December 9, 2023

This isn’t going to be an eBay retrospective from an online millionaire, one of those trash-to-treasure 6- or 7-figure online success stories from somebody whose sole mission is to get you to sign up for an eBook.

Not yet.

But I am averaging about $400-500 in revenue per month right now from selling on eBay, and the profit margin per sale is typically 500-1,000 percent. Before that gets you all in a tizzy: I’m buying things for between $1 and $7 and selling for between $15-$50, mostly.

What do I sell? Mostly men’s shirts, especially t-shirts.

Also, anything and everything else if the price is right. Ha! But again, mostly I sell items that have a logo on it of some kind.

Before I get into what I sell exactly, and how I’ve gone from nothing to my whopping $400-500 per month, understand that I’m super small potatoes in this world — and I’m not necessarily that great at it. I made a boneheaded mistake with a listing last week that cost me a return.

But I’m getting better by the month.

What I love about eBay most though is the adventure of building a little business, one that I hope to be a fun and profitable retirement gig come 2035 or 2040. Where the idea to start an eBay store came to mind first was probably while I worked at Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores in their corporate communications team. I worked alongside some of the folks in their merchandising department, and I learned some about what they do to fill their stores full of t-shirts, caps, backpacks, knick-knacks, tools, gear, electronics, you name it.

It’s ultimately about cost of goods, time to move it and profit margin.

What caused me to go from ecommerce plausibility to action was that I had gotten into the habit of buying t-shirts everywhere my wife and I traveled, and I was buying New Era 9FORTY caps from what seems like every professional team known to man.

Dude. Seriously. I’ve become a ball cap connoisseur and a New Era fan. I’ll blog about that sometime later.

The other part of all this is that my 11-year-old stepdaughter had taken a shining to garage sales. While I enjoyed going to them with her just because, I’m also the type of person to gamify virtually any experience, and I thought: this is an excuse to bond with her, have some fun on the weekend, get a little exercise and start this store.

And in October 2018, I did just that.

It took me until December to sell my first item.

In 2019, my total revenue was roughly $2,700, and this year I’m on pace for at least double that, probably closer to $7,000-8,000. Pretty good, right?

Sure, but I’ve also pretty much maximized the amount of time I can spend building the business in its current state, meaning there is only so much time to spend buying product, listing it and organizing. I’m going to have to get smart, innovative and hyper-efficient to take it beyond $10,000 a year.

I’m going to blog about this journey as I do it. I’ll write about my mistakes as much as I do my successes. I’ll even get into the details and tell you exactly what I do.

Keep in mind — I work a full-time job (director of digital news for two local TV stations), and that gig can be busy with a capital B. eBay is how I unwind, which might highlight the part of my personality that loves my day job so much — a relentless competitiveness and the rush of adrenaline you get when your team covers breaking news well.

It requires you to be a little nutty. In the best of ways.

This ain’t work. It’s fun.

And if you’d like to read more about how to get started on eBay, how to source, how to sell and some best practices I’ve learned along the way with ZERO quid pro quo, like or follow my blog here. I’ll be writing a lot about it.

Oh, and if you’d like to check out the store, it’s called Ryan & Kristi’s Happy HodgePodge. Click here to visit.

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