How to be amazing at selling on eBay

make money ebay

As a student, any way you can get a bit of extra cash in your pocket is definitely worth a try. Selling on eBay is easy, and can be pretty lucrative depending on what you’re selling.

If you haven’t got anything to sell it can be worth asking relatives whether they’re having a clearout or have anything they want to get rid of, often they’ll let you keep a proportion (or all) of the profits!

When to sell

The absolute best time to run an eBay auction is from Thursday evening for ten days, until the following Sunday. Between 8pm and 10pm on a Sunday is eBay’s busiest time, so by listing your item on a Thursday evening you’re maximising your chances of getting bids.

Busy Thursday? You get 20 free scheduled listings free each month (it’s 6p a go after that).

It’s best to list a lot of things at the same time, the most time consuming part of selling on eBay is definitely posting everything, so if you cut down your visits to the Post Office it’ll seem a lot easier. We recommend having a Tuesday ‘post day’, so that everyone has a bit of time to get payments in from Sunday.


If you need to make a certain amount off an item a reserve is a good idea, it won’t show up to buyers until they place a bid under the reserve amount. It might put off early bidders, and they’re important to help start a bidding war and push up the price of your item. Also, bear in mind that that you’ll be charged 4% for reserve prices over £50, too.

Free listings

You get 20 free eBay listings each month, which should be enough for most people, but after the first 20 it’s 35p for each item.

Remember that selling on eBay isn’t free unless your item doesn’t sell (and if you’ve paid a 35p insertion fee, that still applies even if it doesn’t sell). You can use an eBay profit calculator to find out how much you’ve actually made from your listing.


ebay postage

You could end up making a loss after fees if you undercharge for P&P so we’d suggest you to always err on the side of overestimating postage, after all, you’re going to be charged a 10% final value fee on your final price INCLUDING postage.

eBay will estimate how much you should charge for postage, but you don’t know whether what you’re selling is much bigger or heavier than what’s been suggested. If you can weigh and measure your item before you list it you can see how much it costs to send a parcel through The Royal Mail here, but you might find it cheaper to send it through a courier service like Parcel2Go if your item is really big or heavy.

The biggest issue experienced sellers face on eBay is buyers claiming they never received their item, so if you can stretch to it, always use tracked deliveries. If you can’t afford it always keep the receipt the Post Office cashier gives you, it has the buyer’s postcode on it and can be used as proof of postage if the buyer opens a dispute.

If you get offers in your eBay messages

If you list something on eBay and you start getting inbox messages asking you to close the auction early, that’s a sign that you’re selling something valuable. Usually the best plan is to keep the auction going, as there’s potential to make a bit of money on it, but if they’re offering you a good price it might be worth the risk - it’s up to you.


eBay isn’t the only place to sell stuff online, if you’re into fashion you might prefer selling on apps Vinted or Depop. The fees for both are a similar amount to eBay’s, but there’s no bidding, you set the price, and you can list your item for as long as you like. These are really popular amongst “millennials”, so if you’re selling your mum’s old clothes it’s probably best to stick with eBay.

If you’re selling something more expensive, then eBay’s 10% final value fee can feel like a significant chunk of your profits going down the drain. Gumtree is a great option for large, high value items that you’d want to sell face to face, it’s totally free to use, so you keep 100% of the profits.

Be wary of Gumtree scams, if anything seems even slightly dodgy you should call off the sale. Someone at SMS almost had his laptop stolen by someone who said they’d transferred money but nothing had showed up in his account. If you do get scammed then you’re not protected as you would be through PayPal, which is the big downside to Gumtree.

Like this? Check out our article 100 ways to make money for more ways to get paid.