eBay and Craigslist: How to Flip Things for Profit

Awhile back I wrote about how to sell things at the flea market, but there are higher tech solutions! Anum Yoon gives us tips to sell online in today’s guest post.

Are you a born bargain hunter with a house full of stuff you can’t throw away because you might need it some day? If so, you might be sitting on a source of income that’s just waiting for you to tap into.

eBay and Craigslist: How to Flip Things for Profit

You’ve heard of flipping houses? It can be a lucrative business if you have hundreds of thousands of dollars you can afford to tie up for months, while restoring and then waiting to sell a home. But for those of us who aren’t quite there, flipping items on a smaller scale can net a pretty profit if you do it right.

Sell Stuff You Already Have

The thought of high-dollar sales and massive profits on found treasure is exciting and exhilarating, but you can’t play the buying and selling game without money.

Fortunately, there’s a way you can get into the game without any cash up front. Start by looking around the house for things you can sell to build your stash. You’ll be surprised at what you find that can turn an immediate 100 percent profit.

Start With Craigslist

There are several ways to buy and sell online, but a good place to start is your local Craigslist. Unlike other online market places, Craigslist charges no fees. Most of your buyers will be local and you won’t have to deal with shipping costs, so it’s a great way to sell large items. This also gives you immediate cash in hand and lets you build your monetary assets quickly.

Try Your Hand at eBay

Once you’ve built an inventory, you might want to try your hand at selling on eBay.

eBay gives you a larger customer base and the opportunity to sell a wider assortment of items, such as clothing, which doesn’t do well on Craigslist. Payment is usually made through PayPal, and if you ever want to make flipping a full-time career, eBay has an added benefit. When you become a power seller — which is around 100 sales — you have the option to purchase health coverage though the company.

There are a few things you do need to remember when using eBay, however:

  • eBay and PayPal both charge fees for use. These can get quite costly, so take that into account when pricing items.
  • You’ll be responsible for shipping.
  • You have to keep your feedback rating up to attract customers.

How to Build Inventory

Eventually you’re going to run out of your own stuff and need to find new things to re-sell. There are many great places to find inventory. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Local thrift shops and Goodwill stores
  • Garage sales and flea markets
  • Clearance sales and salvage stores
  • Craigslist, eBay and other online markets
  • Do a whole-house spring cleaning to find things to sell
  • Dumpster diving and curb watching

Crafting Your Ads

Your ads are important to getting your products noticed. They should consist of three parts:

  1. The title grabs the attention of potential customers. Be creative but don’t insult the intelligence of your readers by using multiple exclamation points or all caps.
  2. The description should be informative and positive. Think about the questions you would have if you were looking at the item, and try to answer all of them. Be honest, but don’t list every little flaw in the item. The description should be thorough, but don’t make it so long the reader loses interest. Be sure to list the price.
  3. Photos are probably the most important thing to include. Never list items without photos. Use plenty of light and show the product from several angles. Your pictures can make or break your sale.

Other Tips

Here are a few other things to keep in mind as you sell online:

  • Do your research before you buy or sell items. People rarely know the true value of their items, and pricing can be very subjective in these ads. You’ll need to know the worth of any item you purchase before you pay the asking price.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. There are no set prices, and it’s up to you to get the best deal you can. If the seller isn’t willing to negotiate, give it a week or two. The longer the seller holds an item, the more negotiable the price.
  • Buy what will sell, not what you like.
  • Ship quickly and offer exceptional customer service. You’ll get a lot more repeat business, and retaining customers is more cost effective than trying to find new ones.

If you can use some extra cash and want to try your hand at flipping those unused treasures that are slowly taking over your space, it’s time to hit the closets, plunder the garage and get that inventory built. Before you know it, you might just find yourself giving up the nine to five in favor of a new career where you’re your own boss.

Have you ever sold an item on eBay or Craigslist? What’s your best tip to profit from selling online?


  1. Jack

    Great points. We are continually decluttering by selling things on Craigslist and eBay that we no longer want or need. Anything left over? Send it to Good Will for a tax deduction.

    eBay is my preferred venue, but think creatively. Some items, e.g. vintage items, may sell well on Etsy. And don’t forget Amazon – they make it easy to list items for sale, especially used books or media. They have fees like everyone else, but a huge potential market also.

    So pick the right market for what you’re selling. And make sure the money you’re going to earn is worth the time you’re putting into the listing, shipping, etc.

    1. I’m in total agreement that everybody has opportunities to go through their things to make a profit on the stuff that they just don’t use any longer. Glad you mentioned other options like Etsy and Amazon because they are opportunity areas as well. You can even sell things through certain Facebook groups.

  2. Awesome article. I’ve tried these, but to little avail. Maybe I need to be more patient. Just out of curiosity, how much do you think you can make per hour doing this? Including time for research/shipping/meeting/etc.? Thanks for your tips and articles!

    1. Thanks for reading, Rob. I’ve found that success with selling online depends very much on the items you’re looking to sell and the market for them. Some items simply aren’t worth the time, but many others can produce good results. I think it takes some research to determine what’s going to work.

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