Chances are, you’ve bought at least a few things on eBay in the past. Maybe you’ve even sold some things from around the house.
But have you ever considered starting a side hustle of buying used items and reselling them on eBay?
If you’re looking for a way to make some extra money, it’s an option that you might want to consider. This beginner’s guide to selling on eBay will give you all the information you need to get started, even if you don’t have an existing eBay account.
→ Related reading: 150+ Side Hustle Ideas to Make Extra Money in Your Spare Time
A Real-World eBay Side Hustler
Nathan Clarke, 25 years old, works from his home in Georgia full-time as a systems engineer. In his spare time, Nathan buys used items and re-sells them on eBay. He started this side hustle because he and his wife are trying to save as much as possible in the pursuit of financial independence. Nathan is chronicling his journey to a $1 million net worth at his blog, Millionaire Dojo (update: Nathan’s blog is no longer online).
About 11 years ago, Nathan got his first taste of selling on eBay. He said, “I sold my first item on eBay using my mom’s information when I was about 14 or so. Throughout my teens, I used eBay to make money on items I wasn’t using anymore. I got serious about turning eBay into a steady income stream back in April of 2018 and have kept adding items to my inventory ever since.”
What to Sell?
There are a few different approaches that can be taken. Some sellers take a general approach and will sell just about anything that gives them the potential to make a profit. Other sellers choose to specialize in a particular niche and try to brand their business.
Nathan takes the general approach. “I will sell just about anything I can make a decent profit. One of the reasons I love selling on eBay is that you can just about sell anything! I sell a lot of clothes and hats and mostly unique vintage items that you wouldn’t think much of. I prefer to sell smaller items that aren’t easily broken because it’s less of a hassle to ship.
“The most profitable sale I’ve had so far was some vintage CB radio equipment I got at a yard sale. The people at the yard sale had this box of stuff they were going to throw away and since I seemed interested in weird stuff, they asked me if I wanted it. I ended up profiting over $700 off that box that was headed to the dump.
“I document what sells each month in my what sells on eBay series.”
Finding Items to Sell
Although Nathan got started by selling items from around the house, when he got serious about making more money he started looking for items to buy and resell. He said, “Finding the items is my favorite part! I get virtually all my items from thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales. Auctions and flea markets are other great places to find things, but I haven’t gone to many of them. It’s all about finding the good spots in your area and looking through everything they have. You might walk right past a $500 item if you don’t take the time to look through every nook and cranny.
“I go to Goodwill sometimes, but the thrift stores I like are the small independent shops, usually run by a church. Goodwill has become more and more expensive, but you can still find underpriced items. There are also Goodwill outlets that sell items by the pound. I’ve heard those are good sources but don’t have one near me.
“Since America is so abundant with consumer items, finding a place to source your items is one of the easiest parts of selling on eBay. You can even find things in the trash if you’re willing to look there! You can also check the free section of Craigslist and see what people are giving away.”
This ebook by Rob Stephenson of Flea Market Flipper is an excellent guide for anyone who wants to start selling on eBay. Rob and his wife, Melissa, are full-time flippers and you'll get plenty of insight from an experienced eBay seller.
Selling on Other Platforms
Although there are plenty of selling apps, Nathan’s primary focus is eBay. When asked if he sells on other platforms as well, he told me, “The only other platform I sell on is Facebook Marketplace. I sell larger items like refrigerators if I come across them at yard sales for cheap. I’ve have made several hundred dollars doing that. A lot of people have had good results on Etsy, Amazon, and Poshmark, but I like keeping it simple and sticking with eBay. If eBay stops being a place where I can make a profit, I’ll look elsewhere.”
Time Investment and Income
One of the reasons selling on eBay is a great side hustle is because it can be as big or small as you want it to be. You could use eBay simply to declutter and make some money from things you no longer need. Or you could invest a little bit of time each week and make some extra money consistently. And you could even turn it into a full-time thing if you wanted to.
→ Related reading: How to Make Money by Selling Your Stuff
Nathan sells on eBay as a side hustle, so he is continually looking for items to sell and investing time each week outside of his full-time job. He said, “I haven’t been good about keeping track of the time I spend selling on eBay, but I’d guess somewhere around 5-6 hours a week. The more time you spend, the more money you’re going to make. I feel like I could be doing this full-time if I were to lose my job and start putting in 40 hours a week on my eBay store.”
With the extra effort that Nathan has put in throughout the past year, he’s seen his income rise. He said, “I’ve been consistently earning over $500 a month for several months now and that’s profit after all expenses. I’ve made over $1,000 in a month before. People shop less during certain times of the year, so income varies.”
Spending 5-6 hours per week to make $500 – $1,000 is a very realistic side hustle that could have a huge financial impact for most people. An extra $6,000 – $12,000 per year can be a gamechanger when you’re saving aggressively and trying to increase net worth, like Nathan and his wife are doing.
Although it’s a great side hustle, Nathan actually has bigger things in mind. He told me, “I am trying to scale by simply listing more items. The good thing about it taking a while for some items to sell is that you can build up an inventory quicker. I might list something, and it takes 3 months to sell. During those 3 months, I’m able to keep listing things and eventually I will have a huge inventory where something sells every day.
“I’ve currently got about 450 items listed and want to have close to 1,000 by the end of the year. I think I should be making a couple thousand a month at that point.
“I’ve heard of some people hiring out the parts of eBay they don’t like. If you can pay someone to take all the photos for your listings, that’s a huge time saver! I might hire someone eventually, but it’s just a one-man show for now.”
→ Related reading: Poshmark vs. eBay vs. Mercari
How to Get Started Selling on eBay
If this sounds like an opportunity that may be a good fit for you, here are some steps you can follow to get started.
Step 1: Create an eBay Account and a PayPal Account
If you don’t already have an eBay account, go to eBay.com and click on “register”.