Monday, February 21, 2022

Can You Earn a Full Time Living Selling on eBay?

 FTC disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Recently I was asked about if you can earn a full time living selling on eBay or if it was too late to get in on it, and I decided to answer that question here.

The quick and easy answer is:  Yes, you can!  However, there's a few things to know.

It is a LOT of work.  I mean a lot.  Especially if you are first starting out.  Your listing limits will be small, and there's no way you can make a living selling 10 things a month until your limits are raised.  So this is something you will need to ease into -- and start getting used to.  

When I first started selling, there were no fixed priced listings, so I had seven boxes, and I would put stuff in each box as I listed it each day.  I have always loved "smalls" -- tiny items that are easy to ship, so this worked well for me.  About nine years ago I switched to almost all fixed priced listings.  I currently have over 2500 items with about two thousand DIFFERENT listings.  That's a lot of storage space.  I am always trying to figure out the best use of space for storage.  I have different types of shelves for storage, such as bookcases for books, and for things that can be stored in 20 gallon tubs, I have invested in two of these units that store one dozen rubbermaid tubs where I can just slide out the tub needed.  I have all my tubs labeled based on items I sell, such as 'plush', 'craft kits', 'Christmas ornaments', etc. to make it easy to find things.  For very small items, I like using hanging jewelry organizers.  That way I can see through the plastic to find the item quickly when it sells.

I also have two storage units.  While some people use a storage unit for stuff that is listed, I currently use it for what some eBay sellers call their "death pile" or "money pile" -- meaning the treasures I have sourced and need to list.  This can get expensive, though, so I would recommend that you try and list as you source. 

There is a LOT of time involved.  Everything from finding items to sell, research, writing descriptions, photographing, storage, packing, and shipping will be done by you until you start making enough to hire some of this out.  Also, don't forget customer service -- everything from complaints about how much the post office charges for shipping to questions if a certain person is in a yearbook.

Learning about what sells is another time consuming activity.  While the YouTuber "Daily Refinement" suggests staying in one niche (he does clothes), that isn't always possible for everyone.  I live over 20 minutes from the closest stoplight, and there is no way I could depend on thrift stores in my area to provide enough of one type of item for me to sell.  While he suggests finding people who will source for you, I'd rather do that myself.  So I watch a lot of YouTube to see what others sell.  I watch a number of people, but I particularly enjoy "Bolo Buddies", "The Rebel Reseller",  and "Prison2Profit".

Another thing to consider when selling on eBay is taxes.  There have been people all upset that eBay is going to start sending a 1099-K this year when you reach $600 in sales/shipping.  But the fact is, everyone should have been paying taxes on their profits the whole time.   I have an accountant and while I was hesitant to spend the money for a few years, she has helped me save so much that it's well worth hiring her each year.  Remember things like shipping supplies, your postage scale, milage while finding items to sell, the cost of those items, eBay fees (which are high), and even a home office can be deducted.  

My husband hasn't worked since October, and we've been having a rough go of it financially lately.  Things were getting bad for him at work due to him having to switch meds, and he needed to leave that environment for a while.  What he didn't count on was how much work eBay is.  Also, since I was already getting deductions for things like the home office, that cannot be doubled, and he has to work harder to make the same amount as I had been.  Ideally, he wouldn't have quit his job until he could prove to himself that he was capable of brining home what he was making working outside the home by doing this in his spare time.  Unfortunately he didn't have that luxury, and it's been a bit difficult especially since he has been having trouble with meds (as have I) since we switched insurance.

So, yes, you can still make a full time living on eBay.  It is a lot of work, a lot of learning, planning, and LOTS of shipping.  There is an old meme about what people think eBay sellers do, and what they really do, and the "what I really do" is a man surrounded by shipping boxes.  That's about the sum total of it.  

There's so much to learn about selling, and I learn something new almost daily.  But for now, I invite you to check out my articles about making money online.  

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