere!
- Postage fees: postage costs increase all the time it seems. A trip to the Post office with 10 items can easily cost £28 or more. Ensure you pay this out of the money you get from Paypal before you spend it.
I have plenty more eBay tips where those came from so will be posting about this again. In the meantime, have you any excellent tips to share?