Make money selling on eBay

Online transactions / shopping

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes.

There are hundreds of ways to make money online, some easier and some more profitable than others. I’ve tried many different things, from Amazon FBA to dropshipping with Shopify, to shipping products myself. For me, none of them were as quick and easy to pick up and start making money as eBay.

I’ve used eBay for many years, but only recently did I think of selling items on their platform. Covid-19 came and forced everyone to stay indoors for an indefinite amount of time. Like most, I was bored and started looking for new things to do. This was a perfect time to try eBay.

What to sell

I had a few Nike golf shirts in my closet that I’ve been wanting to get rid of but never got around to. This past weekend, I decided I’d list them on eBay and see what happens. The golf shirts sold within a few days, and I immediately started rummaging through my apartment looking for other things to sell.

I sold old electronics, clothing, shoes, kitchen gadgets. Anything and everything I figured I didn’t need or didn’t use much. I was surprised what kind of interest various random items garnered. It motivated me to keep going.

As I quickly ran out of personal items to sell, I started looking for deals on local marketplaces like Craigslist, OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace. This takes time and patience, but good deals are to be had everywhere. Just keep looking.

Most sellers price their items high, so don’t be afraid to throw an offer you’re comfortable with. More often than not, you should be able to get a decent deal that’s less than the asking price.

Besides online marketplaces, garage and estate sales are also a great resource. This is where you can find some great deals, but it requires a bit more effort.

Listing items

This is quite easy, most of the time. I try to resell brand-new items if I can get my hands on them. Reselling brand new items makes it easier to create listings and to price appropriately, as they probably already exist in eBay’s system.

If possible, simply scan the barcode of the item in the eBay app and eBay will auto-populate most of the information for you. Just add your pictures, tweak the description if necessary, and decide what you want to charge.

If a barcode is not available, search for your item and select the most appropriate result to start the listing, and adjust as necessary. There is also an option to create a brand new listing if you need it.

In any case, eBay tries to prepopulate as much information as it can, so most of the time this process is easy. Taking good quality pictures will take the most time and effort, but it’s important, so don’t skimp on it.

Make sure to take well-lit high-quality pictures to showcase your products. Oftentimes, the picture is the most important aspect of your listing and can have the biggest impact on your conversion rate. Consider setting up a dedicated photo area, and even buying a photography light kit.

Now that you’ve got the pictures and descriptions in order, just decide what you want to charge. Keep in mind that eBay takes about ~12% of the sale, so you’ll want to make sure to make enough back to cover the cost of the item and eBay’s fees.

To find the right price for an item, search for it on eBay and then filter by “Sold” listings to get a really good idea of what people are willing to pay.


When I started this endeavor, I had zero experience with shipping anything but didn’t let that hold me back. I just learned as I went along, and it turned out to be straightforward.

Most of what you need you probably already have at home: printer, scissors, scale, tape, and some shipping boxes.

USPS is eBay’s main partner for shipping and they offer free shipping boxes directly from their website if you don’t have some already. I also ended up ordering some bubble mailers from Uline that I use for many smaller items. That’s it, you really don’t need anything else.

When an item of yours sells on eBay, pack it up, measure, and weigh it. For heavier items, I use a regular bathroom scale, and it’s worked fine. eBay will ask you to fill out this information and allow you to print a shipping label, which you apply to the box.

You can then simply drop off the package at your local USPS post office, or arrange for pick up directly from your house. That’s it!

Record keeping and taxes

This part is important, so don’t wait to get started or it will only make it harder to do later. It’s easier than you think, especially once you get going. You’ll want to keep a record of every sale, along with the fees eBay takes, shipping and product costs, and any other associated charges.

At the end of the year, eBay will report how much it has paid you, and you will need to provide a breakdown of all the costs, and what your actual profit is that you should be taxed on when you do your taxes.

I use a Google Spreadsheet that automatically calculates most of it for me. I just have to record a few details about the sale, and the spreadsheet formulas do the rest. When it’s time to file taxes, the information I need is readily available so I don’t have to scramble to figure it all out. There’s a bunch of templates available for exactly this sort of thing, so do some research to see what will work for you.

Is it all worth it?

In short: yes. Not only is this something to simply keep me busy and make some extra money on the side, but I have also learned a lot about a vast number of topics since I’ve started this journey.

From the various categories of products that I work with, to eBay’s processes and policies, marketing, and advertising; it’s all been a tremendous learning opportunity and continues to teach me new things every day.

There are cons, as with anything. Dealing with returns or upset customers is not fun, but is a very real part of doing something like this. Sometimes finding products to resell can get frustrating, but you keep going.

The pros far outweigh the cons, and while you might have some upset customers or a return or two, they’re far and few between. Focus on providing a great service and delighting your customers, and it will go a long way towards your happiness and success in anything that you do.

If you’d like a more thorough guide, check out my 10-page PDF on everything you need to know to start selling on eBay today.

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