Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Make Money on eBay

Getting Started

Before you start selling on eBay, spend a few hours getting to know your way around the site. You'll find almost any item you can imagine available for sale, from iPhones and camera equipment to new and used books, as well as recipes, coupons, or cars. Get to know the items that eBay prohibits selling as well, such as firearms, military weapons, identification documents, human organs or parts, pets, or any items that infringe on an existing copyright or trademark.

Then, do a little research on the item you want to sell. Go right to the source; type in "antique Roman coins" or "cowboy hats," and get a feel for the market for your product. See how other sellers describe and price their products, and track the results of a few auctions to learn how to position your own items for sale.

Making money on eBay is just like running any successful business. You'll need to consider all the administrative and upfront costs, monitor your product quality and positioning, market and promote your items, establish pricing, process and fulfill orders, and provide excellent customer service.

Here are some fundamentals new sellers should know:

  • Learn about eBay selling fees. EBay charges four types of fees to sellers: an insertion fee charged when you list your item, upgrades for enhancing your listings, a final value fee based on the selling price of your item, and fees for collecting payment through PayPal. Consider these fees when determining your listing price.
  • Choose the right format. EBay offers two ways to sell. In the popular auction style, your item will go to the highest bidder, so this format works best if there's a high demand for the item you want to sell. You can also set a "Buy it now" price so that a buyer who really wants the item can buy it immediately at the price you've set. A fixed price format makes your item available for immediate purchase; this works well if you know what your item is worth.
  • Market your item wisely. Start with an informative title that includes keywords a buyer might enter into eBay's search engine. Then write a a few lines that describe your product accurately and include clear, close-up photographs to illustrate your product from different angles. Include size, color, information about the item's conditions or defects, as well as terms and conditions.
  • Ship promptly and follow up with your customer. Build a good reputation as a seller by following up with your buyer as soon as the auction ends or item is purchased. Once you receive payment, package the item carefully and ship it out promptly. Let your buyer know you appreciate their business by inviting them to leave positive feedback to encourage repeat sales.

Read on to learn how you can earn special designations with added benefits as your eBay business grows.