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Any tips for selling on eBay?

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Hello all,


I’ve decided to finally get around to selling some stuff, but I’ve never done so on an online platform. I know that a lot of forum members sell on eBay, and I was wondering if anyone had any advice. For example, should I do auction or buy it now? What do y’all look for when buying something on eBay?

Thanks for any input,



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All I can say is, experiment.  Many complain about ebay, but it's really pretty easy. I've been on since 2001. 


If you want the best $ amount, it is a coin flip between Buy It Now (BIN) and Auction formats. If you want to get rid of it, do the BIN. If you want to see how much you can get, run the auction. A lot of people run the .99 cent starting point. There are great successes with this, but if it sells at .99 on a $20 item, that's the business gamble you've decided to take. McDonalds runs a .99 menu to get you in the door to buy more. 


A lot of members have put their expertise out on the forum, so read , read , read. 


Be very descriptive. If it has a moth hole, note it. If it's wrinkled, note it. Know your product. 


Pictures! Take good clear ones. Front, back, and angles.   


This is my rule of thumb: What I pay for an item, I take that cost and multiply by 1.3. The .3 is basically the fees you will be charged. Ebay is a business. Here is my selling formula:

Basically when I sell something on ebay, I figure my "profit" potential as:

Cost of item = x

ebay fees = .20

NOW - ebay collects sale tax = rule of thumb .0775 or .08 (ebay .2 + tax .08 = .28, round up to .30) 


$10 x 1.3 = $10.30,  I need to get $10.30 to break even on a $10 item. 


Try to use Postal Flat rate products, those are great and come with tracking numbers. If it fits, it ships. People will try to screw you over, saying they didn't get their stuff. If it's tracked, it's on the post office.   


Be honest, be fair. Good luck.




I "primarily" collect Gulf War 1 patches. All branches (USA, USAF,USN, USMC & USCG) and ALL Countries..
US - Op.'s Desert Shield / Storm / Provide Comfort /Some Southern Watch - F-4G's Wild Weasels
UK - Op.'s Granby / Sabre / Warden
Canadian - Op. Desert Storm / Op. Friction
French - Daguet / Aconit
Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, South Korea, etc.
Looking for the oddities, including unfinished & flaws
I HAVE EXTRA's!! Will trade as well.


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It depends on what you are selling and how much you want to list it for. Both can get a fair amount of traffic, although if either is too high it will definitely see less interest. I guess I will cover a little of both.

Buy It Now.


-Always include the "make an offer" option with this listing, it allows the buyer to make the first move when negotiating an item price and while you may receive some low balls you will be able to sell your item faster then without it, although most likely for a lower price then first listed, so keep that in mind when listing. If the price is good, you will probably see a lot more activity. 


-When pricing, make sure to look at some of the other prices that your item has sold for. This will give you the best idea of your item is going for right now. Make sure you list your item for a price that is competitive compared to sold listings. For example if the item you are selling has sold for $75, $50 and $55 consider somewhere in the $45-$60 range to list your item as this will give you a competitive price. I guess you can look at it like a direct relationship. If X is time it takes to sell item and Y is price listed as Y, or price, increases X, or time it takes to sell item, also increases. You have to decide how long you want your item to sit online before you sell it. Is the extra $15 in price point worth it for the 4-5 extra months of wait time it may take for example for it to sell? Obviously this is a very general view of things, and there are a lot more factors to determine item price, but without knowing the actual item itself, this is the best way for me to give you an idea on how to list your items. If you always list it competitively compared to past sold items, things like condition and such don't matter as much as if it is in worse condition, the price is less, and if it is in better condition, it is priced more competitively and more likely to sell. Also having the "make an offer" option like I mentioned before, even if you don't plan on accepting any offers, still makes the item more competitive and the sense of urgency to not only offer a higher offer but also to skip the "make an offer" and just buy an item in case the seller accepts another offer before yours. 




-Make sure to list the starting price Very low. I'm talking anywhere from 0.99 to 9.99 USD fort most items, whether it is a $20 item (in that case list on the lower end of that spectrum) or a $500 item (in that case go a little higher although for the valuable items it doesn't really matter as long as it is between 0.99-9.99). This allows for buyers when they see the auction to instantly become more interested because the low starting price allows them to think they have a chance for a good deal. Once you get buyers interested they are less likely to back out and more likely to pay more in order to get the item, especially if they decide they really need the item and get into a bidding war with another buyer. Now the risk is that the item does end up selling for very low, but with the traction the item should get with the low price, you should get enough interest for the price to at least get to a respectable amount. But keep in mind this is part of the risk with auction. if you have low risk tolerance, "buy it now" is a much better option. If you have high risk tolerance, list all of your items at 0.99 with no reserve at auction and let the market that day decide the value. 


-Never ever ever ever put a reserve on an auction. This might seem weird, but let me explain. You may think a reserve is a good idea, that way you can start by listing it low and then put in the least amount you would sell it for to see if you can at least get what you want, and if not then the item won't sell. But putting a reserve on your auction will immediately kill most of the interest. eBay does not tell buyers the reserve price on an auction, so the only way to know is to ask the seller. Plus if there is one interested buyer who is the only bidder, they can't raise their own bid, so the item will end for a very low price no matter how much they bid. Most buyers don't have the time or don't care enough to even deal with reserve priced auctions. And while they can personally message the seller to see if they can work out a price, that can be time consuming and many sellers can be impossible to deal with so it isn't worth it to bother. It's much better to list it Buy it Now if you can't handle the possibility of the item going low, but auction is great if you aren't sure on the price. And of course it is much easier to pick a price then with buy it now. 


-Another option with auction is to also add a buy it now tab. This can be useful if you are looking to get the item off quickly, but this works best if you can generate a lot of interest in the item and keep the buy it now price extra competitive. This way you will either get someone to pull the trigger and buy it early, or you'll see some early action bidding from bidders offsetting the buy it now auction by bidding early. I personally think it's best to choose either or, but if you keep the buy it now price very competitive, you may be able to sell your item extra fast using this strategy. 



-Make sure to add max number of pictures detailing all the characteristic of the item. Knowledge is power, and if a buyer is more sure of what they are buying they are more likely to bid/spend more on an item as it is less risky they are getting something bad. You don't need to be a professional photographer, but keeping things clear and concise and detailing as much as you can will better help sell your item for a good price. 


-Make sure you mention all your terms in the description as well as all defects and all characteristics you show in the photos. This will help protect you from buyers attempting to swindle you by saying the item is in worse condition then described. Make sure you list everything you see, all dents, moth holes, etc. It can be tedious, but it will be worth it to protect you. Make sure you mention shipping terms and such as well. If you won't ship overseas say it. If you won't combine shipping mention it. Make sure the buyer knows or at least had the ability to know if they were paying attention everything. It will save you headaches in the future. 


That's about all I can think off off the top of my head. Selling can be a great way to get a little money out of the hobby, or help to fund your collection. Selling can be very tedious, but also very fruitful if you are selling valuable items. Just don't get over your head trying to be rick from pawn stars and make a lot of money on every item. That's how items sit on your sight page for months or even years losing you money. I see a lot of sellers pull in tons of money by keeping prices competitive and allowing eBay to do the work to generate interest. Selling in large volume is definitely worth while, as having multiple good quality items for competitive prices can triple your activity per listing as people see your other listings recommended from finding one listing and then seeing you deal in militaria will actively bid more thinking there is less risk to them for buying the item and thus driving up your prices and making more money. I'm sure there is a lot more to cover and there is a lot of strategy, but it all really comes down to the direct relation of X-being time to sell and Y-being price of item. List items competitively. Remember that and you will sell. 



I am an amateur collector of US military items of the 20th century.


Looking for items related to:

-The Aleutian Island Campaign of WW2, Alaskan Theater, Alaska Defense Command, and more specifically the Battle of Attu

-Items related to the 50th Combat Engineer Regiment/Battalion

-Items related to Wheelus Air Force Base Libya, particularly from 1957-1960

-WW2 items belonging to service members from Northern Virginia

-WW2 Uniforms (all branches and services)

-Cheap/Throwaway WW2 named uniforms

-Smaller WW2 Groupings

-7th Infantry Division Items

-WW2 Photos and Letters (all branches, theaters, services, etc)


^^ PM ME!!


Instagram: @surplus_central https://instagram.com/surplus_central/

eBay: http://www.ebay.com/usr/giovachm

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I agree! This was very helpful, thanks Hunt and EasternEagle. I’ll have to figure out which buying format I’ll do first, and I’ll definitely use both of your advice. When I get things up and running I’ll put a link on the forum to my eBay page.

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Yeah, don't under any circumstances sign up for the eBay Global Shipping Program.

Written contributor to French Militaria Magazine, UK World War II Re-enactors Magazine &The Karkee Web Research Team.

Remembering the service of:
9095 Pte Alfred Fredrick NEWLAND, 7th Field Ambulance, 2 Division, AIF. WIA 16/11/16 France.
436 Private Albert McCANN, B Company 8th Battalion AIF. Enlisted 26/8/14. Killed in Action 17/6/15 Gallipoli.
VX24056 Gunner George Edward McCANN, 2/3 Composite Anti Aircraft Regiment. Enlisted 7/6/40. Discharged 3/8/44. Served in Australia and New Guinea.




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Everyone one that commented is right on the money, if you really want to sell it and not hold on to it start each auction at 9.99 ( if it's worth that), and let it go. it's a gamble for sure. Make sure you really want to sell the item. Many a time I've had regrets selling something that I liked. I've been doing eBay since 1999, selling and buying, and I would say I've funded my own collection from eBay. Always remember to get your item out as soon as possible, this way you build up your eBay rating. Once you get a good rep you'll have repeat customers. Good luck

Sent from my moto g(7) play using Tapatalk





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Solid advice given already but what I'll add is communicate and pack it well. USPS does not care what is in your package or how many times you stamp "fragile" on it. Pack your stuff as if it's going to be dropped a time or two along the way, because it probably will be. It may or may not be a big deal but I like polite communication between buyers and sellers. Years ago I got a message from a seller that basically said "thanks for your purchase, i packed your (whatever) in such and such manner, it should reach you safe and sound but please let me know if there are any problems, thanks again". That struck me for some reason so I started doing it with my sales too. Also, if you cant ship it on time, let the buyer know asap. Things happen and most buyers are understanding as long as you don't leave them in the dark about why their item is slow to ship.


Looking for Purple Hearts to service members from Roanoke Virginia and the surrounding area (Bedford, Botetourt, Vinton, Salem, Floyd, Franklin, Craig, Giles, etc.)

I'm willing to pay a premium. $$$

Also looking for:

Purple Hearts named to service members buried in the Normandy Cemetery or Arlington Cemetery.

Dog tags named to service members from Virginia.


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Feedback: Speaking from a buyer's perspective, if I pay in a prompt manner upon win notification / invoice, receive and am happy with an item and post positive seller feedback, why are there sellers that don't post return feedback? Not really a question but more of a peeve. I do run into this and in my opinion it's poor public relations. I pay attention to this and if I never receive acknowledgement for fulfilling my obligation as a buyer then apparently the seller is not too interested in my repeat business. At the very least, if I'm zeroed in on another of the seller's items, I will not leave feedback first.  The eBay feedback system is far from ideal. It is however part of their ecosystem. Following through with feedback for your buyers gives them that 'service after the sale' feeling and is one more way to build your customer base.


'Just one more wing' away from true happiness...

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Shipping: As someone mentioned before use the USPS flat rate boxes if possible. Always make sure you are charging enough to ship your item. I've recently had to eat additional shipping costs on some bulky/ heavy items that I had to put into larger boxes.  The weight and size of multiple pieces of clothing etc.  can add up quickly. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I recently learned my lesson about returns. What I learned was that even if you list it as no returns, a buyer can request a return, and if you say no, they file a case with EBay, and my research indicated that you will always lose. My buyer requested a return, and then messaged me saying he would keep it if I gave him $100. I didn’t do it, but that return cost me some money.  I’m done with EBay, and I’ve had a 100 percent rating since 1999.

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Well, have you considered selling a few items here on the forum first? We have no listing fees, no sales fees, and we don't tack on fees for every little thing like some sites do!

Keep in mind the market for militaria can be volatile, prices can surge on items, and then level off. Don't get discouraged if it seems like there are no takers right away, it's about finding the right middle ground between yourself and a potential buyer, and sometimes that takes a while to figure out.

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*


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Three things to add.

Take good, clear pictures, in adequate light of all the important parts of the item, as well as one overall shot.

Answer questions promptly.

Spell everything correctly.  I've bought many a bargain off ebay because the seller couldn't spell.  And an incorrect spelling will miss various searches buyers use.


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