About seven years ago, I was approached by my brother with the opportunity to go 50/50 with him on buying 60 non-running motorcycles from an estate. He had sold moped parts on eBay before, but this would be a large jump forward and he wanted help pulling it off.
This is how I started my side job/hobby of selling on eBay. Looking back, there were definitely mistakes that we made, such as allowing parts to get damaged and using inefficient tools for disassembly, but the adventure has paid off. Choosing to sell on eBay and learning a few tricks of the trade can be a rewarding experience for men both financially and personally.
Why Choose eBay?
In my case, I want to make some additional income, but I have a salaried day job, so I do not have the option of overtime. I do not have a trade such as plumbing or car repair that I can do on the side for an hourly rate, and I have not developed my artistic or entertaining skills enough to create things that people would pay for or have a side gig in a band. I have a young family, so spending weekends or nights away from home at a part-time job would be problematic.
Selling items on eBay is flexible from a time standpoint and it diversifies my income. It also provides me the opportunity to tinker with motorcycles and cars, which develops those skills and provides alternate activities to my professional desk job. I’ve learned enough to do car repair on my own vehicles and having a side hustle can be an interesting topic in casual social situations.
How To Start
A good way to get familiar with selling on eBay is to sell some personal items that you are no longer using. There is no additional outlay for inventory and it is stuff that you already know something about. Once you are familiar with the picturing, listing, and shipping aspects of eBay, you can move into a niche and grow your eBay business.
I recommend that you pick a market that you either already know about or that you have an interest in. I have found that it is helpful to have a limited scope or unusual aspect to help differentiate what I am selling. For me, I liked mechanical items and wanted to learn more about motorcycles, which eventually led me to working on cars and selling car parts.
I have found that it is helpful to buy items from a source with a small market such as Craigslist, a local online auction, or a swap meet and then get a larger market by selling on eBay. Monitor the market for your items on Craigslist and on eBay. eBay has a filter for selecting sold listings, which is my preferred way of checking the value of items.
Pick a specific price type of item such as carburetors from GM and Ford muscle cars. Learn the models and brands and the types. Learn what is stock, what is aftermarket and what is desirable. Then, on Craigslist, pick a specific price range such as $50 to $100 and check daily what is available. You’ll get an idea of what items are a good deal. Choose a couple items to purchase and list them. As they sell, you can use a portion of your profits to start building up your inventory.
16 Tips For Beginners
- Start off small and refine your purchasing and listing processes.
- Focus on items that can be shipped easily and learn to estimate the shipping cost.
- Save boxes and packing material.
- Compare your listings to similar listings to make sure that your pictures, pricing, and descriptions are in line with your competitors.
- Set goals and monitor your progress.
- Try to develop an overall formula. For example, when making a purchase, I aim to pay less than ten percent of the sales price of the items and figure that shipping and eBay fees will be about 30 percent of the cost on average. Depending on your niche, your formula will be different.
- Keep refining your processes and gaining knowledge. I focus on listing items above $20, I’ve found that picturing then listing items in groups of 10 helps me, and I can often use the Sell Similar feature to streamline listing items from the same vehicle.
- Stay organized and set up an efficient work area. I built a basement storage space and have plastic totes to store my parts by vehicle.
- Make a modest investment in tools.
- Spend five to ten minutes a day browsing your chosen niche on Craigslist.
- Make connections with suppliers. I have an auction company in the area where I monitor their auctions and a friend who regularly sells me items that he comes across.
- Don’t be afraid to try expanding your niche. I once bought random brass pieces at an auction for $2.20 and sold them for $45 on eBay.
- Keep good records of expenses. This is handy for tax time.
- Buy off-season items or buy in bulk.
- Check Craigslist, auctions, thrift shops, rummage sales, the curb, and your closet for things you can sell.
- Items that are too large to ship can be sold locally on Craigslist.
1977 Celica GT Liftback Success Story
My best find was a pair of rusty 1977 Celica Liftbacks at an auction. The only other bidder was a scrapper, and I paid $400 for the pair. I paid the scrapper $100 to move them. To date, I have listed over 400 parts and sold nearly 250 which has netted over $7,000 in profit.
Some of my best sales were selling the tail lights for $280, a front grill for $200, the rear window for $180, an engine head for $150, side view mirrors for $150, and hood hinges for $140. Selling the remaining parts should earn another $3,000 in profit, yielding a $10,000 total profit on two cars that otherwise would have been scrapped.
Selling on eBay can be a flexible way to earn money and expand your knowledge base, and for some, it can turn into a part-time or full time career. It might help you turn the corner financially and get out of the debt slave/wage slave grind. By picking a market that you are interested in working in and learning that market, you can carve out your niche on eBay.
There are more in-depth and advanced articles online about selling on eBay, but oftentimes, the biggest hurdle is just getting started. As the saying goes: nothing ventured, nothing gained!