Did you know you can make money on eBay without spending a dime? Lots of people do it, mostly by rooting through their attics and garages, even refrigerators, to find things they don’t want or need. Then they list them in the hopes that someone will buy. It’s pretty hit-and-miss, but if making money on eBay is just a hobby, it’s all good.

However, if selling online is something you intend to do for a living, having the equivalent of an online yard sale won’t cut it. So how do you sell on eBay the smart way?

Traditionally, you need to spend money to make money in retail. The first thing you need to realize is that the game has changed considerably since eBay and similar sites have provided anyone anywhere the opportunity to make money by selling online. Nobody ever said you couldn’t use other people’s money to make a profit for yourself.

This is what dropshipping is all about, and eBay remains one of the best platforms for this type of selling. Rather than money, you’re investing your own hard work, business savvy, talent, organizational skill and flair for choosing what sells.

Don’t get me wrong—to do well on eBay, you still need to invest a little bit of your own cash to set up a supply chain. You’ll get that back easily if you do your prep work, though. Here’s how to make a killing on eBay with dropshipping:

Choose Your Products Wisely

Everyone is selling iPhones and fidget spinners, so isn’t that what you should be selling too? It’s tempting to find those lists of top-selling products on eBay and use those to start filling your store, but this is actually a bad move. The truth is, these products have so much competition that only the top sellers with thousands to spend on marketing and massive orders are getting the bulk of the sales.

Choose a winner that has demand but isn’t drowning in competition. You can see examples of good items to sell in our blog.

Do Your Research

As a dropshipper, you are limited only by the inventory of your suppliers, and if you’re careful when choosing your business partners, that’s no limit at all.

Try using a listing analytics tool such as the SaleHoo Market Research Lab to narrow your focus to what’s actually selling on eBay. This tool can show you how many people are already selling the item you want to list, how they performed over time and the item’s overall profit potential. Once you’ve chosen the type of items you want to sell, it’s time to move on to the next step.

To make money on eBay through dropshipping, there are two things you have to know like the back of your hand: the eBay platform and your dropshipping suppliers.

eBay

Selling on eBay is not the same as being successful on eBay. The weekend lister may do quite well on their occasional sales, but as a serious seller you want to do better than that. You need to seize every advantage available, and to do that you must learn everything there is to know about the site from a seller’s perspective.

This includes membership tiers, seller fees, listing tools, policies, Feedback, ranking factors, affiliate programs and so on. Knowing how your platform works will give you an advantage over less dedicated sellers.

Getting to know eBay from head to toe requires time. Think of it as going back to school, with your eBay listings as the written exam. Click on everything that is clickable, take notes, check forums and ask questions.

You could make a test run with a few items that you already have on hand just to see how it goes. Consider it on-the-job training. If you make mistakes, make sure you don’t make them twice. Take notes on what worked and what didn’t, and why you think that is.

Finally, keep in mind that the customer is always number 1. You don’t want to risk getting negative Feedback for selling a dicey Magic 8 Ball. Whatever happens during your test run, be honest, nice and responsive to your customers.

Your Suppliers

We talk about this a lot in our blog and we don’t mind repeating it: choose your suppliers wisely. Price is important, of course, but there are other factors that come into play.

It’s crucial that your supplier be reliable and professional. As a dropshipper, you know that your lifeblood is in the fulfilment. If your supplier fails you, your business won’t be far behind.

Take the time to thoroughly investigate your potential suppliers. If possible, visit their place of business to see how it’s run; you want nothing to do with a sloppy and disorganized operation.

Ideally, you’ll work with local wholesalers. If you are importing your products and visiting the supplier is out of the budget, your best bet is to find a directory of vetted suppliers to make sure they are legitimate.

Once you’ve found a potential supplier or two, start by making a few small purchases to test how fast they deliver, as well as the quality of the products and their packaging. Some buyers don’t like to deal with dropshippers. It’s therefore important to see whether your supplier will brand the products the way you want.

You will also see how well your supplier communicates with you, which is crucial once you start making sales. You should be able to track inventory and purchases easily. If any problems develop, you need the opportunity to spot them and respond before your customer has a chance to get cranky.

Marketing

Once you’ve found your supplier, it’s time to make your eBay listings and start selling! Your next step is to improve your exposure so that you stand above your competition, because there will almost certainly be plenty of it. Here are five good ways to market your eBay listings:

1. Get a PayPal Account

eBay provides protection to both buyers and sellers who use PayPal. It’s also a secure and convenient way for a buyer to pay for purchases. No wonder most eBay buyers prefer sellers who offer this payment option. Getting an account will expose your listings to buyers who filter their search for sellers who take PayPal.

2. Price Competitively

You should keep your eye on your bottom line, of course, but you also…