I have never really been much of a fan of eBay, I mean, buying other people’s used stuff…?
However, as some of you will know, my attitude to “pre-loved” stuff changed in recent years, shortly after I discovered the joy of Freecycling.
I didn’t really get into eBay though, I saw a few things but I never felt very happy bidding, it was only when I was pregnant that I became slightly addicted! There were so many things I wanted but I couldn’t justify buying them, after several unsuccessful attempts I managed to nab a Baby Bjorn in excellent condition and I’ve even been known to send my parents to North Yorkshire to pick up a coat stand (£1 BARGAIN!!!)
Anyway I’m not writing about my shopping…
because no one needs to know the true extent of my guilt
I want to talk to you about selling. The truth is no matter how much you can get from Freecycle, Gumtree, gifts or eBay there are still things that you want or need. Put buying a house and trying to extend it in two places and rennovate it from scratch whilst on maternity leave and finances become very tight.
I decided to venture into selling on eBay to try and raise a little extra cash. I have an embarrassing (not) amount of shoes which perhaps I don’t need (especially as post pregnancy I’m really not up to +4″ heels no matter how much I kid myself) and several items of clothing I either have never worn, can no longer fit into, or just don’t actually wear. Usually when I have an annual clear out I end up with bin liners full of clothes to take to the charity shop so I felt a little bad about trying to raise funds for myself rather than for someone else, but needs must.
Now, given my purchases I was expecting a bidding war when I put my items on. I decided to start with a pair of brand new shoes bought at Faith years and years ago. They were black leather and absolutely stunning. They had cost around £35 in the sale but I had worn them once, they were uncomfortable, a little too big and slippy on my work floors. I put them on in front of the mirror many times but would never wear them again. I popped them on with some fab pics and…
I got my first bid :)
Ok so £2 isn’t great…I waited and waited, but it was my only bid.
I had put on my postage cost correctly but overall by the time I had packaged and sent I was doing it for virtually nothing and wished I’d just Freecycled them or taken them to the numerous charity shops lining my street.
I was rather scared off and just carried on as I was, as I opened up bin liners of clothes that had been wrapped up for a year I just took stuff to the charity shop or kept it under the bed. That’s when I decided to do a bit more research into eBay and give it another go. Whilst I’m no expert and don’t make a fortune, it has been a good way of raising a little bit of extra cash whilst clearing out unwanted stuff from our home.
I should feel embarrassed that I have eBayed gifts, second hand things people gave us (family not Freecycle) for our home, baby things and things that I have bought and never used. But I don’t.
Ultimately if there are things in our home taking up space that we don’t use or wear then they are, to some extent, costing us money in the form of space. I am a real hoarder so I do find it difficult to get rid of things and have had to come to terms with the fact that I can’t always get the money I want for things. However, I have now instigated a strict one in one out policy for personal purchases, so selling something makes me feel pretty good as I know I can go out and buy something else!
Ok, so that’s not really a good motivation, and certainly doesn’t fit in with the amazing Say No to New campaign…which I do really want to take part in…but ultimately I love to shop and will do it regardless, so if I can get rid of a bit of the tut it makes us all a bit happier! It also helps me to save (…no seriously…keep reading…) because my PayPal account stores up the money from selling, I pay the postage fees out and then get a pleasant surprise when I have more money to draw out than I think (because I forget I’ve already paid postage…)
As it has been such a positive experience I thought I would share my top tips with you:
- Get a great title – the best eBay titles are not necessarily catchy or appealing. What they are is informative, remember people aren’t going to search “cute little gold shrug” but they might search “evening” “outfit” “bolero” “short cardigan”. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t really make sense as long as it has all the relevant information.
- Describe your item well, it helps prevent questions (although you will still get some stupid ones and some pertinent ones) and protects you if there are any complaints about your item in due course.
- Keep your tape measure handy – accurate charges for postage are key. The Royal Mail Price finder will help (I have it saved as a favourite) and I picked up a leaflet at one point with the sizes of packages so I could check them at home easily.
- Get to know your postie – as above be careful with your postage and don’t be afraid to argue if the post office tries to charge you for a small parcel when you know you have packed a large letter (yes I have…no I’m not proud of it). For example our large Post Office always does this, but our local branch always double checks the size with their measurement thingy (technical Post Office equipment name). I like to go along with a post it of what I am expecting to be charged on each parcel. If in doubt make sure you err on the side of caution when setting your postage cost.
- Charge realistically – remember your postage isn’t just the cost of sending it, you should package well (see below) and remember you pay commission both to eBay and PayPal on your postage. If you charge £2.80 and that’s what you will pay to post it, you can expect to lose over 40p of that to commission, leaving you out of pocket. If you don’t mind taking the hit that’s fine, but if it matters to you set a realistic postage cost. I like to put a line at the bottom of all my adverts warning buyers that my postage costs may seem high, but they reflect the actual cost of sending. I don’t aim to make a profit on postage but I also don’t subsidise it, my view is I am up front and if people don’t want to pay it they don’t have to.
- Be certain you want to sell – as with my first sale I was drawn into the guidance on eBay to start the sale at 99p. If you just want rid that’s fine, but if not then set a starting price you won’t be disappointed with. The majority of my sales go on the first bid (and I’m often known to just close the auction when I get a bid because I set my prices as what I want) so if you would be disappointed selling at that price then either raise it or don’t sell it. I have a few things I really like and have hung onto or kept relisting when they don’t sell, it doesn’t bother me not to get rid of them. On the other hand I had a dress that I had little attachment to and had never worn despite paying £30 for it over 10 years ago, it never fit and was never going to, so I kept reducing the price until it went. I made a loss but it was better than nothing!
- Don’t be bogged down with feedback - I had one very unfair poor review and it upset me. It’s not stopped others buying and now I couldn’t care less. If you do get poor feedback have a think about it and if it’s fair then you need to tackle it, but if not don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s not an actual job!
- Package well – I am really careful with packing, if it’s a nice item I will wrap in wrapping paper or the thin paper you wrap gifts in…can’t think of the name…then place in a carrier bag and then wrap. The reason is (a) everyone likes to unwrap something, it adds to the excitement! (b) a carrier offers some (albeit minimal) protection if the packaging gets torn or wet. I like to use large envelopes if the items will fit, they tend to be more secure, but if it’s too large I buy brown paper from Poundland. I go through tonnes and tonnes of tape, brown all around the package/envelope and clear over the address. Maybe I overdo it but no one has complained!
- Don’t pay to list – i only ever list on free listing days/weekends. The more you sell the greater your selling allowances become so be wary of overlisting on those days! I have paid some fees, if someone messages me and makes an offer I have relisted at a buy it now price so that we can complete straight away instead of waiting until the end of the auction, but otherwise I just won’t pay!
- Get excited when something sells!