Can you really make money as an eBay seller?

Chicago eBay sellers at conference

People are making money on eBay by starting new businesses. With a sluggish economy, a scarcity of jobs, manic stock prices, and depressed housing prices people are looking for ways to make a living. This is an economy of the haves and the have-nots.  So if you’re a have-not, how do you make a living during these difficult economic times?


On Monday I did a piece on eBay outlining its business model for start-up businesses on their website.  Even though I did get some negative comments on the feasibility of making money by setting up a business on eBay, I still believe that it’s a good place to make some extra cash, support an existing business, or to build a business. 


All of this takes time, commitment and a little bit of money.  As in any new business, success is not found overnight.   An undocumented rule for a start up business is 18 months to build a business that brings in some reasonable cash.  There’s always tremendous competition in almost anything you do, so in a new business you’ll need to separate your company from its competition by offering unique products, better distribution of product and excellent customer service.


I spoke with a group of eBay sellers at the Chicago conference last weekend that are all fans of the eBay business model.  They have a cult-mentality and commitment toward eBay that was almost overwhelming.  In some cases setting up a business on eBay had saved their career.


Seller, Mark & Robin Levine who own a bubblewrap business, said, “No one does it better.”   That’s quite a testimonial for eBay.  This got me wondering what their advice would be for someone that wanted to start a business on eBay. 


Mark & Robin’s (4) tips of advice for a new eBay seller are:


  1. Don’t become a seller on eBay until you’ve been a fairly active buyer, so you know what a customer expects from eBay.
  2. Don’t invest too much money until you develop a niche in your business.  The customers will tell you what they need.
  3. Do what eBay says, don’t fight with them, and try to work with them.  They are there to help you.
  4. Take advantage of the resources in the eBay world, such as joining a seller group.

Lisa Soens, owner of Wingsz of Power,

that sells authentic Native American jewelry on eBay, says that she separates her product from others on the site by offering great customer service and a quick response to her customers.  She strongly believes that this is why she has done well in her business on eBay.


Nila & Rich Siok, owner of Appealing Signs, , say “Without eBay, we would have been out of business.”  They strongly believe it’s a different world out there now and you need to learn how to use all of the available resources to survive in business.


All of these eBay sellers are part of a Meet Up group that meets monthly in the basement of a bank in Elk Grove Village.  There are 270 members with 50-60 attendees on average per meeting.  There is no charge for this group, excpet for the occassional pizza. The group was started by eBay sellers Rick & Nila Siok and is called the Chicagoland Sellers Group.


As in any other business model, some eBay businesses make more money than others.  Some are committed to make eBay selling their main source of income, and others are using it as a side business that they hope one day they can turn into their day job.  I see it as a great way to try something out that you think you may want to do, commit some time to it and see where it goes.




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