Back to Blog

Cancel the car boot — eBay for beginners

Posted On 29th September 2016

Car Boot

In this series of monthly articles, our resident eBay expert, Sanad Attia, takes us through his journey to becoming a successful Premium Rated Seller – providing hints and tips along the way.

In this first instalment, Sanad explains how he became interested in eBay, why it’s a great alternative to the humble car boot sale, and offers some helpful advice for beginners who might be nervous about making their first online sale.

My first experience of selling on eBay

When I first started selling online I had gathered a few household items that I had intended to sell at a car boot sale, then following a couple of wet weekends, I decided to give eBay a try instead. I remember searching the internet for help and advice and found it quite hard to come across. I really wanted to find someone who had first-hand experience of selling online and would be willing to give me some open and honest advice.

To begin with, I just learnt by trial and error, but following a series of successful sales, I developed a good understanding of how I could make money quickly from selling household items that I no longer needed or used anymore. As I’ve grown more experienced and built my own successful online business, I wanted to share some of my top tips and learnings from when I started out, so that you too can begin to sell online successfully.

How to sell something on eBay – the basics

Buy before you try (…to sell)

All eBay users have a feedback rating which shows how many transactions the user has made. Ratings are left by the opposite party following every transaction and offer a sense of trust and confidence when buying items from the site.

It’s a good idea to buy a few small items before you try to sell online. For one thing, it’ll help you to get familiar with the platform – but also, few buyers will do business with a seller with no feedback, and if they do, the item probably won’t achieve its full value.

Decide what you want to sell

If you’re reading this article then you probably already have a few things in mind to sell. But if not – don’t worry! Most people don’t realise how much they have laying around which people will pay good money for on eBay – at the time of writing, there are 51 listings for “1980’s carrier bag”; 206 listing for “used football socks”; and over 7,376 listings for “McDonalds Toys”. On eBay, one man’s trash really is another man’s treasure, and when you list an item, it has the potential to be seen by millions of buyers all around the world.

Get Listing

Now for the exciting part – selling your items. The first thing you’ll need to do is to take some photographs of the items you want to sell. If you’re selling lower value items then one or two photos suffice – but if you want the best price for a higher value item, then take the time to capture images from several angles, being sure to highlight any damage as buyers will appreciate your honesty and leave feedback accordingly. Photograph the items in good light (such as near a window, or under bright artificial lighting) and on a plain background. Most modern smart phones have decent enough cameras – but if don’t own a fancy phone, or are listing high-value items, then you can always use a proper digital camera.

Once you’ve got your photos, you’re all ready to list the item. You can do this on the eBay website, or (if you’re tech-savvy) use the eBay app on your smart phone. eBay does a pretty good job of making this a fairly straightforward process – but you can get more information on their help pages if you need it.

Am I really making as much money as I think I am?

A key thing to remember when you start out is the various costs which you can incur – from listing fees to final sale fees and also your postage and packaging costs. Your eBay fees could be approximately 10% of your sale and you will also have PayPal fees (usually 3.4% + 20p) if you plan to offer this as a payment option. The cost of postage and packaging will vary based on what you are sending.

Make efficient use of your time

As the old saying goes, time is money – and this is where eBay really beats the car boot. Why spend all that time loading and unloading a car (twice!), and standing around outside all day when you might not even sell all of your items? With eBay, you can list an item from the comfort of your armchair, and keep it there until it sells.

You can also save time by choosing the right parcel carrier. If you’re selling several items at a time, it’s worth using a carrier which can integrate with your eBay account. Instead of having to manually enter your buyers’ address details, these sites link with your eBay account to generate the postage labels automatically. offers this feature, and also provides convenient options for sending – whether you want to have the item collected from your home or work address, or drop off at your nearest Post Office® branch or Parcelforce Worldwide depot.

I hope that my advice will help to give you the confidence to begin selling your unloved or unused items on eBay. If you want to keep up to date with our latest news and advice, follow on Facebook and Twitter.