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The ebay Inc. logo and website are arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015.  Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The 1 Unexpected Trick to Selling Your Stuff on Ebay

It’s that time of year again. Folding tables are sprouting up in driveways all over the U.S., because yard sale season has arrived once more. But selling your old junk on the side of the road is no way to maximize your returns — that's best done online. And when it comes to second-hand sales, eBay is still first-rate in a crowded marketplace of e-commerce sites.

"EBay is great to sell used products, one-of-a kind items, antiques, or items that are broken,” says Jordan Malik, author of The Free eBay Products Worth Thousands That You Can Sell Today.

Wait, broken items? Yes indeed — even your junk can rake in dough online, says the award-winning Amazon merchant who's also been selling on eBay for more than 15 years. "Believe it or not, there's a huge marketplace for broken electronics for spare parts,” says Malik.

But there’s one key difference between power-sellers like Malik and poor packrats like the rest of us: they don’t hesitate when posting a product for sale.

“People are hesitant to use eBay because of the complexity of putting up a product,” says Malik, adding that sitting down at a computer, picking out a design template, and typing up snappy copy can be a drag. Instead, Malik uses eBay’s mobile app to advertise his goods for sale. “That has made it so much easier to take a photo and list a product,” he says. "They really dumbed down the process."

The popularity of eBay’s app is changing the game for sellers like Malik. Last year, sales from mobile devices accounted for around one-fifth of the e-commerce site’s total. And, crucially, eBay's mobile users don’t see the bolded fonts or color-shaded listings that desktop buyers do. That's why Malik doesn't bother with these window-dressing details.

"They need to read a description and see the photos clearly to make the buying decision,” he says.

When selling his stuff, Malik uses his smartphone to take photos of the product, uploading the pictures through the eBay app where he also dictates a description of the gear using the voice-to-text feature. From the smartphone’s camera to its microphone, handheld technology has dramatically eliminated the barriers to posting products online.

“In five minutes or less, I've got the listing live,” he says. Malik admits that later on, he may fire up the laptop to edit or add more to the description, but that's not necessary to closing a sale. "There's plenty of people who just do mobile period and they do just fine,” he says.

As for what sells best on eBay, that’s similarly surprising. You might expect big ticket items in demand by everyone — like cellphones or electronics — to start bidding wars on the auction website. But Malik says niche products tend to sell just as well. For instance, if you have size 15 shoes, get them posted, because someone with big feet will likely come across your listing before they stroll up your front walk.

“If you have 20 used men's shirts that are 18 1/2s with 35/36 sleeves, selling them together in a bundle will bring you a lot more than they will at a yard sale,” says Malik. And if you’re undecided about what’s more important — freeing yourself from clutter or weighing down your pockets with a chunk of change — this method will have you covered on both.

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