eBay Is Calling, Your House Demands You Answer the Phone

ebay blocks
Image by: Cheon Fong Liew

By Valerie Miller

Can you hear it, ladies?  The garage is beckoning you. Your attic calls out your name in the middle of the night. The basement has been Facebook stalking you for months. Why has your home been creepily trying to get your attention all this time? Because you went and got its hopes up the day you started talking about selling all your “old crap” on eBay.

Your home wants its closets back from years of stored memorabilia that is your life. Old Barbie’s still in their packaging, Buffy DVD’s, that expensive sewing machine you bought and never touched after your outburst in the mall about how all fashion “sucks.” Yea that stuff. The good thing is that clearing your life from clutter is easier than you may think.

Here are some tips in making sure you have a successful experience in your first ‘bid’ at online auctioneering.

#1) Memories vs. Cash

The hardest decision in this process will come down to sentiments. When you begin to gather up items to sell, you inevitably will be left with having to deal with any emotional ties. If your first piece of merchandise happens to be Grandma’s WWII brooch pin collection, you may want to hang on to that before you sell it for half a months’ car payment.

When selling personal items, often the amount of money that you would realistically get for it is not equal to the intrinsic value. Ask yourself this question, “Could I live without this item and still sleep at night knowing I basically traded it for a Frappacino?” If the answer is yes, list it.

Just don’t let this process turn into an episode of Hoarders. Sometimes the memory will serve you better than the material it is tied to.

#2) Hit the Books

Once you have decided on the items you want to sell you’re going to have to see if selling them is worth your time and effort. So get your internet gloves on, it’s time to hit the highway. Believe it or not, the best place to start researching your items is on eBay. Not only will you find out details about your item from someone else who might sell fifty a day, but you can use the listings to accurately price the item as well.

But don’t stop at eBay. Do some searching and see what other sites turn up. You may find out that the Beanie Baby you have is actually super rare because the original stock is sitting at the bottom of the ocean due to a freight liner accident. Nuggets like this might not be disclosed or even known on eBay, so do your homework.

#3) Ahh yes, Shipping

You’re going to want to print this out and highlight this step. The one mistake I learned the hard way is that you should always calculate shipping costs yourself before ever even listing the item. Otherwise that expensive pair of earrings that you forgot to add insurance or tracking on, might just get lost in the mail. As long as you are protected with those two incredibly helpful add-ons then it doesn’t matter what happens during shipping.

Also keep in mind that shipping costs can quickly get out of hand, even on small stuff that barely weighs anything at all. There is a calculator tool on eBay, but it isn’t always reliable. The last thing you want to do is eat your profits away by not charging enough for shipping. Especially as the item gets larger in size and more delicate in nature. If you get to point where you could start your own consignment business, it may behoove you to seek your own account with a major shipping carrier to cut costs.

A note on flat rate shipping boxes from the post office. These are only worth the cost of mailing if you have a smaller, but very heavy item or items. A crash course in mailing costs vs. UPS will help you understand how much you should be charging for shipping depending on the item, as well as which options you should be offering.

#4) Relish Your New Role

As eBay approaches its 20th birthday, yes it’s been that long; you will be far from the first person to sell their homemade Christmas ornaments on the site. However, that should not stop you from making a big deal about it. Write a unique description about your item, be creative, tell your story to potential buyers and they will respond. People like knowing that a real human being is behind the product they are looking at and that means a sale is more likely.

Write personalized thank you notes to your buyers, send follow up messages, and always have an open door policy for complaints, returns, and any other issues that may arise. The internet is a vast ocean, and eBay is a giant continent floating in it. There should be no reason you don’t add your own cool touches to the place as a new entrepreneur.

Ladies, do you have any stories to share about selling on eBay?  We would love to hear your advice, tips, and any thing else you would like to share.  A good tip might change someone else’s experience. 


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