If you ask around for quick ways to raise cash, one of the most common answers that you’ll get is to sell your stuff. When it comes to selling second-hand stuff, eBay is King. But how do you get started? What follows is a list of fifteen tips for selling your stuff on eBay.
- Save your boxes and instruction manuals. This is especially useful for consumer electronics. While you can’t stockpile this stuff forever, having the original box and user manual can substantially improve your final sale price.
- Focus on the right sort of stuff. eBay is far more effective for smaller, easily shippable items. Got an appliance to sell? Try selling it locally (for free!) on craigslist instead.
- Schedule your auctions to end on a Sunday. I’ve always run seven day auctions starting on Sunday evening Eastern time. This allows your auction to run for a full week, and my experience has been that Sunday evenings are a particularly good end time. An argument could also be made for running ten day auctions starting on Thursday evening.
- Do some research to figure out a fair price. You can easily search completed auctions to get a sense for how much similar items have been selling for.
- Use a low starting bid. Low starting bids not only reduce your costs, but they also encourage bidding activity. This is especially true for popular items. If you’re selling a niche item that you don’t think will attract much interest, you might want to start closer to fair market value.
- Don’t try to make a killing with inflated shipping. People aren’t stupid, so just play it straight. While it’s okay to pad your shipping a bit to cover your time and the cost of packaging materials, don’t be ridiculous. In fact, it’s possible to get in trouble with eBay if they think you’re trying to cheat them out of their final value fee.
- Take good pictures. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. I always try to include large, clear pictures in my listings. Depending on what you’re selling, it might also help to take pictures from multiple angles. If you still have the original packaging and paperwork, spread it out and include a picture.
- Write an honest description. Be thorough, but keep it short. List the key features of your item and specify its condition. Does it work? How well? What about the cosmetic condition? Refer to the picture(s) if appropriate. And don’t hesitate to tell people why you’re selling it. If it’s so great, why aren’t you keeping it? Maybe you just upgraded and no longer need it.
- When formatting your ad, keep it simple. Feel free to use bold or colored text to highglight key aspects of your listing, but don’t go overboard. Keep it simple, readable, and clean.
- Clearly state the terms of your auction. Specify who can/cannot bid (low or negative feedback? no thanks), list the shipping details, let people know how quickly you expect contact/payment, specify the types of payment that you will accept, etc.
- Clearly state your return policy. Selling an item as-is? Fine, but be sure that potential buyers know this. Whatever you do, don’t leave any grey areas or you’re setting yourself up for trouble.
- Answer questions. If potential bidders ask a question about your auction, be sure to give them a timely answer. Unless you’re selling something rare, they have a ton of options and are likely to move on if you’re not quick.
- Communicate with your buyer. Once the auction is done, get in touch with your buyer right away and stay in touch with them until the transaction is complete. Let them what they owe, when you received payment, and when you shipped their item.
- Ship in a timely manner. Once the winning bidder has made payment, get the item shipped ASAP. I typically shoot for next business day. The sooner you send it, the sooner you can stop thinking about it and the happier the buyer will be.
- Save your listing for future reference. When all is said and done, save a copy of the text used in your auction for future use. I have a boilerplate listing that I can customize as necessary. This saves me from have to re-create the Terms & Conditions, etc.
I think that just about covers it. If you have tips of your own, please be sure to share them in the comments, below.
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