A Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide to Selling on Ebay

A Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide to Selling on Ebay

Are you about to declutter and want to make some money from your unwanted items? Maybe you are a budding entrepreneur with goods to sell. Or have you been hoarding things with the intention of selling them on eBay to make yourself some extra cash? Are you unsure of how to go about it? Then read on for your easy guide to selling on eBay.

Step 1: Preparation

Preparation is key to success. If you do this properly you will avoid wasting time listing items that either don’t sell, or only go for a small amount.

  • First things first, if you don’t have an eBay account, sign up for one!
  • Next, gather all your items into one place.ebay pile
  • Decide if it’s actually worth putting each item on eBay: Check completed listings to see what sort of price similar things sell for. Also consider the time you will spend taking pictures, listing the items, packaging them, taking them to the post office, etc and the eBay/Paypal fees when you item sells.
  • There are alternatives that are less hassle and less complicated, such as ‘buy and sell’ Facebook groups, or a local car boot sale. If it’s not worth the time consider donating to a charity shop.
  • Make sure that the items are allowed on eBay – there are quite a lot of prohibited and restricted items like alcohol, train tickets and the more obvious drugs and weapons!
  • kitchen scalesTime FairyWeigh the items and check the prices for postage (add a little weight for packaging). Digital kitchen scales are perfect for small items. You can find the Post Office Prices online. Sometimes this will help you decide that it’s not worth listing, or that you will list it as ‘collection only’. Take a note of the estimated cost as you will need this later.
  • If you’re listing several items, it’s useful to type up all the descriptions in a word document, then copy and paste onto eBay. Write a good description and be honest about the item’s condition.
  • Take photos. Try to make them a good quality. Use good lighting and a plain background. You can have up to 12 free photos for each item, so take a few different angles if appropriate. You might only need one.
  • Upload the photos to your computer and crop if necessary.
  • If you’re not registered for PayPal, set up an account. It’s the easiest and quickest way to get paid.

Step 2: Listing your items

eBay Screen ShotGo to the selling page of eBay and fill out the form. You should see a ‘sell’ button at the top of the page when you’re signed in. Here are a few things you might need to consider:

  • List each item in the most appropriate category, using key words in the title that people might use to search. If you put in the item, eBay will find the most likely category, but you can change it to another one.
  • If you’ve typed up all the descriptions in a word document, then copy and paste onto eBay.
  • Decide what selling format you want to use: auction, or fixed price (‘buy it now’) or both. If you are brand new to selling you will have to run 10 auctions before any of the other options are available.
  • Start price for an auction is up to you, but if you start at 99p or under, there’s no listing fee and it makes the item more enticing to bidders. However, don’t set your start price low if you don’t want it to go for that price – you are obliged to sell it even if it only gets one bid. You can set a reserve price, which also has a small cost, but may be worth it for you.
  • Decide on length of time that your item is for sale. This can be up to 10 days. Just make sure that the auction runs over a weekend and try not to have it end on a Sunday morning.
  • You will have already worked out your postage costs. Make sure they are realistic – not too high so that people complain, but also don’t underestimate them and be out of pocket. Please note that UK postage prices are increasing on 30th March 2015. You can see all the new prices online.
  • When you’re happy with everything, click ‘list with displayed fees’ and it goes live straight away.

Step 3: Your items are hopefully now selling!

  • relax feet upNow you that you’ve put in all the hard work, you have a fantastic listing and the bids should start rolling in! You can sit back, relax and watch your items as their bids increase! Don’t worry if nothing happens for a while. Sometimes people leave it literally until the last minute to bid.
  • While the listing is live, check your emails regularly for questions. People tend to want answers very quickly. Keep all communications professional and polite – you will need positive feedback for people to trust you as a seller.
  • ebay packaging Time FairyNow you also need to make sure you have everything you need to package the items once they sell. Boxes, plastic mail bags, bubble wrap, packing tape, scissors, printer, paper, and return address labels. If you have a lot of things to sell you can get all of the packing materials very cheaply on eBay itself.

Step 4: When listings end

  • Wait for payments before sending off the packages. There are people who won’t pay, or who don’t realize that bidding means they have committed to buy. If they don’t pay after a few hours, or a day, send them an invoice (easily done with the click of a button on eBay).
  • Package items carefully, use the labels provided by eBay that you print out, and always put a return address on them. When you post the items at the Post Office, get a proof of postage (this is free) and if the item is valuable consider getting insurance or getting it ‘signed for’ or recorded delivery.
  • Any unsold items can be relisted free of charge, which might be worth doing as you’ve done all the hard work, and relisting is just the click of a button.
  • When you have completed the transaction, and you think that your packages have been received, send a polite email asking the buyer to leave positive feedback if they are happy with the sale, and then do the same for them. You will need feedback to get your rating high so that people know you are a good seller.

That’s all there is to it! I know it seems like a lot, but it’s actually a fairly simple process, although it is time-consuming.

Do you have any eBay experiences or tips to share?

If you have a lot of things to sell, but don’t want to spend the time yourself, or if you want help getting started, the Time Fairy can help!

Ruth Lowe

Based in Southam, Warwickshire

Contact me:





Twitter: @UKTimeFairy

4 thoughts on “A Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide to Selling on Ebay”

  1. Great blog Ruth! I do try and sell bits on ebay when I have the time.
    My tips:
    – wait until you have a load of stuff to sell. Its much more time efficeint.
    – If you buy online postage, you can pretty much go to the front of the post-office queue, catch the cashier’s eye and say “its prepaid, can I just drop them off?”
    – sometimes its worth scheduling a start and end time. If you are selling baby bits for example, evenings are good end time as your target audience are more likely to be around, although with goofbay and scheduled bids, this isn’t as much of a problem as it used to be.

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