eBay profiteering system: 8 simple reminders to make you £££

11 June 2009


I once had a first edition of Harry Potter (Prisoner of Azkaban) at its popularity peak. Bought it for a few hundred quid, and sold it for 5 figures. Of course, buying one-off books at ridiculous prices is not the smartest way to go about making eBay into a sideline business. You’re better off steadily selling £5 USB hubs and bra enhancers than grabbing the occasional windfall when the opportunity is ripe. For both newbies and veterans to eBay, here are some reminders to increase your profits on eBay:

1. Don't buy add ons: If you are just starting out on eBay, don’t buy the add-ons when you do your listing until you figure out the conversions for your particular market. As tempting as the slide shows may be, you don’t really need them. Other fancy eye-catching options may increase the click throughs, but aren't you spending enough on listing and FVF (final value fees) already?

2. Don’t buy stuff. Nothing cuts into your profit like spending it on a large carrot, or a 'I love Gary Glitter' bumper sticker. If you're listing on eBay, avoid going on a spending spree. Better yet, consider alternative bulk listing programs such as Auctiva or Turbo Lister to keep your focus and productivity.

3. Sell old stuff. No need to go scouting in the mountains of Nauru for diamonds in the rough. If you have it and you don’t use it, why not sell it? Consider everything you own that you haven't touched in the last 6 months, from books, antiques, to old gadgets and electronics … It is truly amazing what you will find in the storage room boxes.

As a side note, if you're not a big fan of selling on eBay? HUKD also has a great for sale / for trade section worth checking out.

4. Be realistic. Just because those extra high end cotton wools or your old breast implants are valuable to you doesn’t mean anyone else will find it very valuable. And if something is extremely sentimental to you, the few quid you'll profit from it is probably not worth selling.

5. Take good photos. Use natural lighting vs. flash when possible. Multiple clean photos increase conversions so in certain circumstances (such as books and laptops) are an exception to the “don’t buy add-ons” suggestion above.

6. Research. Before setting your opening bid, do some homework. What are comparable items going for? Well trained shoppers scan by price, so choose an opening bid or 'buy it now' price that lures them in. Look at current retail price and how well comparable items hold their resale value. Focus on generating buzz instead of profiteering. The bids will bubble up to where they ought to be.

7. Know your P&Ps. For heavier / bulkier items, figure up how much you’ll pay for packing materials and shipping. For international shipping alternatives to Royal Mail, you guys made some great suggestions.You can go to the Royal Mail price finder and make a pretty good estimate of what you’ll have to pay for postage. Make sure you charge enough in shipping to cover your costs.

8. Paypal.... the payment system we all love to hate. While they can truly be a pain in the arse with account limitations, fee extortions, and the lack of protection for certain types of products (such as digital goods), it still beats cashing a cheque, waiting for it to clear, western union (unless you're a Nigerian scammer) and skill swapping. For items posted recorded or special delivery with tracking, the seller/buyer protection scheme is still probably worth the extra 'insurance'.

eBay going commercial may be making the auction giant alot more saturated these days, but there is still money to be made. Once you settle into a groove of listing and selling regularly, you can bring in enough extra to fund those luxuries you’ve been denying yourself because of the recession. High end cotton wools for sale, anyone?


  • Francis R.
    "Bought it for a few hundred quid, and sold it for 5 figures." Get you...
  • MikeBeaver
    Thats a bit of a bad loss if you ask me, am sure I saw those Harry Potter figures on the Sunday market the other week, only about £3 each, you could have got all the figures, not just the 5 you did, would have probs cost you less aswell :) Mike..
  • James
    Tip 9: Research the time of week and day when most people are on ebay and get your Auction to end at that time. Usually on Sunday afternoons, so Start a 9/10 day auction on Thurs and your item gets to be seen on two sundays in a row!
  • James
    Yes i know i probably got the maths wrong and its Friday to start it
  • Francis R.
    Make sure you get maximum coverage for your item by entering similar product terms in your title, so if you're selling a spoon enter "not knife or fork" people looking for forks might fancy a spoon to go with it.
  • Nobby
    Using NOT will get your item pulled if reported. Don't pay extra for multiple photos, learn some basic html and use photobucket.
  • Joff
    Shove all your junk into a box, go down to the Sunday car boot with a flask of tea, a wallpaper table and pay for a pitch. You'll waste so much more time pissing around with listing, selling, packaging, posting, arguing with the buyer that items were sent, crying into kleenex when your feedback is abused because the item wasn't as described "MINT BNIB UNOPENED FAULTY SPARES OR REPAIR", have a coronary when you realise that after you've added up the fees from ebay and from paypal, you're actually now £6.44 down and could have just thrown it all in the bin for less. eBay - the world's junk shop. And if you're buying on eBay, wait until the dying few seconds and snipe ahoy - don't bid early as you're just increasing the price for yourself should someone else also bid early.
  • Francis R.
    Cheers Nob, did NOT know that
  • Jazy B.
    I just heard a while a go that ebays fees have gone up to 10%!!! Paypals are around 3.5% and the listing fee is usually around £2-£3.
  • JamFace
    Auctiva didn't get a big enough mention in there! I use it all the time as it's a lot easier to create listings using that. Plus you can schedule start times for free (eBay charge to schedule listings). You can also add supersized pictures to your listings (they appear as a clickable thumbnail which link to the full sized version). One of the most useful features I think though is you can set it to automatically leave good feedback for buyers when they give you good feedback. There are more features to it which I haven't looked at too
  • JamFace
    One more thing, careful when doing the trick where you make it end on a Sunday afternoon - I've found that for certain products a lot of people do this and yours could get lost in all the others. Try making it end just before the bulk of the listings, or just after if you think some people who wanted the product will have missed out on the other listings... it's all about supply and demand ;)
  • Vince W.
    Great comments and suggestions from everyone. I want to add to the point above re: 'max coverage' : Consider getting free publicity by approaching papers / magazines if you have a unique item. That massively pushes up the 'fad' and increases value like no other paid crap service. That's what I did when I sold the HP book - got into few major online mags and featured in news including BBC. Score!
  • Anon
    HUKD for sale/trade is hardly worth a mention. If you decide to sell more than three items in a 6 year period, the mods will jump and think you are a trader. Not a serious contender to ebay with any stretch of the imagination.
  • Joff
    I bet the seller fees on 6 grand were a kick in the Azkabans though!!

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