Is selling your stuff online really worth it? Top eBay tips…

If you want to declutter and make a bit of extra money all at the same time, one ideal way to do it seems to be to sell your stuff online. There are so many different kinds of online selling sites now that it should be a quick and easy thing to do.

But is it? Is selling your stuff online really worth the effort? Or would it just be easier to take it to a charity shop?

In this article we take a look at the pros and cons of selling online. We also give some hints and tips on how to sell successfully on one the world’s most established trading sites – eBay.


What are the pros and cons of selling online?

There are always two sides to the story. 

So here are three good reasons to sell online. And three good reasons not to!


Three good reasons to sell online

  1. First and foremost, you can make money for old rope. Sometimes literally! You’d be amazed at what people will buy. It’s the basic law of economics; supply and demand. If you have something that somebody wants – however strange it may seem to you – you could make good money from it.
  2. Once you get the selling bug, it can act as a strong motivator to declutter your home. You may find yourself constantly looking for things to sell. Clutter doesn’t stand a chance!
  3. You may begin to consider taking online selling seriously and turn it into a business. Either as a sideline or even as a potential career change. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow, as they say.


Three good reasons not to sell online

  1. The main offputting factor about online selling is the time it takes. This is a particular issue when you start, and does become easier once you get used to it and know what you are doing. But, whichever platform you choose to sell on, you will need to compose a listing, take photographs, choose pricing and postage options, and possibly answer questions from potential buyers. Then if your item does sell you will need to either post it or arrange collection by a courier or the buyer.
  2. Leading on from the above, another potentially negative aspect about selling online can be the disappointment you feel if items don’t sell. Particularly if you had got your hopes up about a particular item being fought over by eager buyers and bringing in a nice pot of money that you’ve already decided how to spend. But sadly no-one seems to want it. 
  3. When selling online you also need to be careful about fraudulent activity. If you keep to the guidelines of the selling platforms and use secure payment mechanisms such as Paypal all should be well. But it can be easy to get sidetracked and agree to sell an item off-site and get scammed. Or for a buyer to turn up to collect an item and try to quibble about the price. Fortunately these occurrences are the exception rather than the rule, but you do need to keep your wits about you.

If you do decide to sell online, here are ten tips for successful selling on eBay. 


Ten tips for successful selling on eBay

1. Delight your buyers

Before you start selling on eBay you need to set up an eBay account using your email address. You can register on the eBay website here

You will also choose an eBay seller name which will be visible to other eBay users. Every eBay user has a percentage rating based on feedback from previous transactions. Especially as a new seller, you should always aim for a 100% rating as this will give confidence to other people to buy from you. 

Four things that can help achieve high ratings are:

  • Polite and friendly communication with buyers and potential buyers;
  • Sending out items promptly once a buyer has paid;
  • Leaving positive feedback for your buyers. This will encourage them to do the same for you.
  • Purchasing items from other sellers, paying promptly and getting good feedback from them.


2. Titles and descriptions matter

When you list an item to sell, eBay will suggest the best category to list the item under, based on where buyers are likely to look for the kind of item you are selling. 

It is then up to you to add a title for your listing and a description of the item. Be as detailed and honest as you can be in both of these to help buyers to find your item and decide whether it is what they are looking for. 

Ebay has produced a video about how to create excellent titles and descriptions which can be viewed here.


3. The more photos the better

As well as your written description you can add up to 12 photos to each eBay listing. These can make a huge difference to how well your item is perceived. It really is worth taking time and effort to take and upload good photos of your item from different angles.

Also make sure that if there are either special features of the item, or any flaws with it, that you photograph these and mention them in the text.

Ebay has produced some guidelines here on the importance of photos and how to take winning photos.


4. Get the price right

Setting the right price for your item is really important. If you set it too low, it may not be worth the effort once you take costs into consideration (see tip 8 below). But if the starting price is too high the risk is that your listing may not attract much interest.

When you create a listing, eBay will suggest a price to you based on the selling prices of similar items. But you do not have to use this price, it is just a guideline. The best thing is to do a bit of research on various sites to work out a fair price for the item you want to sell.

As well as the price itself, you have the choice to sell the item as an auction listing – where people can bid against each other for your item – or as a “Buy It Now” i.e. fixed price item.


5. It’s all about the timing

You also need to decide the length your listing will run for. The default is 7 days but you can change this under Selling Details when you list an item. 

Experienced eBay users recommend longer listings – for example 10/11 days – where possible as these give more time for your item to be viewed. 

Also consider when your listings will end. For example if you start a 10 day listing on a Sunday afternoon, it will finish on a Wednesday afternoon, which may not be the best time for many people to be shopping on eBay. Most eBay sellers recommend early evening Sunday as the best day and time to end your listing, as this is a popular time for people to be online.

When creating a listing you can opt to schedule it to start on a different day or time rather than immediately, so you have a choice of when to start and end your listings.


6. Promote your listings

If you have one or more items that you are really keen to sell, you may want to consider promoting them using Promoted Listings Express if your item is eligible. You can do this either just after you list your item or if your item has a “Promote it” banner on your my eBay Active listings page.

Promoted listings are available to Above Standard or Top Rated sellers with recent sales history.

You will be charged a small fee for a promoted listing. In return for this, your item will appear in sponsored ads on listing pages of similar listings, giving it more visibility to a wider audience.


7. Plan your postage

Think carefully how you will send out your item, and how much you will charge for this. If the item is very large or heavy, you might want to specify collection only. This may limit the number of buyers who are interested in your item, but could save a lot of time and hassle getting the item transported. However, be careful about strangers coming to your home, and try to have someone with you if at all possible.

If you are selling a small item, perhaps consider offering free postage as this will attract more interest and could make the item more likely to sell

Ebay provides general guidelines on postage costs when you list an item. The key thing is to be practical and ensure that you cover your costs. Don’t be tempted to overcharge on postage to make more money as this can either put buyers off altogether or result in negative feedback.


8. Take eBay costs into account

It is usually free to list on eBay: as a private seller you have 1000 free listings a month. Any listings above this would be charged at 35p each.

But you do need to pay eBay 10% of the final selling price of your item, so bear this in mind when setting the initial price. 

If you are using any special features in your listing, you may also need to pay extra for them 

For example:

  • Buy It Now: adding a fixed price to your listing as well as the starting auction price.
  • Reserve: adding a (hidden) minimum price that you will accept.
  • Gallery Plus: using larger images.
  • Subtitle: adding an extra line to your title so that you can include more detail.
  • Second category: listing your item in two different categories.


9. Tot up your tax

As well as eBay costs, be aware that if you get to the point where you make £1000 or over in a single tax year from your eBay sales, you need to declare this to HMRC on your tax return for that year.

But if you make less than £1000 a year, it is tax free and you don’t have to declare it to HMRC. 


10. Don’t get scammed

The final thing to watch out for on eBay is potential fraud. We referred to this earlier.

You particularly need to be on your guard against two things:


  • Phishing

As your eBay activity increases you may be more visible to fraudsters and vulnerable to phishing emails. These are emails that look like official eBay emails but are trying to get your password and other personal details.

A phishing email will typically try to convince you that there is a problem with your eBay account or password, and give you a link to click to supposedly sort it out. Never click these links. They are likely to lead you to a fake website where your login or personal details will be stolen.

Make sure you only login to eBay through the genuine website or the eBay app.


  • Trading off site

If you have a listing running, you may get a message from another eBay user asking you to close the auction and sell the item to them privately rather than through eBay. This can be tempting, particularly if you are in a hurry for the money, but it is always risky. You will not be covered by eBay’s seller protection policies. So, for example, if you send out the item then the funds are somehow withdrawn, you could lose money.

It is best always to conduct sales through the eBay selling platform to ensure that you are protected and secure.

We hope that this article will help you to decide whether or not to sell your stuff online, and help you to succeed if you do decide to do this.

If you need any financial assistance to bridge the gap before your sales take off, remember that Munzee Loans is always here to help. Munzee offers online loans that could save you from rushing into selling on eBay before you are completely ready to do so.

Check back here soon for more financial and lifestyle tips from Munzee Loans.