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works for me: how to sell on ebay

I love to dress my daughter in hanna andersson clothes, which --as you may know --are quite expensive. So, I buy them used off of eBay (using my nifty buy on eBay for less trick) and then, when she outgrows them, sell them and buy some new ones. Here is how it works for me.

Click here for your favorite eBay items

A. Getting Ready

a.1 Confirm that you have a marketable item. Search ebay for keywords related to what you are considering selling and see if there is much activity and/or good prices. I sell lots of hanna andersson clothing, which, if you search for this term, you will find 1362 items in girls clothing, which tells me there is a pretty active buying-and-selling community for this line.

a.2 Sign up with Auctiva; this is free.
~ a. 2.1 Be sure to visit the profiles page first, so that you can type in once and for all your shipping info (the flat rate envelopes you are going to order in step a.4.3 will cost you $4.60 to ship btw), your return policy, and so on. Resist the temptation to just start listing stuff, or you'll have to go back and edit everything later.
~ a. 2.2 Select a template that you like.
~ a. 2.3 Decide when you want your listings to start, and correspondingly, to close (the default time span is one week, exactly). I learned that Sunday evenings are the high traffic time on e-bay, so I launch everything on Sunday evenings.

a.3 Sign up with PayPal. Notice that their Personal Accounts are free and charge no fees, but are useless for selling on e-bay. Alas.

a.4 Procure supplies:
~ a. 4.1 Make sure you have a digital camera and image software on your computer. Google provides a nice free software: Picasa.
~ a. 4.2 Procure 3 bins. Don't get such big ones that they are heavy and cumbersome. I use some from IKEA that stack nicely.
~ a. 4.3 Order flat rate envelopes and boxes from USPS. These are free.
~ a. 4.4 Procure ziplock bags of appropriate size for whatever you are selling.
~ a. 4.5 Procure packing tape.

B. Preparing to List ~ note that you can do this part in dribs and drabs, as time and opportunity presents itself.

b.1 Put a bin in your laundry for items you want to sell. When they come out of the laundry, press them flat with your hands on top of the warm dryer and pop them into your "Waiting for Pictures" bin.

b.2 When it is sunny, run out and take photos in direct sunlight. Take the photo from above (I stand on a chair). It's best to group like items together (3 pairs of tights, 4 t-shirts) as both e-bay and PayPal are going to charge you per listing/transaction and it is better to make 10 $15.00 sales than it is to make 15 $10.00 sales.
~ b. 2.1 After your pictures are taken, move those items into a "To be Listed" bin
~ b. 2.2 When you get a minute, download the pics from camera to computer and then upload them to Auctiva. I do this as I supervise my son's homework.

C. Actually Listing ~ again, this can be done in dribs and drabs. I also do it while overseeing homework.

c.1 Pull the items out of the bin and in good light, look them over. Include in your listing every little flaw or irregularity that you notice.

c.2 Decide what you want your starting bid to be. I start things at .99 as I don't like to pay the higher listing fees that eBay charges for higher starting prices. More on this later.

c.3 Schedule your listings to launch at whatever time you chose. I have off-season items scheduled to list months and months from now.

c.4 Carefully fold each item as flat as possible, seal it in a ziplock bag, and sit on it to get the extra air out. Move listed items into your "Waiting to Sell" bin.

D. Shipping

d.1 After PayPal confirms that the money is in your PayPal account, use the PayPal shipping label service to print a shipping label.
~ d.1.1 if you have a scale, you can ship it at its actual weight and may save a little on your shipping costs. You will need to use something other than the Flat Rate Envelopes that you got from USPS for free.
~d.1.2 if you don't have a scale, pop the item into one of the Flat Rate Envelopes you got and ship it Priority Flat Rate for $4.60 which will come straight out of your PayPal account.

d.2 Use the PayPal Packing List option to print a packing list.

d.3 Tape it up and put it in your mailbox with the flag up.

E. Assessing Your Success ~ did you make any money?

I don't track how much the item cost me in the first place as I am selling off too-small clothes that we got good use out of, and I am happy with whatever money I can get back out of them, mostly so I can buy her some more hannas.

e.1 Ebay Fees
~ e.1.1 To list an item: .20 insertion fee + .35 gallery picture fee (optional) = .55 listing fee
~ e.1.2 After it sells: if it sells for less than $25.00 ebay will charge 5.25% (ebay fees listed here)

So if my item sells for 10.00, I'll pay 55 cents in listing fees and 53 cents in Final Value fees for a total of 1.08 cents, or about 11%.

If it sells for 20.00 I'll pay 55 cents in listing fees and $1.05 in Final Value fees for a total of $1.60, which is only 8%, so you can see how it is better to sell batches of items, rather than numerous small sales (Plus you don't have to twiddle around with as many parcels).

However we are not done with fees. Oh no.

e.2 PayPal fees ~ If you receive less than $3,000. a year, PayPal will charge you thusly:
~ e.2.1 Transaction flat fee .30 cents
~ e.2.2 And transaction percentage fee of 2.9%

Now remember, eBay took a percent of the final selling price of the item, but left shipping alone. (This is why you see some folks sell at low prices and ridiculous shipping costs.) PayPal collects on the whole caboodle.

So on our $10 sale from the last example we charged $4.60 for shipping and our buyer PayPals us $14.60. PayPal takes .72 (.30 + .42) and leaves me with $13.88.

On our $20 sale from the last example, we also charged $4.60 for shipping and our buyer sends us $24.60. PayPal takes $1.01 (.30 + .81) and leaves me with $23.59.

e.3 Totaling it Up
$10.00 sale - $.1.08 ebay fees - $.72 PayPal fees = $8.20 for me (paid 1.80 in fees ~ 18%)
$20.00 sale - $1.60 ebay fees - $1.01 PayPal fees = $17.39 for me (paid $2.61 in fees ~ 13%)

Of course, you don't really want to do all this math in your head, you want to use the Ebay and PayPal Fee Calculator where you can play around with the numbers a bit. Do notice that you can charge flat rate envelope shipping ($4.60) for everyone and then, if it is less than 13 ounces, ship it first-class for a couple of bucks and improve your profitability thereby.


There you have it; every last bit of my hard-won eBay wisdom.

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