After many early Saturday’s, dozens of trips to the post office, and listing 99 different items, these were my results from this past summer.
I can hear the comments, “but that’s not profit, what about eBay fees and shipping costs.” The point is after all costs considered, you can still make a ton of money selling on eBay, and if you’re smart about it, enough to make it your full time gig!
The 6 Best Hacks to Sell on eBay
- Creating Photos that SELL
- Made in ________
- Garage Sales, The Gold Mine
- Secret Negotiation Tactic
- Good Customer Service = Long Term Success
- Master Sub-Markets
Before we get into the hacks, I wanted to share a quick story that should make you a believer going full-time eBay is very possible!
As I was just starting out, I walked into a Goodwill Outlet store (major thrift store), known by some as the bins. Keep in mind this was 11 A.M. on a Tuesday, and it was packed… but something seemed different.
People were pulling around multiple shopping carts, and their eyes were glued to their phones. This seemed odd, and after walking around some more I noticed almost all of them were on the eBay app (the app is pretty unique, so at just a glance you could tell).
Suddenly a new bin of thrift goods was pushed out, and it was like piranhas to a T-bone steak.
I went up to the cashier, and asked “what in the world going on?” She told me the same batch of people come in everyday, from open to close filling multiple carts with shoes, clothes, toys, electronics, etc.
She said, these people were full time flippers.
I just want to say this one more time, if you are smart about it, I guarantee you can do eBay full time!
Let’s get into the hacks of selling on eBay so you can start making money!
1. Photos are EVERYTHING
I know you’ve heard it before, pictures are worth 1,000 words… well on eBay they’re worth 10,000!
This point cannot be stressed enough. If you do not take your pictures seriously on listings, buyers won’t take them seriously either.
For beautiful pictures, you need the following
- A good light source (sunlight or artificial)
- Shots at multiple angles, otherwise it comes across that you are hiding something
- Light cleaning of the item, oftentimes water and a paper towel go a long way
- Clear pictures
- A good background (this can mean a few things, I’ll explain in a minute)
Consider these 2 pictures, who’s listing do you think will sell within a week and who’s will still be there next year?
When you look at a good and bad product image side-by-side, it’s clear this element goes a long way!
Now that it’s clear photos are critical to success, how can we take shots like this?
You’ll need 3 things:
If you have a relatively new phone, the built-in camera should be fine. On the other hand, if you are rocking a flip phone, that won’t cut it. You’ll want to invest in a decent camera, to get crisp product photos.
Most sellers will eventually get a dedicated camera and tripod to up their photo game, which makes the process a lot faster.
From my experience there’s 2 options here: sunlight and photography lights. Sunlight offers a warm and balanced stream of light, but it’s inconsistent and can cast shadows. After getting photography lights, it was obvious why serious sellers used them.
- Eliminate Shadows
- Provide a consistent and controllable source of light
- Create a brighter image
You can be creative with this one; I’ve seen paper, fabric, wood, and brick used successfully. A good backdrop, means that the background is not competing with the product.
You want something clean and simple… a white backdrop is the go-to choice! Plus, this is a classic option, and says professional all over it.
2. Made in ________
This hack served me very well, hopefully it does you too. Here’s the tactic, if you pick up something… and it says “Made in” someplace that is not China look it up on the eBay app!
Early into my time flipping, I looked through metal dishes and silverware a lot (hoping to find silver). One day, I was looking through some dishes in a thrift store, and found a metal plate that was particularly heavy. Flipping it over, it said “Made in Italy” and had “Arte Italica” stamped on the back.
I looked up and they were going for a little over $100, and the sticker on it said $6…
After a while, I discovered that 9 times out 10 if it said “Made in” someplace that is not China, it was underpriced. This led to a strategy of quickly scanning items for their origin, and using it as a sign of potential value.
I found dozens of other items this way with sweet ROIs.
3. Garage Sales, The Gold Mine
Most flippers opt for thrift stores and big box stores, forgetting the best opportunity of all. Believe it or not, these were two flips from a garage sale (on the same day).
Paid $5 and Sold for $200
It turned out the item was an oscilloscope; I didn’t even know what it was at the time. The guy said he wanted it gone and would take $5 for it.
Paid $1 and Sold for $105
This item was a film splicer (basically new in the box from decades ago). The owner said they’d take $1 for it.
I’m not going to say there wasn’t luck involved here, but the funny thing was I had lucky finds just about every Saturday. There’s a famous saying about luck…
“The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
Reasons Garage Sales are Gold Mines:
- You can negotiate. You’d be amazed how flexible prices are at garage sales. If you aren’t a sales executive, don’t worry I’ll teach you a killer trick to negotiate better prices in the next hack (I guarantee you can do it too).
- They are used to liquidate. A lot of people just want to get rid of stuff. That was the case with those two flips mentioned previously, the people just wanted the stuff gone. Meaning, you can find deals on stuff at garage sales you can’t anywhere else.
- Bigger discount the more you buy. Think about it, if someone is selling 20 video games, and the price says $5/each. Instead of paying $100 for all of them, offer $60 to take them all. You’d be surprised how many people go for it, because again most people just want the stuff gone… they aren’t looking for top dollar.
Now let me share some useful tips to be successful at garage sales!
– SECRET INGREDIENTS –
- Bring a decent amount of cash. You don’t want to get out there and find the deals of a lifetime and only have $50 on you. Instead, bring a couple hundred dollars, keeping maybe $50 on you, with the rest stored in a secure place in your car (if you find a killer deal, just head back to your car and get what you need).
- Early bird gets the worm. This means hitting the road at 6:45 A.M., I know it’s early but that’s the only time you’ll see the insane deals. Just crash when you get back, and you’ll have several hundred dollars of flipping profit to rest your head on.
4. Secret Negotiation Trick
This is primarily used at garage sales, but can sometimes work at estate sales too.
Aright, here’s the trick, when you ask the person running the garage sale “what’s your best price?” they’ll reply with some amount. Then all you do is say nothing, and play it like you are considering it but aren’t convinced.
This sends a signal to the seller that they almost have you, and most of the time they’ll break the silence by saying…
“How about I take another _______ dollars off”
You’ll probably have to give it a shot to see for yourself, but trust me it works!
As a matter of fact, in You Don’t Have to be a Shark by Robert Herjavec (an investor on Shark Tank) he suggests the same strategy in sales. He wrote that countless sales are lost, because people can’t keep their mouths shut, to let the deal close itself.
When it comes to eBay, always remember you make your money when you buy.
For this reason, negotiating a lower buying price creates more room for profit when you sell. I’m not suggesting you become a bloodthirsty negotiator, the point is sometimes you’ll need the price to come down a little for it be worthwhile, this hack can take of that.
5. Customer Service = Long Term Success
On eBay there’s something called feedback, which refers to how satisfied people have been dealing with you.
Think of feedback like your personal reputation; this is how the two convert (i.e. how people would view you based on the feedback score).
Positive Feedback Comparison
- 95%-100% = The most kind and honest person you know (worth interacting with)
- 91%-94.9% = A little rough, but overall a decent person (worth interacting with)
- < 90.9% = Can’t be trusted (not worth interacting with)
I doubt everyone will agree with this breakdown, but I know they’ll agree that feedback will make or break your selling ability.
You should do everything in your power to maintain the highest possible feedback, preferably 100%! This means customer interactions need to be taken seriously.
Higher feedback means more trust, which equals more sales.
How is feedback determined?
Each time a transaction occurs, the buyer has the opportunity to rate the seller and vice-versa. I’ll admit, sometimes you’re unlucky and get hit with undeserving negative feedback. Don’t worry, it can be removed, but this requires convincing the person to remove it.
If someone abuses negative feedback, you can call eBay and they will manually remove it.
– Secret Ingredients –
- Starting at 0 feedback. Establishing feedback isn’t terribly difficult, most people get it from buying first instead of selling. Remember sellers give feedback to buyers too. So consider buying a few things, and get your feedback going that way.
- How to keep high feedback? I include a slip of paper in my packages giving some background on me, thanking them for the purchase, and politely asking to leave feedback. This resulted in 50% of people leaving me feedback.
- Choose feedback over a return. Every seller is faced with this decision eventually. The buyer wants to return something you sold them, and you don’t agree with the reason they gave. So, you can either refuse the return and involve eBay’s team to resolve it, or take the loss but preserve your feedback. Big time sellers don’t fuss over returns, because they know damage to feedback costs more in the long run than the item.
6. Master Submarkets
The money is in submarkets, because you can become an expert in that field. On the other hand, full blown markets (e.g. clothing and electronics) are simply too big to grasp all the data.
Examples of Submarkets:
- Women’s running shoes
- Tennis rackets
- GameCube video games
- Vinyl Records
- Pocket Knives
Before going to thrift stores, garage sales, and discount shops, I recommend picking a submarket and come up with a list of brands/titles/types of that thing to keep an eye out for. Then, familiarize yourself with these names a little bit, so they’ll jump out when you stumble upon them (examples below).
*I’d keep these lists in my notes app
The more knowledge you have of various submarkets the more money you’ll make. Think about a video game expert who knows all the rare titles and estimates of their prices. If they went to several garage sales, a thrift store, and a few pawn shops they’d come across well over 100 games.
There’s no telling how many profitable games they would find; I’ve certainly found plenty of gems. Video games are one of my favorite categories to hunt for, since they sell super fast and cost less than $3 to ship.
I remember finding Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door in a thrift shop for $4, and selling it a couple days later for $40. Several people walked past it, like it was a flat basketball.
The deals are out there, but if you don’t know they are in front of you… it’ll seem like nothings there.
So, learn a few submarkets and start with item categories you’re already interested in!
It will feel a little difficult at the beginning, getting used to shipping rates, eBay’s website, and listing products, but stick with it because it only gets easier. Once you hear the first “cha-ching” notification telling you something sold, you’ll be hooked!
Best of luck selling! Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!
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