I’ve been on eBay since 2001 so I’d say I have some good experience making some cash online with the platform. I have 100% positive feedback from over 800 customers and have sold well over 1,000 items. That means I have done a good job of delivering what I promise. But eBay has changed a ton since I first joined the website. Many of the top sellers have moved on to different ways to make money, the feedback system is very different from the original version, and there is negativity galore on many eBay related forums. But is eBay still a good way to generate some extra income online?
There is no doubt that a person can get some extra money in a short amount of time if they use eBay properly. Buying and selling for a profit is one of the most simplistic ways to create some cash flow. Whether you are looking to get rid of your perceived junk or wanting to get some regular monthly side hustle money started, selling online is a real life option. It is not some get rich scam. You can declutter your basement and get paid for doing it. If you have access to a popular item that you can sell at a profit, you can keep those dollars rolling in on a regular basis.
My experience on eBay has come from buying and selling items that I am very knowledgeable about. I have sold a lot of sports items, as I am a sports fanatic. I know what players are popular so that gives me an advantage when it comes to knowing if I should buy an item that is related to this quarterback or that point guard. For example I made some good money on Mike Vick jerseys back in his early career with the Atlanta Falcons. I was living near a outlet store that discounted all their NFL jerseys just after Thanksgiving to half price and even lower at some points. Vick was playing very well and was one of the most exciting players in the NFL. This was well before the nasty dog fighting incidents were discovered. Ebay buyers were buying Mike Vick jerseys like crazy and paying full price which was about $50. I was getting them for about $25 after sales tax. So I would clear about $17 on each jersey I sold after eBay fees and Paypal charges. That is a healthy profit for selling retail items.
The jersey business was good for me at that time but soon the market was flooded with them. Sellers can see what is hot and what is not. So it doesn’t take long for other sellers to catch on to what they need to find then put up for auction. You do a search for completed items on any product on eBay and you can get a feel for what sells fast and for how much on average. It does not take deep research to get an idea of what is going to sell profitably. The more sellers of a similar product, the lower the selling price will be. The lower it goes, the less appealing it is to take the time to sell it on eBay. You can’t spend time going shopping for deals, writing descriptions in your auctions, and packing / shipping when you are only going to clear a few dollars.
I also had some good sales on eBay when I was selling for a family member who had no online selling experience. They had a retail store close down and needed to get rid of a pile of sporting goods. I charged a percentage of the selling price minus fees. I sold a large amount doing this. It helped them clear room in their basement where the inventory was being stored and it made them at least some money on the stuff they needed to move. I made out pretty good as well, as I was not risking money buying inventory. I was simply charging for my eBay knowledge and doing all the legwork on the sales. Doing these sales showed me the real value of retail items are in sporting goods stores or any type store. Not very valuable at all. I had to drastically reduce the pricing from retail to get rid of these products and they were brand new. A good way to know the value of an item sitting on a store shelf is to check eBay for a similar new item or a like new one. A physical store may have some Nikes for $120 that only go for $50 online. That said, getting some money for items that would just sit in a basement is better than having them gather dust for years.
My experience on eBay has been overall great. I have had only a couple of buyers that were hard to deal with. I have had only one sale that ended up costing me money due to fraud. And it has been fun selling online. There is something about making money by doing nothing more than “buying for a dollar and selling for two”, to quote Stringer Bell from “The Wire”. There’s a big difference in working physically by the hour and making $17 a pop by shopping then reselling.
One of the most respected names in personal finance, Dave Ramsey, says eBay is still one of the best ways to get started in business. Amid all the problems with eBay of 2014, a person can sign up for an account and start generating income immediately. Is there fierce competition? No question about it. Maybe the most competitive place to sell on Earth. Everyone can see what you are doing and copy it very quickly. Are the fees high to sell on the platform? Yes, but where else can you find so many shoppers that are willing to buy with the click of a mouse? There are other online auction websites but the traffic is a virtual joke. I tested out one such “competitor” during my sporting goods sales. I sold zero items. The same items on eBay were selling at least 8-10 times a week.
Would I advise someone to sell on eBay if they are looking for some side income that could turn into a real business? I certainly would and it is a good place to rid yourself of clutter that other buyers might consider treasures. But if you are to make real profits that are worth your time, you have to be willing to work at it. Researching what sells best is key. Selling something that you are highly knowledgeable about is very helpful as well. The more you buy and sell, the more expertise you will gain. How and where you will source your items to sell is the biggest hurdle. You will get little help from online message boards in this area. Sellers clearly do not want to hurt their own business by giving away the best places to source items. I only mentioned the jersey specifics because I am no longer selling those items. I would be crazy to give a heads up to others that could move in on my territory.
But if you just take time to look around you, it is possible to find deals that can be sold online that will create more income for you. Look for items in retail stores that are 70% off or more. At that discount there is room for a profit on some trendy items on eBay. Does your workplace waste some items that could be re-purposed for another use. In other words, do they trash old printers that you could disassemble to sell off the parts? Can you make items cheaper than a certain product that is popular online at the moment? What skills do you have that would transfer to making items that people want? That could be sewing, painting, or even welding.
I don’t have the specific idea for what each person should sell on eBay’s marketplace. That is up to you to decide and explore. You know what your expertise is and what is available in your local area. Ebay is still worth the effort, but it is not easy. There is work involved and precious time. If you have a competitive mindset, you should do well selling online. If you expect other sellers to make way for you and your price models, you may be in for a rough ride. Be creative, detail oriented, make product research your best friend, and adapt quickly and you should find eBay a welcome place for your money making efforts.