Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Make Money From eBay

Anyone – yes, anyone – who is serious about making money online should know about eBay, the darling stock of the dot.com boom earlier this decade.

eBay is one of the very, very few online businesses that weathered the dot.com crash. You can guess why – as its CEO Meg Whitman puts it – eBay is “transforming the way in which e-commerce is being conducted”. And eBay has gone from strength to strength since it acquired Paypal, the world’s largest online payment services company.

Can you make money by selling on eBay? The short answer is YES, without a doubt! I have used eBay to make at least $1,500 profit every month over the last 9 months. And I know for a fact that many people earn more than that. For selling online, eBay stands out from the crowd for 3 reasons:

  • Its aim is to make selling easy for you – ordinary people like you and I can sell to as big an audience as the Marks & Spencer, Walmart and John Lewis of today;
  • Other than the main search engines (i.e. Google and Yahoo), eBay attracts more traffic every day than any other website. Yes, Ebay reaches out to more people than any newspaper and/or television company in the world;
  • 95% of the users of Google/Yahoo still use them for one simple purpose – surfing the internet. However, with eBay, it’s quite the opposite. 95% of people who use eBay are doing so with the intention of spending money online. You can make money from eBay precisely because of that quality traffic it generates;

How can you make money from eBay?

There are many ways of making money on eBay. Don’t forget that eBay is like a shopping mall, a marketplace. So all the fundamental rules of demand and supply, pricing, economics, business and plain simple logic apply! Essentially, it boils down to buying low and selling high, like traders do in all walks of life.

If I am not convincing you, then please follow the link below to “This is Money” website where it states that 70,000 people in the UK alone now earn a 2nd income on Ebay.


Here are various ways of making money on eBay. They are NOT exhaustive and I am sure that many people use other techniques. Also, you need to choose the technique that suits YOUR skills and lifestyle the best:

  • Searching for misspelt items deliberately, buying them cheap and selling them at a higher price after spelling them correctly;
  • Buying an item, then improving its listing and photo displayed, and reselling at a higher price;
  • Sourcing an item that can be bought cheap in your area (e.g. in your local newspapers, at an antique fair, or in a developing country) and then selling on eBay;
  • Buying in bulk from wholesalers and retailing on eBay;
  • Buying and selling ebooks;

Personally, I make money on eBay selling ebooks. The beauty of an ebook is that it is not like a normal item. If you want to sell, say, mobile phones, you can only sell as many as what you have in stock. Whereas with an ebook, you can sell as many as the number of buyers prepared to pay for it. All you need to do is email the buyer the ebook once you have received payment.

For instance, I could have easily written all my blogs in an ebook, put a copyright on it, and listed the ebook on eBay for $10. With a catching title, subtitle and picture, I would sell about 4 copies every day. And if I sell 15 varieties of ebooks, I would easily make $1,500 profit every month.

However, you also need to be aware of the following pitfalls:

  • eBay is only as good as how well you use it. If you do not master the listing techniques and, remember, apply the fundamental rules of economics, you WILL FAIL;
  • eBay is expensive. It charges you a listing fee and a final value fee of 5.25% of the price you sold your item at. On top of that, Paypal, the online payment services company owned and used by eBay, charges 3.4% of the price you sold your item at. This means that at least 10% of the price you achieve will be paid to Ebay or Paypal. So if you are selling a low-margin item, this will get very risky;
  • Both eBay and Paypal are trusted brands. Therefore, they invest heavily in ensuring trust and safety on their sites. They can – and will – punish any users who fail to comply with their listing rules and Acceptable Usage Policies. These policies can be onerous so I strongly urge you to familiarise yourself with them. Punishments from eBay/Paypal will range from removal of listings, temporary selling restrictions to outright suspension and lifelong bar for serious and/or persistent violations;
  • Irritatingly, eBay and Paypal can sanction you even if you have not done anything wrong! You may feel that you have done nothing wrong, or more commonly, have been operating in a “grey area”, but for them, everything has to be black or white. If they do not see it your way, they will sanction you unilaterally and you will not be able to do anything about it.

Summary assessment:

Typical monthly earnings$300-$10,000, depending on how well you use it. Ebay is very open-ended in this aspect.
Get rich quick?Maybe, if you are generating $10,000 a month. But I think you should use it as a hobby to generate a 2nd income to start with.
Decent 2nd income?Yes, easily.
All from home online?Yes. But you may have to use the post for accepting checks, collecting recorded items and go to the bank to cash your checks.
Legal and ethical?Yes, and it should remain so. If you fiddle the rules, you WILL be caught by eBay / Paypal. Remember that they invest millions in enforcing their rules!
Ongoing effort required?I spend about 1.5 hours a day – 7 days a week
Initial cash investment required?Variable – although I would recommend that you have about $300 of working capital to start with to cover your eBay fees. You may not use this at all if items sell fast and your buyers pay on time;
Initial time required to set up?Max. 3 hours – but you will learn new things as you carry on selling

My Recommendation

I recommend that you try eBay if you are serious about making money online. Set yourself a budget, and start slowly. Do not act big at the outset. In order to maximise your chances of doing well on eBay, I recommend that you get yourself one of the following books. If anything, you should try eBay just for the eBay experience. How would you feel if/when you hear that people like yourself are earning extra cash every week on eBay and you aren’t? I have carefully vetted all these books and handpicked them from a list of over 200 ebooks on eBay.

  • Wholesale Directory and Resources – for those of you who want to buy in bulk and retail on eBay. Even better, this book shows you how to “dropship”, i.e. sell on eBay first and then buy at a lower price and let the wholesaler deliver the item to your buyer. So you do not keep any inventory! Well worth the price and one of the best-selling ebooks around on eBay. Suitable for people all over the world;
  • The Silent Sales Machine Hiding On eBay – a best-seller detailing many different techniques of making money on eBay. It’s only after reading THIS EBOOK THAT I SIGNED ON TO EBAY AND STARTED MAKING MONEY FROM IT.
  • Make up to $11,212 a month on eBay – whilst I did not make anywhere near that amount, there is a lot of practical advice here on how to grow your sales. Useful when you have already acquired some experience on eBay.
  • eBay Hidden Sales Engine – a very good ebook at a very reasonable price. Useful start if you are still wary about the whole thing – or are wary of spending too much money. It explains the various techniques of making money on eBay quite well;
  • eBay Marketing Ebooksthat is the technique I use to make money on eBay. A must-read before you start selling Ebooks. Also at a very reasonable price.