How to make a success of selling on eBay

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In our recent article Five Ways to Stay Out of Debt, one of the areas we looked at was different ways of making some extra money. One of these ways is to sell items you no longer need. It’s estimated that many homes have as much as £2600 of unused goods lurking around!

One easy way to sell goods is online, and the best known online selling site is eBay. But it can all seem a bit intimidating if you have never used it before. 

In this article we look at five common questions that you may have if you want to start selling on eBay.

1. Am I allowed to make money from eBay if I also have a job?


If you make less than £1000 a year from eBay sales, it is tax free and you don’t have to declare it to HMRC. 

However, if you begin to sell regularly and are making more than £1000 a year then you should include your eBay earnings on your tax return.


2. How do I actually start selling on eBay?

It is very easy. Just follow these ten simple steps and you will be up and running:

  1. Set up an eBay account. You can register on the eBay website here. All you need is your email address.
  2. Create a listing for the first item you want to sell. If you type in a brief description of the item, eBay will guide you as to the best category to list the item under, based on where buyers are most likely to look for an item such as yours. 
  3. Add a title, as much factual information about your item as possible, and a description of the item. Include as much detail as you can, as this will help buyers to find your item and make a decision about whether it is what they are looking for. Ebay has produced a video to demonstrate how to create excellent titles and descriptions: this can be viewed here.
  4. Add up to 12 photos. Photos can often make the difference between whether or not your item sells, so it is worth taking the time to do them well. Ebay has produced a training video here on how to take winning photos.
  5. Decide what price you want to charge for the item. You can also decide whether to set this as a fixed price (“Buy It Now”) or as the starting price for an auction. Setting the right price is very important. If it is too low, you risk losing money by selling the item for less than it was worth. But if it is too high your listing may not attract much interest.
  6. Decide how you will send out your item, and how much you will charge for this. If it is a large bulky item you might want to specify collection only. If it is a small item, consider offering free postage as this will attract more interest. Ebay provides guidelines on postage costs when you list an item.
  7. Include how you want to be paid. Most eBay sellers currently use Paypal, which we look at in question 3.
  8. Choose how long to run your listing for. Longer listings – for example 10 days – tend to work better as there is more time to reach more people. Sunday is traditionally thought of as the best day to end your listing, ideally early evening, as this is a popular time for people to be online.
  9. When you sell an item, send it out as soon as possible after the buyer has paid. It is also helpful to mark the item as dispatched, and send a message to the buyer to say it is on its way.
  10. Every eBay user has a percentage rating based on feedback from those they have transacted with. So remember to leave feedback for your buyers as this will encourage them to leave feedback for you and begin to build your eBay ratings. 


3. How do I get paid for items I have sold?

Ebay sellers currently all need to provide buyers with the option of paying by Paypal. This system will partially change during 2021, with sellers able to receive money from eBay directly into their bank account rather than via Paypal. But as things stand at the moment, you will need to set up a Paypal account if you do not have one.

You can read more on Paypal’s website about:

Be aware that Paypal will charge you a fee based on 2.9% of the final selling price of your item, plus a 30p transaction fee. So if a buyer offers to pay you another way, for example by cheque or cash on collection, it will work out cheaper for you.


4. Is it free to sell items on eBay?

No. When you sell on eBay there are costs involved in the process. 

Most listings themselves are free. As a private seller you have 1000 free listings a month, which is plenty for most people. But any listings over and above this would be charged at 35p each.

However, you have to pay eBay 10% of the final selling price of your item. You also need to pay for any extra features that you want to include in your listing, for example:

  • Buy It Now – adding a fixed price to your listing as well as the auction price.
  • Setting a reserve price – a minimum price you will accept.
  • Gallery Plus – using larger images.
  • Subtitle – adding an extra line to your title.
  • Adding a second category for the listing to appear under.

A full list of eBay fees can be found on their website here.

You need to be mindful of the above fees (plus the Paypal fees we saw earlier) to make sure that the price you get for your item is going to be worth the effort of listing and posting it, once fees are deducted.

Fees are taken by eBay on a monthly basis, currently from your Paypal account.


5. What if something goes wrong?

Most of the time, selling on eBay runs smoothly. It is to your advantage to do everything you can to keep it that way, otherwise you could receive negative feedback from buyers, which will put off other potential buyers. So ensure that you deal promptly and effectively with any problems or complaints directly with the buyer. You may need to consider either a refund or return of the goods.

Also be aware that if things get difficult then eBay has a Resolution Centre. Either you or your buyer can get them involved in your issue, and they will act as a platform to resolve the dispute.

The other thing to watch out for is potential fraud. Be on your guard against two specific things:

  • Fraudsters trying to obtain your eBay and Paypal passwords. Never respond to phishing emails that ask you for these details or click on any link in the email to supposedly login to your account. If you do this you are likely to be directed to a fake website and your login details will be stolen.
  • Messages asking you to sell an item privately rather than through eBay. This is risky; you may end up losing money and will not be protected by eBay’s seller protection policies.


We hope that the above tips will give you the confidence to start selling on eBay and make a bit of extra money during 2021. 

In the meantime, if you need a short term financial boost then do get in touch with us at Simple Fast Loans to see if one of our unsecured loans may be a helpful way forward for you.

Remember to check back here soon for more financial and lifestyle tips from Simple Fast Loans.