What Not To Do When Sales Are Slow

In the span of five days last week, I sold five dollars worth of clothing. Earlier in February, I’d had several days of over $80 or $100 in sales, and since this little eBay drought has ended, my sales have picked back up to about what I would expect. Any time I’ve had a day or two without sales, I’ve been pretty good about telling myself that slow days are normal, and that things will turn around soon. I had just never gone that long without any real sales to speak of. I’d like to share with you three things not to do when sales are slow:

1. Obsessively check eBay

I waste too much time in general scrolling through my active listings on my eBay app, but over those five days, I checked in on my phone way too often. There’s really no benefit to doing this, and I could be using my time so much more productively.

2. Compare yourself to other sellers

In an effort to see if it was just my items not selling or other people’s as well, I found myself looking up completed listings of other sellers I know. Again, this is just a waste of time. If I were to see that other people’s sales are slow, that doesn’t change my situation for the better, and if I were to see that other people’s sales weren’t slow, I’d just end up feeling worse.

3. Give up

I never seriously considered throwing in the towel during these slow days, but I did really struggle with feeling like the hard work I’ve been putting into eBay was for naught. Being in business for yourself can be really empowering when you’re seeing results, but when things are slow, it can be hard to stay motivated to keep plugging away.


One of the great things about selling on eBay is that you’re free to work anytime, anywhere. The downside to that is that there’s a tendency (for me, at least) to keep eBay in the back of my mind all the time. There no “leaving work at work” like you might be able to do with a lot of traditional jobs. One way I’m going to try to combat that is by not keeping my phone nearby during the day–it’s tucked away in my purse in the coat closet right now, where it’ll stay all day. I won’t hear the “cha-ching” when I make a sale, and I won’t be tempted to check my listings for any new offers or watchers. I’ll likely check my email on the computer around lunch time and before I go to bed, so that I can pack up any sales or respond to messages. But that’s it. Hopefully that will help me keep eBay where it belongs, and not in my head all day.

Do y’all ever struggle with thoughts of eBay creeping into your mind too much? How do you combat that?


11 thoughts on “What Not To Do When Sales Are Slow

  1. Thank you so much for this post, it helped me a lot, even if i told my self that my business is gonna be better soon, it just helped me! it calmed me down while i was reading this, i am trying all three things actually but still its kind of hard to deal with the situation 😦 i really agree with the 3rd one,when the sales are slow it makes me dont wanna stay productive, and today i decided to work more harder and it will pay back soon 🙂


  2. I’ve had to do the same thing with putting my phone away. I realized I was wasting way too much time checking the status of my listings on Ebay.
    Not sure if I commented here or on Instagram but as a new seller, I often found myself getting impatient if something didn’t sell right away. The result being me moving items to auction or listing at prices too low – not good for meeting my financial goals with this! I’m now listing the majority of my items as “Buy It Now”, less hassle and I think profits will be higher.


    • Smartphones are so tempting! Yesterday was my first day of keeping my phone away, and by the end of the day, I was so glad that I made that choice. I didn’t waste time on it, and I felt like my head was just so much clearer without all the “noise” of checking in on my phone frequently throughout the day.

      And yes, I’ve totally been in the same place with being impatient about sales. I used to use best offer on all my listings, and so often I would accept offers that were way too low. Once I took best offer off of the majority of my listings, my profits went up.


  3. I have a question about your accountingand bookkeeping records. I put together A list of every item that I have for sale, what I bought it for, and what the sale prices, and then what it actually sells for. If I do this I am not leaving room to have a monthly income/expense because a shirt that I listed this month might not sell until the summer.
    Soooo…. How can I put together record keeping system that will show me my monthly sales and profit while still keeping track of what I buy items for when I buy them?


    • Hi Kelly! Thanks for the question–hopefully I can help you out with this.

      Let’s see… so the problem is that you’re just keeping one big list of all the items you’ve purchased, and then updating a line on your list when an item sells, but then you’re not able to easily see how you did in any given month?

      What are you using to make that list? If you’re using a spreadsheet program (like Excel or Google Sheets), you could have your master list off all your inventory, and then just make a new sheet for each month. You could copy the lines that contain the items that sell in a given month, and then paste them in your monthly sheet. Do you think that would work, or am I misunderstanding your problem?

      Personally, I use the Easy Auctions Tracker Spreadsheet. There’s a sheet to keep up with your inventory, and then there’s a sheet where you can see both monthly and yearly Profit and Loss. I really love it! You can read a review of the software here:


      Hope this helped! Please let me know if there are any other questions I can help with.


  4. thank you! Yes, that is the problem and I am trying to do a tracking system myself instead of paying but I do see how it is worth it! This is hair pulling at times…
    thanks! I think I am going to try the “master” list of inventory and then doing a separate monthly recap.

    I only have 35 items listed— ebay will not let me list any more in the clothing category until I am a seller for 90 days I guess? That stinks because I have another good 20 items of clothing to list! Was that true for you, being limited in the beginning?

    Oh, one more thing– do you know if Paper Crane is Anthro?


    • I’ve only been selling seriously for less than a year and a half, but I did open my eBay account back in 2004, before they instated selling limits on new sellers. So, even though I didn’t get serious about selling until fairly recently, I wasn’t subjected to any limits. I have heard of people having success calling and asking for their limits to be lifted, though! If you can show that you’re a reliable seller, haven’t had any problems with buyers, (and you’re extra polite on the phone with ebay!) you might be able to get your limit lifted. Otherwise, I would keep working on what you can without listing in the meantime (working on photo skills, researching what to buy to sell, etc) so you’ll be ready to rock once those 90 days are over. 🙂

      I did a little Googling, and it looks like Anthropologie carries some Paper Crane items, but the label isn’t exclusive to Anthro.

      Here are a couple pieces I found that were sold by Anthro:



      There are some other clothing labels that are only sometimes carried at Anthro, like Ella Moss or Sweet Pea. It can be a little tricky to know if one of their items is Anthro or not, but I always err on the side of caution. If I can’t be absolutely sure something was carried at Anthro, I won’t list it as being such.


  5. Hell yes! I had two terrible weeks where I sold 4 items and had 2 returns. What a bummer. This week has been solid and back to normal though. Just gotta keep listing. I try to have set times when I list for about a half hour every morning. On the weekends during my daughter’s nap, I’ll take pictures and prep items for listing throughout the week. I definitely check my listings too much though. I like to see how many watchers I have (just to remind myself that even if I’m not selling, I do have traffic and interest!).


    • Chris–Yes, that always happens to me, too! When sales are slow, I end up getting returns, lost packages, etc. The eBay gods really know how to kick you when you’re down. 🙂

      I feel the same way about watchers, too. I know a lot of people complain that watchers are annoying, but having them does at least tell you that interested people are finding your listings.

      Glad to hear things are picking up for you, too!


  6. Pingback: Monthly Recap — February 2015 | Thrift Flipper

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