How to Sell on eBay

Learn how to list your items and start selling

EBay is an absolute giant when it comes to buying and selling online. Full-fledged retail options and average Joes alike can start selling on eBay within minutes. You don't need any special equipment, and you certainly don't need to know anything technical.

While you can sell from the eBay mobile app, it's best to get a hang of things on the desktop first with the complete set of controls. When you get more accustomed to selling, the app is a great way to list quickly.

How to Sell on eBay

When you are ready to start selling on eBay:

  1. Open your web browser and go to eBay. When you arrive, select My eBay in the upper right corner to sign in.

    eBay Home screen with My eBay highlighted
  2.  EBay directs you to its sign-in page. Enter your account information and select Sign in to continue.

    eBay sign in page
  3. After you sign in, you'll be sent to your My eBay page. Select Sell in the top right of your screen to start your listing.

    The My eBay Page with Sell highlighted
  4. The first page has a Tell us what you're selling search field where you type the name or product number of the item you are selling. eBay has a huge product database packed with information that can help fill in your listing. If your item is in the database, the selling process is much quicker.

    You can also enter a UPC (bar code), ISBN (for books), or other identifying number in the search field. These are usually the most direct way to find your item. If it doesn't have a number, you can always type in a clear and concise description, and eBay attempts to pick out a match.

    eBay Product Search field
  5. As you type in your search, eBay provides possible categories for your item. They are listed under the description that you're entering. Take a look, and if you find a good match, select it and choose Get started. Doing so jumps you ahead into a listing form.

    eBay Search Suggestions with Get started highlighted
  6. If you didn't see your category pop up or you hit Get Started anyway, you'll find yourself on a page with possible product matches. Look to see if one is identical to your item. The information provided next to the image populates your listing and gives you a good jumping off point. Don't worry if something is a little off. You can change it in the next step.

    If you don't find a good match, keep scrolling to the bottom of the page and select Continue without selecting a product.

    eBay search results with Continue without selecting a product highlighted
  7. You arrive on your actual listing form. Make sure the title is correct, as it may have changed in the search process. This is what people see when they're searching. It also contains the words eBay's search uses to match people with your item.

    EBay actually has two forms: a quick listing tool and the advanced one pictured here. It's a good idea to switch to the advanced form via the link in the upper right corner of the page because it provides additional options that can help shoppers find your item.

    eBay Listing General Info

    You'll notice the subtitle with a price next to it. eBay has some listing options with a price attached. You don't need to use these, but they may make sense in some cases.

  8. Make sure your item is in the right category. If it isn't, select Change category to find a better fit.

    EBay has a ton of possible categories, so you might want to take your time and have a look. You can also add a second category for a fee. It's usually not necessary, but it can help your item show up in more searches.

  9. Add an ISBN or UPC, if applicable to your item.

  10. Describe the condition of your item. Usually, eBay has several levels of quality for used items, while new items don't require a description.

    Try to be as accurate as possible here. Buyers don't like feeling cheated or like they didn't get what they paid for. Everyone is much happier in the long run if you're upfront about everything.

  11. Take pictures of every aspect of your item potential buyers will be interested in, includes any cool features, as well as imperfections. You can have up to 12 pictures, so don't be afraid to cover as much as possible.

    When you've taken all of your photos, upload them to your computer. You can even use a service like Dropbox.

    Back at your listing, remove any stock photos already in the section. Then, select Add photos to browse to your new item images.

    eBay Listing Photos with Add Photos highlighted
  12. Select and upload your photos to eBay. When you have them loaded, you can click and drag to rearrange their order.

    It's a good idea to position a nice complete shot of the item as the first image, since that's the one that'll appear in searches.

  13. The next section of your listing covers the item specifics. These are going to be different for every listing because they're based on your item's category. You don't need to fill in every field here. The idea is to provide as many searchable details as possible while informing your buyers as much as possible.  

    eBay Listing item specifics

    The example here is for a book, so there are fields for Author, Publisher, Subject, Language, and Year Printed. Other categories may have more or fewer options, and they'll certainly cover different information.

  14. The item's description comes next, which you can think of as your sales pitch. Write a clear description covering exactly what the item is and mentioning any damage or imperfections. This is also the time to embellish a bit and hype up your item to sound appealing, but don't lie about it.

    eBay Listing Description
  15. Now it's time to set your price. EBay offers two selling options. You can follow the traditional auction route, or you can set the item up at a fixed "Buy It Now" price and wait for a buyer.

    Before you go any further, do a bit of research. Do a search on eBay to see what similar items are going for. eBay even has a feature to look up only sold listings. Try to get a good idea of the market and then come back to your listing.

    PayPal is the default payment method for both types of listings, and it's easily the best way to be paid on eBay.

    Don't worry about sales tax. That's only for professional stores.

  16. For fixed price listings:

    • Determine the length of your listing. Generally, it's a good idea to leave fixed price items up longer, so select 30 days or Good 'Til Canceled, which are common choices.
    • Set a price for your item and then check the box to allow buyers to make offers. This can be a great way to get your item sold fast.
    • You can also set eBay to automatically accept or decline offers above and below a certain point. Otherwise, you'll get an email letting you know you have an offer, and you can choose how to handle it.
    eBay Fixed Price Listing
  17. For auction-style listings:

    • You can choose to include many of the fixed listing features. These will deactivate as soon as someone bids, but it gives you an opportunity to sell the item right away.
    • The standard length for an auction is 7 days, though you can adjust that as needed.
    • Try to set a starting price low enough to encourage bids, but not so low there's no hope of reaching your selling goal.
    • If you're really worried about the item going too low, you can always set a reserve price as the minimum you'd take. However, it does come with a listing fee, and it may discourage bidders.
    eBay Auction Style Listing
  18. If you're unsure of what shipping costs should be, select Calculate Shipping to open the Select shipping services window. The calculator shows you a table of prices based on different shipping options. Use it to figure out a reasonable shipping service.

    eBay Shipping Calculator

    Free shipping is always an option to entice buyers, and there are plenty of sellers that roll shipping costs into the price of their items to use free shipping as a marketing tactic. Other flat-rate shipping solutions should be reserved for promotional purposes or when you're using a service like the flat-rate boxes from the USPS.

  19. Handling time refers to the amount of time between the end of your listing and when you ship. eBay tends to reward a 1 business day handling time, but two days can be alright too.

    eBay Shipping Options
  20. You can also choose to ship internationally with eBay's Global Shipping Program. You won't need to handle customs or inflated international costs. Just check the box, and eBay gives you an address in the U.S. to ship to. It'll handle getting the item to your buyer.

    Choose a city far from you to get example rates. Since you don't know who will buy your item, it's always best to see the worst-case scenario.

  21. Choose your package weight and dimensions. Most of the time, you won't have your item packed yet, so these are going to be an estimate. This estimate is what eBay uses to calculate the shipping cost for your buyer; if you get this really wrong, you're going to lose money.

    Try to be accurate, and when possible, bump up your estimates a bit to account for the many things that can go wrong in purchasing shipping supplies. Remember, boxes aren't tailor made for your item, and shipping supplies aren't cheap.

  22. At the bottom of the screen, select Preview to see an accurate preview of exactly what your item listing will look like. If everything is correct, select List item to take your listing live.

    eBay Listing Preview

    Congratulations! Your eBay listing is live, and potential buyers can start viewing it right away. You can now manage the listing and view bids, page views, and watchers from your My eBay dashboard.

    If you want to finish the listing another time, select Save as draft.

  23. Select My eBay in the top right corner of the page, then select Selling > Active on the left side of the dashboard to see all of your active listings.

    My eBay Active Listings

    Each entry shows you vital information about the item listing, including stats on how many views, watchers, and bids your item has, provided it's up for auction. Use this information to determine how your listing is performing and if it will sell.

  24. Sit back, relax, and wait for your item to sell! Be sure to respond promptly to any questions you receive from potential buyers and always be courteous.

  25. When your item sells, select the Sold tab in My eBay to locate your item. The item's listing gives you the option to print a shipping label once you've been paid. Then, box up the item with the label attached and ship.