Interview with Julie from Flipping Thrifty

I’m back with another interview from a fellow eBay seller–I just love these! This time, the lovely Julie from the Flipping Thrifty blog (and @westocjulie Instagram) took the time to give us a peek into her eBay business. Julie is 23 years old from Ocean City, MD. (Jealous!!) She makes about $2,000/mo working 25-30 hours a week! So inspiring!
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1. Tell us how you first got the idea to start selling on eBay.

I first started selling on eBay in 2006.  After Christmas, our Walmart puts everything on clearance 90% and I remember buying about 10 CHI hair straightener kits for about $10 a piece and selling them all for about $75 each.  I was hooked after this!  I started selling a few things here and there throughout high school and college and once I graduated college, just this year, I started putting more time and effort into eBay.  I finally subscribed to a store in February and have been doing it (almost) full-time since then.

2. What does a typical week look like for you?

I really have no set schedule.  Honestly, this month I was having some relationship troubles and being my own boss allowed me to put my work on hold for a little bit.  I love that about eBay!  I try to visit Goodwill at least 3 times a week and on Wednesdays I take a thrifting road trip which will last me literally all day.  I love that I can set my own hours.  I live at the beach in Ocean City, MD and it’s nice that I can work around spending my day at the beach, or work around going out at night.

3. What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome (or are working on now)?

I’m working on becoming a legitimate business right now (terrible I’ve waited this long, I know).  I really am so incredibly confused on the whole tax procedures and am waiting to speak with someone from my local small business center.  Aside from that, the only problem I have is finding items to source at a price I feel comfortable.  I think my thrift stores might have the most expensive prices, my average profit per item is only around $15 – $17 and there are only a couple thrift stores around me, and only one worth sourcing for name brands.  Having such a small profit means I just have to buy a lot more.

4. What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of starting an eBay business?

Research.  I have spent so much of my free time looking at BOLO lists and following other bloggers.  I also suggest you have the right equipment to take amazing photos, a white or nice clean background, bright lighting, and a good camera.  Other than that, the hardest part is waiting for that first sale, but after the sales start coming you will be hooked. Oh, and definitely get the app because your heart will smile every time you hear that cha-ching!

Thank you, Julie for sharing all this great information!

I would love to interview others and continue this series! If you’re interested in being interviewed, please comment below, or send me an email at Thanks!

Monthly Recaps — May 2015

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May was good to me! I was about four dimes shy of $1,300 in sales, which is the best I’ve done since January of this year. My inventory is now as high as it’s ever been at 139 active listings this morning. I attribute the increase in sales (and inventory) to adding about an extra hour of thrifting time each week, and going out to stores farther away from me that I hadn’t visited before.

Number of items sold: 42 (down 3 from last month)

Average selling price: $35.63 (up $10.39 from last month)

Total profit: $848.37 (up $93.41 from last month)

Another note before I post the numbers: I’ve been highlighting the “good news” above in green and the “bad news” in red. You’ll notice that all three are in green, even though I sold fewer items this month than last. However, my average sale price has gone up enough to more than make up for that specific deficit. Basically, I did less work but made more money this month than last month–works for me!

may 2015 p&l

My best sale was this new with tags plus-sized skirt from the brand Stizzoli. I paid $4.49 for it, and it sold for $99.99. It was listed as free shipping, but since it sold to someone in Canada, the buyer paid shipping.

may 2015 best sale

I hope you all had great months as well! If you do monthly income recaps on your blog, I’d love for you to post a link in the comments section!

Monthly Recap — March 2015

Woof. That’s how I feel about March. See below for the numbers, and let’s just say I’m glad it’s over.

On another note, I’d like to let you know about a change on the blog you might notice. I’ll likely no longer be updating the “Student Loan Progress” tab up above, because we’re going to be pressing “pause” on our debt repaying for the next twelve months. I was really loving seeing that balance come down, but our circumstances have changed.

We were just told this past Sunday that our landlord is going to be selling the house we’re renting, and need us out next April. Woof again.

We just moved here about 9 months ago, and I really love almost everything about it, which I can’t say at all for the other places we’ve lived. I was really hoping for a few more Christmases in our sweet little house, but that’s life, I guess.

We’ve been really committed to the whole Dave Ramsey baby steps program for the last three years, which has you wait to buy a house until you’re debt free, have 6 months of expenses saved in an emergency fund, and a 20% down payment. We’ve been chugging along renting for over 4 years (with two kids who’ve come along in that time) but I’m reaaaaally getting sick of being kicked out of rentals because the owners decide to sell. (That’s the reason we moved from our last place, too.)

Our plan is to save up as much as we can over the next year, and if by next April, we’ve got enough for a decent down payment and some left in savings, we’ll buy, even if that’s not the Dave Ramsey way. I don’t want to make an irresponsible financial decision, but it’s really breaking my heart to have to keep shuffling our family around. We shall see what the future holds. I will say that I am incredibly thankful to have been given so much notice about needing to move. I would be in full-blown panic mode if we’d been given 30 days notice!

Okay, enough of all that! Here’s March’s numbers:

Number of items sold: 42 (down 6 from last month)

Average selling price: $24.56 (up $2.04 from last month)

Total profit: $546.97 (down $164.40 from last month)

march 2015 p&l

Ebay Store Mini Makeover

I love a good makeover show. Give me a glass of wine and a marathon of What Not To Wear reruns, and you will hear no complaints. It just love seeing how a little external upkeep transforms a person’s whole outlook.

I had some downtime early this morning and decided to give my somewhat-neglected eBay store a mini makeover. I added a banner (the “Welcome to my store! Feel free to…” part) that I made (for free!) with Canva and color coordinated the four “Featured Items” below it.

store billboard

One of the things that I love about eBay is the personal connection a buyer and seller can make in each transaction. A little handwritten note on a packing slip or a “Thanks! This is exactly what I was looking for!” received along with a buyer’s payment keep the transaction from feeling totally sterile. I think that including a short welcome and signing my name on my store’s billboard will help foster the feeling that buyers are purchasing from a real, live human being, who will do what it takes to make sure they have a great buying experience.

I also updated my store categories (below, in the pink box) to make it easier for buyers to find what they’re looking for:

store categories

I had way too many listings that hadn’t been properly categorized and were all lumped into the “other” category. Now that I’ve fixed that, shoppers can search either by type of clothing or by size, and see everything in my store that falls into each category.

To be perfectly honest, touching up the look of my eBay store is pretty low on my list of priorities. I imagine many or most of my buyers never even see my store. Rather, they likely just find a particular item when they run a search. However, for the ones who do see my store, they should have a slightly more pleasant experience now!

Do you all spend much time on the look or usability of your eBay store? Anyone else still mourning the end of What Not To Wear? 🙂

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?

27 Things About Me (On My 27th Birthday)

I tend to be much more of a listener than a talker in real life, but in the interest of letting you all get to know me a little better, I thought I’d share some random facts about myself. Some are fun and others are a little more serious. If any of these make you say “Me, too!!” I would love to hear about it in the comments!

  1. Lived in Qatar from the time I was about 3 months until I was 2
  2. Was a political science major in college
  3. Played the flute for eight years
  4. My family underwent bankruptcy from the time I was 5 until 10
  5. Wanted to be a doctor when I was younger (and am still trying to figure out how to make it happen!)
  6. Ran my first half marathon last year, after not really working out for years
  7. I used to want ten kids, but six is sounding better at this point
  8. My husband, Charles, and I ate Chick-fil-a for all three meals one day, and it was awesome
  9. Was the only student in my high school class to earn a National Merit Scholarship
  10. Recently finished binge-watching The Walking Dead and am counting down until Season 5 resumes
  11. I’m a Texan by birth, but consider Tennessee my home
  12. Went to Disney World for the first time last summer
  13. I think one of the best gifts you can give a person is a pair of really great, expensive socks
  14. Was in Alpha Delta Pi sorority in college
  15. Got married 7 months after graduating college
  16. Had a cat from the time I was in 1st grade until a year after I graduated college–RIP Smokey
  17. My dream is to have two ovens one day (and a Kitchen-aid mixer!)
  18. Converted to Catholicism in 2009
  19. My favorite clothing brand is Lilly Pulitzer, but if I could only shop from one store, I would choose Anthropologie
  20. I played tennis with my dad every Saturday from fifth grade until I left for college (and I totally miss it!)
  21. As a child, I was positive a tornado was coming every time the wind blew
  22. We are still renters, but hope to finally buy a house in the next five years (hopefully sooner!)
  23. I drink a cup of tea every night
  24. My first baby came a week early; my second 11 days late (oof!)
  25. Favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo
  26. I had a failed Etsy business selling quilts and quilt patterns
  27. I love nothing more than sitting at Starbucks and reading Real Simple cover to cover

On Underpromising and Overdelivering

There’s an old saying that the way to make someone happy is to underpromise and overdeliver. I think that this certainly holds true on eBay. However, that notion can also conflict with wanting to make your items look as good as possible in your listings, to increase buyer interest. On the one hand, you want your items to look great, but not better than they do in real life, to avoid those dreaded “item not as described” cases.

Here are a couple ways I try to achieve balance in my eBay sales:

Take the most accurate pictures possible, and describe all flaws.

The one thing that I never, ever want one of my customers to be is disappointed. If there is even the tiniest flaw in one of my items, I make sure to both take a picture highlighting the flaw and to describe it in my listings. I’ve recently started using the advanced listing tool, so I will also be filling out the condition description box.

advanced condition descriptionAdditionally, I take pictures of my items from all angles and include both far-away and close up shots. I’m a big fan of the macro function on my point-and-shoot, and I use it to take really close up pictures in an attempt to convey the texture of the item. If someone is expecting a thin, silky cardigan, I don’t want them to be upset when a nubby linen knit arrives at their doorstep.

Ship faster than your stated handling time, if possible.

My stated handling time is one business day, but the vast majority of my items are shipped the same day. (At least, those purchased before the post-office closes.) I would be well within my rights to use that full 24 hours before shipping, but buyers love when items are shipped ASAP.

Below are the twelve most recent transactions on my feedback profile. Two of them are for items that I purchased from other sellers, so that leaves 10 pieces of feedback for me as a seller. The 8 that I’ve pointed to all mention my quick shipping time.

quick shippingI realize that I have an advantage as a stay-at-home mom on this point, and that eBay sellers who also work outside the home aren’t available mid-day to ship. But my point is to find a way to exceed expectations. Maybe you could have really beautiful packaging, or a clever note that you include in your packages. I think it’s these little touches that increase the perceived value of purchased items and can help ensure that your buyers are totally satisfied.