Can You Still Make Money with eBay?

By | September 1, 2016

Almost ten years ago I was earning several thousand dollars a year on eBay. I wasn’t selling my stuff either. I would go to the department store and buy designer wares at bargain basement prices and resell them on eBay. It was going so well that I considered quitting my job and doing it full-time. A huge career opportunity presented itself, one that was too good to pass up so my eBay career was halted. In hindsight it was the best thing because not too long after came the great recession.

Gone are my aspirations to be a full-time eBayer, but it remains one of my main sources of extra incomes. EBay has paid for vacations, presents, entertainment, small home projects, and more. But is t still worth it?


Do it. It’s still worth it. Personally, I’ve found that people are willing to pay a higher price on eBay than on Craigslist or garage sales. I’m a lazy eBayer. I find the whole picture taking, and listing process tedious. Because of that there are weeks where I have no listings. I always go back, however, because it’s an easy way to earn extra money for very little work.

You Can Too. Here’s How.

I’m not going to get into the gory details of how eBay works. Most everyone is familiar with the basics and you can Google for information. My goal is to pass on some tips based on what I’ve learned.

1. Only Sell What You Already Have: At least at first. I no longer go out looking for stuff to sell on eBay. While I still occasionally find something I know I can sell and profit from, Brad and I only sell what we have laying around the house. Between several moves and combining households once we got married, that’s a lot of stuff! Unless you are an extreme minimalist you probably have stuff you can sell. I may eventually go back to buying stuff to sell but Brad and I need yo clear out what we have first.

2. Buy it Now: When you sell on eBay you have the choice between auction style where people bid up the price or “Buy It Now,” where you set the price. I NEVER use the auction feature anymore. It may limit my profit, but it makes my life easier because it alleviates the stress of wondering if enough people will bid to get the price I want (or need) to make a profit. By examining past sales you can pretty much predict what your item will sell for. If someone wants to negotiate they can send a message.

3, Sell Weird Stuff: Have stuff that you think no one wants? Don’t be so sure. People buy some weird things. I’ve personally sold coupons, egg cartons and broken appliances. As long as shipping and fees are covered and I make a little profit (and it doesn’t take a ton of time) it’s worth it.

4. Always Check the Sold Feature: It’s nice to know that others are selling what you’re thinking about selling, but what’s more important is if people are buying it and for how much. That’s why it’s nice that eBay has this feature. I’ve often decided against spending time listing items after finding that no one was buying. That makes it easy to donate to good will.

5. Keep Re-Listing: This may sound counter intuitive but it has worked for me. eBay lets me list at least 50 items a month for free. That includes relisting. When an item doesn’t sell I review the listing, revise the price sometimes and relist. Sometimes I’ll wait a week or two before pushing the re-list button. Out of twenty items that I’ve relisted, only two haven’t sold …yet.

6. Time vs Money: This is a big one for me. In my last round of eBay listings I sold fifty DVDs/CDs with an average profit of $1-$1.50.  Ordinarily that wouldn’t be worth my time, but the listings were super simple and shipping and handling consisted of printing a label and sticking the item in an envelope. Had I needed to spend time with a detailed listing and careful packaging I would have passed on selling these on eBay.

7. Fees: Speaking of profit, do NOT forget to factor in your seller fees. I use the barest of bones eBay functions so all I pay are the final value fees which are a percentage of the sales price (which includes shipping…which REALLY ticks me off, but that’s another article). If you accept payment through PayPal they charge a percentage too. Last time I checked it was 2.9% plus .30. Sell something at a high enough price and the cut becomes significant. I have actually decided against selling some things on eBay because of it. It just wasn’t worth it. Other times I’ve been okay with it because the profit was still more than I would have gotten by using other methods to sell it.

8. Handling: Don’t forget to factor this in because it can really eat into your profit. I do purchase envelopes and labels (on sale of course), but I never buy boxes or packing bubbles. Apparently we get a lot of deliveries because I just save those boxes.

9 Listing Consistently: I admit that sometimes I’m lazy and go through cycles, but the honest truth is that the best way to make money is to list consistently. Think about it, if you take the time to list one item a day that’s thirty items a month! I know it’s easier said than done. I’ve had twenty-two items posted at one time before I lost the listing mojo. As I write this I’m in a listing cycle and things are selling every few days. I am working to find a way to keep that momentum going.

So those are my tips. My goal is to clear our house of the things we no longer use. Get this. I still had a stash of things I purchased years ago to resell on eBay. It included about 8 designer (Tommy Hilfiger) PLASTIC shower curtains that were originally $20 that I got for eighty cents. Last year, after years in storage they sold for a minimum of $40 each. Ten years. PLASTIC! I still can’t believe that!  What have you sold on eBay?



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