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Lessons Learned From Listing on Ebay

I Suck at Selling on eBay

A common suggestion given to those looking to bring in some extra cash is to sell their unnecessary “stuff” on eBay.

Living in New York City has given me an appreciation for minimalism and a constant need for more money, so this strategy seemed like a natural fit. Unfortunately, after a month of listing…and re-listing…and re-listing items, I haven’t made much progress…

Lessons Learned from Listing on eBay

Listing items on eBay is time consuming.

Not only do you need to take pictures of each item, upload them, and accompany them with a full description. You need to research how to price each item.

What’s the item selling for around the web and what price can you expect people to pay for the condition your particular item is in (new with tags, new without tags, used, etc.)?

It’s hard to sell. 

I’ve only been able to sell around one fifth of all the items I’ve listed, (most of which only sold after being re-listed several times at lower prices).

Packing is a pain. 

You’ll need to have some packing supplies on hand. At the same time, you don’t want to go out and preemptively buy a bunch of packaging material without knowing what’s going to sell.  When you don’t buy these things in bulk though, they tend to be quite pricey, so there’s really no winning.

Shipping is expensive.

I would definitely not recommend giving your buyers a free shipping option.  Due to some unfortunate estimates on shipping expenses, I have cost myself quite a bit of money in this department.
Here’s a quick run down of what I was able to sell on eBay this month, how much I made and how much it cost me.

  • Item: Necklace
    • Sold: $ .99
    • Shipping: $2.07
    • Total Received: $3.06
    • Paypal Fees: -$ .39
    • Shipping Fees: -$1.12
    • ITEM NET: $1.55
  • Item: Competition Leotard
    • Sold: $29.99
    • Shipping: $2.41
    • Total Received: ($32.40)
    • Paypal Fees: -$1.24
    • Shipping Fees: -$1.92
    • (ITEM NET: $29.24)*

The buyer of this item opened a case against me, saying they have not received the item (though I have most certainly shipped it).  Who knows what will happen, but in the meantime, the payment is not being released to me.

  • Item: Training Leotard Long Sleeves
    • Sold: $5.00
    • Shipping  $2.92
    • Total Received $7.92
    • Paypal Fees -$ .53
    • Shipping Fees $1.92
    • ITEM NET: $5.47
  • Item: Training Leotard Short Sleeves
    • Sold: $5.50
    • Shipping: $2.86
    • Total Received: $8.36
    • Paypal Fees: -$ .54
    • Shipping Fees: $1.61
    • ITEM NET: $6.21
  • Item: Movie Script
    • Sold: $3.00
    • Shipping: $3.22
    • Total Received: $6.22
    • Paypal Fees: -$ .48
    • Shipping Fees: -$9.64
    • ITEM NET: $-3.90

Item Net Totals: $38.57

  • Extra Postage (The postal machine ripped me off by not dispensing one of my stamps. The line to speak to an attendant was out the door, so I bought another): -$1.92
  • Ebay Seller Invoice: -$5.39

Total Net from 5 Items Sold on Ebay: $31.26

Although the majority of that is still on hold from the “open case” so…

Current Net from 5 Items Sold on Ebay: $2.02  

If the case isn’t resolved, I’ll be out the money, the item, and the cost of shipping it so….

POTENTIAL NET FROM 5 ITEMS SOLD ON EBAY: $ .10

Yep, ten cents.

After all that, let me share some lessons learned.

MORE eBay Lessons Learned

1. If you can’t get $25.00 for it, it might not be worth your time to sell it.

2. Shipping will cost you more than you realize, especially for heavy books (don’t forget to account for packaging too).

3. Fees are everywhere (payment processing, eBay, shipping…)

4. Don’t discount your time and effort.  I’ve spent several hours taking pictures of items, listing them, packaging them, and finally, taking them to the post office to ship. All of that for ten cents or best case scenario $31.26?

It doesn’t really seem worth it.

Have you ever sold anything online?  Was it worth your time and effort?

Related: Ways to Make Extra Money That Aren’t Always Worth It

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