How to Make Money on eBay Selling Stuff You Don’t Own

As we continue to slug through an abysmal economy, more and more people are looking for ways to earn extra income. Running this blog now for three years has taught me that there are literally thousands of ways you can make extra money online. One way to make money online is by selling other people’s stuff on eBay through the eBay Partner Network. And no, this isn’t an article about stealing.

Believe it or not, you can make extra money on eBay without selling your own stuff, without buying stuff to resell, without setting up eBay auctions, and without worrying about shipping products to winning bidders. This isn’t a get rich quick scheme, and it will take a lot of hard work. But if you are looking to make some extra income, eBay may just be the answer (or at least part of the answer).

This article will walk through step by step how to do it. You’ll also find links to helpful tools and resources, as well as a few examples of successful eBay sites. Before we begin, however, check out How to Buy a Refurbished iPhone, a simple article I wrote in about 20 minutes nearly two years ago.   Last month alone it made $126.32 from eBay. Not life changing, to be sure, but not bad for one month from one article that took 20 minutes to write back in 2007.

How to Make Money with eBay – Overview

To put all of the information that follows in some context, here are the steps we’ll cover in this article:

  1. Picking the types of products to sell
  2. Setting up a website or blog
  3. Integrating eBay into your site

If you already have a website or blog, you can skip steps one and two. Keep in mind that you can develop an entire site that is designed to sell items from eBay, or you can have a site or blog that sells eBay items as just one feature of many.

Before we get to the above steps, a brief overview of the eBay Partner Network is in order.

eBay Partner Network

The eBay Partner Network is eBay’s affiliate program. Bloggers and website owners that join the Partner Network can link to eBay auctions from their own site. If a visitor clicks through to eBay and wins the auction or buys a product, eBay will share its fee with the website or blog that referred the visitor. In fact, eBay shares 50% to 75% of the commission, depending on the total commission earned.

To get started, the first step is to register with the eBay Partner Network.  Once registered, you’ll have access to various tools that will allow you to put banners, widgets and text links on your site to promote eBay auctions. We’ll talk about those tools more in a minute.

Picking eBay Products to Sell

This is really what makes selling eBay products so much fun. You can pick from just about anything. If you love golf, you can market golf equipment. If Creative Memories and scrap booking is your thing, which Mrs. Dough loves, you could create a scrap booking store. Maybe you love technology, and want to write about electronics. Or how about cars, scooters, boats, houses, CDs, furniture, or appliances. You get the idea.

When you pick the focus of your web store, keep a few things in mind:

  • Higher cost does not mean more revenue: Many are tempted to focus on higher end items because the commissions are higher. But keep in mind that competition is usually stronger for more expensive items, and it can take a lot longer to get a sale. Sometimes volume beats price.
  • Pick something you love: If you set out to build a successful eBay store or section of your existing site, it will take a lot of time. And what will set your site apart from the rest is valuable content about the products you are marketing. Anybody can set up a site and list eBay products for sale. What separates the successful sites from all the rest is relevant, useful content about the products being sold. If you pick something you love or have an interest in, it will be much easier and more enjoyable to write valuable content about the products.
  • Think long-tail: Consider the range of products that you will market. Will you market all golf equipment, just golf clubs, just putters? The more narrow the focus of your store, the easier it will be to drive traffic to the store from search engines. Of course, once you’ve cornered the market on putters, you may want to expand. There’s no right or wrong answer here, it’s just something to keep in mind as you’re making your decision.
  • Think Beyond eBay: While the focus of this article is eBay, there are many other product affiliate programs available, including Amazon’s. This is an important consideration because not all visitors are comfortable with eBay auctions. They may prefer to buy through Amazon or some other non-auction website. So consider the other avenues of revenue for your product besides eBay.

Setting up a Website or Blog

If you are reading this and thinking you have no idea how to set up a website or blog, rest assured that it’s an easy thing to do. When I started Dough Roller, I didn’t have a clue what to do. Rather than repeat here the steps necessary to set up a well optimized site, here are a few links to articles that will walk you through the steps in detail:

If these articles don’t answer your questions, leave a comment or contact me, and I’ll be happy to help you get started.

Integrating eBay into Your Site

Once you’ve picked the subject of your store and set up your website, it’s time to integrate eBay auctions into your site. Here is where you have to make an important decision. Do you want your site to look and feel like a store, or a blog?

A site that looks like a store usually has a home page with product listings and links to sub-pages with additional product listings. A site that looks like a blog usually has the most recent articles listed on the home page, with links that take readers to additional blog posts. Of course, you can integrate both into the home page, and in either case have links in the sidebar to product pages. But you want to give some thought to this question up front. Here’s why.

The eBay partner network comes with three tools to integrate eBay auctions into a website: Link Generator, Creatives Generator and Widgets. These tools, however, are most effective if you want to insert auctions into a blog post or sidebar.

All in all, starting a business will take a lot of research which will in-turn take a lot of time and energy.  Make sure that if you do decide to start-up an eBay business, you know the potential risks and follow-up with their support staff as often as possible.

Published or Updated: March 22, 2012
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. Philip Cohen says:

    eBay’s many problems are hardly worth discussing any more. Clearly, the headless turkeys have taken over the eBay farmyard and since the incompetent sociopath John Donahoe has been given a key to the larger “disabled” cubicle in the executive wash room, eBay has every quarter, relatively speaking, been flushed further and further down the toilet.

    Since April Fools Day (how apt!) and the dumping of store items into core, eBay’s new Utah data center has apparently been effectively crippled, or if it is functioning as planned, it’s a very strange plan. Regardless, it would appear that the eBay whale is high and dry on a beach somewhere, has died, and is now stinking.

    Shill Bidding on eBay: Case Study #4
    This latest study demonstrates eBay’s utter desperation for revenue; and, once again very effectively, eBay’s effective aiding and abetting of this criminal activity.

  2. Evan says:

    Do you have an example? I’d love to see one…

  3. Cool designer says:

    Making a website is really not that tough, and top of all, you can create a website or more website for free.
    Building a website is a extremely individual skill and is different with each client.
    It is more about revealing your business to new probable clients and generating new sales.

  4. order form template says:

    Online business or online work is getting popular and profitable day by day. Working from the ease of your home is always charming. You have really made it easy for many of us to know how to earn from ebay? I have been searching for such information and finally reached at this article. Thanks for putting us wise on the subject.

  5. Cash Course 101 says:

    Yea it seems cool to have this partnership or affiliate, but you would also need a lot of traffic on your website to be able to make a couple $100′s every once and awhile. I find it alot easier to just sell my unused stuff on ebay, but if I ever have a 1000 page hits a day then I would consider this. Oh, and click my name title in blue to see my journey on Ebay! It’s exciting to see what kind of money you can make!

  6. Cash Course 101 says:

    Oh I’m so sad because my link didn’t work the first time… :(

  7. Lively Jason says:

    It’s quite common to see people hoarding lots and lots of old and unwanted stuff in their store and around the house and office. Many of these items can be put to good use in the right hands. It therefore makes absolute good sense to auction if off on ebay.

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