Make Money on eBay - 

From a virtural garrage sale to a great business!

Learning to make money on eBay teaches you the same skills that will help you make money online in almost every other manner, making eBay a great learning environment for new internet entrepreneurs. My first online dollar was made on eBay years ago, but the payment system, customer service skills and business management skills that I learned from selling that broken computer are still being used every day.

In addition, my ongoing efforts to make money on eBay are great sandboxes for me to play in as I learn new business and marketing skills. It is for this reason that I firmly believe that eBay is an ideal place to start learning how to make money online and that learning to make money on eBay is an essential step in most online business educations.

What is eBay?

Ah... eBay. I'll never forget the first time I heard of it - my mother (who isn't the most cutting-edge of computer people, but who LOVES deals) was all excited about it one day way back in the late 1990's and asked me about it. It was eye-opening the things that were selling there! It's basically a huge online garage sale combined with a ginormous (technical term) auction. People put up things they want to sell, everything from fine art and real estate to collections of old french fries (yes, seriously). Other people bid on these items and buy them. Simple, right?

Actually it is. eBay is the biggest and the best because it's got everything down to a science, from getting you signed up for a new account to having a high-quality feedback system that gives you confidence that you can trust your sellers/buyers not to rip you off. Plus, eBay owns PayPal, so the payment process is already automated and synchronized. Indeed, you can make money on eBay efficiently and quickly even if you've never sold something online before.

Try it out. Go to and sign up for an account. Buy something. Mind you, you should probably buy something you need, but rest assured if you need it, you can probably find it on eBay. From coupons to shoes they've got it. The best way to experience this powerhouse of sales is to try it out as a buyer first. Then come back here (you might want to bookmark us before you leave).

Buy something? Did it go well? Did you learn how the system works? Ready to start selling off your old junk and making some money? Keep reading...

Learning to make money on Ebay

Learning to sell on eBay is a fairly simple process, and it's been written about dozens of times before. That said, learning actually make money on eBay of any sizable or sustainable amount can be difficult. Before we get into that, however, let's cover the basics of how to get started.

Step One - Sign up for an account

Go to and sign up for an account. If you haven't already, go to and sign up for an account there as well. If you're even thinking of trying to make money on eBay, you'll need both types of accounts, so you might as well get the process started right away. It will take a couple of days to verify your Paypal account, but make sure you do this before you start buying or selling things on eBay so that you're all set.

Step Two - Get to know eBay

Buy some stuff on eBay. Get to know the community and how things work. Buying stuff and paying quickly and on-time will also improve your rating, which will help you when you're ready to get started selling things. If you have questions, ask a seller or ask in the very-active forums. The community is so large that their annual events sell out in a mater of days.

Step Three - Learn how to sell

If you're anything like me, there's a dozen things sitting around your house that are broken or no longer used for one reason or another. Drag all this stuff out, take pictures of it and list it for sale on eBay. Watch as your auctions progress to learn how to reply to buyers' questions, to learn what does and doesn't sell well, etc. Yes - even if it's broken it might be worth listing 'for parts.' You won't get much, but you may get a buck or two - just make sure you charge enough shipping (I didn't when I started) or you'll end up in the hole for this.

Here are my tips for learning how to sell on eBay - mostly what I wish I'd learned sooner!

Step Four - Sell and ship your stuff

Selling will happen quickly and easily if you've chosen to use Paypal. Figuring out shipping is probably the hardest part of learning to make money on eBay. Luckily, they've integrated well to make this easier on you with the USPS and UPS. You'll have to figure out how to package, take to the post office and ship the stuff that you've just sold. Yes, and you need to do it quickly (within 24 hrs) in order to keep a good feedback rating. I HIGHLY recommend using the USPS flat rate priority envelopes and boxes wherever possible. These come with tracking numbers when you pay for shipping through PayPal, so that you don't even have to worry about that. In addition, if you're using Priority Mail you can print postage and request a pick up from home, which will save you in trips to the post office. Printing the mailing information is really easy - you can do it directly from PayPal. Over the past several years, since I first started learning how to make money on eBay, the options for flat rate shipping have increased dramatically and dropped in price as well. Really, this is a great way to go for newbies (so you don't have to buy a scale!).

Step Five - Troubleshoot

Someone isn't going to be happy with you. This is one of the hardest parts of learning how to make money on eBay - learning how to deal with customers. That's the nature of business. Learn how to deal with it, appease the person, and still keep your good star rating. You'll find that some package will get lost, so you will need to learn how to file with the shipping company about that as well.

Step Six - Wash, repeat

Once you've figured out the basics, repeat the process. You'll learn something about how to make money on eBay with every item you sell, plus you'll be being paid for your eduction (instead of paying for it like you would in Grad school.)

Eventually, however, you're going to run out of things in and around your house that you want or are willing to part with. You're going to have to find a new way to source your products if you want to keep learning how to make money on eBay.

How to actually make money on eBay -

Moving beyond a fancy garage sale

Your closet has never been slimmer. Your husband and children are starting to ask where their things are disappearing to. You've successfully learned the basics of how to make money on eBay and you're ready to move beyond a fancy garage sale and establish yourself as a business.

Before you get started with this, you'll want to make sure that your eBay business is in order legally, otherwise you hopes to make money on eBay might end up in the tax man's office. Make sure that you've got a seller's permit and business license so that you can quickly go through the next steps.

Ok, ready to go?

Click here to read my full article about Starting an eBay Business from the ground up.

Find your Niche

The first step is to find your niche. What is it that you want to sell in order to make money on eBay? Think about the things that you've sold already, what sold with lots of competing bids? What did you enjoy learning more about? Do you have a hobby or a collection that you'd enjoy turning into a business?

Finding your niche is essential to how well you are able to make money online with eBay. Find a niche which interests you and which has demand.

Find a source for your products

Product sourcing is one of the most competitive and tightly guarded secrets of eBay top sellers. Depending on what you're selling, the price and availability of the items that you're able to offer to shoppers will be the main factor in your success.

Here's some suggestions for product sourcing:

  • Friends and Family - you can sell their stuff online and split the profits.
  • People who want to sell their stuff but don't want to do it themselves - once you've got some experience under your belt you can become a Trading Assistant and help others list their things on eBay for a set price or a percentage of the profits.
  • Garage and Estate Sales - these can be gold, however you need to know your market before you go, have cash to spend and have a strategy for getting the good stuff before everyone else.
  • Dropshippers - Dropshipping often seems like a great solution for the eBay seller, however most of the dropshippers that you'll find online will end up being distributors and not true wholesale dropshippers. There are wholesalers who do dropshipping, however, but it does require careful research.
  • Wholesale bulk purchase - This is your best opportunity to build a substantial business, however it requires a large initial investment in space and quantity. Some wholesalers will sell in smaller lots, as will some importers sell off their wholesale lots in smaller quantities.
  • eBay - yes, seriously. There's an entire category of bulk wholesalers who sell all sorts of products in large lots at discounted per-item cost. Buy from them and then divide the lot and turn around and resell to the consumers right there on eBay. Or, if you're handy, you can buy broken things on eBay and fix them up for a profit (Cars are popular for this).

Negotiating the best prices

Once you've decided how you're going to find the products you want to sell on eBay, it's essential that you negotiate for the best price that you can get. If you're getting stuff from garage sales, it's pretty easy. If you're getting your stuff from a drop-shipper, however, you're going to have a bit more trouble. These companies, if they do wholesale sales in bulk as well, frequently offer tiered wholesale pricing depending on the quantity ordered. You want to get this pricing even if you're just dropshipping and not buying in bulk. However, you first need to build your business or you're not going to be offering (or threatening to take away) any of their business. Check out the order minimums for the wholesale bulk. When you start to meet these with your dropshipping, it's worth asking for a reduction in price.

Set yourself apart

On eBay, this is done by being human, being reliable and responding quickly to any and all questions. If you're doing this yourself, here's some suggestions:
  • Send a personalized 'thank you for your payment' email featuring your Real Name and a link to a page about you (perhaps on your store website?)
  • Get a smart phone. It's expensive, but it will allow you the freedom to not be chained to your computer while you respond to auction inquiries. Save by buying the phone itself on eBay of course!
  • Schedule listings to end at times you can be home, so you can answer questions during the last minute bidding frenzy.
  • Send follow-up emails a couple of days to a week after you've mailed the item to confirm that they got it and that there's no problems with it. This is also a great way to encourage positive feedback on your feedback forms.
  • Send newsletters monthly with lots of helpful information about your niche to past customers, but make sure to use a 'safe unsubscribe' system so that they can get off your list if they want. This is also a great way to promote your new listings and your static store.
  • Take returns, if possible, and/or give refunds.
  • To make money on eBay, the key is to set yourself apart as a trusted source and expert and to provide lots of high-quality listings.

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