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If you’re active on instagram and follow personal finance accounts, you’ve probably come across quite a few resellers. Resellers are people who buy second hand items from a variety of sources (charity shops, bootsales etc) and then sell on ebay (or other platforms) for a profit.
Whilst some people might question whether buying from charities to make a profit is ethical or not, it is a perfectly legitimate way of making extra money or even a full time income.
I’ve been reselling on ebay for just over a year now, but was a seasoned seller of my own belongings for a few years before that.
Though I’m not ready to pack in my job and go into reselling full time just yet, we have made a nice little income that despite not really actively sourcing or listing stock since the baby was born, has continued to tick over and bring in a few extra pounds each month.
Now that Luke is back in uni and I’m working part time, it is crucial for us to ensure we have enough money coming in, so I’m starting to put a lot of focus back into my side hustles and ebay is one of my priorities.
Since I’ve got my ebay head on, I thought now would be the perfect time to share my views on it. So if reselling is something you’ve been wondering about or thinking about trying, read on for my ‘Beginners Guide to Reselling on Ebay’.
1. Sell your own belongings first
It’s quite tempting to go in all guns blazing, excitedly thinking about sourcing and allocating yourself a budget to spend on ‘stock’ but before you even try selling for a profit I would recommend selling your own stuff.
Selling your own stuff allows you to get a feel for it without the commitment. You can experiment with auctions or buy it now listings, develop your descriptive skills and find out what works for you. You need to see the process through a few times to get an idea of whether it’ll be a sustainable side income for you. Many people get loads of listings up in one go, selling at auction and then they all end on the same day and suddenly you’ve got 10+ parcels to post, it can get a little overwhelming.
You may get some return requests and have to deal with difficult buyers perhaps. Or maybe you’ll see the fees in black and white and be put off by that. It’s all good experience that will let you know whether doing it for profit is suitable for you or not.
2. Start small and don’t take risks
Buy a few cheap items to start, and see how you get on with those. Don’t buy a massive great bundle of clothing for £100 only to get into sorting it out and realise that there’s actually not a lot money to be made. Our first lot of purchases was a disaster – we bought a job lot of drones for about £90 which we thought we were onto a winner with. Turns out the only person laughing was the one who offloaded all their shit onto us. None of it worked. It was all complete junk.
We did manage to salvage some money by breaking them down and selling bits as spare parts, but all in all it was a dud. We did learn from it though, we now steer clear of anything electronic and focus mainly on clothes and shoes which is what we’re most knowledgeable about.
3. Find your niche and do your homework
Following on from my point above, sell what you know. If you’re handy and can fix things then perhaps buying broken electronics and fixing them up for resale will be a great money spinner for you. Don’t try to sell things if you don’t really know what you’re selling. We’ve learnt some lessons along the way – did you know that there were 1000001 variations of Birkenstocks? There’s different base materials, different upper materials, subtle variations in style, different widths… we had a pair returned ‘not as described’ because I hadn’t done my homework properly and listed them inaccurately. Always make sure you know exactly what you’re selling. Don’t pretend to be an expert if you’re not – buyers can be crafty and will often try all sorts of tricks to get a refund.
4. Be organised from the get go
Make sure you have packaging supplies, somewhere to store your stock, somewhere to photograph and list it. Create a spreadsheet tracking what you’ve spent and keep receipts where possible. If you’re doing this to make a profit, you will need to declare your income to HMRC so ensure that you’ve got everything you need from the start. Open a business account with ebay and keep your reselling separate from your personal account. I wrote a post about getting organised here.
5. Maximise your returns
Clean items before you sell them. Remove bobbles from clothing. Cut off any loose threads. Spot treat any stains. Repair any holes. The way you present your item will be the difference between selling a dress at auction for 99p or getting a decent amount on buy it now.
You could purchase a mannequin for your clothes – we use one, but lots of people don’t. Styled flat lays are becoming more popular now too.Make sure you take photos in a well lit room and clothes are ironed. I wrote another post about selling clothes on ebay here.
6. Develop a routine
Decide when/where you’re going to source, when you’re going to list and when you’re able to post items. Don’t be naive enough to think that you can do it willy nilly – that’s where we’ve been failing the past few months. Get organised and set clear time brackets for when you’re going to do things to ensure that they get done. @kezonline has started the #uklistoff on instagram which is allocated time slots each week and encourages sellers to join in and get stuff listed for an hour. It’s great motivation.
7. Don’t rely on one place to source
We used to purchase a lot of our stock from the same place but it’s no longer a viable option for us. Sourcing from a variety of places means that if a charity shop closes down or it’s the bootsale off season – you’ve still got other options. Think about buying job lots on Facebook, Schpock or even ebay – if you search cleverly enough you can find some hidden gems already being sold on ebay which you could resell for a profit. Ask family and friends for their old stuff and sell it for commission. Think outside the box and be on the look out for new opportunities.
8. Join the reselling community
The reselling community on Instagram is a fantastic resource. If you have questions, there will be someone there willing to provide the answer. Resellers share their hits and misses, what sells well for them and what to keep an eye out for. It really is a treasure trove of information. There are also groups which you can join on Facebook. I’m a member of one that shares time hacks, daily goal sharing for motivation and is open to newbies and oldies alike so there’s something of value for everyone.
I hope this post was helpful! I know a lot of people are put off selling on ebay because of the fees and the effort of listing etc, but honestly it’s great way to make extra money and even develop into a solid income.
I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about making extra money, saving money, getting my life organised and being a new mum. Join me!