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How to sell on eBay

When it comes to selling all manner of new and used goods on an international scale, eBay is the go-to service. Whether they be newfangled next-gen consoles, an autographed Bert Blyleven baseball card, or handmade scale-male guinea pig armor, eBay seemingly knows no bounds. It allows users to post and edit listings for everything from fashion accessories to foreign cars, all within an easily navigable web interface and accompanying mobile app.

However, selling is a little more complicated than just posting an ad on a service like Craigslist. We’ll take you through the key steps in getting started, and everything you should know about making efficient eBay sales.

Want a more direct selling experience? Try one of these classified ad sites.

Getting up and running on eBay

While you may be able to peruse eBay listings without an eBay account, there are a few necessities and desirable actions you may want to take prior to selling those aforementioned stamps. Tasks such as creating an account and adding payment information are an absolute must, but even simple touches such as tailoring your profile page and boosting your rep with a hodgepodge of low-cost purchases can make you seem more eBay diligent than daft.

Step 1: Create an account

Sign into an eBay homepage or link your account from another service like Facebook or Google. If you need to create an account, think carefully about what it is called. Since your username is always visible when you bid, buy, and sell, choose something that is both professional and possibly speaks on behalf of what you intended to use your account for.

Review the User Agreement and Privacy Policy to examine the details of selling on eBay

Step 2: Link your PayPal account

If you haven’t already linked your eBay account to PayPal, you will be encouraged to do so when signing up. If you already have an account without a PayPal link,  hover over your name in the top-left corner when viewing any page and click your blue Account settings link from the resulting drop-down menu. Once there, select the PayPal Account option on the left-hand side and click the Sign Up Today button.

Enter your personal information when prompted and complete the sign-up process. Next, return to the eBay PayPal Account panel and click the gray Link My PayPal Account option on the right-hand side of the page, enter your PayPal login information on the resulting page. You can also “verify” your PayPal account to help link bank accounts, qualify for Seller Protection, and more, so this is a really good step to include when you are finished.

Link PayPal account

Step 3: Spruce up your profile

Love it or hate, but eBay is a game of faith. When you bid or purchase an item on the site, you’re making the assumption the seller is a legitimate person, not one attempting to scam you. That being the case, it’s often best to bolster your account profile with a photo and bit of copy to make your profile appear more genuine and reassure potential buyers you’re a serious seller. It doesn’t need to be lengthy or overly complex, but it should provide users with a little bit about yourself and your background — especially if you’re selling within a niche field such comics or taxidermied bear pelts.

To edit your profile, hover over your name in the top-left corner when viewing any page and click your blue eBay user ID from the resulting drop-down menu. Afterward, click the Edit profile button near the top of the resulting page and add an image and additional copy by clicking the pencil icons in the upper-right corner of the portrait and text fields. Click the blue Done editing button when finished.

eBay profile

Step 4: Boost your reputation

You get 100 free sales per month without a subscription or having to pay fees — and you can make as many purchases as you want. Use this freedom to start creating good stats for yourself. Buyers are typically hesitant of purchasing items from sellers with no rating, so purchase a few items to build your credibility within the community and prove trustworthiness — no matter how small a transaction it may be. Check out the ratings breakdown below to see how the different star icons stack up against their respective rating numbers.

Star Color Number of ratings
iconYellowStar_25x25 Yellow 10 to 49
iconBlueStar_25x25 Blue 50 to 99
iconTealStar_25x25 Turquoise 100 to 499
iconPurpleStar_25x25 Purple 500 to 999
iconRedStar_25x25 Red 1,000 to 4,999
iconGreenStar_25x25 Green 5,000 to 9,999
stars-11 Yellow shooting star 10,000 to 24,999
stars-12 Turquoise shooting star 25,000 to 49,999
stars-13 Purple shooting star 50,000 to 99,999
stars-14 Red shooting star 100,000 to 499,999
iconShootGrn_25x25 Green shooting star 500,000 to 999,999
iconShootSlvr_25x25 Silver shooting star 1,000,000 or more

Crafting the perfect eBay listing

To create an eBay listing, click the Sell link in the top-left corner when viewing any page and enter the item you’re trying to sell in the resulting text field. You don’t need to be overly specific — the title can be tweaked in the following listing editor — but being somewhat detailed will help produce matching categories for your item. If you know the UPC or ISBN number for your item, typically found on the barcode, entering said code in the title box will pre-fill many of the specifications required down the line. You can also create a full template for a selling page, which is a great way to fill out specific information. Categories, subtitles, condition, and more info will help you make a successful sale.

Step 1: Writing the listing title

Eighty characters may not sound like ample space to describe an item, but it’s more than you might think. The listing title is one of the first things potential buyers see when perusing eBay listings, thus it needs to be compelling and clear enough for users to understand the item you’re trying to sell immediately. Be descriptive when crafting the title, noting the item’s brand or designer, and include additional words highlighting the color, size, and condition when appropriate (although you will have fields for these descriptions later on as well).

Step 2: Attaching photos

Your listing on eBay requires a photo — preferably more than one. It’s best to capture images from a variety of angles, potentially highlighting different key components or flaws noted in the item’s description. Photos should be captured in a well-lit area, using natural light when possible, and be devoid of distracting or cluttered backdrops that might deter users from the product. It’s also best to avoid stock images found on the Web and those supplied directly from the manufacturer as it helps convince prospective buyers you actually possess the item in question.

You can upload up to 12 photos without borders or text, or even choose Gallery Plus which charges you a fee for uploading larger photos. Choose your photos carefully. Simpler listings may only require one or two photos, which is fine in the right circumstances.

Try using Ebay’s new computer vision feature to really make your products pop, too.

Step 3: Writing the listing description

Postings live and breathe in the minute details, such as cosmetic damage and bundled items, each of which should provide the buyer with an accurate sense of what they will be receiving. Keep your item description as neat and concise as possible, using proper spelling and grammar while offering text that is both easy to digest and relatively quick to read. eBay makes this easier with detailed fields; fill out as many of them as possible and add any applicable fields to provide even more information.

Step 4: Choosing the right asking price

When it comes to eBay, there are two forms of listing prices: Fixed-price and auction-style. Fixed-priced listings, or those offering a Buy It Now price, are strict listings that do not fluctuate in price, offering the item at a set amount, which you determine in conjunction with the minimum amount outlined by eBay. Auction-style listings can offer a Buy It Now price as well, but they also allow buyers to bid on items, with the sale typically going to the highest bidder. Additionally, some eBay categories allow users to add a Best Offer feature to fixed-priced listings, urging buyers and sellers to negotiate the sale price through a series of initial offers and counteroffers. This is also where you set the duration of your listing, which is automatically set at seven days but can be adjusted or scheduled for a specific time.

Do your research before listing your item, and consult similar listings for similar products to get an idea of supply and demand on the eBay market. This is also the area where you choose payment options (Paypal is an ideal choice), sales tax, and return options. It’s often a good idea to make returns easier for buyers, but within reason.

Step 5: Choosing the shipping cost

You can also choose a variety of shipping settings depending on your needs. eBay has a great system that allows you to quickly calculate shipping based on the services you choose and the package qualities. It’s worthwhile to fill out everything in these fields to create the most accurate shipping info. Shipping is set to “flat” or the same shipping for all buyers, but if you are selling a variety of different items, you should adjust this based on the specific product.

Some sellers offer free shipping as an incentive to buy, while other sellers set shipping costs. This is entirely up to you and the product you are selling, but always try to be reasonable and avoid cheap tactics in favor of honest shipping policies like buyers would encounter on Amazon or other common platforms.

Finalizing the transaction

Step 1: Deliver item

Assuming the listing has ended and the buyer has paid successfully, it’s time to carry out the grunt work. The specifics should have already been determined as you previously outlined the shipping conditions and any fees associated with them, so all you need to do is deliver accordingly. Sale items should be placed in a box slightly larger than the item itself, packaged neatly and securely using paper, bubble wrap, or a similar packaging method, and properly labeled with both the buyer’s address and a return address. Irregularly shaped and fragile items may require alternate shipping methods and include additional fees, but they should still be shipped within the previously specified amount of time regardless. If issues arise for whatever reason, inform the buyer of the details and further discuss shipping means.

Step 2: Leave feedback

Sellers can provide feedback, but only positive feedback — while buyers are able to offer positive, neutral, or negative feedback. While it may seem like a waste of time at first glance, leaving positive feedback as a seller is actually a great practice. It helps establish trust with buyers and gets you accustomed to the feedback process. You can leave feedback by visiting Orders in the Seller Hub.

A few bonus tips and tricks for selling

Being the thriving auction community eBay is, there’s no way to cover every facet of selling on the site within a single article. However, we do want to mention several other notable features and methods not previously highlighted in our quick-hit tutorial on selling. They may not be necessary, but they’ll surely aid you in your relentless quest for a buck.

  • Download the mobile app: Being tethered to a desktop computer is no longer an issue with the free mobile eBay app for Android and iOS. The app is streamlined and fully featured, loaded with tools for buying and selling, while offering additional notification tools and bid alerts to keep you perpetually informed regarding any auction you’re involved with. Note you have to turn on notifications in your phone settings to get quick alerts.
eBay mobile
  • Accept returns: Buyers have more faith in their purchases when they offer a bit of peace of mind. Accepting returns, although not ideal, will encourage buyers on the fence about purchasing your item. It’s doubtful buyers will ever take you up on your offer if you’ve provided detailed photos and an accurate description to match, but the comfort is appealing nonetheless.
  • Build a good reputation: eBay has a “Top Rated Seller” title that can really help buyers trust you and lead to more sales. You can get this rating by building a good reputation: Avoid problems with orders, settle customer complaints without arbitration, and make at least 100 transactions to build up your rating.
  • Keep sales within eBay: Don’t accept payments outside of eBay such as cash, checks, and money orders. Not only are they prohibited under the site payment policies, but they are incredibly unreliable and offer nothing in the way of proper assurance or seller protection.
  • Open an eBay Store: When you register as a seller, you also have an option to subscribe to eBay, which allows you to open a Store based on your tier of subscription. This provides you with a unique Store address and expands your selling capabilities, webpage design options, sale tracking, and lots more. It’s a great choice for frequent sellers with larger inventories.

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