It feels as if eBay has been around forever, and many people assume that it is a relic of the past, a vestige from the days of MySpace and dial-up. eBay couldn’t possibly be relevant in today’s internet landscape. Could it?
Believe it or not, eBay is not only still alive, it is thriving. What used to be akin to an online yard sale is now a flourishing marketplace. Sure, you could browse eBay to score a great deal on that sweater you’ve been eyeing — but you could also use the platform to make yourself some cold, hard cash.
Pros and Cons of Selling on eBay
There are, of course, both pros and cons to using eBay to sell online. Here are a few to consider:
- Makes selling easy — it takes literally minutes to set up and account and add a listing
- Opening an account is free
- Fees are relatively low, and you get 50 free listings each month
- Large built-in audience
- You can sell literally anything
- Seller protection
- Multiple selling options (fixed-price or auction)
- Less control than you would have if you were operating your own online store (i.e.: you won’t be able to customize the look of your online storefront)
- Some niches are oversaturated — which means your listing may get lost in all the noise
- There are a lot of bargain shoppers on eBay, which may mean you aren’t able to sell some items for as much as you might on another platform
- Fees may be low, but they still exist — and may cut into your bottom line if your profit margins are too low
Auction vs. “Buy it Now”
When it began, eBay was exclusively an auction site. These days, however, fixed-price listings are the norm. In most cases, listing an item with a fixed-price is the way to go. Many buyers don’t like waiting for an auction to end, and will choose to purchase a higher priced product because they don’t want to go through the hassle of bidding. Fixed-price items also show up better on Google and within eBay’s internal search engine.
In some situations, however, selling an item in auction can still be beneficial. Rare or highly collectible items, event tickets, and other things that are limited in number are perfect for candidates for auctioning on eBay.
Traditional Items to Sell on eBay
Want to start selling on eBay, but don’t know where to start? You can sell almost anything (legal) on eBay — though some items will certainly garner more profit than others. A great place to start is your own garage. Selling things you already have and need to get rid of anyway is a free way to help you test the waters to see what sells best. What do you have to lose?
Once you’ve sold off all the random junk around your house, it is time to branch out. At this point, most eBay sellers will frequent thrift stores and bargain markets to find items that they can buy cheaply and flip online for a higher price. Having a list of items to look for can make your thrift store treasure hunt a lot easier.
- Thrifted clothing (especially items with the tag still on)
- Mugs (bonus points if they are Disney or vintage)
- Depression glass
- Electronics (VCRs, remotes, and game systems are a good place to start)
- Sterling silver
- Cassette tapes
- Baby clothes (especially in themed bundles)
Another tip? Download the eBay app on your phone. That way, when you are out thrifting, you can quickly look up any item you might be considering to see how much it is currently selling for on eBay, and if there is a market for it.
A few Creative Ideas
Beyond the basics, there are also a lot of other, more creative ways to make a buck on eBay. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1) Buying and Selling Domain Names
If you’ve done any exploring on Side Hustle, you may have seen us talk about buying and selling domain names for profit. Believe it or not, this is actually something you can do on eBay! While eBay might not be the first place you think of when trying to sell your domains, it can be a profitable marketplace for them. For especially valuable domain names, eBay’s auction option can really help you maximize your profits.
2) One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure
Believe it or not, there are a lot of things you might ordinarily choose to throw away, which you could actually be selling instead.
Take empty egg cartons, for example. You can sell a bundle of 100 egg cartons for around $40 on eBay. That’s a good chunk of change for something you would have otherwise thrown away! People repurpose egg cartons in a variety of ways, including craft projects, or selling their own eggs. You can also sell aluminum cans, glass bottles, baby food jars — even empty toilet paper rolls! There is a huge market for crafting supplies on eBay, and a lot of these supplies are things that you probably already have in your house.
3) Handmade Items
Ebay isn’t just a site for thrifted goods — you can sell handmade items on eBay too! The site even supports artists by offering a unique category for handmade goods called OOAK, or “Original One-of-a-Kind.”
Though Etsy outperforms eBay as a marketplace for handmade items in many ways, eBay does have a few advantages. The biggest of these is the size of eBay’s audience — 162 million users versus Etsy’s 24 million. This means that selling on eBay gives you the ability to put your product in front of even more people … and potentially more buyers.
Another bonus? You don’t have to sell exclusively on eBay. Even if you decide that Etsy is the best platform for your handmade creations, eBay could still be a good option for you. As they say, it isn’t good to have all your eggs in one basket. As long as you keep track of your inventory, selling through multiple platforms can only be a benefit to you and your business.
4) Broken Electronics
Sure, you can sell working electronics on eBay, but did you know that you can sell broken items as well? People buy broken electronics to use for parts, and will actually pay a decent amount for them. How much you make depends on what you are selling, of course, but let’s be honest — it wasn’t doing you any good gathering dust in your garage anyway. Just make sure that you clearly label the item as “broken” or “for parts” in your listing.
5) eBay’s Affiliate Program
With eBay’s affiliate program, you can even make money without selling anything at all! Affiliates recommend eBay products by posting links to items they love on blogs, social media channels, or anywhere else that might receive a lot of traffic.
If you have a fashion blog, for example, you could share a link with your readers to a sweater that is similar to one you featured on a post. If someone clicks that link and makes a purchase, you receive a small commission. Affiliates receive between 50% and 70% of eBay’s revenue from each sale that is made based on their recommendations.
Clearly, there is a lot of money to be made from eBay. Where eBay really stands out as a potential side hustle is in its ease-of-use. With the eBay app, you can literally have a posting up in minutes, without ever leaving your phone. Combine that with the joy of hunting for thrift store treasure, or the relief of clearing out a cluttered closet, and you have the perfect recipe for success.
Whether you choose to sell on eBay exclusively, or simply want to diversify the platforms on which you offer online goods, you really can’t go wrong. So what are you waiting for? Take five minutes, set up a profile, and see what happens.
Looking for more side hustle ideas? Be sure to check out our Master List of 92 Side Hustle Ideas to get your hustle juices flowing.