Author Topic: Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial  (Read 6221 times)

ZiziPB

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Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial
« on: September 26, 2013, 09:13:31 AM »
I notice that a lot of Mustachians are Ebay sellers.  I have sold some unneeded items on Craigslist successfully but have some things for which Craigslist does not work too well, so I would like to try Ebay instead. 

Can anyone offer instructions and tips for a first time Ebay seller?  Thank you in advance.

HappyHoya

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Re: Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2013, 09:57:38 AM »
I make a few hundred dollars a month selling stuff on ebay, and usually put in about one afternoon's worth of work taking photos and writing item descriptions. I am hardly a high-power, high-grossing seller, but I've made money with very little effort. Here are my tips:

1. Take good photos (same as Craigslist, but ebay buyers expect more photos). You can add up to 11 photos before you have to pay, and people want to see the item. Upload close-up photos that both highlight the item's attributes and disclose any flaws. Which leads me to...

2. Be conservatively honest in your item description, but don't hold back from selling used items. People are surprisingly forgiving of less-than-perfect items when you are honest with your listing description and asking a fair price. I've sold clothes that had small stains, obvious wear-and-tear, and other "flaws." FWIW I have a 100% positive feedback rating, so none of these things were a problem for the buyer. Sometimes people are looking for an item for a sentimental reason or to repurpose into something else, so don't exclude items that might not even serve their original purpose well (e.g. almost threadbare sweaters).

3. For most items, shorter auctions with a "Buy It Now" option have resulted in the best outcomes for me. The default search results ranking is by items ending soonest listed first. I almost never have a bid on my items until the last 2 days. I typically use the 3 or 5 day auction option, and I don't really see the point of the 7 day auction, especially since relisting is automatic and currently free. The one possible exception I've noticed is rare collectible or artistic pieces, where buyers are more likely using super-specific search terms and there are fewer other options already on ebay.

4. Pay attention to shipping cost.  Ebay does a pretty good job of estimating the cost of different types of shipping, but you have to make sure to input accurate information when you are on the shipping options page. For example, it often assumes all clothing can be shipped in a packet/large envelope, which is often not the case with sweaters, blazers, shoes, or other bulkier items. Make sure you either put in an item weight or package type that will give you and your buyer an accurate estimate for shipping. I sometimes take a small loss on the shipping cost, but build that into my item price.

5. Look for sales on fees. Most of the things I sell go for ~$30. I am not turning a huge profit and I'd like to keep as much of it as I can. Ebay doesn't charge any insertion fees for standard listings until an item sells, but once you start selling, the fees can add up. You can save drafts of your listings and even upload the photos, then wait for promotions where they reduce the the fees for items inserted during the promotion by half or more. Sometimes they also do options to add extra features to your listing, free of charge.

Good luck!

livetogive

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Re: Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2013, 10:44:33 AM »
+1 above and some more:

I normally sell higher dollar electronics on eBay and there are a few more things you should know: 

1.)  Anything above $250 requires a signature confirmation, but for anything above $75 or so I usually pay the extra $3 to cover myself if someone tries a scam.  I've never been scammed*, but it helps me sleep better at night.

2.)  International shipping is fine IF eBay will let you use their own international shipping service, where you ship your item to their warehouse and they ship it to the country.  DIY international also works but I'd wait until you get in the swing of things first.  Don't ship to Italy/Greece.  They're notoriously corrupt.

3.)  I'm an economics/markets guy so I don't believe in "Buy it now", but your mileage may vary.  For items in a very liquid market (cell phones for example) I list at 0.99 and watch it run.  Ignore private messages asking to buy an item early.

4.)  You can improve your feedback at first by saying you "ship fast" and following through with it.  I know when my auctions will end so I just take the item in to work with me that day and after I have payment I walk to the post office and ship it.  I've gotten some good feedback that way when buyers see a tracking number an hour or two after they pay.



*knock on cyber wood

dobatseatcats

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Re: Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2013, 11:25:02 AM »
Thanks for the info - I've been wondering about selling on eBay these days too. I used to sell there in the late '90s and early 2000's, back when you could list any piece of household crap and it would get multiple bids. I hear it's changed a lot too.

One question I've had is whether you have to use SEO in your eBay listings to get them found. I sell on Etsy, where good SEO is important or else no one is even going to see your item, much less purchase it. Is that also the case on ebay? Or, is it necessary to otherwise promote your listings, post about them on Facebook, tweet them, etc. in order for buyers to be able to find your items?

thanks!

HappyHoya

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Re: Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2013, 11:38:48 AM »
One question I've had is whether you have to use SEO in your eBay listings to get them found. I sell on Etsy, where good SEO is important or else no one is even going to see your item, much less purchase it. Is that also the case on ebay? Or, is it necessary to otherwise promote your listings, post about them on Facebook, tweet them, etc. in order for buyers to be able to find your items?

thanks!

I don't use SEO in the sense that I don't put random words in the listing to attract clicks or other stealthier types of SEO. In my experience, a good description will include all relevant keywords that people might search. Make sure to use descriptive terms, as well as technical terms the manufacturer used to describe it, and include any numbers or other possibly identifying information that might be found on the item or the tag. My items all get a decent number of views in their last day or two before the auction ends, so I have never had a reason to do more aggressive promotion. I do not post about my listings on Facebook or Twitter. Frankly, I would find it a little odd and I am distrustful of pushy sales tactics whether in real life or online.

All that said, I approach eBay pretty casually. The items I am listing are often things I would happily give away to friends, making promoting listings on Facebook useless.  I may not be optimizing my profits with every sale, but since I never list an item for less money than I would be thrilled to part with it for, I am optimizing value to me. Many people who've bought my items, so far as I can tell from the communication I've had with them and feedback I've received, were looking for a very specific item and hunted it down. They were not scrolling through items at auction and would not have appreciated an irrelevant item coming up in their search results (as I often find is the result of a lot of SEO).
« Last Edit: September 26, 2013, 11:42:10 AM by HappyHoya »

livetogive

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Re: Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2013, 12:48:17 PM »
Pricing liquid items with short (1 - 3 day) auctions starting at $0.99 is my SEO...

dobatseatcats

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Re: Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2013, 01:04:14 PM »
Thanks for the info! I would feel weird about posting about my ebay listings on social media, but I see people doing it, so I wasn't sure if, like Etsy, that's the only way to get seen. I do hear that eBay's search engine does work better than Etsy's, though. (Etsy search pulls up all sorts of crap that is unrelated, or only vaguely related, to what one is looking for.)

I'm really just looking to unload some stuff I don't need and make a little money in return, and I've had about enough of Craigslist flakes, scammers, and no-shows. So I may give ebay another shot, for the stuff that is ship-able. Thanks!

Eric

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Re: Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2013, 02:25:00 PM »
I'm not an expert by any means, but I just sold some barely used sandals that my wife had laying around, and I was surprised by all the different fees.  Just be aware that there are about 150* different fees for selling on eBay.  There's the listing fee, the shipping fee, the paypal fee, the other paypal fee, the fees fee, etc.^  Expect to lose about 20% of your sale price to fees.

Once you're aware of that, everything else works like Craigslist.  Take nice photos and write a thorough description and you shouldn't have any problems.  Look through similar items for sale for examples. 


*only a slight exaggeration
^fee names may not be exact

kevin78

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Re: Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2013, 06:40:19 PM »
Another thing to note (if this is still the case) is that top rated sellers get better search rankings and a 20% discount on final value fees.  If you are going to sell on ebay alot this is very helpful.

I've been a long time seller but for the last couple years I'm primarily a buyer.  You can typically expect top rated sellers to ship very quickly, often same day but sometimes 1-2 days later.  Ebay expects them to ship quickly as well, so it pays to be responsible and organized which means have packing materials on hand because items can sell at any time. 

You can print shipping labels through ebay and paypal which is great.  The easy way is to do it through ebay.  USPS is the most common, but for large items these usually go UPS or Fedex as they are cheaper. 

As mentioned above, ebay, paypal, and shipping fees will take a big bite out of profits so you have to plan for this and it is easy to figure out.

The last thing I'd mention right now is that people tend to bid around times that they know items will ship when it comes to commodity items because they want it fast.  If it is something special or rare then it doesn't matter.  So, people will tend to bid more on Sundays, knowing that on Monday items can ship. Friday and Saturdays can be bad because buyers take a gamble as to how long it will take to get the item. Some fastidious sellers will ship on Saturdays but others will wait till Monday and people will hold on to their money as long as possible, which means they won't bid if the item won't ship soon.   

The point of the above paragraph is that if you are running an auction (as opposed to a buy-it-now) be mindful of when the item ends. Don't end it at an odd time like the middle of the night.  Also the time zone makes a difference, you can be on the east coast and get west coast buyers at odd times.  It all depends on the demand of what you are selling.   

I'm sure I'll think of more thoughts and if I do I'll add them.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2013, 06:42:30 PM by kevin78 »

Mega

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Re: Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2013, 06:10:18 AM »
I would like to add that the shipping is the most important part of your listing. I used to sell on ebay 5 years ago. Gone are the years that you could just say buy pays actual shipping.

You need to have packaged / weighed your product BEFORE listing. This is required because you don't know if someone from Australia is going to buy it, and BOOM your flat shipping goes from $30 to $160.

livetogive

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Re: Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2013, 01:19:45 PM »
20% is about right for fees, but depending on where you live it might be worth it to avoid craigslist.  I've gotten so sick of the scammers and creeps on CL in the Bay Area that I'm willing to give up 20% just to avoid it entirely.

On a tangent, I went to ship a cell phone last week and the postal clerk picked up my package, shook it vigorously near her ear, and accused me of mailing alcohol.  She grilled me for about 5 minutes on the whole thing and I have NO IDEA why.  I was wearing business casual and it was like 11:30am on a weekday...

chad

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Re: Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2013, 07:03:19 PM »
You still get a discount on final value fees if you're a "top rated" seller. But, to get the discount, the listing has to meet other conditions: it has to have 1-day handling (which means that you have to upload the tracking number by midnight pacific on the next business day), and you offer a 14-day return policy. They allow 20% restocking fee on returns, which initially I thought would be enough money to block returns altogether. But you'd be surprised how many people will pay such a fee--it's totally crazy.

Also, I don't believe that I get much traffic from google searches. There's one exception to this: when I have a long-term listing that sells hundreds of items, I think I do get good google placement. But I doubt very much that SEO would improve this.

I'll also add that the best way to get good search placement within ebay is to be a top-rated seller with free shipping, a 14-day return policy, 1-day handling, and express shipping options. Ebay explicitly tells its sellers that this improves their search rank.

Finally, FedEx offers a service called "smartpost" that is in effect a partnership between them and USPS. This service is almost always cheaper than any USPS service when you're shipping two time zones away. So my approach is always to check USPS prices on ebay (using their label printing system), and then I also check FedEx's price for FedEx ground and smartpost.

Lots of money to be made on ebay! You just have to find the right product.

ZiziPB

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Re: Ebay selling - need a basic tutorial
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2013, 09:42:13 AM »
Thank you all for your responses.  Honestly, the whole process seems overwhelming to me and not worth the effort for what I wanted to sell.  I basically have maybe 5-6 items that I wanted to get rid of, that, if I'm lucky, would fetch $15 each.  So for maybe $100 less fees and the hassle of shipping, tracking, etc. (I have no post office that is convenient to where I live or work), this appears to be completely not worth it.  I have one item that I think I will list on Craigslist and the rest will be packed and taken to Goodwill TODAY so that I don't have to think about it any more.