Selling anything on eBay

They say you can sell anything on eBay, and if you go about it in the right way you probably can. There are a few rules you need to follow to get the best price. The key is to make people bid against each other. Here's how you do that.

When to sell

Some products are seasonal, and will only get good prices at certain times of the year. It's no good trying to sell a ski jacket in spring or a bikini in November - if you're unlucky no one will put in a single bid. If you're really unlucky a single person will put in a bid at the lowest price and win simply because no one else is interested.

Buy it now or auction

Auctions are usually best for one-off items and second hand goods. Traders often use Buy It Now for goods where they need a minimum price to cover their costs. Anything rare is usually best on an auction, as a bidding war will be very likely to take place.

Length of sale

With Buy It Now it's best to keep the sale going as long as possible to increase chances of a sale. For auctions, whether you put items on for 5 days, a week or 10 days matters far less than the end time of the auction. Make sure your end time is early evening on weekdays or during the afternoon at weekends to maximize chances of a number of bidders being online simultaneously. Most profit is made in the few minutes before an auction ends, so it has to be a time when people are logged on.

Starting prices

It's usually better to start low to attract bidders. Many more potential buyers will watch items with low starting prices in the hope they'll stay low. Once they're watching, they'll see your item every time they log on. They're unlikely to search again until the items they're watching have ended, win or lose.

Reserve prices

A reserve price is useful to ensure you don't lose out and have to sell below cost, but is generally only worth it for high priced articles such as vehicles or jewellery. Usually vehicles go for fairly standard amounts, but you might not want to risk getting very few bids on something you could sell to a dealer for the equivalent of your monthly pay check.

How much detail

Always include enough description for buyers to understand what's on offer. Colour, size, condition, age, any defects - all are important. If a potential buyer is uncertain they'll probably go elsewhere. You don't need fancy fonts or colours, just easy to read descriptions that present the facts quickly.


The more pictures you include, the more expensive it is, so unless you need to show an item from different angles one good picture is usually enough. Don't make it too small - a jpeg file of around 100-200kb (which will probably fill most of a computer screen at full size) is perfect.

Standard products

To sell standard items such as CDs and DVDs, use the descriptions and pictures that eBay provides. These include all the detail a buyer needs and save you time as a seller. Just input the bar code number of the product and eBay does the rest. All you need to add is a one line confirmation of the item's condition.

Lastly, treat your customers with respect. If you receive questions try and answer the same day; send invoices the day auctions end, and post goods next working day if possible. Satisfied customers may return. Dis-satisfied customers definitely won't.

Happy selling!

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