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How to Sell on eBay {Tips for Making Money out of Your Old Frocks and Furniture}

Author: Lisa Soeno

Christmas is done. A sprinkling of snowbells have started to pop up under the oak tree outside our house. I’ve spotted flip flops for sale in the shops and I’m wondering whether it’s too early to buy a swimming cossie for the summer. Which can only mean one thing. It’s time for a spring clear out.

Last year I talked about decluttering the Soeno household but one tip I forgot to mention is that eBay can be a goldmine if you’re looking to make a quick buck out of stuff you no longer use.

I have a drawer where I store all of the clothes the kids have grown out of and any dresses and shoes I no longer wear. And then once every couple of months I put aside a few hours to photograph all the items and list them on eBay. Yes, it’s a bit of a hassle, and yes I get a strange look from the Post Office lady when I turn up with a pushchair full of twenty parcels, but it’s worth it if it means we can earn a bit of money from it to put towards day trips with the kids/new swimming cossies!

There’s some stuff that I find sells really well: when we moved here I sold a couple of pieces from the Ikea Hemnes range and they went for a much higher price than I was expecting. I suppose if you shop at Ikea then you’re probably inclined to love a bargain, and it’s double the bargain if you can save a few quid by buying it on eBay. With kids’ clothes, Joules, Mini Boden and Little White Company items are usually popular, and when it comes to fashion, I’ve found that Topshop, Asos and Zara pieces usually go down a treat. The following tips are also worth bearing in mind if you’re considering an eBay clear out.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

A decent photo to illustrate your item for sale is an absolute must. I’ve never bought something from eBay where no photo has been included in the listing. Try and take the pictures in natural daylight, and make sure there’s no clutter in the background. If you’re selling clothes, include close-up shots of the label and any detailing on the items. The more photos, the better: eBay lets you include up to 12 for free.

Tell it how it is

A good description also speaks volumes, and saves people having to ask what size it is, if it’s from a pet and smoke free home, etc, etc. If the item you’re selling is still in stock then it’s all the more desirable, so make sure you include a link to the website which shows that it’s still available for full price. I was amazed to see my Ben Di Lisi lamp selling for only a tenner or so less than the price I paid for it from Debenhams a couple of years previous.

Factor in the Fees

You can list up to twenty items in one month for free. After that it’s is 35p per listing. If your item sells then eBay will charge 10% of the final sale price. You will also need to pay a 3.4% PayPal charge if your buyer uses PayPal. These fees are steep but in my view they’re worth it given the reach of eBay, and better than having to find the free time to label then lug all your unwanted stuff to a car boot sale/NCT sale. There’s also postage costs to consider (see below).

Timing is Everything

Consider the timing of your post: the best time for an eBay auction to end is a Sunday evening. I tend to set my listings to go live for ten days at 9pm on a Thursday, which means the auctions end at 9pm on a Sunday. And similarly, for stuff that’s seasonal, sell them in the run up to that season. No-one’s going to want to buy a heavy winter coat in July.

The Customer is Always Right

If the item has any faults, make sure you include details about these in the listing and if possible include photos. There are always going to be people who try to quibble over costs so don’t give them a reason to.

Handle with Care

If the item is valuable then package and post it appropriately. I learnt this lesson the hard way when I sold a watch to someone in London, was rushed for time and didn’t package it particularly well (I had bundled it up in a load of bubble wrap then popped it in a polythene bag). I posted it first class, the watch never arrived and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion the postman guessed the contents from the feel of the packaging and decided to keep it for himself. I had to refund the buyer, and even worse I no longer had a watch to my name. So if you’re going to sell something similarly valuable make sure you use signed for/special delivery.

In terms of buying, (#alwaysenabling), eBay is always worth a look if you’ve spotted your dream leather jacket/designer bed/[insert similar big-ticket item here] but can’t justify the matching big-ticket price. I fell head over heels for this Ercol chest of drawers for the bedroom but at £945 I would never have been able to afford it. So when a set popped up on eBay I jumped at the chance. (The six-drawer chest is no longer available however The White Company still stock the bedside tables which are equally as beaut).

Do you sell (or buy?) on eBay? Have you snapped up any bargains? Or are you an eBay virgin?

If you have any other tips please pop them in the comments box below.

Author: Lisa Soeno
Lisa is obsessed with all things interior design. And Cadbury buttons.
Follow Lisa on instagram @lisa.soeno

25 thoughts on “How to Sell on eBay {Tips for Making Money out of Your Old Frocks and Furniture}

  1. I bloody love eBay. I recently sold all of my maternity clothes on there – I find that they sell particularly well because people aren’t keen to pay full price for things they won’t wear for that long. My latest purchase was a beautiful thonet bentwood chair which the seller had recaned. I’ve been waiting months for the right one to come up.

    Why did you assume that the postie stole your watch? In my experience with parcels going missing, it’s just as likely that the buyer did receive it but fancied getting it for free. With a normal delivery service there is no way of tracking it or proving that it was delivered. I always make sure to use a service which covers more than the value of what I’ve sold in case I need to refund the buyer.

    1. This chair sounds beautiful!

      Re the postie, it was just clear from the communications I had with the buyer that she was outraged that I hadn’t sent the watch. (I had). I promise I haven’t got a thing against postmen 😛

        1. Yes, the receipts are proof of postage but the different postal services don’t necessarily cover the same amount. I think standard is £20 so if it was worth more than that you would be out of pocket.

  2. eBay selling virgin but I buy a lot. Also local Facebook groups for toys. My biggest bargains are POP coats. I actually buy in July for the winter as most people have grown out of them from last winter and need to clear out the space. I find buying in winter makes the item more expensive.
    Normal clothes I’ve found to be horrible quality and badly worn. I’ve only ever bought age 18 month plus where I suppose they get worn more easily.
    I’m scared of buying furniture as I like to see it first and feel quality. Plus I don’t get how people organise delivery for bigger items.

    Liking the mix of articles on here at the minute by the way. Nice and diverse.

    1. I’ve bought a couple of toys for the kids through Facebook pages, real bargains! Interesting point re furniture – apparently chests of drawers are the most searched for item on eBay.

      Glad you’re liking the mix of content on here at the moment.

  3. Love eBay! I mostly pop on clothes that haven’t been worn that still have the label. I got more money than I expected for old Wii games, the ones I didn’t sell are still sitting in a pile somewhere so it definitely is a good way to declutter. I usually try to finish my auctions on a Sunday too as I’d heard that tip before. It’s nice to make a few pounds from things you’ve got lying around the house and not used. I’ve also bought quite a few children’s toys when I’ve been looking for something specific but haven’t wanted to pay full price. It can be so addictive!

  4. I’ve used eBay in the past to sell and had limited success. Id be interested to know how people decide how to price the item and also did was it previously fee free if you started a listing at 99p or have I made that up?! Also is anyone out there using apps such as Vinted or shpock? Are they any cheaper/easier to use than eBay? I’m moving house this year so I’m planning a massive clear out!

    1. I start most of my auctions really low unless I think it’s worth a lot more where I would do the Buy It Now option.

      Would also be interested to hear if anyone else has had experience of Vinted/Shpock x

      1. I’ve used Shpock and gumtree – it’s better for furniture as people search in their area and come and pick it up. Plus you set a price and there’s no charge (cash in hand) but sometimes there is negotiation. I tend to find clothes don’t sell very well no there though, eBay is better for that.

  5. Excellent timing, we’ve just got a mountain of stuff set aside for ebaying. Our second child is due in 6 weeks and I set myself the target of selling enough stuff to pay for the Sleepyhead and new Fjallraven backpack I wanted for a change bag – which I easily reached by selling my old mobile and old ipad!

    Word of warning with phones and ipads, you often get some time wasters with these sales and I had to list the ipad for three times before the winning bidder actually paid for it..

    We’re having a boy this time round which means the three years of girls clothes I have been hoarding can finally go as well. I went through them all the other day and have only set aside the items in good condition or that I think will sell well, the rest have gone to a charity shop. I was thinking of selling the Boden and White Company stuff individually but the Zara and Next stuff in bundles perhaps. For ease really. It was so sentimental going through years of my daughter’s clothes though..

    1. Love a backpack! Yup this is exactly what we did Jennifer, I felt I could justify buying a Sleepyhead Grande because we’d had an eBay clear out.

      Argh the time wasters on eBay! you’re right, they mainly seem to be the electronics-buyers.

      Clearing out the baby clothes is so sentimental. All the memories! Most of Lyra’s have now been given to friends/charity/sold on eBay *sob*. I reckon Next and Zara bundles will do well: I was eyeing up a Next summer bundle of girls clothes on there the other day (around 8 dresses) and it went for £80!

      Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy x

      1. This is really helpful Lisa as am just about to do an eBay and gumtree dump. I was wondering how you go about selling toys on facebook- ie any tips for how to find a toy group in the local area. Also clothes bundles- need to do this- what would you recommend is the going rate for bundles of baby clothes and what kind of categories?! Thanks so much x

        1. Rachel C I’m now going to be really unhelpful as I’ve only ever bought through Facebook – and not sold! And as for the clothes bundles, I thought the £80 for eight dresses was crazy! (there were a couple of other outfits in there too but still!). With the bundles of baby clothes – keep them as bundles of just Next stuff/Zara stuff/whatever. And also keep to the same sizes so bundles of just size 0-3 months/3-6 months/etc. Maybe just work out what the minimum price you’d be prepared to accept for them is and sell them as a Buy It Now? Sorry if you already knew all of this! x

          1. thanks! That’s really helpful, I wasn’t sure about brands etc. and what to bundle. And yes £80 is nuts for some next dresses, am not expecting to get a lot but every little helps! thanks x

  6. I couldn’t be pestered with selling on eBay to be honest. Not meaning to sound preachy but yesterday I took several bags of clothes to my local refugee centre. There was a queue of people waiting for it to open many of them very poorly dressed for the weather. If you want to clear things out quickly, ideal place to donate to.

  7. I haven’t used Ebay for selling for a while. I recently gave three big bin bags of clothes to a charity shop as I couldn’t be bothered with the faff that goes with selling them when most items only go for a couple of pounds.

  8. I’ve sold clothes on eBay before but I find it quite time consuming. If it’s a high quality item that I’ve barely worn then I’ll shove it on there and it’s a bonus if I get anything near the original price for it but most of the time I just take things to the charity shop.

    I sell old furniture on gumtree as I find you get less time-wasters and people are local. I like the fact it’s free to use (they don’t take a cut) and that you can also use it to Freecycle stuff too – got rid of a table and chairs set before we moved within 2 hours of listing them!

  9. I love a bit of eBay last minute bidding excitement and it drives me crazy when people start bidding on things I’m watching too early!! I’ve bought a few baby bits off there including a bushbaby back carrier rucksack which was a bargain at £30 when they’re £150 new.

    For those you can’t be bothered with the faff of selling freecycle is a great way to get rid of stuff as people come and collect from you, it’s especially good for things charity shops won’t take. Baby things go really quickly so if you’re looking to get things from it you have to be quick but I got our oyster pram base and carrycot off there for the cost of uber to get it home!! Just bought a new mattress for it 😀

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