Sunday, August 16, 2009

Making money on ebay

I've been dabbling with ebay for years. It's a good way to unload some stuff that you don't need anymore or make some extra money on the side when you're strapped for cash. It really is easy money. I've bought things from yard sales and resold them for a huge profit. I've done the same with things from thrift stores. Years ago when I was playing an online video game I even sold a bunch of stuff in the game for real life cash. As long as you're not selling something that's alive, perishable or related to firearms then you'll probably be good to go. There are only a few things that you need to know when you're selling on ebay.

Sell what you know. If you don't know anything about what you're selling then you won't be able to accurately describe the item to people who know exactly what they're looking for. Those are the people who will pay the most. Get on google and do some research before you post your item up for sale. Describe it as accurately as possible and make people confident that they know exactly what they're getting.

Use other online resources to advertise. It doesn't take much. If you're selling parts from an old Honda motorcycle then find a Honda message board that will let you advertise your auction link. If you're selling a book about how to brew beer then get on a homebrew forum and post the link to your auction. Just set up an email address that you use only for registering on forums and post away. Who's more likely to buy what you're selling than someone who posts about it all the time?

Know what your stuff is worth. If you're selling something that's worth a certain amount if someone actually wants it while you're selling it then put it up for that amount and hope that someone bids. This rule only applies to low demand items that are worth quite a bit but probably won't generate much interest. If you're selling something hot that a lot of people are selling and bidding on all the time then just start the auction at $.99 and let the free market take over. I start most of my auctions at $.99. If it's a big ticket item then a lot of people are bound to watch it. In the last 30 seconds or so I always get at least close to what I expected to get. Sometimes I get more.

Part of working ebay is being able to find the stuff that you're selling for a lot less than you're selling it for. Craigslist has been a great resource for me. I also check out thrift stores and yard sales regularly. Once again, stick with what you know. Sure you could find a box of old books for $1 a box and toss them on ebay. If no one has ever heard of any of them and you don't encourage anyone to bid on them then you'll probably pay more in listing fees than you make in the auctions.

What I don't like about Ebay is that you practically have to have a Paypal account. The reason that I stopped selling stuff from my little video game is because I got burned for $150 because of Paypal's policy. Fortunately, if you're dealing in tangibles and you use tools like delivery confirmation then the chances of you getting burned are pretty low. Unfortunately, Paypal is all electronic so "they" can trace it. If you're not making "quit your job" money then I don't think that you have anything to worry about. You could always write off related expenses for the first three years until it becomes a hobby.

Overall, Ebay is a great resource for the regular joe to make a few extra bucks on the side. The trick is to find something that you know a lot about that you can conceivably sell and ship at a reasonable cost. If you're shipping small things then it's easy to make an extra buck or two off of the shipping cost. If you're shipping big things then people just expect to pay more for shipping. If you're going to go cheap on the shipping price then be sure to build it into your starting bid. I do this a lot and sometimes it really pays off. There's something about a "free shipping" icon next to the auction that make people want to bid more.

I buy a lot of stuff on ebay for resale. For every guy who's selling one little thing for $5 there's 5 guys who are selling 20 of the same thing for $20. Buy the bunch of things for $20 and resell them all for $5 a piece. If you know what you're doing it works pretty well. You just have to know what the stuff is worth and have the cash on hand to make it work. If you start playing with ebay a lot then it's pretty likely that you'll have a pretty fat paypal account most of the time. Before long you'll be sending big chunks of cash to your bank account.