Give Me Back My Five Bucks

The GMBMFB Guide to eBaying

I’ve been eBaying consistently for the past months or so, and I’ve had some commenters ask what my strategy has been … so I thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve learned along the way!

Now, I’m by no means an expert, but I think I’ve been rather successful in selling the items that I have to offer. Especially since most of the items I’m selling are used. Because I’m thinking about venturing into buying items with the intention of flipping them for a profit on eBay, I have to be more aware of how I’m going about doing my selling so that my profit margin stays high. There’s nothing more deflating than having an auction end without a single bid.

  1. Research each item you sell. Whether you’re buying an item in order to flip it on eBay for a profit, or just trying to sell off some stuff you don’t use anymore, you still have to do your research! Search eBay to see if the same item is being sold, and how much they’re being sold by. Is your item in sellable condition? I sell mostly clothes online, and I only sell brand named items in new or like-new condition. I don’t even bother selling stuff from Jacob, Esprit or RW&co. Because while they make nice clothing, their names aren’t as well known as other brands.
  2. Make sure you can turn a profit. Don’t forget to factor in eBay’s listing fees, their commissions, PayPal fees, as well as packaging the item. One thing I made a mistake on is listing my shipping price without factoring in how much I would have to pay to package the item in bubble mailers. That can get expensive! When it’s all said and done, if you’re only going to make $2-3 on the item, is it really worth it for all your legwork? For some who buy and sell in bulk, it might be. For others like me who sell in small quantities, it wouldn’t be. It’s your call.
  3. List items around 8pm EST on a Sunday. I’m guilty of listing items really late at night on a weeknight, plus I’m on the west coast … so I didn’t even think about how late my auction would end on the east coast! If you list your items around 8pm EST, you’ll attract more last-minute bidders. Because really, who’s going to wake up at 3am just to bid on clothing? Plus, most people are home on a Sunday evening, so you’re almost guaranteed to have more people looking to bid on your item!
  4. Use low starting bids. Not only will you save more on listing fees, but you won’t price out people who are interested in your item. The general rule is: if your item is going to be popular, list it for a lower price. If you only expect a few people to be interested in your item, make your starting bid closer to the actual price you’d want for your item. For example, I listed a pair of used jeans for $0.99, and since they were an awkward size (6-short), the winning bid was for $1.99. A few days later, I listed the exact same pair of jeans, but for $9.99, and the winning bid ended up being $13.
  5. Offer a return policy, but make sure to specify that you only accept returns if the item is not as advertised. It’s proven that people feel more secure when there’s a return policy involved. I always offer a return policy if the item is not as described in the listing, and have never had anything returned to me.
  6. Be clear in your auction title. I’ve seen people use up half their characters with punctuation and WOW AWESOME DEAL! … stuff along those lines. If you choose your words with care, you’ll get more hits when people search for an item. I always make sure to list the brand name, and (NWT = new with tags, NWOT = new without tags, LIKE NEW, etc), the size (if it’s a size 4, make sure to list it as “small” and “s” as well, and vice versa).
  7. Write a good, detailed description of the item. Be as clear as possible with any flaws you can find on the item. This will ensure you keep your feedback positive. Also, I find it helps to write a personal description of the item, why you are selling it, and what it would be great for. Write something like “You are bidding on a brand new Banana Republic sweater. I bought this last week but realized it wasn’t for me. This would be a perfect addition to your fall wardrobe!”
  8. Be sure to list the size measurements of the item. I’m thinking of clothing specifically, but it goes for pretty much anything. I recently sold a black strapless dress in a size 4, but when the customer got the item, she said that she mesured it against the size 2 that she owned of the exact same dress, and they were the same size. But since I had listed the measurements in the auction, there was nothing I could do about it. She was at fault for not checking the sizing beforehand.
  9. Take good photos! This is KEY! If you take crappy photos, your item probably won’t sell. Make sure you have good lighting and the photo is sharp and in focus.
  10. Pay the 35-cent gallery fee. This is so your photo appears when people browse/search the listings. This is so important!!! Most people don’t even bother looking at the listings without pictures.
  11. Answer all questions promptly. No matter how stupid the questions might be, you have to answer them all, and quickly. If it’s a question a lot of people are probably going to have, then you should answer the question personally to the potential buyer, as well as amend your listing to list that information publicly.
  12. BE FRIENDLY. Write your description, and answer questions like you’re talking to a friend. Don’t respond with one word answers. Thank people for showing an interest in what you have to sell. Don’t be rude!
  13. Don’t over-charge for shipping. A lot of eBayers list their items cheaply, and then try to make up for it by inflating the shipping costs. Don’t do that. It’s annoying and no one likes it. Figure out how much shipping would actually be, taking into account packaging material, gas to get you to the post office, and set your price that way. Don’t guess at the shipping costs either. I did that for a few auctions, and actually ended up losing money because I was charging too little. Also, you can’t factor in eBay and PayPal fees into the shipping costs. It’s a given that when you sell by eBay and take PayPal that you will have to absorb those fees yourself.
  14. Ship internationally. It’s not hard to ship an item internationally using air parcel or ground mail. It gets to be a pain when you’re using FedEx or UPS, because of customs … but you open yourself up to so many more potential buyers when you agree to ship internationally.
  15. Offer PayPal. I only accept PayPal now, as it’s so easy to set up an account, and anyone who has done any sort of eBay shopping has one set up. Plus, you’ll get your money faster, and that means the customer will get their item faster.

I hope this list helps somewhat. If you’ve got any other eBay strategies I haven’t listed here, I’d love to hear them!

Watching my money

I was talking to a really good friend today about going on EI. She said that when she got laid off, she was on EI for 6 months while she worked part-time and looked for work. This makes me feel a lot better about my journey down that road.

It’s still hard though. Now, she’s got a great job and we’re making the same amount of money … except the difference is my job is ending, and hers just began. Most weekends she takes off to Vancouver or down to Seattle, and she always invites me along. I used to go every so often in the summer, but I can’t go anymore because I’m watching my money. It sucks. Part of me just wants to screw the budget and go have some fun … but I know I can’t afford it.

A way to make more money on eBay

Last week I visited my favourite thrift store – this isn’t any ol’ thrift store like the Salvation Army or Value Village, this is THE thrift store in town. They only sell brand named clothing (they also buy a lot of clothing wholesale through the states, so I would say 15% of their clothing still has the tags on them), and also cool retro wear. I picked up some cool old school Lacoste t-shirts for $5 two years ago.

Anyway, when you go to this store, it’s so massive that you really have to dedicate at least a full hour there, just to make sure you’ve covered all your ground. I usually don’t have the patience for it, but as I was casually browsing through the 2/$15 sweaters near the front of the store, I came across TWO perfect 100% cashmere Banana Republic sweaters … with the tags still on! One was a black cableknit v-neck, and the other was a red v-neck cardigan. SCORE! I bought them right away, because for $7.50 a piece, you can’t really go wrong.

That got me thinking … this could be where I scoop up bargains to sell online. They sell everything there. For $7.50 a sweater, I know for sure I could get at least triple that price if I sold them on eBay. Especially when that store has their “end of season” sales, they sell things dirt cheap. We’re talking 3/$10 pants, and if you spend time digging through the stuff, you can find pieces with the tags still on them.

It’s a pretty good idea. I’m going to have to spend some more time thinking about it though. I wouldn’t make it into a huge operation, but it would be a good way to make a little extra cash. Plus, I love shopping, so it wouldn’t feel like work for me.

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