7 Things These eBay Success Stories Have in Common

You don’t have to look far to find someone with an eBay business, but some have gone above and beyond and become true success stories. Look closely and you’ll find that although the products and services they offer are often very different, they all have a similar approach to making their business the best it can be. So what is it that eBay success stories do, and what can they teach us? Let’s have a look.

1. They provide something new

The idea doesn’t need to be fancy — you just need to offer a service no one else does, or offer an existing service in a different way. This kind of business often starts with a close look at key trends, so they can be picked up on before they’re written about in the media and copied by everyone else.

Other times, people stumble across a gap in the market by chance, like in the case of David Brackin and Fraser Pearce. They noticed that most people don’t have time to deal with unwanted items when they’re packing up to move house, and quickly stepped in.

The products they sell can be as small as a pair of rarely-worn shoes or as large as an entire suite of furniture or fitted kitchen. They list other people’s items on eBay, take care of all the advertising, packing and selling so their customers don’t have to, and keep a percentage of the profits. This strategy has earned them a place on the list of eBay Millionaires.

2. They take chances

Matt and Amanda Clarkson started by selling DVDs, books and CDs they no longer wanted in their free time, using their spare room as an office. When they noticed how little time it took for everything to be snapped up, they reinvested the money they’d earned into buying more stock and improving their skills — and the risk paid off.

Two years later, they were making an average of $750,000 per year. The couple now sell instructional books and DVDs on eBay, inspiring existing and aspiring sellers to turn their ideas into profitable online businesses.

The lesson? Listen to your gut instinct.


3. They make it work with their everyday lives

Jaimey Castillo needed a way of making money while she finished her degree. It had to be realistic, flexible, and allow her to still spend time with her daughter. After carrying out some research, she decided to try setting up an account on eBay, turning her love of buying second-hand clothing into a business she could run from home.

The reason her success story works? Castillo can adjust her schedule to suit family life and other commitments.

4. Their listings look good

Find any successful eBay seller and chances are they’ll note the importance of using truthful, well-written listings. Photos should be clear and show what the item looks like in real life, while the product descriptions should be accurate and detailed.

Think about what the buyer needs to know and list the following:

  • The brand
  • The condition of the item
  • Its measurements, style, and colour
  • The model number (if applicable)

Be truthful about your shipping times and use quality packaging to keep that good first impression going.  The customer is more likely to buy a product — and then come back to buy more — if they can trust you. Honesty is key.

5. They listen to their customers

Without your customers, there’s no business, so taking their comments and concerns on board is of paramount importance. For example, Castillo constantly makes a note of what people are wearing and which trends seem to stick, so that she has a solid idea of what people are likely to buy.

Another success story, Brandi Tolley, sells clothing for big and tall men, in sizes that are difficult to find. She keeps a record of what her customers gravitate towards so she can personalise the emails and recommendations she sends them. One customer is allergic to wool, so she never sends him any information about wool — and he comes back time and time again. In her most successful year, Tolley made $200,000.

Three key things go a long way to giving your customers confidence and establishing good relationships with them, including:

  • Thoughtful and responsive customer service
  • Honest product descriptions
  • Transparency about postage times


6. They pay attention to the economy

When the recession happened, Anthony Ponsford was worried his eBay business would collapse. But then he noticed that people were turning to eBay as an alternative to the high street, hoping to find a deal in difficult times.

His broad range of everyday products, including memory cards and office furniture, sold well because they cost less than what the competitor offered, and Ponsford was still able to make a profit. His company is now worth over a million pounds.

7. They evolve

After Jason Smith lost his job at a music store, he started selling CDs on eBay as a way of making money. He found they were very popular. However, digital downloads gradually started to become the norm, and Smith needed to take a different approach. He branched out, selling Hawaiian merchandise inspired by his own tiki collectibles and later adding unique items of clothing to the mix.

By adapting to the way society was changing, Smith ensured his business was able to grow. He used his knowledge of tiki collectibles to his advantage, becoming something of an authority on the subject, to the point where current and prospective customers now come to him for advice and information.

As you can see, your eBay business idea doesn’t necessarily need to be different or inventive to be successful. It just needs to solve a problem, offer buyers something that’s not currently available, or repackage an existing idea in a new and exciting way.

Add in a willingness to go beyond what people expect in terms of service and your customers will be loyal for life. For more advice on setting up your eBay business for success, check out the rest of our blog – including expert tips on how to start as an eBay seller.