How To Sell On eBay - The Basics

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Across the UK, many people are on the look out for a way to make some extra cash on the side. For many, eBay is the perfect ‘side hustle,’ allowing them to prowl charity shops, car boots, and liquidation sales for objects to sell at a profit.

There is usually a good amount of stock languishing in a typical family home, from old mobile phones to baby clothes. That said, getting started selling on eBay can seem intimidating if your don’t know where to begin or how it works.

Check out this guide to learn more about how to sell on eBay – your side hustle will be profitable in no time at all.

What Is eBay?

eBay is a global leader in reselling – think of it as a car boot sale online. While eBay got its start as an auction site where different buyers vied to ‘win’ an item, today many sellers choose to offer their wares at a set price. While the eBay of the past was more popular with independent sellers, today many businesses also use this platform to sell their goods.

You can buy and sell almost anything on eBay, from pre-loved clothing to brand new appliances. It’s a beloved marketplace for collectors, but is equally loved by average people who just want a bargain.

How Much Does It Cost To Sell An Item On eBay?

Anyone is able to open an eBay account for both buying and selling items. eBay makes their money by charging the seller a series of different fees. The basic fees are the listing fee and final value fee, but sellers can also opt to pay to add extra photos, promote their listing, and a whole series of other extras.

The fees that you will pay on eBay will depend on the item’s final selling price, the format that you list it with, and the category it is selling in, plus the optional upgrades mentioned above.

  • Listing fees – Private sellers are able to list up to 1,000 items per month for free (this number increases if you open an eBay shop). After you reach this threshold, you are then charged 35p for each new listing.
  • Final value fees – Once your item sells on eBay, you need to pay 10% of the final transaction value (including the amount you charged for postage). Final value fees are capped, so you will never pay more than £250 for an item. If your item doesn’t sell, you will not owe a final value fee. If your buyer doesn’t pay, make sure that you file an unpaid item report so that your final value fee is reversed.
  • Optional upgrade fees – You are also charged fees for optional upgrades, including adding a subtitle, promoting your listing, or adding extra photos. While these fees do add an extra cost to your sale, they can help your item stand out and sell quickly.

How To Sell An Item on eBay

Selling on eBay really is simple – they have gone out of their way to ensure that you can list an item in just a few easy steps.

Start by setting up an eBay account. Next:

  • Choose ‘Sell’ at the top of the page, or navigate to ‘sell your item’
  • Name and create a listing for the item you are selling. Be sure to add a lot of detail, including brand, size, colour, style, and more.
  • Add high quality photos to your listing
  • Choose whether you want to sell as an auction, or with a fixed price. Select whether or not you are willing to accept ‘best offers’
  • Set the starting price (auction) or price (fixed rate)
  • Confirm your payment account details for your eBay fees
  • Confirm your payment account details for your payment from the buyer (this is usually PayPal)
  • Click “publish” and you are all done!

How to Decide if You Need an eBay Store?

If you are selling a large volume of items on your eBay account, you might want to consider setting up an eBay store. It costs about £20 per month for the basic store, making it a good investment for many sellers.

If you are solely selling individual items, you might not see a lot of benefit from a setting up a store. However, most sellers find that the benefits of an eBay store and its relatively low cost make this a worthwhile endeavour.

Here are some of the benefits of an eBay store:

You can use the ‘Good ‘Til Cancelled (GTC)’ listing format

Using the GTC listing format allows you to compete with the big sellers who use this option to build sales history and rank higher on the site. GTC listings renew automatically every 30 days.

You’ll save on insertion fees

Shop subscriptions provide you with a certain amount of free listings each month. The amount of free listings you get depends on the subscription level you choose. Use the handy fees calculator on eBay to see when it makes financial sense for you to switch over to a store.

Your average order price will increase

If you sell a lot of related products, you will see a big increase in multiples – people love a ‘one stop shop.’ If you sell party supplies, wholesale gift boxes, holiday decorations, or wedding favours, you will see orders that include 2, 5, or even 100 items. When people search for specific niches, they can add multiple items to their cart, and they can also “view other items from this seller” – you!

You can devise categories

If you open up an eBay store, you can sort and organise your products into product categories that make sense for your inventory.

Create custom pages to give your customers value

When you open your store, you can create up to 5 customised pages that allow you to post tutorials, ‘about us’ information, and warrantee/technical information.

Customise and brand your page

eBay stores can choose their own colour scheme, upload a logo, and include custom design so that you can brand your shop.

How To Set Up An eBay Store

Once you have decided to set up your own eBay store, you need to choose the subscription level you want to go with: Starter, Basic, Premium, Anchor, or Enterprise.

Once you have selected your store level, you can open your store by doing the following:

  • Navigate to ‘Account’ in My eBay
  • Choose ‘Subscriptions’
  • Choose ‘Choose a Store’
  • Select the store type you want, and then choose ‘Select and Review’
  • Choose your subscription term (yearly or monthly), and then enter your store’s name
  • Choose ‘Submit order’

Simple! You now have your very own eBay store.

How To Decide A Shipping Strategy

Posting and selling is the fun part, but then comes shipping – most people’s least favourite part of the process. However, shipping can be simple.

Organise your inventory

The biggest mistake that people make is leaving their packaging until the item is sold. To keep your items clean, smoke free, and in good condition, package them up as soon as you have listed them. Many sellers choose to organise their inventory with a coded system so that they can find the item easily when it’s time to ship.

Send as soon as possible

Your buyers are expecting their items as soon as possible, and as a seller you need to uphold your end of the bargain. Ship your sales within 1-2 business days, depending on what you have listed on your profile. Customers are happiest when they receive their items quickly, prompting them to leave good feedback!

Choose a shipping option

Most Britons default to Royal Mail to send packages, but is this always the best option? If you don’t mind heading to the post office to do your posting and you are mostly selling small, lightweight items, then this can be a good option. However, there are plenty of other options. For heavier items, look to Hermes and Parcelforce.

eBay has their own shipping service, called ‘eBay delivery powered by Shutl.’ For a small additional amount, they will even pick up your packages from your home. While this represents an increased cost, it might be worth your time and energy. Do note that in order to use Shutl, you must have access to a printer.

How should You Package Items?

Remember, most packing and shipping materials cost money, and they can therefore take a huge bite out of your profit. If you sell an item for £20, and the packaging costs you £3 or £4, you have used up a significant amount of your profit just to pack it. That’s not even considering cost of goods, labour, eBay fees, and PayPal fees! By the time you have factored all of those costs into your transaction, you might even be in the red.

This is no way to run a business. Instead, you need to consider cheaper ways to pack your items. Here are some helpful hints about how you can package things on the cheap!

  • Reuse, reuse, reuse – We cannot stress this enough. Not only is reusing existing packaging materials good for the planet, it is also good for your bottom line. Save all of the boxes, bubble wrap, and mylar bags that you receive when ordering online packages yourself, and be on the look out for other household materials you can use for packing and wrapping.
  • Buy in bulk – With a sufficient amount of padding, most things can be shipped in medium mylar bags. Wrap clothing in tissue or paper, swath shoes in thick plastic, and add bubble wrap to anything more substantial. Buying mylar bags, tissue, and bubble wrap in bulk can save you a huge amount of money.
  • Practice your origami skills – While items in their original box ship easily with just a wrapping of brown parcel paper, many other items can be folded down to smaller sizes. If you are using Royal Mail, you will be charged for larger items, so it pays to fold down clothing into neat, tight bundles and wrap them tightly in mylar plastic.

check out this page of our website if you need any postal supplies.

Tips To Help You Sell More On eBay

Check ‘comps’ before you buy anything to sell

You might see something in a local charity shop that you know sells for a lot of money when new in the shop. Excellent buy, right? Not so fast. Some things tend to sell for a lot of money on eBay, while others simply do not, and it doesn’t always make sense why! Head to the ‘Advanced Search’ function and look at completed sales to see how much it sold for on eBay, as well as how recently.

Add new listings on a daily basis

Just like Google, eBay keeps their algorithm a tightly guarded secret. However, we can tell a few things about it just from experience. The algorithm favours sellers that list every day. Even if it just one item a day for seven days, it’s a lot better than listing seven items all at once.

Watch out for scams

Just like anywhere online, eBay has its fair share of scam artists. Before shipping high cost items, study your buyer’s profile for signs that they are dodgy. Do they have feedback? Is it a brand new profile? Request a signature to confirm delivery of items over £50. If you sell any items over £200, film a video of yourself packing and posting the item – this will help in the case of a chargeback dispute.

Take excellent photos of your items

First impressions do count, and one good, clear, and high quality photo is worth dozens of low quality photos. Ensure that the lighting, background, and camera quality are all excellent.

Include measurements in your photos and listings

Measurements are especially important when selling clothing, but buyers like to see the dimensions of nearly everything they purchase. Include photos of a measuring tape along side the item, and include the numerical measurements in the listing.

Your feedback score is very important

This is one of the most important factors in your success as an eBay seller – make sure you have good feedback! Reach out to your customers and thank them for their sale, and make sure that you leave feedback for them. In return, you can ask them for honest feedback on their experience with you as a seller. Good feedback shows a seller that you are trustworthy and safe to deal with.

Optimise your descriptions so search engines can find them

Don’t just add a few words in the description section – really make those descriptions sing! Think about (or research) what someone will be typing into their search bar, and include this information in your description. For a pair of Chuck Taylors, you should include model number, size, year, colour, brand, and keywords such as ‘chucks’ ‘converse all stars’ ‘basketball’ ‘hipster’ ‘punk’ ‘classic trainers’ and so on.

Include free shipping

Don’t just look at the listing price to see if you are competitive – buyers check out the price ‘all in’ including postage before they select the item they want to bid on or buy. Advertising free 1st class shipping will boost your sales – everyone likes fast and free shipping! Just be careful – items over 2kg can be very expensive to ship.

Take advantage of the ‘best offer’

While you might feel strongly about getting what your item is worth, customers just love a deal. If you decline a best offer, you have just lost a potential sale! If you submit a counteroffer, remember – they might just walk away. If you’ll still make a good profit, go ahead and accept a best offer.


Whether you are hoping to pad your income with your own small business, or you just enjoy searching for bargains and flipping them for a profit, eBay offers a wide array of opportunities to sellers. Focus on your seller rating, post high-quality photos, and ship on time – put in the time and work, and you’ll be a successful seller.

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