Can You Make a Living by Selling on eBay?

My First Year Selling Full-time

Ebay is the best way to make money online. Unlike affiliate marketing, drop-shipping, selling courses, creating a private label on Amazon, or starting a blog, selling on eBay is straightforward and simple to do. And the best thing is that you’re already surrounded by things to sell! Most people already know that you can make money on eBay. But what most people don’t know is that it’s possible to make a full-time income on the platform.

Last year eBay was my only source of income. I had recently moved to a new city and since I had dropped out of college I didn’t have the sacred ticket to a good paying office job (also known as a college diploma).  I had planned to sell on eBay full-time before I moved, but was still scared sh*tless about relying on one platform for my whole income (this fear ended up being great fuel for motivation).

As my experience shows, it’s possible to make a full-time income on eBay. But how much money was I making? Here’s a screenshot of my sales last December:

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My sales last December

About 2/3 of this total was profit, so I was living on a little less than $3000 a month. For a dude in his late 20’s this was enough to sustain me. Between rent, car insurance and gas/ maintenance, therapy, food and fun it’s been tight each month, but I was making it work. I’ve lived in my current apartment for a year and I’ve paid my rent for 12 months solely with my online income. Within the past six months I’ve also started making money on My eBay sales have gone down a bit in the recent months since I’ve changed my business structure to mainly selling used clothing, but I’ve also started making money selling used books on Amazon:

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My ebay sales this month
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My Amazon sales this month

Why have my numbers on eBay dropped? For one, I spend far less time on my business than I did last year. The tools that I’ve invested in save me a dozen or more hours a week, and now I almost solely sell used clothing. I still make good money: September has been the slowest month of this year and I still sold 100 items (for a total of $2,247.14) and 75 of these items were used clothing.

My business model is based on volume because most of my clothes sell for between $20 and $30 so I need to sell a lot of them to make enough money. I have a friend who also make his full-time income from eBay and he also supports his family doing it! But he has a different business model since he flips much more expensive things like snow blowers, power tools, and medical equipment so his numbers are much higher than mine (though his cost of goods are also much higher than mine.)

What if you already have a job?

And if you already have a full-time job imagine making an extra few thousand dollars a month. Which brings up the next question: is it still possible to make a few thousand dollars a month on eBay even if you have a full-time job or children to take care of? The short answer is yes, though it’s going to be more challenging since you can’t dedicate your whole day to eBay. So how should you approach it?

First realize that eBay is a marathon. There’s a lot of bullsh*t about get rich quick schemes on the internet because we live in a culture of instant gratification. A lot of marketers promise that making money online will be easy to sell their product or course. eBay is not like that. Unless you are surrounded by thousands of used car parts, cases of jewelry, and boxes of vintage video games it’s going to take a while to start making serious money (more than $1000 profit a month).

Second, you should consider dedicating your Saturday mornings to go to yard sales. Yard sales (also referred to as tag sales in New England) are the honey pot of profits- people are looking to get rid of things and are willing to part with great stuff at low prices. More than once I’ve found valuable camera lenses gotten them for less than $25, and then sold them for upwards of $500!

Third, learn where you local thrift stores, Salvation Army and Goodwills are. When I started getting serious about selling on eBay I was working at Starbucks and a local health food store (working minimum wage jobs is great motivation to start a business). Luckily for me there was a Goodwill on the way to these jobs, so I would stop there everyday. Sometimes I would be in the store for only 30 minutes and I would still walk out with more than $100 of profit in video games, shoes, and electronics. Everyone has a couple spare hours each week that they could go into thrift stores to find things to sell. That’s all the time you need in the beginning to make a couple hundred dollars a month, and your profits will only go up from there as you become a more experienced seller.

Last, make sure that you have somewhere to store items. A simple shelving unit (I use those shelves and they’re great) will provide enough space and organization to get started.

Although an eBay business takes a fair amount of work to get it started, it’s one of the few places online that your results are directly proportional to the effort you put in. Last year I dedicated hundreds of hours to my personal blog and releasing Kindle ebooks. I make about $1 a month from Kindle and I shut down my blog since I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, nor was I making money from it. My experience is not uncommon- I know a lot of people who enthusiastically  start an online business, only to quicly realize that making money blogging or affiliate marketing is difficult and has a very steep learning curve:

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Most online business take a long time to start making money
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Your profits are directly related to your effort on eBay

Although ebay may not be as glamorous as making passive income from websites or ebooks, it’s a much more straightforward process and not nearly as frustrating. It sucks to spend 100s of hours on a venture only to have it flop and make no money. But if you spent that 100 hours finding good things to sell, and listing them on ebay you’re guaranteed to make money.

Wrap Up

To wrap up it’s possible to make a full-time income from eBay. Although it takes a lot of work and dedication, it’s one of the few online ventures that your results are directly related to the effort that you put into your business.

There’s a lot of money to be made on eBay, but start small. Find things around your house to sell, start going to thrift stores and yard sales, and spend a couple of hours a week listing and shipping things. Follow this formula and you’re going to quickly find success!


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