My eBay sales have been going fairly steady and l’ve managed to make a profit on my cycling gear and some items l had lying around the garage. One question l see being asked regularly is, can you make a living on eBay?

There are two main groups of sellers on eBay: casual sellers, who use eBay as a way to supplement their wages and professional sellers, whose main source of income is eBay. This week, l’m going to look at how you can make the leap from being a casual seller to a professional seller and make a living on eBay.

Is it possible to make a living on eBay?

In the UK, ecommerce sales reached a record £45 billion in 2014, so with the right product combined with time and effort, it would certainly appear to be possible.

Let’s do the maths.

Let’s say your target is £20,000 per year and you’re aiming for a £5 profit for each item. That means you need to sell 4,000 items a year which works out around 11 items a day and 333 items per month. 11 items a day is a very achievable target, especially if you’re selling on additional platforms such as Amazon.

How to make a living on eBay

Step 1: Choose wisely
This is the probably the most difficult stage for any budding ecommerce entrepreneur.

The main advice we can offer is to focus on a product/market you know something about. If you have a passion for an interest or hobby, then that could provide the inspiration to finding the products you are going to sell.

It is beneficial to find a product in a niche market, where competition isn’t as fierce. Ensure there is a demand for your product by doing your research on eBay, seeing what products sold recently and for how much.

A search that returns a high number of items priced very competitively, may indicate that it’s not an area you want to focus on. Instead, it may be better to focus on a market with fewer sellers and try to become a leader in your chosen field.

Ideally, you should be able to source the product quickly and directly from the manufacturers. A product that is easy to ship will save time and money on postage and packaging. A product that people will buy repeatedly is also preferable.

Add-on products are a popular tactic with ecommerce companies. For example, if you buy a Kindle on Amazon, they’ll remind you about chargers and covers which will help Amazon increase their profit margins from the original purchase. This tactic is know as up-selling.

Struggling for product ideas and in need of some inspiration? Check out this great blog from our friends over at Shopify.

Step 2: Price competively
SellerExpress has a built-in repricer that allows sellers to optimise their prices on Amazon. Although, there isn’t an option to reprice on eBay, sellers do have the ability to set their eBay prices the same as their Amazon prices.

In order to achieve high sales and profits, you don’t necessarily need to be the cheapest but you do need to keep prices competitive!

A tactic used by some new sellers is to sell for a low profit or break-even to gain good feedback and then raise prices when they become a more established seller.

Another tactic employed by sellers is to increase the price of their product, if their main competitor runs out of stock.

Step 3: It takes time and effort!

Simply put, the more time you invest in eBay, the greater the chance of success.

Success isn’t going to happen overnight. It is likely to take a while before you reap the benefits of the time and efforts you have spent building your ecommerce business.

It takes time to write an effective listing but once you’ve written a few and know what works, you’ll be able to save time and in the ecommerce business, time is money!

There is an abundance of resources (lots of them free) available across the Internet in the form of YouTube videos, podcasts, ebooks, forums and blogs—use these to get the knowledge you need to make a living on eBay.

Step 4: Open an eBay shop

Once you’re up and running, you’ll want to set up an eBay shop, which will make it easier for your customers to find you and view your range of products.

Before opening an eBay shop, sellers must meet the following requirements:

Basic Shop

  • You must be PayPal verified.

Featured Shop

  • You must be a registered business seller on eBay.
  • You must be PayPal verified.
  • Maintain a 12-month average Detailed Seller Ratings score of 4.4 or above in each of the four areas.

Anchor Shop

  • You must be a registered business seller on eBay.
  • You must be PayPal verified.
  • Maintain a 12-month average Detailed Seller Ratings score of 4.6 or above in each of the four areas.

eBay provides a step-by-step process to help you name your Shop and choose your Shop’s basic appearance.

Step 5: Customer service is key

If you want to become a successful seller, you need to ensure your customer service is solid. eBay buyers are able to leave feedback and won’t be shy in telling the world, if you’ve shipped late or they have any other issues.

Ideally, minimise the chances of receiving negative feedback by having great products, shipped on-time, packaged correctly and deal with any issues promptly and in a professional manner.

Step 6: Promote your business

Use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram) to spread the word about your business.

If you’ve got a website, add a blog section and write some interesting content around your product or industry. A number of big brands do content marketing very successfully including Red Bull and Coca-Cola.

Collect email addresses from customers and potential customers and keep in touch with them through email marketing. It’s also worth including business leaflets with a promo code off their next order, in your packages.


There you have it, SellerExpress’ 6-step guide to becoming a professional seller and making a living on eBay.

In conclusion, we feel it certainly is possible to make a living on eBay, as thousands of professional sellers do each year. However, it won’t be easy or happen overnight and will require time, dedication and effort.

As we’ve discussed, it’s good to start off selling a product you have knowledge or passion for, invest time and effort into growing your business and establish yourself as a reputable seller with positive feedback.

If you’re going to do eBay full-time, it’s worthwhile setting up an eBay shop and using social media to help spread the word about your products. As with a lot of things in business and in life, you will learn a lot from making mistakes and find ways to work smarter with experience.