How to Sell on eBay
eBay.com is the world’s largest online auction website. At eBay, people can buy and sell pretty much anything around the world. Most eBay transactions look more like an auction than a retail sale — the sellers place an item up for auction and lists the starting price, or a reserve price that represents the least amount of money they’ll accept for the item.
There are a number of factors that go into making good eBay sales — you need to be able to describe your product concisely, take good photos of the product, understand how much the product should sell for, format your sales page, and deal with credit card and other forms of payment. This may seem like a lot to master just to auction something, but as soon as you complete your first few sales on eBay, you’ll realize that using eBay is like falling off a bicycle. You never forget how to do it.
1. Create an eBay account
To sell anything on eBay, you have to be a registered eBay user.
On eBay’s front page, choose the blue “register” link. This will take you to the Registration page. Once there, fill in your personal information. You need to give eBay an email address that you check regularly — eBay sends updates and questions from your buyers directly to that email account. Next, choose a username and password and write it down somewhere safe.
eBay will send a confirmation email to the address you provided to let you know your account has been created. All you need to do is open the email and click on the link that says “Activate Your eBay Membership.”
2. Create a PayPal account
Sellers registering after January 17, 2007 are required to offer either PayPal or credit card payment options. The easiest and most secure option is to set up a PayPal account. PayPal payments offer an extra layer of protection for buyers and sellers alike, as well as some free auction tools for eBay sellers.
If you don’t want to create a PayPal account but you still want to accept credit card payments, you’ll need to set up a merchant account with another service. Depending on what types of credit cards you want to accept, your personal credit score, and the business you use to set up your merchant account, your fees will vary. One thing’s true for all merchant accounts — they are normally more expensive than PayPal accounts.
To set up your PayPal account, head to Paypal.com and click on the “registration” link. You’ll need to make a choice right off the bat — you can have a Personal Paypal account, a Premier PayPal account (good for occasional eBay sellers) or a PayPal Business account (which will allow you to make bigger sales and higher dollar transactions).
PayPal shows you your transaction fees, so you know the fees you will owe on your sales. This amount is based solely on your volume of sales.
3. Figure out the price of your first auction item
Before you go putting your baseball card collection up for auction on eBay, you may want to check the market value. Luckily, it is really easy to check what similar items to yours have sold for on eBay.
To figure out a good sale prices for your item, check earlier auctions on eBay by clicking on eBay’s “advanced search” option. You’ll need to select the option to search “completed listings only”.
Let’s say you really are selling your baseball cards — you’d want to enter something like “baseball card collection” or the names of some of the specific cards you’re looking to get rid of. This will give you a good idea of the price range paid for items like yours. You can also search by category if you’re having trouble finding a similar item.
4. Create your first eBay listing
It’s time to jump in and put something up for auction. While you’re creating your listing, remember that eBay charges a listing fee, so make sure you’re ready to sell and that you have a good idea what you want your listing to look like before you start working on it.
On any page on eBay, you can click on the “sell” tab in the top right corner to head right to the page where you create a listing. Start by typing in a good name for your item. eBay “reads” your item name and suggests a good category for that listing. The category you list your item in is important — lots of eBay shoppers filter by category, so if your listing is poorly categorized, fewer people are going to look at it.
Once you’ve found the right category for your item, click “Save and Continue.” If you want to place your item in a second category, you can do so — for an additional fee. Sure, you’ll get more views, but that doesn’t always mean a better sale.
Writing an eBay listing title is also crucial — the more descriptive the better. Ironically, the shorter your title the better your chances as well, so short and sweet is the name of the game. If you’re selling a large antique bookcase, for instance, you might consider the title “Walnut Antique Bookcase” rather than something overbearing like “Gigantic Antique Bookcase French Henry II Design in Walnut”. The condensed version is easier to read, and if you take good photos, your buyers don’t need a long title. Again, for an extra fee, you can add to your title. Placing a subtitle underneath will draw more buyers simply because your listing is more descriptive than others.
After you pick a title, you’ll want to upload photos of your item. Without photos, your item simply won’t sell. Buyers want to see the item they’re bidding on. Click the “Add Pictures” button to upload the photos of your item. Like with most thing at eBay, you can pay to upgrade your picture’s display — make the picture clearer, or add zoom features. But the best thing to do is take good pictures to start with and avoid the eBay fees.
Once you’ve filled in your item description, you need to select a sales style. You can choose from a Fixed Price sale, a “Best Offer” sale, or even a private auction.
You need to be willing to answer lots of buyer questions if you plan to do lots of selling on eBay. You can’t just sit back and watch the money roll in — you need to be an active seller. Once your item sells — congratulations. You just made your first sale on eBay.