WHAT SHOULD I SELL? Popular items on eBay

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WHAT SHOULD I SELL?  Popular items and their sources...

(An extract from My Ebook 'The Ten Steps to eBay Success')

There are various reasons that people start selling on ebay.  Some people have a house full of stuff and are trying to make more room by selling off a few things they no longer need.  Some have seen their friends having a great time buying and selling and want to join in.  Some people start off with the idea that they will take advantage of this great business opportunity and start a new business, selling new stock, bought in specifically.  But what to sell?  The list is almost endless.  People buy all sorts of things, from half empty packets of cigarettes to new yachts! 
Depending on your own situation, and it would be silly of me to imagine that I could cover everyone’s situation in a guide like this one, you will have to read the following and decide which is the route for you.  Despite the myriad things sold, there are only a few types of item sold on ebay.  The types are very basic: Easily post-able, Not-so-easily post-able, and Collection only (The previous types come in NEW and USED varieties).  Most items fall into these categories – It doesn’t matter what they actually are, it’s getting them to their buyer that’s the issue! (Ebay have banned electronic delivery of non-physical items so postage or collection are your choices.)

Somebody asked me recently if it was 'OK' to sell new items on eBay - Could they make a 'proper' business out of it.  This it the whole point of eBay.  It is a place where you can buy and sell both new and second-hand items for a hobby or as a full blown business.  EBay is not a game, it's real life and real serious!  Although it's a lot of fun too!  An eBay business can be as big or as small as you want.


Choosing What Items to Sell.

The first consideration, or biggest obstacle, when planning to sell an item on ebay is ‘How much will it cost to get it to the buyer?’  Most items sold on ebay are sent by post, or by courier, to their destinations.  If the cost of transportation (postage) is prohibitive, or more than the value of the item, then it’s usually a ‘non-starter’ as a suitable item to sell on ebay.  However, if the item can be shown to be worth collecting from your address (a concrete garden ornament or a vehicle for instance) and is reasonably portable, then even though you cannot post it, the item can be considered suitable, as you don’t have to consider postage charges.

Another consideration is the profit to be made after the auction listing has been paid!  If your item is only worth pennies, then it is hardly worth spending valuable time and money, spending around 25p on a listing when the item will be lucky to make 50p.  If you want to make ebay worthwhile you have to aim at products that will reward the time and effort, not to mention the money, put in to selling those items.

Researching Your Planned Items
It is worth spending a few minutes using the ebay ‘search’ to check out your proposed items.   If there are a good few entries and they are selling well (Look for number of bids) then it is likely that your item will also sell – The trick then is to maximise your auctions’ appeal to get the best price.  If there are hardly any items the same as yours and they sell well, there is an excellent opportunity of which you can take advantage.  However, if there are very few on offer and they are not selling, leave it well alone – Don’t go thinking that the ten steps can sort out the lack of a market!  As you go through your ebay life you will probably find yourself spending quite a bit of time researching what sells and what doesn't.

Stay Within the Rules!  Prohibited and Restricted Items.
Also it's a good idea to check that what you plan to sell is 'allowed' on eBay and does not fall into the 'Prohibited' and 'Restricted' items.  This is easy to do as eBay list them and give information.


Other Items

Works of art, jewellery, memorabilia and items that are intrinsically valuable are often worth listing because buyers will spend more than would normally be considered ‘too much’ to have these items delivered.

Get rid of unwanted items.

Even if you choose to ‘specialise’ in a certain type of product, ebay is an excellent way of making profit from those items in your shed and in the attic that have been cluttering up your home for years.  Just because you sell DVDs do not think that clearing the unwanted items from your house is below you, or that it would detract from your ‘proper business’.  This is a potentially untapped resource that is just crying to become an entry in your profit column.  In my trading times I have bought children’s toys from plate glass car dealers, videos from plant nurseries, and cherub wall pictures from the owner of Max-Gigabyte-PCs (Name changed). The wonderful thing about ebay is that it is a great leveller, and you must never lose sight of the fact that you can sell (almost) anything!

Buy stock in to sell?

If you choose to, you can buy stock to sell on ebay from many sources.  You will expect me to say wholesale warehouses and job lots off ebay.  Of course they are the obvious ones, and you can get some excellent stock very cheaply that way.  That is a great source for new items.  Whilst that is one person’s bread and butter it may turn another off.  So where can you find a supply of stock, at reasonable prices, that will be suitable for tidying up and selling on ebay?  There are many places, just be sure of your prices before you buy in too much stock at once.  It’s easy once you get the hang of it.  For those who prefer to sell used items, the places we bought our stock from are as follows: Car-boot-sales, Jumble Sales, Antique Shops (Our first specific ebay ‘buy-to-sell-on’ item was bought from an antique shop – We made just over 500% profit). EBay is a great place to pick up things to sell (There are plenty of people who get no bids because their auctions look horrible! - Two lines of black on white, pictures from their mobile phone, and bad english to boot). Other sources include: techno-phobic friends and relatives, closing down sales, newspaper classified ads, supermarket notice boards, etc.  The list is almost endless – Wherever there are items going cheaply, or where there is a serious error in selling strategy, there is your ebay stock opportunity.

So what sells best... 

If you look at the highest sellers and see what they're selling that's a good guide to what sells particularly well... There are trends in 'fashionable' items all the time and these could be a source of future earnings. Bear in mind also that there are two ways to make a fortune... Sell thousands of things with one pound profit or sell a few things with thousands of pounds profit! I can't tell you which way is 'best', just that both, and all points in-between, are viable options!  It just depends on how many auctions or listings you like to have going at one time, and how much work you want to put into postage & packing / delivery.

Other considerations:
90% of shifting the goods is writing a good listing.  It doesn't matter what you're selling, a boring black and white listing that states tha facts won't get good return.  What you have to do is inspire the buyer.  Turn his emotions on and get him to want your item.  It really is so important to engage the emotions and dispell worry!  You have to list the bad bits, but don't dwell on them - Don't make them the main point of your listing like so many people do!
Actual Example:
Listing Title = Telescope, One lens Missing on One Side, Otherwise Good. (I bought this for £44)
My Listing title = Brilliant Skywatcher Maksutov 90mm. EQ. New Finder. (Sold for £105)
I recieved the item, cleaned it up, added the missing bit from ebay.  Then I sold it... My listing extolled the virtues of this excellent telescope.  I listed the things you could see with this wonderful little instrument.  I had 12 carefully arranged photos.  I pointed the would-be buyer to a website to help them set up the equatorial mounting.  I made it impossible not to want this telescope.
When I was considering bidding it I could see that the person selling didn't know anything about telescopes or what was 'wrong' with the one they had (a £7.50 fix!).  Their listing scared away most potential buyers with their determination to point out the one bad bit (Which actually wasn't that tragic!).
So, my advice about listings - Don't shoot yourself in the foot trying to make sure you tell all - What you have to do is have a happy customer (and I know that the person that bought the item off me for £105 was very happy) - I'd built a dream of owning this great telescope in their minds.  They just wanted a clear night to start enjoying their win.

Sharing the Workload.
It is very easy to do ebay by yourself, and many do.  Speaking for myself I entered into the ebay world hand in hand with my lovely wife.  Sharing the work-load and helping each other has made it easier and all the more fun to do.  If you find the whole prospect of dealing with all these manifold little tasks a little daunting, you could do worse than to enlist the help of a family member.  On first sight it might look as though you will lose some of your authority, but it all depends on the structure of your ‘partnership’.  My wife and I have taken certain tasks each and neither of us, without the other’s help, would manage as well!  The way we worked it out, we both feel like we are making a significant contribution to the ‘business’ and neither of us feel that we’re doing all the work. 

For my part, I do:- item preparation, artwork, photos & image processing, HTML (Web text fonts, colours etc. for auctions), and packing & addressing.  My wife does the auction placement research, pricing, auction text, communications, postage & payments and feedback.


I made this lampshade out of old cassettes (Free off Freecycle) with the tape removed.  Took me two hours - Sold for £45


One ebayer friend of mine went to a ‘car boot sale’ to pick up some items to sell on ebay.  She spotted a nice little money box and bought it for 50p.  The person selling it gave it a shake to make sure there was no money inside before wrapping it up.  When my friend got the item home she found that not only was the item a collector’s piece, but when she removed the rare original cork bung in the bottom two non-rattling ten pound notes were found inside.  She sold the item for £26 (empty). A good day’s car booting! (Non UK readers – a ‘car boot sale’ is like a ‘garage sale’ only there are many sellers trading from their vehicles in a car park lot, school playground, or a field!  …search Google images.)

Business Sense - What to Sell.

To be successful at any enterprise you need to be sure of having buyers who need your product.  You don’t just need to have a product that either you can buy cheaply in quantity, or one that has high profit, to be successful. You need customers for those products.  No matter how good your sales technique you can’t sell to people that don’t exist!  This guide underlines the need for you to undertake some research into whether what you have to offer sells, and what the best approach to the advertisement of that product should be.  Luckily for us, eBay is such a big shop-window that you will find a buyer for most things, it’s just a matter of pricing and advertising skills.  If you are planning to make a business out of eBay trading then you need to plan to sell something that is in demand.



Thanks for your time, I hope I've been helpful!  

SuperCooper  x

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