Pros have a pretty good sense for which kinds of stock to sell through which online channels, but it's often harder for non-professional sellers to figure out, on an item-by-item basis, whether they're in the right place or not. Not everything is a great match for eBay, and if you're selling something on eBay that doesn't normally do well there, you could end up selling for a lot less than an item is worth, or being disappointed by listings that generate no interest at all.
Here are some common kinds of items that typically underperform on eBay and where to go with them instead.
- Used books and media. Trade hardcovers and paperbacks, fiction,
CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, and other
mediaparticularly when already
usedaren't generally good candidates for eBay these days. Though there
was a time when you could turn your media castoffs into extra dollars on
eBay, it's been downhill for these kinds of items for about a decade.
Where to go instead: Amazon.com, Half.com, or Alibris.com.
- Craft-made goods. Your knitting, sculpting, pottery, painting,
photography prints, or other handicraft or art items won't find much of an
audience at eBay. There's too much clutter and too little foregrounding of
creators for you to make any real sales there. Just as importantly, buyers
don't think of eBay these days when they're buying these kinds of things.
(Don't confuse the creations themselves for the tools and support materials
involved in creating them, which still have a
hobbyist audience on eBay.)
Where to go instead: Etsy.com or Amazon.com.
- Intellectual property you've created. The same thing goes for
your digital photos, your fiction and poetry, video clips, audio recordings
of music or of the spoken word, or anything else that's not quite a craft
but that you, nonetheless, made yourself. These days there are specialized
venues for each kinds of these things that foreground creators and that
buyers frequent. Where to go instead: Lulu.com or Amazon.com for your
writing or original music, microstock sites like Shutterstock.com for video
clips or Dreamstime.com for photographs, or stock sound sample sites like
Audiojungle.com for sound samples.
- Domain names. Unless you have a very special domain name or a
large collection of domain names to auction off, domain names aren't nearly
as valuable as they once were thanks to more and more top-level-domains
(.biz, .info, and so on) having become available. If your domain name is
really valuable, someone will likely approach you for it. Where to go
instead: Sedo.com or other domain name marketplaces.
- Expertise and advice. If all you're offering is your smarts and
answers to questions, eBay isn't a good market for you. Information on eBay
is a commodity, not a premium good. Lots of 22,000 do-it-yourself-ebooks go
for a buck or less all the time. Information sheets, reports, papers, and
all kinds of other helpful expert advice is similarly valued in eBay's
"Everything Else" category. Are you hoping to make more than $1.00 at a time
for your expertise? If so, eBay probably isn't your place. Where to go
instead: WizIQ.com if you want to turn your knowledge into an online course,
or Amazon.com or Lulu.com if you want to turn it into an eBook.
- Computer software. Used computer software is a minefield of
licensing issues, compatibility questions, and other concerns that make eBay
tense about hosting it at all. Sellers of computer software are often
frustrated to find eBay pulling their listings for various
reasons, or just on general suspicion, and once the deal closes, buyers are
often dissatisfied, having misunderstood minimum system requirements, what's
included with the auction, and so on. Unless you're selling a themed lot
("500 vintage PC video games from the 1990's, in original boxes!") eBay
probably isn't the best choice. Where to go instead: Amazon.com.
- Computer and electronics accessories. If you're a big importer or a drop shipper, then there is something to be said for selling these kinds of items on eBay, but for one-off sales or small sellers, you're going to be a tiny fish amongst a pool of very large sharks in these low-margin, high-volume selling areas, particularly as you try to differentiate yourself from the dirt-cheap masses of imported goods on offer. Where to go instead: Amazon.com, particularly if yours is a name-brand item that ought to command a premium.
Of course, nothing on this list is forbidden on eBayand there are still some that have built loyalty through good customer service or other marketing means that continue to sell these kinds of goods on eBay. For most small or one-off sellers of these kinds of goods, however, you'll get more bang for your buck and for your time if you try other sites first.