Archive for March, 2007

How I made over $6000 on eBay in less than 2 months

One day, I was really fed up with my over stuffed guest room closet. I couldn’t find anything and I could not cram anything else in…. I knew it was time to tackle the overwhelming project that I had put off for a long time.

I set aside an entire day to clean and organize the closet. My main goal was to bring some order to my closet and to make room for our guest’s luggage and clothing. I pulled everything out and looked at each item with a critical eye. If it hadn’t been used in the last year, it had to go. I had three piles of stuff to get rid of: trash, donate, and sell. The small amount of stuff that was left went into two piles, put back in closet or repair.

I had a lot of shoes and clothes that were nice and that I really liked but did not wear because they did not fit or they no longer worked for my current lifestyle. Well, it was time to let go of the past and pass some of my treasures along to someone else who would enjoy them. The items that were in good condition I listed on Ebay.

It was pretty exciting to sell things that were just collecting dust in my closet. I listed about 20 items the first day and quickly decided that that was too many to list at the same time. I was a little overwhelmed when it came time to shipping that many boxes. I have since realized that 6 items per day is more manageable. But it all depends on how much time you have to spend on managing your eBay sales.

It took almost two months for me to list and sell the items from my closet but when all the auctions were over, I had earned more than $6000! Now I am ready to start on another one of my other closets.

Selling stuff on eBay is actually pretty simple. You need to register and set up an account (this is free) if you do not already have one. Once you have an account, it is pretty straight forward. You can search eBay for similar items to get an idea of how much you should sell your items for (you can search current and recently sold items). Some important tips for selling:
1) Always include photos of the actual item.
2) Include accurate detailed descriptions (be sure to include measurements for clothes)
3) State the terms of your sale clearly. (Spell out what payment methods you accept… I only accepted PayPal… it was easier for me than dealing with checks and money orders)
4) Set reasonable shipping fees (many sellers will offer a discount on shipping if a buyer purchased more than 1 item) and ship items promptly.
By doing these things, you will minimize the number of repeat questions from buyers and you will have more positive auction experience. The more positive post-sale feedback your buyers leave for you, the more others will trust to buy from you and the more sales you will make.

You will increase the number of potential buyers (and your potential profit) if you are willing to sell to international buyers. With international sales, there is a bit more risk for you the seller since it is hard to track global mail delivery. I had a Global Priority Mail package (usually takes 4 to 10 days for international delivery) that took over a month to get to England. Although I did not have to, I decided to refund the buyers payment in full for the item and shipping…we both assumed the package was lost in the mail. With Global Priority Mail you cannot insure a package… Luckily the buyer was very honest and sent me the money once the package finally arrived a month and a half later. Another thing to be aware of with international sales is that the buyer may face fees/tariffs from their country’s customs office. Some buyers will ask you to show a lower cost on the customs documents so that they will not have to pay any tariffs on the package. I strongly recommend that you do not falsify any customs documents. The buyer won’t face punishment if customs discovers the falsification but you could face large fines and so on.

Another note about selling on eBay is to take care in making sure that you pack the items for shipping carefully. I like to wrap the items in tissue paper (like you would wrap a gift) and then place them in a box or a shipping bag with the appropriate amount of padding to ensure their safe arrival. If it is a fragile item, use bubble wrap and/or packing peanuts. Also, be sure to use a sufficient amount of packing tape to keep the box closed (even on the self sealing boxes…they have been known to pop open).

I shipped using USPS Priority Mail and Global Priority Mail and only accepted PayPal. I had a few reasons for doing this. 1) The Post Office gives you the priority shipping boxes for free (you can even order them online and they will ship them to you at no charge 2) You can print mailing labels with the postage from your computer using your PayPal account (having buyers pay with PayPal makes life easier because you have the cash available in your account to cover the shipping fees. 3) If you pay for your Priority Mail shipping with PayPal, delivery confirmation is free. 4) I felt that using PayPal vs. checks and money orders minimized the risk of fraudulent payments, it also enabled buyers to pay via credit card if they desired (it also eliminated trips to the bank and hold times for checks to clear).

I sold about 80% of the 130 items that I listed. I donated the items that didn’t sell after listing them 2 times at auction (eBay will give you credit for the listing fees if the item sells the second time). I have to say that I was little a surprised at how much some of the items sold for. I listed shoes, clothes, sunglasses and few old childhood toys (that I had stored and moved from house to house over the last 20 years). For example, I had a pair of shoes that I listed for $9.99 the bidding closed at a shocking $121. Another surprise was an older stuffed puppet, from looking at recently sold similar puppets; I thought that I might get $25 for it…the auction closed at $125. On the other hand, I was surprised that a few items that I was pretty confident would sell did not sell. You just never know who is looking for what at an auction…