ebay 101 Prerequisites


The Prerequisites To Selling on ebay

This tutorial addresses a topic I am quite passionate about – how to sell on ebay. Ebay of course is the vast online auction and marketplace website founded by Pierre Omidyar in 1995. While many people have investigated ebay over the years, there is still an unfortunate impression that only advanced computer users can navigate the technical aspects of ebay or that there is secret knowledge needed to be successful at selling. This reputation is helped by an avalanche of bad information on YouTube and other online sources as well as ebay’s own poorly designed help resources. Well, get ready to walk among the elite because we are about to demystify ebay and teach you everything you need to start selling within a few days. Below is the distilled information it often takes newcomers weeks or even months to accumulate. Whether you are looking to declutter and make a few dollars for your effort, start a side-hustle or you are a closet entrepreneur itching to start your online empire, ebay is an outstanding platform to accomplish these goals.

The five prerequisites to selling on ebay are:

  1. Assess Expectations & Set Goals
  2. Setup Your ebay Account & Link It To Your Bank Account
  3. Acquire A Digital Camera or Smartphone
  4. Acquire Shipping Supplies
  5. Acquire a Postal Scale
ebay 101 Pros & Cons List

Assess Expectations & Set Goals

What do you want to achieve? Learning how to sell on ebay is not terribly complicated but there are a lot of activities and processes to become familiar with and that take time to master so you will want to determine your goals in order to understand how to proceed. If you have three items worth less than twenty dollars to sell, the numbers won’t add up, when you consider the commitment of even the minimum time required to learn the basics. If you have a closet full of unused clothes in good condition or a garage packed with vintage items that you have no foreseeable use for, you are well positioned to start your ebay project.

If your interest is to sell off items you don’t need or want from around your home, you can work at your own pace without having to immerse yourself in all of the details of ecommerce. Simply follow the pre-requisites, price your items appropriately and determine if selling on ebay is worth your time and effort.

If you are starting a side-hustle, new stream of income or even planning to make a living as a reseller you will need to consider that in any marketplace, there is competition – often fierce competition. In such an environment you will need to approach your endeavor with discipline, a willingness to take some risk and an open mind to learn what works and what doesn’t (often by trial and error) all with the confident belief that you will be able to accomplish your goals. How smartly you work will determine how quickly and how difficult it will be to achieve those goal. But you will achieve them.

I can point out numerous examples of twenty and thirty-somethings that have built quarter million dollar incomes on ebay in a few years time with little to no prior business management experience. A more accessible example might be the Hustle at Home Mom a stay at home mom of multiple elementary school children who lists items for sale on Amazon and ebay every evening (that she buys from garage sales one day a week) for a $50,000+ a year net income. The key to your success starts with knowing what you want to achieve and being willing to take reasonable risks to learn what works and what doesn’t as you make progress toward your goal. Ebay is a marketplace. A platform on which ecommerce is conducted and there is a framework within which one must work when doing business on it. Regardless, in the end, you are the one who must decide what you expect to get out of your effort and how you will conduct yourself.

Setup An ebay Account

You need to establish a selling account with ebay and link it to your checking account so that you can receive payment for the items you sell and pay ebay fees for the services they provide. In 2020, ebay began implementing “Managed Payments”. This means that ebay acts as the broker for online transactions between you and your customers, no matter how the customer wants to pay. This is a role previously performed largely by PayPal. The change allows all sellers on ebay to receive payments via more of the electronic methods used by consumers (i.e. everything from PayPal and bank debit & credit cards to Apple and Google Pay). There are no costs associated with setting up your ebay account but it will take a few days for ebay to complete the account verification process.

ebay 101 Smartphone

Acquire a Digital Camera or Smartphone

A digital camera is essential for preparing photos of the items you want to sell. Clear, close-up, high resolution photos are your primary selling tool in a digital marketplace. Listings without photos or with poorly prepared ones is doomed to failure. Luckily, almost any modern smartphone will get the job done. If you choose to use a digital camera, the higher the megapixel rate the better.

ebay 101 Digital Scale

Acquire a Postal Scale & Printer

A postal scale is necessary for calculating shipping costs. If you are selling lightweight items, you can use a kitchen scale in the short term. Otherwise, a good quality digital postal scale sufficient to weigh the range of items you intend to sell should be purchased as soon as possible. The cost for a scale that can weight items up to 35lbs (the one I use) costs about $35. It is an essential tool for ebay resellers as ebay has arrangements with the United States Postal Service, FedEx and UPS to offer a substantial discount for postage purchased through their website. Initially, postage can be printed on plain paper and taped to shipping boxes. If you intend to scale up your selling, you can graduate up to pre-formatted labels that can be printed on your existing printer. The best solution for printing postage labels is a thermal printer. They are highly reliable and don’t require ink or toner.

ebay 101 Box with Recycle Symbol

Acquire Shipping Supplies

A collection of boxes or other types of mailers will be needed to ship the items you sell to your customers. The US postal service provides a class of shipping called Priority Mail, which offers free boxes in several sizes for “flat rate” (one price within a certain weight range) or “calculated” (weight + distance based pricing). You can pick-up an assortment of these boxes at any US post office or have them delivered to you free of charge. Just setup a free account at USPS and order them. A roll of bubble wrap or other suitable cushioning material (old newspapers, packing peanuts etc…) and shipping tape will also be needed. If you intend to sell clothes, an excellent way to keep costs down is to ship in unpadded poly-mailers or padded bubble mailers. This type of packaging is lightweight and works well for items that are not easily damaged such as: clothing, small hardwood or metal items, DVDs, etc. All of these shipping supplies are available for sale on ebay from other entrepreneurs who are filling the niche of supplying other ebay sellers. I strongly suggest using this method to acquire such items as this is a way of supporting the community you intend to join. It is also a way of getting positive feedback for your ebay account. When you complete a transaction on ebay, the person you purchase from, or sell to, can rate the transaction – a powerful tool to alert others about the experience. Feedback helps to build ebay’s trust in you and forecasts how you intend to do business on their platform. This in turn will help you get more exposure for the items you list and, subsequently, more sales.

Congratulations! You have successfully completed our review of the essential actions you need to take to prepare for selling on ebay. The good news is most of these tasks can be completed in just a few hours. If you are serious about selling on ebay, setup your account right now. There is no time like the present and the internet is always open. The links to the ebay registration pages can be found above. Then, make a plan to acquire the few items you need as soon as possible.