That stuff is money!…selling on Ebay for fun and profits

financial independence

When we last moved, we looked round a number of houses.

We saw many different styles, layouts and interiors. But there was one feature which most had in common: they had a room that you couldn’t go into.

It wasn’t a secret: the sellers / agents were happy to show us the room…its just that we couldn’t fit inside because the rooms were too crowded WITH STUFF.

Sometimes it was the garage, sometimes it was a spare room or the loft or the basement but most of these houses had a room that was so full up with shit stuff that you couldn’t step inside it.

99% of us have too much stuff. If you are wondering what The Escape Artist is talking about when he says that everyone is wasting money, then I invite you to take a tour of your own house.  Look around… behold The Stuff and consider this:

Everything that you see used to be money.

That money took time and energy to earn.  Maybe it was worth it, maybe it wasn’t. We all have stuff where we pretty quickly get bored with it and wonder what came over us.  This is known as buyer’s remorse.

One way to change your relationship with stuff is to sell on Ebay. This will teach you useful skills like how to present and market the product. It will teach you to let go of stuff. And you will learn that different people place very different values on things. The trick is to attract the best new owner for the asset (the person that values it most highly).

In The Beauty of Minimalism, we talked about the life changing magic of de-cluttering. Ebay rewards your minimalism with hard cash. You don’t need to keep stuff in your spare room forever. That stuff (that used to be money) can be money again.  Then it can be invested so that it can compound and grow…even while you sleep.

If your stuff has sentimental value to you, ask yourself whether it makes sense to spend more time at work and less time with the people you love.  Better to love people than stuff. You may love your stuff but it sure as hell doesn’t love you back. 

You may remember Louise who now has a nice little earner with her sideline as an Ebay re-seller. Who better to deliver a beginners guide to using Ebay to de-clutter for fun and for profits?

Enjoy!

The Escape Artist


Lou1

Selling unwanted stuff has become a business for me and is the main side hustle that supports my FI lifestyle having left my full time career in 2017.

I started out several years ago by selling my own stuff as I worked towards FI.

After realising it was something that I enjoyed and that I could quite easily acquire other people’s unwanted stuff relatively easily and cheaply, I decided to take the leap and change my hobby into a fun and flexible business.

Quite often people are put off selling on Ebay by thinking that their precious heirloom handed down by Grandma Ethel will end up selling for 99p.  I have learnt a few tricks and tips along the way and I would like to share with you some of the basics so that you have a better chance of selling your unwanted items for decent money.

Almost anything can sell on Ebay and the majority of homes will have a tonne of stuff that you can easily and painlessly say goodbye to and turn into a pile of cash.  The first step is to have a good old clear out of your wardrobe, cupboards, attic, shed and anywhere else that you have hoarded stuff.

Perhaps you have a cupboard full of your children’s abandoned toys, unwanted gifts, barely worn clothing or a 35mm camera from the 1990’s that was shoved in a drawer once you got your hands on your first digital camera.

Selling your stuff on Ebay is quite simple but there are several things to consider if you want to get top prices for your stuff and avoid common mistakes and pitfalls.

Ebay1

I recently sold this soft toy for £100

The basics

If you haven’t already, create a personal selling account on Ebay either on your home PC. or by downloading the Ebay app.

I have both of these which provides me with the flexibility to list on either and I receive notifications when I am away from the PC. Using the app you are notified with a pretty cool Ker-ching! sound when something sells.

You will need a Paypal account to receive payments and pay your Ebay fees. This is easy to set up, verify your details and link it to a bank account.

Selling fees are charged both by Ebay and Paypal and both need to be considered when setting your prices.

Ebay Listing fees – Every month private sellers are given up to 1,000 free listings although this may be lower if you are new to Ebay.  If you choose short term listings of 1-3 days you will be charged 35p for each new listing.

Ebay Final Value Fee – When your item sells you will pay 10% of the final selling price plus postage.  E.g You sell a pair of shoes for £10 plus £3.50 postage. Final Value Fee (FVF) @10% of £13.50 = £1.35

Quite often private sellers receive various promotions such as £1 final value fees which you need to opt into to activate the offer. Paypal Fees are around 3.5% of the amount received.

What to sell?

Most things will sell on Ebay and there are lots of categories on the platform. Do not dismiss anything!

A vintage Argos catalogue recently sold on Ebay for £49.99(!) so its worth checking out that cobweb covered corner of the garage!

I have sold old bottles of perfume, toiletries, jewellery, toys, electrical items, old shoes, vintage catalogues, curtains and any number of other things. Don’t overlook large and bulky items, you can use specialist couriers for these or choose to sell on a collect only basis.

You can sell items individually or if they are of low value it may be a good idea to sell them in bundles.  This strategy has worked well for me with soft toys and some lower value clothing items e.g 4 x Size 12 summer skirts or a bundle of baby clothes.

To check whether something is worth selling take time to research what prices similar items are listed at and more importantly what they have recently sold for as there can be a huge difference in what someone would like to receive for an item and how much someone will actually pay.

The simplest way to do this is to search for a similar item using the advanced option to the right of the search bar and choose the SOLD tick box filter, you can then re-order the results to determine the highest and lowest price similar items have achieved.  If using the app, simply filter your results to show the sold items.

ebay3

Postage and Packaging

This is an area that I have been caught out with.  By calculating your postage and packaging costs accurately you can avoid any costly mistakes. You can purchase shipping directly from Ebay using the “print postage label” option and opt for Royal Mail or other couriers.

Consider the SIZE and the WEIGHT of the parcel and check prices before listing. Royal Mail is a cheap and reliable service for smaller items weighing less than 2kg but anything larger than their small parcel size or heaver than 2kg and the price jumps significantly so it is worth looking at other couriers such as Hermes or UPS.

Ensure you have enough packaging products for when your item sells.  If you are selling an old VHS recorder you really want to avoid panicking when it sells as you realise you don’t have a box for it!  Buying these items online is much cheaper than in a retail shop so have a good look at the items you are selling and get your packaging ready.

Depending on what you are selling you may need the following items:

  • Polymailer bags – these have a variety of uses but are particularly good for clothing and smaller items.
  • Bubble wrap
  • Parcel Tape
  • Boxes – Ask around local shops to get these for free
  • Newspapers or shredded paper for filler
  • Printer and paper – I print my packaging labels on paper and tape them to the parcel, you can also buy labels if you like.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a printer as you can write a label or print one in store with some couriers such as Hermes.

Bear in mind that you are charged Ebay and Paypal fees on your postage so you will need to account for that when setting your postage costs.  I charge £3.40 for a small parcel which will incur fees of 34p for Ebay and 12p Paypal leaving £2.94 to cover the actual price of postage and the cost of packaging.

There are some restrictions to what you can post both in and outside of the UK so make sure that you check with your chosen postal service for restricted or prohibited items.

Preparation and Photographs

To get top prices for your items make them look fully presentable for sale, this means cleaning if necessary and ironing or steaming clothing items.  Ebay photographs have a zoom function which can really show up dust and dirt so a little time spent cleaning can pay dividends.

Take clear photographs from different angles preferably on a white or grey background, Ebay allows 12 images. Remember the potential customer is relying on your photographs alongside the description to make a buying decision so if your photographs are blurry or there not enough of them to fully examine the item they will most likely move on to the next seller on the list.

You do not need a fancy photographic backdrop to take good pictures, a plain wall or door to photograph against works well.  I have used a white sheet hung up and draped over a table to take photographs which is low cost but very effective.

Taking photographs outside is also a good idea, especially to show up true colours for clothing. You can also enhance your photos by using editing apps to improve the brightness or contrast or by using the built in photo editor on Ebay just be careful that you don’t alter the actual colour of the item.

Key words and Descriptions

Key words are what makes up the title of your listing and are found by buyers depending on what they type in the Ebay search.

Think of what your buyer might type in the search box when looking for your item, it doesn’t have to be a sentence.  A title description of Hobbs Size 16 Navy Blue Linen Sleeveless Shift Dress Smart Work will get more search results than Lovely Navy Dress Size 16.  Avoid using subjective words such as lovely or stunning in your title as you are wasting key words and your idea of stunning may not be someone else’s.

You may get an idea for key words by looking at sold items that are similar to yours.  If you find almost an exact match you are able to press the “SELL SIMILAR” button which will copy the title and item specifics for you, just be careful to check and edit if necessary.  Complete as many of the item specifics as possible this will also help with the search results and you will have more chance of your item being seen.

Be absolutely honest with your description. Your buyer is relying on you to describe your item accurately so that they can buy with confidence.  Mention any flaw, defect or issue.  Be careful when using words like “fabulous condition”, leave that decision up to your buyers.  A better way to describe something in fabulous condition is to say “no damage, marks or flaws”.

As a private seller you do not have to accept change of mind returns but you do have to accept returns for damaged items or items not as described.  You will have to refund the original postage plus pay to have the item returned to you.  It is just not worth trying to make your item sound better than it is or try to pull the wool over the eyes of your buyer.

Selling format and setting prices

You have a choice whether to sell you item at a fixed price or by auction.

An auction item can run for up to 10 days.  You set your starting price and buyers bid on the item.  If you want to sell this way I would recommend that you start with the lowest price you are happy to receive for your item, you do not have to start it at 99p.  Time the ending of your auction to be on an evening when most people are at home.  It is a common belief that the best time to end auctions are on a Thursday or a Sunday evening.

My preferred selling method is to use a fixed price which Ebay calls Buy it Now price.  With this you set your price at an amount you would like to achieve.  You do have the option to also allow offers from buyers by adding a “best offer” to your listing.   Quite often my items sell for full price without being sent an offer and I usually achieve higher prices with this method than with auctions.

WARNING!  Never ever discuss or even hint at completing a sale outside of Ebay via messages. Doing so can result in your account being permanently suspended and when I say your account I mean everyone in your household forever!

Ebay monitors all correspondence between seller and buyer.  Do not provide your telephone number, address or email in messages prior to sale even if innocently requested.  Politely decline and explain that you will provide all information required after the item has been purchased.  It is worth familiarising yourself with Ebay’s communications policy so that you are clear on the rules.

Posting your sales

Make sure that you post your items out in a timely manner and within the time period you have on your listing.

Pack your items securely so that they get to your buyer without damage.  Pay particular attention to breakables or delicate items.  Sometimes couriers leave items outside so consider ensuring that you make your parcel rain proof.  In the unfortunate event that your item becomes damaged or lost contact you chosen courier and you may receive compensation.

I hope that you have found these basics to selling on Ebay helpful and that it helps you to achieve great prices for your unwanted items.

Good luck!


You can find Louise as Indie Chick Escapes on Instaglam and find her online shop here


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8 comments

  1. that’s a great primer on ebay selling and excellent advice on getting started. i write up our ebay adventures 4-5 times a year and especially when we sell something ridiculous, like a vintage bidet we shipped across the country. we’ve sold over $5000 USD worth of crap in the past 12 months and it’s not even a business for us. it’s just our stuff! we do find stuff on the curb while walking the dog sometimes that has sold for quite a bit. i would also say that being willing to ship large or bulky items (charging the buyer for shipping) has brought us quite a haul. also: don’t start with your best or most expensive items when you’re brand new at this. save that for when you know what you’re doing a little to maximize value and have a little patience. happy selling everybody.

    1. Thank you for your comment, I completely agree that easy money is lying around our houses without putting in much effort at all. Large bulky items are some of our most profitable as quite often people are put off by the thought of the postage and packaging so we have less competition. This is when a putting a little research into different courier services really helps.

  2. The motivation I needed to shift a box stuff in my spare room. Will dedicate October to this activity!

    1. Good luck with the selling!

  3. Thanks for the primer. I’m going to shift some junk in October. Do you typically opt for signed for delivery with Royal Mail? Does this provide any insurance? Thanks!

    1. Hi, I tend to use a tracked service rather than signed for which gives me the proof required as to whether the item has been received or not. Tracking numbers can be entered onto Ebay with full information for all parties to view regarding the parcel in the case of a “questionable” item not received claim . Royal Mail comes with a small amount of insurance for missing or damaged parcels. Hermes offers £20 insurance and is the cheapest for a fully tracked service so they are worth considering.

  4. […] by TEA’s post ‘That stuff is money…‘ I am committing to selling stuff on eBay during October. I don’t have anything major […]

  5. Hi – I’m in Australia and honestly not much stuff sells on ebay these days (5-10 years ago was very different) unless you are prepared to take a very low price.
    That said I’m still listing a lot of stuff there – even though I’m not getting much money – it’s teaching me to let go and not reacquire!

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