Selling on eBay explained

eBay logo

You can make a lot of money selling on eBay, particularly if you have the right tricks up your sleeve. From knowing what the best things to sell on eBay are (and when to sell them), how to find eBay discount codes or eBay voucher codes and when you can take advantage of cheaper selling fees, this guide has everything you need to become an armchair millionaire - or maybe just a few pounds richer while clearing out your old clutter.

Explained: eBay sellers fees

All private sellers can list 1,000 things per month for free, and after that there is a charge of 35p per listing. There are also extra fees to pay if you choose to upgrade your listing.  

When you sell anything, you will be charged a fee by eBay, based on the price you sell for.

The standard fee is calculated at 12.8% of the final value of the item you sell, including any postage costs, plus a 30p charge per order. 

So if you sell an item for £50 plus £5 postage, you would pay £7.34 in fees and end up with £47.66 in your pocket.

If you sell your goods for ‘cash in hand’, eBay will still charge the fee. However, instead of taking a cut of the payment, it will collect it straight from your linked bank account.

There are regular deals available though when you can really slash the size of these charges – more about this later.

By the way, if you joined eBay and started selling before 1 June 2021, you may still be paying fees under the old structure (where eBay charges 10%, and Paypal charges 2.9% plus 30p). Most sellers have been migrated onto the new system though,

Taxes and VAT from selling on eBay UK

Selling your unwanted items, such as old phones or clothes, on eBay can bring in some extra cash and you usually won’t have to pay tax on any money you make. 

However if you are generating an income from eBay - such as if you are a trader selling your own creations, or buying items on eBay to then sell on - you will need to pay tax. 

The first £1,000 you make in a year is tax free. Anything you earn over this amount will be taxable and you will need to fill in a self-assessment tax return to declare how much you have made and pay the tax on this.

If you are selling as part of a business, you will also need to register for an eBay business account and pay VAT. How VAT is paid will depend on factors such as where you are selling the product and its value.

Top Tips: How to make more when you sell on eBay

  • Help buyers to find your items

    When someone buys something on eBay, they are shown a default order of items called the ‘best match’. This list is created by eBay but there are things you can do as a seller to push your item to the top of the list. 

    This includes making sure your item has a complete listing, using relevant keywords in the title, and filling in all the details, such as the item’s material and colour. 

    The title should include the words a buyer would search for, such as ‘women's black Nike running shoes size 5’. There are several free tools, such as eBay Pulse, which can give you a steer on the most popular keywords to use.

  • Use lots of clear photos

    You’re allowed 12 free photos per listing so make sure they are well-lit and clearly show the item you’re selling.

  • Don’t price your item too high

    The price you set needs to be competitive, and based on what similar items are selling for. Offering free or cheap postage, a fast delivery service, and a generous returns policy will also help.

  • Your feedback rating matters

    Most buyers will want to choose a reliable seller, and the best way to improve your chances of selling something is to have a good feedback rating. You can be rated when selling and buying so it’s a good idea to buy a few small items first, to increase your rating score, before you start to sell. This will also give you a good idea of how the site works.

  • Look out for ‘eBay £1 selling fees’ events

    Occasionally eBay has promotions where they charge sellers £1 in fees for anything they list over a fixed period. You can usually list up to 100 items and you’ll only pay £1 in total for the eBay selling fee, although other fees may still apply.  These events usually get very popular on hotukdeals, so keep your eyes peeled.

    It’s a great way to cut eBay costs, especially if you have expensive items to sell. Other discounts do pop up, such as ‘80% off Final Value fees’ and ‘Sell three items for free offer, but the terms and conditions do vary so make sure you read the small print first. 

    Often these deals are for all eBay sellers, but they are also sometimes just emailed to selected sellers so keep an eye on your emails.

    The eBay deal might also just pop up in your account, as happened to this hotukdeals member, Hybrid21n: “Didn't get an email or a message but when I went to the eBay selling/listing page the promotion was there. Just needed to click the ‘learn more’ button and it took me to the promotion page where I could activate the deal.”

    For selling high-value items, our community member jamie15 advises: “Wait for an FVF (final value fee) promotion before selling high value, 12.8% fees quite a lot to pay!.”

    JB66 said: “Ebay is good only when they have special offers on listing things.”

  • Learn the lingo

    There’s a whole new language for selling online. Some of the most popular include BN (brand new), BNWT (brand new with tags), and BIN (buy it now). Using these words and acronyms can help more people to find your listing. It also gives you more characters to use to describe your item.  

  • Copy another seller’s listing

    Instead of typing out the details of your item, it’s possible to copy an existing listing. When you type into eBay the name of the item you’re selling, it should give you the option to recreate a similar listing. You can then change any details you want to and add your own photos.

  • Find out how much your item could be sold for

    To work out how much money you could make, look at similar products being sold on eBay. You can search for the item and filter the results by ‘sold items’. This will give you an indication of the amount yours could go for.

    The free eBay app also has a tool whereby if your item still has the barcode on, you can scan it in the search bar (where you’ll see the camera and barcode symbol) and you’ll be shown identical items for sale and those which have sold.

How to sell on eBay

You’ve got your items, you’ve read our eBay selling tips, and now it’s time to start selling.

eBay on computer
Source: 27707 / Pixabay.
  1. Set up an eBay seller account. A private seller eBay account is free, you will need to choose a username and enter some personal details before it can be set up. If you’re buying or selling as part of a business, you will need a business account.


  2. List your item. You will need lots of clear photos, a title packed full of keywords, and a detailed description to list your item and to give it the best chance of selling.

    When you list it, you can choose if you want to sell it via an eBay auction or with a Buy It Now sale with a fixed price. You will also need to choose when the listing ends. To maximise the number of people bidding for your item, aim for a day and time of the week when lots of people will be available such as a Sunday evening instead of 2am on a Monday when most people will be asleep!

  3. Calculate postage costs. Include the cost of postage and the timeframe for sending your item. Check how much similar items are being posted for to make sure you’re not over or under-charging. 

    If you want to be more competitive here, you could hunt out cheap parcel delivery deals so you’re paying below standard rates, then pass that saving on to your buyer. These pop up on hotukdeals, or you could use a parcel price comparison website.

  4. Put your item up for sale. You can choose how long the sale lasts and during this time you’ll be notified if people bid on your item or ‘watch’ it. Be prepared to answer questions quickly from any potential buyers during this time.

  5. Post as soon as possible after the sale. Once the auction has ended, or someone has bought via the buy-it-now option, eBay will notify you when they have paid. Then you’ll need to post it as soon as possible.

When is the next eBay £1 selling fees event?

There are often ‘eBay £1 selling fees’ events and as soon as we hear about them they’ll be listed on our site. They usually last around three days but are often only available for some eBay members, who are emailed in advance.

How to start selling on eBay?

Is selling on eBay free?

Is selling on eBay taxable?

Which is better: selling on eBay or Amazon?

What happens if a buyer doesn’t pay or leaves unfair feedback on eBay?