The Best Way to Sell on eBay and Online Auctions

The Best Way to Sell on eBay and Online Auctions

Whenever we clean out our closets, we’re always tempted to sell our stuff on eBay, but the actual process is a bit complicated-sounding: Bids? Shipping? Bleh.

So, we bring you a detailed how-to guide to eBay:

Understand What Your Item’s Selling for Elsewhere

Go to eBay and search for your item, or very similar items, to get a sense of the market price. This will help you determine a starting point for your bid.

Study Similar Listings

Check out the completed auction listings to see how other sellers listed the same items:
●      What categories were they listed under?
●      What did the other sellers put in the titles?
●      How did they describe their items?
●      What kinds of pictures did they use?
●      Did they include shipping?
●      Did they accept returns?

Come Up With an Intuitive Title

This isn’t the place to be cutesy, since you only get 55 characters. Think back to the terms you used to find similar items for research: That’s exactly what prospective buyers will do. Use the words they’re most likely to think of when looking for what you have. Skip filler text like exclamation marks or other words like “wow!” or “amazing.”

Write a Detailed Description

Describe your item in detail to qualm buyers’ concerns over your product. Answer all potential questions in your listing, such as:
●      Where did you buy your item?
●      How long have you had it?
●      Measurements / size?
●      What condition is it in?
●      Any imperfections?

If your item does have imperfections, take a picture of the imperfection so that the buyer can decide genuinely whether it’s a deal-breaker.

Take a Great Picture

LV tip: eBay will charge you extra for more than one picture. In your listing, provide a link to Picasa or another photo-hosting solution to store an album of pictures.

Photo checklist:
●      Have a clean, simple background. There should be nothing showing in the background (e.g. messy room, doorway, etc.) as it’s distracting.
●      Show items in their best condition. If you’re selling clothes, make sure they’re laid out well and wrinkle-free.
●      Do not put the item on the floor! Many buyers are turned off by this.
●      Use good lighting.
●      Crop your photo so that the item takes up the whole frame.

Set Your Price and Go to Auction

The way the whole thing works is that you’ll set a starting price and buyers will bid on your item for a fixed amount of time (say, a week), as an online auction. Alternatively, you can choose to set a fixed price and have buyers pay that exact amount for your item—the first method entails more risk and stress, but might bring in a higher price in the end.

Go With PayPal

Whether you choose a fixed price or an auction, you’ll have the option to choose how users cab pay you. Although PayPal will take a cut of the transaction, the minor costs are worth it because the program helps buyers and sellers feel comfortable with the transaction. To open a PayPal account, go to and click on “Sign up.” Once you’ve been through the introductory account set-up questions, you’ll have the option to link your PayPal account to your eBay listing so sellers can send money without either of you having access to the other’s sensitive account info.

Decide on Packaging and Shipping Costs

As the seller, you are responsible for getting the item to the buyer in the described condition, so packaging is critical. Wrap your package in newspaper or bubble wrap if it is fragile, and place the entire thing in a waterproof, sealed package to protect it from water and odors on the way. Decide upfront whether you will ship to others for a flat rate or if you’ll charge actual shipping costs. If you’re living on either coast of the U.S., you might want to go with actual shipping as the costs can vary drastically depending on where you’re shipping to.

Moral of the Story: Put Yourself in the Buyer’s Shoes

If you were to search eBay for the item you’re selling, what are the keywords you’d type in to the search bar? How much would you pay? How would you like your package to arrive? Be mindful of things you consider deal-breakers, and be open about what you’re selling. Deception isn’t worth the bad seller reviews. If you get good reviews, your status as a trusted seller will elevate your selling abilities for your next listing.

Good luck!


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