When Should I Start Selling?

I would suggest not starting a decluttering project by selling things on Ebay. Ebay sales are generally slow. Try something faster, first.

The fastest way to get rid of stuff is to throw it into the trash. It’s instant.

The second fastest is to separate out recyclables, and throw the recyclables into the blue bin, and the rest into the trash. This will cost a couple  hours a month.

The next fastest is to separate out the recyclables that you can sell, and selling those. This will add another hour to your work.

After that, there’s separating out the somewhat valuable items that you can’t sell, and giving them away on Craigslist, on Freecycle, or other marketplaces. This will add a few hours to your work each month – but it’s rewarding, and also allows you to dispose of more.

Once you’re able to give stuff away online, I’d start doing Ebay.

Why is it so far down the list?

Ebay takes Space, Time, Equipment and Organization

My History

I started selling online, on Ebay and Amazon, and giving stuff away on Craigslist, in late 2016, as part of an effort to get rid of stuff to move apartments, but didn’t consider buying and reselling until around March 2017.

At that time, I established an inventory system in a spreadsheet, to track what was listed and selling. So I just started to track inventory and finances.

I didn’t even try to sell my father’s hoard until June of 2017, after I had started to run out of my own stuff and was doing OK selling purchased stuff.

Selling this hoard took a lot more time. There were hundreds of items that I brought into the inventory, and thousands of items still at his home.

I had to track my time and money in more detail, because processing the hoard cost a lot in time. It started out a big money loser, and I don’t think it’s ever really been a huge profit center. It has been personally rewarding, however.


Odds are, you don’t start out with any extra space.  Selling things on Ebay takes space.

My current in-home Ebay operation takes around 7 feet by 4 feet, where I store and ship things. That doesn’t include the fact it’s also taken over a whole small bookcase, and part of a closet.

Then I expanded to my mother’s house, because I visit her often to keep up on her health. This Ebay thing can take over a lot of space. You need to manage this growth.


Next, it takes time. Your first listings will take an hour or more per listing.

Once you get the hang of it, it’ll still take a long time, for a while.

Eventually, you’ll get down to 20 minutes, then 10 minutes, and eventually, maybe down to 5 minutes.  I’m still in that range. New types of items I don’t understand take longer, and familiar types of items that I understand take 5 minutes or less.

So, even if you had 100 familiar items, like books, it might take me 5 minutes to photograph and list each one.  That’s 500 minutes, or nearly 9 hours. It’s a lot of work.

Then you wait to sell. Rare books in demand will sell within a few weeks. Common books with low demand will sell only if you lower the price, and wait months or years.

So to sell quicker, you need to spend one minute researching each item to figure out if it’s rare or common. If it’s common, if there’s a glut in the market. If there’s too many identical items for sale, at a low price, you don’t even bother to list it. It goes straight into the “donate” or “dispose” pile.


When you start out, a smartphone with a camera is enough. The iPhone 5 is great, and pretty cheap.

When you “scale up” and want to list more, you will want a photography setup, and it’ll take up around 3 square feet, and cost around $50. Again, you’ll save time, but it’ll cost money and space.


As you grow, you’ll need to get organized – and that’s not our strong suit. So you’ll need to grow into organizing these things:

  • Inventory.
  • Finances.
  • Going through your hoard to “source” items.

Growing into organizing is the best part about Ebay, but it takes time. I am just a newbie at Ebay.