11 Things to Know Before Starting an eBay Business

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Contributor at Fundera
Rieva Lesonsky is a small business contributor for Fundera and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company. She has spent 30+ years covering, consulting and speaking to small businesses owners and entrepreneurs.
Rieva Lesonsky

Are you looking for a low-cost business you can run from home? An eBay business is an easy way to get started as your own boss with little to no investment. You can keep your business small and part-time, or scale it as big as you want.

But before you start an eBay business, here are 11 things you should know.

1. You should test the waters before committing.

If you’ve never sold anything on eBay before, start small. Create an eBay account (it’s free), find some items to sell, and get some experience taking photos, writing listings, testing pricing options, and interacting with buyers.

2. You need a PayPal account.

If you already have a PayPal account, link it with your eBay account. If not, it’s simple and free to create a PayPal account buyers can use to pay you using their own PayPal accounts or a credit card.

3. It’s free—up to a point.

You can list 50 items per month for free. You’ll pay a small fee for each listing beyond that allotment. You also pay a final value fee (a small percentage of the sale price) once an item sells.

To take the next step and run an actual eBay business, you’ll want to ramp up to an eBay store. Starting at $19.95 a month, this option gives you hundreds or thousands of free listings per month. Paying for promoted listings can help your listings get more attention.

Visit eBay Fees for details about fees, including a fee calculator and a tool to help you pick the right eBay store option.

4. It helps to have a niche.

Your eBay business is more likely to succeed if you develop a specialty. For example, if you sell only collectibles, buyers are more likely to come back to you again and again than if you sell collectibles along with used smartphones, video games, handbags, and cookware. Better yet, specialize in niche collectibles, such as 1960s Disney collectibles or Bakelite bracelets.

Check out what‘s hot on eBay right now, to pick up product ideas.

5. You can’t get away with amateur photos.

As with any ecommerce site, you need good product shots. Use well-lit, high-resolution photos on a plain background that show products from multiple angles. Include close-ups, and indicate scale. Use eBay’s picture service tool to ensure that photos render properly on mobile devices.

Get more advice on how to take good eBay photos.

6. The more detail, the better.

A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but detailed product descriptions help items sell, too.

Start by choosing a category for your item. Then write a listing title using keywords such as brand name, size, color, or model number—any term people might use when searching for this product. In the description, include plenty of product details and more keywords.

Learn more about creating listings.

7. You’ve got to price it right.

While eBay is best known for auction-style listings, you can also set a fixed price for an item to help it sell faster. EBay makes pricing easy with a quick listing tool that suggests the best pricing options to attract buyers based on how similar products sold in the past.

8. It’s not over when the item sells.

Now you’ve got to ship it. You can ship for a flat fee; offer free shipping to attract more buyers; or use eBay’s shipping calculator to determine shipping price based on the individual item.

EBay has tools you can use to calculate postage, print shipping labels, and pay for shipping right from home. Plus, you can get free shipping supplies from the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx.

Learn about eBay shipping options.

9. Be ready for some returns.

To compete with other ecommerce sites, your eBay business should offer returns. You can customize return options and choose whether you or the buyer pay for return shipping.

Reduce returns by using clear photos and detailed descriptions in your listings, and clearly stating your return policy.

10. The eBay Seller Hub can help.

With this free seller tool, you can access a dashboard to see how your listings are performing, quickly list new items, and see the status of orders and returns. Viewing this data regularly helps you improve your listings for better results.

If you’re an eBay Stores subscriber, you can use eBay Seller Hub to create promotions, discounts, and other marketing messages.  

11. Read all about it.

My friend Marsha Collier has written a comprehensive guide to getting started on eBay. Check out ebay for Dummies and you’ll reap the benefits of Collier’s many years of running a successful eBay business.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Contributor at Fundera
Rieva Lesonsky is a small business contributor for Fundera and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company. She has spent 30+ years covering, consulting and speaking to small businesses owners and entrepreneurs.
Rieva Lesonsky

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