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How To Start A Business On eBay

eBay logoIf you’re someone who’s eager to start a business venture of your own, eBay is a great place to do it. I love the online shopping outlet and I’m forever selling clothes that I don’t want anymore in order to earn money to buy new ones. It’s a fantastic little business, and a fantastic place to do it, here’s why.

eBay has a global customers base of 233 million and there is an estimated 178,000 users that run businesses as their primary or secondary source of income on the UK site.

But what can you sell? Well, pretty much anything! eBay has over 13,000 categories to sell stuff in so you’re spoilt for choice!

1. Source your stock well:
There’re tons of things you can do to get the best stock for your eBay shop. You can go from buying wholesale cleaning products and selling them for profit, selling your old clothes or even getting creative and making your own products such as greetings cards, decorative ornaments, and many more.

Don’t forget your margins though, and ensure that your profit is worth the effort that you put into sourcing, selling and shipping your products. When choosing our stock, pick wisely, haggle hard and seek the best deals if you’re going wholesale!

2. Bring in repeat business:
Bringing back buyers again and again is the key to succeeding on eBay. There are many ways you can moneybuild a loyal and happy customer base. For example, personalising your parcels with notes, compliment sips or friendly follow up emails are always a good way to get on the customers’ good side. One of the biggest keys to success is a speedy dispatch time, there’s nothing worse than a parcel being delivered late, especially close to Christmas time. Figure out what prices and stock sells best. If you’re selling better with one product, advertise that more, or if you sell better with a ‘buy it now’ option rather than an auction, then start doing more of that. It’s all about understanding what makes your listings tick!

3. Keep it legal:
If you’re selling on eBay you are dealing with real money. This means you have to register with HM Revenue and Customs as self-employed and pay Type 2 National Insurance contributions. Profit on your business will be subject to income tax, and further National Insurance will be payable via your annual self-assessment form if you operate as a sole trader. Don’t let this put you off though! You just need to keep it legit and HM Revenue and Customs  even have an advice page solely for “e-traders!”

4. Make it clear what you’re selling:
Double check everything that you write from your title to description. A spelling mistake can cost you, literally. One of my favourite examples is a guy who sold a bottle of Allsopp’s Arctic Ale full and corked. Unfortunately for him he missed off the last ‘p’ and sold it as ‘Allsop’s’ meaning that hundreds of potential buyers couldn’t find it when they searched. The bottle was eventually sold for a respectable $304, however when the same product was sold eight weeks later on eBay, with the correct spelling, it went for a WHOPPING $503,300!

5. Create videos:
If you’re finding a way to be a bit more creative, create YouTube tutorials and testimonials on how fantastic your product is, or how to use it even. Doing this proves that you’re the expert, not just a seller.

6. Branch out to different platforms:
It’s not just YouTube, but having a Facebook page for your business or a monthly newsletter will make you stand out from the crowd. It also brings a closer connection with your customers and can ultimately mean that you have the customer loyalty and resources to branch away from eBay and start your own online website.

7. Go and find your own customers:
Instead of waiting for customers to come to you, go and find them by using online tools such as HootSuite, SocialMention and Google Alerts. These websites monitor when someone online mentions a particular thing, for example that they need a new car part. This is the perfect opportunity for you to swoop in and join the conversation by directing them to your e-store (obviously if your business is relatable to that topic.)

So what do you think? Are you brave enough to start your own business online, or maybe keen on just starting by selling your old stuff? It’s not just eBay, the ‘interverse’ is a place heaving with online selling platforms including Gumtree and Amazon. Let us know whether you’re planning to take the plunge, or already have by voting in our online poll or commenting below!


Vicky Chandler (4 Posts)

I'm Vicky, an undergraduate Journalism student at Cardiff University. As well as my studies, I run a blog Lots of Love, Me. and lead the Journalism Society as President . I've interned at a number of publications including Grazia, Stylist and Essentials, and once I graduate my aim is to work in women's magazines. If you have a good sense of humour and getting the low down on celebrity gossip, you need to give me a follow on Twitter!