Selling Online

Don’t be too quick to chuck something out as there may well be someone willing to pay you for it.

The average household in Britain has £1,045 worth of unused but sellable items

In the UK an item is purchased every second on eBay via a mobile device (and we love the app)

If you’ve not used or noticed something for a year, sell it!


Need to know

  • As long as you are honest, you can sell almost ANYTHING (as long as it's legal) on sites like ebay, Preloved, Amazon and Gumtree. You can even sell things that are broken that people will buy and fix themselves
  • You can also sell via a local Facebook group- this works on trust, you communicate through private messaging and arrange a pick up or drop off and cash payment

Things that always do well on sales sites are:

  • Brand new items still in their packaging
  • Designer clothes
  • Branded goods
  • Rare or old/vintage items  
  • Baby equipment
  • Mobile phones
  • Wedding dresses and accessories 

Make your listing BRILLIANT

  • TITLE - Give as much information as you can whilst stating the Brand name, type of product and its condition.
  • CONDITION - It’s very important to list the condition of your item honestly. Specify whether the item is either Used or New. Additional condition terms are: BNWT= Brand New with Tags, BNWOT = Brand New without Tags, BN = Brand New, BNIB= Brand New in Box.
  • DESCRIBE WHAT YOU ARE SELLING - Treat your description as an advert for your item. Really sell it! And remember to *preview* your text before submitting it as a listing to check for any typos!
  • PHOTOS - Take photos of any defects. If you're selling clothes try and display them on a person or a dummy so the buyer can see their shape
  • PRICING - If your item is brand new sell it at 20% less than retail price. If your item is used slash it to 50%.
  • DURATION - Buyers do a lot of their shopping over the weekend so make sure your ads are up then.  Sunday evenings are particularly popular
  • RETURNS - If the item is not as listed the buyer will be able to ask for a refund. Consider allowing a returns period as it will encourage tentative buyers. ebay's advice is that a generous returns policy pays for itself
  • POSTAGE - If you price too high buyers will not bite and if too low you’ll be out of pocket. ALWAYS ALWAYS use trackable mail! Weigh the item and use
  • PAYMENT - PayPal is eBay’s preferred method of payment and it is also recognised as Buyers preferred method because it is free for buyers to use and the most secure way to pay. eBay and PayPal provide both buyer and seller protection details so you are covered if something goes wrong providing you follow certain easy steps. It is free to set up a PayPal account, and you pay a small fee each time you receive funds. Learn more at

Auction sites


Why we like it:

  • eBay smartphone app takes less than a minute to list each item
  • loads of users worldwide so great opportunity to attract lots of bidders
  • offer free listing weekends
  • loads of fun
  • buyers can earn Nectar points when using Paypal

Watch out:

  • charges you fees to list
  • from 10% final valuation fee
  • you must have a Paypal account
  • worth buying a few cheap items to receive feedback before you sell anything as your rating gives you credibility


Why we like it:

  • similar to eBay but with much lower fees for selling items
  • standard sellers list for FREE and then pay 3% of their final selling price
  • gives you the option to be a Seller+ for £54.99 which means you can list for free and with no final valuation fee for life

Watch out:

  • has a lower profile to eBay so you may attract far fewer bids

Classified and fixed price sites


Why we like it:

  • UK’s number 1 classifieds site so good chance of your ad being read
  • quick registration
  • free basic listing
  • loads of advice on how to list

Watch out:

  • featured ads are more effective but cost from £2.95
  • site is not as clear as others


Why we like it:

  • free to advertise an item
  • no fees when item sells
  • good forum and discussion site
  • can tailor your ads to be seen by people in your local area

Watch out:

  • must research your price as there is no auction
  • must manage and update your own advert regularly
  • can pay £5 to upgrade your membership


Why we like it:

  • access to large number of buyers
  • when selling items already online, Amazon will automatically provide full details and reviews

Watch out:

  • 75p completion fee
  • from 7% to 45% final valuation fee (most items charge 17.25%)
  • must research price as no auction
  • better for items like CDs and DVDs than larger items
  • Private sellers have a legal obligation that the goods sold are “as described”. It is important to mention any damage or defects that may not be obvious from photos
  • Stay safe. You rarely have protection on these sites so never agree to meet someone on your own, keep any cash securely and never hand over an item before you get paid for it

The tax bit

  • If you are selling things you own, have used and no longer want, then you are a private seller and your income is not taxable.
  • If you are trading (buying goods to then sell on, or making your own goods) then you are classed as running a business. Regardless of the amount you think you’ll earn, you will need to register with HMRC as self-employed.
  • Registration is REALLY easy – so don't be put off by this hurdle. Call 0300 200 3300 and someone will talk you through the process (it can take a while to get through!! but they are very helpful so worth the wait) or you can register online

The inside track

  • ebay rules are changing: Private sellers were previously allowed to list up to a 100 items starting under 99p for free on ebay. From 13th May this will drop to 20 items BUT they can be listed at any price. If you use your 100 free listings by 12th May you can get another 20
  • If you can’t be bothered You can search on ebay for a Trading Assistant who are listed by location and feedback score. These are companies who will do the work for you, from looking out your sellable items to listing it and arranging postage, for around a third of the final price. They aren’t endorsed by ebay but their feedback scores will give you an idea of their past performance.

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