There's no doubt about it: eBay is a popular way to make money from home. eBay sellers rave about the online auction's ease of use and the large pool of potential buyers. Millions of sellers report eBay as their sole source of income. If they can work from home with eBay, why can't you?
You can. But if you want to make money on eBay, you need to ask yourself some questions.
What do you want to sell on eBay? Some people make a fine income reselling items they found at yard or estate sales. Other eBay sellers list their items again and again because they just don't seem to be in demand.
Why the discrepancy?
Successful eBay resellers are very familiar with their items. They know how much each item is worth, and they know how much competition they can expect from other sellers listing similar items. They also know whether or not there is a market for a given item, and they pass up items that might prove difficult to sell.
One top eBay seller follows a simply rule of thumb: she never pays more than $5 for an item when she's not sure what it's worth. This has brought her great success while minimizing her losses. If a $5 item turns out to be a hot seller, she gladly pockets the extra money. If the item bombs instead, she hasn't lost much of her initial investment. Like other eBay power sellers, she also knows that the really big sales come sporadically. They should be enjoyed, but never counted on.
How do you assess the competition for a given item? Do an eBay search for similar items and see what comes up. If it looks like the market is saturated, find something else to list. You can always list your item later, when competition isn't so stiff. Doing an eBay search is a great idea because it also lets you see how much others are charging for items like yours. If you can undercut the competition without going broke, do it. If not, wait.
While vintage furniture and other bulky items often find enthusiastic new homes, you should be familiar with shipping prices and procedures before you list the big stuff. You don't want to spend a hundred dollars shipping an item that just sold for $150. Consult your local post office, UPS, and freight carriers to learn vital shipping details.
Finally, ask yourself if you want to sell general merchandise or cater to a niche market. Having a wide selection of diverse items can mean a larger market for your wares. It also means a pretty hefty initial investment of time and money while you build up your stock. If you’re experienced with a certain type of merchandise, like designer clothing or toys, why not specialize in that niche? With the advent of eBay stores, you can create a low-cost, permanent showcase for your items. Niche stores tend to do very well, because customers will visit them when they need a specific type of item. Some specialize in gothic jewelry, while others focus on collectible figurines. I made a boatload of money on eBay in 1999-2000 selling Pokemon merchandise. There is a niche market for just about everything, so choose items that you’re familiar with and display them in your eBay store.
Making money on eBay is easy to do, if you do your homework. Sellers who research their items and their markets beforehand lead the pack in eBay success stories. Take a page out of their book. Before you build your inventory, know what you want to sell, to whom, and for how much. A little research now will save you a lot of unpleasant surprises later.