It’s been a while since you’ve seen me write about any money I’ve made selling anything on eBay.
I have posted about my Craigslist luck. I managed to clean out our old furniture, making enough $ to buy a BOB stroller and a hammock that I will be revealing soon (you can see more hammocks here). In the past week, I’ve sold enough furniture from our old guest room to put tile in our new laundry room.
But eBay? Perhaps I was disillusioned, but I haven’t listed anything there in around a year.
One of my summer goals was to clean out 3 large bins full of old clothes. These were the clothes I affectionately called my “post-pregnancy and nursing” clothes. I hadn’t worn them in 3 whole years!
So, I made myself a rule. I decided that if I wasn’t super excited to see any of these things come out of storage, then I would sell or thrift them without a second thought. No guilt. I need clothes that I’ll actually WEAR, especially since storing 3 bins of clothes I don’t even like anymore is kind of a drag. I also cleaned out my closet with the same cut-throat premise.
And then, on a whim, I revisited my friend Mr. eBay and listed it all, shirts for $2.99, pants for $9.99.
Lo and behold, in ONE week, I made exactly $190!!! That’s profit– there was more money for shipping costs.
This money wouldn’t have come at a better time. Gregory is bumping up into size 3T now, and when I pulled out my bin full of garage sale finds I’d been saving, I realized that I hardly have anything after 2T in there. I think that part of my brain just could not wrap around the fact that my little baby would ever get that big. But they do! Oh, they do!
Jesse had also expressed a need for new clothes this Fall. Heck, the guy still wears a few shirts he got in HIGH SCHOOL. He’s definitely not one to buy new clothes, so when he asks for them, it must mean he needs them. 🙂
But buying lots of clothes is not exactly in our budget right now. I am trying to carve out a surplus each month to put into savings, not spend it! Before my eBay extravaganza, I had estimated that we could buy new clothes for Gregory in September and October, then Jesse in November and December (Jesse thought we should wait and just ask everyone for clothes for G on his 3rd birthday next month…but what kind of 3 year old only wants clothes for his birthday?)
Using this money, without tapping into ANY of our monthly budget, I was able to turn it around on eBay and buy:
1 pair of Dockers for Jesse
3 Lands End shirts for Jesse
8 shirts for Gregory
4 pairs of pants for Gregory
1 pair of Keens shoes for Gregory
3 shirts for me
1 pair of pants for me
See? ALL that! In exchange for a bin full of clothes that I haven’t seen in 3 years! And there’s still a little bit left over.
Having caught the “eBay Bug” once again, I decided to outline a few tips that I’ve found greatly help one when navigating online selling.
In order of importance:
1. PICTURES. As many as you can! As of right now, eBay gives you 12 free pictures with each listing. Back when I used to sell stuff, it was 10 cents a picture, so I was stingy. But 12 is a lot. Use a free picture editing app to get the lighting and coloring right.
For pants: Take one picture of the front laid out not folded, one of the back, one of the hems, one of the button fly, and one of the inside tag.
For shirts: Take one of the front, then the back, then the tag. You should also take one of the shirt hanging on a nice hanger, so that the bidders can see how it will hang.
For shoes: Stand them up, then take pictures of the tag inside, the soles, and the toes. Make sure to take a picture of every single scuff so as to protect yourself.
Pictures are the most important ingredient. Whenever friends ask me why their item didn’t sell, it’s almost always the pictures.
2. Description. I always spend the first paragraph describing my item as poetically as possible. I talk about how it’s fashionable, about what it would look good paired with, about how flattering it is, etc. On the second paragraph, I take every possible measurement. Don’t wait for them to ask, because they will have emotionally moved on to a different item by the time you reply. When shopping, I almost always pass on items without measurements. Even if you know your “size” in a particular brand, sizes vary by year and style. Also make sure to list what materials it’s made of (for instance, some people only like to buy jeans with 98% cotton, 2% lycra).
For shirts: Take measurements of the bust, sleeve length, waist, and entire shirt length
For pants: Take measurements of the rise, inseam, leg opening, and waist.
For shoes: Take measurements of the width and height of the boot shaft.
3. Make your title full of search words. I always include the size, color and brand within my title, even if I detail it later as well. You can put abbreviations like “NWT!” (new with tags) or if it’s in good condition, put, “LIKE NEW!” at the end.
4. List lots of stuff at one time! Not only is it more time effective since you can take all your pictures at once, but you can also write at the bottom of your listing, “Cleaning out my closet! Listing dozens of items!”. This is particularly effective if you have a bunch of popular name brand items with some not so popular. Buyers love combined shipping, and chances are if they are your size and style in pants, they will also want to buy a few of your shirts as well! This time around, ALL of the no-name shirts sold quickly. There’s no explanation for how much traffic they got, other than the fact that people who were buying “JCrew Jeans” also clicked and found my Kohls shirts.
5. Price reasonably. For a popular brand or item, I list it at a third of the retail price, sometimes less. For a not popular item, I only price it at a couple bucks. $3 may not seem like much, but if you sell 10 of them, that’s $30!
Also, keep shipping prices reasonable. Charging too much for shipping is a totally rookie mistake. Some people list the item for 99 cents, then charge $11 for shipping. I immediately walk away when I see something like this. Also, when you ask the program to itemize your search lowest prices first, your item will appear as costing $12, not 99 cents.
If you can keep your packaging costs low (see #7), then you can afford to keep shipping low! I’ve found that it costs between $4-6 for shirts, $6-8 for sweaters, and $9-10 for pants.
If you ship from home, make sure to weigh your item AFTER you’ve packaged it, not before. I’ve had several eBay items I bought delivered to me with a bill attached. If you are off by even a couple ounces, the post office will charge the RECIPIENT the difference, and they tack on fees. I’ve had to claim an extra $5 from sellers before. If they had weighed it correctly in the first place, they would’ve paid an extra 5 cents.
6. 3 Day Auctions: Let’s not kid ourselves, unless it’s a super nice Anthropologie Blazer, there won’t be lots of people bidding and outbidding. Most people wait until the last day anyways, because they’re afraid of running up the price. Do yourself a favor and pick a 3 day listing. I rarely ever use the Buy It Now option.
6 days is also a long time for people to wait if they want the item. 3 days gives people time to find it and bid, but not so much time that they get impatient and find something else in the meantime.
7. Buy your packaging at the Dollar Store. This last round, I sold and mailed 17 items. If I’d spent $2/each on packaging at the post office or Walmart, I’d have wasted $35. Instead, go buy $1 worth of packing tape and $2 worth of recycled brown wrapping paper (or, you can use paper bags cut up. Our county has a ban on plastic bags and makes us pay for paper bags, so we don’t have many lying around). I shipped all of my items with $3 worth of packaging! Win!
If you package this way, just make sure to tape up every corner and seam. Postal carriers are pretty rough and you wouldn’t want the item to break out of the packaging and arrive dirty (it happened to me once).
8. List on Tuesday, end on Friday. Most buyers will pay within a few hours of the auction ending, but others take a day or two to get their act together. You don’t want to punish the people who paid right away, but you also don’t want to take multiple trips to the post office. If you end on Friday, 98% of your buyers will have paid by Sunday night, letting you make one trip on Monday. It also gives you extra time over the weekend to package everything!
Also, people LOVE shopping on Fridays. I got a lot of last minute people out of the blue who weren’t even originally “watching” my items!
Moving Week Updates
Week of Relative Leisure