How To Start An eBay Side Hustle

About seven years ago, I was approached by my brother with the opportunity to go 50/50 with him on buying 60 non-running motorcycles from an estate. He had sold moped parts on eBay before, but this would be a large jump forward and he wanted help pulling it off.

This is how I started my side job/hobby of selling on eBay. Looking back, there were definitely mistakes that we made, such as allowing parts to get damaged and using inefficient tools for disassembly, but the adventure has paid off. Choosing to sell on eBay and learning a few tricks of the trade can be a rewarding experience for men both financially and personally.

These started it all.

Why Choose eBay?

In my case, I want to make some additional income, but I have a salaried day job, so I do not have the option of overtime. I do not have a trade such as plumbing or car repair that I can do on the side for an hourly rate, and I have not developed my artistic or entertaining skills enough to create things that people would pay for or have a side gig in a band. I have a young family, so spending weekends or nights away from home at a part-time job would be problematic.

Selling items on eBay is flexible from a time standpoint and it diversifies my income. It also provides me the opportunity to tinker with motorcycles and cars, which develops those skills and provides alternate activities to my professional desk job. I’ve learned enough to do car repair on my own vehicles and having a side hustle can be an interesting topic in casual social situations.

How To Start

A good way to get familiar with selling on eBay is to sell some personal items that you are no longer using. There is no additional outlay for inventory and it is stuff that you already know something about. Once you are familiar with the picturing, listing, and shipping aspects of eBay, you can move into a niche and grow your eBay business.

I recommend that you pick a market that you either already know about or that you have an interest in. I have found that it is helpful to have a limited scope or unusual aspect to help differentiate what I am selling. For me, I liked mechanical items and wanted to learn more about motorcycles, which eventually led me to working on cars and selling car parts.

I have found that it is helpful to buy items from a source with a small market such as Craigslist, a local online auction, or a swap meet and then get a larger market by selling on eBay. Monitor the market for your items on Craigslist and on eBay. eBay has a filter for selecting sold listings, which is my preferred way of checking the value of items.

Pick a specific price type of item such as carburetors from GM and Ford muscle cars. Learn the models and brands and the types. Learn what is stock, what is aftermarket and what is desirable. Then, on Craigslist, pick a specific price range such as $50 to $100 and check daily what is available. You’ll get an idea of what items are a good deal. Choose a couple items to purchase and list them. As they sell, you can use a portion of your profits to start building up your inventory.

16 Tips For Beginners

  • Start off small and refine your purchasing and listing processes.
  • Focus on items that can be shipped easily and learn to estimate the shipping cost.
  • Save boxes and packing material.
  • Compare your listings to similar listings to make sure that your pictures, pricing, and descriptions are in line with your competitors.
  • Set goals and monitor your progress.
  • Try to develop an overall formula. For example, when making a purchase, I aim to pay less than ten percent of the sales price of the items and figure that shipping and eBay fees will be about 30 percent of the cost on average. Depending on your niche, your formula will be different.
  • Keep refining your processes and gaining knowledge. I focus on listing items above $20, I’ve found that picturing then listing items in groups of 10 helps me, and I can often use the Sell Similar feature to streamline listing items from the same vehicle.
  • Stay organized and set up an efficient work area. I built a basement storage space and have plastic totes to store my parts by vehicle.
  • Make a modest investment in tools.
  • Spend five to ten minutes a day browsing your chosen niche on Craigslist.
  • Make connections with suppliers. I have an auction company in the area where I monitor their auctions and a friend who regularly sells me items that he comes across.
  • Don’t be afraid to try expanding your niche. I once bought random brass pieces at an auction for $2.20 and sold them for $45 on eBay.
  • Keep good records of expenses. This is handy for tax time.
  • Buy off-season items or buy in bulk.
  • Check Craigslist, auctions, thrift shops, rummage sales, the curb, and your closet for things you can sell.
  • Items that are too large to ship can be sold locally on Craigslist.

1977 Celica GT Liftback Success Story

My best find was a pair of rusty 1977 Celica Liftbacks at an auction. The only other bidder was a scrapper, and I paid $400 for the pair. I paid the scrapper $100 to move them. To date, I have listed over 400 parts and sold nearly 250 which has netted over $7,000 in profit.

Some of my best sales were selling the tail lights for $280, a front grill for $200, the rear window for $180, an engine head for $150, side view mirrors for $150, and hood hinges for $140. Selling the remaining parts should earn another $3,000 in profit, yielding a $10,000 total profit on two cars that otherwise would have been scrapped.

Scrap metal or precious metal?


Selling on eBay can be a flexible way to earn money and expand your knowledge base, and for some, it can turn into a part-time or full time career. It might help you turn the corner financially and get out of the debt slave/wage slave grind. By picking a market that you are interested in working in and learning that market, you can carve out your niche on eBay.

There are more in-depth and advanced articles online about selling on eBay, but oftentimes, the biggest hurdle is just getting started. As the saying goes: nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Read More: 10 Ideas For Starting A Business If You Don’t Have A Lot Of Money

26 thoughts on “How To Start An eBay Side Hustle”

  1. I like the idea of getting rid of shit you don’t need, but is too valuable to simply throw out. I have sold tons of stuff (old rare video games and other electronics) not thru eBay, but through Amazon and it is a good way to get some side cash and streamline your often excessive inventory of personal belongings.

    1. I second that, SSamuel – a constructive, positive article written by a man who has done well from the advice that he is giving us.

  2. Good article and timely for me.
    Interesting to plan on spending 10% of selling price. I’m good at finding stuff at around half of eBay prices.
    You mentioned thrift shops. Our local Goodwills, etc., carry a lot of computer and electronic gear for crazy low prices. It helps to enjoy tinkering with this kind of stuff.
    Lately I’ve been finding really good clearance deals at local bricks and mortar chain stores, like 1/4 list price. I’m thinking they must be hurting and doing this to compete with online.

  3. No wonder the Goodwill parking lot is packed in the morning when I drive by it.
    And no wonder I can’t find anything I need at Goodwill any more.
    I used to have a housemate who was this bottom feeding type, buying shit at Goodwill and selling it on Craigslist or Ebay.
    Yes it’s bottom feeding. All you are doing is inserting yourself in a process and making money on it.
    I have some car parts I want to get rid of. I can’t. Why? Because if I price to sell, all I’m going to do is end up selling to a bottom feeder who is going to turn around and sell it for more.
    Fuck them.
    So I sit on it and wait until someone on my circles needs something then I give it away or let it go for a song.
    Now, if you want to make some bucks providing a specialty item, like hard to find items that people don’t have time or skills to find, that’s great. People who do that provide a great service.
    But I watched my housemate buy shit for 20 bucks or less at Goodwill and sell it for at least 3 times the markup.
    It used to be possible to get usable stuff there. Not anymore. It’s packed with bottom feeders.
    What comes around does go around. My ex housemate eventually got “tracked down”. Turns out his semi off the grid lifestyle of bottom feeding was due to some issue with …. yes you might guess it… child support for a kid that’s not his. So while I despised his bottom-feeding ways, I could not entirely blame him for his decisions.
    Heck, perhaps he was driven to it? Bottom feeding and working a part time job was far better for him for if he was doing the high level financial stuff he was capable of , he would have been cleaned out by the courts and some slut.
    Perhaps bottom feeding is a kind of new economy that men are being driven to by a dead and rotten system?
    Would be better to get rid of that system, but I guess that’s more work than buying junk and selling it.

    1. What a stupid perspective you have. Why don’t you become the person that buys low and sells high ??
      You just can’t achieve what these people do so you fucking whinge and moan and call them bottom feeders. You said yourself you tried to sell for profit but other people are buying from you and “turning around and selling for more” why can’t you be that person ??
      I doubt you’ll take this message the right way because you seem very emotional and wont take responsibility. Man the fuck up,stop moaning,stop blaming other people and I bet you are capable of doing it.

      1. I never tried to sell for profit. I earn enough money that I don’t need to sell anything for profit.
        “Price to sell” means you sell it low enough that someone who is not having money for it normally could buy it to ensure that you can get rid of it.
        That’s what it means.
        It’s a shame to throw things away that someone might need and I would prefer to just drop it off at Goodwill but knowing some bottom feeder’s anti-civilizational marketing scheme will destroy any good will in the matter is grating. That’s “whinging”? So what. Excuse me for not being a hyper-atomized self-absorbed product of the post modern like most fellows raised by women. (I had a dad who put a lot of value in seeing people get a good deal).
        Fact is I care more about some poorer fellow getting a shot at a tool or device I no longer need that might better his life because that’s the sort of thing that builds a civilization. The hyper-atomized “me me me!” mindset is not working out well for us, is it?
        Nice boiler plate fake alpha tropes by the way. Learn your manhood from something other than an ABC after school special and get back to me.

        1. Thats a whole lot of words to say nothing. You can try hide behind cheap moral high ground of your whinging actually being because the “bottom feeders” are “anti -civiliastional” hahaha can you even hear yourself ???
          Fuck,what a stupid phrase. Your a fucking whinge bag. Grow up.
          At best and this is me trying to be empathetic ,you lack the capacity to articulate your own feelings. At worst your a fucking whiner who piss and moans but wont do anything. If you think some guys selling cheap items on ebay are the problem in todays capitalist society and the not the actual elite then your a fucking stone cold retard.
          The bottom feeders are just that…at the fucking bottom the same people you profess to care about because good aul daddy had a heart. They just a a little bit more gumption than others on the bottom

    2. “I have some car parts I want to get rid of. I can’t. Why? Because if I price to sell, all I’m going to do is end up selling to a bottom feeder who is going to turn around and sell it for more.”
      With this emotional attachment to outcome, perhaps buying/selling is not for you.

      1. Yes that ((merchant)) mindset works well for buying an selling. You can sell out an entire civilization with it.

  4. How to start a pocket change empire…
    No offense but eBay is only for the poorest of the poor with no decent employment options. I did it myself back in the day when I was a teenager but it’s hardly something where you can realistically make 100k+ these days.

    1. If you could turn your nose up at ten K profit off a couple of auld bangers you wouldnt be on here giving it billy big bollocks.
      Such a stupid fucking attitude. First off the road to making 100k+ starts at zero not 100k. Second of all if you work a normal job and make even 10,20k or upwards a year on top of your salary what the fuck is wrong with that ?? These arent get rich schemes. You are a fucking idiot.

  5. This really doesn’t have all that much to do with eBay, for decades I’ve said that every junkyard owner is a multimillionaire. He may shower once a week and only own one change of clothes but don’t let that fool you

      1. It goes without saying you kinda need a place where you can store things like junked up cars, either in a garage or out in the open but away from view. Neighbors tend to get pissed if you start to turn your place into Sanford and Son.
        One niche which is good for eBay is anything to do with media – print, CDs, musical recordings – whatever fits into the post office definition of “media mail” since it’s WAY cheaper to ship that stuff, thanks to a set aside. Only for those items though – everything else needs to go regular USPS, UPS or FedEx.

  6. I read a lot of critics, and i honestly think it’s unfair.
    You won’t get rich by selling things on Ebay, but that’s a start.
    It’s far better than to live of an underpaid job like selling overpriced latte. It’s better than staying unemployer in your mom’s basement. It’s a side job than gives you confort, focus, a sense of self worth.
    Selling is a trade, and ebay selling gives you usefull basics, some expertise, some contacts. It’s far from being ideal, but it’s SOMETHING.
    You can do better ? Of course. The problem for most actual men is not to do better (the whole situation is a mess) but to do anything to come out depression dire strait and worthlessness.
    That’s a start, and a good one.

  7. Wow, a little surprising to see people get butthurt about an article like this. I don’t think the guy was claiming you should quit your job and start selling shit on eBay exclusively.

  8. There is a reason why there is scavengers and junk dealers….because there is a market. End of story.

  9. Once you find your niche items, study the strategy and patterns of others on eBay whom have been successful with the same items. I started doing this with old VHS tapes and after about a year I claim about $800 a month in returns. Not enough to quit my day job but a substantial amount of coin to absorb into your normal funds. Now get a few other things going on top of that which promote semi-passive income. You might be surprised how much you can make on ebay selling cheap, useless shit that can be acquired on a 5 minute trip to the Goodwill on lunch break.

  10. Thanks for the good article. I would add “never mix personal money and business money” to the formula for success.

  11. Instead of talking to people who bother them, educating people, suing people, or just moving away, Americans think the only possible solution to any problem is a decree and force now.
    Instead of loving freedom and allowing others to live as they want, Americans have become busybody control freaks.
    Americans do not realize that if you don’t allow others to do something then they lose the freedom to do it themselves.
    If you forbid others from living in a tiny home then neither can you.
    If you forbid others from owning a dog then neither can you.
    If you forbid others from being a fag then neither can you.
    If allow others to own a gun then so can you.
    If allow others to read a Bible then so can you.
    If allow others to smoke marijuana then so can you.
    If allow others to work for $1 per hour then so can you.
    Americans falsely think problems can magically be fixed by decrees now. Airlines are regulated, but there are still plane crashes. There are seatbelt laws, but people still die in car accidents.
    Americans think having a piece of paper proves that you are safe. There are medical licenses, but doctors still make mistakes. Business licenses don’t prove that you will get good customer service. Driver licenses don’t prove that you will never have an accident. A degree doesn’t mean that you’re smart.
    The 1% says we must have pilot licenses, business licenses, driver licenses, and fishing licenses, but no one points out that there was a time when people could fly, run a business, drive, and fish safely without state permission. Documents can be forged and officials can be bribed, too.
    The only way that you can prove if someone can do something is if they can do it.
    Should a stateless person who had stateless parents and was born on a boat in the ocean be jailed forever if they arrive in the USA?
    Instead of lowering wages that cripple the ability of the USA to compete on the world market, Americans think the US should increase the minimum wage and start a trade war by enacting tariffs.
    One problem with ruling by decree is that there are unintended consequences.
    Making everything illegal fills prisons that lead to higher taxes.
    The 1% says the minimum wage must be increased, but no one questions if higher minimum wages will slow the economy or increase prices.
    The ruling class says a wall must be built to stop illegal aliens, but no one thinks that the US used to have open borders. No one wonders if a wall will be used to keep Americans in, not to keep illegal immigrants out.
    The 1% says airbags must be added to cars, but no one mentions that airbags kill people.
    The elites say we must have electronic voting machines, but no one asks if electronic voting machines can be hacked.
    The 1% says companies must have bailouts to prevent a recession, but no one mentions that the economy will recover without bailouts.
    The ruling class says doctors must have licenses, but no one wonders if regulations increase health care costs.
    Our overlords say guns must be banned, but no one points out how will you protect yourself without a gun.
    The globalists say protests must be banned, but no one questions how can people resist tyranny without protesting.
    The ruling powers say newspapers must be shut down to prevent fake news, but no one wonders if the government would tell the truth without a free press.
    The 1% says carrying cash or depositing less than $10,000 in your own bank account must be illegal to prevent drug use, but no one questions how can you live when everything is a crime.
    The elites say drugs must be banned, but no one points out that alcohol prohibition led to more crime.
    The 1% says that we must have a trade war to help the economy, but no one mentions a trade war made the Great Depression worse.
    Our overlords say that we must buy car insurance, but no one wonders how many drivers have a vested interest in crashing their cars.
    The ruling powers says we must have food stamps, but no one mentions that private charities can provide welfare.
    The elites say that the US must close mosques and have TSA groping, CIA torture, kill lists, and NSA wiretapping to stop terrorism, but no one points out that the US has a Bill of Rights.

  12. This is excellent. Great flow. Quick examoles. Clear language. It’s inspiring to see men taking action. Well done consider writing more often.

  13. I’ve had an eBay side hustle for a few years now. I’d like to give the advice to not try to expand too quickly! I did just that, and got more than a little overwhelmed. Luckily I wasn’t THAT far in the red since I source stuff cheap. I stick to a few niche things now, and mostly small things that can ship first class. Consumerist millennials are an absolute gold mine. They’ll buy any ol’ crap from their childhood since they never really left it.
    I’m glad those Celica parts went to good hands. I love vintage imports, Celicas in particular.

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