selling on eBay

Can I Make a Living Selling on eBay?

October 10, 2019

Want to know how to make money selling on eBay?

Maybe you’ve already set up a store, or maybe you’re on the brink of listing your first item. Either way, you’ll find learn some tips to selling on eBay right here!

Here’re some questions most sellers ask themselves (and if you’re an established seller, perhaps you even revisit them from time to time): Does it require a large inventory, a big down payment, creating original goods, or a business management background? We have good news for you: the answer to all these questions is a resounding NO!

If you want to start making (more) money at home quickly, with little to no investment, selling on eBay more effectively is a viable option. Existing sellers will already be aware that there are many advantages to selling with eBay:

  • It’s fast. You can create an auction today, and get paid for your item within a week.
  • It doesn’t cost a lot. You can start for free if you sell items you already own. Your expenses come after you’ve made a sale and been paid.
  • There is a ready stream of buyers. There are over 171 million active users on eBay, according to Statista. Plus, now that eBay has a mobile app, it’s easier than ever to buy and sell on eBay. The site is so successful at helping sellers reach buyers, 40% of home businesses that sell online don’t have a website and instead, use only eBay and/or Amazon.

But even with these advantages, it takes more than posting a few auctions to actually make a steady income. Like any business, you need to research, plan and then implement and evaluate your plan. That’s where we come in. In this article, we will give you the necessary eBay tools so that you know how to make money on eBay more effectively.

Part 1: Is selling on eBay worth it?

In order to be a successful seller, you should first ask yourself why you decided to get into it in the first place. There are many reasons people turn to eBay as a source of income. Some dabble in selling just to get rid of clutter or to make a extra cash, others may actively pursue eBay as a primary source of income.

Circumstances and motivations differ greatly from individual to individual. If you’ve lost your job or been hit with unforeseen expenses, your motivation and strategy will be much different than that of an upcoming entrepreneur.

Overall, there are 2 main motivations and circumstances for selling on eBay:

  • You may be interested in only pursuing eBay as a hobby and are content to make a few bucks here and there or as a means to supplement your income part-time while remaining in a full-time career that you love.
  • Or maybe your entrepreneurial spirit is calling you to break free of the 9-5 scene of working for someone else. Perhaps you are fortunate enough to be able to sell on eBay full-time but not sure what step to take next.

The Two Perspectives to Selling on eBay

There is the entrepreneur who is motivated by making money in a clinical sense, who is content drop-shipping or selling products purchased wholesale. While this is rewarding, there is another type of entrepreneur who loves the thrill of hunting for treasures to resell.

Both perspectives are valid methods for a profitable and fulfilling enterprise. Whichever attitude you happen to have, the same basic principles for success apply.

Remember, an eBay store requires the same serious mindset as it does to open a brick-and-mortar store. After all, you actually own your own business!

Therefore, success depends on your commitment to age-old selling basics:

  • Sound business practices
  • Dedication to great customer service
  • Self-discipline
  • Consistency
  • Keeping your passion fresh

“Budget Electronics” – An eBay Success Story

Part Two: Always Be Familiar With eBay

If you’re already an established eBay seller, you can skip next part and go straight to Part Four. But if you’re an eBay newbie, then read on.

If you’ve never bought or sold something on eBay before, now is the time to do it. Taking a test drive on eBay will not only help get familiar with the system but also, determine if it’s something you want to turn into a home business. So, here are some quick steps to get you started if you’re a newbie:

1. Sign up for a free account

If you know you want to build a business, use the eBay business account sign-up option. If you’re not sure if you want to commit to a business and want to test drive eBay instead, use the regular eBay registration. You should also sign up for a PayPal account, which will make it easy for buyers to pay you as soon as the item sales. It’s faster and safer than taking cheques. And since eBay owns PayPal, they’re integrated, so you can send a PayPal invoice through eBay to your buyer. Easy-peasy.

2. Buy something

The best way to get a feel for eBay selling is to make a transaction as a buyer first. Pay attention to the listings that attract you, such as the photo, headline, and price. Many are run as auctions, where you need to bid by indicating a price you’re willing to pay. You can set a max price, and eBay will submit your bids by increments for you until you hit the max price. Some sales are fixed prices, where buyers can “Buy Now.” These don’t require bidding and the item can be bought right away as opposed to waiting until the auction ends.

3. Sell a few things

Before you go all in on an eBay store, test out eBay by selling a few items. This will give you a sense of how the platform works, time to assess your offers, and begin to develop a system of listing, packaging, and shipping.

  • Start by finding things around your home that you don’t want and listing them.
  • Take quality photos and write detailed descriptions.
  • Set an opening bid price to entice bidders.
  • Decide if you’ll offer a guarantee and the ability for the buyer to return the item if he’s not happy (highly recommended).
  • Outline your shipping policy, such as how it will be shipped, who pays and how much it will cost. eBay offers a shipping calculator to help with this.
  • Check out other listings of a similar product to see how other sellers set up their listings.

4. Send an invoice to a winning buyer through the eBay interface

Some buyers will pay even before you invoice. If not, you can send a PayPal invoice from within your eBay account. Once payment is made, pack up the item and ship it ASAP.

5. Give and ask for feedback

Feedback is crucial to eBay success! If your buyer pays quickly, leave positive feedback through our eBay Feedback Reminder – speaking of which, we recently launched a new upgrade. Don’t forget to ask your buyer to give you feedback once they receive the item. Make sure that your item was delivered as described and arrives quickly to ensure good feedback from your buyer. After you’ve made a few sales, you should be able to decide if you’d like to build a full-fledged eBay business. If so, here’s how you can take your eBay sales to the next level.

Garnwelt (German Yarn Company) – An eBay Success Story

Part Three: Start Growing an eBay Business

If your test drive goes well and you decide to build a home business from eBay, you need to find a source of items to sell and officially set up your business. Here’s how:

1. Set up your business

If you plan to make regular, steady income from eBay, you need to set up an official home business if applicable in your region, including getting a business name, obtaining a license required by your city or county, and developing a business plan.

2. Run your business

Along with a steady stream of quality products, you need to provide great customer service, pack items well and ship them quickly, manage your inventory, and keep track of your business finances. Luckily, both of these points are now aided by eBay’s latest Summer Seller Update.

3. Open an eBay store

If you’re doing well, you may want to take advantage of eBay’s store option. Having a store provides many advantages over regular eBay selling including a custom online store, increased free listings, lower final value eBay fees, marketing tools and more.

4. Pick a niche

Eventually, you’ll run out of items around your home, so you’ll need to find a new source of inventory. There are a couple of ways you can do this. Based on what sold well in your home, you can find more sources of those items. Places to look are yard sales and thrift stores. Sometimes people sell items you can buy in bulk, break up and sell by piece. Another option is to find products through a dropshipper or wholesaler. These companies sell products at discounted prices that you can then sell to make a profit.

Drop shipping companies will handle the order and shipping, adding your business label for a fee. A wholesaler sells items to you in bulk that you will then sell and ship.

Many eBayers focus on specific products or types of products. Others follow trends, selling what’s popular, which requires a degree of research, which brings us to our next point.

His Jewels Creations – An eBay Success Story

Part Four: Understanding WHAT's Selling on eBay

As we mentioned, you don’t need to have a fortune to run an eBay business. Without a physical store, overhead maintenance expenses and labor expenses are significantly reduced for online sellers. With such low startup costs, many aspiring sellers flock to sell online with the hope of making an easy profit. However, selling online isn’t necessarily profitable by default, many of you already know this. Like any business, online sellers need to stay ahead of a fiercely competitive marketplace as well as take into consideration the unique selling expenses (such as eBay fees, shipping and packaging costs) which come with operating in an online arena in order to remain profitable.

eBay sellers can take control over their profits by tracking two primary factors: the demand and margins of their items. Understanding buyers’ interest in products and being aware of costs and revenue empowers sellers to predict earnings accurately and helps drive increased profit.

With such a systematic approach, sellers can plan for profitability by targeting high-demand items and managing costs to ensure sustainable margins.

How can you measure demand?

The first step in measuring profitability is understanding what buyers are after. Your product needs sufficient demand in order for you to sell enough items to make a profit. According to Sellrite, to measure online buyers’ interest in your items, you have to identify three things:

  • How often consumers are searching for your products
  • How many sellers are offering your product
  • How often your product is being sold

These questions paint a picture of your business’ profitability. With this information, you can predict how much you’ll sell, optimal pricing levels, and other critical factors that impact your earnings.

How often consumers are searching for your products?

The surest way to know demand is high for a product is to find out if there are frequent searches for your item(s) on search engines.

This can easily be achieved by using Google’s Keyword Planner tool. This tool shows the number of monthly searches for any relevant product keyword. Sellers with Google AdWords can also use the Keyword Planner tool, regardless of which marketplaces they use.

Seeing the most frequently-searched keywords and phrases enables you to align your business with buyer demand.

  • You start by including these words more in your store.
  • This moves you up in search rankings.
  • As a result, you receive better visibility of your listings which encourage more store visits and sales. You can also use our eBay listing software that helps with eBay SEO.

For example, a seller who sells sneakers online might see the keyword search data above and edit their homepage to have more categories for men, women, and types of shoes, and perhaps add the word training shoes in for good measure. With search volume insights, you’re able to shift your online retail business towards the aspects of your industry that buyers are most interested in.

How often is your product being sold?

Don’t stop at only checking the number of sellers selling your items – you will also want to verify if these sellers are actually selling your products to check demand further. Sellers might, for example, race to sell overhyped, fad products, but what usually happens is that sales quickly slump once the buzz dies down. So, we implore you to vigilantly check to see if your product has consistent demand, and isn’t just a current trend, by checking its number of sales.

The advanced search option on eBay allows you to see how many items have actually sold versus the total number of listings. To use this feature, click Advanced on the right-hand side of eBay’s home page. Next, type in your product keyword, and be sure to undertake separate searches for completed listings and sold listings. You can now compare the number of search results for sold listings and completed listings to determine whether there’s high demand for your products. Our eBay inventory software also makes that possible with a few more added bonuses like, relisting ended items.

Follow this rule of thumb: If the ratio of sold listings to completed listings is high, this means a good percentage of sellers are selling your items and demand is strong.

A final way to check if products are actually selling across all marketplaces is to look at product reviews. If there is a lot of feedback, it is a clear sign that the product has many buyers. Furthermore, with positive feedback, a large amount of reviews also illustrate high buyer engagement, which is another sign of healthy demand. This means your items aren’t just being purchased frequently but your customers are also actually emotionally invested in what you’re offering and care enough to share how much they enjoy your products.

Bikewagon – An eBay Success Story

The bottom line

Making money on eBay, like anything else involves rolling up your sleeves and getting messy by digging into the data. Hey, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Yet, the truth is, it is quite easy. The steps have always been simple as eBay themselves put it: 1. List the item 2. Sell the item 3. Get paid by eBay. Easy enough?

Despite the best efforts of some sellers, their eBay stores have never really taken off and remain nothing more than a minor source of income outside their main occupation. In order to make your eBay business your primary source of revenue, it takes a lot of time and effort invested into your online business. Therefore, it’s worthwhile treating it like an actual job once things start to really get rolling.

Be sure to use all tools accessible to you to organize yourself, your listings and your shipments. There is nothing more important that organization when it comes to eCommerce. One such tool that can help you with orders & shipments is our partner, Kyozou. With Kyozou you’ll be able to conveniently manage your entire online sales operation from a single screen. With this new integration, you can now use the power of Kyozou’s software automation to update and edit hundreds of listings in bulk with 3Dsellers eBay listing software.

Fortunately, your store’s success comes with its own perks of allowing you to be your own boss, having a flexible working day, and possessing an income without any salary cap. The question is, are you willing to put yourself out there and give it a go? Or are you happy to work a 9-5 until you reach retirement?

Hey, You Only Live Once, after all!

Happy Selling!

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