Online business ideas for mums: 15 tips for selling on eBay

Everyone has heard of eBay, most people have bought something through the online auction site, but have you sold anything yet? It’s simple to sell items and learn how to make money online as in today’s economy it’s one among the best ways through which one can earn a little additional income. There are other online auction sites which work in similar ways to eBay with small variations, but eBay is by far the most popular and successful. This article concentrates on getting started selling through eBay.

1. Auctioning on eBay

First of all, what are you going to sell? You may want to trawl car boots and charity shops foritems you think are cheap and would sell formore. This is a gamble, but you may develop a feel forwhat sells. It is easier if you have some sort of specialist knowledgeorcan develop a niche area.

2. Get crafty

Alternatively, you may be creative and make something which you want to sell online. Make sure you cost your time and materials carefully. A common pitfall is to undervalue handmade items. Or, you may want to buy new items wholesale and sell them on at a marked up price. You can sell items fora fixed or ‘buy it now’ price on eBay as well as by auction.

3. Start to sell

If you want to try out selling, go to Click on ‘Sell’. Fill in your name and contact details to set up an account if you are not already registered. Then, write a few key words for your auction title. Think of what people might search on if looking for your item. Select the categories you want it to appear in. For example, if you are selling toy trains you may want to feature in children’s toys, in ‘pre-school’ toys, and also if your trains are from a popular brand, under the appropriate brand category.

4. Describe your item

Then tick a box to indicate whether the product is new or used.  Write a careful description of the item. This is the place to point out what is great about your item, and highlight any faults if the item is second hand. You have the option of selling multiple items too.

5. Pricing your item

Decide how you want people to buy the item. You can select an auction,or offer it at a fixed price, which is used more often if you have a number of new items to sell. If auctioning the item, set a start price. You have the option of offering a ‘buy it now’ price, which the buyer can select if there have been no other bids. The ‘buy it now’ price automatically ends the auction, so set it at a level at which you would be happy to sell the item.

6. Research the price

When setting your price, research how much other similar items have sold for. There is the facility to ‘search’ through auctions on eBay. Include completed auctions in your search, so you can see final prices fora range of items.

7. Reserve prices

You can also choose a reserve price. If, for example, you start an auction at 99p to attract lots of interest, you may not actually want to sell the item for less than £50. You therefore set the reserve price at £50. If the auction ends and the bids have not reached £50, bidders will be notified that the reserve has not been met. You can then list the item again.

8. Timing

Then, choose how long you would like the auction to run for. You can delay the start of the auction, fora small fee. There are key bidding times, and it can be more profitable to end your item at a time when lots of people are online and bidding. Most people are online weekend evenings, so this is a good time to start and end a one week auction. You may want to refine this for your particular products. Someone targeting mums with new babies may find more of them online during the day.

9. Auction fees

EBay charges a fee for you to list each item. This starts from a few pence and increases as the starting price,or reserve price, goes up. You then also pay around five per cent of the final sale price, if the item sells. If you relist an item that has not sold, you will have to pay the listing fees again, although these are refunded if the item sells second time around. You pay more if you are listing multiples of one item. The final value fees vary to some extent for books, CDs and DVDs, and technology items. You can find out more on eBay itself.

10. Pictures sell

You have the option of adding pictures to your auction. Clear images will greatly help your chances of selling your item. Buyers prefer to bid on something they can see.  The first image is free, then you pay a few pence foreach additional image, and more fora more prominent ‘gallery’ listing.

11. Feedback

Once you start buying and selling on eBay you will get ‘feedback’, short comments and a positive, neutralornegative rating from the people you have dealt with. The more feedback you have, the more confident buyers feel, although obviously a system like this is not foolproof.

12. Payment and delivery

You need to select how people can pay you. EBay’s preferred method is Paypal, which allows you to send and receive money instantly by email. You can also offer payment by chequeorpostalorder, but will need to allow time forpeople to post the cheque. More buyers fail to pay this way, simply because of the effort of remembering to write and post the cheque. You can also offer payment by credit card. There’s more about payment methods later on in this chapter.

13. Post and packaging

When you create an auction you also need to lay out how much postage and delivery will cost the buyer. You need to allow a small amount for the cost of the packaging, on top of the basic postage. You can also set up rules so people get a discount on postage if they buy more than one item.

14. Simple selling

The process to sell on eBay seems quite complex the first time you do it, but you will get faster with practice. There are tools to help you list lots of items, such as Turbo Lister. Don’t underestimate the length of time it will take to photograph and upload your images, handle enquiries and payment, pack the items and take them to the post office.

15. eBay shops

One way to have your own online store is to set up an eBay shop. You get a customisable “shop front” page on eBay, and can add your own logo. Shops cost from a few pounds up to several hundred pounds a month. The advantage is that your products are included when people search eBay. However, setting up your own website gives you greater flexibility.

More tips please!

If you sell on eBay, can you share your tips below too?


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