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Make Extra Money: eBay

pond with trees in background text is make extra money ebay Even Steven Money

What I do is simple. I buy new and gently used men’s clothing from garage sales, discount stores, and thrift stores. Then I take the items I purchase and resell them on eBay for a profit. This is how I made extra money on eBay.

I have been selling on and off since I graduated college in which I started my side hustle with a credit card and then moved on to sell from Miami to Chicago

A few years back I had just moved into the neighborhood and wanted to see what stores and shops were around, I discovered only a few blocks away from my apartment was a nice thrift store.  

Now I have never really been into thrift stores with the exception of buying a classic Blink 182 t-shirt and the occasional Halloween costume, but I was curious.  

This particular thrift store was primarily clothing, I immediately went to the polo shirt section to see what they had to offer and to my surprise, they had some really great brands and like new items.

I came across a couple of golf polo’s that I was familiar with due to my days of caddying for Michael Jordan. I decided to purchase 3 or 4 polos for a total of around $10, one was even a Polo Ralph Lauren.

When I brought them home to my wife she was wondering what I was doing buying used polo shirts to wear?! Besides actually wearing the polo shirts, I had a backup plan for my purchases.

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I was going to sell them on eBay!  She wasn’t buying it and didn’t believe anyone would buy my new found treasures.  

From my previous eBay experience I snapped a couple pictures and listed them auction style for $9.99 and they Sold!  

Fast Forward a couple years and I’m very proud to say I have made enough money selling on eBay to buy all the appliances in our 3-Flat multi-unit home, presents for the wife and me to see comedians Daniel Tosh and Aziz Ansari, and most important this money has helped me towards paying off my student loans.  

So you are probably wondering what’s my secret, how did I sell enough used clothing to do all that!?!?

What Exactly Would You Say You Do Here?

I have worked a few retail jobs growing up including Marshall Field’s and Abercrombie and Fitch, so I tend to know name brands and what looks good and what doesn’t.  

I know what clothes are expensive and what clothes are cheap. Buying a Tommy Bahama polo at Macy’s is expensive and buying a Kirkland polo at Costco is less expensive. I focused on expensive brands.

I started out knowing a good amount about brand names like Polo Ralph Lauren, Nike, and Banana Republic. What I didn’t know I researched through eBay or Google.

For example, when I first saw a nice Tommy Bahama polo shirt I was curious so I looked up on eBay how much the items had Sold for and it was a good amount, so I bought it.  

I knew I could focus on polo shirts since they could be worn year-round in most parts of the country and were expensive items. I also knew the brand names, and a wildcard for me was knowing golf courses, which gave me a specific niche to focus on.

What I didn’t know I learned over time. I created a better understanding of my niche, what was selling and what wasn’t. I would buy a J Crew polo, list it on eBay for a few weeks and see if it sold, I was doing my own market research.  Most important I enjoyed the treasure hunt of finding great items to see how much they would sell for, it was like a game for me.

How Much Money Do You Make?

When I first started out selling on eBay I remember buying 3 Michael Jordan polos from the Nike Outlet, all for $15 each. I remember selling the first one via auction, it was bid up to $50. After making $35 before fees, I listed the others simultaneously and sold each for $30, a $15 per polo profit before fees for a grand total of $65 profit before fees.

Volume

Whether it’s eBay or any other application the amount of money that can be made will come down to volume. I made $65 selling 3 polo shirts, but if I would have been able to buy 100 of these polos and sell them for a $15 profit per shirt, then I would have made $1500.

Unless you have a product that is an easy repeated purchase and can be sold in volume, the results will vary and really depend on how many listings you are putting up on eBay.

During my highest month of sales, I made over $1000 in profit in one month selling gently used and new men’s clothing on eBay. My eBay store had over 150 listings leading up to this month and over 200+ listings during the month.

For me, it all depended on volume. The items I was purchasing were similar in nature:

  • high-quality brand name
  • gently used or new
  • low purchase price, high resale price

As long as I was repeating the process, the amount of money I was making would increase with volume.

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Selling and Selling!

How Can I Get Started?

If you want to sell online and make money, I recommend starting with items you don’t use anymore.

Start with a used pair of running shoes that you wore a few times. Once you sell a few items, you will begin to understand what people are buying and how you can get your hands on those specific items.

Find those items. Whether it’s selling Jordan’s or antique Disney salt and pepper shakers, if you want to buy and sell you will make it happen.

Your mindset completely changes, I found myself no longer going to shop for things for me anymore. Instead, I was looking at how much I could sell the item for. When it happens it’s great you are thinking like a businessman.

Personally, I started with retail stores because of the low risk. I moved on to selling some of my own personal items that I didn’t use.

Selling my own items rekindled my eBay flame and I went back into retail stores and garage sales but primarily making purchases at a few local thrift stores in the Chicago area.

Try this

Go to Marshalls, you know “Never Boring, Always Surprising” and bring 2 things:

  • Phone
  • Money

Here’s what to do next:

  • Shop
  • Look for something that you personally would buy and wear
  • Every time something is interesting, do an advanced search on eBay
  • Pay special attention to items SOLD for 3X or more than the price you are buying at Marshalls
  • Buy it
  • List it
  • Sell it

The only real way you are going to figure things out is if you do them

Nobody starts out in business and knows everything, you work hard and learn as you go, usually from mistakes, but also from things that go exceedingly well, let me give you an example.  

Exceedingly Well

While going through the polo’s at the thrift store I came across a nice Fairway and Greene polo, but I had not seen the logo before, which has become rarer over time.

The logo was a little dog on the front, now I know you can put just about any logo on a shirt and sell it, but I knew this one was different.  I ended up making the $3 purchase, which is about the average cost of items I buy and looked it up extensively online when I arrived home.

What I found was a thrift store treasure, the polo’s sold for anywhere from $100-$150.  I listed my like new Scotty Cameron polo, the dog was a “Scotty” and the logo for the Titleist Scotty Cameron putter which is considered by many to be the best in golf. I listed the polo for $100 and it sold in 30 minutes.

That went exceedingly well, now I don’t know how many $100 polo’s I will sell, but I will tell you that because I knew what to look for I have sold a few $100 polo’s since it’s called learning the business.

Learning from your mistakes  

When I first started selling I put everything on auction and put it at a price that would make me a few dollars.

My auctions started at $9.99 in Week 1, $7.99 in Week 2, and $5.99 in Week 3.

I did this for a few reasons:

  1. I knew and understood auctions
  2. I wanted the money right now or at least in 7 days
  3. It was working and making money

Then I realized this was not the best approach, I was shipping as many as 20 or 30 items Sunday night and all for what making $5 or $6 an item.

I knew that I couldn’t maintain making a few dollars off polo’s each week, something had to change. I listened to eBay Scavengers now called Scavenger Life. They said something that struck a chord, it went something like this:  Whether you sell the item for $5 or $50 it still takes the same amount of time to buy, list, and ship it.  Brilliant!!!

Ask for more money, your worth it.  That’s exactly what I did, I increased the auction prices, instead of $9.99 some of my best items were starting at $24.99 and you know what it worked.

Which was absolutely crazy to me, so if I ask for more money people will still buy my items!

I have learned the business and will continue to learn more about eBay and making money.  I have experimented with prices, brands, shipping, format, templates, listing time, etc and while I’m not quitting my 9-5 to run an eBay store, I am however making money each month by simply buying and reselling items on eBay.

Those were a couple example of my personal experiences on getting started. It’s not a guide it’s my experience. I really believe if you want to get started you just have to DO!

Resources

That was own personal experience but I am certainly not the only person buying and selling on eBay, check out the link for billions of revenue and millions of people selling. Let’s take a look at a few more.

I especially like Gary Vaynerchuck aka Gary Vee the CEO of a 150 million dollar company doing some garage sale arbitrage.

Check out this link from Gary Vee, it’s a 7-minute read but does a really good job of walking you through his process to buy and sell on eBay. He even has a series called “Trash Talk” that I will include here for your viewing pleasure.

Also, make sure to check out Jason Butler over at the Butler Journal, his backstory is similar to mine. Loads of college debt and looking to get rid of it as fast as humanly possible.

He wrote 100 Things to Sell on eBay if you are looking for ideas and also if you are looking to set up your eBay account check out his Beginners Guide to Selling on eBay.  Here’s a video interview as well on how he is making $500 per month on eBay.

Another great and really descriptive article on how to sell on eBay is from Peter Koch over at Seller at Heart, he has a really thorough tutorial on how to sell on eBay. He also gives his 10 best items to flip on eBay for more specific ideas to get started.

You can also go right to eBay they are always looking to help people list items on their platform since that is how they get paid.  Here is a selling basics page that leads to a number of helpful links as well.

Summary

I took my eBay side hustle and made it into an income stream. I don’t use this as my full-time income, but it has turned into extra money each month.  Imagine paying off an extra $300 worth of debt or taking your family on a vacation?  That’s what earning extra income on eBay can do for you. I went from $0 to Part-Time eBay side hustle expert and I believe anyone can do it.  

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