Most experts agree one of the best ways to generate extra cash is part with unused household items. There was a time when extracting that money from your closets, attic, garage and storage space meant doing something tedious like holding a yard sale.
That paradigm shifted dramatically when eBay launched on September 5, 1995.
However, quite a bit has changed about eBay since the company began doing business, some of which has been bad for sellers. In fact, things are now different enough to make asking, “Is selling on eBay worthwhile?” a valid question.
You’re thinking of doing this to make money right? While it is possible to make money selling things on eBay, there is a bit of a science to it. One of the most important things to which you should pay attention is the fee structure.
eBay takes a percentage of the final sale price in exchange for giving you access to the market it has built over the years. PayPal, if you choose to accept it, will slice off a bit for its efforts on your behalf as well.
In addition to the aforementioned Final Value Fee, the company imposes Insertion Fees if you sell more than 50 items each month. You’ll also encounter Listing Upgrade Fees, Promoted Listing Fees, Classified Listing Fees, Payment Processing Fees — and Punitive Fees if you’re ever deemed to be in violation of certain rules.
The good news is many of these fees will not apply if you’re just cleaning out your closets. But you do have to be careful how you list things to avoid them. This can be of particular concern if your goal is just to make enough money to pay off some bills — or to work down debts through a settlement program like Freedom Debt Relief or a debt management program at a credit counseling agency. You’ll have to list and price your items carefully to ensure everything you have to go through is worthwhile.
You’ll need to take really good photographs of the items you have for sale if you want them to bring the most cash possible. Going with a single poorly focused image will leave your item languishing because people can’t see it clearly enough to want to bid on it. Take sharp and clear photos of your product from every pertinent angle — front, rear, sides and bottom. Include close-ups if the item has interesting details you feel would make it more desirable.
You’ll also need to write a good description of the item to give potential buyers a definitive idea of what it is, who made it, what it might have cost when it was new and the features that make it something special.
And, yes, these things will take time to accomplish when you’re new to it.
Once it sells, you’re going to have to get it to the buyer. This means you’re going to need to wrap it carefully so it survives the trip. You’re also going to have to get a sturdy package in which to ship it.
Further, you’re going to need to decide whether to go with the Post Office, FedEx, UPS or some other carrier — all of which will want a portion of the sale price to deliver it to your buyer. Yes, you can include shipping and handling charges in your listing, however, free shipping definitely attracts more interested customers.
Those are the three most significant concerns to ponder when wondering if selling on eBay is worthwhile. Managed carefully, they can seem far more formidable than they really are. Still though, you’re also looking at a pretty substantial time investment. Bottom line, selling on eBay can be a worthy pursuit when you have a lot of free time. However, you should weigh doing so against other uses of your time to determine the opportunity costs before you jump in wholeheartedly.