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How to Figure Out What to Sell on eBay

Published on Dec. 21, 2015

Last updated on Feb. 26, 2020
4 min read

Once you’ve learned everything about selling on eBay for beginners and how to start making money there, there’s just one challenge left to building a profitable business: figuring out what to sell on eBay.

First, you need to know...

Last updated 7/13/2018.

What to Avoid Selling on eBay

When many eBay sellers begin, they look at eBay's lists of trending items. Many jump straight to the best sellers. While that's not always a great idea, it's not always a terrible one either.

eBay's best sellers list has a bad rap because of the kinds of items that used to dominate it. Take a look at the screenshot below. These are the first items that appeared on eBay’s “Items in Demand” list on December 16, 2015:

What’s Selling on eBay

That was a whole lot of expensive, brand-name electronics. And you should almost always avoid new brand-name electronics.

Brands like Apple and Sony haven’t created the mystique surrounding products like the iPhone or PlayStation by letting any yahoo off the street resell them for cut rates on eBay. They manage distribution with an iron fist.

It is impossible to sell most new electronic products for a profit on eBay because you’ll never find someone selling them for a low enough price. Any “wholesaler” offering these products at a price an eBay seller could afford is almost certainly a crook; they either stole the products or, more likely, they don’t even have any. They’ll disappear as soon as they take your money.

Fortunately, eBay's lists have gotten a lot better:

Hot Items on eBay in July 2018

You can often succeed with small, light, inexpensive items like the chargers and screen protectors shown here. 

You can certainly find worthwhile products in eBay's lists now. However, the competition will be steep for any item you find here—you will have to face down both the established sellers who made it a top-selling item and the swarm of newbies with the same idea. And there's always a risk of buying something at the peak of a fad only to have the public lose interest when your inventory arrives.

The Science of Figuring Out What to Sell on eBay: Doing Your Research

Researching What to Sell on eBay

No product is always profitable on eBay. Neither is there a list of items that are always smart choices for beginners—anything that’s worth selling today may not be worth it tomorrow.

The Free Way to Find Things Worth Selling

We covered the process of identifying and sourcing profitable products in "How to Start Making Money Selling on eBay." That’s probably the slowest way to find something worth selling, but it’s free.

The Fast Way to Find Profitable Products

If you’re willing to spend money to make money, you can try Terapeak. It’s an extremely powerful eBay research tool. The plans are quite affordable, too.

The Shortcut to Learning What Works

Beyond that, it’s really just a question of what you know. When you understand a lot about a particular type of product—a niche—finding stuff worth selling becomes much easier.

For example, when we got started, our company dealt strictly in car parts on eBay. Because that’s all we sold, we were able to learn what parts sold and which didn’t. We knew how much our customers would pay for a given product and how much we could afford to pay for something we were going to sell. As such, we were able to build a profitable business.

That’s why our best advice to you is to learn...

The Art of Figuring Out What You’ll Sell on eBay: Finding and Knowing Your Niche

Fishing Niche Products

Ask yourself: What types of products do I spend the most money on? Clothes? Fishing gear? Makeup? Board games?

The best way to figure out what you’ll sell on eBay is to become a master of a particular type of product. This gives you a chance to really understand a niche market.

Reasons to Choose a Niche

Let’s say you do a lot of fishing, so you choose fishing gear. You know how much people will pay for lures, rods, reels, hooks, lines and sinkers because you pay for that stuff all the time. You know that many anglers will gladly pay extra for genuine Rapala lures and other big-name brands. And if you’ve learned from the old-timers, you might know about a few out-of-production products that would fetch top dollar in an auction.

Developing this kind of in-depth knowledge saves you an enormous amount of time on market research. You won’t have to do a bunch of math to figure out if something’s a good deal. You’ll see a wholesaler’s price and think Hot damn, that’s a fifth of what I’d pay!

Focusing on a niche also cuts down on your trial and error. You’ll learn what sells and what doesn’t sell until that too becomes instinct.

Finally, you’ll know exactly what products go together, and selling pre-made kits can make you a lot of money on eBay. For example, if you know a lot about makeup, you know what colors work well for certain complexions and eye colors. You could put together a package of different products catering to women with fair skin and green eyes, and another for women with dark skin and brown eyes. This saves the buyer a lot of shopping around.

In Summary

If you combine the art and science of figuring out what to sell on eBay, you should have no trouble making enough profits to keep your business afloat indefinitely. Master them both and you will have a steady stream of income—perhaps even a full-time job.