Many of us own items we aren’t currently using and don’t plan to use in the near future. From baseball cards to musical instruments, electronics to American Girl Dolls, these goods take up valuable real estate in our homes. While others of us operate e-commerce stores out of our homes and are constantly looking for potential customers to sell to. Fortunately, whether you’re running an online store or just looking to sell some old collectibles, an option exists to help us all declutter our attics and closets while making some money in the process.

Founded in 1995 in Campbell, CA, eBay brings buyers and sellers together in a vast online marketplace. Because of the sheer number of users (170 million at last count), sellers can often find buyers willing to pay their desired rates. And while the company does take a portion of each sale, there is usually no fee for listing goods.

In this sense, eBay can be a great resource for sellers who are unfamiliar with the world of online sales and want to get their feet wet.

Steps to Selling on eBay

If you’re interested in selling your goods on eBay, the first step is to create a personal account or business account. If you plan to sell items as part of your business and intend to use its name in your listings, it’s best to opt for a business account.

Along with your address and other contact information, you must create a username and password, and agree to the eBay user agreement and privacy policy. You won’t be asked to provide payment information until you try to buy, sell or bid on an item. While eBay accepts payment via credit card, the company encourages users to submit PayPal account information.

After creating your account, you can start listing items for sale. Start by providing a title for your listing. This may include a UPC, ISBN or part number, as well as any relevant keywords to help searchers find your product. Next, you can upload as many as 12 photos of your item and set the pricing and shipping options.

While some sellers use auction-style pricing to induce bidding wars, others prefer to set a fixed price of sale, known as the “Buy It Now” option. The latter is ideal for sellers who know the true market value of their product and don’t want to waste time with an auction.

The listing page is also where you list shipping prices and options. Some sellers prefer to use USPS flat rate boxes and envelopes rather than pay by the pound, while others utilize calculated shipping that takes buyer location and package weight into account. Additionally, some sellers offer options that include free shipping, international shipping or in-person pickups.

When you’re finished creating your sales listing, you need only click the “List It” button for your item to enter the market. As mentioned above, eBay does charge sellers a fee for each item sold. It’s important to be aware of this fact when setting prices to ensure you will make a sufficient profit on the sale. You can track your listing throughout the auction process by visiting the “My eBay” page, which is where you can respond to questions and concerns from potential buyers.

Once eBay notifies you that a buyer has submitted payment, it’s time to ship your item to the address listed. In some cases, a buyer may not make proper arrangements to pay his bill upon purchasing. If you have yet to receive payment for an item, eBay requests that you try to work things out with the buyer via messages before escalating the matter to eBay staff. Both buyer and seller must come to an agreement to terminate a sales transaction.

Tips for Success

Once you’ve created a business account, it’s time to list the items you wish to sell. Here are some steps for selling products successfully while building your reputation.

Do Your Research

It doesn’t matter how rare or valuable your product is if prospective buyers are unable to find it. To make your listings more searchable, it’s wise to include a few keywords and descriptive terms in the title. If you’re struggling to find the right title for your product, take a few minutes to research similar items that have sold in the past. By being accurate and specific, you can boost your odds of making a healthy profit.

Be Truthful

It’s no secret that people sometimes lie about the quality of goods sold online. After all, customers can’t see what they’re buying up close until they receive it. While not every item you sell needs to be in mint condition, it’s important to be upfront and honest about potential flaws.

For best results, include a few pictures of the item taken in good light as well as a brief description of the defect. Not only does being honest reduce your chances of dealing with an angry buyer down the line, but it also helps establish your reputation as a trusted and reliable dealer.

Don’t Skimp on Shipping

As a new eBay seller, you may be tempted to cut costs by using cheap shipping materials. The truth is that skimping in this area can result in damaged products and, by extension, an equally damaged online reputation. To ensure all your packages arrive in pristine condition, utilize padded envelopes for smaller items and boxes with foam peanuts or bubble wrap for bigger pieces.

The goal is to show your customers that you take pride in your goods, which encourages them to buy from you again. To go the extra mile, consider adding a handwritten card to your shipments thanking clients for their patronage and asking them to leave positive feedback on your eBay account.

eBay can seem intimidating to first-time sellers, but it can become second nature with each transaction. By using honest sales tactics and doing plenty of research on items before you list them, you can build a strong reputation as a seller and earn a hefty profit in the process.

For more information on how to succeed in e-commerce, read our article on drop shipping.

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