In Business & Technology /

By Amanda-Marie Quintino

The holiday season may have come and gone, but the stack of gifts you don’t like so much are still there, shoved away in the corner of your room, serving as a constant reminder of their utter uselessness, and that of the gift bearer.

But don’t just let them build up dust. These unwanted gifts can make you money – all you have to do is convince others your trash is their treasure.

There’s no need for regifting. Your bad gift can do good things for you – really. It can put some extra cash in your pocket, and all you have to do is make use of the powerful tool that is the Internet.

You’ve heard everyone talk about it — if you don’t want something, sell it on EBay. You’ve never gotten around to it though, figure it’s too much strife. You’ll be scammed, you’ll buy a dud, you’ll owe $10,000 through credit card scams.

But it’s not. All you have to do is sign up for an account and follow these quick tips. Soon, you’ll have some unexpected cash in exchange for that unexpected gift.

Make it sound sexy

Since EBay is like a factory outlet, full of many different things of the same variety, you have to find a way to set your item apart from all of the others.

Describe your item in the most flattering way possible, but don’t overexaggerate. Don’t tell any fibs because you can’t hide flaws such as missing pieces and glaring dents from the buyer, since they are, of course, buying it — they’ll find out eventually.

Giving a truthful description on EBay is more than a core philosophy, it’s a necessity, says Greg Holden, author of Secrets of the EBay Millionaires, a compilation of EBay success stories.

“Tell the truth,” Holden advises. “Honesty, quality and expertise is what it’s all about.”

Selling on EBay is as simple as telling it like it is, Holden says. Sheryl Steinberg, a communications consultant, has bought and sold on EBay many times before.

She says that writing lies in a product description “goes against the whole EBay community’s environment.”

And if you can throw in some inside lingo or jargon, that may help as well. These consist of anything that can help describe the item in more detail, something that makes it more valuable or appealing.

For example, if an item is listed “not with tags” (NWT), that means it is somewhat used. But, if one of its descriptive factors is “with tags” then the buyer knows it’s still brand new.

Phrases such as “still in the box” or “in mint condition” may also help to entice customers.

Mention things that would make an item appealing. If it has all the required pieces, say that. If it’s in perfect condition, make note.

Snap the glamour

It’s all about presentation, so be sure to snap a strong photo to catch the buyer’s eyes. Be sure to snap a shot in a way that will compliment the item you’re trying to sell. Place it in its environment — if it’s a toaster, take a picture of it in the kitchen or if it’s a stack of books, then pile them together, side-by-side, on a bookshelf.

Lee Carter-Godfrey, managing director of internet:intelligence, a Toronto-based team that provides eBusiness, eMarketing and eLearning advice, also says a photograph is an absolutely critical component for a good and quick sale.

“People pulling out the plastic deserve to get a look at what they’re potentially buying,” says Carter-Godfrey, who often teaches workshops about ways to sell your stuff online.

Tips found on EBay’s official website ( suggest you use proper lighting to light the entire item thoroughly, use a plain but appropriate background, avoid background clutter that can be confusing or distracting, and always be sure to use original photos — don’t pluck and place an item picture from a website or catalogue.

Know your stuff

Be sure to do your research. Compare prices and search for similar items to find out what other sellers are asking, then price your item accordingly.

“Browse around and see what else is on the market, stuff that is like what you’re trying to sell,” says technology industry specialist Dave Taylor, owner and operator of, a website created to answer questions about all things technology.

“Before you list anything, read how others list their products and then improve upon it.”

Find out the approximate costs for different types of shipping options. And if it’s a big item, consider listing local pick-up as an option.

For some people, making a bid depends on the little things, like whether the shipping will cost them more than the purchase of the item itself.

If a Canadian finds an item on the cheap but it’s in Asia, the shipping costs will most likely make it not such a good deal in the end. Make sure you include the shipping costs in the product description.

Get paid and get rid of it

Taylor is a big fan of PayPal, a simple service that allows buyers to pay by credit card instead of going through the trouble of writing out a cheque or issuing a money order.

He suggests anyone using EBay set themselves up with a PayPal account. “It just makes EBay life easier and more convenient for everyone,” Taylor says. “You want to make things as easy as possible for the buyers, so they’ll want to buy from you.”

As you post your item on EBay, you set a timeline for people to bid on your precious gift. It can be a few hours, or a few weeks.

Give it enough time so that others can place bids and raise its value. Once potenial buyers start to show interest, a bidding war ensues.

After some back-and-forth, you have a winner. Then, it’s time to complete the sale. When someone buys your gift using PayPal, the money is instantly transferred into your account the second the purchase is finalized.

While other payment options exist, this is the safest way to do business on the retailer’s web site. Next, package up the item, mosey on down to your nearest post office, and say good riddance to your piece of junk.

If you want, you can buy insurance for the parcel so that you won’t lose money if it gets lost, stolen or damaged in the mail.

Whether it gets to the desired destination by snail mail or local pick-up, what matters is that you got cash for your trash. Bid now!

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