Scoring with an eBay Side Hustle

October 31, 2018|Posted in: Uncategorized

So, a few years ago, right before I moved into my current apartment, I had this wild idea on what to do with all the crap I had collected over the years that wouldn’t FIT in this apartment: I’d sell it on eBay! It turned out very well … although not in the way I anticipated.

It will probably not surprise you to learn that the crap I didn’t want was, well, CRAP: almost by definition, no one else wanted it, either. A lot of it went to the Salvation Army, and I have a sneaking suspicion they took one look at the boxes and tossed them straight into the dumpster. Whatever.

But I did manage to sell a handful of things–and because I am a thrift store junkie and picked up most of it for pennies, I was able to make a considerable profit per item. And suddenly I had a new passion in life. Don’t tell Uncle Sam, but I pull in $400 – $500 a month doing what I love as a side hustle.

My friends (and my mother–don’t get me started) are constantly telling me that I am so good at this that I should quit my job and do it full time … but that would take all the fun out it.

Still, I am good at it, and as a public service, I thought I’d point out a few tricks I’ve learned along the way. Keep in mind, however, that this all comes from a guy who sells random stuff on an intermittent basis–which is a lot different from the people who have set up stores and sell new made-in-Chinas.

  1. It doesn’t happen overnight. Unless you have rare, high-demand items, you probably won’t be highly successful right out of the gate. Just like anywhere else, buyers on eBay trust sellers who’ve been around a while and have proven trustworthy. I know, I know … Catch-22: People won’t buy because you don’t have a history, but you can’t build a history because people won’t buy. Sorry–I’m just reporting here.
  2. Feedback is everything. Your most powerful tool in eBay is your feedback rating. Unfortunately, you’re sort of stuck with the same problem as Item 1, but if you’re committed to selling, there are a few tricks you can use to speed up the feedback-building process:
    1. Start Small. Try to sell a bunch of smaller, inexpensive things at first. It can be annoying to go to all the trouble for $2 in profit, but it lets you get your feet wet … and more importantly, helps you rack up positive feedback.
    2. Ship Fast. eBay tells buyers to expect delivery in two weeks or something. If you get the product in the mail within, say, 24 hours, you can cut that time in half. Hello, positive feedback!
    3. Be Professional. If buyers or potential buyers message you on eBay, always respond promptly, politely, and professionally. Which leads us right into …
  3. The Customer is always right … or else. If someone has a complaint, offer a refund. Period. Yes, they may not have a legitimate gripe. Yes, it may be a scam. Doesn’t matter: if they go to eBay with the issue, eBay will almost always side with the customer. Then you’re looking at a forced return AND a black mark on your profile (ever heard of a credit card chargeback? Same basic principle). If you suspect a scam, require that the item be returned at your expense. Again, you could end up losing some money, but it will discourage fraudsters.
  4. Better pics = better (and safer) sales. One of the most valuable skills you can develop here is photography. Strive for well-staged photos featuring good lighting and backgrounds and capturing as much detail as possible–including any flaws. This reassures buyers of what they’re getting, and can protect you if the buyer tries to claim the item received was “not as described.”
  5. Do your research. No matter what you’re selling, trust me: you’re not the first person to try and sell one. Check the “Sold” listings on eBay. Compare the number of items completed vs. the number sold. Look at the price the items went for (including shipping) and what headlines/descriptions were used. Plan your listing accordingly.

One final tip: be honest in everything. It’s better to not sell something than to sell it and then have to give a refund. Ask me how I know …