Tips for New Sellers on eBay

Avoid common mistakes that can cause account restrictions

Image shows a man sitting at a computer in a room surrounded by items such as paintings, skis, boxes, clothes, and a camera. Text reads: "Tips for new ebay sellers: try 30-day listings for a few months and give buyers time to find your listing; take your own photos; understand your selling limits (new and seasoned users will have different limits"

Image by Bailey Mariner © The Balance 2020

The eBay marketplace has very few barriers to entry, so most new sellers just jump in and start listing. While eBay makes this possible, it is wise to step back, read the eBay policies, and understand what can cause account restrictions and suspensions. eBay doesn't buy "I didn't know better" as an excuse when a rule is violated. Make sure you understand these basic rules before starting to sell on eBay.

Take Your Own Photos

It is against eBay policy to use another seller's photos or to steal them off the Internet. If using a photo that you did not take, you must have written permission from the owner. The official eBay policy states:

"You should be sure you have permission from the rights owner or creator before you use the following:

  • Images or text copied from websites or internet searches
  • Stock photos and text 
  • Information from product packaging
  • It's usually OK to use information such as measurements, weight, or other item specifications that are necessary to describe the item that you simply can't say any other way. However, you should avoid using any other text from product packaging unless you have permission from the owner to do so. 
  • Images and text copied from listings of other eBay members
  • Scans or text copied from catalogs or advertisements"

Many smartphone apps, Youtube tutorials, and other no-cost or low-cost aids exist to make taking your own photos easier than ever, so this shouldn't take much more time than you would spend searching for an existing "illegal" photo of your item. 

Understand Your Selling Limits

All sellers have selling limits. If you are brand new to eBay, your limits will likely be as low as 10 items and $500. If you have had an eBay account for several years, but have never sold anything, your limits will be higher because eBay sees you as a trusted community member.

Selling limits are somewhat hidden on eBay. You can see most of your account limits in the My eBay and Seller Hub sections. Here's how to get there:

  • Click My eBay at the top of most eBay pages
  • Sign in to your account
  • Then select the "All Selling" option in the Sell section on the left side of the page (or in the Selling Manager Summary).
  • In Seller Hub, you can see your account limits in the Overview section.

Learn About the VeRO Program

eBay has a program called VeRO, which stands for Verified Rights Ownership. VeRO is a list of companies or brands that don't want their items sold on eBay or insist that the items be authentic to be listed and sold. For example, Michael Kors is on the VeRO list, but as long as the item is authentic, it can be listed and sold. eBay provides this statement about its VeRO program:

The Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) program allows owners of intellectual property (IP) rights and their authorized representatives to report eBay listings that may infringe on those rights. VeRO embodies our commitment to provide a safe place to buy and sell, which respects property owners' rights.

If you commit a VeRO violation, you will receive an email that says:

Your auction was most likely terminated because it displayed unauthorized reproductions of copyrighted images or trademarks owned by (company), or because it offered for sale unauthorized merchandise.

The listing will be pulled off eBay and your account may be limited.

eBay Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

New eBay sellers often throw in the towel when their items don't sell right away. The 7-day auction is simply an arbitrary number of days to have a product for sale. Try 30-day listings for a few months and give buyers time to find your listing. The right buyer may not see your item in 7 days, so leave the item listed for a while. List a variety of different kinds of items. You will learn what kinds of items you like working with and those you don't. It takes time to learn how and what to sell on eBay. Take your time and find what works best for you.​