From the Magazine

6 Expert-Approved Tips for Making Money on eBay

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Most homeowners have more than $5,000 worth of items that would sell well on eBay, per research. Here, three experts — eBay coach and entrepreneur Suzanne A. Wells, Garage Sale America author Bruce Littlefield, and The Amazing Seller podcast host Scott Voelker — share their tips for using the platform to profit from your stuff. Read on for six easy ways to get started making money on eBay now. 

1. Test the Waters

To ease your way onto the free auction site, which reaches an impressive 179 millions users, “start with lower-value items like non-designer clothing,” urges eBay pro Wells. “It’s important to first get a feel for the platform because new sellers can become targets of unscrupulous buyers who know the sellers lack the experience to identify scams.” 

One surprising red flag? If a buyer offers to pay way more than an item is worth, it’s likely a scam, and they end up sending you a bogus check. “That’s why it’s prudent to begin with things that sell for less than $50,” Wells says. “Once you get the hang of it, you can move on to higher-value items.”

2. Price Items Right

One easy mistake folks make when trying to gauge how much to list items for is following the competition. “Many look at prices of active listings when, in reality, you should look at completed sold listings to get a feel for how much something will sell for, ” Wells says. “I compare it to real estate, where a homeowner should price their home based on comps that have actually sold — this is historical data showing what a buyer will pay.”

3. Entice Buyers

The key to selling fast and getting top dollar? Clean photography. “Clear photos with a clean backdrop are essential because they let buyers see details,” notes flea market guru and best-selling author Littlefield. He also advises adding a creative description: “If you’re selling a vintage item, tell a story, like, ‘My grandmother brought this over on the Queen Mary,'” he explains. “Stories help buyers fall in love with what you’re selling.”

4. Turn “Trash” Into Cash

For Wells, one of the most fun parts about selling on eBay is “learning that your house is a gold mine and you didn’t even know it!” As she points out,  even broken brand name items, such as KitchenAid mixer and Keurig coffee makers, can be sold in parts. “Just the lid to a Vitamix can sell for $30,” she marvels. Even your junk drawer may quickly become a treasure trove of cash. “Some people buy junk drawer ‘lots,’ so [you] can resell the items separately. Just dump out your drawer, take a picture, label what’s in it, [and] say, ‘junk drawer lot with coins, lighter, tools’ … and list it!”

5. Sell “Invisible” Items

Products that are no longer produced can fetch a pretty penny. “One 6-ounce bottle of discontinued Bath & Body Works lotion, for example, can go for $80, as can discontinued cleaning products, like Scrubbing Bubbles shower cleaner, ” reveals Wells. “Most people have these items and have no idea of their value.”

6. Go Back in Time

“VCRs and video cassette rewinders sell like crazy for $75 to $100, ” observes Voelker, whose business podcast has reached more than 12 million downloads. “Electronic games like Nintendo and Atari are really hot, and even old remotes sell well.” 

It isn’t just vintage electronics scoring bids: Anything that conjures nostalgia, from old board games and quilts movie memorabilia, can be valuable. Adds Wells, “I work with baby boomers all the time who go at least 18 months before they run out of things to list on eBay — they already have so many valuable items hiding in their own homes!”

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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