Most people have them. Boxes of trinkets, outgrown baby clothes, collectible dolls, or other odds and ends they no longer need. The cell phone charger that doesn’t fit your new phone is a treasure to someone else. The extra pieces of flatware from your old set may be exactly what someone else needs to fill the gaps in theirs. Just the same, most people could also use a little extra space and a little extra cash. If you are one of those “most people,” head over to to sell your extra stuff, lighten your load and weigh down your wallet.

EBay is a popular online auction site, where you can buy and sell, new or used. If you are looking to clean house and de-clutter, you can sell anything (just about), for a small fee, and come out big.

Selling on eBay for Beginners
Selling on eBay for Beginners

There are some very basic things to know about eBay to become a successful leisure seller. Ratings are key, honesty is necessary, and follow-through is essential. You should also know some basics about fees, how eBay assesses them, and where to find what the fee schedule is. It is also important to understand how to calculate shipping charges so you are not caught paying all your earnings to ship your items to their buyers.

Ratings and Rapport

On eBay, ratings mean a lot. But since you are new to eBay, and you have yet to buy or sell a thing, you have no feedback for other people to base their decision to trust you on. Do not worry, every single buyer or seller on eBay has a first purchase or sale.

You will want to do two things to establish trust and earn positive ratings. The first thing is to be very descriptive about your item and its shortcomings. People trust you more when you share your flaws than if you pretend you have none. The same is true for your item.

Once you have gained someone’s trust and they buy from you, communicate with them regularly as your transaction progresses. Good communication leaves a strong impression. Let them know when you are sending their item. Make sure to follow up that they have received it as well. Once they have, personally invite them to leave feedback on your transaction, and promise to do the same for them. This is how you can build rapport with buyers and create a rating that will help more customers trust you in the future.

For each purchase you make or item you sell, the other person in the transaction has the opportunity to rate you based on quality factors like speed of shipping and the accuracy of your description of the item. You also have the opportunity to leave your feedback. Do so immediately. It will increase the chances you will get feedback from them.


EBay has a very detailed and somewhat time-intensive process for listing items. Because of that, it is very hard to miss a critical piece of information about whatever you are selling. There are countless categories you could possibly place an item in. Sometimes, there will not be a perfect fit. Do not worry, just pick the closest one and move on. Keep it simple.

Write as accurate and detailed a title for your listing as possible. Do not put in something generic like “shoes,” but rather be as precise as you can, “9.5 Wide black suede ankle boots with 3″ heel and buckle.” Someone searching for boots, suede, heels, size 9.5, or any of the words in the title will find your listing. Fewer words is not better in this case.

In the listing, make sure that you detail any flaws, accurately note the condition (new, like new, new without tag, used, fair, etc…), and let buyers know any relevant information, particularly if you smoke or have pets as the odor or allergies may effect a decision to purchase.

Pricing, Fees, and Shipping

Generally speaking, eBay charges fees twice – once when you list an item and again when the item sells. The first fee is based on numerous factors. EBay insertion listing fees usually only apply when an item is listed starting at over $0.99. The insertion fee is whatever eBay determines it will cost to sell something in a specific category. In addition to that fee, fees for adding special features to the listing apply. Such fees, for example, include an additional $0.05 per picture beyond the first free one or $0.10 to add bold to your title. These listing fees can add up quickly, so choose wisely what you absolutely must have and what you can pass up.

The other fee is only charged if your item sells and is a percentage of the final sale price based on category and price range of the item. The fees in some categories are higher than in others. This is where it is good to be able to choose categories, and perhaps work to avoid some fees.

When you price your item, keep in mind what the overall fee will be. You will need to balance what you think someone will pay for it, plus what shipping costs, and what you would like for it. Because shipping is a necessary evil, generally, it will impact what you get for your item. Say you are selling a nice pencil set. It would go for $4 in the store. Since it will cost a couple dollars to ship, you may only get someone to purchase it for $1 or $2.

EBay has an integrated shipping calculator where you can go to figure out what the shipping will cost for an item. If you do not have access to a scale at home, before you list an item, package it and take it with you to the post office. They have kiosks where you can weigh the package and measure it. You will need to know the outer dimensions and weight of the package to use the postage estimator on eBay.

The post office also has flat-rate shipping materials available for free. You can use their boxes and labels, and no matter the weight or destination (in the U.S.), you can send your items for one rate. This takes the guesswork out of the auction and lets you focus on setting a real price for the item.

There are a lot of variable to selling online on eBay, but the constants are that you have a potential global audience to which you can sell your stuff, that the listing steps are relatively simple, and that it is relatively cost-effective and safe to sell your things through eBay.