A First Time Seller’s Experience of Listing on eBay

Despite being aware of eBay for most of the past two decades and occasionally using it to buy items, I had never actually tried selling anything myself. Recently, I decided this should change and thought I’d give selling a go. Even just from listing one item, I learned quite a lot. Here are five lessons I learned when listing my very first item on eBay.

Sell What You Know, Know What You Sell

My chosen first item to sell on eBay was an enamel sign. I have sold these before at auctions and vintage trade shows. Having some experience with this type of item was most helpful when deciding the price and writing the description. For the latter, I had some idea of the information that potential buyers may be looking for. I also thought that I may be less likely to fall victim to some kind of scam as enamel signs are not a hugely desirable product in the way that electronics are.

eBay listing title

Lesson learned: I definitely felt more comfortable selling an item I was knowledgeable about for my first eBay experience. This enabled me to concentrate on getting used to the procedure of listing on eBay.

Explore All Selling Options

Reaching the end of the listing page, I was a little confused. Having some knowledge of eBay, I had been expecting some more listing choices. Where was the option to schedule the listing? And what about choosing the listing’s duration? Something wasn’t quite right. It took a few minutes to find the solution. Tucked at the bottom of ‘listing preferences’ was a tickbox to ‘enable more options.’ I’m still surprised these options aren’t as standard.

ebay listing preferences

Lesson learned: Be sure to check the listing preferences (top right corner) for any additional options available. For high volume sellers, there is also an ‘advanced tool’ option.

Prepare to Start Over

This was probably one of the most frustrating lessons to learn. eBay, like every website, is not infallible. While I was creating my listing, I had an error on the website not once, but twice. I lost all of the progress I had made and had to start again. It wasn’t such a big issue if it hadn’t been for the description. I hadn’t written an essay by any means, but it was certainly irritating to write it all again. This time, I wrote my description in Word and then copy pasted it.

ebay listing fail

Lesson learned: Consider crafting descriptions before listing, on a medium that is less susceptible to disruption. Word will be my go-to for writing descriptions going forward.

Describe More, Not Less

I uploaded 12 photos to my listing, including a variety of angles and perspectives of the item. I also made sure to photograph any item damage. Using a sheet, I created a neutral background so the item would stand out. The photos were taken at a time of day with few shadows. What was the problem, you may ask? I concentrated too much on the photos and forgot about the description! I don’t think it was a terrible description (correct spelling, use of bullet points etc) but I made the mistake of pointing buyers towards the photos to see the item damage rather than actually describing it.

ebay listing item specifics and description

Lesson learned: Photos say a lot, but they should be backed up by a detailed description. Next time, I will concentrate on the description just as much as the photos.

Think Ahead!

Before listing my item, I had already:

  • Weighed the item
  • Measured the dimensions
  • Chosen the listed price
  • Decided on a fixed price listing rather than an auction

One aspect I had not considered in advance, however, was the shipping cost and method. I eventually decided to list the item with free shipping, something that always attracts me when shopping online. Correspondingly, I put my original price up a little to compensate for absorbing the shipping cost. For shipping method, I chose to use a courier as there is a drop-off service very close to my house. In addition, the price was competitive when compared to the national mail carrier (surprising, I know).

ebay shipping options

Lesson learned: For my second item, I will consider shipping methods more carefully before listing the item. On reflection, I perhaps made a rushed decision since, at this point, I just wanted to finish the listing.

Experienced sellers, what are some of the lessons you have learned while selling on eBay? Share your experience in the comments below!

Jane is the latest addition to Auction Nudge Guides. Previously she had only purchased through eBay and had never sold anything using the site. She has kindly volunteered to be the Auction Nudge guineapig and write about her experiences while navigating the world of selling.