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Can You Really Make Money Selling on eBay?

Published at Jul 03, 2016.

Can you make money on eBay? It’s a common question. Many people are, of course—otherwise you wouldn’t be able to buy anything there—but can you, a newcomer to the business, set up shop and turn a profit?

It depends on three things: knowledge, mindset, and determination. If you want to succeed, you need to . . .

Be Prepared for the Competition

There is a lot of competition on eBay. With some products, it’s going to be so high that you can’t hope to squeeze yourself in without an enormous corporate budget. But many others still have plenty of breathing room.

For example, some products are poorly listed—bad English, bad photos, poorly written descriptions, poor use of keywords, etc. These are probably the easiest to compete with. Others are poorly priced. Still others aren’t listed on eBay at all yet (though you might have a tough time finding them!). Finally, many are hawked by sellers with mediocre customer service, easily outdone by a fresh competitor with a better eBay feedback score.

If you’re willing to spend time finding products you can compete on—and to provide exceptional customer service—then you can work your way into the gaps and start making money.

Learn How eBay Works

Can You Make Money on eBay?

eBay has rules, fees, and a culture that sets high standards for sellers. Creating an account and listing an item without any background research will land you in a world of surprises.

Learn the basics of selling on eBay before getting started. And if you’ve never bought something on eBay, start by buying! You’ll never understand what drives customers to buy on eBay until you’ve shopped there yourself. Do some bargain hunting and pay careful attention to what makes you skip over some listings and buy from others.

Know How to Find a Product Worth Selling

Finding products worth selling is an art and science unto itself. Read “How to Figure Out What to Sell on eBay” to learn the basics.

Understand the Numbers

You might think that making $2,500 worth of sales a month is all you need to get by. But what about the costs of buying those items? Paying eBay and PayPal fees? Online sales tax? Shipping and handling costs and packaging costs? Hiring help?

Learn the exact cost to sell on eBay. Break out the calculators and spreadsheets and really do your research. For many of us, this is the most boring, time-consuming, and frustrating part of becoming a seller, but it’s the only way you can ensure you’ll make the profits you need.

Set Your Mind on Success

Focused on Winning

The main reason people fail on eBay is that they lack the determination to succeed. So many want to make money online because they think it’s easier than making it anywhere else.

Reality check: running a business online is the same as running a business anywhere else.

You must be prepared to work hard, to take risks and occasionally lose on them, and to use all of your intelligence and creativity to fight through the competition and set yourself apart. You can’t give up the first time something doesn’t sell. You have to keep pushing.

Can you make money on eBay? Yes! Can you make a living there? Yes! Just remember that you’re setting up a real business and not embarking on a get-rich-quick scheme, and you’ll be off on the right foot.

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