A Beginners Guide to Buying & Selling on eBay
For many years my main income has been selling second hand goods on ebay. It can be very profitable once you find your niche, but firstly you must get your hands on some stock!
Not everyone has an attic full of luxurious vintage clobber. So for me, it means going out at 5 o'clock in the morning (yes really) to hit those weekend boot fairs!
Pockets full of change
This is really important, you are aiming to get the items as the seller is unloading them out of their car, there is competition in this game and you have to be there first (hence the really early starts) and with the right money!
My partner is in a pub/wedding band and I normally get him to change up at least £30 of his earnings (plus some notes!) so I can go straight out without having to worry about getting change on the way or upsetting people by handing them a twenty and waiting for my £19.50 change #awkward
Now this is where your own unique life skills come into play. You have to make sure you buy things that you know are going to make a good profit on ebay or you end up with a "mistakes/stock room".
I take my boot fair "mistakes" to those cash for clothes places to recoup any losses along with any clothes Willow has outgrown and my own wardrobe malfunctions, it's a nice way to make a few quid back.
Find things you know about, I normally concentrate on shoes and bags and mostly try and stick to vintage styles, but if this is not your field, find one that is. A good friend makes a tidy ebay profit finding TV memorabilia and toys, the key is to find things you KNOW are worth money, and if your skills are good with Mr Google & checking things out on the fly, that's a pretty good way of finding an items worth too!
If you are interested in some examples of brands that I find hold their value I’ve listed a few below. I must emphasise that these brands are still only profitable in certain styles.
- The Bridge
- Mulberry (It has happened - and i paid 75p for it!)
- Russell & Bromley
- Dr Marten's
- Fly London
I once bought a TOPSHOP boutique dress with the £70 label still attached & I couldn’t shift it. At the same time I bought a TOPSHOP polka dot dress for 50p not realising Kate Middleton had worn the same style and that sold for £120, research is key!
Anything in tan leather is worth a look. Always look out for vintage satchels, messenger/cartridge bags and if you find a tan leather vintage rucksack you’ve had a good day! There is often profit in leather/sheepskin/faux fur coats & leather cowboy/biker/riding boots. Homeware I tend to grab anything Laura Ashley and just keep an eye out for good quality.
Make-Up and perfume sell well and I often pick up top brands such as MAC, NARS, CHANEL & YSL. Even empty perfume bottles have value on ebay! Any popular brands (even half full bottles) are worth buying if the price is right.
I've had my ups and downs with ebay, they sway in favour of the buyer on almost every occasion and the world is full of people trying it on so patience is definitely a bonus when dealing with the selling side of this endeavour. As I am writing this I’ve just received a message about a pair of boots I sold in August... 2015. And the message is in French.
Be polite to your customers even when you know they are in the wrong. In the years I've been doing this I've managed to keep 100% positive feedback which is really important to give your customers confidence when dealing with you. Sometimes it means offering refunds to people who I'm sure have received a "missing" item. Another tip is using good keywords in your listing titles, for example "vintage style" "festival style" and any searchable terms you think suit your listing.
If you haven't set up your account for selling yet go here and have a look.
This income stream is deffo taxable so make sure you keep a bit of your profit to one side to avoid a nasty bill surprise, I have a separate bank account to keep me from spending it on wine! There are loads of good websites about the tax side of starting a business but www.gov.co.uk is a good place to start if you need some help with that.
Do you want to sell items online but have reservations or questions? Do you already run an online business and have good information you want to share? Let us know in the comments below!