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Monday, 15 December 2014

Ebaying things

I occasionally sell things at car boot sales. In the summer, I can cope with the odd early morning on a Sunday to stand in the cold while strangers tell me my belongings are worthless, but the promise of enough cash to pay for the entry fee and Sunday dinner and taking home less than we took in the morning, is usually enough to keep us going, while we stomp our feet and breathe into cupped hands to stave off the cold. We take cup-a-soups, water and sandwiches, and usually it’s not so bad.

However, ladies clothes, in my experience at least, don’t fare too well at car boots, and it is December. I am not going to a car boot sale this side of the Easter weekend in 2015, thank you very much! So, I decided to list a few things on ebay, and then blog about it, like a writing exercise and cathartic rant, all rolled into one… there’s a picture of some shortbread and a link to the recipe if you want to skim to that and then move on, I’ll never know, fill your boots!

I do buy things from ebay fairly regularly, and it’s not my first time selling, but I dislike selling on ebay, and do it as rarely as possible.

So, I had already sorted through the clothes between those to be recycled (cut up, re-styled, or just hoiked) and those I thought I could sell for a few pounds. So I photographed the clothes. Nothing fancy, just on my phone while they were hanging (on a normal clothes hanger) over the living room door. Then I weighed them, and went onto the royal mail website to guess the postage. Checked the labels (where I hadn’t snipped them out) and bought some packaging materials. For most of the items, I’ve gone for “padded envelope” (£1.59 each from WH Smiths) and for the one item which is too big, I have had to buy brown paper, bubble wrap (just to protect it) and parcel tape (can’t buy just enough to wrap one parcel, had to spend £5.67 on that little lot, but hey, I’ve got it there in case I need it again!), armed with my notes, and the items in front of me, I logged onto ebay and started to list them.

First, it asks you what you want to sell, the listing title. It then guesses which category your item is in and it got it right every time for me, although you can change the category if you’re not happy with whatever it chose.
Then you say whether the item is new or used (all used) and depending on the category chosen, it has drop box of extra information, which you can ignore, but I answered as many as I could, before the description.

I noted any flaws, where the flash made the colour look slightly different and tried to give an accurate idea of fit and length for each item.

Then the postage charges, ebay guesses for you based on your category and description and matched what the Royal Mail website has guessed for each item, so I went with that, set them for 5 days each and on they went.

And then there was nothing to do but wait… only I didn’t, I checked each listing at least twice (as you do), they had no bids and no watchers (not massively surprising, but ebay does tell you). So, I went to make shortbread to go with the lemon possets that darling daughter had made earlier in the evening (and which were chilling in the fridge) – the recipe is here. Sadly, I was most of the way through making the shortbread when I realised I had run out of almond, so I used desiccated coconut instead. The coconut itself burned before the shortbread was cooked, but it tasted lovely! Although, I will get almonds in before I make it for Christmas eve. I also baked mine in a silicone chocolate mould that I have, shaped like roses, and I quite like the effect of that!


As I was going to bed, later on, the ebay app on my tablet made a rather loud noise like a cash register opening and when I checked, not only did every single item I had listed have at least 2 watchers, but one of them had a bid!

I was actually rather pleased, and strangely excited. I had spent £18.48 on packaging materials so far, it was going to cost another £3.20 just to send that one item out, and I would receive (after ebay fees and paypal fees) £4.40 for it, if no one else made a bid, so I was currently running a theoretical loss of £17.28, but still, it was a start, and I was happy.

Day 2:
Only checked ebay twice in the morning (luckily work kept me occupied), no obvious change, the number of watchers may have changed, but not into double figures! At lunchtime it stood at items listed: 8, No of bids: 1. But it was a workday, people are busy, can’t all be browsing ebay at lunchtime.

I managed to only check back once in the evening, and there had been no changes. I want to tell you that my willpower was strong. It wasn’t, I wasn’t feeling very well, and the medicine I took made me very sleepy.

Day 3:
Quick check before work, there had been another bid! On a different item, no less! And one of the items which had had no bids then, had 15 watchers!

So, potential profit and loss update on day three. So far money spent itself hasn’t changed, but I will have to spend more to post the second item out, and monies in will change. So;

Expenditure so far:     £18.48
Projected Postage:     £06.40
Total Expected Out:   £24.88

Expected receipts:      £08.80
Total Profit/Loss:        £16.08

The projected losses were lessening. I promised myself that I would not check in on ebay again until the following day, but then, a magazine that I had ordered arrived, and I had to bob on at lunchtime in order to leave feedback for the seller…
The only change was that an item which had previously had 2 watchers, now had 4… lowest number of watchers on a single item was now 3, with 15 still the highest and the items with the fewest and highest were different than they had been the day before!

Luckily, I had a series of meetings that afternoon, and the school Christmas Prize Bingo kept me occupied for most of the evening.

Day 4:
I was incredibly busy and only checked after I received an email telling me that I had received a new bid on a new item! Woo! Did not have time to check my sums, because it was about 1am and I was in a hotel room (above a Christmas Party), listening to the dying notes of the Pogues as the DJ wrapped it up, and I went to sleep, at very long last, as I had had a long day at work, including my works Christmas Lunch and then off out to see Andre Rieu in concert with my Nan, Mum and Daughter – it was a fantastic evening, but ebay was tragically (or gladly?) forgotten.

Day 5:
A full day of Christmas shopping, I did briefly check, only to discover that the auctions did not end until the following day (Sunday) so I ignored them, in favour of a birthday party,

It’s all over: Day 6:
I wrapped all of our Christmas Presents to other people (not LittleBit’s, or beloved’s though) wrote out most of the Christmas Cards, did the weekly shop, some housework and finally sat down and checked my emails fairly late on, and another item had sold!
One of the winners has not yet paid, and another had messaged me asking if I could please send the item first class as she’d like it by Wednesday? I confirmed that the cost was for first class, and I would send it the following day.

I wrapped the items which had been paid for, I printed off packing slips and I labelled them up ready to be taken to the post office by beloved the following day.

So; My overall expenditure (including predicted postage charges for all items won (not all items sold) was as follows;

Packaging Materials:              £18.48
Projected Postage:                 £17.25
                                                £35.73

Total Paid so far:                     £25.87
Plus due:                                 £05.90
                                                £31.77

Less paypal fees so far:          £01.48
Less expected paypal fees:    £00.40
Less expected ebay fees:       £02.86
                                                £04.74


All Incomings:                         £31.77
All Outgoings:                         £40.47
                                              -£8.70

So, overall, I haven’t sold everything, so some of my packaging costs were wasted, but I have relisted one item, which may not sell, but that can be added to my shiny new ebaying spreadsheet if it does sell.

I didn’t want to have to wait until items had sold to buy packaging materials as this would increase the length of time it takes to post things out, but I think next time, I may only buy a few packaging items (or just use existing supplies – as I now have some left over) until I know how many I need.

The things that haven’t sold, and haven’t been relisted are off to the clothes shop in town in the week, who recycle them and pay 60p per kilo… may have another sort out and see if I can bulk that bag up a bit with things I would never have ebayed anyway…


In the meantime, I’m off to list a few more things on ebay (magazines, and ornaments this time) to see if they are any more profitable… and to update my spreadsheet!

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