eBay MoneyMakers, An Update with Tristen O’Brien

Remember the O’Brien family who were featured in eBay’s MoneyMakers video series?

While recently attending the eBay Parent Panel Summit, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Tristen O’Brien. I was lucky to have the chance to really pick his brain on all things eBay. Which he could not have been nicer about. I was just as lucky to have him on my team during a game of eBay Jeopardy! Though we didn’t win the game (thanks to me), I sure felt like a winner as I left with a whole lot of new eBay knowledge. Knowledge that has me super inspired!
I thought it would fun to share a Q&A with Tristen here on my blog. I hope you find the following information inspiring and helpful with-in your own eBay experience.

Since making your eBay MoneyMakers video, you have become a full time eBay seller. Correct?
Since the MoneyMakers Video, Amy and I do work a full time schedule between the both of us. I do a couple of other things to make money for our family, but eBay is a big part of our income.

How is that going? How’s life as a work at home dad?
It’s going really good! Amy and I really enjoy the extra money that is brought in by our eBay business. It allows for us to live the lifestyle we like, and put our family first. As far as being a work at home dad – Although our eBay business allows for us to have a nice lifestyle, I still have other obligations that keep me away from the “work at home dad” status. For now, Amy is the stay at home parent in the family, and of course, that is thanks to eBay!

On average, how many hours a week do you spend out of the home looking for items to list on eBay?
We do spend quite a bit of time outside the home looking for items to sell on eBay, but the time has dropped down dramatically since we first started. We are now able to recognize an item that will make us money without having to look it up on eBay’s completed listings. With that said, a little less than half of our time is spend sourcing inventory.

Do you have any tips to share on how you decide if an item is worth the investment before you buy it?
That is an excellent question, and yes I do. It is very important that you feel comfortable buying an item to sell on eBay. Although most stores have a return or exchange policy, you do not want to be stuck with an item if it does not sell. The number one tool I use is eBay’s completed listings. This can be used with any Smartphone via the eBay Mobile app. Or if you don’t have a Smartphone, you can go to eBay’s mobile website. This will show you the price that your item(s) have been selling for, and more importantly, if they have been selling at all!

How has eBay changed, for better or worse, since you began selling?
eBay has only changed my life for the better. It provides the lifestyle we want to live. It provides enough income for Amy to stay at home, and for us to have the “extras” in life that we enjoy. eBay really helped me out when I needed it most, and for that, my eBay experience will always be positive!

What do you feel is the biggest misconception about selling on eBay?
Although eBay is a huge company, some people still have misconceptions about the quality of items that are sold on there. Some people think that it is a huge garage sale, and that is not true. eBay is a great marketplace for high end items. Majority of the items I sell fall into the high end fashion category. Also, some people are intimidated by eBay. If you take your time and start slow, then you can be just as successful as anyone! I really believe that eBay is a great place for a casual seller or someone who wants to make it a full time business.

To date, what item has been your biggest surprise? Selling or not selling?
Oh man, this is a hard question. I have had many surprises within my eBay career! Since I get a lot of my items from thrift stores, I never know what I will find. I once found an item called a “Dermatone Facial Exerciser” in a little zip lock bag for $.79. Apparently its an item that you put on your face and it shocks you until your face tightens up. Well I ended up selling it for $80, and I guess that was a good deal. The customer was ecstatic that she got this item for such a good price. You never know what kind of surprises you will find at a Thrift Store.

Okay, let’s be honest – on average, how many items have you sold, that you would have other wise re-gifted ?
You are funny! Since you asked me to be honest.. a lot!

I’d like to thank Tristen O’Brien for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can visit Tristen’s blog, where he shares tips on how to be successful on eBay at http://www.theebayentrepreneur.com/.

I wrote this blog post as a member of the eBay Parent Panel. I hold a com­pen­sated posi­tion with eBay. Opinions expressed are still my own and always honest.


  1. Sadie says:

    Great tips for a newbie selling a few things on ebay.

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