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!


  1. Good tips, I do the same on my listings.

  2. You've confirmed a lot of what I do - I just need to get round to ebaying my stuff that's all. It's not hard, it's just a little tedious and once you get the ball rolling, it's really not that bad. L.A.Z.Y. I think that's me.

    1. It's just finding the motivation. My motivation is having some spending money that I can spend guilt free.

  3. this is so helpful! I've been selling on ebay for years too and do most of those already, but such a good resource for those not sure x

  4. This is great! I do all of the things you've listed here :)

    Also, I didn't realise it wasn't clear to all sellers that they should clean items before they sell. I was once sold a white blazer with AWFUL tan marks and deodorant marks on the underarms. When I contacted the seller she claimed "I don't have time to clean everything I sell". I wanted to reply "Well you should!"

    1. PS - I'm also guilty of recycling tissue paper. Why pay for it when you get an abundance of it every time you buy something online??

    2. Kay I have been really lucky with the stuff I have bought on eBay - nothing dodgy yet *touch wood*

  5. I definitely agree that eBayers are looking for deals now, myself included. I would probably be hard pressed to buy a used item at even 50% off the retail price, whereas I used to pay that. On the flip side, I have a ton of nice designer vintage shoes that I need to clear out but doubt that I can get more than $50 because most buyers are just like me. It is hard to motivate yourself going to take nice pics and post them all, go the post office numerous times, and then pay eBay their cut when you are left with so little.

    You are making me snap back into reality though- I mean come on, am I really so wealthy and my time so valuable that I can't put in a little work for $30? Obviously NOT.

    1. Yep, every little bit adds up!
      It surprises me sometimes exactly how much I sell and thankfully so, otherwise I would not be able to justify the amounts I spend on new stuff.

  6. I think this may well be my very first comment on your wonderful blog - and on anyone's blog for that matter hahaha - but I just wanted to say thank you for your recommendation on checking out Sussan - I will go have a look this afternoon!

    And another thing - AMAZING post you have here, so helpful and generous of you to share! Sometimes I do question whether eBaying is worth the effort and time but seeing all those proceeds come in (and my house much less decluttered) makes it very worth it! I thought I was the only person in the world to recycle tissue paper too hahaha. NAP are the best because there's so many of it haha!


    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees the value in selling on eBay (or via some other platform). Thanks for stopping by and keep up the good work on your blog :)

  7. Hi, Thank you for sharing this informative content that you've shared. I really had a great time reading this. Anyways, I'm looking forward to see more stunning post about used shoes just like what Boex does. Thanks!