For years and years I taught an online auctioning class (eBay) for our town’s adult education department. Every Wednesday night for 6 weeks we’d meet and I’d explain how to post items on eBay and then how to collect payments and ship the items.
“You will never have to worry about having grocery money again if you know how to use eBay”, I’d tell them.
But over the years, eBay changed a little bit.
I had a buyer who when he opened an ornament dropped it and then told me that I had to return his money. I’ve read a story on an eBay board where a camera was purchased, sent, and when the buyer said it was broken returned it , but in the box was a broken older model.
I’ve seen the many scammer emails that pop up when you get a Paypal account.
eBay didn’t seem safe to me anymore, especially for the elderly. So I stopped teaching the course.
Even though I’ve stopped teaching it, I still believe that eBay is a good way to get grocery money and to build up some extra cash (remember that emergency fund I talked about on Tuesday’s Dave Ramsey lesson?) I still use eBay, it’s a great way to get rid of stuff around the house (let’s face it, we all have too much).
But you have to go into it with your eyes wide open.
Because I’m going to start listing a few items on eBay again (I want to create that first step of having $1000 emergency fund set up), I thought I’d walk you through the process in the event that you wanted to try it. I don’t suggest you jump right in. Follow these posts, follow some auctions, ask questions and *then* give it a try. If you have any concerns you can always cancel an auction or you can always reach out and either I or hopefully someone else who is reading this blog will be able to help you.
First things first:
You’ll need to set up an account on eBay. If you can choose a user name that helps define your specialty if you have one, if not try to stay away from cutesy name – KittyMeow234 may not be the best choice if you want to be taken seriously. My user name is online-auction-mom, it may not have been the best choice but in 1998 when I created my account, it seemed like a good idea.
Next you’ll have to set up an account with Paypal. You’ll be asked for bank information. It’s okay. Paypal and eBay are *very* secure sites. If they lose their security, they lose their business and that translates to a lot of money.
I had a couple who took my course drop out on the first day because they would be “damned if they gave their credit card number to eBay.” I tried to explain that it was as safe as ordering something on Amazon, but they wouldn’t budge.
You can’t sell on eBay or have an eBay account if you don’t give them the proper information. They want to be paid as much as you do.
Paypal will verify that you are the owner of your account by making a tiny deposit into your account, once you confirm that deposit you are ready to go.
NOTE: Here’s the tricky part. Once you have signed up for eBay and Paypal, you’ll probably start getting scam email telling you that there’s a problem with your account, etc. Never, never, NEVER respond to a request from eBay or Paypal by email. Even if you know there is a problem, go directly to the website, log in and then look into it. Chances are very good that there isn’t a problem, someone is just trying to scam you. One more time, Never, never, NEVER respond to a eBay or Paypal request by way of email. You remember that and you’ll be fine. Okay, we clear on that?
Once you have your account, the fun part begins. Quickly look around your room and find a few things that you wouldn’t mind getting rid of. Start off with small items that are easy to ship. I had one woman in a class who had inherited her aunt’s possessions after she had died. There were all sitting up in her attic. I asked her to bring a few pieces into the class so we could work on getting them up on eBay. She came in with two pieces of Roseville pottery that she “just grabbed.” She had no idea as to the value of that “stuff.” That woman had a fortune sitting in her attic. She became very interested in our class after that!
Likewise, you also have items that are desirable. Items that sell well include:
- Holiday decorations
- Kitschy things
- Vintage kitchen items
This week, we’re only concerned about doing research. Just like Google, eBay does its searches on keywords. Those are words that best describe your item. For example, I recently acquired this beautiful item:
I’m not sure what it’s called, I’m not sure how to price it. So I let eBay help me. Chances are someone somewhere has already sold something like this.
I try searching for: “Wood nutcracker” (you leave space between the keywords, don’t use a comma) and I get over 2,000 results (damn those Christmas nutcracker soldiers!) so I try to narrow the search. This time I try –“Vintage wood nutcracker face”. The returned results are much better. Now I click on “Sold Listings” under the Show Only Category on the menus on left side of the screen.
Bingo. Not only is there a nutcracker *exactly* like mine but one recently sold for 24.99. That’s good information that I will use going forward.
We’re going to have to take this slowly, there’s a lot to learn, but if you want to try to list items on eBay following these lessons, then your first week’s assignment is to:
- Create an eBay account
- Create a Paypal account
- Find things around your house that you want to get rid of and start searching on eBay to see if those items are being auctioned. Don’t forget to check the “sold listings.” Keep a notebook with the item name, keywords used, prices and how much was charged for shipping.
If you want to follow my auctions go to this online-auction-mom link. I’ll be listing the nutcracker in just a bit. Let’s all get rid of our excess and get a little extra cash.
Next week I’ll write about how to create an auction listing.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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