Tips For Selling on Ebay

For the last few weeks I have been selling items on eBay to finance two operations. I have been on a reading kick lately and am reading anything and everything I can get my hands on related to personal finance and personal development. I truly believe the saying, “You’ll be the same person you are today five years from now except for the people you meet and the books you read.” I find books on eBay, read them and auction them on eBay in the span of a week or two.

Ebay profits are also going towards my debt snowball plan and I am discovering even micro-payments here and there can drive down interest charges and overall balances. I’ve been buying and selling on eBay for years, but this is the first time I’ve put the proceeds to good use. Over time I have assembled some tips for selling on Ebay that I’ll pass along here; hopefully they will improve your selling totals, too.

Five Tips for Successful Selling on Ebay

Start 99% of your eBay auctions for $0.01. EBay makes money by charging sellers both a front-end and back-end transaction fee. The fees are based on the item’s beginning price and final selling price. No sense paying more in fees just to start your item off at a higher price. I’ve found that $0.01 auctions tend to generate a lot of interest at first and create a lot of “watchers.” These watchers will monitor the item throughout the selling process and come back near the end of the auction to bid. It’s tempting to set the starting price closer to what you would like to actually get paid, but I’ve found this method to be both costly and largely ineffective. One disclaimer: If you are selling a high-priced item you may want to consider a higher starting price, and/or setting a reserve price.

List your items at the end of the day. Most people peruse eBay auctions later in the day, so consider listing your items in the evening to get maximum exposure near the end of the auction. Consider the various time zones – ending your auction too early may not allow those on the west coast enough time to get home, have dinner and fire up eBay to see your listing. Listing items around 10:00p.m. EST has always worked well for me.

Time your auction to end on a weekend. Auctions ending on a weekend tend to generate more interest, and therefore higher selling prices. If you are using the most popular 3-day auction (and I recommend you do) list your item on a Wednesday or Thursday evening so that it will end over the weekend.

Personal messages and your own photos add a unique touch. Technology has made things easier over the years by giving those selling on eBay a product look-up via UPC codes, and stock photographs to insert in auctions. While these shortcuts do save time I recommend taking a couple minutes to include a personal message in your auction. Include your reasons for selling whether it be as simple as you’ve read the book and you are passing it along, or that you are are trying to get out of debt or build an emergency fund. If you have access to a digital camera consider snapping a shot of your item and replacing the stock photograph provided by eBay. Actual photos are great for showing item condition, guaranteeing a certain quantity, etc.

Stick with PayPal. Now that you know how to sell on Ebay, figuring out how to collect payments is the next logical step. I highly recommend signing up for Paypal and using it exclusively to handle your eBay transaction processing. Several years ago people were skeptical of using online payment services and sellers had to offer alternative methods of payment. However, most people today, especially those using eBay, are comfortable using PayPal to pay for winning auctions. It sure beats waiting on checks or money orders to be mailed and cleared.


  1. This is great advice. I have trouble starting my auctions low because I think my stuff is worth so much more 🙂 It helps to know that starting lower can be more profitable and when to end the auctions. Great advice!

  2. It;ll cost a bit more, but setting a reserve price might allay those “I’m not going to get as much as I want” fears.

  3. Jason,

    I also start most of my auctions at a penny–even if I’m selling a brand new Coach handbag! However, I know because I’ve sold plenty of them before, that I’ll cover my cost of the purse even if it’s not a successful auction in terms of profit. Starting an auction at .01 definitely attracts more buyers.

    You mentioned that you sell your books on eBay after reading them. Have you tried selling them on Amazon? Sometimes you can get more depending on the book, and you don’t necessarily have to wait for your money if the book sells fast (it’s popular). I wrote an article at
    about how to sell books on Amazon for a good profit if you’re interested. I just sold books over the weekend and two of them happened to be new books I bought at a bargain at Barnes & Noble:)

  4. I love eBay. I pick up things at yard sales and thrift stores to sell on eBay. It is a great way to save up for Christmas or get a bill paid off. I have done it for ten years, and even blog about things I have found that sell well.

  5. This was a great article. I have never sold anything on eBay before and I feel like you gave me just the right tools to get started. Thanks!

  6. Great advice! Any advice on shipping & handling costs? What attracts buyers? For example, for the items you start at a penny, do you offer free shipping or do you also have shipping costs?

  7. question: im a seller on ebay and if i set a reserve price people can see that there is one and not bother to bid because they think that the real price is to high. is there a way to hide the reserve listing so they think they are getting it for w.e the bids go to? and can u end a listing early cause the bids arnt what you want to sell it for?/ thanks

  8. Dear Jason,
    I woke up today and started trying to find out how to sell successfully
    on ebay. I did come across a u-tube about a guy who sold an antique
    radio, and the buyer said pay me $25 more or I will report you because he claimed something was wrong. The seller said return it for a 100% refund. Because of the “protection plan” the buyer
    complained to ebay and returned the radio (without many of the pieces, even though they were in the photos). Ebay put a bad mark on both at the end of the day but the Seller wasn’t really at fault. I think his point was “don’t sell to anyone who does not have feedback”.
    Any advice. I LOVE what you write.
    thanks…. ali rose

  9. This is a simple tool that we created to gather pricing information directly from eBay to give you the most accurate and important information for Sold and Current listings.

    It’s called CheckAFlip
    checkaflip dot com

    It is currently in a beta state so please let us know if there’s anything you would like to see done.