Ebay – how to sell your clutter

One person’s clutter is another one’s treasure and EBay can be a good way of cashing in on items you no longer want.  I last wrote about Ebay 5 years ago so thought it was worth an update.

Since I last used it a few years ago, Ebay has changed in a couple of major ways:

  • It has become a lot more commercial with many more professional sellers and EBay shops. There is still room for personal sellers but you do sometimes feel that you have a bit of a disadvantage compared to businesses.
  • Ebay now charges fees on POSTAGE & PACKING as well as on the winning bid price. (see Fees section below for more information).

But I still think it is worth using for higher value items as you will probably get more for them than selling at a Car Boot Sale for example.

So, how to sell on Ebay?

  1. Starting off – You have to register as a seller which is quite a simple process.  You are also recommended to have a Paypal account in order to receive payments.   Once you are set up, click on Sell to the right of your name on the top of the screen and Ebay walk you through the process.


  1. Number of items – You can list up to 20 items for free every month and the typical personal seller is unlikely to need more than that. You only pay if your item sells which is good.  Ebay has some  on how to list.   What follows is my personal experience of using Ebay.


  1. Photographs – try and take as good a photo as possible, avoiding glare off surfaces if you can. And don’t forget to use editing software to crop your picture so that the item fills the frame.  And keep bits of you out of the photo – hands and fingers can easily creep in. If there is any fault with your item, then it is a good idea to include pictures of it – the more honest you are, the better.  Again Ebay has some great advice for taking photographs.  They recommend using their App and adding photos directly from your mobile as you list.  I have never tried that myself as I prefer to list using a bigger screen, but it would definitely save a bit of time.  I always try and take photos against a plain background. It is easy to do, using whatever you have lying around, white printer paper, for example.    You can add up to 12 pictures for free and I usually include photos of the back and front of an item as well as any parts or accessories.  It all helps sell.


  1. Titles of listings – include as much information as you can in the 80 characters allowed. For example, we recently sold several of my daughter’s Kpop (Korean Pop Music for the uninitiated) albums. I gave a detailed description of what we were selling, eg ‘BTS Skool Luv Affair CD plus photobook & photocard Kpop’ and also included the term Kpop which is what most fans would be looking for.  I avoid Subtitles as they cost £1 and I don’t think it’s worth it if you do a good title and description and your item is not high value.


  1. Description – here you can give more details such as all the songs on an album as well as giving more information on any issues, for example any damage to an album cover. It is always better to be honest about the condition of an item.  Buyers leave feedback and ideally you want as many positive reviews as possible so the fewer surprises for your buyer, the better.


  1. Starting price & fees – you can decide to sell your item at auction or for a fixed price. I have always used auction as I think you usually get a better price. If you are unsure what you might get for an item, add similar items to a Watch list from the EBay control panel and check when how much they went for at the end of the auction. Bear in mind that Ebay fees (payable at the end of the month your auction finishes) are 10% of both the final list price and the postage & packing.  And, in certain categories, there is a ceiling to the amount of postage and packing you can charge, whatever its real cost to you.  The Kpop albums we sold had high gloss photobooks included with them so weighed far more than a normal CD album.  The p&p cost me £4.89 (£3.40 postage and £1.49 for a size 5 jiffy bag) but I could only charge a maximum of £3.50.  High volume sellers can take advantage of buying packaging in bulk but it is tough on personal sellers in these situations.  People regularly complain about this in the Ebay user forums and the usual advice is to make sure your starting price plus postage covers your expenses and fees.  I must admit I was quite shocked when I realised that I had to pay on p&p as well but it is to stop sellers avoiding Ebay fees by having a low selling price and whacking up the p&p. There are other options for your listing but bear in mind that they all cost extra.  For more information, see https://sellercentre.ebay.co.uk/private/what-fees-youll-pay


On the subject of pricing, you also need to bear in mind that Paypal charge 3.4% plus 20p on the end price plus p&p so you end up paying 13.4% plus 20p on all sales which is worth bearing in mind when deciding on your starting price.


  1. Auction length – I usually go for 7 days so that the auction ends on the day and time you originally posted. It’s easier to remember and plan for. I try and post my items at about 8-9pm as I reckon most people have finished their evening meal by then and are more likely to have time to bid. I also avoid posting on a Friday or Saturday as you want people to be IN when your auction is reaching its last exciting bidding moments!  Of course, people can use the app and bid from anywhere but I reckon people are less likely to forget to bid if they are at home.


  1. Communicating with the buyer – Once the auction ends and you have (hopefully!) sold your item, communicate with your buyer via the Ebay messaging system. Send them an invoice (available via the My Ebay control panel) if they haven’t paid.  As soon as the buyer has paid, you should post the item as soon as possible and definitely within the number of days you stipulated when you set up your listing.  Don’t forget to mark the item as ‘Dispatched’ via the My Ebay control panel.  Your buyer will automatically get an email to let them know the item is on its way.  It’s all part of providing a good customer service and hopefully getting positive feedback from your buyer, which in turn will encourage others to buy from you next time you list.  Don’t forget to leave feedback for your buyer as that will encourage them to leave you feedback as well.


And that is my longish guide to Ebay.  As stated above, I like to use it for items that I think are likely to make a bit of money.  And as usual, Love2Declutter’s tip is to recycle any items that don’t sell by taking them to a charity shop so that they aren’t cluttering up your house!

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