Thursday, September 15, 2016

What are the Pros and Cons of Selling Online and on eBay and Etsy

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

This is the first of two posts.  I'm going to discuss the Pros and Cons of selling online as well as the Pros and Cons of selling things locally.  I am mainly going to discuss what I consider "The Big Three", but please be aware there are many different places you can sell items on the Internet.

I've been selling on eBay for 18 years, and so I have a few years of experience under my belt.  I was a "picker" from the time I was a child.  One of my first eBay sales was a book from the 1940s I picked up at a garage sale for a quarter when I was about 8 or 10 years old.  I had to wait for eBay to come on the scene, and then when it did, I sold the book I picked up thinking, "This looks like it might be worth something" for $90.  So I've had an eye for antiques, collectibles, and the unusual since I was a child.


One of the things I have liked most about selling online (eBay, Amazon, and Etsy) is that I can list things when I have the time.  One time I was waiting on my husband and I was actually listing items while I was sitting in the car waiting on him.

You have a worldwide audience.  Over the years I have sold to places such as Bahrain, Hungary, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, Brazil, and more.  I have also sold to every state as well as territories such as Puerto Rico and Guam.   I happened upon 50 of the best Mexican DVDs one time and while they would have taken forever to sell locally where very few people speak Spanish, I sold them very quickly, and most of them sold to Mexico.  For these, I did have someone translate my basic listing into Spanish for me and I made my listing bilingual.   I am pretty sure a few of my customers didn't speak English at all, but I used Google Translate and had no difficulty in completing the sale!

You can reach more niche audiences which can cause items to sell extremely high.  I had a sticker collection when I was growing up, and one time someone called and asked if I could bring it to her house so we could do some crafts with it.  I told her no because I had sold a single sticker for over $50 and I didn't want to use my collection for crafting, I would rather buy new stickers.  She couldn't believe that a scratch and sniff sticker had sold for that much money.  There are a number of collector bases that don't have lots of fans, but their fans are very committed and will pay what seems like a lot of money for an unusual or hard to find item.

I like the seller support that eBay offers.  Many times when I have an issue with a buyer, I can contact eBay and they will do all they can to help me out.

Transactions done through Paypal offer both the buyer and seller a level of protection that you don't get in sales that take place in person and in cash.


Fees can seem high.  However, if you were to have a brick and mortar store, you would be paying rent, electric, heat, etc.  So, I figure it evens out.

Some items are too heavy to really sell online.  Not that you couldn't, but by the time a buyer paid for shipping they wouldn't want to pay much for the item.  On eBay, you are charged fees on the shipping costs as well.  This started because so many people were beginning to try and get around fees by listing something for a penny and making their shipping and handling costs the price of the item with shipping added.  So, to prevent this, eBay started charging fees on shipping.  (However, if you list your least expensive method of shipment first, that's the one you will be charged fees on, even if someone wants something overnighted.)

I am not as big on the seller support that Amazon offers.  I have had to contact them before, and -- at least at that time -- they wouldn't allow contact via phone, only through e-mail.

Unless you have the Paypal Debit card, there can be a lag time between when a customer pays for something and you get paid.  Personally, I prefer to use credit cards and earn rewards, so I usually only need money in my checking account for credit card payments and bills I cannot pay online (such as my water bill.)  This isn't a problem to me, but it could be to some.  *Note, Amazon deposits money directly into your bank account and does not have immediate access to it, but this usually only takes a couple days.*

You need to have packing supplies on hand.  However, you can get free packing supplies from   I highly recommend this two in one tape dispenser  and a digital scale that will weigh smaller weights through heavier ones.  I would recommend you have these before you list anything online, so there are start up costs to selling.

Botton line of "Is it worth it to sell online" or "Is it worth it to sell on Etsy", my answer is sometimes.  If it is an item you don't want to ship,  or wouldn't be worth the time to list, sell it locally.  Needless to say, since I have been selling on eBay for  18 years, my answer is an overwhelming yes that it is worth the time and the hassle for many, many items because for me the extra amount I get by selling online really makes this a great option.

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