These are some great tips I have collected over the years of selling on ebay-from experience & from the clothing board!
Tip 1: To know if you can support yourself by ebaying full-time, start by keeping a data chart of all information if you are not doing so now. This can be a fancy Excel spreadsheet or a document in notepad.
I started by keeping these records in October, in 2005. I allowed myself to only list for 5 hours a week and kept track of everything. Then I could multiply this number by 4 (for approx. 20 hours of listing a week) to figure out my average weekly potential.
For example, by listing 5 hours one week I made approx. $400. I would then multiply this by 4 for $1600/month. Then $1600.00 times 50 weeks (two off for vacation) would come up with my average yearly income. I wanted to prove to myself that I could make a decent living by ebaying, allowing myself to quit working outside of the house.
Ebay has excellent sales reports & traffic reports for stores as well. They can find the average of a listing for you. I make approx. $12-$17 per piece I sell, before fees. I know if I would want to make $120-$170, I would have to list (and sell) 10 items, etc. Another great way to figure out how much you need to list weekly.
Remember that you probably won't sell 100% of what you list. I would say that the average seller sells between 40% - 60% of what they list. So to sell 10 items, you might have to list 20 items.
Tip 2 would be to check with your accountant. Let them know you will be ebaying full-time. You can usually write off the space for ebaying, computer, gas driving back & forth to mail, etc. Keep accurate records of everything! I save every single receipt from USPS, all thrifts, and ebay. You would be amazed how this adds up!
Tip 3 is to use paypal to print out labels if not doing so at this time. They email the buyer with a delivery confirmation, saving you time & energy (& grief in the long run!) The post office picks up the packages at your HOUSE! No need to go drive anywhere!
I use and love the "Dymo Labelwriter 400" which does not use ink to print. Instead it uses thermal heat. You can buy the labels here on ebay and they work wonderfully with paypal.
Tip 4: Use priority supplies. They are free, and cheap to ship. USPS now has flat rate mailers that are padded - these are great for most tops and even some pants and the cost is right around $5. They also have priority tyvek mailers but the charge will vary based on the weight of the item. These are not flat rate. I charge just 20 cents for handling which I use for time & tape. People will not buy from people with outrageous handling fees. I do not want to spend $8.00 to ship a t-shirt, why would my buyer? USPS also picks up at your house, saving you time. Schedule a pick up at USPS.com. If I just have one or two packages, I can stick them in my mailbox. (again, save receipts for ink & paper--write-off!)
*Note about priority bags: If you are selling small trinkets or light-weight items, I suggest shipping first class mail. In this case, you can find "fashion mailers" here on eBay to ship these items. First class mail is MUCH cheaper than priority mail and usually gets there in the same amount of time. I use "Corijennin" to buy my supplies & am thrilled with her customer service.
Tip 5: RESEARCH. This is HUGE! Find out what is selling & for how much. For example, I go to my wholesaler's website, find something I'm interested in & then go back to ebay to do a search for how that is doing. If something is cheap but won't sell, it is just going to sit around!
If you plan on thrifting, go to the thrift store and start writing the designers & sizes down. Then come home and see how those labels are selling on ebay. Almost every thrift shopper has purchased something only to come home and find that it won't sell.
Tip 6: Find good sources. Type "wholesale, clothing" into a yahoo/google search and it will come up with pages and pages of clothing items. Start out by purchasing the minimum with a couple & see how you like them. No one will tell you where to get your inventory. You must do this yourself! (sorry!)
Go to local thrift stores, estate sales, yard sales and consignment shops. You may find a gem at one of these!
Tip 7: Treat eBay like a job. Start every morning by getting dressed. I was homeschooled & my mother would insist we change out of pj's every day. Why? Because if you are dressed in PJ's while schooling, it will not feel like school. I have the same attitude with ebay. It is easy to just crawl out of bed & start. But, mid-day I feel gross & sluggish. So, I have this rule that I will not start me day until I am showered & dressed with breakfast in my belly :)
Tip 8: Start a schedule. This is just an example:
8am-wake-up, shower & dress. Eat breakfast.
9am-start by checking my emails and answer any questions.
9:30am-print last minute labels for mailman to pick up of items that sold the night before.
10:30am-start taking pictures
11:30-12:00-break for lunch
12:00-start listing. I alternate picture taking with listing for the afternoon, until about 4:00pm. I can usually list about 20 items in four hours but if you are just starting - aim for 5-10 listings. You will get quicker, I promise.
4:00pm-4:30pm-break for a snack or early dinner
4:30-5:00pm-answer any emails that have come in
5:00-6:00pm-print labels for items that sold that day and schedule a pick up.
Tip 9: Take good pictures. Hang a white sheet on a wall for a background. Try to edit pictures if you have the software. Take several pictures & look which are most appealing.
*I use a blank wall and a mannequin. If you don't have a mannequin or need to show what the item looks like laid flat, buy several pieces of white poster board. Our dollar store has them for 50 cents. I bought 6 and laid the poster board in a large rectangle. This works great! You really don't notice the overlapping lines in the photos.
*I use "Picasa" to edit my pictures. It is a free download & allows you to fix the lighting, rotate/crop and a WHOLE bunch more.
You will also need a decent camera. I use the Casio Exilim 7.2mp -but I always use the LOWEST megapixel available. More than 2 or 3 mp takes to long for dial-up users to upload your photos.
Tip 10: Buy a hanging mannequin. These are pretty cheap on ebay (about ten dollars!) and make a difference. You can take down a piece of art so you don't have to make a new hole in your wall and use that nail to hang the mannequin. Or put her on your shower curtain bar & use a fairly plain shower curtain as a back drop (my shower curtain is white & this works great!).
Tip 11: Keep your inventory clean & organized. I have cleaned out a double closet in a guest bedroom which are great. If you do not have room, I have heard others using rubbermaid bins. Make sure when something sells, you can locate it :) Label bins by size, by type of item or another system that works.
Tip 12: Keep reading the eBay discussion boards. Those people have a wealth of knowledge! The clothing board people are awesome!
Tip 13: Start a store if you do not already have one, but only if you regularly plan to have more than 100 items listed at any given time. This saves in listing fees. Start about 60-75% of your listings in your store, the rest on auction to pull people to your store. After you have a great client base, you can change this to save more! Items cost less to list as "fixed price" listings if you have a store.
You will need to advertise your store in your auctions though. Make sure you don't specifically state what you have, but you can post a link to your store. Example: ebay will not allow you to put "I have Abercrombie & Fitch, Urban Outfitters and Free People" in your listing since this is key word spamming. You can put "Please check out my ebay store where I have so much more!" and then put the link.NOTE: If you plan on starting out slow, do not open a store. Non-store sellers get 50 free listings a month. For some reason ebay doesn't not allow store sellers these free listings. You can see I do not have a store right now and I am going back and forth between opening one and not.
Tip 14: Use a picture host. These are usually free or very cheap & save on listing fees.
*I use photobucket. Do a google/yahoo search for "photobucket". They will walk you through how to set up your account. Just upload pictures & copy the middle tag *URL* into the description.
Tip 15: Create or buy a template, and use it. This makes the listing more professional and is very cheap! Search "auction template" to find several hundred to purchase. Buy one that comes with help & from someone who has good feedback. You can also find them for free by googling "ebay free templates". I have used mine for years and it is easy to use and saves me hours a day. I just fill in the blanks when listing.
Tip 16: When you do not know something, do not lie. Find out if something is authentic before listing. If it is found not authentic, eBay pulls the auction. Disclose any flaws in the items.
Tip 17: Use measurements. Every time! As a buyer, I don't want to wait for the seller to email me measurements-especially if I find the item late in the listing!
For Pants: Waist, Hip, Front Rise, Total Length, Inseam.
For Shirts/sweaters/coats: Shoulders, Bust, Sleeve Length, Waist, Total Length.
For Skirts: Waist, Hip, Total Length.
Tip 18: Try to describe accurately & creatively. Look through current magazines or catalogs to find great wording!
Tip 19: Keep an address book specifically for designers. The dollar store has these for a buck. Get one that is little & you can keep in your purse while shopping. For example, under "A" would be Armani, Apple Bottoms, A. Byer, etc. Rate each & keep notes under the designer's name. For example: "Armani-great seller. Look for dresses & flowing tops. These sell well." When you don't know if it sells, just look it up in your address book. If you come across a name you've never heard of, you can jot it down & look it up later on eBay.
Tip 20: Have fun. When eBay stops being fun, you will not enjoy what you do. Remember to take holidays or vacations from eBay. It is a job like any other. It is a bit harder to walk away from because you are in your house, but don't burn out! :)
Thank you very much! Feel free to email me with any questions you may have: FBC@inbox.com