By Megan Harwood-Baynes, cost of living specialist
I love selling stuff second-hand, and one thing I have learned is that, truly, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
I’ve sold all the usual suspects – old clothes I don’t wear anymore on Vinted, a car, and a wardrobe on Facebook marketplace. But one site that will always have my heart – mainly because I can sell just about anything on it – is eBay.
It takes a few seconds to list and you might be surprised to know just how much you could earn. Here are some of the more surprising sales – and a few tips on how to make the most of the platform.
(Note: all of these prices are before eBay takes its fee, which is 12.8%).
1. Old Costa employee badges: £30
My husband used to manage a Costa Coffee and had a selection of pin badges from his time there that were just dumped unceremoniously in the pile in our garage. After picking one favourite to keep, I asked if I could list them on eBay.
I set an auction starting price of £5, but two days later someone offered £30. I was so surprised. I couldn’t help asking why anyone would want them – turns out he was a newly appointed store manager and head office didn’t give out the old designs anymore. A happy result all around.
2. Empty perfume bottles (approx £4 each)
I was given my first bottle of Marc Jacobs perfume on my 19th birthday and have loved his scents ever since. They come in absolutely stunning bottles, but after ten years, I just had too many cluttering up my dressing table, and thanks to Stacey Solomon for starting a trend of upcycling old bottles, they’re quite easy to sell online. (Yes, they are empty, all the perfume is gone).
I listed a couple on eBay for £4 a go – they were quickly snapped up. Stupidly, I got offered £15 for one and got cocky thinking I would win more at auction. I didn’t, and that seller grabbed themselves a £3.53 bargain. Lesson learned.
3. A free Chromecast (£15)
My husband won a Chromecast as part of an online giveaway, but we ended up not using it – so I listed it. I set the price low (because it was free anyway) and it was gone within half an hour.
4. A dog-eared vehicle manual (£8)
Apparently, some people actually read their car manuals (who knew?!) and Haynes ones are quite popular. After convincing my other half we didn’t need a manual for a vehicle we no longer owned, I stuck it on eBay. I was initially offered £4.50. I chanced it and went back with £8 and it was sold within a day.
5. Unusued skincare (£20)
My brother had some unwrapped (still sealed) Clinique skincare he was about to throw out because it wasn’t a brand he used. I managed to sell it for £20 (and no I didn’t share the profits, you snooze you lose, David).
There is quite a big market for unused skincare and makeup online, and indeed I’ve found some of my favourite Charlotte Tilbury eyeshadows on eBay for half the price. So if you’ve got an unwanted gift, put it up for sale instead of letting it gather dust. If it is still sealed, it will do well.
What I learned
People are quick to throw away items that could be making them money – so if I spot my family putting something in the bin that could be worth a few quid, I try my hand on eBay instead because I can always recycle it if it doesn’t sell.
Nothing is ever too niche, but make sure you are looking at what other sellers are making. If you look at listings, under settings you can toggle to see what prices items have sold at, which is a much more accurate indicator of where your prices should be. Ignore the person who has listed at a vastly inflated price.
Tech is also quite popular – whenever I swap internet companies, if they don’t ask for the router back, I sell it online instead. I’ve managed to get between £15 and £50 depending on the model.
If you’re patient, you can sit on items for a while, but if you just want space and are selling in bulk, sell low to get it gone. But remember you have to actually go through the effort of taking things to the post office. I am happy to sell low if I have lots of items and I can do it all in one trip.
Turn on the function to allow people to send you offers and be clear with yourself about what you would accept as the lowest amount.
Finally, AI has come to eBay! You can now get it to autogenerate your listing details which is an absolute timesaver. But proofread it before setting something live to make sure it’s not promising something you don’t have.