Simplify, Declutter and Cash In

ebay signI love it when major social currents come together and that’s just what has happened to me recently: I’m simplifying and decluttering my personal life and getting a taste of a “work from home” business many others are pursuing full time.

I live in a big house that has afforded me the space to keep a rather large number of “sentimental items” – I even have all my childhood dance costumes. However, I’ve realized that it’s time to thin the herd a little and instead of just bagging stuff up and giving it away, I’ve started selling on eBay.

In my own small way, I’m able to join the legions of people who are carving out home-based businesses for themselves – or adding another dimension to their legacy businesses – as eBay sellers. If you’re surrounded by things that you would like to convert into cash, let me cover a few essentials and share a couple of tips.

There are two things you absolutely need: a PayPal account and stuff to sell. But once you have those things ready, you need to know if your items have value. Let me show you the best way to find out.

Find your value

To get a realistic assessment of value, use the eBay “advanced” search to find the same item as you are selling. Be certain to check the “Completed listings” button. Then you will see what prices buyers actually paid for the items being auctioned and which ones went unsold. Otherwise you just see what people are asking or the current level of bids.

Also, when you compare the prices that items actually fetched, be sure to note condition and shipping. For success, eBay auctions need to be competitive and shipping plays an important role in that calculation.

Set up your auction

Once you have a value range in mind, you need to set up your auction. Provide pictures and an honest description of condition. (Your eBay reputation is critically important, so point out any flaws. You don’t want disappointed buyers.)

Studies always indicate that low starting prices, say 99 cents, generate the most interest and ultimately the best sale prices. You can set a reserve if you’re nervous, but again, no-reserve auctions typically get the most action. You can name a “Buy it Now” price if you want to move your item more quickly and would be satisfied with a certain price.

You can select how long your auctions will last. Make it one week. That way you will be certain to have a weekend within your auction. Also, statistically the best time to start your auction is between 6-9 p.m. Pacific Time. That’s when the most people are on eBay.

Provide excellent customer service

Respond to bidder questions promptly and ship your items immediately, if possible. Establishing and maintaining a high seller rating is invaluable on eBay. Make your customers delighted by how quickly they receive their items and by how accurately you described their condition.

There are, of course, other nuances to selling on eBay, but these will get you going in the right direction. And by clearing out some items around your house, you can see if becoming a serious eBay merchant is something you’d like to do.

Sponsored by AT&T

Image: Ebay Explained 2006 (KLCC), © 2006 Cheon Fong Liew, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.