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The pros and cons of selling online

Today I’m going to be real with you about the pros and cons of selling online.  Actually I will always be real with you. So let’s get busy with the business of the day.

This summer I am transitioning from a bona fide teacher with a real permanent job to a bona fide teacher on supply.  I love both roles – I really do (more on that in another post!). However, I am also a worrier and with no regular income on the horizon from 1 September, I have been having a teeny tiny panic about money.  This has led to rather a lot of pinning and research on ways to make money that aren’t a salaried job!

The pros and cons of selling online

Nearly every money or personal finance blogger out there advises you that the number 1 way to make a quick buck is to sell you stuff.  Well my friends I have been there and done that and lived to tell the tale.

Pros

You will make some money.  Maybe not a million, but there is money to be had. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so they say.  I think that should be eBay’s strap line.

It is a great way to declutter items from your life. Think of the spare space you can fill / dance in / re organise your room to make the most of.

Sites such as eBay, Gumtree, Preloved and Amazon seller account have been vastly improved and are really very simple to use.  They help with which categories for your listing to nest under, and recommending prices from similar items.

Some sites allow for you to charge for posting separately which means you can get a true value for your items.

Cons

Although you will make money, it can be a slow process as you wait for someone to take an interest in your items enough to buy them, or you wait weeks for your fees to be sent through to you.

95% of my sales have been the ones with free postage (even the ones where I added accurate postage have had messages asking for free or reduced shipping!) so you need to factor this into your pricing.  Not doing so can really eat into your profits.  A small 2nd class parcel internally in the UK as domestic post is (as of August 2017) £2.90.  I sold a train set for £15 and was thrilled, until the weight of the parcel meant even the cheapest postal option would cost me £16.99.

Every sale will have a fee attached (not on Gumtree or Preloved, though here premium membership has a fee attached).  This could be:

  • a final value sale,
  • a fee per item listed,
  • or fees for adding subtitles and extra details.

Then if you are paid through PayPal, which is the most common method, you will have a 3.4% of final value + £0.20 taken from every withdrawal from your account.  One super withdrawal wont evade this, you have a fee per item so one example could be:

Deposit to Paypal

PayPal FeesAmount I can withdraw from my PayPal accounteBay fees
£3.50£0.32£3.18£0.35

£5.04

£0.37£4.67

£0.50

£0.99£0.23£0.76

£0.08

Totals£9.53£0.92£8.61

£0.93

So though there have been £9.53 sales, the combined fees are £1.85.   This means that there is a total of £7.68 left and this needs to then cover the postage and packing costs.  If each parcel was £2.90 postage costs are £8.70 and you end up paying the buyers to take your belongings. 

Final figures

In my personal selling journey I have sold around 200 items, but my profit has been exactly 50% of the total sales amount.

These are my pros and cons of selling online.  I am not going to make a final conclusion that you should or shouldn’t do it because that is a personal decision that should take your own situation into account.

Do you agree?  Have you any Pros or Cons to add to my list?  Don’t forget to like, comment and sign up for site updates!