Just to prepare you, if you decide to sell on eBay, there are fees. There are listing fees associated with just listing an item for sale. This is currently only 30 cents per item. And there are final value fees that is a percentage of your sell price (including shipping). The final value fee is currently calculated at 10% of your sell price plus shipping. And there are fees for you to receive your money. By and large, eBay users sign up for PayPal. This is a separate website that is linked to your eBay account (PayPal is a subsidiary of eBay - how convenient). The PayPal account is also tied to your checking account. This lets you move your money from PayPal to your bank account so you can actually get the cash in your hands. Paypal is also generally used to directly pay your eBay fees on a monthly basis. You can also use PayPal on other websites to pay for goods. And there are some brick and mortar stores that are starting to accept payment via PayPal. Paypal also has fees for each transaction that generally figures to 30 cents plus 2.9% of the transaction amount. I will give an example of all of these fees in a bit.
First, we have to decide the best way to sell an item. Lets say you have a Super Terrific Widget. It is red and has three stars on the side of it. The first thing you need to do is determine what you think your Super Terrific Widget is worth. If you go back to our blog on "Knowledge is Power", you will see some of the ways to determine value. If you are selling on eBay, you always want to check the price for which other people are selling their Super Terrific Widget. In your search you find all kinds of Widgets. Some are reproduction widgets selling for $5 and some are authentic widgets selling for around $25. There are a few red Super Terrific Widgets that are selling for $40. However, there is only one that has three stars on the side and it sold for $100. How lucky for you!
So now you have an idea of price. It is easiest to click on the one that sold for $100 and just click on "Sell it yourself" to bring up the selling dialog box to insert all your pertinent information. It uses the same categories and title. I always edit the title a bit so I'm not just copying someone's work. The important thing about the title is that this is how searches are accomplished in eBay. If you search for "red Super Terrific Widget", you won't get search results for blue ones. So the title is very important. eBay allows 80 characters in a title. Use every character that you can to describe your item. In our example, I would do something like this: Rare Red Super Terrific Widget - Three Stars on Side - Excellent Condition - WORKS! It is amazing how many items are just listed as Widget or Cute Little Widget. If there are hundreds of widgets listed for sale, good luck getting someone to find yours. The key is to be as specific as possible.
Aside from the title, the next most important thing is pictures. Actually, this may even trump the title. I go to great pains in taking clear, crisp, and in-focus pictures. The smallest details are critical. And since you don't want to misrepresent an item, photos of flaws are just as critical. eBay allows up to 12 photos. Use them all. In all honesty, your photos sell your item. You can give a great, detailed description about the item, but if your photos are of poor quality, forget it. People are generally quite visual so your pictures will largely dictate whether someone buys your item or passes on it. Also, keep in mind that the first photo that is uploaded will be the photo used when doing a search. I use a photo box with a graduated white to black background and lighting. Camera flashes are not very helpful since they tend to mask any shadows and make the photo look more two dimensional than three dimensional. I also use a digital camera with a macro setting for close-ups. Some items, especially glass, are very difficult to photograph without having reflections or glare. It takes some doing, but you can work with light filters and camera angles to minimize these problems.
After uploading your photos, it is time to describe your item. You don't need to write a book. Just describe what you have. They can generally see what you are selling by the photos. However, you do want to highlight any special information about the item, like your widget has only had one owner or possibly how you determined it is in full working order. You also want to accurately describe any defects you noted. Depending on the item, I may give a very brief history of the item or the company, especially if it adds to the item. For instance, I recently sold a lighted sign by the first company in the US to offer lighted signs. That is a pertinent detail. Telling about who the president of the company was is not a pertinent detail.
The next item to decide is how you would like to sell your item. eBay allows two general methods: Auction-style or Buy-It-Now. You can select both. For instance, you can start an auction at $25 with a Buy-It-Now price of $75. However, I never use that. I mean, who will pay $75 if they think they can get it for $25 or $50? I generally have been using Buy-It-Now recently, especially since they have added a Best Offer option. This allows you to set a price, but allows people to make you an offer for less. For instance, you list your Red Super Terrific Widget for $100 or Best Offer. If someone has been looking for one for a while, they may pop (buy) immediately for the $100. If there are some others listed, they may make you an offer for $85. It is up to you whether you accept the offer or counter the offer. I feel like this is more like a real antique shop. People going into antique shops expect the proprietor to come down on the price some. I am fine with that. As long as I make an acceptable profit, I am happy to let the other person feel good about getting a good deal.
One item not to just brush over is shipping options. When you are setting up an item to sell, you have several options for shipping. You can ship via US Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, or even request no shipping with local pickup only. Local pickup may work if you live in a larger metropolitan area. But it will limit your sales. If someone in California wants your widget, they aren't going to travel to North Carolina to pick it up. I generally use US Postal Service for my shipping. Their rates are competitive and they offer discounts when shipping is purchased through eBay. If the item is large, FedEx is generally a better option, at least for me. Shipping is really up to you. This is just how I roll. You can also select Free Shipping on any item. This definitely has its merits for smaller items. Some people are really drawn to free shipping and may draw more people to look at your item.
Finally, you need to determine the conditions of your sell. Will you accept returns? If so, what are the conditions? I always select the option of accepting returns as long as the item is received in the same condition as it was shipped. A lot of people that sell on eBay do not accept returns. However, my goal is making a happy customer. I am human. I may miss a defect or critical detail. If so, I will gladly refund someone's purchase and will generally even eat the shipping costs. I feel that is only the right thing to do.
For our Widget example, lets assume you list it for $100 or best offer. You take amazing photographs. You give a clear, concise description. You proof read everything. And you read it all again just to be sure. Then you hit the button to list your item for the world to see. Depending on your item, the supply and demand laws of retail, and many other factors, your item may sell quick or it may take a while. If it is an auction style, it can be exciting to watch the bids, assuming you have an item on which people are willing to bid. For our widget, it sales in a few days for $100. You are thrilled, excited, ready to take on the world! However, now you need to carefully package and ship your item. Packing an item for shipment is really a whole other blog. The buyer pays the $100 plus the $10 shipping charge. After eBay fees ($0.30 + 10%($110)) and PayPal Fees ($0.30 + 2.9%($110)) and after you pay for shipping (say $9 for our example), you can withdraw $86.21. Hopefully you bought the widget for less than, say $45. Generally speaking, the goal is to double your money on the investment, unless the item is worth several hundred dollars. If that is the case, you need to decide a good profit margin. Congratulations! You sold your first item!!