Anyone can sell on eBay. But if you really want to be good at it there are a lot of things you need to learn. Although you can easily write an entire book on the subject, here are 12 good tips for selling on eBay that can learn and start using immediately.
Tip #1 Use the Right Keywords
Basically keywords are the words your customers will use to search for your item. To figure out what your best keywords are you should imagine you are a buyer looking for an item. What will you type into eBay’s search to find the item you are looking for? What would an older or younger person use? Someone of the opposite sex?
Once you’ve figured out what those words are likely to be you need to use as many of them as possible in the title of your listing. And I don’t mean repeating the same word. Keyword spamming will get your listing removed. Use as many different and relevant keywords as you can in your title and throughout your item description.
eBay allows you up to 80 characters for the title of your listing. Be sure to use as much of that space as you can. If you fall short go back and do some more brainstorming and research until you’ve got enough good keywords to write a full description. If you don’t, you’ll be losing potential customers.
Tip #2 Promote Your Items Through Social Media
Get social with your eBay business. Start by making a good “About Me” page for your eBay seller account. Join some groups on eBay. Frequently post in the eBay forums. Then make a page for eBay business on Pintrest, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, and Twitter. Start a blog about what you’re selling.
Essentially you want to shout “Look at me! I’m an awesome seller!” as loudly as you can on the internet. The more you get your name out there the more you can drive people to look at your listings. Remember, the eBay search box is not the only way for people to find your listings.
Tip #3 Become a Professional Photographer
Pictures are the most important part of your listing. Let me say it again so you really understand the significance of what I’m saying. Pictures are the most important part of your listing.
If you want to sell on eBay you need to become a professional photographer first. Experts used to say you needed to take good pictures. Now, everyone takes good pictures. If you want to beat them you need take pictures like you were being hired to take photos for the Walmart Christmas sale ad.
Buy a good SLR camera. Order a book on photography and take an online course. You’re going to spend a month learning how to do it right so put it in the budget and make time for it. If you don’t you’re just giving your sales to the competition.
Tip #4 Always Offer Free Shipping
Yes, I know. You don’t want to. But the bottom line is eBay has pushed sellers to do this for years now which means all of your competition is doing it. You’re going to have to calculate the cost of your packaging and your shipping fees before you list your item and include those costs in the price of your item.
Think about it. When you buy something do you go for the item with free shipping or the item that has additional fees after the sale?
Tip #5 Research the Items You are Selling
Take the time to research your items properly. You want to figure out what the best price is and what the best possible description is. You can research the price by searching the eBay completed listings and looking at what your item sold for during the past two weeks.
As for the description, you can also look at the completed listings but the best place to look is probably the manufacturer’s own website. Write your own description but be sure to use any specifications that are given by the company that made the item you’re selling.
Tip #6 Make Sure Your Listings End at the Best Possible Time
If you’re listing in an auction format be aware that your listing will end at the same time of day you started it. If you list at 7:00 am your listing will end at 7:00 am which is not good.
Also keep in mind that there are 4 time zones in the United States you need to be worried about. If you’re in New York there are 3 time zones behind you. If you are in Los Angeles there are 3 time zones ahead of you.
The best time of day to end your listings is 10:00 pm EST / 9:00 pm CST / 8:00 pm MST / 7:00 pm PST. This makes it early enough for the east coast but not too late for the west coast.
The best day to end your auctions on is Sunday. It is the day most people have off and stay at home in the evening.
Tip #7 Protect Your Feedback Rating at All Costs
This is another bit of advice you probably won’t like. Do not ever argue with a customer. Just take the return and give the refund. Run your business like a retail store. There’s a reason they all have a no hassle return policy. They know reputation is everything.
Since eBay prominently displays your feedback rating on all your listings you don’t want to ever chance getting a negative mark. Remember that eBay’s feedback system is completely skewed to the customer. It does not work in your favor. You can’t defend your reputation from a customer who is even mildly annoyed with you. So don’t annoy anyone whether they deserve it or not.
Tip #8 Run a Professional Shipping Company
If you sell on eBay, you run a shipping business. So really run a shipping business. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it in your living room you still need to operate things like a professional. Package your items as if your company reputation depended on what that box looks like when the customer gets it.
You will need to know where to get the best and cheapest supplies. You will need to know what carriers are best for what types of packages. You’ll want real label printing equipment you can rely on. You’ll want to have everything you need on hand to ship anything within 24 hours. Dedicate yourself to owning a real shipping company. If you find packing peanuts randomly in your dirty laundry, you’re probably doing it right.
Tip # 9 Watch Your Fees
Don’t let your costs and fees get away from you. eBay has little fees. Paypal has little fees. Boxes are cheap. Paper and tape are just a few pennies. Shipping really isn’t much. But what happens when you add it all up? All the little things can ad up to big numbers. If you don’t watch it you won’t be making anything on things you assumed you’d be making a profit on.
Remember eBay charges 10%. Paypal another 3%. Boxes are actually a few dollars each. Paper may be cheap but ink for that printer is not. All of a sudden you’re only making a $5.00 on that $20 item. Take the time to do the math and think like a business person who has to consider all their expenses.
Tip # 10 Study the Other Successful Sellers on Ebay
We were all taught not to copy someone else’s work in school. Not so on eBay. Although you can’t use another person’s photos or ad copy you should copy their technique if they are successful. If you see something that is working, you do it too. It’s all part of properly researching how best to sell your item.
Look for ideas you can use like keywords, photography technique, and description layout. If the seller has a good reputation look at their sales and return policies and compare them to yours. And of course if you see something you could be do better than a top seller then do it and make their customers your customers.
Tip # 11 Always Keep Enough Money on Hand to Cover Emergencies
You don’t ever want to end up in the a situation where you have to refund a customer and you don’t have the money in your Paypal account to cover it. Watch what you’re doing and always leave some cash on hand to deal with whatever business expense comes your way.
Remember printers break, computers crash, the post office loses things, and customers are sometimes completely nuts. Don’t let an unforseen circumstance wreck your whole business. Have some restraint and leave money aside as insurance against sudden expenses.
Tip # 12 Do Not Mess With the IRS
This is the one nobody wants to talk about because so few people actually can. The tax code is like trying to solve a quadratic equation written on a broken a Rubik’s Cube. So let me say the two things I am qualified and confident in saying.
One, you are required to report and pay taxes on any profit from your eBay sales. Any and all eBay sales.
Two, the only person on earth qualified to tell you what amount to pay is the accountant who will be physically signing your tax return with you.
Do not ignore it, but do not do it yourself. You may pay $350 a year for an accountant but it is worth every last cent because they will find things you won’t which will result in you saving more than $350 a year in taxes. Remember, Paypal reports your transactions to the IRS. Currently they are required by law to report anything over $20,000 per year but you can expect that to change at any time.
You are responsible for keeping your paperwork and reporting your income. I suggest you hire an accountant when you start not when things are due. It will save you an enormous headache if you’ve been doing it right all year instead of all in one week.
Some Final Tips for Selling on eBay
It takes more than a year to become a really successful seller. Be patient and study everything you can. There are several books out there you can read but be sure they are the most current. I also suggest you regularly read the eBay forums to get tips and suggestions from other sellers. Lastly don’t forget to check in on Youtube for videos on eBay selling tips.