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How We Earn Extra Money: Selling Our Stuff on Ebay

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How We Earn Extra Money: Selling Our Stuff on Ebay

I recently mentioned that we are saving up for a new vehicle despite having no extra room in our budget.   We have managed to save up about $3000 towards this by finding ways to earn extra income aside from our regular paycheques.  This is one of the ways we've been earning extra money! You can see the rest of the ways we earn extra money here!

One of the things that drove me nuts when I first went on maternity leave was all the clutter in our home.  We've spent the last 10 years working our butts off during the week and shopping on the weekends and the amount of stuff built up in our home was showing it! Being forced to sit at home and look at it, and put it away and clean it made me crazy and all I could think about was getting rid of it.

I started to work my way through each room, putting anything that I no longer wanted or hadn't used in some time into a pile.   Once this was done, I pulled out anything that I thought had some resale value and was small enough that it wouldn't incur massive amounts of shipping, and photographed it.  I use a white sheet as a background for all of my ebay pictures (unless the item itself is white in which case I usually use a black piece of cloth or paper as a background).  Most of the time I only use one picture for each listing as each picture after the first costs extra.  Ebay has been running a new promotion that gives me 50 free listings each month so I try not to spend any money on the listings themselves.

After downloading all the pictures, I start posting my stuff on Ebay.  I try to do like items at the same time so that I can copy the previous listing and only change the details that need to be changed (ie. DVDs, CDs, books, clothing all get listed one after another).  This cuts down on a lot of time!  Depending on how much stuff I'm listing this process can take several days.  I just do a bit at a time until I am done.

I am lucky to work as a shipping and receiving manager at my 'real' job so I am very familiar with shipping rates/ times but I've noticed that Ebay has some very helpful built in shipping tools now- particularly one where you can purchase and print a shipping label right through Paypal.  I know you can also get shipping quotes right off of Canada Post's website and I would assume the same is true for the US Postal Service.   These can help to determine a fair shipping cost for your listing.

I try not to be greedy when I am setting prices.  If you ask too much you won't sell anything and you will just be wasting your time.  I also don't usually make penny listings as I have not been successful with this particular strategy.  I look around Ebay for similar listings to my own and try to set a fair price this way.  When searching for items in Ebay, there is an option to search 'Completed Listings' on the left hand side of the page.  This is how you can tell what similar listings have been selling for.  This is much more accurate than simply checking what other sellers are listing their items at as the other seller could be completely unrealistic with their pricing or using a bidding war strategy that you may not want to employ.

I always use an auction and buy it now listing format.  I start the auction slightly lower than the buy it now price.  I am sometimes surprised when people use the Buy It Now feature when the auction is ending in a short time but I never argue as I make more money when people 'Buy It Now'.

The listing length that I select really depends on the type of merchandise.  If the item is very buyer specific (ie; a motorcycle seat for an '86 FZ600) I choose a longer listing.  For most items I choose 7 days and for items that I have a lot of I choose shorter listings and keep relisting them until they are gone.

Ebay takes a commission from your final sale price.  It is very reasonable (compared to some other sites that I've sold from).  They will bill you at the end of the month and you can select to have it automatically withdrawn from your credit card or Paypal account. 

Most people would be surprised at the type of things that sell on Ebay.  I've seen magazines and coupons sell, though I've personally never sold either of these items (I'm certainly looking to try in the future...).  I've sold DVDs for more than I've seen them selling in stores for.  I sell my husband's video games when he is finished playing with them. We sold an XBox 360 controller that we had bought used for more than we paid for it.  We sold a USB soundcard that we had bought used for the same amount we had paid for it years earlier.  I've bought and sold used cloth diapers- they retain their value amazingly well! Used clothing, used motorcycle parts, a digital camera that was too fancy for us... You name it, we've sold it!

I would encourage everyone to at least try selling on Ebay.  Not only does it help your pocketbook but I've found it incredibly freeing to offload some of the items that were just gathering dust around our home.  I'm looking forward to seeing all my work pay off when we bring home our new (to us) vehicle later this year!

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