How to Sell Your Stuff on eBay


Once upon a time you had a real need for those hockey skates, that fondue pot and your set of antique croquet mallets. Now they’re beginning to crowd you out of house and home. But you can’t stand the thought of just dumping it all, especially since some of those items may have real value.

The answer? Sell them—and lots of other stuff—on eBay (Stock Quote: EBAY). On any given day on eBay, there are millions of items available for sale (baseball cards, automobiles and more) through auction-style and fixed-price trading. The site has turned thousands of individuals into "eBay entrepreneurs," and given countless sellers access to potential customers worldwide, proving once again the maxim that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. 

Here’s how to get started selling your stuff in four easy steps:

1. See for yourself. Take some time to look through the website and become familiar with its interface (that is, the series of buttons, links, search options, etc. that help users navigate the site—much like the index and headlines of a newspaper).  Browse through different categories and products you’re familiar with to get an idea of how people describe their goods and what prices they’re asking (and getting) for various items. 

2. Sign up. You should also read up about the various forms of payment people use. While some sellers accept personal checks (or small businesses will take phone orders with credit cards), the most common form of payment used is PayPal, an electronic intermediary that allows buyers to pay with credit cards. PayPal can minimize the risk for both parties.  Before you can buy or sell anything, you’ll need to fill out a registration form by creating a username for yourself and entering your address and contact info.  Registration is free of charge and does not obligate you to buy or sell anything. 

3. Image is everything.
Studies about eBay indicate that most buyers skip listings without images. Also, the bigger the image or photo, the better the chance of a sale. So if you’re listing an item, be sure to have a clear, good quality photograph available (if you can’t take your own, you might find a free, legal photo of the same item online.

4. Be descriptive. Choose your words carefully when describing the item—you want to be succinct, appealing and accurate, and be sure to include any distinguishing factors.  If it’s an autographed baseball or a limited edition print, say so. Studies show that eight out of 10 eBay buyers read headlines, and two out of ten only read the headline. So make it stick.

5. Preview and price appropriately. When you’re ready to list an item, eBay will let you preview your listing, so you can check carefully for typos or errors before it goes live.  By now you will have considered your starting bid, and whether you wish to include a “buy it now” price, which means you agree to sell the item to the first person who offers that amount (regardless of whether the auction has officially closed). eBay charges sellers an “insertion” fee for listing their items, which is non-refundable and varies according to the opening bid amount (fees range from 15 cents to $4).

Also, make sure to link to a product’s owner’s manual, if you’re selling items like cars, TVs, even toaster ovens. It’s a nice touch and buyers will appreciate it. In addition, don’t overcharge for shipping fees. People aren’t stupid. They know it doesn’t cost $25 to ship a copy of The Silver Palate cookbook from Boise to Boston.

eBay insiders also say that the weekend is the best time to post an item for sale. Studies show that buyers are more relaxed and tend to be more aggressive about buying on eBay at the end of the week.

Good luck.

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