Wanting to try your hand at selling on ebay, but aren’t really sure how to be successful starting out?
In this article, I’ll share tips how I was able to consistently make an extra $500 every month putting in very part-time hours selling gently used clothes and other items on ebay.
I sold items on ebay while working my full time job as a teacher for 2 years. It’s not only a fun side hustle but can also be an easy way to make money quickly.
These tips will help you have a successful start to your ebay business and manage it with your full time job so you can ensure you’re optimizing your time and effort.
My Sales on Ebay While Working Full-time
To put it into some perspective, here are some screenshots of my sales for 2 months in 2017. This is just my sales, so after accounting for my cost and the fees, I clear about $500 on average.
Like I mentioned, I was only working on ebay in my whatever spare time I could find which ended up being on about 5 hours a week. Sometimes, I would spend 10 hours and other times, I just didn’t list anything new on ebay at all.
How Can You Be Successful at Running an Ebay Side Hustle
Based on what I’ve found has worked for me, here are my top 10 tips for how to run your own successful ebay side hustle business.
1. Buy items low and sell high
This may seem obvious, but this is the foundation of being able to actually make a profit.
For me, I have quite a few thrift stores where I can shop. To improve profit margin, I try to shop on their sales days and color change day.
For instance, the Goodwill near me puts a certain colored tag on 50% each Sunday. If I go on that day when they change the color, then there’s a better chance I will find quality items at half off. On Fridays, they will change that color to 99 cents. Sure, there is likely less inventory available to find but if you do find something, then it’s only 99 cents!
Don’t fall into this reseller trap though. This is where the treasure hunting feel comes in with ebay. You feel like you’re out there looking for gold hidden in the sea of items.
This can be a good and a bad thing.
It’s good because the thrill of the hunt will keep you going back for more and makes this job enjoyable and fun. It can be bad because if you start buying more than you are actually listing on ebay, then you get stuck with this large pile (the death piles as it’s called in the ebay reselling world) of stuff that you can’t list fast enough. And then you see another good sale that you just HAVE to go to.
You can see how that can get out of hand and turn into a giant problem so just be aware of that.
2. Keep Listing Items
For me, I really only had time to list 10-20 items a week, and this tended to result in selling an average of 2 items a day. If you can list more, then that is awesome, and you can likely earn more.
Sourcing (buying stuff to sell) can be the most time-consuming part because you have to go thrift stores and shop around to find items to sell.
A good strategy is to batch shop. It’s definitely doable in 1-2 hours to find 10-20 quality items to list. This gets easier with time as you learn more brands and know what quality items feel and look like.
Make sure you have a good hour or so to focus on finding your items.
If your kids are anything like my son and are not too fond of shopping, then see if you can leave the kids home with hubby for a bit for some quality daddy/baby bonding time. Or maybe they can visit Grandma for a bit while you run out shopping. The goal is to be intentional and focused instead of browsing aisles so you can optimize your time there.
Try to list daily as that helps boost your items in the ebay algorithm. If you don’t have time to list daily, then you can use their schedule feature and schedule them to go live each day.
3. Pick one or two niches to focus on
Another thing that can make it easier and less time consuming to source is if you focus on a niche.
For example, if you are solely interested in selling jeans, then when you go to the thrift store, you can focus on the jean section only. Alternatively, if you were focused on selling anything that is profitable, then you would have to search through the entire thrift store which can be really time-consuming ( I should know..this is me haha).
The thrift stores near me are HUGE and if I go through the entire store, it can take me upwards of 4 hours to get through every item! I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that kind of time.
I found that when I settled on a niche or two, then I could get in and out of the store much quicker. If you strike out in one store, you can quickly go to another store.
Picking a niche or two can really help keep you focused and optimize your time.
4. Don’t Worry About the Perfect Photo
To sell your items on ebay, you have to take pictures of the item for the listing.
There’s a lot of debate in the reselling world of whether you should use a mannequin or simply lay your items on the ground (flat lay) or use a white or unique background.
Most of this input is coming from serious full-time resellers. While it is important information and definitely can make a difference in your sale, it’s not something that you need to really worry about when starting out.
The key thing is to take a clear, focused picture of the item that accurately represents what it looks like.
So for lighting, I started out using a couple of floor lamps and just hanging my item on a plain wall. I also found that taking my items outside to take advantage of natural daylight worked well, but that’s not always an option.I had a way to hang the items in front of a brick wall so it looked nice.
The goal here is to get the item photographed so you can list it because it can’t sell if it isn’t listed.
Takings pictures can take 1-2 hours depending on how fast you are. Using my smartphone has been the fastest way for me to get pictures taken. It takes me about 2-3 minutes an item to take the pictures.
5. List the Items In Your Spare Moments.
Honestly, listing is my least favorite part, but it’s the most important. If your item isn’t up online, then it can’t sell and make you some money.
Listing can be done straight from your phone in the ebay app or you can list from your computer, so just figure out which one works best for you.
I find that I type faster from my computer but being able to list on my phone is super convenient. You can list while you are waiting at the doctor’s office or in line at the grocery store. Typically, I will list during my lunch break at work. This step takes about 5 minutes a listing, so about an hour a week.
6. Consistency and Quantity
There are millions of items being sold on ebay, so they have to have a way to bring the best, quality items to the top of the search for a better customer experience.
Of course, you want your listings to be the ones chosen to be presented at the top because then your chances of selling that item increase.
One big factor to help this is to consistently list. Similar to how Google likes active websites, ebay likes active ebay stores.
The more items you have listed on ebay and the more consistent you list, the more you will make.
Which makes sense. It’s like having only one hook in the water vs 200 hooks. With more hooks, you are likely to get more bites.
This obviously depends on you having quality items with at least a $15 average sale price. If you have a higher average sale price, then that means you’ll net more profit each month.
I think most people can easily easy find items that can sell for about $15-20 from your average thrift store. Finding more valuable items can certainly be done, but it’ll likely take more time than 5 hours a week and will require more advanced knowledge about what’s valuable.
7. Quality items
The better quality the item, the faster it will sell.
By quality, I mean things like the condition of the item (Is it really worn?) and the brand/style. All of these play a major role in how fast your item will sell and how much you can ask for it.
This is why it is important to always be researching and learning new brands and styles so that you can be better equipped when you DO go sourcing.
For me, YouTube has been invaluable for this. There are so many great ebay sellers sharing their knowledge on YouTube (here is a roundup of clothing resellers I put together to get you started).
8. Dedicate Time to Do Ebay
This can be easier said than done, but I’ve found it helpful to basically schedule out times during the week that I can focus on my ebay business.
The two things I map out are sourcing and photography times.
I know that at a minimum, I have to shop two hours for new inventory. Then on Wednesday nights, my husband gets some quality time with my son an hour after dinner, and this is when I take my pictures.
Having these chunks of time set aside, or at least planned, can really help you stay on track.
9. Have a support system
This sort of piggybacks off of the last tip, but this is very important.
Having the support of your spouse will make a huge difference in your success.
If he’s willing to sit with the kids so you can shop, then that’s a huge help.
If he isn’t on board and he feels angry that you are just “shopping” while he is watching the kids, then this can lead to some conflict.
So from the beginning, talk to your spouse and family to explain why you are doing this whole ebay thing, what it will require and ask for their help in supporting your new side hustle. (Check out 5 Tips for Convincing Others Your Online Business Is a Real Job for more tips).
10. Find your people
Selling online can be a very lonely venture. It’s on the internet after all, and there aren’t really coworkers or anything.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is important for keeping you motivated and focused, too. There are lots of resellers on both Facebook and Instagram so that’s a great place to find people.
The reseller community on Instagram is amazing and super helpful (Follow me @theliberatedmommy. for more about my reselling business)
Through these communities, I’ve been able to learn a lot about which items to be on the lookout for, what sells for a good profit, get help with identifying items and see the awesome items that people are selling.
There are also quite a few YouTube channels that are great. Check out my list of favorite clothing resellers here.
I love watching “what sold” videos. Basically, it’s where other resellers show you every item that sold in a given period of time and what that item sold for. This is super motivational because you see people making thousands of dollars a week.
Definitely gets my butt moving! Seeing other people’s successes really motivates me to keep pushing forward.
These are the strategies I use that have yielded a consistent $500 extra each month.
It’ll take time to build your inventory and figure out which brands are going to work well for you to sell, so don’t be discouraged at first. It will take a bit of time, but once you get going, it WILL work.
That’s what I love about this. Basically, if you source quality items, take decent photographs, and competitively price them, then anyone can make extra cash each month selling on ebay. Possibly even $500 a month.
So all that is left is to get started. Why wait? Start by selling items around your house.
Related Post You Might Like: Selling Clothes On Ebay and Poshmark – Supplies to Get Started
You’ve got the tools. Now, are you willing to put in the work to make this happen? In the comments below, let me know when you’ve listed that first item. It’s so exciting to take that first step toward your freedom.