First Person: I Made $10,000 on eBay Last Year

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In these tough economic times, it's crucial to find new and creative ways to earn money. One of the top ways to make some spare cash is by selling items on eBay, the world's largest online marketplace.

Before starting my venture, I searched online for the closest thrift shops to my house and then visited each of the nearest five. When I first started this venture, I would just buy a whole bunch of random items that looked appealing, and then attempt to sell them on eBay for profit - this method obviously didn't work. One of the keys to becoming profitable was investing in a smartphone with Internet access. Once I had that, I could instantly search the completed similar items on eBay while I was still inside a thrift store deciding what items to buy.

What I discovered is that some of the best items to sell are vintage sports jerseys. Most thrift stores have a section set aside for sports jerseys, and you'll likely have to dig through a pile of gently used high school and college jerseys just to find a few rare gems buried underneath.

From my experience, I found that thrift stores price "old jerseys" very low because of their slightly worn, vintage appearance. For example, I found a Champion-brand vintage Chicago Bulls jersey from a local thrift store for $2 and I was able to sell it on eBay for $35. I also found an old New York Rangers Brian Leetch jersey for $5, and I was able to flip it for a $50 profit on eBay. I made sure to search the items online on my smartphone while I was still inside the thrift store, to make sure these were items that sell for decent money on eBay.

It's not quite as simple as finding a two dollar item at a thrift store and flipping it for $20 on eBay, as you have to keep in mind a variety of fees that will cut into your bottom line. When all is said and done, approximately 10-15% of your overall profit will go to eBay and Paypal fees.

You also have to remember to charge enough to cover shipping costs, and keep in mind small expenses that add up like gas money to drive to the thrift stores and the post office when you ship your items out. Packaging costs such as tape, boxes and envelopes, is another key consideration for mapping out your expenses.

Once you have the items that you want to sell, there's a few things you can do to make them more appealing online. One of the things I did was to offer free shipping on my items, because eBay boosts you up in the search results when a seller does that. Since I was mostly selling vintage sports jerseys, the shipping on these items was only $3 or $4, so it was worth eating the shipping cost in order to get boosted in search results.

There's no such thing as a get-rich-quick scheme that will work on eBay, as this method does take some hard work and a little research. My year-end tally was $24,000 in sales, minus $7,000 in shipping fees, $4,000 in inventory costs (items purchased from the thrift stores), and approximately $3,000 between eBay and Paypal fees - making my overall profit close to $10,000. As you can see, the shipping fees, eBay and Paypal fees, and inventory costs, were extremely significant, so you'll need to keep that in mind before getting started.

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