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Is It Still Possible To Make A Living On eBay?

Discussion in 'eBay, Amazon & Online Marketplaces' started by JustCraig, Feb 7, 2011.

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  1. JustCraig

    JustCraig

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    eBay is the world’s largest online auction site and offers a completely unique ecommerce platform with the most diverse range of products on the planet where you can find practically anything. From fast moving consumer products including handbags, fragrances and concert tickets, to the weird and wonderful which have included a used tissue, a prehistoric skeleton and a lock of Britney Spears Hair - and everything in-between.

    As an ecommerce platform, eBay allows both people and businesses to buy and sell both new and used products to anybody, anywhere in the world and over the past ten years; eBay.co.uk has provided an effective trading platform for entrepreneurs from all walks of life, giving businesses an instant platform to showcase their goods to a world wide audience for just pennies.

    In fact eBay has made it possible for just about anybody to set up a business instantly and make a passive income with very little effort, yet ironically the easier it gets, the more difficult it becomes to compete. With more sellers than ever before, including the arrival some of the UK largest brand names, becoming an eBay entrepreneur is becoming increasingly difficult. It’s evident that the High Street retailers and Brand Owners view eBay as an important part of their customer acquisition strategy; however their arrival is clearly putting a strain on some small retailers.

    eBay has always been a competitive marketplace, but with the retail giants moving in literally on their doorstep, it’s becoming harder than ever for new sellers to make profit, let alone a living. However inconvenient this may be for small or new sellers, it looks like they are here to stay and smaller sellers will either have to put up with them, or find somewhere else to trade which unfortunately is easier said than done. If the saturation of sellers wasn’t making things difficult enough, it appears the frequent changing of rules and policies is enough to drive some sellers insane.

    eBay has angered many loyal sellers in recent years by implementing a number of unwelcome changes including restricting payment options, putting a cap on shipping charges, changing the seller feedback procedure, increasing fees and changing the way search results are displayed, making it extremely difficult for sellers of more competitive lines to have their products featured anywhere near the first page. Yet despite the resilience from a handful of disgruntled sellers, it is evident that consumers are welcoming the changes with open arms. Figures suggest eBay have more active users than ever before, which can only be good news for sellers and despite some reservations, it goes to show they must be doing something right.

    The statistics for sellers are equally impressive, in the UK alone, an estimated 180,000 people either run a business on eBay.co.uk or earn their primary or secondary income from the auction site. There are currently over 170 business sellers who are generating revenues in excess £1million each year. Clearly for some, eBay is a big part of their business, but what about people who are just starting out?

    While researching this article, I spent a little time speaking to a small number of people who were at the early stages of their eBay careers. It soon became apparent that far too many of them were focusing on the negatives. I was hearing the same things over and over again, I was told they were being priced out of the market, I heard that eBay simply don’t care about the little guy and so on, I was being given dozens of reasons why it wasn’t possible for them to make a living by selling on eBay. However after digging a little deeper It became apparent that although they saw eBay as a way of making a passive income, most had little or no plan for how they were going to make it happen. Taking the time to research your product and your market is vital if you are to stand any chance of survival and having a structured business plan will significantly increase your odds.

    Yes eBay is competitive, but I have yet to see a business that operates without the threat of competition. A competitive marketplace is not always a bad thing; if nothing else it proves there is a demand for your product. Competition can often drive innovation forcing you to stretch the boundaries and think outside the box; spot an opportunity that your competitors have missed. Finding a niche can slice your competition down significantly giving you much more freedom when you are sourcing your products and more importantly deciding on your margins. When you are deciding whether eBay can provide you with a reasonable income that will rival your salary, don’t be unrealistic with your expectations. For the majority of people selling on eBay is only ever going to make you a living and not a killing.

    Sure, there will be exceptions to the rule but for most, it will be a means to an end. The work will be hard, the days will be long but that is what being an entrepreneur is all about. You can make money; you can even make a modest living, but don’t expect to get out of it more than you put into it. Is it easy to make a living from eBay? In a word, NO (Sorry, but that's just the way it is)

    Can everybody make a living on eBay? Again as much as I would like to say yes, the honest answer is no. An eBay business is after all still a business, some businesses succeed but unfortunately many more fail, so although anyone can set up a profitable eBay business, not everybody will.

    So is it still possible to make a living on eBay? Well it depends on the individual, their level of commitment and amount of capital they have to invest. There will be people out there; maybe some of them will be reading this article, who will be sat at home with little more than an idea and will have generated hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of sales by the very next year. There will be others sadly, who will still be wondering why they cannot make it work. Either way one thing is for sure; internet sales are booming, as an increasing number of customers are switching to the internet in the search for bargains. Small businesses and entrepreneurs are perfectly situated to rise to the challenge, and we can all be assured that some, if not all will succeed.
    Billysmithers, TBC, Apardal and 9 others like this.
  2. steveshaw

    steveshaw

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    Great read, eBay articles always seem to get my attention, from somebody who doesn't really trade on eBay it all seems very gloomy, why bother with all the stress of selling to bloody idiots every day,and, oh my god somebodys give me bad feedback.
    Although having any type of business these days is difficult, give me face to face market traders anyday.
    If just one or two decide, there must be a better way forward away from eBay your post/advice was worth the effort.
  3. mgroadster

    mgroadster Banned Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2010
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    1,770
    I don't rely on Ebay as the packing is too much of a ball ache, but yes I could certainly live off it if I had to.
  4. steveshaw

    steveshaw

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    Just read KJElectronics post, how can it get any worst.
  5. shaununo

    shaununo

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    eBay is a very difficult market to crack and to be succesfull on, a lot of people don't realise how much time and effort is needed to be succesful on it, so many sellers expect a hundred pound profit each day from a few sales of branded goods and every body picks the same fashionable and latest faze of goods.

    I am now sending a lot of my ebay customers to my own free webcart shop, with better prices and deals on it, they love it and so do i!
    but i need my ebay shop for initial customers, traffic and sales, my loyal and regular customers are starting to buy direct from my own webshop.
    So any regular sellers on ebay - start that free shop as soon as!

    Like you said it depends on the individual, their level of commitment and amount of capital they have to invest, I invest as much as i can back into the business, if i don't need it, i don't buy it, you have to have as much cash flow as possible.

    So to everyone with an ebay shop or thinking about it, Goodluck in your venture.
  6. UKbuyer1

    UKbuyer1

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    It it still more than possible to make a living on eBay, it has just become a lot harder in recent years.

    But there are still ways! ;)
    Mitch likes this.
  7. Glen

    Glen

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    Nov 24, 2010
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    Great post it's also very motivating!
    Ryan vickers likes this.
  8. jimmcmanusscot

    jimmcmanusscot

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    Feb 20, 2011
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    I think it is the lack of control of your own destiny on ebay that is so frustrating. It is so easy for some disgruntles customers to destroy months of good work, just for the smallest of issues.
  9. webprojectuk

    webprojectuk

    Joined:
    May 15, 2011
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    It's very important to build your own brand and website business. Don't wait for Ebay to down grade your seller status because of few transactions. Use it for marketing your products and collecting customer email addresses. Use this information to promote your own website. We have seen too many of our clients go under because of Ebays stupid feedback system which is open to abuse.
    Ryan vickers and Gary Buchanan like this.
  10. James and James

    James and James

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    We hear of many seller like you, who have done very well off eBay but now look to use it for marketing only and are directing people to their own website where they have more control.

    Most cite too many people playing the system to get free products as reasons for wanting to stop on eBay. Costing them both money and time resolving issues with paypal.

    James
    mar6 likes this.
  11. Tango34uk

    Tango34uk

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    Untill I hit on my latest product, I would have said yes to possible - but hard for a new seller, and I to used it to push sales towards my website........ But with the new product that im selling (no im not giving it away!) I would say that I could very easily just sell on eBay and make a very good living, but I like to keep my fingers in many pies, so I will carry on doing what im doing..... :)
    Ryan vickers likes this.
  12. Beauty Wonderland

    Beauty Wonderland

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    Yes! Good post though and very true.
  13. AcquireCurrency

    AcquireCurrency

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    With good planning and research, I would say yes its very possible.
  14. JustCraig

    JustCraig

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    Some great comments - appreciate the feedback.
  15. PGC Trading

    PGC Trading

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    So the question now becomes, is eBay a playground for entrepreneurs... or is it game over?...

    ...Suppose it depends on your niche!
  16. Quantum3d

    Quantum3d

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    Yes very much niche anyone can make it with Ebay, but the regular stuff I don’t know how sellers compete, anyone selling none niche must know something I do not.
    I have been selling on Ebay for a few years now and make a good living from it (niche), although the niche does not last long and you have to adapt because of the copycats. A couple of years ago I started my own web store alongside the Ebay account as I have become very disillusioned by the way Ebay treats its sellers as it is like they tell you how to run your own business and constantly keep moving the goal posts, I am looking forward to the day when I can also click the close account button and finally run the business my way. I have often considered what would we all do if Ebay disappeared one day and I think our own sites would do a lot better as Ebay must be the biggest middleman ever hogging all the top Google searches.
    Catonroof, Ryan vickers and laszlob like this.
  17. greedyboy

    greedyboy

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    Can you define a niche product and a non niche product on eBay?
  18. Quantum3d

    Quantum3d

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    I define a niche product on Ebay as one that has not been discovered as a good seller, or is very hard to obtain by the rest of the Ebay community, and therefore a product that only you have on offer, but as I said this lasts for only so long.
  19. Versi Crystal

    Versi Crystal

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2011
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    We have a ebay shop but our main source of revenue is our website. Every week im tempted to close our ebay account, mostly because it takes a lot of time to run properly which is time i would rather spend on our website. Especially harder when working full time. I suspect the days of starting out on ebay and growing quickly are gone. Established shops will have an instant advantage over newbies. Just my opinion.
  20. James and James

    James and James

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    Aug 12, 2010
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    It seems a lot of companies are moving away from eBay - we've a new Client who sells a lot on eBay but is so frustrated by the number of questions, enquiries and returns that he's looking at stopping it to concentrate on his own website.

    It seems rising fee's and a lot of bedroom sellers making tiny margins are pushing out larger retails who have overheads.

    James
    SH21 and laszlob like this.

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