eBay is where I started making passive income online in my late teens. It was the very beginning of my passive income journey and the entry to my career in eCommerce. In my opinion, selling on eBay is easy, inexpensive and a great place to start making passive income online.
You can make passive income on eBay by selling items that you have around your home, by flipping items from garage sales, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, by buying and selling items from your local thrift store, reselling popular products, selling your own creations, dropshipping or selling items wholesale.
eBay is a marketplace and search engine where almost anyone can sell used or new products. With over 180 million active users worldwide (Q1 2019) who are looking to sell and buy things online, you can make passive income on eBay – if you know how to do it smartly. Let’s start with where you can get products to sell online.
1. Find Quality Items to Sell on eBay
First things first, what are you going to sell? Here are six ways to find products to sell on eBay. Some demand little to no financial investment, others my cost something so keep in mind how much you are willing to spend to get started.
Sell Items From Around Your Home
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I started my eBay journey by selling things that were in my home that I was not using. From books to electronics, clothing and nicknacks. In the video above, I share how I recently made $2,000 selling things from around my apartment. I listed everything I sold and for how much in this article which can serve as inspiration.
If you have any old toys, coins, brand-name clothing, cell phones, tablets, computers or any other electronics (even broken), you probably have potential revenue lying right there. In my opinion this is the cheapest and easiest way to get started selling on eBay.
Flip Garage Sale Items
After selling everything I was not using, I started going to garage sales and finding unique products from local sellers. I had the advantage of living in Europe at the time and knowing the North American market would be interested in what I was buying from local (European) garage sales and reselling on eBay USA: antiquities, copper chef’s pots and earthenware.
Feel free to browse local garage sales and see if there are things you could flip on eBay. One way to know if these products are popular or will sell is by looking at recently sold items in the eBay search. I demonstrate how to use this feature in the video above. Even if the video is about Pokemon cards, this method will work for anything you want to sell on eBay.
Search Craigslist & Facebook Marketplace
You can also find cheap things to resell on eBay on Facebook Marketplace, on Craigslist or on Kijiji. For example, you can buy Holiday decorations in bulk on Craigslist, and then sell them separately before the holidays. Buying items in bulk and reselling them individually can take time but is sometimes worth the payout.
For example, I bought an electric bike on Facebook Marketplace for $1,000, used it to go see clients for the last two years, and hope to resell it for $2,000 this Summer. It is very hard to find excellent condition electric bikes under $3,000 in my city, but the $1,000 listing was buried in Facebook Marketplace and I knew I was lucky to see it.
Get Things At Your Local Thrift Store
Thrift stores are great places to get quality second-hand items that can be resold for a profit. You could go to places like ValueVillage, the Salvation Army, your local Church’s second-hand drive, and other Thrift stores alike to find cool items at a very low cost. These places are especially interesting reselling books, shoes and vintage clothing.
Head to wealthier areas in town to find products with higher resale value. For example, I was in Victoria BC one Summer and found some amazing brand name clothes in a local Value Village. The (huge) store was in a rich part of town and truly had amazing, almost new clothes for sale. I picked up a couple pieces I knew would resell well on eBay and flipped them online.
Find Popular Products on Google Trends
Still not sure what to sell or what is popular on eBay? Google Trends and Terapeak are excellent resources to find trending products online and on eBay. Google Trends is a free resource to find trending products. I demonstrate how to use Google Trends in the video below.
But as a quick tip, head over to the site and enter the search term to see how popular it is. If you see an upward trend over time, then the product is more and more popular. A downward trend indicates the contrary. And if you see many peaks and valleys, it’s important to note that indicates the product is seasonal.
Terapeak is a paid solution that provides you with deep insight on trending products on eBay. Ecwid eCommerce also comes out with a trending products on the web article every once in a while for eCommerce merchants. That can be a good place to start to find ideas. But keep in mind if you choose specific products to buy and resell, you will have to budget for it.
Sell Your Own Creations
Of course you could also sell your own creations! A lot of people like to create
Dropship Items (From Local Stores)
Near the end of my late-teens eBay journey, I started “drop shipping” items my own way. I would sell items I did not physically stock and pick them up from local stores when they would sell. There was a risk they would not be in stock so I did sometimes have to go to more than one store to pick everything up, but it was a great way to not have anymore stock.
However, dropshipping as a business model is usually done by a third party. Dropshipping is a business model that allows you to operate without having any physical inventory. In other words, you can sell online without having a warehouse or room to store your products, and without having to physically ship your products to the customers who ordered from you. Orders are fulfilled by a third party dropshipping service of your choice.
You can drop ship on eBay, however, you need to indicate the correct country of origin of the product in the product location section. If the product is located in China, and you are located in the USA, you must state the product is located in China and not the USA. Check with your local authorities and make sure to comply with regulations before heading down the drop shipping path.
Flip WholeSale Products
If you think you have an awesome idea, you could purchase products in bulk (wholesale). However, this is more expensive up-front, and is time and space-consuming. You may not want to do this until you are sure of yourself and have done in-depth market research and testing.
You need to be sure your products will sell at a certain price and your profit margins are high enough in case your competition decides to change their prices to match yours. You will have stock and an initial investment to put down, so you probably do not want to start here.
2. Make Your First Sales on eBay
Before you jump onto the platform and start selling on eBay get familiar with the platform. There are two types of accounts on eBay, personal accounts, and professional accounts.
Create Your eBay Account
Before launching your business, it is imperative to test the platform in order to decide if it’s right for you.
- Create Your eBay Account: Sign up as a regular eBay user. Maybe even purchase a product to test the process as a buyer so you understand how the platform works.
- Create Your PayPal Account: You will need a PayPal account it’s much easier to pay and get paid via PayPal. eBay also offers buyer and seller protection on some products for payments made with PayPal.
- Buy Something: Find an item you would like to purchase. Note that some items have fixed prices so you can buy them directly without a bid. Others are auction-format, so you can place a bid on them. If you only want to see “Buy Now” products, you can filter your search to hide Auctions.
- Sell Something: Sell something using your regular account. By doing this, you’ll be able to test out how the platform works and you’ll start to develop a system for packaging and shipping. Look for an item in your home you want to sell, take photos of it, add a cool description and set up an opening bid, or a fixed cost.
- Choose Your Return Policy: This will enable the buyer to return the product to you in case they are not happy with the purchase. Note that you can select “No returns accepted.”
- Make Sure to Have Tracking: You can use eBay’s shipping calculator. Make sure your parcels are always tracked when shipping them at the Post Office because you will need proof you shipped it in case of a dispute.
Once the sale is made, you will receive a payment via PayPal. Pack the product and ship it to the buyer! After you have completed a couple of sales, you may be ready to move on and start your own business.
Start Selling on eBay with a Business Account
If you would like to transform your personal eBay account into a business account it is fairly easy.
- Be Sure eBay is Right For You: Before you sign up for a business account, it is imperative to have obtained all licenses required in your country to run a business. You should also have a clear business plan. Do make sure to talk to a qualified CPA, attorney and other necessary certified business professional in your jurisdiction before getting started.
- Sign up For a Business Account: Create a new account that will represent your business and select “Business Account” for your account type upon creating the account (source).
- Set Up Your Business Processes: Now that you have a business account, a plan and some products, it’s time to list them online.
- Use Ecwid to Push Products to Instagram & Facebook: Another exceptional method to sell on eBay is to leverage Ecwid’s omnichannel capabilities. As an Ecwid merchant, you can sell your products on multiple sites at once (Facebook Store, Instagram Amazon…). Learn more in this Ecwid eCommerce Review.
3. Start Passive is Selling on eBay
Selling on eBay is mostly an active way to make income. The more your business grows, the more time you’ll have to spend purchasing stock, packing parcels, shipping them and advertising your business. Expect to spend a few hours a day managing your inventory, advertising your items, taking photos and writing product descriptions.
However, you can transform this business model into a very passive one following the tips in the list and video below:
- One way to make selling on eBay more passive is to outsource the work, or part of the work (for example marketing and research) to lighten your workload.
- Another way to make your eBay-related income more passive would be by referring eBay products through their affiliate program.
- You could also make selling on eBay even more passive by drop-shipping.
- And of course, you could hire employees to work for you.
In terms of startup costs, eBay is a marvelous platform to sell on. All you need to get started are some items you do not use from around your home. You can start selling on eBay with no upfront investment.
If you would like to scale your eBay business, you’ll need to invest time and eventually money. Granted, you’ll have a higher revenue and ROI, but you’ll also need to dedicate more of your personal resources. The great news with eBay is that you can scale up your business and get to a point where you can have your own warehouse and people working for you.
Selling on eBay might prove to be a little difficult in the beginning, especially if you’ve never used the platform before. There is a learning curve and you do need to sell products people want to buy at reasonable prices for them to actually sell. However, once you start selling a few products and you get the hang of how things work, you will fall in love with this way of making money online.
Selling on eBay can be extremely time consuming. Between finding inventory, taking photos, creating product descriptions, packaging & shipping products, writing reviews, promoting your business and other miscellaneous tasks, you can expect to spend 10 to 45 minutes per listed item.
That’s why I like to centralise things from Ecwid because you can promote products in multiple places online with less overhead. If you would like to avoid having to pack and ship physical products, you could always drop-ship on eBay instead.
Selling on eBay is not risky if you start small with just a few items from around your home. You can start off by investing a very small amount of time. A personal eBay account does not cost anything either. If you decide this is not for you, you can always quit. Because of the low risks associated with it, selling on eBay is considered one of the best home-based business opportunities to start with.
However, the risks you may face are returns or disputes. Returns are easy to manage if you have a clear return policy (ex. “We do not accept returns” or “Returns are accepted for items in the same condition they were received within 10 days). eBay and PayPal offer seller and buyer protection to help you through any disputes.
Also, always ship parcels with a tracking number so you have proof you shipped your customer’s order. I also block first time buyers because they are the most susceptible to leave negative feedback, request refunds or purchase and not pay.
The great news is that you can sell on eBay all year round. This passive income method is not seasonal at all. The seasonality of your sales will however depend on what you are selling. If you are selling Ugly Christmas Sweaters, they may not be as popular in the summer months as they are in the winter.
All eBay sellers love the fact that they can start and stop their businesses anytime. You can sell for two months, then stop for 10, and then start selling again for 2 long years. You can have full control over your business.
ROI (Return on Investment)
The ROI (Return On Investment) associated with selling on eBay may not astounding. Do not expect to become rich overnight of course (as for any other passive income idea). As stated previously, It’s very important to put focused effort into product research and pricing (with competitive analysis), marketing and more. The idea demands a lot of skill.
But according to WebTrailer.com 35.3% of eBay sellers are making between $10,00 and 100,000 USD per year selling on the platform. The same source indicates that 26.5% of sellers are making $100,000 USD to $1M, and 3.9% are making between $1M and $10M.
Many eBay sellers revealed that they make over $1,000 a month on this platform. We love how entrepreneur Gary Vanerchuck demonstrated how easy it is to make your first 1,000$ on the platform by finding sought products and toys at garage sales.
How can I make $1000 a month on eBay? You can make $1,000 per month on eBay by selling items that you have around your home, by flipping items from garage sales and local thrift stores or by Dropshipping. However, making $1,000 per month on eBay requires skill, dedication, motivation and hard work.
How can I make $1,000 a month in passive income? You could make $1,000 per month passive income by selling on eBay, flipping items on Craigslist, using monetized chatbots, successfully flipping domain names, 3D Printing and with a well monetized Blog, Podcast or YouTube channel.
Is it Easy to Sell on eBay? It is very easy to sell on eBay. However, there are ways to sell on eBay that will save time and money. Some ways to do this include selling products you already have around your home, making a purchase on the platform as a buyer before selling, and lowering your risk of disputes.