I've been a member of Ebay since 2009. I originally joined up to take part in the bidding process. Some of my friends had signed up and told me about all the great deals they were getting, and I wanted to bid on some hidden treasure myself. Like a lot of new Ebay users, I quickly got excited with the whole bidding process. I loved the feeling when you were the highest bidder, and the item's all yours. It left me with a sense of satisfaction. I can completely understand how people can become addicted to buying items on Ebay. The bidding process itself is exciting, and more often than not you can grab yourself some amazing bargains.
After I had built up some positive feedback from buying items, I started selling some items around the house that I didn't use anymore to free up some space, and to make a little extra money. The funny thing was that I used to sell a few items and then spend the money shopping on Ebay! :-)
The more items I sold or attempted to sell, the more I got used to the process, and began to understand what items sold easily, and which ones struggled. DVD's were one of my best sellers. I used to (and still do now and again) buy DVD's from local car boot sales for around 50p and then sell them on after I watched them for £2-£8 in most cases. It was really easy money to make, a guaranteed profit, plus I got to watch a film out of it too.
I would also keep my eye out for items that were in very good condition, and fairly flat, so the postage would be low on them. This would increase the amount of profit I was able to make from them. I found a set of Twilight badges that were still in the wrapping that were going for 20p, I sold them for £2.50. Again, I knew that it wasn't going to transform my life, but it was such an easy profit margin to make, and at some car boots I would walk away with 50+ items which would include DVD's. So, these little profit margins would steadily add up.
I kept this up for around a year, and decided to dial it back as I spent a lot of my time in the evening packing items. I began to resent packing and the process began to lose it's appeal. I was making profits from it throughout, but the amount of time I was spending on it wasn't matching the amount of financial return and enjoyment I wanted from it. I still follow this process now, but on a much smaller and more manageable scale. I now enjoy it again and it offers a small steady stream of income for me.
You'll be surprised at what sells on Ebay
I recently spent some time at my parents house helping them sell some unwanted items on Ebay as they were quite new to it. My dad has lost a lot of weight i the last 18 months, and most of his clothes no longer fit him. He really looks after his clothes, and he only buys top name brands, so he had some great items to sell. Dad was keen to offload items as he didn't want to create more space, so we listed all of the items at 99p starting price. He sold a Hugo Boss shirt for under £15! The shirt was around £90 brand new and to be honest it didn't look like it had had a lot of wear. Someone got themselves one hell of a bargain. This brings me to my first Frugal point. If you want a particular item:
ALWAYS look on Ebay to see if it's been sold there. You'll be amazed at what is selling on there and how low the price is.
This point might not motivate you to sell items on Ebay, but if you aren't in a rush to shift items from your house, then you can wait for a 'free listing' weekend. These weekends allow you to start a bid at a high price without any additional charge. So, in my dad's example, you could start the bidding of the Hugo Boss shirt at a price you would be satisfied with, lets say £29.99. If it sells, it won't be any lower than this target. If it doesn't sell, you can choose to sell it again at the next 'free listing' weekend for the same price or choose to lower your target price. You can relist any item an unlimited amount of times. Relisting an item takes around 10-20 seconds compared to listing an item initially, which can take up to 20 mins with taking photos and writing descriptions.
Listing an item initially on Ebay is one the more draining and least attractive parts of the process. I believe this puts a lot of people off. However, good things come to those that wait! As soon as the item is listed, you can sit back and watch how it progresses. I don't mind if an item doesn't sell, I just relist it continuously until it does.
"You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." Martin Luther King, Jr.
My dad struggled to see past the tedium of setting up an item to sell, and it's easily done. Especially when you have 10+ items to sell. Just start by selling one item. Just promise yourself that. As soon as you've listed one item, you're in the 'Ebay zone' and you'll list a whole batch. I don't enjoy listing items on Ebay I have to say, but I do get a nice sense of satisfaction as soon as I've listed a bunch of items. Then the fun begins, and you can start enjoying the process. I love watching how my items are doing. How many people have viewed the item, the amount of 'watchers' or bids.
Improving your chances of being the highest bidder on Ebay
I was one of the last people among my friends and family who upgraded their mobile phone to a Smart phone. I didn't quite understand the hype around using the internet on your phone, as the internet was available everywhere. I made the leap and bought a Galaxy SII. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of apps that could be used to your advantage. For example, one of my favourite apps is the 'myibidder Auction'. It's an Ebay sniper app that allows you to set a predetermined price for an item you want, and bis on it with 5 seconds left. I use this app for 2 reasons. It allows me to keep to a budget and it doesn't allow time for others to outbid you.
If you don't want to spend more than £50 on a particular pair of trainers, you can set the bid at £50. If the current higher bidder stays at £40, you'll only pay the next increment over £40, but it won't allow time for someone to come back with a counter bid.
However, other bidders might have placed an additional maximum bid. So in that example, the person might be on £40, but has placed an additional maximum bid of £60. If I use the Ebay sniper at £50, they will automatically outbid me to the next increment over £50. So, I will lose the item.
I don't mind losing an item in this case as it would be over your predetermined budget and no longer be seen as good value to you.
How to find an awesome bargain on Ebay
I found a great tip on Money Saving Expert's website. Martin Lewis identified that some sellers list bulky/heavy items that can only be collected in person. Many people are loathed to travel too far to collect them, which results in a lack of competition and keeps prices low.
He's created a 'Local Ebay Deals Mapper' tool. You enter your postcode, your budget, and the category you're interested in. The tool will then trawl ebay for local bargains.
I managed to pick up a treadmill for £9.99 using this tool. Let me know how you get on if you do use it.
Using Ebay for additional Income
I decided to have a big clear out at the start of this year (2014). I got tough with myself and picked out items I owned that I didn't use anymore, and decided to sell the lot. Any money I would receive as profit (after ebay/paypal fees and post & packaging) would all go to investing in dividend paying stock.
For January I received £130.45 in profit (after fees and packaging), and in February I received £222.03. I was delighted with this result! I had offloaded items that I no longer use that were clogging up the house, and I had an additional £352.48 to contribute towards investing. (It's worth pointing out that I don't anticipate figures anywhere near this amount in the near future as the higher profit items have now been sold).
I continue to record all of my profits from Ebay, and these figures will feature on my monthly Income/Expenses for you all to see.
Thank you all for reading!
Do you sell on Ebay? Does it provide a nice income for you? Do you use Ebay to cater for your clothing, technology or entertainment needs?
Labels: Extra Income, Frugal Living