How To Get Started on eBay and Make Extra Money




get started selling on ebay
Photo by Oberon Copeland on Unsplash

Is it possible for a beginner to earn extra money selling new or used items on eBay? It certainly is, as either a part-time or full-time opportunity.

What’s even better in my opinion is that you can earn an extra 25k per year pretty easily just doing eBay reselling as a side hustle. This makes it great for someone who is new to running a resale business because they can start very small (with low risk) while still working their full-time job.

There are many details to reselling on eBay and I have over 20 years of experience selling all kinds of different items on eBay.

I’m going to share everything I know with you in this guide.

I’m also going to include a lot of extra information that I’ve learned from watching other people make reselling on eBay a multi-six-figure business and beyond.

With that said, get in your favorite spot for reading, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get into all the eBay reselling tips and information I want to share with you.

Why Reselling on eBay Is a Great Way To Make Extra Money Online

There are many reasons to list off on why reselling on eBay is a great way to make money online. 

Here’s a short list of the main benefits.

  • You can work from home.
  • Make your own hours
  • Easily scale a full-time reselling business to over 100k per year.
  • Tons of long-term business potential.
  • More tax write offs than you can imagine (talk with a CPA about this.)
  • Great work/life balance.
  • Don’t have to build your own e-commerce site.
  • eBay has lots of web traffic already, you won’t have to generate it yourself.
  • Tons of products and items out there to find and resell.
  • A fairly quick learning curve, usually you can get over the hump in about 6 months. The learning curve for sourcing items will take you longer though.
  • eBay reselling is fun, keeps you active on your feet, and you don’t have to be stuck on a computer 8 hours per day. You get to look at new and interesting items you never saw before.

eBay Reselling While Working From Home Vs. Being a Digital Nomad

Reselling items on eBay is great for someone who wants to make money online from home. However, it’s not so great if you are a digital nomad who is constantly traveling.

The reason for this is pretty obvious, you need room to store the stuff you are going to be reselling, it would be hard to do that living out of a Van or RV and always being on the go.

Sometimes, eBay resellers can consider using a fulfillment company that will store and ship out your items for you. But they take a big percentage of your profit margin. If you are interested in finding out more about eBay fulfillment companies, go on Google and search for  “eBay fulfillment”.

Quick Note: Reselling on Amazon is actually great for people who want to use a fulfillment service because Amazon provides this in-house for you. So you might want to consider selling on Amazon over eBay if you are not too interested in storing and shipping out your own items or are a Digital Nomad with limited storage space.

Could drop shipping be the answer for a Digital Nomad or someone with limited storage space? We’ll cover that next.

Does Drop Shipping Work For eBay?

Drop Shipping is when you list something for sale and then have it shipped to the customer directly from your wholesaler or supplier. This could be a great eBay reselling option for digital nomads or resellers with limited storage space!

In order to be successful at drop shipping, you need to have a lot of experience with reselling products and have solid relationships established with suppliers you can trust.

When you don’t have wholesalers and suppliers you can trust, a lot of times your orders will arrive late, or damaged, and your customers will not be happy with the experience.

Another big problem with newbie drop shippers is they are constantly getting their listings shut down for breaking the terms of service relating to drop shipping on eBay.

I suggest you review eBay’s Drop Shipping Policy here: eBay Drop Shipping and Product Sourcing Guidelines

After reading the policy, you will quickly discover that you will get into trouble with eBay if you are putting up drop ship listings and then sourcing your items from marketplaces like Amazon, Target, and Walmart.

Drop shipping items from other marketplaces is not legitimate and goes against eBay’s policy, so be careful!

Drop shipping from legitimate wholesalers and suppliers is perfectly fine, but a lot of people will have a tough time developing these connections.

If you can be successful at drop shipping, you have it made! You are in the very few 10% of resellers who can pull it off.

How Much Can You Make as an eBay Reseller?

You can make quite a bit of money as an eBay reseller. A lot of the money will be made by how well you can source the right items (that will sell fast at a good profit margin.)

Sourcing products with a good profit margin is the hardest part of reselling and making money on eBay.

If you’ve been doing eBay for a while, have good sourcing methods, and you’ve invested time to streamline your processes for listing and shipping items, it’s very easy for most experienced eBay resellers to make over 25k to 100k per year in sales with a 35 to 40 hour work week.

Keep in mind however, that hitting the 100k per year sales number would be very hard to do in your first year as a full-time seller, but totally possible in your second or third year and beyond.

For full-time eBay sellers who are veterans and have really mastered their sourcing process for finding high margin profitable items to resell, getting to over $300k per year in sales is totally doable.

What Is The Expected Net Profit From Your Total eBay Sales, How Much Money Can You Pay Yourself as a Salary?

A good estimation of Net Profit from your total sales is 25 to 40%. So in order for you to actually pay yourself a $100k per year salary (from your eBay reselling business), you’ll need to sell at least $300k worth of merchandise at a 33% net profit margin.

To learn more about net profit margins, check out this article on Investopedia: What Is a Net Profit Margin

Using the examples above, it’s very easy to imagine a part-time eBay reseller making at least a net profit of $25 to $50k per year once they are experienced.

In my opinion, that’s not a bad side hustle either!

In the next section we are going to discuss eBay fees, Shipping Fees, and the cost of sourcing items, so you understand exactly how to buy and sell your items to maximize your net profit margin.

eBay Overhead Costs With Seller Fees, Shipping Costs and Taxes – Maximize Your Net Profit on an Item

Knowing about eBay’s fees and shipping costs is essential if you are to make money reselling an item.

eBays reseller fees can range between 8-15% for an item depending on its category.

In addition, listing fees can apply to you which average around 30 cents per listing. Normally, you’ll get at least 250 free listings per month and this fee does not apply. If you have more than 250 items, an eBay store can save you money on these fees.

Learn more about eBays listing and final value fees here: eBay Selling Fees Explained.

Shipping an item can range from just a few dollars for something small to over 100 dollars for something big and bulky.

Quick tip: I suggest you study shipping rates on USPS, FedEx, and UPS to get familiar with rates. Also, when you ship USPS, FedEx, or UPS using eBay you’ll normally get a discount on the various shipping rates too.

Below, I share with you a real life example of what kind of net profit I might expect when selling an item worth $100 dollars.

Calculate the net profit made for an item in three easy steps!

  1. First, If an item sells for $100 dollars with free shipping, you should not pay more than $33 dollars for that item. Ideally, you should get this item for $10 to $25 dollars. Buying something for 10 to 25 cents on the dollar is standard wholesale pricing for any item you resell. By the time we account for the other fees and shipping expenses below, you’ll quickly see why!
  1. Second, before buying the item, look at its size and weight. You want to make sure the shipping costs are not too expensive. For example, if it’s an item that could fit into a 12inch by 12inch by 12inch size box and it weighs around 3 pounds. That might cost $20 dollars to ship.

BTW…. With time as you ship orders out, you’ll get really good at making shipping price estimations.

  1. Thirdly, now we have to consider the eBay seller fees we just spoke of which are around 8-15%. Sometimes when I’m buying an item I won’t know the exact eBay fee percentage for a category, so I always estimate it at the max fee of 15% no matter what.

NOW, Let’s breakdown the net profit on a $100 item, it will look like this:

  • An item sold for $100
  • eBay fees (including payment fees) range between 8-15% depending on the category of your item. For this example, let’s lock in a fee percentage of 12%.
  • Right off the bat, our potential profit is now $88 dollars for that $100 item.

If you use a calculator you can always take your sold price and times the number by the percentage like 0.12 to get the net number.

  • Now, from the $88 dollars we have left, we have to deduct shipping costs for postage, and our shipping box, etc. Let’s estimate that at $20 dollars because we have an item that will fit into a rather small box which only weighs a few pounds. Now we are down to $68 dollars.
  • Next, let’s subtract the cost we actually paid for the item, which we’ll say was $25.
  • $68 – $25 dollars leave us a net profit of $43 dollars.

Not too bad for a $25 dollar investment!

So, as you can quickly see, when an item sells for $100 dollars, it’s not actually worth that when you factor in the overhead costs of eBay fees and shipping.

From your net profit, you’ll also have to figure out how much income tax you will owe, so make sure you work with a CPA on that.

I hope this example helps get a good reality of why you never want to overpay for an item when you are sourcing.

Quick Tip: Another factor for how much you spend on an item is how long it might take to sell, if the item will take more than a month to sell, it’s what we call a long tail item, you should also factor that in and pay less for the item. As you gain experience with sourcing and buying, you’ll quickly be able to determine if an item is a long tail mover vs. a quick one.

Illegal Items You Cannot Resell on eBay

What are some items you cannot resell through eBay? There are some pretty obvious ones that come to everyone’s mind. It’s alcohol, drugs, adult xxx media, and firearms.

But then, there is kind of a gray area with these items too.

For example, for alcohol, you can sell a collectible empty bottle of alcohol, or even an empty beer can. You can also sell signs on eBay, so if those signs are alcohol advertisements it’s completely fine.

In fact, when it comes to signs that relate to drugs, firearms, and the like, you are mostly allowed to sell those as a collectible because it’s considered an advertisement.

So even if an item seems like it might be restricted, there is always an exception that you should carefully research so that you don’t pass on a possible niche that is a money maker.

But at the same time, do your research so you don’t end up in trouble.

Reselling pornographic materials of signs, magazines, or movies is strictly prohibited as far as I know, but then again, I’ve never fully researched these items in eBay’s policy. I  just have no interest at all in reselling anything adult themed at all. And my gut tells me that eBay is not a fan of adult themed items, so almost 100% of them are banned.

Overall, when it comes to a gray area with anything that seems dangerous, slightly illegal, offensive, or can cause bodily injury harm to someone else, I recommend that you use extreme caution.

Avoid these types of items altogether if you can! 

And don’t worry either, there are so many items out there to make money with where you won’t run the danger of being banned from eBay.

Another common problem you might run into is reselling new items of brands that will flag you for not being an authorized reseller. Like if you are selling brand new Nike shoes or high-end handbags for Gucci.

So be careful of that too.

To start researching and learn more about prohibited items you cannot sell on eBay, check out the eBay Prohibited and Restricted Items page.

Selling on eBay Rules and Terms of Service (How To Keep a High Seller Feedback Score)

On eBay there are always two sides to a transaction, you have the buyer and the seller.

Then, you have eBay as the third party person in the middle.

As the third party and owner of the platform, eBay has set up rules for everyone to follow, in addition, they have specific rules for sellers only.

You can find the main eBay Rules and Policies here:

I highly recommend you review the policies so you know how buyers and sellers are expected to act while using the eBay platform.

eBay Feedback System 

To help give everyone a message (or voice) for how their experience is going, eBay has a special feedback system where buyers can leave positive or negative feedback for sellers. 

Sellers can also leave feedback but can’t leave anything negative.

As a seller, it’s our duty to make sure that we do everything in our power to list an item as accurately as possible, then ship it out on time with well protected packaging. If you can master the art of doing this, you will have a 100% feedback score (or something close to that.)

An almost perfect seller feedback score will allow you to sell things faster and for a higher price. You can do this because you will earn the trust of higher-end buyers.

To conclude this section, I have an interesting eBay buying experience I’d like to share with you.

Most of the time, everyone behaves just fine and a transaction on eBay is happy for everyone. 

But sometimes things happen like a box gets smashed during the shipment process.

I’ve been there on the buyer’s side of things when something goes wrong. Once, I bought a new blu-ray movie and they shipped it out in a very thin paper like cardboard envelope. When I opened it up, the blu-ray case was completely smashed and the disc inside was cracked!

I then got the runaround for getting a refund, but eventually I did get my money back. Will I buy from this seller again? Absolutely not! When I checked their feedback, many others were reporting the same issue of a smashed DVD, CD, or Blu-Ray disc.

This seller obviously knew it was an issue and even if the shipper was handling these products a bit rough, a better packaging job of the item would prevent the discs from getting damaged.

I know there is a better package option available because the other resellers I buy media from always use more bubble wrap around the case of the DVD/CD/Blu-ray, and it arrives perfect every time.

In fact, when I sell music and movies from my collection, I use one sheet of bubble wrap and a thick cardboard envelope. After selling hundreds of DVDs, Blu-Rays, and CDs I’ve never had a damaged product reported to me by a buyer.

I’m sharing this story with you because this is an example of a gray area where a seller who moves a lot of volume gets bad feedback all the time, but they continue to operate on the eBay platform anyways.

It’s mostly because they issue refunds when something gets damaged but they must also have the luck of the draw with other packages that are not very well protected and never get damaged.

They have a lot of positive feedback too, much more than negative feedback. So their rating is always like 98% positive.

The lesson for selling on eBay is this.

As a seller, it’s up to you to figure out how much quality you want to put into your shipping, your photos, your item’s description, and your overall customer experience.

Then, balance out your happy satisfied buyers vs. your not-so-happy buyers.

I try to aim for making all my buyers happy, as long as I feel like they are not trying to pull a return scam or take advantage of eBay’s feedback system by threatening bad feedback. If that’s the case, all bets are off!

Sourcing and Finding Stuff To Sell on eBay

Sourcing and finding items to sell is the hardest part of making money with eBay.

The Truth about eBay which no one ever really thinks about is this:

eBay makes it very easy to sell items online. They’ve coded an entire e-commerce platform for you to sell on. They bring you the buyers and the traffic so your items can sell fast. They even help you with a streamlined shipping process as well.

So, with that in mind, sourcing profitable items is the only thing left that eBay can’t really help you with. 

It’s 100% up to you!

Also, while you might be able to learn about sourcing from others, it’s still mostly up to you to do your own research, experiment with various types of items, and discover good places to actually buy things from. Other resellers are not always willing to share specific sources that are good for getting inventory from.

I’ve written a couple of other guides to help you get started with sourcing, they are both very detailed and will help you get off to the right start.

Check out the guides here:

What About Selling New Items (and doing Retail Arbitrage)?

Finding new items to resell or flip on eBay is very challenging and oftentimes has very low-profit margins.

Retail Arbitrage can work if you find a product that is on a 50% or more clearance sale from another website or store. Then list it for a higher price on eBay for a quick sale. But, oftentimes others are doing the same and will flood the market with the same products as you, driving the price down.

Because of this problem, I don’t recommend beginners start out with retail arbitrage as a method of sourcing.

Now, you might also be thinking, why not just buy new items from sites like Alibaba or Aliexpress?

This method of sourcing will be challenging too. Mostly because anyone can buy from these sites creating a lot of price competition on eBay which will then result in low prices with no profit margin.

What if you get lucky and find a new item from another retailer to make money on?

It might work for a while, but eventually, people will find it and then saturate the market with lower prices.

So the final answer is that YES reselling new items and doing retail arbitrage can work, sometimes. But, more often, you’ll take a big gamble and not see the endless profits everyone on YouTube talks about.

How are people making money reselling new products and items then?

Reselling new items can work out well if you have a hidden source that not too many other resellers can access. Then you can buy some new products and sell them for a profit without others saturating the market with low prices.

But, you have to invest a lot of time and research finding products, working a deal, and then listing the item for a price that will make it sell in a reasonable amount of time to get your money back with some profit on top.

Most of the time, reselling new old stock products will be the most profitable for you.

But remember! You’ll have to do a lot of research and grinding to find good sources and products to buy at a low price, then flip onto eBay for a higher price.

In the end, I recommend all newbie sellers on eBay stick to reselling and flipping second-hand items or collectibles. They are much easier to buy at a lower price and get a decent profit out of.

3 Steps To Get Started Selling on eBay Right Away

In the previous sections of this guide, we reviewed a lot of background information on how to prepare yourself from a business perspective, to sell on eBay and make money online.

Now, it’s time to get your eBay account set up if you don’t already have one.

To officially get started selling on eBay, I’m going to show you in three easy steps below. Each step will also have a link directly to eBay for further information.

Overall, the process is very easy to get started. Keep in mind though, you’ll be limited to how many items you can sell at first.

Step 1: Where To Sign up

Before you can list any items you’ll need to sign-up for an account first. If you plan on selling right away and getting paid, you’ll also need to link a checking account to your seller account.

To sign up for your account, check out: Signing up for an eBay account 

Step 2: List and Sell Your First 10 Items

When you are a new seller on eBay, you can list up to 10 items in one month or sell a total value of $500 dollars worth of items. These restrictions were put into place some time ago to filter out scammers and other bad sellers.

Before you can go full-time on eBay, you’ll need to start out slow and build your way up. This is another reason I highly suggest you start selling on eBay with items you can find around your home first.

To start creating your first listing, check out: Creating a listing on eBay

Remember To Take Good Photos!

One thing I’d like to add about creating listings, make sure you take good photos of your items, from all sides if possible.

I’d try for a minimum of three photos and make sure you use a good amount of lighting with a white background.

If you can set up the item you are selling by a window that has good natural light, that is very ideal for snapping quality pictures to show it off to a potential buyer.

If you don’t have much natural light, research some options for some cheap photography lights,  Amazon has all kinds of LED photography lights for sale.

For the white background, just use a couple of pieces of white poster board (one for the bottom, and one for the backside.) You can buy poster boards cheap at your local Walmart or Target.

Step 3: Get Paid and Ship a Sold Item Out

It has finally happened, you got your first sale. The nice thing about eBay is it will walk you through each step of the fulfillment process.

It will say an item has sold and provide you with a pending status for the payment.

At this point, you should start getting the item ready to ship out.

Then, once the payment for the item clears, eBay will change the status from pending to ready to ship.

It’s just that easy!

For more information from eBay on how to sell and ship your item, check out this link here: Shipping your items on eBay

Leave and Manage Feedback

After you complete a sale and ship out an item, you’ll want to get into the habit of monitoring your eBay feedback.

Over the years, I’ve managed to maintain a 100% perfect eBay profile feedback score. I have over 700 different feedback reviews now so it’s very possible to have a perfect score.

Overall, the secret is to communicate well with your buyers. Do this by addressing any issues that come up with a buyer. Whether it’s a simple question they have or a problem with an item after they received it from you.

Lastly, always leave good feedback for a buyer that leaves you good feedback.

To learn more about the eBay Feedback system, read here: How eBay Feedback Works

Expand, Keep Listing More items, Grow Your Business Income

As you keep selling more and more items, eventually you’ll want to expand the number of listings you can have.

To increase the number of listings you can have, you could wait for eBay to adjust this for you. Or you could be more proactive and make the request yourself by following the directions here: All About eBay Selling Limits

As you get more items listed, you’ll want to also start thinking about listing more and more valuable products which bring you higher profits. As you get better at sourcing and being an eBay reseller, this will come naturally for you with time.

When it comes to having free listings, you’ll be capped at 250 listings. If you plan on growing beyond 250 listings, it’s advisable to open an actual eBay store up. We’ll cover that next.

Consider Opening an eBay Store [and Doing Promotional Listings]

Once you exceed the 250 items limit for free listings, you’ll want to consider opening an eBay store to have access to more listings and discounts on your eBay seller fees.

To get started and learn more about eBay’s store’s benefits and options, go here: Open an eBay Store

Having an eBay store also gives you additional seller tools to make listing multiple items easier and faster.

You’ll also be able to have eBay promote your listings and store.

Being able to promote your listings is a huge advantage in niches like used books. You’ll be able to put your listing on top of all the other listings that are shown. And for used books, this is a big deal, because sometimes one book can have hundreds of listings to compete with.

Final Thoughts

I hope you got something out of this guide on how to make money online reselling on eBay. I wish you the very best on your reseller journey!

Remember to start off slow, be patient, and make some money part-time first.

Then, decide if you want to jump into reselling on eBay full-time, after you’ve perfected a system for sourcing and moving profitable items.

Good luck on your eBay reseller journey.


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