Finance Friday: Need Money? Got Too Much Stuff? Sell on eBay.

English: Ebay and PayPal headquarters located ...
English: Ebay and PayPal headquarters located in San Jose, California, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For younger generations at least, eBay has been around for what seems like a lifetime, replacing the Sunday markets of old with an auction-style format – and adding ‘buy it now’ and ‘best offer’ features.  These days eBay is as omnipresent as Google, but not everyone is aware of how it can make clearing out a money spinner – you’d be surprise what other people would pay good money for! Here are a few tips to help you with your adventures to sell on eBay, and hopefully get the most out of unwanted junk.

What to Sell on eBay?

There is no doubt a huge mound of toys, clothes and furniture in your children’s rooms that you know for a fact they haven’t touched in years, but whether they agree is a different matter. Rather than sticking everything in an auction and shipping it off before they’ve got time to blink, it’s probably best to tell them what you’re doing, and sort out what they’d like to keep and what they’re okay with you selling. Maybe offer an incentive of a new or replacement toy paid for with the cash made, and explain that all of these things are sold to a new owner so somebody else can enjoy them.

Toys are always good to sell, particularly those in good condition, as are prams, pushchairs buggies and cots – anything new and expectant mothers can save money on. Clothes can also raise a fair amount of money, but again this is dependent on condition, and if they are particularly worn it probably isn’t worth the effort listing.

And how to sell it…

When listing on eBay, remember to realise that you are trying to make items attractive to actual people, not just sticking it on there and hoping. The description should be as detailed as possible – particularly with clothes; sleeve length, pit-to-pit, front length etc. should all be listed above and beyond the manufacturers sizing – and you should also try and put items in the correct category; think what you’d search for  to find this item.

Pictures should be as higher quality as possible – borrow a friend’s camera if necessary – and you may also want to edit the photo in Photoshop or a free program like Picasa to adjust lighting and brightness. The better the item looks, the more likely someone will buy it, particularly given that they might be wary not being able to see it ‘in person’.

eBay now has three different types of listing: Auction, which is the classic ebay format where you set an auction price, and if you like, a reserve price, before watching the bids come in. Buy it now, which basically means you set a price and wait for a buyer, and Buy it now or Best offer, which is the same as a standard Buy it Now except other users have the ability to make you an offer for the item. Whichever one you choose depends largely on the item and your personal preference; if you’re unsure what sort of price to expect then sell on eBay via an auction, however if you know what the average market value is then sell on eBay via Buy it Now.

After you’ve made the choices and listed your item, there is then a fee (taken from money made on the item, if any) however if you look for free listing weekends you can save and avoid having to lose money to the service. PayPal is the standard payment method throughout eBay and increases both buyer and seller safety, so it might be a good idea to sign up for an account (linking to your bank account takes a few days).
Lastly there’s the packaging. If you have a large amount of items to sell, it might be best to buy in bulk. Secure all packaging properly (remember what it will be going through in the post), buy appropriate cardboard boxes and postal bags for the items that will be inside them, and for larger items either set the listing as pick up only or arrange a courier. Also, remember that postage prices can end up spiralling, so do your homework and set the P&P at a reasonable level before selling.


Daniel N is a UK-based blogger who writes on a wide-range of topics including business and the web. He is currently working on behalf of packaging specialists Rajapack.

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