A New Series on TFF: How to Make Money with eBay – Getting Started

This series is brought to you by Kimberly from Homemaking Expert. Kimberly is a stay-at-home mom who uses eBay to supplement her family’s income while her husband finishes college. She writes at Homemaking Expert about cleaning, cooking, budgeting and all other things related to making a house a home.

Buying and reselling items or selling n0 longer used items around your home is a great way to bring in a little (or a lot) of extra cash. I’ve been selling on eBay for over a year and have learned lots of tricks along the way that I am excited to be sharing with you!

Let me first answer the question that I’m sure many are wondering – How much can I make? It completely depends on how much work you are willing to put in. I devote two full days per week to listing and shipping and then another afternoon each week to go thrift store and garage sale hunting for inventory. (Though this doesn’t feel like work, cause it’s so fun!) I average $800 – $1,000 per month!  Of course you can work more or less and make more or less, it’s totally up to you! But suffice it to say – eBay is a GREAT way to make extra money!

In this post I am going to cover some basic getting started information. If you have sold on eBay before, this will all be stuff you already know. But for the new sellers reading, here’s where to begin:

  1. Set up an eBay account: There really is no magic to this. Just go to eBay’s website and set up an account, they will walk you through the process.
  2. Set up a Paypal account: This will be your primary and perhaps only form of receiving payment (it is the only way that I receive payments). It is important to make sure all of your information is correct and complete on Paypal. Having things inaccurate could cause a delay in payment.
  3. Link your Paypal account to your Bank account: If you are leery of doing this, you could open a separate checking account just for Paypal, which is what I chose to do. This is also helpful if you plan to run your eBay store like a business for tax purposes, etc.
  4. Gather needed supplies: See the list at the bottom of this post for supplies that I recommend you have.
  5. Start listing! These few steps are really all that is required to get started. Tomorrow’s post will be all about what types of items successfully sell. I’d bet you have a few laying around your house that you’d be willing to part with!

Seller Supplies List

  • Postage Scale: I personally use the Weighmax scale which is about $20 on Amazon, and I’m very happy with it.
  • Shipping Supplies: boxes, newspaper, bubble wrap, brown paper — I pay very little if anything for these supplies. About once a month I go on a run to gather boxes and packaging materials that various stores are going to toss out. The only shipping materials that I pay for are brown paper, bubble envelopes, manila envelopes and tape – all of which I purchase at the Dollar Tree.
  • Camera: for taking photos of your inventory. I use the camera on my  iPhone and a basic point and shoot works fine as well. We’ll cover photos in more detail later, but a digital camera is a must.
  • Printer: highly recommend printing your own shipping labels. There are lots of reasons which I will cover in the shipping post of this series.
  • Cleaning Materials: Even if items I’m selling are in great condition, I give them a once over before shipping. Cleaning items that I keep in stock are baby wipes, Goo gone (for removing price labels), a lint brush, scissors and a small sewing kit.

Upcoming Posts in This Series

Getting Started
What to Sell
Finding Inventory
Listing Your Items – Part 1
Listing Your Items – Part 2
Smooth Shipping
Customer Service Tips
Staying Organized
Tips for Success
My eBay Successes & Stumbles


    • Anonymous says

      Hi Kim,
      I have been an ebay seller for a year and a half with some good success, but I have a few questions for you! 1. My sellers fees can be outrageous! For the volume and profits you describe what on average do your fees come to and what do you do to keep that cost low? 2. Do you have an ebay store or list the regular way? 3. Do you typically use fixed pricing or auctions? 3. If you use auctions do you start the item at the price you want or do you begin at .99cents? Thank you in advance!

      • Kimberly says

        You’re right! The sellers fees can get a little crazy! I do not have a store, I just list an item at a time and I use auction style. I’ll go into more detail on the different styles and why I do auction style in Listing Your Items – Part 1. I do start the auction at what I want to get from it. The only time that I do a $.99 starting bid is if I am ready to pull that item out of inventory and donate it – kind of a last ditch selling effort.

        As far as the fees go, when determining the price to list my item at I always add 13% for fees. My eBay fees are typically 9% and Paypal charges about 3%. I add an additional 1% for any other fees (such as insertions fees with eBay). I hope this helps! :) Thanks for your questions!

  1. Cindy says

    I have been selling on ebay since 1997 and many things have changed since then. People need to be aware that ebay has very strict rules for new sellers and paypal holds your money for up to 21 days now on new sellers. It is a great way to make ends meet but really new sellers should not expect to get the prices old time sellers get. It’s because of so many people ripping others off that they now have safeguards in place.
    Also personally I have never bought packing supplies. Get them from your hospital shipping and receiving or freecycle even. I have tons of tips if you might like them also

    • Kimberly says

      Yes, the rules are a bit stricter for new sellers! I’ll be covering things like this in the Tips for Success post. I don’t pay for shipping supplies either — with the exception of packing tape. I go to my local grocery store for supplies, but the hospital is a great idea! I’d never thought of that! Thank you for your input! :)

  2. Jessica says

    I just wanted to throw out there that ebay/paypal will now send you a tax form and if you sell over $500 on ebay you will have to put it on taxes. This can be a serious break for people and can also be a serious pain in the butt, especially if you are selling multiple items that are all different. That means you need to track every item you sold, how much you paid for it (from your house or if it was from a garage sale (and the gov. doesn’t just take your word you got it from here or there), shipping fees, ebay fees, ect. My husband sells on ebay and it’s a great way to make extra money, but it is also a business which takes lots of time.

    • Kimberly says

      Yes, people need to take into consideration that this is untaxed income! I will be adding some tax tips to the Staying Organized post. It can be a bit of a pain, but also an EXCELLENT write off! I have made spreadsheets to make it a bit more seamless that I’ll be sharing in that post as well! :)

  3. Mechelle says

    Very excited about this. My son will be too. He’s 11 and loves to sell his stuff on my ebay account. Video games, etc. I’ll make sure he reads this series. :)
    Thanks for taking the time to do this!!!

    • Kimberly says

      That’s awesome that your son is an eBayer! What a little entrepreneur! I’m glad you’re looking forward to this series!

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