Make Money on Ebay: 15 Strategies

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Photo by kokogiak

I helped supplement my graduate school education by selling items on Ebay.  In this post, I want to introduce you to some ebay business strategies and techniques for making money on Ebay.  Tomorrow I am going to introduce you to some great places to buy inventory for selling on Ebay.  Be sure to check back!

15 Ebay Business Strategies

  1. Start with what you have. People get grand ideas about becoming millionaires from what they sell on Ebay.  While it is possible to make money on Ebay, it is just as possible to lose money.  Get a feel for how Ebay works by selling what you have in your home.  Likely somewhere along those first few selling experience you will make a mistake, so be sure those are not costly mistakes.  Practice before the big game.
  2. Always include bright, clear pictures with a plain background.

    You don’t need to have your own photo studio or expensive camera.  Just put down a white sheet and place your items by a bright light or a well lit window.  Buyers want to see what they are buying.  Don’t try and sell anything without a picture.

  3. Describe the most appealing elements.

    Writing an item description is much like writing a resume.  You need to first identify the appeal of the product and then communicate it.  It wouldn’t be a bad idea to search for a similar item on the internet and see how they describe an item.  Don’t copyright what they wrote, but use it as a starting point to help you learn how to write a description that will sell.

  4. Always offer a ‘buy it now’ option.

    Most buyers do not want to wait seven days before knowing if they are going to get your item.  As a result, people typically do one of two things.  They will only shop items ending in the next 24 hours or items that have a buy it now option.  Be sure your item won’t be overlooked for those wanting to buy now.

  5. End your auction at peak times.

    As number four mentioned, the majority of bidding happens near the end of an auction time.  Don’t list your item so that it will end at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday when no one is at home.  Instead, pick a week night between 6:30-8:30 p.m.  Typically Tuesday and Monday are highest internet sale days.

  6. Estimate your shipping.

    One of the biggest mistakes new Ebay users often make is underestimating their shipping cost.  Be sure to visit the US Postal Service Website and get an accurate estimate.  When in doubt, add a dollar or two.

  7. If you have a lot of inventory, choose a three days sale.

    You will find a 3 day sale will typically earn as much as a 7 day sale so to help move the product, end the sale earlier.

  8. Don’t stress out about the starting price.

    I have found that prices will sell for what they should regardless of your initial asking price.  For this reason, it is not unusual for me to start something at 99 cents.  Certain items, however, I start at $9.99.  The finishing price is what matters, not the starting price.

  9. Offer an insurance option.

    You can charge a customer for the insurance.  If a buyer has problems with the shipment they might give you a hard time unless you initially offered them the ability to buy insurance.  You can solve a lot of hassle by being able to say, “I’m sorry, but I did offer you the option to purchase insurance.”

  10. Reply to email questions promptly.

    Some buyers email questions just to get a feel for the seller’s personality.  They assume a seller who does not respond to customer questions will also not respond to customer concerns.

  11. Leave positive feedback.

    Ebay is a community where you always benefit by complimenting others.  Leaving a positive comment will often motivate someone to give you a positive comment as well.

  12. Be as detailed as possible when categorizing your items.

    Instead of listing your item as ‘clothes’, make it men’s clothing, jeans, classic.  If an item is new, be sure to emphasize that fact.

  13. Be as open and honest about a product as possible.

    If you are selling a used item be sure to tell the customer as much as you know about the product, not more.  You might say something like, “The item appears to be in like new condition.”  Don’t say it is only a couple of weeks old if you really don’t know.

  14. Ship promptly and notify the customer when the item is shipped.

    This is simple to do with Ebay, but also goes a long way to letting your buyer know you are on the ball.  It shows them you want them to have a positive buying experience.

  15. Upgrade shipping when the price difference is not substantial.

    Sometimes you will find that ground shipping is close to the price of air mail.  Send it air mail and be sure to let the buyer know that you went ahead and sent it air mail even though they paid for ground.

Tomorrow I am going to introduce you to some great places to buy inventory for selling on Ebay.  Be sure to check back!

Anyone else have any helpful ebay business strategies?


  1. Andrew Roebuck says


    your article is really helpful, but with point 9 and point 1… Paypal insists that if an item gets lost in the post, the seller MUST refund the full cost to the buyer. so it’s in the sellers interest to insist on postal insurance for loss or damage, up to the full value of what the item sold for. If you don’t then the seller will be out of pocket.

    I had this happen, where the item had an option for royal mail recorded delivery, which includes a maximum of £39 insurance, and special delivery which covers for up to £500. I stated in my checkout instructions that if the buyer bid more than £39, then special delivery should be used to cover the items value. the buyer didn’t, so I sent it recorded, and when it got lost, Paypal said that was my fault.

    So my lesson was learned, and I only lost about £35, but I’m still sore about getting no help from ebay or paypal..!

    worth knowing.

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