When do I list an item as an Auction?

I became an eBay seller towards the end of 2012.  My husband was looking to quit his job and begin school full-time in January 2013, and I didn’t make enough at my job to cover all of the bills without extra income.  I saw a friend post on Facebook about being an eBay seller and asked her a few questions.  She directed me to a group of sellers who shared tips, advice, and information on what to buy and how to ship.  I listed my first few items in December of that year, after a month or so of lurking, and I haven’t looked back.  Over the past two and a half years, I’ve been able to help contribute to our family’s finances, while also staying at home with the kids.

Since my first sale on December 9, 2012, I’ve had $32,830.06 in profit, with 942 sales; this averages out to $34.85 per sale.  Had I not spent most of last year pregnant and sick, then had a baby in December, I feel that number would be quite higher.  I took a break for several months during that time so that I could focus on spending time with my kids, getting ready for baby, and then being mom to a newborn for two months before I returned.

Now that my baby is older and my big kids will both be off to school in a couple of weeks, it’s time to get busy!

During my first few months as an eBay seller, I stuck with auctions because that’s the platform I knew eBay to be.  Within 2-3 months I purchased a store subscription so that I could simply list my items fixed price and let them sit for 30 days at a time, or until they sold.  While the bulk of my listings are fixed price, and it is my preference, there are certain times when it’s worth it to list as an auction.

When do I list an item as an auction?

  • When the item is rare (not rare as in “eBay seller says it’s rare!”, but more like there’s little information to be found about it anywhere).
  • When there are no to few completed listings for the item in eBay’s search engine
  • When it is a high value item and I have little invested in it (ex. Hermes scarf that I found for $2.95, ended ~$175)
  • When an item is highly collectible (ex. Disney monorail playsets. Purchased a clear plastic bin with three sets in it and auctioned each one off.  Paid $7.95 and made almost $300!)
  • When I have a grouped lot of items that I don’t particularly feel like listing individually (ex. Fisher-Price Trio, LEGO sets, small toys)
  • When an item has sat, unsold, for a period in excess of 60 days

How do I price my auctions?

  • ALWAYS starting at the lowest price that I’m willing to take (ex. Paid $9.90 for a seat of Real Estate CDs/DVDs and started auction at $99.99, a bargain compared to completed listings seen.  Ended at $251; I would have sold this at fixed price for less!)
  • Shipping is not included.  My fixed price listings all offer “free” shipping, meaning that the price is built in to the item. Since I have no way of knowing what an auctioned item will end at, I never offer free shipping on these items, as I may end up losing money and inventory if the auction doesn’t do as expected.
  • No $.99 auctions ever! Some sellers claim to have luck with auctions starting at $.99.  Since my sales goals are based more on quality over quantity, I would rather start an auction at a higher price and get fewer bids, but a price I’m happy with, than have 20 bids and come up short.
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