If you’re working on trying to figure out what to sell on eBay or Amazon or wherever, here are a couple of small ideas that might help you. It’s one thing to HAVE something to sell (e.g. your grandma’s old doll or your sister’s old clarinet), it’s an entirely different thing to actually SELL it.
Perhaps you’ve read some of my history here at the site, but if not, I’ve been an eBay seller since 1999. It almost doesn’t seem possible, but it really has been nearly 20 years as of this writing. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, back then you could sell just about anything. It’s a different game these days.
While my wife and I sell things at live auctions and occasionally on CraigsList, eBay is still our primary outlet. I’m just far more “picky” these days about what I’m going to sell!
Things That Guide My Decision To Buy
These days when I go to a yard sale, I rarely go without a smart phone already dialed in to eBay. When I see something of interest to me, the FIRST thing I do (unless I’m already 100% sure that it’s a good, saleable item) is to check similar items as follows:
- First, I look to see if there are any similar items currently offered.
- Second, I look at “Completed” items and see how many auctions or Buy-It-Nows have already closed.
- Third, I look at the “Sold” category to see how many of these things actually sold, and for how much.
Forth, I look at the sell-through ratio. If there are 100 similar items currently up for grabs, and there are 80 similar items that have already closed, and there was a sell-through rate of over 50%, it might be worth getting. As long as the price is right.
That instantly gives me the information I need to determine:
- If it’s worth further consideration at all – and that depends on if there is a high enough sell-through rate.
- If the price the I have to pay leaves me enough potential profit margin (remembering to take selling and shipping costs into consideration).
A Small Browser Add-On to Help Your Research Efforts
Another thing that helps when you’re working on your research is a cool add-on that my wife found. She’s been involved with marketing on line for a long time now, and uses this for some quick intel. It’s called “Keywords Everywhere,” and it’s an awesome little add-on that gives you basic information about how many people are actually searching for specific phrases online. (February 2020 update: Get it at https://keywordseverywhere.com/ – it’s not free [it used to be], but it’s as close to free as you get – and a lot of my wife’s colleagues use it.) For something like $10 or $20 you get thousands and thousands of searches, and you can turn off the tool with a simple click when you aren’t actively doing research. My wife bought either $10 or $20 worth last summer or fall, and she still has something like 99,000 searches left.
This could be helpful when you are determining what might be viable to sell. And, if you were thinking of starting a drop-shop site (instead of selling “old” stuff on eBay, for example), while you’re contemplating products, you can run some quick search checks to see if anyone is actually searching for them.
It also helps when determining how to create titles in eBay for what you might be selling.
Keywords Everywhere Examples
Let’s use your sister’s old clarinet, for one example. According to Keywords Everywhere, when I look in Google for “clarinet for sale” there are over 8,000 searches (per month, I believe). And, you’ll notice from this screenshot that there are also 20,400,000 search results! Quite a bit of competition! Scroll down for more…
But, let’s say that your sister’s clarinet is a Selmer Clarinet? As you can see from the next screenshot, while there are far fewer people searching for THAT brand of clarinet, there is also less competition in the search results.
AND, you will notice that an eBay listing comes up right at the top of the results. So does an Amazon listing. So does a “Reverb.com” listing (Reverb.com is a GREAT place to sell musical instruments and also vinyl records these days. They also have very reasonable selling fees. That may be something to think about if you have musical instruments to sell.).
Authority Sites Tend to Rank Highly
When it comes to selling, these sites all have a lot of authority in Google’s eyes, and so they tend to rank highly.
This information can also be quite handy when you are trying to determine what to sell if you are considering drop-shipping.
So, you can use that cool little Keywords Everywhere tool to see if anyone is even SEARCHING for things that you are finding at yard sales or thrift stores. If no one is searching at all, I’m not saying don’t buy it to re-sell, but just be careful to not overpay.
What About Drop-Shipping?
If you are considering drop-shipping, you really do need to do a lot of market research to ensure that you aren’t chasing a dead-end market. And, if you are new to it, and don’t have a site with a lot of authority, you may have difficulty ranking above the “big guys” like eBay and Amazon.
This is one reason why a lot of people use eBay to run their drop-ship operation instead of starting their own websites.
Now, if you are looking at the drop-shipping model, you’ll want to do a LOT more in-depth research. One of my wife’s colleagues found some really nice looking cell-phone covers to sell via drop-shipping. She started up a nice Shopify site and added the product line and away she went. Everything looked great. But, there was only one problem. A gajillion other people were selling the same cell-phone covers.
So, you need to understand your competition before you jump into drop-shipping. There are a few good places to learn about this business model, and there is also a pretty decent platform that I wish we had known about when my wife was a drop-shipper.
Learn Before You Leap
Before you begin signing up to sell ANY product via the drop-shipping model, learn about it. Both Shopify and Inventory Source have some good information on their sites. I can’t teach it, because that was my wife’s specialty. I can tell you this, she worked for weeks learning how to properly run a drop-ship business before she ever posted a single item for sale. There weren’t as many platforms available as there are now, and she had to do an enormous amount of loading product information manually into her website.
A lot of that has been greatly simplified now. Just looking at the Inventory Source platform, for example, you can see from this screenshot a very brief overview of how they work.
One thing that my wife has found that she really enjoys is finding products that are just a little “offbeat” enough that they DO have search volume (that is, people ARE searching for it), and that the entire world isn’t promoting. It takes a LOT of work to research this type of stuff, but she has fun with it.
The point is, you’re going to need to do a lot of research, and learn the business!
I did find a lot of info on Amazon about drop-shipping, and you can see an entire compilation of drop-shipping resources HERE on Amazon. (They include guides on drop-shipping for eBay as well.)
Anyway, I went on far longer than I thought I would. But, I do hope that the Keywords Everywhere and drop-ship info has helped, if only a little!