Why I Charge 50% to Sell for You

Why I charge 50% to sell for you….what does this mean exactly? In a nutshell, I sell for people online. Ebay calls this being a “Trading Assistant.” I make a little money, but I actually enjoy it, even though it is extremely time-consuming. Let me take you through the typical process.


Untitled design (2)Someone hands me a box of treasured heirlooms. Whatever the item (s) are, I’m usually told they are “worth a lot of money.” I wish I had a dollar for every time I hear this! A lot goes into the process! I try to find out as much as I can about the items. What is it? How old? How long have they owned it? Where did they get it?







Helpful answers are often lacking, so I’ve spent hours digging. Let’s take pottery marks, for example. Many of them are not easily identifiable, and there are pages and pages of marks on the internet. Sometimes I go to Replacements.com to look through their endless pages. If I’m still at a dead end, I might go to Ebay/Etsy/Ruby Lane to conduct general searches based on descriptions. I put myself to sleep looking through pages of pottery marks!


why i charge 50% to sell for you
Endless pages like this

Recently I was elated to find a forum on pottery mark identification help, until I found out what their “simple rules” were to join the site~


Look through pottery marks already identified, AND write a 600 page essay telling them how I acquired the pieces, what I collected and why. Puh-leeze!





A friend gave me this cup and saucer. As you can see, it has an Oriental motif. The dragon designs are unusual in that they are raised like modern puff paint. With no identifying marks, I had no idea what it was. So I googled “raised dragon design on cup and saucer.”

why I charge 50% to sell for you
Dragonware Cup and Saucer


I saw several cups with similar designs and a name…Moriage Dragonware. I searched on Ebay/Etsy, using that term, and got price comparisons. These were souvenir cups brought back from the war by servicemen. Furthermore, I learned there was an image of a geisha in the bottom of the cup when it was held up to light, and yes, there it was. And this had a name…Lithophane! Thankfully I added this to the title and description.


why I charge 50% to sell for you
Lithophane image


As you can imagine, much goes into research. I tell my friends that I know a little about a lot of things, but not a lot about anything…hence, research. Many times research requires the purchase of books or membership on antique identification sites like Kovel’s or Worthpoint. My personal rule is not to buy books for research unless I’m interested in the topic myself. If I can help friends gain more for their piece without resorting to the uncertainties of yard/estate sales, I feel satisfied.




When people are downsizing or moving, they need it gone then. So I become a storage facility too. When a friend’s aunt recently died, they were cleaning out her house. I brought home 5 car loads of stuff to sell for her. Can you imagine finding a place to store 5 car loads?




Most of the time I have to clean the pieces so that they photograph well. If they are fabric, they must be spot cleaned, hand-washed, and ironed.





Shipping and packing are huge. Knowing how to pack carefully is usually learned in the School of Hard Knocks. I’m using my own packing materials I’ve paid for, or scrounged for in my favorite trash piles, which requires my time and gas. If an item arrives broken, I not only risk negative feedback, but money must be refunded.


why I charge 50% to sell for you
My Certificate




Lastly there’s my expertise in knowing how to search, how to sell, how to figure out how much to charge for shipping, photographing attractive pictures, how to write a description, using the right keywords, and how to pack a box safely.




Truth be told, I still feel guilty asking 50% because most don’t understand what goes into the process. I’ve had bug-eyed reactions why I charge 50% to sell for youwhen I give a quote, and if those people choose not to hire me, that’s OK. I still have plenty of my own to sell. People often assume I’m doing it for nothing, and though I would like to be accommodating in that way, it takes too much of my time.


A couple approached me about selling some model trains and a set of Lenox dishes for them. The man told me condescendingly “we’ll give you a little something.” Right away I knew I didn’t want to work with them and I was glad they decided to go elsewhere.


Quite honestly I don’t deal in dish sets. They are total headaches to pack. It seems that everything breakable I’ve ever sold goes to California, (I live in Alabama), and trying to safely pack a set of dishes for shipment….UGH.


And frankly, I don’t know a lot of people who will sell for others. Lots of acquaintances have asked me to teach them how to sell online, but by the time I show them the basics, they usually ask if I’ll do it for them. Asking 50% is not unusual.




For the sake of comparison, let’s look at percentages.

An item sells for $15.

Ebay’s fees are 10% of what the item sells for PLUS the amount charged for shipping. Let’s say the total with shipping is $20.

Ebay’s basic fees would be $2, plus listing price, plus paypal fee. Total fees might be about $2.90. Subtracting that from $20, you are left with $17.10.

A 25% commission on $17.10 would be $4.28

A 50% commission would be $8.55




Considering all the work and time commitment involved, hopefully you can see why I charge 50% to sell for you.


32 comments on Why I Charge 50% to Sell for You

  1. Florence, it sounds like so much goes into selling vintage and antique pieces online. 50 % is completely reasonable, no doubt about that!! Just curious, if you’ve sold through the 5 car loads yet..?

  2. I think 50% is cheap having down this myself. When I first started selling on eBay I had a few people wanting me to sell for them. After a few sales where neither of us was satisfied, I quickly decided to NEVER sell for another person online or in my booth. I keep more friends this way. I cannot believe you provide storage. Good luck with the carloads.

    1. You’re so right…some people aren’t satisfied with anything less than the full amount, and even then it’s not enough. The person I mainly sell for is a good friend who is very understanding. Yes I provide storage b/c I have to have the items here to photograph, describe, and package.

  3. I know exactly what goes into researching and selling and that is why I never do it. It is a ton of work. I generally donate my items, but if I had something I really wanted to sell, I would gladly pay 50% to someone to do it for me!

    1. Yes it is a ton of work! Sounds like you know! So glad you don’t think 50% is too much. I don’t think it is either b/c I know how much work it is, but hard to convince someone else who has no idea.

  4. You’re a better soul than I. I just won’t sell for others. I tried a long time ago and also charged 50% – and got the same looks. LOL But quickly figured out it wasn’t for me. When I do something like that, I try so very hard not to make a mistake and that’s when I mess up the most. It was like when I took tests in school. The harder I tried, the worse I did. So, no. I won’t do it. I admire you for it, though! 🙂

  5. I’ve sold on Ebay and I don’t think 50% is too much to ask. Between photographing, listing, and shipping it takes a lot of time. Unless you’ve done it before I don’t think you can appreciation all that goes into selling online.

  6. This was a really great post you wrote, Florence. I really don’t think the average person thinks about all of this. I was selling on Etsy and even though it took time to take good photos, write descriptions, etc., it was the shipping I really didn’t like. I was sending my art, and in some cases it was the original, so I had to make sure everything was well packaged beforehand and then driving to the PO, standing in lines, and then holding your breath that it made it safely to it’s buyer.

    1. Thanks Carol. Yes shipping is what makes the whole thing so challenging, and unless you are a seller doing all this, no one really understands what goes into it. I know what you mean about “holding your breath” until it gets safely to the buyer! I’ve done that many a time, and sent up a little prayer too.

  7. I know exactly what you mean Florence, and I think 50% is very reasonable. There’s a lovely consignment store in the town where I work and they take 50% and do much less work for the sale because it just sits in their shop. I decided long ago never to sell for other people because most have no idea of the time that goes into each listing from start to finish.

  8. Bonjour, I’m really pleased to read your article that makes great sense to me also. we all spend a lot of time for hunting objects at flea markets or at garages sales, etc…then, photographing, listing, packing take a lot of time too. Especially Packing!:) Merci beaucoup for your article.

  9. Florence, I had no idea what all went into selling like you do. So much time and knowledge. I think that 50% of the sale is a bargain after seeing how much you already know and how much time it took to get there! And the packaging? That itself would be worth the money! I’m really impressed!

    BTW, I love the Barney Fife image!

  10. Florence you are absolutely right to charge them 50 percent. A lot of work goes into what you do and not everyone is willing to or can do it. So you are providing a valuable service. There is no room for anyone to be condescending.

  11. Five car loads are too much, I think it is too much time-consuming and a lot of work is required, as you have explained and if you are charging 50 percent, I think is fine, or you can charge more. Those who are willing to pay will buy.

  12. Oh my word Florence, never in a million years would I have guessed how much work goes into being a “Trading Assistant”, wow. I can so see why you would charge 50% commission. I think you’re knowledge and expertise is worth way more though

  13. That is so much work! I completely understand why you charge so much. And I can kind of relate to that bug eyed look. I work at a used book and music store that is completely filled with items we acquire from people walking through the door. People come from all around to sell to us. And one someone comes up saying that they’re one book is worth so much money, I can already tell it might not go well. We pay a certain percentage of what we can sell for and most people don’t understand that we can’t pay more in order to keep on the lights, pay rent and continue selling items. So many long conversations of explanation. O.o

    1. Oh yes I can well imagine that! You have to keep your amounts low so you can make a profit. I used to volunteer in a thrift store, & some people had the attitude, “you’re getting this for free….why do I have to pay for it?”

  14. I am amazed at the amount of work and education that goes into this. I would never have thought it. I am so schooled now! 50% seems like a bargain when you look at it this way. Those dragon cups are really neat, and the markings are awesome. I love learning new things and this really taught me a lot. I’ll be contacting you if I have things to sell!

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