Seven Tips For Getting Started With Your eBay Reselling Business
Ruth has been self-employed for over seven years and blogs about genuine ways to make money online at RuthMakesMoney.com, including eBay reselling, matched betting, and freelance writing.
I’ve been reselling second-hand clothes on eBay for almost exactly a year now, and it’s shaped up to be one of my all-time favourite side hustles and ways to make money online.
There’s not much that I enjoy more than having a good old rake around in a charity shop or at a car boot sale to find items that I can flip for a big profit, and I’ve earned several thousands of pounds, part-time, in the process.
Each and every week is different with reselling. But as a quick snapshot of what my business looks like, my first month saw me doing around £400 in sales, and I’ve slowly but steadily increased that over the year – mostly just thanks to making sure that I’m consistently increasing my listings and finding good stock.
This week, I’ve sold 15 items, and those included a pair of shoes for £35 that I bought for £2.99, and a jacket for £20 that I bought for 50p. It also included a dress that I bought for £5 that I finally sold for £7.50, after it hanging around for months. So that one was a bit of a fail. They happen from time to time, like they do in any kind of business, but the wins outweigh them.
Though the premise of eBay reselling is pretty simple – you buy stuff for cheap, then sell it on at a higher price. Still though, it pays to have a bit of knowledge under your belt before you get things rolling, so you can maximise your chances of success and increase your profits from day one.
Here are seven of my best tips for starting your own eBay reselling business…
1. Declutter your home and start by selling your own stuff
Don’t try to run before you can walk. Before you even consider going out and buying any stock, it makes sense to have a thorough declutter in your own home and find items that you’re happy to sell. This is a great starting point because it costs you nothing, it gets you used to the listing and selling process, it clears some space, and it also puts some cash straight into your pocket.
You might initially think that you don’t have much to sell, but you’ll probably be surprised. Consider clothes, shoes, toys, electronics… You name it, you can probably sell it.
You’ll also quickly realise that one person’s trash really is another person’s treasure. For many people, it’s not unrealistic to sell a few hundred pounds worth of things that you’d long since abandoned, or even forgotten that you owned.
2. Learn how to research items so you know exactly how much they’re worth
One of the biggest questions you’re going to have when it comes to reselling is how much you can expect to sell your items for. After all, that’s going to play a big part in the kind of things you look out for, and how much profit you ultimately make.
Luckily, eBay makes this part of the process fairly easy. You can search the platform for sold listings, and see exactly how much items similar or exactly the same as yours have sold for in recent months.
Armed with the information, you can make informed choices about how much to charge for your item. This function is really easy to use, and you’re going to be using it a lot in your reselling, so make sure that you’re familiar with how it works.
It’s also worth checking out the reseller community on YouTube and Instagram. You’ll find tons of inspiration around the kind of brands and items that you should be looking out for to resell.
3. Don’t neglect the art of creating a great listing
How you create your listing has a big impact on how many people will see it, and how appealing it’ll be to them. This determines how many sales you make, so don’t rush into anything before creating your own strategy. Here, there are two big things so consider…
Firstly, your listing title. Here, you want to be as descriptive as possible and put yourself in the shoes of your potential buyers… What keywords would they be typing into eBay when they were looking for an item like yours? Ditch words like ‘stunning’ and ‘lovely’, which really don’t mean a lot, and aim to include the brand, the size, the colour, and the style.
And of course, a picture paints a thousand words. Snap your items in natural lighting, from lots of different angles, and ensure there’s no clutter in the background. I invested my eBay profits into buying a mannequin, which hugely improved my photos. It’s not necessary for getting started, but it’s something you might want to consider if you’ll be selling clothes. You can pick them up for about £25 on eBay.
I also like to include measurements in my listings, as this helps people to decide if the item will fit.
4. Make life easier for yourself by choosing a niche
You really can sell pretty much anything you can imagine. Sometimes though, the sheer scale of what you could potentially sell makes things a little overwhelming. This is why choosing a niche can really set you up for success.
You can’t possibly know about everything… But if you choose just one area to focus on, you quickly learn the ropes. You discover the items you should pick up and the ones you should leave behind, and you realise where the best profits are.
I focus on clothes, and though I probably walk past other items every day that could be profitable, I don’t worry about it too much. I just make it my business to know and understand the clothing niche, and I’m building up knowledge and experience all the time.
5. Try out a few sources of stock
So once you’ve sold your own items, you’ve got the hang of creating good listings, you know how to work out if an item is profitable for you, and you know your niche, it’s time to start looking for places to buy your stock.
You’re definitely not short of options here. You’ve got charity shops, car boot sales, jumble sales, auction houses, local selling groups on Facebook, and more. I’ve even experimented with buying in bulk from wholesalers.
My advice here is to pick a few to start with, and build them into your weekly routine. So I’ll typically hit a car boot sale on a Sunday, then plan to visit charity shops a few times during the week. This routine usually finds me plenty of stock, and ensures that I’m growing my reselling business on a weekly basis. I usually pay between £1 and £5 per item, though I’ll sometimes cough up a bit more if I know that there’s a great or really quick profit in it.
Ultimately, you have to find what works best for you, based on your circumstances. If you don’t have much cash to spare, for example, boot sales are a great place to find absolute bargains.
6. Register as a business seller
You can sell your own items on eBay with a personal account, but if you’re buying to resell, you’re classed as a business seller and you’ll need a business account on eBay. This means that you’ll have to accept returns, in line with distance selling regulations.
It’s also important to note here that you should register as needing to submit a self-assessment tax return within 3 months. These things can seem like a bit of a headache, but they really are fairly simple and straightforward, and you’ll take huge peace of mind from knowing that you’re doing everything by the book!
7. Know your postage costs
I get a lot of questions about postage costs, and it’s true that you need to carefully calculate these so you’re not going to end up out of pocket. In my first few months of reselling I bought a very, very heavy knitted jumper for £1, and sold it for £17.99 including postage. But then I realised that it was going to cost me over £14 to post, thanks to the weight. Suddenly, the vast majority of my profit was wiped out.
I use Royal Mail for all my postage, and there’s information on their website so you can work out exactly how much you’ll pay. I find that most clothing items can be sent as a small parcel at £2.95.
If you buy your packaging in bulk, then you can get the cost per item down to just pennies. And finally, there are eBay and PayPal fees to consider as well. These costs can seem a little daunting, but as long as you know your margins and keep track of your money, they really don’t have to be an issue. They’re simply a cost of doing business, and you can still create fantastic profits.
Some final thoughts…
Starting a reselling business is a real learning curve, and you definitely learn as you go along. There are items that I picked up a year ago that I definitely wouldn’t touch with a barge pole now, and I’m sure that this time in 12 months, my strategy will have grown and developed again!
But as long as you’re following the tips above, you’re in a great position for turning reselling into a solid income stream that could serve you for many years to come.