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All the secrets about how to make money on eBay

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All the secrets about how to make money on eBay

Decided to take the plunge and start selling POD products on eBay? Maybe you’ve already started, but haven’t experienced the success yet that you thought you would? If you just want to know how to make money on eBay, look no further.

We’ve got you covered, here are all the tips, tricks, and secrets you’ll need to start killing it on eBay.

Warming up

The first thing we tell our clients is to check out our eBay set up guide, which is located here. Check out the crucial steps you’ll have to go through to get started on eBay.

  • How to set up an account
  • How to increase eBay selling limits
  • Account suspension
  • How to optimize your listings for sale

That should get you started on how to make money on eBay. What about how to connect your Printify account to eBay? That’s covered in Chapter 2, step 4. Happy selling!

How to market yourself on eBay?

prices print on demandprices print on demand

If you want to know how to make money on eBay, the first step is with your own marketing or branding. You may just think that eBay is a series of item listings or auctions and that the most important thing a customer sees about you is your seller rating (hint: it is). There are still a ton of different ways to market yourself on eBay, and that will help you to generate both sales and repeat business. 

Choose a niche

The first thing to do is to understand where in the marketplace your merch can have the greatest impact. This is a bit different from being a Youtuber or other personality that’s generating merch and selling to fans. When you sell on eBay, chances are you’re looking to generate your own ideas and to sell them. 

A print on demand (POD) business can be set up in two ways – either focusing on a product niche or a subject niche.

Where should you start looking for that profitable niche idea?

The design and ideas are the keys here. Do you have an idea for a three wolf moon shirt? Well, guess what? That’s one of the most popular tee shirt designs of all time, and chances are, you won’t be able to outsell them.

three wolf moonthree wolf moon

Operating within a niche that you’ve researched and have seen that you can add some value. If you already have some experience or expertise in an area such as outer space or marine biology, this might be the place to start. If you’re trying to develop your own brand for cartoons or graphic novels, then it might be a bit more difficult, and depend on your cross product popularity. 

Brand yourself

You’re not just a set of listings in a store, you’re a human that’s making products for other humans. So why not expand beyond the listings let your humanity shine through? If you’re able to do this, then you’re going to be able to sell with more trust to your potential clients. Here’s a great example we found in an interview with eBay’s Seller News Team. eBay seller Chris K of HolyIdeaTees sells vintage Tees that he finds in thrift stores on eBay. Hundreds if not thousands of people do the same thing every day, but what makes Chris more successful?

– Have a great description for your store

Here’s Chris’s:

“Welcome to Holy Idea Tees! I love old T-shirts, the stories they tell and the hunt to find them. I use eBay as a means to document my finds which are then passed on to you… I’m addicted to the thrill of finding totally unique, eclectic, rare & off-beat tees…I pick for labels first and then look at what’s on the tee. The weirder and more obscure… the better :)”

The message here is not only that he has a passion for it, but almost as if he’d be doing it anyway, and just passes it on to you as a favor. If you have a passion that shines through to your buyers, you’re going to be a lot more successful and it’s one of the best ways to sell make money on eBay.

– Have a tagline for your business


 “Vintage Finds for Vintage Minds”. 

Most eBay sellers just have their store name and leave it at that. Use your tagline to get your message across to your audience, and remember that eBay isn’t immune from traditional marketing techniques. The more memorable you are, the more likely you are to get repeat buyers. 

– Have a story and explain it

Vintage new T-Shirt

Chris’s site covers his own personal grading system which he links to in his items. He also talks about how he donates his proceeds and showcases other vintage tee sellers. Humanizing yourself and allowing people to know your passions and experience the world you’re trying to create is one of the best ways to connect with buyers and help to bring your sale across the finish line. This also helps to establish your authority and trustworthiness – keys in how to make money on eBay.

– Go the extra mile and be creative

Chris uses a Barbie doll to point out all the flaws in the shirts that he’s selling, it’s a clever, memorable and friendly way to accomplish the necessary task of pointing out some obvious flaws in used items. That won’t exactly translate to your merch store, because you’re going to be selling primarily new items, but you get the idea. The more of your fun, friendly self you can inject into your selling – the more successful you will be! 

Trust building and feedback

Full report available here

More positive feedback means more customers. This is your store’s review, and before anyone buys, they’re going to look and at least see how much positive feedback you have.

According to Dimensional Research, 86% of buyers were influenced in their buying decision by negative online reviews. 

The inevitable less than stellar customer experience will occur, unfortunately for you and the customer. There’s also great news: a less than ideal customer experience is an opportunity for you to display how awesome you really are at customer service! How? It all comes down to communication.

Explain the issue:

Use the why, how what rule to structure your communication for more effective customer service: I noticed there was a defect in your item (WHY) so I’ve refunded your money (HOW) and canceled your order (WHAT).

Be kind and friendly the entire time, even when they’re angry or hostile

If you’re able to keep your cool and be friendly, you should avoid bad reviews from bad experiences, and maybe even turn that negative experience into a positive one.

Over-deliver and out-preform 
  • Put emotion into your message
  • Never say “no”, but explain why
  • Remember you’re dealing with another person
Dealing with returns
  • Always use eBay’s resolution center for handling returns, not messages.
  • Tell the buyer to open up a case and you’ll handle the rest.
  • This protects you as a seller.
  • Even if the buyer leaves negative feedback, if the case is resolved in your favor, then you can ask to have the negative feedback removed!

How to research for eBay?

So you have a niche and a clever marketing message, now we just have to think about the products. Even if you have a product already, you should take a look at a tool like eBay Trending to see what the most popular search terms are for different types of items.


Custom Microfiber Duvet Cover with Printify

Make sure you stay on the right side of this by looking for the proper categories, having the best search keywords for your items, and putting the best description upfront.

How to list eBay items?

– How to write a title great description

Having a bad description can mean a poor click-through rate (the rate at which people click on your item to view it), and can also affect your position in the rankings when someone looks for an item. Firstly, check out eBay’s article on writing good listings and titles. 

Make sure your listing:
  • Has exactly what the item is
  • Isn’t written in all caps
  • Is written in the singular tense
  • Is without punctuation marks
  • Includes only search words (not AMAZING, for example)
  • Has proper spelling
  • Skips the grammar – it’s about the search term

– Format for Humans

Make sure you’re trying to write your descriptions for humans, otherwise you’re going to end up with low performing item. The best format isn’t something that just lists the attributes, but rather makes it seem like a real description.

– How to use eBay autocomplete

Another great tool to try out is a simple and not so hidden one: the eBay search bar. You can use this tool for eBay autocomplete, it helps you find the best keywords. You can try to experiment with how to make money on eBay, by finding the most relevant search terms. For example, type in the first search few search terms such as “Men’s Tee” or “Blue Women’s Sweatshirt” to see how the bar will autocomplete the term. If you optimize descriptions and product names, you should be doing well. These are the most popular search terms, and the ones you as a store owner should be after!

– Other tips

Start your listing with your main keyword. Usually, this is a qualifier or descriptive word like “New iPhone case” or something similar.  Always capitalize each word of the listing as well. If you’re going to capitalize, make sure it’s a word like “FREE” that you want to emphasize. Don’t worry about the title length, and don’t spam with unnecessary keywords just to try to get clicks, you’ll end up with a poor click-through rate anyway. Follow these tips, and you’ll be happy with your click-through rates, and your sales! 

Put yourself into your store


One way to build trust is simple: put yourself into your store and its products. As a merch seller, you have access to a wide catalog of goods, and we help you out by having some great looking photos of our products. Having said that – nothing beats seeing the store owner modeling the clothes they’re selling. You could also consider having yourself somewhere in the listing, this is another easy way to build trust.

Have a nice listing design

Your listing should and can also be visually appealing! Take a look at some of the great tools out there that help you liven up your listing so that it presents and converts better. Just like a web page or an app or even a magazine – design sells, and not just on your merch! Design your listings for sales and reap the benefits!

Put testimonials in the listing

Have you got some great testimonials from customers? Make sure you put them front and center in your listing. This is more low hanging fruit for trust-building, and you should definitely take advantage of the positive experiences you might be generating to help get some more. Customers also appreciate knowing how others feel about your products. Get creative and try some promotional give-aways to get some video testimonials you can use in your listing, it’s a powerful way to get more sales!

Timing is everything

If you’re looking for the absolute best ways to make money on eBay, some basic rules still apply. it’s important to remember that even though eBay is a largely digital platform when your customers can buy whenever they feel like, seasonal rules still apply. Seasonal items and seasonal sales times are still important on eBay, and consumer buying patterns around major holidays are still an important way your store can make money on the items you sell. Set up a calendar and track the holidays so your store is ready for the seasonal rushes of the holiday seasons!

Avoid those fees

You get up to fifty free items to list for sale without any additional cost from eBay. After that, you’ll be charged listing fees for your items. If you really want to know how to make money on eBay, one way is to minimize the fees you’re being charged for sales. Take a look at how many free listings you’ve got left, and also check out if there are any free listing times for eBay, as they will sometimes run “free listing days” and allow sellers to list additional items for sale for free.

Pricing and fees

Source: Unsplash

Pricing is one of the big sticking points on eBay, and of course, pricing is one of the most difficult things to do in business generally. You’ll want to look at what similar items are selling for, because you need to price each item in your store to make money for you, not to lose money. Remember, there are potentially listing fees, credit card or Paypal transaction fees, and shipping fees to consider when you’re selling. 

Know your numbers

According to Chris, this is the most important thing to think about when you’re selling. Put in the time to do the research on each of your items, and track each sale so you can see exactly how much money you’re making on each item. Low performing items are on the chopping block, and high performing items get to stay – it’s as simple as that!

Check out eBay’s article on Why You Need to Know Your eBay Numbers and How to Crunch Them

Price it out

If you’re selling merch, chances are you’re going to be using the sell it now features, rather than eBay’s bread and butter auction feature. eBay is going to be taking 10% of the final price, including any postage fees you have charged, so be careful to price things out accordingly. Remember, that’s – ON TOP – of any listing fees you’re going to be paying. That’s a big chunk of change, so if your numbers are off, your sales will actually end up costing you money. 

All about eBay / Paypal fees

The dreaded 4% fee

Look out for the new eBay penalty or “fine” for bad reviews. This penalty of 4% of your earnings is put onto all of your sales after you lose your top rated seller rating. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to ask for great, positive reviews and to get ahead of negative bad experiences before they turn into negative feedback. Consider that refunding someone’s entire order might make more sense from a financial standpoint than taking the 4% hit on all of your future sales – even if you let them keep the shirt! It’s a huge penalty and margin eater in eCommerce, so make sure that you’re on top of it!

Unfinalized transaction fees

Unfinalized transactions occur when your customer might have second thoughts and doesn’t pay for the item they bought. This usually happens in auction situations rather than buy it now listings, so it may not apply to your store so much. Just turn on the “Unpaid Item Assistant” to make sure you’re reimbursed back for these transaction fees!

Open a dedicated eBay store

Want lower listing and final value fees? Well, it might be time to open up an eBay store. eBay store operators receive lower listing fees and also lower final value costs. If you’re doing some serious business on eBay, then this is a surefire way to capture some extra margin from eBay. eBay has a few different levels of subscriptions for stores, so make sure you check out their fee illustrator in order to capture the most out of their offerings. 

Look into a PayPal merchant rate

Once you’re billing upwards of $3,000, you’re able to apply for PayPal’s merchant status, which allows you to get a lower fee on transactions. Once you get that status, your fees could be reduced to 2.5%, 2.2%, or even 1.9%! That’s a fantastic reduction that you should take advantage of once you hit the threshold. 

Free listings days

After your first fifty listings, things get a bit rough. Avoid costly listing fees with the occasional free listing day. This is a great time to test out items and try to capture some extra margin. Your first fifty items should be your top sellers and should go up month after month until they stop selling. Use free listing days to test out new ideas and designs

Wrapping up the auction

Now you know all about how to list items on eBay to sell, how to avoid expensive fees, and how to make sure the pricing and fees don’t cut too far into your margin. Take a look at our integration with eBay – and get started selling merch on one of the biggest platforms on the planet!

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