Lesson 1351 – Online Auctioning – lesson 1

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:

  • Vintage
  • Toys
  • Antiques
  • Holiday decorations
  • Clothing
  • 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:

  1. Create an eBay account
  2. Create a Paypal account
  3. 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

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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Filed under eBay

3 responses to “Lesson 1351 – Online Auctioning – lesson 1

  1. Keith Alexander

    Wendy you need to elaborate on how to “go directly to the website, log in and then look into it.” explain how…….

    People need to fully understand they should not follow any links provided in any ‘suspicious’ email which may appear to “go directly to the website” instead they should access the site by typing the sites known correct url into their browser or more typically by using the correct url saved in a bookmark then log in.

    Also I do not think you summary of Ebay was strong enough.
    There is a dark side.
    It has been for many years the biggest fencing operation in the world for stolen and pirated goods, If you are advocating newbies using Ebay as buyers you really ought to protect yourself from recriminations by covering that off.

    For Sellers there are other cons merchants on Ebay similar to the ‘item broken or not described brigade’ that you mentioned. It may not have happened to you ever but I personally never accept Paypal for collected items any more. Twice I have had an item collected and later the buyer has filed an Item not received dispute through Paypal – without being able to provide proof of postage Paypal will always find in favour of the buyers and give them a full refund from your online credit card and that is the primary reason Paypal insist on having a credit card on file rather than or as well as a debit card so that they can do charge backs for these scammers.

    Lastly you should mention fees so that seller can make a judgement call when making any listing. These have been increasing steadily over the years and now Ebay and Paypal can easily equate to 20% of the sale price for some types of item.

    • Wendy Thomas

      You bring up some good points. The problem with trying to do this online is that I can’t see the readers’ faces. I don’t know when they are confused. I’ve been getting a lot of good comments and questions here and on Facebook and I’ll do my best to address them.

      My goal is to help the average newbie who might have things around the house they’d like to exchange for money on eBay.

      Please stick around and continue to let me know when things need more explanation. Many thanks,


      On Fri, Jan 8, 2016 at 4:16 AM, Lessons Learned from the Flock wrote:


  2. I have sold many, many items on eBay over the years, everything from vintage stainless silverware to Franklin Mint collectibles. I’ve never had a problem, and I always ask for a review rating after every transaction. You can also do “pickup only” for large items. Fees are not that high if your volume is low.

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