Selling on eBay 101 - A quick guide for selling used clothing, shoes and accessories on eBay

A reader recently emailed me and another commented seeking tips for selling clothing on eBay. I hope I don't come across as teaching grandmother how to suck eggs (since so many of my readers already successfully sell on eBay)... but regardless, here is my version of Selling on eBay 101.

The beginning of my eBay selling adventures

I have been selling on eBay since 2006.  I started to sell bits and pieces when I realised one day that I had no more storage space to add to my rather large collection of shoes (approximately 120 pairs at one point), so I had to get rid of some to justify buying any more.

One of the first things I sold on eBay was a pair of boots that I had been storing under my bed for two years after purchasing them. I recall buying the boots for $8 at one of Myer's generous take-a-further-90%-off-the-reduced-price sales. The boots were quite trendy for their time - a slouchy camel suede stiletto boot, but a little too big for me.  Believe it or not, but the boots sold for $210 after I starting bidding at 99 cents! As you can imagine this really fueled my eBay selling passion and all of a sudden I started eyeing off what else I could sell to make (back) some money. The rest, as they say, is history.

Is selling on eBay worth the effort?

Although eBay is not as lucrative as it once was due to the poor economy and most bidders looking to get a good bargain, you may still find that it's worth your while.  Below is a snap shot of my selling totals from earlier this week:

Based on the numbers above, this equates to roughly $36 dollars per item.  Some may say, that this is not worth the hassle... well I wish I were in their shoes! For me, if it wasn't for eBay, there is no way I could justify continuously replenishing my wardrobe. With three mortgages, car loans and bills to pay, not to mention planning home improvements, an overseas holiday and a family in the not too distant future, eBay is my saviour and I am thankful that people buy my stuff!

Getting started

Before you get too excited culling and photographing your items, I will point out that you need to register as a seller on eBay and also have a PayPal account.  If you do not, it's easy to register for both. Each site provides clear and easy instructions.

Building a reputation before you start selling

If you have never sold or purchased anything from eBay, before you start selling, I recommend that you build a little reputation for yourself. Buy an item or two (not expensive) just to get some feedback.  Having some positive feedback helps potential buyers feel confident that you are a not a troll or a robot and that you are capable of following through with a transaction. If you already do have some feedback as a buyer, then you are good to start selling!

Terms and conditions

You may also like to consider drafting some terms and conditions.  You may include information on payment, postage cost and your policy as to combined shipping and international bidders, keeping in mind that eBay policies and terms and conditions will overwrite these, if they are inconsistent. It's all well and good to make sweeping statements about when you expect payment and threatening to open an 'unpaid item case' immediately if payment is not received; but keep in mind that eBay allows buyers 4 days from auction end to submit payment before a seller can successfully start an unpaid item dispute.

Photographing your item

Always have clear and multiple photographs of your item from all angles.  I usually photograph the garment from the front and the back. I photograph the label and any details including flaws. Details may include the lapels on a jacket, the texture of the fabric, any pockets or zips and buttons. Flaws may include any stains, pulls and holes etc.  I try to take my photographs in natural light.

You want your photos to be the best possible representation of your item. The photos will help protect you against disputes and from receiving negative feedback on the basis that the item is not as described. It's unfortunate, but there are a minority out there who are fraudsters. A person such as this will receive your item in perfect condition, but complain regarding a non existent flaw to try to get a refund. Cover your bases.

I've noticed that some people only ever post stock photographs of the item that they are selling. Although it's nice to see the item how it was originally marketed, I like to see the actual item being sold when shopping on eBay- especially if the item has been used (eBay has recently implemented new policies about this). On this basis I do the same for my bidders when listing my items - clear photos of the ACTUAL item that I am selling. Also be aware that some companies actively protect their intellectual property rights and if caught using their photographs eBay will be notified by the rights owner and your listing will be taken down.

Preparing an item description

There are two schools of thought when it comes to item descriptions... "less is more" and "more is more".  I'm of the "more is more" school of thought.

First. Clean your item! Receiving a smelly and dirty used garment in the post is not pleasant. Do not sell dirty garments.

Be honest about the condition of your item in your description. Don't try to pretend that a flaw isn't there.  If you can see it, so will your buyer. I would rather deal with a buyer who is pleasantly surprised by the condition of my item than one who is disappointed. Look out for deodorant stains, seam slippage, pulls and general stains.

I almost always provide measurements for the item that I am selling. Although providing measurements does not always prevent potential bidders from asking stupid questions about fit, it does prevent 5 questions asking for item measurements.  I take measurements of my items lying flat (e.g. across shoulders, armpit to armpit, across waist, rise, across hips and length).  I always try to provide an inner sole measurement when selling shoes and if the inner sole is inaccessible, then I provide my foot measurement and a description of the fit on me.

Your item has sold. Now what?
  1. Send your buyer an invoice - generated from your eBay sold items dashboard.
  2. Wait for payment.
  3. Once payment has been received, pack (always use tissue paper) and send your item
I am guilty of recycling tissue paper from Net-a-Porter... that's some expensive tissue paper right there!

I hope that this post was helpful for someone out there.

Please let me know if you would like me to write about any other aspects of selling on eBay. For example, have you set your buyer requirements strictly to reduce your number of non-paying bidders? Or how about tips for chasing payment and opening unpaid item cases.  If you never have opened an unpaid item case, you should start, not only will you get back your final value fees (if the buyer does not pay), but it ensures that the buyer requirements tool functions for all.

Happy selling!

June: a month of extreme culling and shopping

I toyed with the idea of commencing this post with my name followed by the declaration that I am a shopaholic... but I will not. I will save this opening sentence for another month.

In June I culled over 30 items from my wardrobe.  My eBay tally from these sales exceeded well over $1,500.

I'm not sure how much I spent on new additions to my wardrobe, but I can guarantee that it was less than the above mentioned amount because I have some eBay proceeds left over.

Pictured below are just some of my purchases.  One is being worn to death, one was culled tonight, one has proven to be less comfortable than I imagined and one has not yet been worn. Can you guess which is which? What I am trying to illustrate here is that 2 years on from commencing my ideal wardrobe journey, I still make mistakes when shopping.

Witchery knit (culled) , Mimco scarf (worn to death), Witchery leather front leggings (still with tags) and A.P.C. booties (disappointingly uncomfortable).

Apart from these purchases, I also bought a chunky Country Road cardigan.  This cardigan was culled tonight, as well as the Witchery knit, after I decided that chunky knits should only be worn by those who are not so chunky.

Also hanging in my wardrobe next to the unworn Witchery leggings, are my unworn Everlane purchases - two silk shirts, four t-shirts and a cashmere cardigan. I'm looking forward to wearing these, but lately, due to the long mentally exhausting hours I've been putting in at work, I grab to wear what's easy and familiar. All the things I wore last Winter... why do I even bother shopping for new stuff?

Images sourced from:, and