A Beginner’s Guide to Selling Your Stuff on eBay

Ebay-selling-lessonsAs many of you know from reading this blog, about 2 years ago I sold most of my stuff. I was deeply in debt and a victim of consumerism and the habit of spending more than I earned.  I was sick and tired of working a ton every day to pay for stuff that didn’t bring me lasting value or joy.

So I sold it, donated it, or gave it away. I got rid of everything that had not been touched or used in 6 months. Over the course of the next six months, I purged a lot of my possessions, paid off $15,000 in debt, and started snowballing the rest.

I sold just about all of my stuff through eBay.  I have always dabbled with eBay, but after digging in hard for 6 months, I learned the ins and outs of the eBay process. I figured out how to maximize the money I earned while minimizing the amount of time I spent in the process of selling.

Below are the eBay lessons I have learned.  Hopefully these will serve as a great “Getting Started” guide for you.  It’s all really easy, when it comes down to it!

Make the Decision to Purge Once and For All

Getting in the right head space to ditch your stuff is key. When you start to declutter, keep this in mind:

  1. You want this “stuff” gone. Just get rid of the clutter. Emotional attachment is tough to deal with, as well as any inflated value you think an item is worth, but you can do it.  You are not looking to get rich here; if you make a lot of money on an item, cool. If not, at least you got rid of clutter!
  2. Sell it. Donate it. Trash it. Once I decide to purge something from my life, I first will try to make money on it.  If I can’t sell it, I donate it.  If neither is possible, I will (reluctantly) toss it.
  3. Minimize time and stress invested. I am looking to streamline this process and spend the least amount of time each day on getting rid of stuff.  If I am working my tail off, it’s not worth it!  You don’t need to spend a ton of time each day on selling; half hour tops.

Find What Your Stuff Might Be Worth

Most of the time, comparable stuff to what we want to sell is (or has been) on eBay.  We can use this information to start our quest.

To save time, once you have your “to sell” stuff, you can do all your research in the same session.  Please note:  This is not what I did.  I literally picked up ONE random item each day and went through this process.  You can choose the best way to go about this.

Keep the following in mind when researching:

  1. Find the best match. Try to find as close as match as possible to the item you want to sell.
  2. Search completed listings first. After running a search, make sure you check “completed listings”. Look first for items that have successfully sold through a basic auction format.
  3. Estimated price. If you can find between 5-10 sold items that are exact matches or comparable to your own item, quickly estimate a price based on the final bids on those auctions. Personally, I didn’t care what the items sold for, as long as it was more than $10.  If your item is not worth at least $10 by eBay standards, you may want to donate it or sell locally.
  4. Take note of great listings. Find 2-3 similar listings that have received the highest winning bids. Study their titles, pictures, and descriptions. Ask yourself why you think they received high bids, and try and match their listing as best you can.

Take Great Pictures

Pictures taken well are huge when selling on eBay.

Take clear photos on plain, neutral backgrounds. Don’t allow any other items in your home into the picture when at all possible. Do not use sticl pictures from other websites. Take extra pictures from different angles. You can sort them later.

Then upload the pictures to your computer. Sort them into folders and label them.

Upload the highest-quality, front view image as the primary image on your listing. For extra images, you have two options. You can upload these to Flickr, and insert the HTML in the description of your listing for free, or you can pay a small fee to upload more photos directly into eBay.


The title of your listing is extremely important; you need to make it very search friendly. Increasing the number of eBay searches you appear in is the best way to increase bids. Use keywords that you think a buyer will use when searching for your item.

Be specific and include as many details, such as Brand, Model, Make, and Year.

Avoid paying for subtitles. They are rarely worth the extra cost.


Once a bidder finds your item and clicks your title, the description you provide will determine whether they stick around or move on. Great descriptions come from the heart and look like an actual human wrote it; not a sterile advertiser.  Here’s how I go about it:

  1. Restate the exact item. Expand on the title and/or subtitle and restate the exact item that is being sold at the very top of the description. Include thorough detail on the make, model, condition, serial number, age, and similar details.
  2. Write your story. Take time to show your personality, and make yourself real to the buyer.  Include details such as how you got the item, some background into its history, or why you are selling. This is the most valuable part of making a bidder comfortable with your listing.
  3. List everything included. Be specific and thorough. List every accessory, add-on, manual, and battery (or lack thereof).  Don’t screw this part up!
  4. Fully disclose any issues. This will save you a ton of time and energy on returns and unsatisfied buyers. State the flaws bluntly and include pictures if needed.  If there is a scratch, include a photo.
  5. Additional images. If you know how to embed additional images via HTML, you can include as many as you’d like for free.  There are plenty of online tutorials to help you with this.
  6. Shipping, payment, and return details. Reiterate your shipping and payment details in the description. I ship internationally (it’s a pain, but I do it), accept PayPal to process payments, and do not accept returns.  I ship most items through the USPS Priority Mail. Exceptions are media items, which ship Media Mail, and packages under 13 ounces, which ship First Class Mail.

Pricing Format

For most items, a standard auction format will yield the best results.

Don’t set a reserve price. It costs extra money, and most of the time is not worth it unless you absolutely have to get a certain amount of money out of the item.

Set your starting price at $0.99.  That’s right. The lower you set the starting price, the more watchers and bidders you will attract early on. They will be more likely to compete with each other once they are “in the game”.  I have sold items for $1,000 that started at $0.99.  The higher the number of bids you’ve received, the more eBay’s search engine will reward your listing in search results. Also, your first 100 listings per month are free at this starting price.

Again, it worked best for me to grab one item each day and list it, as opposed to batching all of my stuff together.  Once the auctions were in full swing, I would bring one item a day to the post office during lunch.  I let my Paypal account grow over time, and $15,000 later it all went to debt!  You can do this, too!

There is a ton more to learn about eBay, but this is the least you need to know to get started. Start here and I believe you will come up with your own tips and tricks!

Once you are in the groove on eBay’s site, download the eBay app to your smartphone.  You literally can set up a listing, take a picture of your item, and have it on auction in 2 minutes!

Leave your own eBay “hacks” below in the Comments section!

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