Is It Worth Selling on eBay? [2024]

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eBay is dead. That’s what the alarmists want you to believe. But it’s not – IF you take the right strategy.

Look, in the most recent 3 years of data, Americans spent $1.7 trillion online.1 eBay is the 2nd most visited e-commerce site in the USA, right after Amazon.

So is it worth selling on eBay? Heck yeah! In fact, if you skip eBay, you’re missing out.

But it’s easy to screw up selling on eBay, which is why some sellers think eBay is over. It’s not. 

It’s just changed. 

And there is ONE type of product I do NOT recommend you sell on eBay.

I’ll explain how to get this right.

Is It Worth Selling on eBay?

Yes, selling on eBay can definitely be worth it when you have the right products and approach. eBay is ideal for sellers of collectibles, electronics, fashion, and refurbished goods. 

For example, I’ve personally purchased gently used designer shoes on eBay. The seller made a nice profit, and I felt like a fashionable genius for not spending full price on fancy Ferragamo shoes.

eBay’s reputation as an online auction house makes it a go-to spot for buyers looking for items with a bit of history, uniqueness, or rarity. 

For example, if you have vintage clothing, rare stamps, or first-edition books, eBay could be an excellent choice. You can find enthusiasts who are actively searching for these unique treasures. 

This is why it really helps to know what flips. Because you flip items that you buy for cheap (or are limited edition) to people who are willing to pay more. A good example are designer sneakers like Air Jordans. 

eBay is also a great platform for selling high-demand consumer electronics or parts, thanks to a customer base looking for deals or specific models that may no longer be available at their local store. 

I do NOT think eBay is great for selling vehicles. I’ll explain why in a bit. But with everything else you should be good to go.

Here are a few things to consider when trying to figure out, “is it worth selling on eBay?” 

  • Unique inventory: Do you have access to rare, vintage, or collectible items? These perform well on eBay.
  • Brand recognition: Are your items from well-known brands? Branded goods attract more search traffic and higher bids. 
  • Condition: Is your product new, like-new, or refurbished? High-quality items receive more attention and command higher prices.
  • Niche market: Do you specialize in a niche where eBay shoppers commonly buy? Certain niches (like camera equipment or sports memorabilia) have loyal customer bases. 

But you’re really asking about profitability when you wonder is selling on eBay worth it. The exact profitability depends on what you’re selling, the brand, the condition of the items, and how well you manage your selling fees and shipping costs. 

It’s not uncommon for sellers with highly sought-after goods to see strong profit margins, particularly if they’ve sourced their inventory at lower-than-market prices. If you sell more common items, the market will be more competitive, and profit margins slimmer. 

I think this eBay seller explains it perfectly. (He mainly sells perfume and cologne.)

A person shares their positive experience selling stuff on eBay since 2001.
This veteran eBay seller has been selling on eBay for over 20 years. He says selling on eBay is totally worth it, BUT you should diversify and sell on other platforms, too.

Basically, what’s changed is that eBay used to be a monopoly. But now you’ve got options (that’s good!) such as Etsy, Amazon, Mercari, and more.

Other veteran eBay sellers say, “Hey, eBay is great, but you should really make your own store.” Use eBay to attract new customers. But if you want full control, have your own e-commerce site. 

This is the exact strategy I preach here on Touchdown Money. You want to be in control of your destiny. So, use big sites like Instagram, TikTok, eBay, etc., to get attention. But what if they change their algorithm or block you?

That’s why you need to own your online real estate, not rent. Own your own site on trusted business web hosting like Shopify or Squarespace

Own your email list of customers. (Check out the best email marketing software, such as ConvertKit.)

So, is it worth selling on eBay? Yes, but be smart about it.

Pros and Cons of Selling on eBay

Every marketplace has its quirks. Before deciding whether it is worth selling on eBay for you or your business, check out these eBay pros and cons.

Pros

  • Large customer base: eBay has 135 million active users worldwide.3 (Whoa!) Skipping eBay makes no sense when the audience is that big.
  • Niche markets: eBay is famous for its strength in specialty markets. If you’ve got collectibles, vintage products, or rare finds for sale, you gotta be on eBay.
  • Flexible selling formats: You can choose between auction-style listings, which can drive up the price of high-demand items, or fixed-price listings for more predictable sales.
  • International reach: eBay makes it pretty darn easy to sell and ship internationally.
  • Seller protections: eBay has policies in place to protect sellers from fraudulent buyers and to help resolve disputes. eBay has been around for nearly 30 years. They know what they’re doing.

Cons

  • Fees: eBay charges insertion fees, final value fees, and sometimes transactional fees, which can reduce profit margins. All platforms charge fees. That’s how eBay makes money. You make money by tapping into their huge audience.
  • Competition: With so many sellers in the competitive marketplace, prices of common items are sometimes driven down. Try not to sell common items. Sell hard-to-find or unique items.
  • Customer expectations: Buyers on eBay often expect bargains and may haggle over prices, which can be challenging for sellers aiming for higher profit margins.
  • Risk of scams: While eBay has protections in place, scams still occur, and sellers must watch for fraud.

How To Start Selling on eBay For Beginners

Selling on eBay can be an exciting opportunity to reach a wide audience and grow your business. Here is a step-by-step guide for eBay beginners:

The official eBay 'Create an Account' webpage.
Create a new eBay account or log in through Google, Facebook, or Apple. 

1. Create an eBay Account

If you don't already have one, sign up for an eBay account. You'll need to provide some basic information and set a password. There are two options:

  • Personal: For selling individual items every once in a while.
  • Business: For more comprehensive, frequent listings.

The business account will need more specific information, including things like business name, type, and address. 

2. Set Up (or Update) Your Profile

Customize your profile by adding a user ID, profile picture, and a bio. Personalization builds authenticity, credibility, and trust with potential buyers.

A screenshot of eBay's rules and policies webpage.
Understanding eBay’s rules and policies will help you avoid penalties or additional fees. 

3. Review eBay's Selling Policies

Before listing items for sale, get familiar with eBay's selling policies and rules. This includes items not listed as prohibited (but fun), like lockpicking devices and alcohol (except wine). And you should read the shipping guidelines.

4. Research The Market

Unless your product is incredibly niche, there will be competitors. Check out what similar items are selling for on eBay to gauge pricing and demand. 

Remember to check completed listings to see final selling prices instead of initial auction numbers. 

A screenshot of eBay's 'Start your listing' webpage.
eBay’s listing match engine helps speed up the process.

5. Create a Product Listing

Click ‘Sell' at the top of any eBay page. The platform will prompt you to describe your item by entering things like:

  • Brand
  • Model
  • Identifying numbers (ISBN, MPN, VIN)

eBay will search for pre-made selling templates to help create your listing quickly. If your item doesn’t match anything, click “Continue without match” and move on to the next step. 

6. Specify The Condition and Add Details

eBay has four different categories that every item is sorted into. It depends on what you’re selling. But as an example:

  • New with box (brand new, unworn, defect-free with original packaging)
  • New without box (brand new, unworn, defect-free)
  • New with defects (brand new, unworn)
  • Pre-owned (used or signs of wear)

Select the one that applies to your product while disclosing any defects or other issues. Be honest. Misclassifying your items can lead to poor feedback and penalties, and you won’t be able to sleep at night because you know you’ve been a jerk.

Don’t be a jerk!

I bought my designer shoes knowing they were in excellent condition on the outside but very slightly worn on the inside. Knowing what to expect, I didn’t complain. I was happy with the discount, and the seller was happy that I was an easy customer.

Were the shoes I wanted rare? Not really. What made them kind of rare was that my feet are a weird size. They’re wide like flippers on the proud and mighty walrus. That made them a great sale item on eBay.

A screenshot of eBay's seller pricing page for a listing.
Is it worth selling on eBay? Only if you set a price with a healthy profit margin.

7. Choose a Listing Format

Should you sell with eBay Auction or “Buy It Now”? 

There are benefits to each eBay selling method.

Auction

  • eBay auctions can increase the price. Auctions can bring in more buyers. That’s great! You want to start a bidding war for your precious Fart Machine.
A listing of a Fart Machine No. 2 for sale on eBay.
This eBay seller of novelty items is making money by listing their fun products with excellent reviews.

If you’re looking into how to make money as an attractive male, it’s not by selling flatulence in a box. If you’re looking into how to make money as an attractive female, eh, ya never know! Some guys are crazy enough to buy anything from you!

  • eBay auctions can motivate eBay buyers to purchase faster. They don’t want to lose the items to another customer!
  • Auctions make the most sense for hard-to-find or uncommon products.

Buy It Now

  • You don’t have to pay close attention like you do with an eBay auction.
  • With eBay Buy It Now, you know the price you’re getting. With an auction, you might get less money than you want.

8. Set a Price

Here’s where you decide is it worth selling on eBay. Based on your research, set a competitive starting price for auctions or a fixed price for buy-it-now listings. Remember to account for eBay's fees—you’re trying to make money, not lose it!

A screenshot of the shipping costs estimate calculator on eBay.
eBay shipping options will auto-populate for your region or country. 

9. Determine Shipping Details and Payment Method

Choose a shipping cost and method. International shipping or free domestic shipping can attract more buyers. For payment, eBay often recommends PayPal for its security and convenience for both sides.

10. Finalize Your Listing

Review your listing to make sure it’s completely accurate. Even a silly spelling or grammar error can make eBay buyers think twice. They might think you’re unprofessional. 

HINT: Use eBay's listing preview feature to see your listing from a buyer’s perspective.

You can promote your eBay listing for a small fee. This makes it show up more frequently in ebay search results.

Be aware that some people click on eBay-sponsored listings, but some don’t. A study by the School of Business at the University of California, Riverside found that many people actually skip over sponsored product advertising on major platforms like eBay.4

Alternatives To Selling on eBay

You’re missing out if you don’t at least list your stuff on eBay. But, you should diversify and also sell on eBay alternatives.

Your Own eCommerce Store

I think this is the smartest move you can make. In addition to eBay, you should have your own e-commerce website. It’s not scary like it was back in the olden days of old people. It’s actually easy now. 

You can get set up on Shopify really fast.

Extra: Check out the best web hosting services and best small business website design.

The main benefit to your own site is you own it. eBay has the huge audience. And they make you pay fees to access it. eBay can also shut you down or bury your listings if their algorithm turns against you. 

I’d 100% be on eBay, BUT I’d also have my own site. And I’d promote the heck out of it.

Your own e-commerce site is a great business to start with 10k, it’s a great way how to turn 10k into 100k, how to double 10k quickly, or actually you can start for under $500 if you start small.

Plus, when you have your own site, you can list it as an online business for sale. That’s how you make millions of dollars instead of how to make 10k a month, how to make 20k a month, or how to make 30k a month.

Sell Jewelry on Worthy.com

If you specialize in high-end jewelry, Worthy.com is an attractive alternative to eBay.

Worthy is a top site to sell valuable jewelry (diamonds and gold) and watches (Rolex and more) through secure and transparent auctions. 

Again, I strongly recommend being on multiple platforms to maximize your online income. Read my Worthy review to learn more.

Sell on Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace makes it easy to reach local customers. The lack of listing and selling fees makes it attractive. Integrating with Facebook profiles adds trust. Check out how to make money on Facebook.

Become an Amazon Seller

An Amazon seller can target the biggest customer base in the USA. 

However, this convenience comes with higher fees and competition. Amazon often has stricter seller guidelines, too. Use Jungle Scout to get started as an Amazon seller.

Here’s how to make more money as an online seller or completely remotely.

Common Questions About Is It Worth Selling on eBay

Is It Worth Selling Clothes on eBay?

Yes, it’s worth selling clothes on eBay, especially if they're brand name, vintage, or unique pieces. I’ve personally bought clothes on ebay. The seller made a nice profit and I got a sweet discount compared to the retail price. 

This is why I recommend selling products online as part of my list of low-cost business ideas with high profits.

Here are more ideas if you’re wondering, “What can I sell to make money?” Selling clothes on ebay is one of my favorite business ideas for women, or anyone really.

Is It Worth Selling a Car on eBay?

Selling a car on eBay is actually the one item that has bad reviews. Most sellers suggest using Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to sell vehicles.

Is It Worth Selling Coins on eBay?

Yes! eBay is a terrific platform selling anything rare or unique. Coin collectors flock to eBay to find what they need. Yes, they flock. I haven’t flocked in a while. But I do flock, I’m a wild motherflocker.

Is It Still Profitable To Sell on eBay?

Yes. Many sellers find eBay profitable, particularly if they are offering niche products. You’ll have the most success making a nice profit on eBay if you’re selling hard-to-find or unique items. 

Remember, sometimes you’re selling something kind of common, but in rare mint condition or in an uncommon size, like the extra wide shoes I need to accommodate my horizontal-shaped feet.

Selling on eBay or an e-commerce site like Shopify is one of the most profitable online businesses

What Is The Downside of Selling on eBay?

eBay has fees and intense competition, which may not be true of individual e-commerce stores or other marketplaces. Still, eBay is the 2nd biggest e-commerce company in the USA, right after Amazon. So selling on ebay is almost always worth it. 

Can You Really Make Money Selling on eBay?

Yes! People continue to make money by selling on eBay. The only products I don’t recommend selling on eBay are vehicles or very common items that anyone can easily buy on Amazon or Walmart.  

Selling on eBay can be a legit way how to make money fast.

And ebay selling is also a great way how to make money online for beginners.

Here’s

Is Selling on eBay a Waste of Time?

No. If you do your research, create attractive listings, and target a lucrative category, selling on eBay is very profitable. Making your bed is a waste of time (HOT TAKE!), but making money online by selling on eBay is totally worth it.

Should I Sell on eBay or Amazon?

Yes, you should absolutely sell on eBay unless you’re selling vehicles or very common items that anyone can find on Amazon or Walmart. It’s actually smart to sell on both eBay AND Amazon. Reach more people. Some people only shop on eBay, while some only shop on Amazon, while some only shop at Walgreens at 3 am while drunk and eating Taco Bell. 

The key is to be everywhere you can so the most people can find your product listing.

Is Selling on eBay Free?

Regular eBay users get 250 listings per month without an insertion fee. After that, a variable fee is applied to each listing, depending on several factors including category and price. 

eBay Store owners will get even more free insertion fee listings, depending on the subscription plan they purchase. eBay Store subscription plan prices start at $7.95/month. 

Is Selling on eBay Easy?

Starting is easy, but successful eBay selling requires research, commitment, and good customer service. The best thing to do is to get started and see if you like it. 

If you never try it, you’ll never know! 

And it would stink if you could’ve been a rich online seller in an alternate universe, but in your universe, you just stayed on the couch wearing the same sweatpants for 20 years.

eBay Selling Fees?

eBay charges insertion fees, final value fees, and optional promotional upgrade fees. eBay fees aren’t fun but they’re actually worth it. Because eBay is how you reach millions of customers. 

You have to spend money to make money. 

And it’s not much money. So it’s worth trying.

Also, remember that when you accept credit cards for payment, the credit card company takes a percentage. This is just part of doing business on the internet. 

On the other hand, when you have a business like being an eBay seller, you can qualify for the Best Business Credit Cards. I use business credit cards to pay for my online business expenses. Then, I get cash back or travel points for free flights and hotels. I love it. It’s like a secret perk of having an online business.

Is Selling on eBay Safe?

Yes, eBay provides seller protections and systems to minimize risk. Ebay has been in business for nearly 30 years. If ebay wasn’t safe for sellers, they’d be out of business by now. However, don’t be a doofus. If a potential customer says they’re a Nigerian prince who will pay you with many golden toilets if you just give him $47 today, don’t do it!

Related:

Sources:

1 – https://umasslawcdc.sites.umassd.edu/2023/05/16/brand-protection-in-the-new-age-of-e-commerce/

2 – https://www.similarweb.com/blog/sales/selling-to-ecommerce/top-ecommerce-companies-usa/

3 – https://www.yaguara.co/ebay-statistics/

4 – https://business.ucr.edu/news/2023/11/28/online-consumers-shy-away

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About Scott Lieberman

Scott Lieberman is founder of Touchdown Money. Scott has been making money online for over 20 years. It's allowed him to travel the world while working remotely. Scott is an expert in online business, digital marketing, credit card reward programs, and content marketing strategies.

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