With more of us working from home and being online, now is a good time to clear out any old belongings and make some extra cash
Selling on eBay, or other second-hand sites, is a great way to make money fast but before you get started it’s worth reading these handy tips so you don’t miss out on maximising your profits.
1. Deciding what to sell
Before putting something on eBay, it needs to be in good condition. You could end up with bad reviews which will make it harder for you to sell in the future.
In terms of what products will sell, there are a couple of ways you can find out. Have a look on the Marketplace Research tool on eBay. This will show you which items are most popular (furniture and electrical goods are always a good bet). Also take a look at the list of ‘most-watched’ items and the ones that have the highest number of bids.
It’s also worth planning what to sell depending on the time of year. Seasonal items like sandals or garden chairs will more likely sell quicker at a higher price in spring or summer.
That said there have been some bizarre exceptions to the rule. Remember the Virgin Mary toasted cheese sandwich? It famously sold for over £18,000 after being preserved for 10 years by a woman in Florida. Or the British expat living in Australia who decided to sell his “entire life” on eBay after splitting up with his wife? He managed to make almost £200,000 and released a book about the experience.
So, if you feel like being imaginative it might just pay off.
2. Buying to sell
As well as selling things you already have, it’s worth rummaging around your local charity shops or car boot sales where you may find an item that’s been undervalued that you can sell on for a higher price.
Don’t run the risk of losing money. It’s important you’re confident the item is worth more than you’re buying it for, so do a bit of research first.
3. Create a profile
It’s really important that buyers know you are trustworthy. The best way to do this is to build a profile by becoming a buyer first. Even buying just a couple of small, cheap items will help. Paying on time and providing feedback will give you a good rating. Also choose a username that is simple and professional. This will give buyers confidence.
4. What should I charge?
You can use the eBay advanced search tool to see how much money similar items have gone for recently. Select the ‘completed listings’ box to see hundreds of similar items with all their prices. For CDs and DVDs you can get quotes from second-hand sites such as Money Magpie, to base your price on.
For some items it may be worth checking out other selling websites that specialise in particular things. If you have a lot of clothes to sell for example, sites such as Depop, Vinted and Preloved are good alternatives to eBay. Got a one-off, handmade piece of furniture? You could get a higher price for it on Etsy, which specialises in unique pieces. In all cases, it’s worth doing your research first.
5. How to calculate postage
You can use the Royal Mail’s price finder to calculate the cost of posting your item and add it to your listing. High postage fees can put people off so one tip is to add the cost of bubble wrap or mailing bags to the product itself.
6. Take good photos and write clear product descriptions
A good, clear photograph puts your product and you, as a seller, in the best light. In every sense! Use natural daylight, a lamp, or the flash on your phone.
The same rule applies to writing your product description. Make it clear, avoid spelling mistakes and use keywords so that it comes up on the search function. Inform buyers and be honest about any faults the item has. If it still has tags on and/or the original box it came in, say so. Lastly, make sure you list your item in the correct category.
You can get inspiration from other sellers by looking at their profiles.
7. Start bids low
Buyers will be put off by high starting prices. If you start the price low – at just a couple of quid – this will encourage a competitive bidding war. However, if your product is a collector’s item, this approach probably won’t work. You should set a higher starting bid.
If you are worried about getting a bad deal, you can set a minimum price. This means the item won’t sell for lower than this.
8. Go for the maximum 10-day auction
This gives you a higher chance of getting more bids. It’s been proven that the best time to end an auction is on a Sunday evening. This is because a lot of casual buyers will go to browse around this time. Based on this, you should list your item on a Thursday evening to ensure maximum exposure.
9. Keep in contact with buyers
Once a sale goes through, email your buyer straight away, invoicing them for the full amount including postage. When you have received payment and dispatched the item, send the buyer another email letting them know. Make sure you send the item as soon as possible – delays could result in negative feedback.
10. Get proof of postage
Every item you sell should be sent by recorded delivery, or at least get proof of postage. You don’t want the buyer to claim they never received it, if they did.