Selling things on eBay can be a good job including for those in reentry. You don’t have to go through an interview, there are no background checks, and no endless searching job sites and sending in resumes. You just need an entrepreneurial spirit, a lot of patience and a determination to work hard.
Although many people sell anything and everything on eBay, it can help to have a specialty. That way you can become an expert in certain types of products, know where to find the good deals and become known among the eBay community. Some people specialize in clothes or shoes, others in cameras and still others in collectables. There are even people who mainly sell baseball gloves, including antique gloves that can bring in pretty prices.
Those who have made a career from selling on eBay each have their own techniques, but for the most part they visit discount stores like Ross or Loehmann’s, thrift shops and estate and garage sales, all in the pursuit of bargains they can sell for higher prices than they bought them for.
Just ask Jennie Smith, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and turned to eBay when she lost a job in the insurance industry three years ago.
She began to visit thrift shops in search of the shoes and clothes she buys, and started an eBay store. But for those who might think this is easy, she reminds them that it’s not.
“It’s a lot of work. You have to go and buy the item. You have to inspect it to see that there are no holes or it’s not faded,” she says. “You have to take measurements and pictures of everything and write a description. You have to store it somewhere nice and safe and find it when you’re ready to ship it.” You also have to research similar items on eBay to see how they’re priced in order to be competitive.
If you want to sell on eBay, you’ll have to start out small, gradually working your way up to more items. And you need a place to store the things you handle.
“I started out with just one room and a couple of shelves but have ventured into the hallway closet and the garage. Now I have 1,100 items in my store,” Smith says. “I just picked up 52 pairs of shoes at the Goodwill outlet. Ralph Lauren boots, Aerosoles. Some of the shoes still have tags on them, and I could sell some of them for as much as $80.” She never buys anything that she can’t sell for at least four times what she paid for it.
Although Smith still works part time in insurance, she spends about 40 hours each week on her eBay business, including the time she’s shopping for goods. She also packs between eight and 20 items each day to ship out to her customers, another part of the business that consumes time.
Selling on eBay is not just about picking something up and selling it. You have to ask yourself, would you buy this? Is it good enough to sell, she says.
Although it takes a certain mindset, those who are successful can make a pretty good living. Smith pulls in between $4,000 and $5,000 per month before eBay’s fees, which average 17 percent.
To learn the business, she recommends a website called scavengerlife.com. The site’s podcasts are full of tips and information to help you make a living through eBay, and she still watches them on a regular basis.
Another good resource for learning about selling on eBay is YouTube videos. For example, search on YouTube for eBay selling tips and start with the videos that have the most views. Also, check to see what books about creating an eBay business are available at your public library. Many have books on the subject from the Dummies and the Complete Idiot’s series.
A good way to begin an eBay business is to check out things that you, your family and friends own but may no longer need or want. That can be your initial inventory while you develop your business.
In order to sell on eBay you must set up a PayPal account. To obtain a PayPal account, you need to have a checking account, so if you don’t have one already, you’ll have to first open one. Then you can start taking payments from people who will want to buy the things you sell.
We would greatly appreciate it if any formerly incarcerated people who are successfully selling on eBay would be willing to share some tips and advice with our readers. Please add your comments below.