We are going to assume you already know how to create an eBay account (or another sales platform), so this will not be a discussion about account creation. Instead, we'll focus on some very important strategies to keep in mind when you start selling for the first time.
It can be a scary to do at first, and that's because when you start to try selling, you have to stick your head out and put yourself under scrutiny. Yes, the market can be a savage. And I congratulate you on your decision to still go at it.
Sell your cheaper stuff first
This is a strategy I always suggest to use for new sellers. While it's so tempting to sell your expensive things, you should really wait. Please look at this from the buyer's perspective - here's a new seller with an item I want, but there's no positive feedback yet... On the internet, trust is still a big issue. People will only buy expensive things from a new seller at deep discounts, which is something you don't want.
When you sell inexpensive things first, you're doing many things at once. First of all you're building trust, and each time you sell an item the buyers start to relax and give you more credit. Another thing you're doing is getting experience, which is not a trivial thing! We can all theorize about doing business all day long, but actually making a sale will bring its own lessons learned. And finally, cheaper items might sell at a discount, but this discount can only go so far. So, for example, if you sell a $50 watch for $30, you've only lost $20, and that's not bad especially if you got to use that item for a while. Now imagine the pain of selling a $5,000 item for $3,000 - ouch!
What about selling on Amazon?
I have to say, if you have never tried selling online in that past at all, and this will be your first experience then Amazon might be easier to start. The first benefit is you don't have to set up a PayPal account, because Amazon is able to deposit your earnings directly into your bank account. This is especially helpful for those who just do not want to deal with extra complications.
Another way that Amazon makes things simple is, when you start to list your item as a used item, then in nearly all cases there's already a product page existing. This means you don't have to take photos or write descriptions. You only have to post your item and state the condition. Check out my more in depth post about selling college textbooks on Amazon, it will go into many more helpful tips on ways to make an earning from selling used books - yes it's still possible today!
Look around your room for items you already have
The reason to start with items you already have is, this is the absolute cheapest way to start your online business because it will cost you absolutely nothing. And usually people underestimate the value of their personal stuff too. We're not talking about selling things you need, no. Instead look for items that you've had for a while already, and maybe you even forgot about them because you just don't use them very much.
Below, let's go through some items that you may already have, and will serve as a great starting place for your online business.
Watches that you don't wear anymore
Usually, watches are really not that important to people (as opposed to jewelry). And especially if you have several of them, you should consider putting one or two up for sale. Not only will you get some of your money back and do a bit of cleanup, you'll be able to put that money into something else you wanted.
Gift cards that you don't plan on using
Got a gift card and you didn't really want it? Starbucks and iTunes, Walmart and Lowe's, all kinds of gift cards are sold on eBay. And actually, you can usually get at least 70% of the value back as cash! The best part is, no one will ever know you sold it.
The idea works backwards too. For example, let's say you're like me and you shop at Sam's club regularly (good place to save money if you have a big family). Well, if you're going to shop there anyway, you might as well buy a $100 gift card on eBay for $90, you'll actually earn $10 doing this. Some of the more experienced eBay sellers do this when they want to resell products they get on sale to get an additional bit of profit margin.
All kinds of electronics
These are your iPads, cameras and laptops or toys. All of these are great candidates to sell online, because there's always someone out there who needs the exact model you have. Whenever I want a new item, like a camera, I will try to finance it by selling 2 items I already have and don't use much.
This is a great way to keep your overall costs minimal, and maybe you'll even start to enjoy the minimalist life. And in the end you really have to sell these anyway, because if you don't then they'll just get cheaper until the're not worth anything.
Your used/old cell phone, get rid of it
I'll admit that I'm guilty of this too... Literally in my desk I have an old iPhone 5, and it's just sitting there and collecting dust. I'll put it on eBay in the next days. Maybe I'll get $50 for it, but that's better that nothing, and I'm sure that if I decide to do this a year or two from now then it won't be much more than the shipping cost.
That's the problem these days. Twenty years ago, these phones would have been something people killed for. Nowadays, they're so "everywhere" that we have to get rid of them fast to avoid taking a big loss.
If you're thinking about a trade-in (so you have a newer model), please realize that selling it by yourself will most likely get you more money. That's just the way trade-ins work, they have to make money too.
Used books or textbooks
A lot of times, college/university professors would take years to migrate to new textbooks. And that means, your 10 or 15 year old books, at least some of them are probably still in use and are worth a bunch of money to new students! It won't take too much time to check out recent prices on either eBay or Amazon, and I bet you'll discover that you can get a few hundred dollars back from your college investment.
Selling these on Amazon is especially easy, because pretty much all books are already there with descriptions and prices for you to check.
What about other online marketplaces?
While there are many online markets where you can sell things, we really recommend starting with eBay or Amazon because these are the most proven ones. As time goes on, you can try other places for sure, and you should - but stick with the easy ones first.
Once you master these two basic ones, which are also the easiest to actually sell on, then you might try others like Etsy or Facebook markets. For me, the other ones have never really worked as well as just eBay and Amazon alone, but it all depends on luck too. So, for example, maybe your products will be a hit on Etsy, and you'll make a bunch of sales - this happens all the time, just not to me yet.
I hope this gives some good ideas about how to start selling on eBay or online in general, and you also end up with a list of actual items that you can sell already. You won't need to invest anything, and your small business will be ready to take off. Please remember to treat this as a business, and you'll have plenty of lessons along the way that will not only help you, but should actually improve your life. If you have additional ideas to share, please do so in the comments section below.