Saturday, January 11, 2020

How to Price Items on eBay -- a 20+ year seller shares her secrets

This post contains affiliate links.

I've been selling items on eBay since 1998.  My current account was created in 2003 and merged into my first one, but I still have over 21 years of experience selling.

What are my best tips and secrets for pricing an item?

First, check eBay for completed listings of the item you would like to sell.   This will give you a good idea on what people have been asking for their items.  Second, click the box for "sold items".  This will tell you what people have been asking for their items.  Look at the top priciest items -- are they auction or fixed price?  I tend to list fixed price because I feel that I can ask higher prices and always add best offers and run sales.  When did the item sell?  Christmas sells all year long, but if you are selling in August, you might see lower prices on items than you would after Thanksgiving, so this is another reason I like fixed price listings -- I charge Christmas prices in January.  In fact, January is a huge time for crafters to buy Christmas patterns as they are planning for next year.

It is at this step I decide if I can make enough to make listing worth my time.  eBay fees are not exactly cheap, but they do allow for a world wide audience.  If I can't make about $10 profit, I won't list an item.

I generally price my items a bit above what the highest has sold for on eBay.  I have these things going for my sales:
  • I am an experienced seller (20+ years of experience)
  • Great feedback
  • I ship worldwide (many people don't)
  • I am willing to wait for the right buyer.
  • I give 10% of all my sales to charity.  This helps sales.  You can read why here.
For items I can't find the exact item, I will search comparable listings.  Say I have a collectible for Florida State University, but I can find something similar for Vanderbilt.  Because Florida State has a bigger fan base due to Football, I would charge more than the item for Vanderbilt.  Items for schools that have die hard fans often will sell better than a school with no football team, such as New York University.  

I found what I could tell was a vintage drinking glass for the Nebraska Cornhuskers one time.  I couldn't find anything like it online.  So I decided to list it on auction, and listed it at the lowest I was willing to take.  From my research I figured I could get at least $30 for it.  Some of the people who collect Nebraska items want everything, and after searching eBay, Pinterest, and Google, I couldn't find any drinking glasses just like this.  So I listed it with good photos.  Seven days later, it sold for over $50.  The buyer sent me several photos of his Cornhusker room with hundreds if not thousands of items licensed by the University of Nebraska.  I could have easily thought, "It's just an old drinking glass" and put a $9.99 buy it now on it.  But I decided to research and it paid off -- it sold for about 53 times what I paid for it.

I also consider cross collectors when I find something that I don't know how to price.  There are people who collect cat items.  There are people who collect figurines made by a certain company.  If I had an item that would appeal to two or more different types of collectors, I would charge quite a bit more if I could find nothing to base my pricing on -- I figure 

I'll admit, sometimes I do make mistakes and wish I had sold things for more than what I listed them for.  But it's much rarer these days after I do research.  I started using fixed priced listings in 2014.  I had bought a Christmas Cross Stitch Stocking Kit for $1 and it sold for $28.  I was happy until I saw some of the prices Christmas Cross Stitch Stocking Kits can bring.  Had I waited I could have sold my kit for over $60.  (If you follow the link, you will see I didn't have nearly the expensive lesson as I could have.)  
I started pricing my items high after that.  My mother loved to watch my listings and she told me I was listing things for more than they were worth and I was expecting too much from them.  Well, I have sold consistently since then -- and I will run sales from time to time to get stuff that has sat around for a while to move.
As Jay and Rayne say at Scavenger Life, I "list it and forget it".  Yes, I'll run sales, I'll see what best offers come in, etc. But sometimes I list as high as I possibly think someone will pay for an item.  I had an item sell last year for $60 that I had originally listed at $325.  It was a glass item marketed to kids in the 1980s and I had hoped to get more for it because I expected collectors would really want it.  But after a year on eBay I took a decent best offer, the item is now out of my storage and I don't have to worry about breaking it.  I paid 25 cents for it, so I still made a great profit, just not as much as I had hoped, but I'm still happy about it.  
In the end, pricing kind of depends if you want the "fast nickel or slow dime".  I prefer more money, and I have enough listings up that I daily make a "slow dime" sale.  Each person has to decide exactly how they want to list.  I have enough listings that I make lots of sales, but I remember the times when I needed money so desperately, I priced lower than I should have because I wanted to ensure things would sell.

Finally, I want to share with you my favorite tape dispenser.  This has a place for regular transparent tape, packing tape, as well as a pencil holder where I store my Sharpies for shipping.  Other than my scale, I consider this tape dispenser to be the single best item I ever bought to invest in my eBay business.  

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