Extra Cash for Christmas!

Save money for Christmas with help from LoanPig

Christmas is drawing nearer, and many of us have already begun our preparations. In our recent article Ten Tips to Get Christmas Sorted we looked at various ways to cut the cost of Christmas, and also how to make some extra cash between now and Christmas.
One of the ways you can get extra cash for Christmas is to sell goods online, and one of the main websites for doing this is eBay. So in this article we’ll take a quick look at how to use eBay effectively.
  1. What can you sell?
The first thing you need to do is to generate items to sell. It’s good to have a big clear out before Christmas anyway: it leaves your home less cluttered so that you have plenty of room for guests, and of course for all your lovely new Christmas presents!
So your first priority is to go through every room and find as many possible things to sell as you can. Most of us have a wide variety of unwanted items in our homes: consumer research from TNS indicates that the average home contains around £4,000 worth of unused items.
One rule of thumb when clearing out is that if something hasn’t been used for a year, do you still really need it? Also remember the much-quoted advice from William Morris:“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
  1. Will anyone buy it?
You would be surprised what sells on eBay! It really is a case of one seller’s junk being a buyer’s dream find. You will often see fierce bidding between people to secure an item that you really didn’t think would sell.
You can do a bit of research in advance to see what is currently selling well by going to explore.eBay.com. Make sure you set to country to the UK then you can see what is trending, what the best sellers are, and get an idea of prices to charge.
As a general rule, new items, well known-brands, rare items and retro items such as early versions of gadgets or previous best selling toys will all sell well.
  1. Get the price right
It is hard to know what prices to charge. Your aim is to get rid of stuff, so you don’t want to set the prices too high and put people off. On the other hand you want to make as much money as you can, so don’t set the price too low.
There is an eBay app here that can help you, and eBay will also suggest a typical starting price during the listing process. But if you are new to eBay it is a good idea to find and watch other listings for items like yours. You can then see what kind of starting price they are listed at, and how much they eventually sell for.
Also remember to factor into your price the cost of any packaging materials, and the fact that you will have to pay eBay fees (see item 9 below). In light of this – and the time it takes to list and post items – there may be some smaller items that you decide are not worth selling on eBay and can perhaps use local social media selling sites instead. But for higher value items that will attract a lot of interest you can potentially make a good profit on eBay even when you take your costs into consideration.
  1. Listing categories, titles and timings
Even if there are lots of potential buyers on eBay, this is no use to you unless they can find your item. So when listing goods, make sure that you are listing your item in the most suitable category. To help you with this, eBay will suggest this for you.
Also make sure that you add a comprehensive title that includes all the keywords that potential buyers are likely to use if they search for an item like yours. This will ensure that your item gets included in the “best match” list of items that eBay returns to the searcher when they type in these keywords.
When listing an item you can choose how long you want to let your auction run for, and whether you want to run it as an auction (where buyers bid for your item), a “Buy It Now” (where you can achieve an instant sale), or both.
Ebay attracts most visitors on a Sunday evening so this is a good time for your auction listings to end, as you may be able to get several buyers bidding against each other and therefore pushing the price higher.
  1. Describe it well
Writing good product descriptions is really important. This is a busy time of year for people, so you need to give them the key information in an easy to read format. It is worth spending time writing a couple of standard product descriptions that you can then adapt depending on the item you are selling. Make sure the individual item descriptions include specific and detailed information about the item, especially its condition.
EBay has produced a video to help you create excellent titles and descriptions: this can be viewed here.
It can also be good to choose a consistent design style for your listings, with backgrounds and font styles/colours that convey something about you as a seller. This can also make your listings stand out from the crowd.
  1. Use good photos
These days there is no excuse for using poor photos on eBay. Most of us have access to cameras on our phones that are far better quality  than a lot of everyday cameras in the early days of eBay. If an eBay listing has blurry or unclear photos it just looks as if the seller doesn’t really care, and is not a great incentive to buy.
So make sure you take good shots of your item that you can then display as part of your listing. It is good to take a variety of photos of the item from different angles, ensuring it can be clearly seen. Highlight anything of particular importance – for example a special feature of the item or a defect with it – and you can then refer to this in your listing. Also make sure you take photos against a plain background that does not overwhelm the item.
Ebay have also produced a video on how to take winning photos: you can see this here.
  1. Charge fair postage costs
When selling items on eBay you need to decide whether you will post them or want them to be collected by the buyer. EBay will suggest a postage cost for an item you are selling based on the cost of posting similar items and also the type of postage service that you are using.  Depending on the value of the item you may choose a more secure form of delivery where the item is tracked and has to be signed for.
The key thing with charging for postage is to cover your costs. Don’t forget to factor in packing materials and also your time to pack and post the item. But be aware that if you charge too much for delivery on eBay, this may put off potential buyers.
Whatever you decide, the golden rule is to only post items out once payment is received and cleared, just to make sure that you don’t end up losing out.
  1. Decide how you want to be paid
EBay gives sellers a variety of options to accepting payment. If you are getting buyers to collect items then you may want to deal in cash, which makes it easy all round. For electronic payments it is definitely worth setting up a PayPal account. Paypal is a third party online payment service that you can sign up to for free. It enables you to link your account to your bank account and/or debit/credit cards so that you can make and receive payments without having to share your financial information with buyers or sellers.
  1. Selling costs
When selling on eBay, you will be charged fees each month by eBay for doing so. These fees are based on:
  • Listing/insertion fee
  • Final value fee
  • Paypal fee
  • Listing upgrade options eg Buy It Now, Reserve price
You can find out more information about eBay costs here, and there is also a fee calculator here that will give you an idea of the fees you are likely to have to pay for a particular value item.
  1. Don’t get scammed!
A last word of advice is to be on your guard against fraud when selling on eBay.  Your increased online presence may make you more vulnerable to “phishing” emails that look as if they have come from eBay or Paypal but aim to direct you to a fake website in order to steal your login details and hack your account.
Also be very cautious if a potential buyer messages you about an item for sale, asking you to close the auction and complete the transaction outside eBay. Whilst you may see this as a way to avoid eBay fees it means that you will not be protected by eBay’s seller protection policies.
Finally, as we mentioned in point 7 above, never send out an item until you have received cleared payment for it.
We hope that the above tips help you to sell successfully on eBay and raise some extra cash for Christmas. Check back here soon for more money saving tips from LoanPig.