Simple steps to get started selling online – eBay – Amazon – Etsy etc.

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Simple steps to get started for selling online.

I’ve been on ebay for 18 years now.   I’ve sold thousands of items.   A lot of people have asked me how to get started selling so I’ve created a post that will cover the simple steps to get started on eBay.   These same steps can also be used with Amazon, Etsy or any other online sales platform.

it really comes down to these 5 simple steps.

  1. Photos
  2. pack
  3. rates
  4. descrbe
  5. ship

1. First, I always start with lots of photos.

A picture is worth a thousand words and nothing can show a buyer more clearly what’s included then some photos.   Though I have dealt with buyers who are less than clueless even when you do show them pictures of the product.

Take lots of pictures, more then you can need.  EBay will allow you to include 12 pictures with every listing.  Sometimes, I also make a video and upload it to youtube under private / unlisted just in case I think that the customer may try to return it.  I like to be optimistic but the last few years on eBay have been painful for the sheer number of returns for various reasons.    You will want to document the product for any issues at a later time.   I usually keep the photos for 90 days after the sale.

So now you’ve taken lots of pictures, what’s next?

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this is the main page

2. Now you find the packaging.  Or you make the packaging, or you go box shopping.

You’re going to want to do this since it’s easier to pack it and have the packing materials ready before you actually ship it.   You’ll want to keep the product well protected while keeping the size to a minimum at the same time.    I sometimes use fast food drink holders as packing material since they have the ability to be protective while maintaining low weight.   Egg cartons also work well.

3. Now you get shipping rates.

Once you have it packaged, you will need to  weigh and measure it.  We use kilograms and centimeters here in Canada. It may be different in your area.

This is where you need to spend a bit more time.   You will need to get different rates for shipping.  For my requirements, I like to get rates from Vancouver Island and Newfoundland.   I then use that rate as my in Canada shipping rate.   Keep in mind that eBay charges a 10% fee on shipping so if you charge $25 CDN to ship something, eBay is going to keep $2.50.  So if shipping is $24.50, you may want to add a couple of dollars for the box and a few dollars for the fees.   I would round that up to $30.    There is also a final value fee (FFV) that several online retailers charge when you sell something as well.

Make sure that your shipping rates include a tracking number and maybe even a signature if the item is valuable (i.e. $100+)

Insurance usually covers upto $100.   Keep that in mind if the product is worth more than the insurance covers.

If you are shipping internationally, get the rates first.     In my opinion though, I wouldn’t ship it internationally.    I keep mine to just Canada and mainland USA, that does not include Hawaii, Alaska or Puerto Rico.  You can ship to APO boxes which are US Forces post office boxes, the rates shouldn’t be too much different for that.   Also be aware that shipping internationally will require customs forms and sometimes it will require a broker.   Fedex and Purolator aren’t too bad to deal with but they aren’t my first choice.  You will also be responsible to know if the product you are selling is even allowed into those countries.   I once had a laptop refused at the border because I didn’t have the proper forms filled out for the DVD drive (laser) that was in it.

4. So now you know your rates, you have lots of photos and you’re ready to ship it once it sells.. So lets start selling.   Create an accurate and detailed description.

This is the part where you need to be careful.   Make a good title, make sure that the product is in the right category and if you know the part number, you’ll want to use it too.

For most of the items that I sell, I stick to the computer / laptop arena so I get to fill in some things such as RAM, Hard Drive, Model Number etc. etc.    You will need to know this for the items that you are selling.

selling online
Know the specifics when selling online


Nothing is more annoying to a buyer then trying to read your mind as to what you are selling.  If you don’t know what it is, then put that in the description.   Honesty is what will keep you from getting a lot of returns.
Make sure that you review the description twice.   I’ve made the mistake of listing a size 9.5 shoe in the description but only describing it as a size 9 in the title. The buyer didn’t read the description, only the title.  So guess you had a return and had to pay for return shipping.  Even though I had filled in all details as a size 9.5, I was still responsible for it.   Make sure that you know the specifics or it will come back and bite you in the ass.

When it comes to setting prices, there are several ways to do it.  What I like to do is search for my item in the listings and then narrow it down by finding the sold ones.   You do that by looking on the left hand size until you see the ‘sold’ check box

This will show you the sold items if there are any.  If there are, then the price that I normally start a bidding process with is half of the sold item price.   For example, if a laptop sells for $100, then I start the auction at $50.  By setting the price at half of the sold value, that will generate enough interest to drive in some bids.

See the images below.   The top one shows a search for rubber duckies.   The second image shows a search for rubber duckies AFTER I clicked on the ‘SOLD’ check box.


buying ducks
This is what it looks like when searching for ducks to buy

Image two with the SOLD item checked off.

sold rubber ducks
this is a list of rubber duckies that have been sold

There is also the option to set a buy it now (BIN) at 20% higher then the sold price.  Buyers will always try to knock your prices down.  Sometimes there is the option to have a ‘offer’ price where the buyer can send an offer to purchase it.    There is also the option to set a price.    Since we’re talking about prices.   Don’t set your prices too high.   Unless you’re selling gold, there  is not reason to think that what you own is actual gold.

Payment options are set up by the retailer.  They will change by platform so I’m not going to get into that.   But do not ship until you’ve actually signed into the payment platform and inspected it yourself.      Also, we will discuss fraud in another post.

5. Now it’s time to ship it.

Okay, so it’s paid for, you have the packaging, you are ready to ship.   If you use USPS or Canada Post, be sure to ONLY ship to the address listed in the payment platform and be sure to get a tracking number.   Even if it’s a $2 item, pay the $12 to get the tracking number.    You should have known the cost of shipping from our steps above and you those costs are in the listing.     Send the customer the tracking number, they will get it on whatever platform you use and they will get it on paypal.  But let them know that you know that it’s on it’s way.   This deters the immediate scammers.

What’s next?

Once you see that it’s arrived, send a message to the buyer and ask if everything is okay.   If you do have a return policy, make sure you know what it entails.   Since 2017, I’ve had about 30% of all products returned.    The buyer thinks that these platforms are just like walmart or something.

I wish you the best of luck with this.   Send me an email if you have questions and I’ll do my best to answer them