How to Make Money with eBay: What to Sell

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.

If you want to sell stuff on eBay, it’d be really helpful to know what to sell, right? Well, technically, you can sell pretty much anything – as long as it is legal, that is. I’ve personally seen someone selling a date with himself, so I do mean anything!

But what SHOULD you sell? As far as stuff around your house that you no longer want – anything goes. You have nothing to lose since it’s stuff you already own and had planned to get rid of anyway. Some things that I once owned that have sold successfully on eBay are:

  • My son’s toys
  • Jewelry
  • My husband’s music equipment
  • Camping and outdoor items
  • Military apparel and gear
  • DVDs
  • Books (sell best in lots)

However, when it comes to items that you are going to purchase just to resell, you need to do a bit of research and be more choosy, since these items will (most likely) be costing you money.

Here is my biggest tip for knowing what to sell on eBay – research items that have already sold on eBay! There are two ways to do this. One, using the eBay smart phone app.

Dowload the app and select “search” on the bottom toolbar. Then type in a description for the search. You will want to use these steps for  a few different descriptions for your item. For example, “Vintage Cabbage Patch Doll” will return different results than “Vtg CPK Doll” since the search bar searches only the title.  The default search will show listings with the amount in blue. These are items that are currently listed and have not sold.

This is the most important step – click “Refine” in the top right corner. Scroll down to select “Completed Listings” and then click the Search button in the top left corner.

What you are now seeing are items whose auctions have ended in the last 30 days. The items with dollar amounts in red didn’t sell and the green dollar amounts did sell.

With this tool, you get a great indication of whether or not the item you are looking at is a good investment. So, let’s say that I found a baggie of about 8 Thomas the Train pieces at a thrift store for $1.99 (which has happened). I can tell from the past 30 days, that I can potentially resell them for $15. Then I can decide if that is a desirable profit margin. Like I said, GREAT TOOL for research!

You can do the same thing on their website by choosing the “completed listings” option on the left hand column after you’ve searched. You just don’t have the convenience of being able to look up the item at the store before purchasing it.

Just because something hasn’t sold on eBay in the last 30 days doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t sell. But researching and purchasing what has a successful sales record is just a great way to take a bit of risk out of the investment.ake Money on eBay

There are some categories of items that I have consistent success in selling. They are:

  • Vintage toys
  • Popular current kid’s toys (Legos, Thomas the Train, Little People)
  • Name Brand Purses, Scarves and Accessories (Chanel, Gucci, and other high end brands)
  • Lots of children’s books
  • Music and sound equipment
  • Scrapbook and craft items

Those are the things that I look for and that have sold well for me in the past. You may find you have success with other stuff, but that is what works for me. Most importantly, do your research! Make sure to check out the posts below for more information.

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


  1. Kim says

    I would love if you could give pros/cons for Buy It Now as opposed to Auction, as well as paid vs free shipping.

    I sell an item on Ebay that I am knowledgable about and can fnd at Goodwill, etc. My format is Buy It Now and free shipping. I’ve been doing it for a year and have made good money, but would love to hear more tips!

    Also, I think more people would sell on Ebay if they knew how easy it is to get a debit card for your Paypal account.

    • Kimberly says

      I have a friend who uses Buy It Now and free shipping. I personally prefer auction style and charge shipping. It is definitely a personal preference, but it’s nice to have options!

      I’ll be covering different listing styles and shipping costs in Listing Your Items Parts 1 & 2!

  2. says

    Not sure if you are planning to cover fees or not, but it would be beneficial to talk about fees too. I know that when we had a store a few years ago, all the fees associated with eBay/Paypal were ridiculous. So knowing how to price your item accordingly would help new sellers.

    • Kimberly says

      Yes, definitely! I typically calculate 12% off the top to cover fees. I’ll go over fees in more details in the Listing Your Item Parts 1 & 2. :)

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