Selling on eBay – a Guide

Posted in Second Hand Shopping.

I’m a prolific eBayer and often get asked for advice on buying and selling through the auction site. I recently helped an eBay virgin set up and get selling, so thought I’d put finger to key and share my (limited and a bit amateur, I should point out) knowledge on the subject.

I’ve split this guide into two parts – selling and buying. Up first is the bit that might make you some extra dollar – selling.

Selling your stuff on eBay

Every six months, I have a big wardrobe clear out. Anything I haven’t worn for a while, that no longer fits or that I know I’ll never wear again (hello, poncho) is sorted into piles. One of my piles is for eBay.

High street brands like Topshop, Urban Outfitters, Office and Zara sell really well on eBay, as does anything that can legitimately described as ‘vintage’ (from the 80s or before). Check everything for holes, stains, pulls or tears and make a note of any damage. Wash and iron everything.

Taking photos
Taking decent photos is an important part of selling on eBay. Clear, well-lit, detailed photos make it easy for buyers to see the style and quality of the item you’re selling. Shoot the front and back, detail (like buttons and pleats) and damage for each item. You can use the macro setting on your camera (usually a flower symbol) for extreme closeups. If you’re selling clothing, a dressmakers dummy is great for showing how things fit, but if not, hanging pieces against a plain background will give a clear image.

eBay scans titles and descriptions for keywords that match those used by searchers, so the first rule of listing is – identify your keywords. Try to be as specific as possible when writing a title for your listing. For example, a search for ‘black dress’ brings up 198,733 results, but a search for ‘peter pan collar black dress’ gives 122 results and even better, ‘peter pan collar topshop black dress’ gives just 10. People use these (warning – douchebaggy marketing term coming up) ‘long-tail’ keyword phrases to cut down the number of results they have to sift through, so the more specific you are, the easier your listing is to find.

Do a bit of research before you choose your final keywords – a quick search for a similar item will show you the words other eBayers use and give you a good idea of the ‘buzzwords’ buyers use in their searches. One of the most used and abused words is ‘vintage’. On eBay, everything from a 1960s shift dress to a pair of two-year-old Primark flip flops is ‘vintage’. If you’re selling something that is legitimately vintage, use the word. If it’s something styled to look vintage, use ‘vintage style’. If it’s neither, don’t do it.

I always list for seven days ending on a Sunday evening, which seems to be the busiest time for bidders. Remember that the weather affects bidding – try sell a faux fur coat on a hot April day and someone will get a real bargain. But list it after heavy snow and minus temperatures and, cha-ching!

Monitoring and posting
When your auctions are live, make sure you keep a close eye on them. Potential buyers will message you with questions and you need to answer them quickly and efficiently – communication is one of the things you’re judged on when it comes to feedback.

When your auction has finished and your buyer has paid, get yourself to the post office to send out your (or now, their) item. Postage is a tricky one – lots of buyers now expect very low or even free P&P, and overcharging (even if only by accident) is judged harshly. I keep my postage to £1 for small, light items and between £2.50-£3.50 for heavy things like coats and shoes. I often pay more for postage than I’ve charged, but low postage rates are attractive to buyers and attract more bids, so it’s worth it.

And finally, feedback
In the early eBay days, feedback was toted as the be-all and end-all of selling. One negative and you were out. These days, buyers are much more savvy and know that a less-than-perfect percentage doesn’t necessarily equal a bad seller. Even so, it’s nice to keep your feedback scores high, especially when you’re first starting out.

Leaving feedback for your buyers will encourage them to do the same for you. Remember, sellers can’t leave negative feedback for buyers, so if there’s a problem with a transaction make sure you raise a dispute through eBay. The ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all’ rule applies here – if things haven’t gone smoothly, don’t leave feedback at all.

You are now a fully fledged eBay seller
Welcome aboard! Careful, it’s addictive… you’ll soon find yourself sitting in the empty shell which was once your home, all your worldly possessions being ‘watched’ by other people. Like I said, addictive. Here are my best-ever sales:

  • Vintage faux fur coat – bought for £7.99, sold for £54
  • H&M tea dress – bought for 50p, sold for £25.99
  • Ted Baker wool coat – bought for £2.50, sold for £45.73
  • Vintage Doc Martens – bought for 50p, sold for £21
  • Nine West leather handbag – bought for £5, sold for £32

You can find my eBay shop here.

Have you ever sold anything on eBay? What are your tips for a successful sale?



Firstly, douchebaggy may now become my favourite word, such a beaut. And secondly, Jen, this is such a fantastic guide- i’m a complete ebay phobe so this has instilled a little bit of courage for me to go and try it – thank you! x


Really great tips and advice Jen! I’ve dabbled in selling things on ebay but I plan to sell a lot more in the future so thanks for helping me out 🙂
Rachelle xxx


This is great for beginners, as I’m always telling my friends to try this out but then tend not to be bothered or have the know how, so I’ll point them to this. I’ve definitely picked up tips as I’ve gone along and always try to end my listings on a Sunday even if it ends up being 10pm! I tend to overcharge slightly for postage, mostly as I have no idea how much it costs and it covers paypal fees; luckily no ones picked up on it yet. : )


I wish the people I’ve bought from recently read this, I’ve had a lot of items with annoying little faults that weren’t mentioned in the listing, but it seems like overkill to return them.

I read once that ending your listing on a Sunday was bad for profits, so I’ve never done it! I’ll try it. I’ve got as lot of things waiting to be listed, I just hate doing it so I always have a massive pile.


Even though I consider myself a seasoned ebayer, this is really useful! The amount of times I forget to consider when an auction ends, and it’s like 3pm on a Tuesday – rubbish!

My best ever eBay moment was selling a ticket to a warm-up show at a little theatre for Russell Brand because my friend couldn’t go. I bought it for £10. I sold it for £379. Even though I started the listing at £10, I DID feel like a scalper (but I wasn’t working at the time, so it was actually very needed!).


I am about to list some stuff on eBay so this has come at a very good time! I think evening or weekend ending auctions are good. I once sold some doc martens I bought for £20 for £80, gives you such a buzz haha.


Great tips! I’ve been ebaying my unwanted clothes since I was 14 so have learnt a lot along the way. I think my best ever sale was a pair of “distressed” (ie. old) Converse trainers that sold for £25…not bad considering I’d paid £30 for them and worn them a lot! x

Pearl Westwood

I have to pretty much agree 100%, I am an eBay obsessive, the only thing I can think of adding is always send things recorded delivery so you can prove you posted the item if need be. There are some dishonest people out there and things can go missing in the post so I find it pays to be extra sure.
I always end my listings on a Sunday evening or Wed afternoon these are peak times when people have time to browse.
I wrote a post a while ago with my own tips you might find helpful too:

My best sale was a dress and cape set I bought for £150 sold for £2,200. Do I win!


Jen, thank you SO much for this! I’ve been ebaying for a while, but had a few bad experiences both buying and selling. Since we’ve moved flat, I’ve had a clear out and I’ve got some things I’m just about to iron tonight and list soon 🙂 So, this post came at a very good time for me! haha xx


I have been selling on ebay for a few years but its always nice to hear other peoples tips. You can never have too many! I sell everything, always taking home everyones rubbish haha!
My best sell was a tatty old chunky knit cardigan that my mum got in the early 1990s from Next. She only paid £25 for it then and I sold it for £38 and I got to keep the money! Result!

Raffles Bizarre

Great post, I have been selling on ebay a little bit over the past few weeks, mainly just as a clear out.

In this respect any money I make is a bonus as I will likely throw the things out otherwise.

It becomes a bit addictive eh?

She Draws

Super advice.

I always try to do the best for ebay as it does really pay.

I once bought some vintage cats eye raybans for 75p and sold them for £75. Didn’t quite realize they were worth that much!


brilliant one, i lost my ebay selling virginity last night actually when i eventually gave in to the free listing temptations and am now selling several items of clothing and shoes. i don’t recon i’ll get anything too much from them but every little helps. you made a killing on some of your items, nice one =)

Bow Dream Nation xx


I have always dreamt of selling stuff through e-bay… even the dresses I make in my free time.. maybe now that I have some great tips on how to get started.. :))

Thanks so much Jen.. you’re a star!!!


Love this post, great tips! I always send things recorded delivery as some dodgy people out there! I sold a ugly metal shed for about £350, I paid nothing for it as came with the house when we moved in! only downside is the fees ebay charges, annoys me! for bigger things like furniture, I now use gumtree as its free, but the viewers are smaller!


I am an absolute eBay addict. My problem though, is that I’m too lazy to sell anything & just buy, buy & buy some more. Put it this way – my eBay feedback is 423 (100% positive, obviously!) – guess how many of those is as a seller..? 14. 14! Actually, I feel a bit sick having just seen that. Feedback as a buyer = 444. Oh my God. And I’ve got about 10 things on the way. Bloody hell..

Ok, so this comment has gone off on a slight tangeant – do apologise..!

Lizzy Lips

Sound advice for anyone just starting out. I’m crently selling everythink I own on eBay it’s good to life cleanse. Although I’m hoping to make a bit of doe, I’d be happy to only get a little for items that would otherwise sit gathering dust.

Lizzy Lips

I cannot believe I wrote ‘everythink’ clearly I mean everything! 🙁 I’ll be getting the sack for a mistake like that.


This post is EXCELLENT! And couldn’t have come at a better time, right in the middle of a big clear out!


I am looking to sell some things on Ebay so I will definitely be reading this! I love buying stuff on Ebay but have not dipped my toes into selling so this has come at the perfect time 🙂

Maria xxx


I am new in Ebay. My husband needed to sell his old camera and Ebay is the easiest way we can think of to sell the item quickest. I love to see the price building up.

So after that I tried selling my shoes, my coat, and more of my stuff. I agree, it is addicting!


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