How Hard Do You Need to Work to Make Money on Ebay?

This article explains roughly how much work it takes to make money on Ebay. This is a simplified calculation that uses time, average sale price, and listing pace.

Supposed you have a bunch of books. I’ll use books because readers often have a few too many.

I’ll assume you already know how to list items for sale on Ebay. If not, you need to figure around two hours to learn, and a month to get good at it.

If you’re fast, you can list around 10 books per hour. This means photographing the covers, finding the price, and posting the listing.

The average sale price for a book is low: $3.50 with “free shipping”. That’s 3.5 – 2.75 postage, or .75. If you can get packaging and a label for free, you make 75 cents per book.

Oh wait, I forgot about Ebay and PayPal fees. They work out to 15%, so they will take .52 per book. That leaves less than .25!

If you have 10 books, and list 10 books, and sell 10 books, you will make $2.50 per hour.


Of course, whether that’s worth it or not depends on how much you value the books, and how much you value your time.

To make more money, you need to avoid spending time listing so many books, and focus on higher priced books.

Do title searches to find the books that are priced higher, or are rare. List only the ones that have a higher average sale price.

If you set your limit at an $8 average sale price, then the numbers work out like this:

Sale price     8.00
Ebay/PP fee   -1.20
Packaging      -.50
Total          6.30

However, the searches will take time. They take around 30 seconds per search. I’d estimate that 1/30 will turn up a high priced book. So, it takes 15 minutes to find a book. Add in 5 minutes to list it, and it takes 20 minutes of labor to list and sell a book.

You can sell 3 books per hour, for a total of almost $19 an hour!

That’s worth it by almost any measure, unless you make more than $19 an hour, and can make $19 in that hour in which you’d spend listing books for sale.

If you make a lot more than $19 an hour, you should just sell or donate your books in bulk.

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