This is a serious post! I’m good at Ebay but it’s been about 4 years since I was really into it. I need to do a big purge and so I’m writing now HOW TO EBAY in order to remind myself and as a helpful post to anyone interested.
Disclaimer- I’m in Canada, so my Ebay experience may be slightly different than yours. Every country’s Ebay is a little different.
What to Sell:
I sell toys- so my margins aren’t huge. It’s worth it for me because I enjoy it and because I like knowing the toys went to a good home. It makes me really happy when someone from a far away country writes “Thank you! It’s so cuuuuuuuute!! I LOVE IT!” in my freedback. But if you really want to make good profits, here are some tips:
- Have a niche- Clothes, Electronics, Instruments… Especially if you’re looking to buy and sell, focus on one thing. Best if it’s something you’re actually into so that you relate to the community around it, and so you can enjoy the items while they’re in your possession. If you’re just looking to clear out the various things in your house, try and group them together. Buyers will browse your other items to make bulk purchases, and they’re usually after one type of thing.
- Light weight, High Price. If the item is too heavy, the shipping will cost will prevent anyone from buying it. In those cases, stick to local selling apps or FB marketplace. A small item that’s worth a lot will get more money for you because the post office isn’t taking your profits.
- Ebay is for collectors. I live in Toronto and rarely sell to people here despite it being a proper big city. Your buyer has specific tastes and is far away. If you’re selling something that a lot of people would want, stick to local selling apps.
How Does Shipping Work? A lot of people who don’t use Ebay aren’t even aware that the buyer pays the shipping. You enter the weight and size of the item in your listing, along with the postal service you’ll be using, and Ebay automatically shows the buyer a shipping price based on the buyer’s address. I can’t see what a buyer is being charged for shipping- all I know are the item’s dimensions. Tips:
- Don’t Buy Fancy Packaging. OMG when I started I actually bought bubble mailers AT the post office. After a few rounds of this, the agent informed me that there are cheaper mailers at the dollar store. By now, I’d wrap a package in a plastic bag and duct tape if I thought the item would have a safe trip.
- You Want Light Packaging. Thick cardboard is your enemy.
- Watch the Scale. I literally had a package once that was 2 grams over a price point and added 10$ to my shipping. I removed like 3 air bubble things and was good to go. However, I caught this myself- the postal agent isn’t going to tell you that you’re 2 grams over. Check the scale!
- Save your Garbage PT1: How did it I get an air bubble thing? From Amazon, man. Any time you buy anything online, save your bubble mailers and bubble wraps. Even if you don’t sell on Ebay- tell your friends. Those things should be reused many times. If you don’t want them, put them on curb alert- someone will want them.
- Save your Garbage PT2: Actual garbage. THE BEST shippers are cardboard food boxes- cereal, granola bars, frozen dinners… that thin cardboard. I’m a gentleseller so I even turn them inside out and re-tape them… so the product print is on the inside and the nice cardboard is on the outside. Looks and feels really nice. One time I was at the post office (which is also a drugstore which is also a foodstore) and needed to pack an item on the spot. Did I buy a bubble mailer? No. I bought a box of Corn Flakes for the same price. Then took home the sealed bag of flakes to eat at my convenience.
- Have a home scale. If you sell the same thing over and over, you don’t need to keep weighing it, just note down the total when you mail it the first time. Also you can do rough math… One Pony is 120 grams, so if you sell five, that’s 600 grams. Plus the box, (get to know your box weights…) and voila! But it’s easier to have a scale. Also, when you’re putting together lots, it’s good to know where the postage price points are. I know anything over 250 grams will cost a lot more money than 249… So I’m not going to put together a lot that weights 251. High shipping costs deter buyers.
How Ebay Works: I hate Ebay, man. The website is super glitchy, especially when dealing with other countries. The customer service can be frustrating too. Tips:
- In my experience, the buyers are good people and sellers are shady. I’ve only had one buyer claim their package didn’t arrive, but on the other hand, I’ve had lots of sellers hide flaws, outright scam, send me abusive messages etc. And I sell a lot more than I buy! So don’t be afraid of selling, except…
- In disputes, Ebay sides with the buyer. ALWAYS. Ebay will refund the buyer and take the money out of your account. Again, I’ve never had that happen to me, but I’ve had it done to shady sellers on my behalf. Ebay can read your message trail and see if anyone is at fault, but if there’s anything that involves trust, they’ll side with the buyer. Ex: Buyer says item didn’t arrive, you said you sent it… They believe the buyer. However:
- Most buyers don’t know that Ebay will side with them. So if there’s ever a negotiation happening, act like you *could* win the dispute. Ex. I sell an item that’s “not as described” because I honestly didn’t see and disclose that it had a small mark on it’s leg. I offer the buyer a 30% refund. They’re SO HAPPY! They don’t know that if they called Ebay and complained, they’d get a full refund. (Though is that fair? It’s just a little mark.)
- Ebay takes a cut of the shipping $ too. Don’t think you’re so smart by charging 1$ for the item and $70 for the shipping. Ebay thought of that. Because they take a cut of the shipping, if anyone asks for local pickup- accept! I sell an item for $10 and Ebay takes $2. The shipping costs (remember, it’s the actual cost) $13 and ebay takes $3. Well wait a minute, I had to pay all 13$ to the post office, so the shipping cost me $3. Instead of making 8$ on the item, my profit is down to $5. And the item cost me $4 in the first place wait a minute why am I doing this again?
- Yeah speaking of which, if you’re in a community (like ponies), you don’t really need Ebay. People make direct private sales on Instagram. I wish I was active on Instagram for a lot of reasons.
- Back to Ebay- Keep on top of their policies. They change all the time and are SNEAKY about it. Ex. There used to be 50 free listings in the toy section per month- and if they don’t sell, they automatically relist. I had about 40 going and relisting for months/years while I was living my life. Then I noticed these monthly charges happening- they had started charging for listings and doing it on the autorenewals, so it was like 30c per item. It was like 6 bucks a month on top of my final value fees! I’m frugal so it pissed me off! (UPDATE 08/20: They have now changed it back and you get 200 free listings every month.)
- You can pay 25$ a month to have an Ebay store- it saves you on your listing fees and final value fees (% of what the buyer paid.) But if the savings is less than 25$ given your inventory totals, it’s not worth a store.
- Obviously you want a 100% rating and as much positive feedback as possible. OH. It’s not possible for a seller to give negative feedback to a buyer. That’s another way ebay favours buyers. Another thing, always push back if get negative feedback. You can call Ebay and explain what happened. I’m saying this with the assumption that you’re honest and deserve only positive feedback. Also if you give a buyer a full refund or cancel the order, they can’t give you feedback… so if you get a sketchy vibe/iffy address and you haven’t shipped yet- just cancel.
- Finding Market Value- When comparing your item to what’s already there, make sure you click “sold listings” to see what your item is selling for… it doesn’t matter how much people are listing for. Disney VHS can be listed for 1M on Ebay but that doesn’t mean anyone is willing to pay that.
- Go to Ebay.com: My default is Ebay.ca, but there are way more listings to see on Ebay.com. You’ll get a much better sample for comparison. Just remember to convert currency and always look at the shipping price paid too- That’s the total amount the buyer was willing to pay.
- Abbreviations: New in Box (NIB) Out of the Box (OOTB) One of a Kind (OAK)… Get hip to the lingo man… all these things affect pricing.
- The condition of the item is a big factor. You can sell something with a huge stain on it “As Is” but just won’t get as much. For me, fixing up the dolls is THE POINT- That’s my version of playing with the doll. I shampoo it, detangle, find the perfect dress… then sell. BUT if I didn’t enjoy it, I’d weigh “how much extra money will cleaning this up get me” vs. “how much is my time worth/do I make doing real work.” If cleaning up a pony will take me an hour and earn 3 extra dollars, it’s not worth my time unless I normally make 3 dollars an hour.
- Check how you’re doing. There’s a place where you can see all your listed items and how many people have clicked the listing, and how many people are “watching” the listing. If there aren’t as many clicks as expected, you may have priced too high. Instead of changing the price, cancel the listing and relist at a lower price. Do this because there are people how have “alerts” and it comes up on their feed. If you change the price, it won’t come up on their feed again and they won’t know unless they search the item. People with feeds don’t search because they already saw everything in their feed.
- Auction v. Buy It Now. This depends on your living situation. If you’re in no rush, set it to Buy it Now at the price you want, and just wait for the perfect buyer. They’re out there, but it may take a few years. They will be so happy. But let’s say I have to move unexpectedly and get all this shit cleared out? I can switch everything to a 4 day auction and have it all gone in 4 days.
- I’m VERY TALENTED at fixing up dolls and ponies. You have no idea. I take something SO UGLY and make it SO PRETTY. (Not to be confused with the Youtube people who take a PRETTY doll, strip the face paint right off and draw a completely new AMAZING face.) But I’ve got skills when it comes to sewing/ washing /repairing/ posing/ painting/ curling/ detangling/ harsh chemicals/ straightening etc. Since I’m at the computer drawing ALL THE TIME, I love the tactile element of fixing things up. And rescuing something that was cast off as trash. I wish I put as much effort into my own appearance. That is not a casual comment. I’m being vulnerable with you right now.
- I have SUPERPOWERS when it comes to finding toys. I can recognize all kinds of fabrics and plastics… so I rarely have to dig through any piles and can scan shelves fast. If a small corner of plastic is poking out of a pile and it’s the RIGHT kind of plastic, I can identify a good toy like a COKED OUT HAWK.
- Storytelling. Hey, you’re selling right? It’s sales. So give people something to think about and feel. Like this picture below. I had the Preemie in PERFECT condition to sell, and then this Kid who needed major hair restoration and not much going for her. I also had this CPK dress that matched the Preemie’s outfit. So I paired them together for sale… Simple, but now a buyer will see a relationship between the 2 dolls- they look like siblings. It’s enough that they may get emotionally attached. You can also be funny and creative in your product descriptions… people generally don’t do that, but I do.
4. Still on special skills… Toy entitlement. Why should children have toys when they’re just going to wreck them? If I’m at the thrift store and I see a kid considering a toy *I* want… okay I’m not going to push them down or anything, but I will stay in the area and think “Dropitdropitdropitdropitdropit.” They ALWAYS do… because children are FICKLE and they move on FAST. Seriously though, it doesn’t even occur to me to pretend my toys are for a kid when I’m out shopping. ONCE a cashier said “Ohhh! The kid that gets this is going to be pretty lucky!” and it totally jarred me. Neither of us ever thought of it the other way.
5. Photography. Mmm I’ve found the basic tools are the best. Fancy box light is too intense and fancy DSLR camera picks up too many details. High res macroflaws the naked eye can’t even see won’t help sell your item. My process (as of yesterday) is phone camera w natural light, then touch up the main photo using the phone gallery (because that’s the photo that gets the listing clicked,) then upload them using the Ebay app, (All angles) then save the listing as a draft. Then finish off the listing on the proper computer where you can have multiple windows open to compare prices and check postage rates and type with a proper keyboard godammit.
Canada Post: And now for the worst of it all.
- CPost is crazy expensive. If me and a seller in New York are selling the same item for the same price, it may be cheaper for a CANADIAN buyer to get the American one- because USPS charges less to go to another country than CPost charges to go to it’s own damn country. Prepare for American buyers to shoot you messages accusing you of overcharging.
- Never buy tracking for something outside US and Canada. They don’t tell you, but they only guarantee tracking on the Canadian side- Once it leaves the border and is in another country’s hands, it’s outside their responsibility. They don’t tell you that when you’re paying $80 to ship your Anastasia VHS boxed set to the UK. At least that’s what a postal worker told me once and once is all I need to hear something like that. Generally I now never pay/charge for tracking. With experience I’ve found that buyers are honest and the postal service… delivers.
- Unless it’s within Canada- there’s a way that tracking can be cheaper than regular parcel but it’s still crazy expensive and keeps going up.
Okay that’s all I can think of… I’m now IN THE ZONE. When I did this 4 years ago, it’s because my landlord decided my basement was going to be a full on 3rd apartment. A person is now living where my stuff used to be. As for the current situation… I have to admit… it’s what I’m gonna call… flowthrough. I bought it, I played with it, it’s time to go. I say it like that because I’m a little annoyed at myself for procuring more after the last round. Especially since I’ve been wanting to move this entire time. But, you know… working long hours, need a quick pick-me-up, retail therapy… But working hard *because* I have a goal to MOVE! Pretty dumb… Oh well. Once the flowthrough has actually flowed, it will all work out. After that I’m going to have an immediate flowthrough policy- must sell to earn a buy. I mean, that sounds like a good goal, right? I need to focus on the happy ending- the toy finding it’s forever home. Someone who wants it SO BAD that they’re willing to buy it on Ebay.
The only thing I struggle with are things that I know no one else wants. Like my Quatchi collection. I LOVE QUATCHI. If I see a Quatchi, I have to buy him. I LOVE QUATCHI! I don’t think anyone else loves Quatchi very much. Maybe they think he’s cute. I have many Quatchis and I don’t want to sell them. I want them. I WANT THEM. I LOVE QUATCHI!! HE MAKES ME HAPPY! So what am I supposed to do? There is no practical reason to keep 10 plush Quatchis and it tears me up inside. I also feel like… in the case of Quatchi… he’s so fuzzy and… more is better?