Business Overview

An eBay entrepreneur is free to specialize in the kinds of products that they love in order to establish themselves as part of a niche market. It is attractive because the job involves very little start-up costs or ongoing costs and the minimal training required for this job is provided directly by eBay. It is also possible to begin such a job in one’s spare time and then transition to full-time entrepreneur if the part-time gig is successful.

Who is this business right for?

This job is primarily successful for those who already use eBay extensively. At the end of the day, eBay is like any other market, and success requires being competitive in a market filled with other sellers. As such, being familiar with how other sellers price and describe similar products to your own merchandise will help you hit the ground running when you begin selling. The business is also ideal for those who enjoy a flexible schedule and are motivated self-starters.

What happens during a typical day at an eBay Business?

Part of the attraction of being an eBay entrepreneur is that your daily activities will vary and do not need to be conducted in any particular order. However, a typical day often involves a great degree of research about what you intend to sell, including how other sellers describe the product, how much they charge for it, and how much it will cost to ship it. This research helps you creatively describe and competitively price your product in order to stand out from the competition.

Other daily activities include verifying payments that have completed, answering seller questions, and shipping products within the specified time frame of your listing. Finally, it is important to maintain a steady stock of things to sell. This may entail attending local auctions and garage sales as well as buying wholesale products so you can "buy low, sell high."

What is the target market?

The nature of this business means there is little to no personal interaction with customers. Rather, all of the interaction happens online. As such, the most basic example of a preferred client is someone who pays for products promptly and offers honest, positive feedback. More broadly speaking, the best clients are ones who are up front about questions regarding your products so they are not surprised at what they get and leave poor online feedback based on expectations that did not match the reality of what you were selling.

How does an eBay Business make money?

At the heart of every eBay sale, the seller is making money by receiving a certain amount from the buyer (either a fixed “Buy it Now” amount or the final result of a successful auction), with a certain percentage of each sale being owed to eBay itself.

The amount that is owed to eBay varies based on whether the seller is a “basic” seller or pays for either a monthly or yearly subscription to eBay.

  • A basic seller can offer up to 50 items for sale per month without paying any fee to list them and simply pays ten percent of the final price up to $750. Beyond that, the seller pays $.30 per item listing but pays no additional amount per sale. Paying $24.95 per month allows the seller up to 250 free listings per month and discounted prices on listings beyond that much ($.20 for fixed prices instead of $.30).
  • A $74.95 per month payment allows up to 1,000 free listings per month and $.15 per additional listing whereas $349.95 per month allows up to 10,000 free listings per month and $.05 per additional listing. All of the subscription options offer enhanced sales options including a customized homepage, store address, featured items, and enhanced branding.

What is the growth potential for an eBay Business?

Ultimately, the growth potential of an eBay business is limited only by the time and scope of the seller. Most sellers begin by selling in their spare-time and transition to a full-time business after building considerable part-time success. Growing the business typically involves finding some kind of niche in which the seller both has special familiarity and in which they can easily obtain items to sell online. Nothing keeps the particularly successful eBay seller from finding a partner to help the business grow, but the nature of said business (typically being run from people’s homes) precludes having a large staff housed in a standing office.