It’s time to talk about another side hustle!
Today I wanted to talk about how to get started selling items on Amazon or eBay; something that could earn you quite a bit of extra income depending on how you go about it. I’ve never been much of a salesperson myself but I know quite a few people who make a nice profit from this side hustle and some who even do it full-time.
The best thing about selling items online is that you don’t have to have any face-to-face interaction with the customer nor do you have to ‘push’ or persuade them to buy. You simply list your items with a great description and forget about them until you’re notified about getting a sale.
If you want to become successful at this, you’ll need to focus on earning a great profit and limiting your out-of-pocket costs and that’s the baseline of what I’ll discuss today. This post will be what I call a ‘two-fer’ as I’ll discuss how to make a profit by selling items on Amazon and eBay. Let’s get started.
Deciding What Items You’ll Sell
First and foremost, it’s important that you pinpoint what specific types of items you plan to sell. Do you have old CDs, DVDs, clothes or other items around your house that you are no longer using? Or do you plan to resell items you purchase for cheap at garage sales and thrift stores?
Both options have the potential to earn you a decent income but you should definitely pinpoint the types of items you’d like to sell by committing to a specific category or niche so you have some consistency. Some people make a lot of profit selling gently used clothing and shoes or vintage sports apparel.
Whichever items you choose, you should make sure the item category is popular (meaning it will sell well / the item is rare in stores/lots of people are searching for the item) so you can earn a substantial amount of profit after the sale and after shipping expenses and seller fees are deducted.
Some popular categories that sell well on Amazon and eBay include (but are not limited to):
- Clothes and shoes
- College Textbooks
- Video Games
- Household Supplies
- Art and Home Decorations
Choose Your Platform
Amazon and eBay are both very popular online retailers, so I’m sure you could make a decent profit by using either. But some sellers often insist on using one or the other so I thought it would be helpful to highlight the main comparisons.
The fees associated with selling an item are similar among both websites (around 0.99 per listing). With Amazon, you will most likely need to upgrade to a seller’s account if you wish to list more than 40 items each month and that membership costs about $40/month. They also have a really cool service called Fulfillment By Amazon where they will package and ship your item for you once it’s sold.
When it comes to creating your listing and adding photos, eBay allows you to upload up to 12 free pictures for each item. Amazon, on the other hand, has a process that allows you to look up the item and use one of their professional generic photos. For example, let’s say you’re selling a Galaxy Smartphone.
While creating your listing, you can look up the specific model of the phone and use one of Amazon’s photos to advertise it instead of your own photo.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to become a seller on Amazon or eBay, the photos above link to helpful instructions that can help you get started.
How Much Do You Want to Invest?
If you intend to sell unwanted items from your home, you may have hardly any start-up costs to worry about initially, but the only downside will be when you run out of items to list online. If you want this side hustle to be a consistent source of extra income, you’ll need to go out and purchase or obtain most of the items you wish to sell or spend money on the materials you’ll need to create them.
Determine how much you want to invest in your side hustle by limiting the amount you spend on start-up costs and applying the money you do spend it to your side business strategically. It’s important to think of selling items online as a money-making side business and not just a hobby.
Make your choices based on numbers and the amount of time you would need to dedicate, not emotions. This mindset will help guide you and keep you from investing a ton of time and money and seeing a small return.
I once came across an eBay seller who created homemade iPhone and iPod cases. They looked amazing and I actually considered trying it out myself and selling my creations online. Luckily I weighed the costs and time needed to sell something like that beforehand and decided it wasn’t for me.
Materials to make the phone cases look pretty like rhinestones, patterns, fabric, durable glue etc. would have to be purchased at a craft store like Michael’s and their items are not so cheap. Not to mention clear or blank phone cases needed to complete the project run about 1.99 or more on eBay. Then there’s the time required to create the items in bulk and list them.
Phone cases don’t sell for that much unless they are from a popular designer or made from solid gold or something. So a custom case would probably sell at $8-$12 (maybe $15 if you’re lucky).
When you deduct fees and commission to Amazon or eBay after the sale, you’d probably be left with $6-9 depending on the original price of the listing. If your goal was to earn $400/month from this side hustle, you’d need to purchase enough materials to create and sell more than 40 phone cases each month. Not to mention, finding the time to sit down and create more than 40 custom phone cases. Ouch.
Doing Your Research For Pricing
That brings us to pricing. You want to make sure you are accurately pricing the items you list based on their market value and your income goals. Always consider the seller fees when you list an item because a $25 item will not really get you $25 in profit if the item sells.
It’s easy to Google specific items to see how much retailers are selling the item for and you can even search Amazon or eBay to see how other sellers are pricing items.
You should get into the habit of learning your products inside out so you’re aware of all their features, the quality, and condition along with the reputation of the brand as they will all apply to how you should price each item.
Taking High-Quality Photos
If you choose to sell on eBay, you’ll need to take high-quality photos of your items in order to help potential buyers see the product as much as possible and be persuaded to make a purchase. People are very visual, especially with online sales (obviously), so your photos need to be crisp and look professional.
If you have a really nice or professional camera this would be the perfect time to utilize it. If you don’t, don’t feel like you need to rush out and buy one. As long as you have some type of camera that takes clear photos or at least a smartphone camera, you’re in the clear. You should never attempt to completely omit a photo in your listing. If that’s even possible on the platform you use, you definitely won’t get sales that way.
Here are a few tips to help you take stunning, quality photos whether you’re using a professional camera or a smartphone camera.
- Make sure you have plenty of lighting. Try to utilize natural light and avoiding taking photos in dimly lit rooms.
- Choose a neutral background. Nothing is worse than distracting buyers with other clutter going on in the background of your photo. Try to clear the space and use a nice looking wall in your home as a background.
- Aim for the best angle. Try to capture the item head on first, then focus on areas and angles that you would prefer to see if you were shopping online. To get ideas, you can always go to any e-commerce site and look at the various different angles used that help advertise their products.
- Zoom in if you can. As long as the image doesn’t look extremely magnified or pixelated, try to zoom in a bit and focus on the brand of the item or another unique feature.
For more tips on how to take high-quality product photos, check out this article. After you finish taking photos, upload them to your computer at add them to your listing.
Get Organized and Shipping Fast
If you are gathering, listing and shipping several items each month, the key to maintaining your sanity is organization. Creating a spreadsheet to organize all of your items and record the date they are listed and sold would be ideal. Determine a system that works best for you.
You should also actively check your email at least 2-3 times per day to make sure you aren’t missing any sale notifications. When you make a sale, you’ll want to ship your item(s) quick to ensure customer satisfaction.
Shipping the item within 1-2 business days and communicating with the buyer as needed is the best way to go. The more you make buyers happy with their purchase and timely delivery, the more likely they’ll be willing to give you positive feedback to boost your seller rating.
Positive reviews and feedback are like gold in this industry because they improve your chances of getting noticed by other sellers. If you have a good rating on Amazon or eBay, your seller profile will rank higher and more people will be willing to buy from you as your reviews will help establish trust and legitimacy.
Selling items online can certainly be a fun and profitable experience if you follow these steps. If you need help getting started on eBay, I’d highly recommend checking out my friend Jason’s course. Jason has been selling on eBay part-time for years and uses the extra money to pay off his debt more aggressively.
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