I am a passionate eBay reseller. It all began with a passion for entrepreneurship and an obsession with colored glass.In other words, I’ve always been a collector with a mind toward selling: setting up lemonade stands and peddling anything I thought would make money around the neighborhood, from pieces of broken colored glass to scenic pictures I had torn from outdated calendars –– wheeling around my little wagon and actually making a few pennies.
Who is Selling on eBay For?New sellers are always asking, “What sells on eBay?”A more important consideration should be, “What should I sell on eBay?”Veteran sellers are always trying to find the best selling products. After all, many of them –– like you may soon be doing –– started their eBay journey by selling things around the house, not really giving much thought as to what will bring the most profit.While that might be a good way to get your feet wet, that isn’t what will turn your eBay store into a real business.
So how do you turn your desire into dollars?It is important to explore your motivation.There are many reasons people turn to eBay as a source of income. While some dabble in selling just to get rid of clutter or to make a little extra cash, others may actively pursue eBay as a primary source of income.Circumstances and motivations differ greatly from individual to individual. If you’ve lost your job or been hit with unforeseen expenses, your motivation and strategy will be much different than that of an upcoming entrepreneur.Overall, there are 2 main motivations and circumstances for selling on eBay:
- You may be interested in only pursuing eBay as a hobby and are content to make a few bucks here and there or as a means to supplement your income part-time while remaining in a full-time career that you love.
- Or maybe your entrepreneurial spirit is calling you to break free of the 9-5 scene of working for someone else. Perhaps you are fortunate enough to be able to sell on eBay full-time but not sure what step to take next.
The 2 Perspectives to Selling on eBayThere is the entrepreneur who is motivated by making money in a clinical sense, who is content drop-shipping or selling products purchased wholesale.While this is rewarding, there is another type of entrepreneur who loves the thrill of hunting for treasures to resell.Both perspectives are valid methods for a profitable and fulfilling enterprise. Whichever attitude you happen to have, the same basic principles for success apply.An eBay business requires the same serious mindset as it does to open a brick-and-mortar store. After all, you actually own your own business.Success depends on your commitment to:
- Sound business practices
- Dedication to great customer service
- Keeping your passion fresh
What Sells on eBayMany things sell on eBay –– from vintage pencils to the latest Apple product.Collectors are more than willing to pay a pretty penny for what is rare and/or desirable and meaningful to them. The latest fashion and technical trends will always be big sellers.So, where do we start?I sell a variety of items in my eBay store, but there are those who specialize in a niche and do quite well. That is a choice for you to make.I personally think it is fun, interesting and more profitable to sell a variety of things. If you limit your inventory, you will need to sell in quantities that make it a worthwhile enterprise.There is not a simple “one size fits all” answer to the question of what to sell, but we will explore the many factors to consider so you will know where to start.
Your financial situationIf you’re strapped for cash, you may not be in a position to just go out to buy a huge inventory for resell. You may need to start slow and see what resources you already have, such as what you have around the house to sell. Or, just ask friends and relatives if they have unwanted clothes or items that they want to get rid of.Even with limited resources and a slow start, if you are willing to think outside the box and mentally position yourself for success, you can succeed.Items to sell on eBay with little to no investment:
- Household goods
- Are you mechanically inclined?
- Handy around the house?
- Do you read?
- Do you attend sporting events or engage in sports?
- Love music?
- Are you a good cook?
- What do you enjoy?
Profit MarginsThe more products you have available to sell, the more you will sell, but you will need to decide how much profit margin (money invested on an item versus how much you will pocket after fees) will suit your needs and goals.A successful profit margin is an individual determination that only you can make for yourself. Inevitably, you will become pickier with your purchases and upgrade strategically, investing more money for greater profit margins.How you strategize will be determined by your own circumstances and goals. As you become more experienced with brands and profit-making products, you will evolve into a more savvy and discriminate reseller.
The Best eBay Research Tool for Your Highest MarginsThe type of items you sell is as unique as there are individuals selling online.To get an idea of what types of products are selling, try the eBay research tool I have created: ProductGenie. The tool has a 7-day free trial and is only $8/month after that.ProductGenie gives you an accurate picture of the brands and types of items that are selling on eBay, culled from eBay’s sold items in each category over a relatively short period of time so you can see trends as well as see what is selling now.Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use the tool for eBay product research.After logging in to ProductGenie you will be presented with a straightforward left navigation which contains 4 different features:
- Most Recent Sales
- Top Brands
- Fastest Selling
- Keyword Research
Keyword ResearchLet’s start with Keyword Research to first show you how to find products to sell even if you have no idea where to start.This feature has a very simple search form. Just type in a product niche you somewhat like or are passionate about.Let’s say, for example, you really enjoying playing and watching tennis. You know a decent enough amount of information about the sport in general and a little about the value of some tennis racquets. Start off searching for a keyword phrase at the highest level to see what type of products are in demand for your product niche –– in this case, tennis.Go to the Keyword Research page by clicking on the left navigation tab named Keyword Research.[media]Here’s a step-by-step walk-through.
- Once the screen pulls up you will be presented with an input field that asks you to ‘Enter Keyword Phrase.’
- Enter the word ‘tennis’ into the input field (without the quotes) and click the green SEARCH button.
- The search will return a list of the top 25 results in a table with 3 columns: Related Keywords, Monthly Search Volume and Cost per Click (CPC).
- The Related Keywords are all keywords that relate to your search term ‘tennis.’
Pro TipNot only will the Keyword Research feature help you find products to sell, but it can also help you discover new ‘keywords’ to put in your eBay product title and/or description.If you find a couple of very popular keywords that relate to the item you are going to sell, then that means more users may find your product if you include that extra keyword phrase in your item somewhere.Be sure to use relevant keywords. Don’t try and include a keyword just because they happen to be popular. This may actually hurt your sales by drowning out the main product information.
Most Recent SalesThe Most Recent Sales tab will show you what is currently selling in each eBay category over the past 4 weeks (approximately).To get the most recently sold items, simply click the SHOW PRODUCTS green button.In this case, I want to continue with the ‘tennis’ theme. Here’s a step-by-step.
- For the category, select ‘Sporting Goods’ and type ‘tennis’ into the Enter Keyword Phrase field. This is shown in Picture 1 below. The Category and Location are the only required fields, but this example shows you how to continue research for products based on a specific niche or keyword.
- Click the SHOW PRODUCTS button and the search returns 5 columns of data: Item, Quantity Sold (based on snapshot of data returned), Price, Listing Type and Sold Date. This is shown in Picture 2 below.
This is a great way to get product ideas even when you don’t know what to search for.
Simply go to the Most Recent Sales tab, Select Category and click the SHOW PRODUCTS green button.
Fastest Selling ProductsThis feature shows which products sell the fastest. This is done by taking the snapshot of each day’s data and calculating which products are sold the fastest based on when they were listed to the sold date.The results show 3 columns: Product, Speed of Sale (from the time it was listed to when it sold), Listing Type (auction, fixed price, etc).
Top Brands on eBayThis feature lets you see the top selling brands over a period of a few weeks.Over time the Top Brands change. You can stay ahead of of the competition here by viewing the top selling eBay brands in each category for actual sold items.Studying all of this information will give you a snapshot view and understanding of what to sell on eBay best –– as well as help you stay ahead of the competition for upcoming trending products.You can, of course, jockey between this research tool and eBay as you go further in depth.
Pro TipRemember to compare the actual selling price of any one product. It is this price that dictates the market and not asking prices.
Where to Buy Products for ResellThere are 3 different ways to find items to sell on eBay.
- Treasure hunt for them
- Work with wholesalers and dropshippers
- Create your own product
Treasure hunting for your eBay productsSourcing (finding items to resell) has never been easier than it is today. The U.S., for instance, is a land of abundance and there is no shortage of items for resell.Because there is such abundance, people are decluttering or replacing what they have daily. If not, there wouldn’t be thrift shops galore or flea markets and yard sales and the like.The products are out there, you just have to make the effort to capitalize on it. Surprisingly, many things sell for good money that you may think are worthless.There is a buyer for almost everything! Anything from old pencils to high-end shoes are sold on eBay.Unless you are buying wholesale and/or dropshipping, you will want to know where to source for the best deals. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you begin:
- Have you ever had a yard sale?
- Have you ever been to one?
- Do you hunt for bargains at the grocery store?
- Are you a treasure hunter?
- Do you like flea markets or antique malls?
- What do you know about auctions?
- Are you a collector and already have knowledge in a niche that could help you find items of value?
- Yard sales
- Flea markets
- Thrift shops
- Facebook groups
- Offer Up
- Consignment shops
- Clearance racks at pharmacies or retail stores
- Even dumpsters can be a treasure trove for the more adventurous
Dropshipping or Wholesale ItemsThe type of products you are interested in selling will determine how you obtain them.For example, if you want to sell used tennis racquets, then you may have to get them from places such as Craigslist or apps such as Letgo, 5miles, etc.You may be able to find a manufacturer that will allow you to sell their product new, but you will need to have a business, as they cannot sell directly to individuals for wholesale/dropship prices.For my one of my dropshipping businesses I sell futons, and I have partnered with a few dropship-friendly manufacturers. I set up an LLC business just for that.Dropshipping and buying wholesale are a great way to get products to sell, but there is a lot more involved than reselling used goods. More manufacturers than you would think are willing to work with small companies that dropship their products.
A little note about name brandsNot all brands are created equal, and it might surprise you that not all widely known brands sell for the most profit. There are recognizable brands of clothing that do sell consistently, but not for the kind of money you would expect.The more you study, the more you will know what sells well and what doesn’t. Also, cycles come and go where hot items become so saturated on the selling platforms that they no longer bring top dollar.As you move through this adventure, you will begin to learn what consistently sells for you. When something sells fast for me, I will look for that item again and again.
5 Rookie Mistakes to AvoidEven the best of us make mistakes, so don’t expect perfection, and don’t beat yourself up if and when mistakes happen.Experience is the greatest teacher, but I have devised a list of potential rookie mistakes to avoid –– just so you’ll be prepared!
Buying too much product and getting overwhelmed.
Listening to naysayers.
Not having the proper supplies.
- Camera or phone with camera
- Cheap white and black poster boards or professional backdrops to use for backgrounds in pictures
- A well-lit area in which to take pictures (preferably daylight or good supplemental lighting)
- Shipping boxes
- Poly mailers or envelopes (size dependent on items)
- Shipping tape
- Notebook or computer spreadsheet.
- If you sell clothes, you will need measuring tape for measurements.
- If you sell breakables, you will need bubble wrap and/or other protective fillers.
Not having a routine.
Not being patient with yourself.
16 Tips to Get Started Right, Right NowSourcing, listing, shipping, customer service and keeping up with inventory have their own challenges.Here are a few tips:
- Off load what doesn’t sell: It is likely that at some point in time, you will come across an item that just won’t sell. It happens! While some things are expected to stay in your inventory for a lengthy time, such as a rare, uncommon, or specialty items waiting for the right customer, some others just need to be taken down and donated or sold in a yard sale. Donations can be used as tax credits.
- Optimize your listing for search: Make sure you title your listing so that potential buyers can find what they are looking for. Do not use superfluous adjectives (such as beautiful), commas, dashes or other punctuation that is not going to be searched for. Try to use all spaces allowed by eBay in your title using only relevant search terms to maximize your chances of being found by anyone searching for your particular item.
- Check your spelling: Listings that have misspelled search terms simply may not be found. Item descriptions should look professional and enticing –– so watch for misspellings within your listing as well.
- Fill in as many Item Specifics as you can: Potential customers looking for specific items will be routed to your listings with those fields completed. Think of these like long-tail keywords on Google.
- Listings must include good photos: If you want your listings to stand out from the rest, great pictures are essential. Having good lighting will show off your item, but another important aspect is capturing the subject matter without background distractions (such as the bathroom toilet or table clutter). Take the time to crop your photos if you must. If feasible, take all 12 photos that eBay offers free.
- Disclose any flaws or issues with an item within the Condition portion of your listing as well as in the Item Description. Failing to do so most likely will result in a return and negative feedback.
- Give great customer service: Keep emotions in check when dealing with disgruntled buyers or sarcastic messages from potential buyers. Successful business owners offer excellent customer service, and you, as an eBay business owner, should adopt the same high standards. When a customer is dissatisfied, be courteous and as helpful as you can be to resolve any issues. There will always be the occasional disgruntled, angry, unhappy person out there who will cross your path. Don’t take it personally! Communicate with your buyer to resolve any issues in a professional manner and do your best to rectify any problems. If there is no pleasing the buyer, don’t argue, just stop communicating and ask eBay to step in to help resolve issues. Be professional and to the point with eBay, offering the pertinent information, and not whining and complaining about an unreasonable buyer. More than likely you will come out a winner. And if not, just chalk it up a battle lost in the greater war and move on.
- Get acquainted with shipping methods and pricing: The weight and size of an item will determine the correct shipping method. eBay will allow you to compare the rates and methods when it is time to ship, but it is wise to learn beforehand so you can list properly and ship out correctly. You do not want to miscalculate the shipping costs, which can hurt your buyer or you. Keep an updated chart of USPS as well as FedEx shipping rates handy and stay abreast of rate changes, as they inevitably will change.
- Ship on time: This is crucial to maintain good standing with eBay and with your buyers.
- Offer international shipping: A good percentage of sales are international sales and should not be overlooked. eBay offers an easy way to do this through their Global Shipping Program (GSP).
- Ship the correct item: Check items that are going out to make sure you are shipping to the correct person. Shipping mistakes can be prevented by taking the time to organize your workspace and method. Remember, unhappy customer = negative feedback!
- Excellent customer service will guarantee good feedback: Your eBay rating and its subsequent benefits are dependent on getting good feedback from your customers. Many eBay shoppers decide whether to buy from a seller based on the number of positive feedbacks. Remembering to give feedback when you purchase on eBay (and you should) may encourage a seller to return the favor. This is a great way to boost your presence on eBay in the beginning and show potential customers that you have experience.
- Have an inventory system: You may think in the beginning you don’t need an organized system for your items, but if you plan on growing your business, it is wise to start out with a workable method to retrieve your items and thus prevent pulling your hair out down the road. You will be glad you did! BigCommerce is one of the only ecommerce platforms to allow for this. You can buy one of their cheapest plans to start out, manage inventory on their backend and push products to eBay through their free Channel Manager. All analytics and sales will be tracked, as well as inventory. This also allows you to easily expand your eBay sales to your own storefront in the future as you grow.
- Know your rights (and the rules!): Intellectual property rights such as trademark, copyright and/or other legal rights are respected by eBay, and known as the Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) Program. An owner of such a right may inform eBay of an infraction and have your listing removed if indeed there is validity in their claim. eBay will contact you and give you the opportunity to email the owner if you have questions or concerns. Be aware that if too many trademark infractions occur, you will risk having your account suspended. eBay’s program helps to protect its buyers and sellers from transactions involving counterfeit or unauthorized items. Familiarize yourself with the companies who participate in this program as outlined on eBay’s website. A couple of prohibited terms that come to mind that most of us consider commonplace are “Velcro” and “Onesie.” Although items that have Velcro fasteners and one-piece baby clothes and adult PJs are allowed to be sold, the trademarked search terms CANNOT be used in your title.
- Do your research: How do you determine whether or not an item is worth selling and how much to sell it for? Obviously, you want to have as little investment in an item as possible and sell for the highest amount the market will allow. To get a good idea of how to price your item, you will need to do your research. Don’t make the mistake of looking at just the items listed for sale. Anyone can place any price on any item, so to get an accurate and realistic amount to price for the item you are researching, you will need to search only those items that actually have sold. You will soon see a range of prices for which you can realistically expect to sell your item. To sell fast, price at the lower end of the previously sold items. If you are willing and able to wait a bit for your item to sell, you can price at the higher end of the spectrum.
- Grow a profitable eBay business: Be willing to do the research and open your mind to the many possibilities for profit. Become knowledgeable about the things that you like to sell first, but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to grow and expand as time goes on. Keep your eyes open for good finds and remember to check your list.
4 Steps to On-the-Go eBay Product ResearchI enjoy spending a couple of hours a week just researching recently sold brands, then doing further research on a category or one or more brands that I am curious about. Here is how I do it:
- When I’m out sourcing (shopping for items to resell) and I see an item that I think is unusual or for some reason it causes me to take a second look, I will take out my phone and do a quick search for that item (either by brand or by general description).
- Then I can decide whether to purchase this item.
- Often, I just take pictures of items (especially the brand, model number, etc) that I will research later at home and add that to my list for future reference.
- If you are so inclined, you may do further searches on Google or go onto other selling platforms to find comparables, or you can learn from websites that provide history or other interesting and important details and facts about your search.
Final WordI would like to stress how rewarding it can be to actually enjoy selling.The element of sheer pleasure can be the catalyst of your success –– the impetus that keeps you motivated to do the work, the kind of work that doesn’t feel like a job!If you delight in learning, researching and treasure hunting, you can grow big and thrive in the eBay world. A successful eBay seller is a seller whose interests can be integrated into their business.From experience, I can say I get super excited about shipping items out to buyers when it is an item that I have a fondness for, and there is nothing more boring to me than shipping out items that I know nothing about and have no interest in.I know, I know –– it can also be exhilarating when an item sells for a heap of money –– even one you would never buy for yourself. However, it is important to note that shopping for, listing and shipping things that are thrilling and interesting to you has its own rewards.On the other hand, to grow as an eBay seller, you must be willing to stretch outside your area of expertise, expand your knowledge, hone your skills and be motivated to prosper!Selling on eBay requires work, but it doesn’t have to be a job. Here’s to making it your passion!
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