Decluttering with Ebay, Part 2

How to set up to start selling on Ebay.

This is the second article in a series. If you haven’t read it, check out Start Decluttering with Ebay.

Selling on Ebay involves three major steps:

  1. Setup
  2. Listing and selling
  3. Shipping


Setup is basic, but time consuming, so allow a couple hours to do this. Here are the steps:

Set up a PayPal account. You need a bank account, and and email address. If you have multiple email addresses, pick one for the business accounts, which will include PayPal, Ebay, and maybe also Instagram and Pinterest. You sign up on, and the link your bank account to the account.

Set up Ebay. You should do this after you’ve done your PayPal account.

That’s it for new accounts. You should also set up your mobile phone to pick up that email account.  Then, as a final step, you should install the Ebay mobile app so you get notified of sales.

Listing and Selling

Listing and selling is easy to learn. The Ebay website helps you a lot. Getting good at listing takes a while, but getting started is super-simple. Again, the steps to listing are simple:

  1. Photographing the object.
  2. Describing the object.
  3. Setting the shipping options.
  4. Waiting for the sale (aka, improving the listing).


Put all the stuff you’re going to sell into a big box. If it doesn’t fit, don’t try to sell it the first time around.  Then, plan to take photos all at once, outdoors in the shade, or in a room with sunlight.  Get a sheet, a piece of white paper, or a clean table top or floor for the photos.

Finally, pick out a morning to shoot photos. You want to shoot in the morning because natural light takes really good photos. (If you’re a photographer, you do what you want, OK.)

Descriptions: Titles, Measurements

The easiest way to write a title is to copy it. Search for a listing for your exact product. Then, click on “Sold Items” to see which one sold for the highest price. Underneath the photos is a button labeled “Sell Similar”. Click it, and a new listing starts, and many of the fields are filled in for you.

The reason to copy titles is because they contain keywords that people type to search for things. They type them into the Ebay search bar, and type them into the Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go, or Yahoo searches.

So, you’ve got a title, and this “keywords” idea in your head. Next is to make the description.

You need to look at similar listing and see what they do in their listings.

You need to put all the measurements in there. Make them yourself, and don’t rely on the box or the tags.

If there are any flaws, like missing parts, holes, rips, tears, scuffing, etc. add that to the listing. The reason for this is Ebay’s policy: if your description isn’t accurate, the buyer can return the product for a refund, and you must pay the return shipping.

Don’t worry about writing a long story. People generally don’t read them. (I’ve done them. Nobody cares.)

Shipping: First Class or Parcel Select Ground or Priority Mail Fixed Rate Boxes

When you’re starting to list, put everything in order by weight, because you want to sell all the light things first. Here’s why:

USPS will ship anything up to 15oz with First Class Package, and the price is based on how much it weighs… just like regular first class letters which we understand.

Of course, you have to figure in the weight of the envelope or box.  So, really, we’re talking about things 11 oz or less.

For small items, try using padded mailers.  I got a lot of them for around 8 cents each, but you can find them for around 25 cents each in bulk. They also sell them at the 99 cents store for around 50 cents each.

Parcel Select Ground

For slightly heavier things, you want to use Parcel Select Ground. The price to ship is based on the weight and distance.

If the thing you have is heavier than 1 pound, you need to use PSD and do not offer free shipping. Ebay is going to encourage you to offer free shipping, but don’t do that. Not now. It’s too much work to calculate the postage.

The most important thing to do is weigh the package before listing it.  I just screwed up on a listing, and said something was between 1 and 2 pounds, and it was really just a little more than 2 pounds.  The price difference?


Yeah, It was actually more than $4. Fortunately, my product was a hubcap I found on the street, so I had a reasonable profit margin to screw up.

If the destination was local, the price difference would have been a measly $0.60, but the destination was on the East Coast, and I’m in California… so the price difference was huge.

How to avoid this problem. Well, I screwed up because I was in a hurry and also didn’t want to touch the dirty back parts of the hubcap. But the thing is, you need to weigh your objects.  You need to get a small scale for the light things, and a bathroom scale for the big things.

Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes

If your stuff weighs more than a few pounds, use Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes.  The USPS provides the boxes, which is awesome.  The basic deal with these boxes is, you can ship up to 40 pounds in a envelope, and 70 pounds in a box, for the same price regardless of weight or distance.

These boxes cost more than PSG for nearby locations, but if it’s over halfway across the country, these boxes are cheaper.

So, what they really do is expand your potential market.  The people nearby aren’t going to flip out over paying $2 extra. The people far away, may find your listing competitive with who is local.

Okay, I’m nearly at 1000 words, and need to stop before people really drop off.

If you like what you’re reading, follow this blog. I’ll get to the “waiting for the sale” next time.


Let’s look at the four items I found to sell, roughly in order by weight.

  • Shells
  • Bell Pepper Timer
  • Cassettes
  • Power adapter

Fortunately, these are all less than one pound, and could be sent in a #0 envelope.

Let’s list the power adapter. Here is the photo.


I should probably flip it around.

It fits into a #0 envelope:


It weighs 6.5 ounces. For postal purposes, we assume it’s 7 ounces.

Also, when we list it, we need to add in the weight of the envelope. That’s around 1.5 ounces, but I just add 3 to be safe.

Finding a Similar Listing

At this point, you need to spend some time learning about power adapters.  There are guides online, and on Ebay.  Here are a few: 1 2 3 4 5. You need to learn about the products you are selling.

With your new-found knowledge, you can conduct a search to find a power adapter similar to this one.  So I will try these:

  • 12v 2a power adapter
  • DM5133U adapter

Wow, the first search turned up thousands of listings, but the second one, “DM5133U”, turned up 43 listings. Clicking on “Sold Listings” revealed that two were sold for $8.50 with shipping included.  (That means it’s around $5.50 with $3 shipping.)

So, we want to go to one of these sold listings, click “sell similar” and then create our listing.  Before we do that, though… look down the page.

A Trick

Look at this listing of the sold items.  Take a look at the “results matching fewer words” in the lower half.  The listing with the orange photo sold for more money, but it appears to be a similar or identical product.

(Due to Ebay rules, I can’t post a screenshot here.)

What this lister did was have a typo in the listing.  The people searching for the item by typing “DM5133” instead of “DM5133U” will get the orange background listing! The sold at least two of these, as well.

They also end up paying nearly twice as much for the same product.

Also, my adapter actually had another label on it:


Yes, it was from an ACOM Data external drive. I used to label my adapters so they wouldn’t get mixed up.

I would guess, based on the titles, Toshiba also used this.  So, we can also use “Toshiba” in our listing.  Toshiba probably sold more external drives than Acom Data did. If possible, I’ll include both Toshiba and Acom in the title.

My title will be: “DURA DM5133U DM5133 AC ADAPTER 12 VDC 2 A FOR TOSHIBA ACOM 3.5″ EXT HARD DRIVE”

That’s just like the one I copied, but I deleted “OEM” and added “ACOM” and added DM5133U along with the other number.

My condition: “Has a label affixed on one side.”

Just be honest.  Nowadays, the condition field is being promoted over the description field.  Ebay is trying to move away from lengthy descriptions.

The item specifics are mostly filled out for you.  These are sometimes very important, but, in this situation, I think the sales are going to come from searches, because the entire market has some 10,000+ listings, and it’s too tedious to whittle down the listings, when you can just type in the part number from your broken adapter.

In the description, I wrote: “Originally for an ACOM data enclosure, but will work on Toshiba.”

If you don’t feel comfortable enough about power adapters to make that claim, don’t make it, and don’t put “Toshiba” in your title.  I happen to think it’ll work fine, because I did some additional research, on Google, about this product.

For my example, I’m not going to use free shipping. I will use regular First Class, and set the pricing to: “calculate based on location’ (even though the location doesn’t matter for First Class).

I will also price this in between the $5.50 and $10.50 that the two adapters cost. I’ll go for $9. With shipping, that’s $12.75.  It’s not competitive against the $8.50 adapters, but it is cheaper than the $16 adapters.

I will list it for 30 days, with a fixed price.  I don’t use auctions, generally.

Here’s the listing.

Then, as a next step, which you don’t need to do, I put the object into the mailer, and then tag it with a label. This then goes into a storage box until it’s sold.

I also put the storage box information into a spreadsheet. You do not need to do all of that, but, you should put them into a box so you can retrieve it when it sells.

This is one listing down.  In the next article, I’ll go into improving this listing. (I’m writing this on July 1, but will post on July 8. The dates will be way off.)

Author: John

I can be reached at

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