14 Mistakes I Made As A New eBay Seller

Last Updated on September 10, 2020 by Lee Meier

ebay beginner mistakesStarting reselling can be a very confusing time with lots to learn. Here are 14 mistakes I made as a new seller on eBay and how not to make them yourself!

A Quick Note About Reselling

Did you know there are countless “resellers” who make a living (even full-time income) from reselling pre-owned, used items?

While I’m not a full-time seller (I am a stay-at-home mom), I have been able to make a steady, reliable income from reselling (mostly) clothes.

In total, I’ve made over $45,000 from flipping thrift store items for profit!

Reseller Bootcamp

If reselling online sounds like something you would be interested in, you’re in luck!

I’ve put together a FREE 5-Day Course called “Reseller Bootcamp.”

You can sign up and get the course delivered straight to your inbox. In it you’ll learn:

  1. What kinds of items you can flip.
  2. The best places to sell to maximize your profits.
  3. 6 keys to taking professional looking photos.
  4. The 5 components to get your items sold.
  5. How to turn flipping into a steady and reliable income.
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Mistake #1: Not Filling Out Item Specifics

Item specifics is the section when you are listing that contains many difference options for you to enter about your item.

The exact item specifics vary from category to category. From the desktop site it looks something like this:

ebay item specifics

Yes, it’s a pain to fill out all those minor details.

But they are actually very important!

According to eBay (from an eBay Upfront event I attended), a large majority of buyers do not type in the exact details of what they are looking for. They choose to use a filter instead.

That’s where item specifics come in.

Let’s say a theoretical buyer is looking for a striped top. If you have “striped” in the title, but they filter the patterns to only show striped and you haven’t selected “Striped” for the pattern in the item specifics, your listing won’t show up!

Solution: Fill out as many item specifics as you can. The more you can fill out, the more likely your item is to be found when buyers are searching.

Mistake #2: Obsessing Over Listings

When I first started selling, I obsessed over my listings.

I wanted them to sell immediately!

I checked the number of views and watchers I had on my items several times a day.

Then I wondered why I only had so many views and so many watchers and why they weren’t selling.

Now I know that it sometimes takes time for the right buyer to come along.

In fact, I don’t even look through my listings daily or even weekly. And I never look at views or watchers.

I just wish I would have taken all the time I spent on obsessing and used that energy to create more listings – something that will actually make you more money.

Solution: Try not to obsess over your listings. Instead focus on getting more items listed.

If you are looking for real ways to get your items sold fast read these tricks:

9 Ways To Rank In eBay Search Results

5 Ways To Increase Your eBay Sales

Mistake #3: Not Having Proper Photo Equipment

When I first started, I didn’t have any kind of equipment whatsoever. Just my phone.

I tried taking pictures in well-lit rooms, but I ended up with shadows on everything.

I also didn’t have a background, so I was basically confined to only one small entry way where we had tile.

It worked for a while, until I was able to make a small investment back into my reselling business.

But once I had a background and photo kit it made all the difference!

Here’s what I use:

Last update on 2020-09-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2020-09-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A small investment can make a big difference in your business!

Solution: If you are able, invest in a photo backdrop and lighting kit.

Mistake #4: Not Having An Inventory System

When you have just a few items listed, there isn’t much of a need for an inventory system.

But if you plan on having 50+ items, you should look at creating an inventory system for yourself.

If you find yourself spending lots of time searching for items, it’s time for an inventory system.

Wasted time is bad, but not being able to find an item is worse! Yes, I know from experience.

If you can’t find an item, you will have to cancel the sale and it will result in a defect on your account.

Solution: Create a simple, easy-to-use inventory system that can grow with you as the number of your listings increase.

Here’s my inventory system: simply enter a number in the SKU field that corresponds with a box number.

The SKU is not visible to anyone else but you.

Now, when an item sells, all I have to do is go to the correct box number and pull my item.

(I also use Marie Kondo’s method to fold items and store them like folders in a file cabinet so I can easily see everything at a glance).

Mistake #5: Switching Items When Shipping

Yes, you read that right.

When you are only shipping one item every few days, this isn’t an issue.

But once you start shipping multiple items a day, it can get confusing.

And I’m embarrassed to say, I’ve made this costly mistake on more than one occasion!

The few times it has happened, the buyers have been understanding. If you make this mistake, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Have the buyer open a return of “item not as described.” You will need to pay return shipping since it is your mistake.
  2. Once you receive their correct item back, just purchase another label and get them the correct item before you have to refund the money for the return.
  3. You will need to call eBay Customer Service to have them close out the return. Be sure to have the second tracking number available for them to look up and confirm it was delivered.

Here are a couple of reasons I identified as why I switched items:

  • Two packages – one to a male, one to a female. I (incorrectly) assumed the male customer’s name went to the men’s item and the female’s name went to the female’s item. Whoops! 
  • Shipping in a hurry because a customer wants you to ship immediately.
  • Similar-named cities you are shipping to.

Solution: Create a shipping routine that works for you. Double check both the customer’s name and their city/state. Take your time!

Mistake #6: Loosing Money On Auctions

Yes, another terrible mistake lots of beginners make.

For me, it was a DVD. I thought if I ran the listing as an auction, started the price low AND offered free shipping, I would get lots of bids.

Turns out that’s not what happened.

I can’t remember what it went for, something like $1.50. Then it cost me something like $2.50 to ship with media mail.

Then fees on top of that.

Yes, I lost money selling something.

Thankfully I didn’t repeat this mistake!

Now, I rarely offer free shipping. And I rarely run auctions. (I get more money on fixed-price listings).

Solution: Calculate your break-even point on items to account for shipping, fees, and other costs such as cost of goods, shipping, and office supplies.

Consider selling mostly buy it now type listings to capitalize on profits!

Mistake #7: Not Setting Up Vacation Mode Correctly

The first time I went on vacation, I simply went into my eBay settings and toggled on “Vacation Mode.”

Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

In addition to setting up vacation mode, you also need to extend your handling time for the length you will be gone. (If you plan on selling while you are gone).

If you don’t, you will be dinged for shipping late.

Yes, it’s confusing. So I’ve put together step-by-step directions on how to correctly get eBay vacation mode set up.

Solution: Update your handling time in addition to turning on vacation mode. Directions here!

Mistake #8: Sold An Item Twice

Yes, it happens!

I’m not exactly sure how other than I must accidentally relist the item.

When this happens, you have to cancel the order, resulting in a defect on your account.

The only time to really worry about defects is if you get more than 0.50% as you will lose Top Rated Seller status if you have it.

Solution: There’s not much you can do other than pay attention. Even when you try, it might happen on occasion. Just know it’s okay and that everyone makes an occasional mistake.

Mistake #9: Priced Items Too High

This is probably one of the most common mistakes out there. And the number one reason sellers fail.

And I was one of them. I tried selling on eBay once and it didn’t work.

There was just one mistake I made: pricing items too high.

A year later I tried again and have been selling successfully ever since.

Now my prices are much more competitive. I’m not emotionally attached to them. And I’m willing to take offers.

That one mindset change made all the difference!

Solution: If you want to make money, price your items to sell.

Other Common Beginner Mistakes

Mistake #10: Not accurately weighing your items.

If you’ve entered the incorrect weight for your package (yes, you must include packaging material in addition to the item), you may be charged extra to ship your item.

If you ship with less postage than required, USPS will bill you after the fact.

Solution: Make sure you have an accurate postage scale. This is a popular, affordable one:

Last update on 2020-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mistake #11: Not entering package measurements.

For larger items, size does make a difference in the pricing. This is also true when shipping with FedEx and USPS.

If you haven’t entered the dimensions, you may have to bite the bullet and pay the additional amount yourself.

Solution: When in doubt, enter the dimensions of your package.

Mistake #12: Not accurately describing your item.

If you don’t accurately describe your item including all flaws, you may get a return for “Item Not As Described.”

For these types of returns you will have to pay return shipping.

Don’t worry about it effecting your seller status with eBay. As long as you take care of the situation (refund your buyer) it won’t count against you.

Solution: Accurately describe your item and take pictures of all flaws.

Mistake #13: Spelling mistakes or typos.

Definitely try your best to correct typos or spelling mistakes.

However, spelling mistakes happen. Fortunately eBay’s search algorithm will still show your item to buyers in most cases.

I’ve had plenty of items sell with minor spelling mistakes that I only realized after they sold. Some examples:

  • John Deer instead of John Deere
  • Marron instead of Maroon
  • Under Armor instead of Under Armour

Solution: A quick glance-over should reveal any typos, but don’t sweat this one too much.

Mistake #14: Trying to sell things buyers aren’t willing to pay shipping for.

When listing and pricing items, consider the amount of shipping you are asking your buyer to pay.

For items over 1 pound, you will need to ship priority which is approximately $7 at a minimum. How much more is your buyer willing to pay for the item?

For a lot of items, that may not leave you with much profit.

Solution: Consider only listing items that buyers are willing to pay substantially more than shipping.

Thanks For Joining Me

I hope reading through this article will help you sell successfully on eBay and not repeat my mistakes!

 

-Lee

P.S. Here are some other must read posts for selling on eBay and Poshmark:

A small investment can make a big difference in your business!