Getting rid of your unwanted items and making some cash in the process is definitely appealing. Most people have heard of eBay but some are unsure how it works or how to get involved. It’s a fairly simple process and, if done right, can net you some serious cash. Of course that all depends upon what you have to sell and what the demand is for that particular item.

Learning To Sell on eBay
Learning To Sell on eBay

Finding Items to Sell

Go through your attic, garage, or closet and see what you have that you really don’t need. Some good ideas for items to list would be: designer clothing and accessories, antiques, childrens’ toys and clothes, computer software/gadgets, collectibles, video games, or sports memorabilia. Of course it’s great to find a niche to take advantage of, but with the vast array of items for sale on eBay, this can be difficult. Do your research to see what’s hot and in demand.

Many people frequent garage-sales and flea markets to get great deals on these types of items and then bring them home to put them on eBay and turn a profit. This works especially well for clothing and knick-knacks since most yard sales let each piece go for under $1. In some cases, the person having the yard sale will be happy to let you fill a bag for $10 or so.

You can also purchase close-out lots from stores that are going out of business or buy in bulk from wholesalers.

Getting Started

Check the item over carefully. Obviously the better shape it’s in, the better it will sell. However, there are exceptions to that rule – for example, some people will pay a lot more for a good baseball glove that is broken in rather than a new one that is still stiff. But generally speaking, you want to sell items that are in excellent condition.

Don’t try to sell clothing that has stains or holes (unless that’s the style; i.e. “destroyed jeans”) or a figurine that’s chipped or cracked. Clean your item and make sure it looks & smells nice. People do not appreciate anything that smells like cigarette smoke, so if you’re a smoker, take this into consideration. Think about what you would expect if you were purchasing something used. Be honest and check carefully. Your eBay reputation will reflect this.

Do some initial research on eBay to see what an item like yours has recently sold for. To do this, type in your search and see how many similar items are currently listed. Also check to see how successful recent sales have been by clicking on “completed listings” for your item. This will give you a good idea of what to expect and where to start your price.

After setting up your eBay account (and I would also recommend a PayPal account), you are ready to list your first item. Hit the “start selling” button and begin filling in the fields pertaining to the category in which your item belongs. Upload an excellent, clear picture of your item. This is extremely important. I’ve passed many auctions by because the picture did not clearly show me the item and I lost interest. Good pictures increase your buyer’s confidence in your item and this is crucial to getting them to place a bid.

Describing Your Item

Give lots of information that pertains to what you’re selling. If it’s clothing for example, state the brand, the size, the inseam measurement, the waist measurement, the color, how it closes (zip/snap/button), what the retail price was (“Bought last year for $59.99”), even what it would look good with (“These leggings look fantastic with an over-sized sweater and some boots!”). The description helps your potential buyers to get a clear picture of what they’re bidding on and answers any questions they might have about your item.


Decide what method of shipping will be best for your item. If you’re selling books, you’d be best off shipping them via USPS Media Mail which gives a cheaper rate for heavy, printed materials and movies. If you’re selling a baby’s outfit, you’d want to ship that via USPS First Class Mail (used for packages 13 oz. and under). If you take your package to the post office, they will be happy to weigh it for you and tell you how much the different shipping options would cost.

You can also ship from home, which is very convenient. Purchase a small postage scale so you can weigh your packages. You can get free shipping envelopes and boxes from the post office or order your own. Weigh your item and use the “calculate shipping” option when you’re filling out your listing in order to let your buyers see how much they will pay in shipping charges. You have the option of adding a handling fee, which can cover your costs for final value fees as well as packaging materials. Offering free shipping is a very attractive selling point for potential buyers and is especially smart to offer for light-weight items like jewelry and single pieces of clothing which won’t end up costing you much to send.

When your item sells and you receive payment from the buyer, you can print out a label at home using PayPal’s label-making service. Once you print out your postage-paid label, simply cut it out and tape it to your package, then stick it in your mailbox!

Earning Feedback

You earn your eBay reputation based on the feedback your buyers and sellers leave for you. This is their opportunity to let others know what they thought of your item, your service, your communication, and your shipping prices. Give good service, honest descriptions, reasonable shipping rates, and you’ll get positive feedback and earn the confidence of more bidders in the future!