If “The Twelve Days of Christmas” had been allowed to continue, the 13th would surely involve your “true love” listing all your unwanted presents on eBay. Just as no one needs 11 pipers piping, a pair of penguin-shaped slippers and a T-shirt with “All the Jingle Ladies” emblazoned on the front weren’t on our Christmas lists. Scrooges, the lot of us? Maybe. But according to research by eBay, Britons received 115 million gifts that didn’t hit the mark last year.
That’s a huge amount of waste being added to landfill, not to mention the billion cards and 227,000 miles of wrapping paper that could have easily been recycled. So instead of binning your unwanted gifts, why not make a buck or two on eBay? It’ll give you something to do instead of making turkey curry and draining what’s left of the sherry before. Keep scrolling for the seven golden rules for making money on eBay.
Pick your keywords carefully
The first hurdle is naming your listing. Describing a dress as “a velvet dreamboat” or “a shift that sparkles like the light of a thousand disco balls” might sound whimsical from the privacy of your bedroom, but it’s not going to get anyone’s attention on eBay. Only the listing’s title gets picked up when buyers search, so keep it purely factual, and make sure it includes all of the relevant information. Something like “size 12 gold Karen Millen midi dress” is going to tick the right boxes. A descriptive word can sometimes be helpful. According to eBay, adjectives like “old,” “vintage” and “sexy” can drive traffic to your listings when used appropriately.
Put effort into your pictures
This might seem like an obvious point, but it’s amazing how many people upload truly rubbish photographs—or no photographs at all. eBay lets you put up 12 images free of charge and will split it up into different angles (e.g., top, bottom, left side, right side, defects, detail), so take full advantage. Choose a spot that has a neutral background and is well lit. If it’s clothing or accessories, consider taking a few on the hanger and including a few of it on—it’s difficult to demonstrate the scale of, say, earrings or how tight a knitted dress will be—so that browsers can get a good idea of how it’s going to fit.
Be honest about defects
Honesty is the best policy on eBay. As I mentioned, you can upload a photo to show any defects, as well as expanding on what exactly the problem is in the description. Think about how infuriating it is when you get home from a shopping trip and the blouse you just dropped 200 quid on has a massive rip. It’s exactly the same on eBay only much worse—there’s a good chance you might get publicly shamed in the reviews section. Before uploading anything with a flaw, in fact, think about whether it’s worth getting it mended or simply recycling it instead. It might save you a lot of time and effort (as well as face).
Be on top of messages
If you’re the kind of person who takes a week to reply to a WhatsApp message, eBay might not be your bag. You really need to keep on top of messages that potential buyers send, as no matter how much information you stuff in the description box, there’s always something seemingly insignificant to you but very important to them that you’ve missed out. Keeping a close eye on your emails as soon as something is listed will mean that no sales slip through the net.
Think about the 2 P’s
Postage and packaging costs can cut into a juicy profit margin, so make sure you think about an item’s weight carefully. If it’s something heavy and bulky, weigh it if you can, and then check eBay’s price suggestions so you can charge postage accordingly. Listing an item under free P&P can be enticing to customers, but make sure it’s worth your while. If you’re only getting £.50 for a DVD and it costs £3 to send it first class, you’re going to be out of pocket. Bear in mind that for pieces of furniture or other unwieldy items that are hard and expensive to package (e.g., cellos and surf boards), you can always tick the “collection in person” box.
Check for “best items”
If something on your present reject pile happens to fit into the top 10 best items to sell on eBay list, you’ll be laughing well into the New Year. Branded tech is the biggest seller, with anything from Apple, Samsung or Sony going like hotcakes. Watches—especially Casio, Seiko and Swatch—are also solid sellers, as well as Lego and, bizarrely, chests of drawers, which are the most searched-for piece of furniture on eBay. Bikes from Apollo, Raleigh and Shimano are reliable sellers, and Clarks and New Look are the top shoe searches.
Do your price research
The best way to price something correctly is to select the category that fits your item’s description when you start the selling process. This brings up a page of similar items to yours, and you can then select the “sell one like this” option. Choose the condition (e.g., new, seller refurbished, used), and then eBay will recommend a starting price and how likely your item’s chance is of selling. In terms of “buy it now” or auction, I always used the former and make sure to add in a “best offer” option so buyers can send you lower offers that can be accepted or declined. Auctions can sometimes far exceed your price expectations if you have people topping each other’s bids at the final hour, but make sure to adjust your price if you’re not gaining much interest after a few days.
Next up, the spring/summer 2019 trends.
This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated.