07/23/2014 05:55 EDT | Updated 09/22/2014 05:59 EDT

How eBay Can Help You Pay the Bills

Selling on eBay can be an exercise in futility -- especially if you don't know what you're doing and why. However, if you just stop looking at the website as just some after-work hobby, you might actually be able to turn it into a real business with good money behind it.


Selling on eBay can be an exercise in futility -- especially if you don't know what you're doing and why. However, if you just stop looking at the website as just some after-work hobby, you might actually be able to turn it into a real business with good money behind it. Knowledge and persistence are the two qualities you need to succeed here. While I can't help you with the persistence part, I can definitely supply you with some knowledge.

Follow these steps and you'll know how to start making money off eBay in no time. Of course, I cannot guarantee that you will make money, but if you keep at it, you will undoubtedly be surprised by the results.

Learn the Basics First

Before even thinking of starting your own business on eBay, you need to familiarize yourself with the site. There are three basic things you need to consider before selling anything -- eBay's requirements, how to list an item and whether your item is allowed on eBay at all. If you already know what you want to sell, be sure to check eBay's Prohibited and Restricted items policy.

In order to list your first item, all you need to do is provide eBay with a valid credit card, pick your preferred payment methods and make your Feedback Profile public. When it comes to payment methods, credit cards or PayPal are the order of the day thanks to their convenience, with personal checks, bank-to-bank transfers or money orders being left by the wayside. That's why I would also recommend becoming PayPal verified by connecting your PayPal account to eBay. You should also make your feedback page visible to everyone in order to build up your credibility and help consumers see whether you're a trustworthy vendor or not.

Once all that is settled, you will want to list your first item. To do that, you should provide a picture and apt description of what you're selling. You should also look up items that are similar to your product and adjust your starting price accordingly and estimate shipping costs. Some form of warranty wouldn't hurt either. Again, look up what other successful sellers have done and imitate them.

Start by Selling Clothes

Now the big question is -- what do you sell? With so many products abound, it's recommended to focus on what you already have first, such as used clothes, shoes and accessories. So, just dig into your closet and try to find a few things you no longer wear yet are decent enough for other people to appreciate. Even if some of them are damaged, you can find a way to repair them -- but don't spend too much money on that to ensure maximum profitability. If you don't have enough clothes to sell, you can go to a used clothing store and search out really good deals, though I recommend doing that regardless of whether you have enough to sell or not. Be sure to create an inventory list to track all your items along with their prices too.

Figure Out What You Really Want to Sell

Once your eBay reputation has grown with plenty of good reviews coming in and a somewhat reasonable income, the next step is to figure out what you really want to sell -- up the stakes, so to speak. The best way to do so is to examine your own passions, as you always want to be involved in something you love and, more importantly, understand. Maybe, as a car expert, you are aware of online databases such as Unhaggle or Canadian Black Book, which you can use as your "secret" weapons to generate good deals. One way or another, you want to sell something that makes sense to you.

Other Tips to Help You Perform Better

There are a few more tips you may or may not want to consider when trying to become a good eBay seller.

One of the things, I cannot recommend enough is taking good pictures of your product to showcase it from as many angles as possible in a well-lit environment. The goal is to let your customers know exactly what they're purchasing. Whatever you do, don't rely on eBay's stock photos -- they are a dime a dozen and often get used by scammers.

On that note, be sure to provide an honest description of the item to. If it's worn out or torn in places, you better mention it! Your honesty will be appreciated and garner you positive reviews. However, you should also temper that honesty with positive wording and a touch of excitement. Even if there are some flaws, you want to overshadow them with all the perks that are there as well (maybe the item is hard to find or the price is lower than usual).

Another good way of pushing certain products is by upselling them. Include a link in the description of a similar yet more popular product in your inventory. That might just be the jolt the "lesser" product needs to sell well.

Becoming friends with eBay sellers who sell similar stuff is an excellent way of growing your business as well -- as long as you're not directly competing. By making friends, you'll be able to exchange links with them in order to upsell each other's items.

My main advice is to continue selling as many items as possible on a regular basis. Keep at it and you will become successful in this arena.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.