My answer to the eternal question asked by all eBay sellers…

I’ve been asked THAT question many times this week, not just by people new to selling on eBay but also by established sellers whose profits have declined substantially and they can’t work out why.

THAT question is: ‘What can I sell on eBay to make the biggest profits?’

Ask that question of some successful sellers and they will tell you to buy such-and-such a product and list it on eBay priced ten pounds more than you paid for it.

They’ll say that after selling and fulfilment overheads you’ll make several pounds pure profit per sale. Obtain and sell another couple of products those so-called experts tell you about, including where to obtain those items, then sell one hundred of each every week and this time next year you’ll be a millionaire!

The truth is you won’t get rich following that sort of advice. For one thing, anyone who gives you that advice will pass the same information to other people and the end result will be a marketplace saturated with sellers offering the exact same products you have listed.

Secondly, and more important in my view, is that once you list your item on eBay or other marketplace, your main rivals will reduce their prices to remain competitive and in a couple of days you will be the highest priced seller for certain goods on eBay – and you won’t make any sales!

So back to square one and that eternal question: ‘What can I sell on eBay to make the biggest profits?’ The only answer I will ever give is:

Whatever innumerable people are already searching for and many are buying!

There are provisos to that answer, however, being that you must not sell exactly the same product in precisely the same way as other sellers or you’ll be constantly analysing other sellers’ prices and persistently dropping your own, and possibly making a loss on every sale.

Ask yourself the following questions and successful product sourcing will be easier and much more profitable than you ever thought possible.

#1. Who is making the most sales for certain types of product on eBay and how can I grab my share of the action?

Of several places to find that information, I personally use Goofbid. On Goofbid’s home page choose ‘eBay Tools’ top of the screen, followed by ‘eBay Most Popular Tool’ bottom right of the dropdown menu.

On the next page you enter keywords describing a specific product type into the search box – start with a hobby or special interest – then click to search. Next page will reveal sellers and products achieving the highest sales on your chosen eBay country site.

To illustrate, when I keyed ‘handmade card’ into the search box I learned that a personalised handmade birthday card with numbers for milestone birthdays – 60, 70, etc – made from beads glued to the front of the card has sold 78 times at £8.99 each.

Idea: Could I make something similar but more attractive, using better quality beads perhaps or superior card and envelope? Maybe sequins would look more appealing or perhaps I could place my card in a shallow box instead of a plain envelope used by most people selling greetings cards on eBay.

My search for ‘wedding bouquet charm’ revealed a simple charm, made from a bottle cap with resin dome and instructions for buyers to insert their own image between cap and covering, has sold just over six hundred times at £5.49 a time. I make similar items and I know that cap and resin dome together cost just over thirty pence in wholesale quantities on eBay. So take listing and selling overheads into account and you’re looking at three or four pounds pure profit per sale.

Idea: Could I add a couple of beads to my charms to make them different to what other people are selling? Maybe I could create themed charms featuring popular subjects like Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, dogs, trains, rainbows or butterflies. Either way my listings should be found by people searching for wedding bouquet charms and others searching by theme. Combining two or more popular search subjects should grow traffic to my listings and generate more sales and higher profits for me.

#2. What keywords are people using in eBay product searches?

Popular search terms should also suggest products likely to sell in high numbers and give ideas for making my products different to what others are selling.

I personally find those words at Keyword Tool Dominator – where on the home page you key words describing a product type into the search box. Sticking with ‘handmade card’ I find these are some of the keywords most often used to find handmade cards on eBay UK (other country sites are available):

– Handmade 18th Birthday Card

– Handmade 80th Birthday Card

Next I searched for ‘birthday card’ which took me to these common search terms:

– James Bond Birthday Card

– Horse Racing Birthday Card

Idea: What might happen if I created cards combining terms from both searches, such as ‘Handmade James Bond 80th Birthday Card’, ‘Handmade Horse Racing 18th Birthday Card’, and so on? As before, combining two high frequency search terms should increase visitors to my product listings and almost certainly grow my sales and bank account balance.

#3. Are there products selling in high numbers on eBay which are not listed on other marketplaces, like Amazon for example, or vice versa?

Find out by searching Goofbid for hot selling products on eBay and then look for the same or similar items at Amazon. Alternatively, locate best sellers on Amazon. Then look for similar items listed on eBay or other appropriate marketplace.

When you find a product selling in high numbers on one marketplace and missing from others, you can use tips #1 and #2 to make your products different and preferably unique.

But don’t assume an item that’s selling well in one location will sell in similar high quantities elsewhere. Competition could be more intense at the new site and unit profits significantly lower than from alternative marketplaces. And that’s why you should stock just enough product to test early demand in any new marketplace.

Or you could be inundated with orders for your newly introduced product and have a whole new market all to yourself – and keep it that way by continually improving your products and listings.

There are other ways to answer the eternal question, but those just given are all I have ever used and I recommend you stick with them too.

Now I’m heading back to finish my report about ‘101 Collectibles To Sell On eBay in expectation of permanent high profits. You’ll have it a few days from now and I hope you find it useful. As always, if you have any questions you can email me at avril@canonburypublishing.com.

This article first appeared on Auction Genie. Read more and comment here