Newsletter 3 – Can you make money on eBay?
I have had an eBay seller account for some time which I had used to sell some of my personal bits and bobs over the years. I had some surprisingly good and, I suppose, lucky results and found the experience quite easy and a little exciting.
Lured by “this eBay guru will share the secrets of his success. Create your own work from home business and never look back“, I read through the newsletter and began to fall under its spell.
Having had some experience of selling on eBay, I was sure that this was the ONE. This had to be the real deal and so, of course, I signed up for (yep, you’ve guessed it) a one-time only e-book and course at a hugely reduced price.
I will give honor where it is due by confessing that this particular course was full of easy to follow information. I set up a business Paypal account and got ready to sell, sell, sell. However, before this could happen I had to buy, buy, buy.
Where do you go to buy and what do you buy? After a fair bit of research I worked out that, on eBay, you can sell anything from an aardvark to a zebra. No, really! Well not quite but there are very few items you can think of that are not up for sale by someone, somewhere, somehow in eBay. As long as you familiarize yourself with the list of banned items, you will find you are left with an alphabet soup of products that you can sell. You just have to sell them for a profit!
So how do you do this?
When I want to find out how to do most things, my first port of call is usually YouTube. Many people freely give advice and instruction via home made films which they publish on YouTube for no gain. In my experience, the benefit of these films, and there are many, is exceptional. After watching and taking notes, I felt that I had gleaned enough knowledge to set up an eBay business account.
In the beginning, eBay will impose a monthly limit on the amount of items you can sell and the total value. This increases as you list more items and make more sales. Currently my eBay monthly limits are:
Items – 2880
Value – £27,769 / $36,750 / €32,500
Remember – this is per month! If only………..
All set and ready to go, off I went and, following the advice of the eBay professionals, purchased my first haul. Now to try and sell! After a good few months, when I had become a little more accomplished, I started to see a reasonable return and I still have a nice little eBay business. However, I quickly learned that there is considerably more work involved than I had first anticipated. I now have my own routine which I have streamlined to work for me and I am happy to share. Please be aware that these are my own findings and are my personal examples and insights which may not work for others
- Spend time researching what items are current and trending on eBay and other sales platforms.
- Set your purchasing budget.
- Decide what items you are going to buy and where you will get them – online, high street, auctions, thrift shops, markets, department stores,bargain stores, supermarkets, garage sales, pawn shops, church sales, rubbish skips (yep), friends – in fact anywhere that will sell anything to you at a good price. Always look out for shop “sales”. There are many throughout the year but you need to be quick off the mark to get the pick of the bunch. Do not become embarrassed by looks and stares from other shoppers who may be watching you purchase multiples of the same item. Once you have started to make money, you will develop a “harder” attitude, after all, it is your business in more ways than one and, if you don’t make these purchases, someone else likely will.
- A successful eBayer is always alert and on the job. No matter where you are, who you are with and why you are there, you will find that your eyes are always searching for a potential cheap purchase. Old, collectable, used, new, broken – there is potential in all of these.
- Once you have made your purchases you will need to store them. I personally keep all of my goods in my summer house, garage, bedroom, spare bedroom, cupboards, loft, basement, attic. It is easy enough to find a low cost storage unit but, remember, this monthly outlay reduces your earnings. You should definitely not commit to a renting agreement until you are sure that your stock will sell. In my opinion, if your stock level is not affecting your family life, marriage, housemates, partner, parents and pets, you should continue to use your immediate surroundings until you can fit in no more.
- All items will need to be photographed well ensuring that the size meets eBay’s requirements. Your photographs should be saved in JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, or BMP file format and should not exceed 7MB. eBay allows you to use 12 photographs for free in your listing. Normally I use about 9 plus 1 in the middle of the description. You must use at least 1 photograph. I was advised by a full time seller that eBay LOVES photographs and will rank you higher in their pages if you provide good pictures. I would also suggest that, before you post your photographs, you crop them to show only the item you are selling. It is amazing how many people use photographs that show curious things in the background that buyers really do not want to see.
- SUPERTIP!! The following is a piece of information that was taught in the course and today I am letting you into a secret. Take time to name your photographs! eBay analytics will look at your uploads and will rate your listing higher if you have given them an appropriate name., eg. womens-trainers-nike-blazer-red-size-7. It is important to insert the bar as eBay likes this format and you will be on your way to a higher rating.
- How much will your item sell for? It is worth taking the time to check out the competition and find a level that will make you a profit but will be low enough to attract a buyer. This is when you may well find that your item is worth much more than you thought. It is a great feeling – and even better when it sells!
- Before you begin listings your items, you will need to decide how you will sell them. Ebay offers two platforms to sell your goods – auction or buy it now format. Most people who only sell the odd item use the auction format whereby you list at a low starting price and interested buyers can bid at the price they would be happy to pay. For a seller, this can be great fun as tension builds when the auction draws to a close. Experienced sellers very rarely use the auction option. Buyers often need the item right away and will only buy from a source that will dispatch their purchase quickly. Sellers can build a reputation for quick delivery and are more likely to have returning customers.
- The first part of the listing process is to determine the category that you wish to sell your item under. For example, shoes. Mens/womens/boys/girls/unisex?Casual/formal/walking/sport/fashion/wedding/trainers/flat/heeled/orthopedic? The best bit of advice that was given to me is to look where a similar item is listed and do the same.
- You are now ready to begin listing your items. If you have signed up for a business account you will find that the product information you are asked to supply is far more professional in appearance than personal sales/auctions.
- SUPERTIP!! This is another piece of information taken from the course and e-book. The title of your listing is crucial to getting Google to rank you higher and at the same time grab a buyer’s attention! You should try and use the full 80 character title allowance giving as much information as possible. It is important here that you use “key words” to give Google and your potential customer the important details needed to ensure your item gets maximum views. Nike Skateboarding Stefan Janoski Max Mens Trainers Obsidian White New Shoes – this is a good heading using most of the character allowance. You will have noticed that there is no need to create a sentence. The key words are all there to optimize the search potential and rank high. One last note here. I use capital letters for my titles. I am of the opinion that it is eye catching but others disagree. It is your listing and your business and you will make up your own mind.
- When you are happy with your title you will move on to uploading the photographs you have named and prepared. This is a fairly easy task. Click on “add pictures” and you are taken to browse files. Select your file and pictures and upload. Once uploaded, use the buttons to arrange into your preferred viewing sequence.
- You will now go on to “add item specifics”. These are a series of drop down boxes which give you pre-selected options or allow you to enter your own choice. If you do not have all the information on a category, click remove and eBay will close that option and it will not be visible to the viewer.
- When completed, you will go on to the main description. This is where you give as much information as you can to really sell your item. You are offered a selection of fonts, sizes, colours and inserts here and my advice is to make the page as attractive and eye catching as possible without overkill. Don’t forget to copy and paste one of your pictures somewhere in your text as a visual reminder of your item.
- Next you will choose a selling format -buy it now or auction – and list your price. Click on fixed price and enter details. Go on to enter item quantity and the duration of your sale (30 day maximum). You have the option to allow sellers to send their best offers. I have used this in the past but, my opinion only, I feel that this is asking your customer to haggle. People will sometimes use eBay monitored email to contact you and offer a reduced price. There is an option to reply with your own offer which will be valid for this buyer for two days. Your item will still be on sale, and available for purchase, at the original price on your eBay shop. It is up to you to choose and, remember, you can always change your mind and edit your listing.
- At this point, you can choose to donate a percentage of the sale to an eBay nominated charity or a particular charity of your choice. This is a personal decision and, I would imagine, dependant upon your own circumstances. It is worth a mention and will appeal to some.
- It is now time to select how you will be paid. Like the majority of sellers, my personal choice is to accept payments via Paypal. It is very simple to open an account and you are guided step by step. Your account is simply linked to your email and is very easy to manage. It is almost instantaneous and your transactions will be well protected. You should take time to read Paypal’s terms and guidelines to ensure you know exactly what is on offer. Paypal do take a fee but, again in my opinion, it is well worth the relatively small percentage taken in exchange for peace of mind. Check their website to learn what the rates are for your location and weigh up any alternatives. You can choose to accept payment by credit card, bank payment, check and various other means. eBay will give you the information you need via a link on this part of the form.
- At this point you are given the option to choose that you “require immediate payment when buyer uses Buy it now“. I have selected this option for my own business and have had virtually no issues with customer payment. Without immediate payment, there is a risk that the buyer will change their mind or simply not pay at all. If this does happen, eBay will open a resolution case and your item could be out of view for quite some time. Worth the risk? The decision is yours.
- Next you have to decide how you will get your sold item to the buyer. There are many delivery options and you should take time to determine what is the cheapest and most reliable for you. Prices vary widely and are determined by size, weight and speed. I suggest that you search eBay and find some items similar to your own and look at the delivery service used by others. You also need to decide whether you will sell to the domestic market only or offer international delivery. eBay has introduced a simple and effective way to ship your items overseas. Using their Global Shipping program, you can send your items to a domestic shipping center and, in eBay’s own words “the rest will be taken care of for you”. You only pay the domestic postage and ebay organises the ongoing shipping price directly with your customer.
- SUPERTIP!! Ebay LOVES “free delivery” listings and will rank your item accordingly. Check if eBay has an affiliation with local shops and businesses. If they do, customers will be offered the opportunity of collecting their item from this nominated location. This is particularly appealing to customers who work. They simply collect their item when they can. To qualify for this service, you MUST offer free p&p. All of my listings are “fast and free” and it works well. Of course, you need to factor the cost of the delivery into your pricing strategy but I have found people respond well to free delivery and will select your item because of this.
- You will also need to set up your returns policy. Will you accept returns and who pays for shipping? General rule of thumb is that the buyer pays the return delivery charge and should cancel the purchase within 14 days. You may decide not to accept returns and, if so, you should state this prominently in the main description area.
- eBay Fees! You didn’t think you were getting all this without being charged for the privilege, did you? Fees vary according to the item you are selling but the information is well documented, easy to understand and easy to access. There is a small listing fee for each item however, throughout the year and changing seasons, eBay will waive this fee under certain conditions which are detrmined by your shop’s status, longevity and service and season. Final value fees, including postage and delivery, are 10%. A calculator is available online which is useful to estimate your costs which should also be considered when pricing. Depending on your location, there may be sales tax incurred and I suggest you should research this and factor it into your pricing strategy.
- So, you have listed your items and you get a sale. Wheeeee! What happens next? You are informed by eBay via email that your item has sold and payment has been received in your Paypal account. In your Selling Manager area there is a bell icon which alerts you when there has been movement at your shop. On your menu at the left, there are various status sections and, if you select sold you will see “awaiting dispatch”. Click on this and the details and confirmation of your sale is displayed.
- What you do next will be your own choice and you will soon establish a routine. My method is to click on the actions drop down menu and select “print postage labels or invoices”. This takes me to the action page. I select invoice/packing slip then continue. I am taken to print option. I make two copies – one to include in the package and one for account records.
- Depending on the size, shape and type of item you have sold, you will now prepare it for dispatch. I would advise that you keep a good stock of stationery items – thick brown paper, bubble wrap, bubble wrap pockets, clear tape, packing tape, boxes (recycled), selection of garment bags, labels, selection of brown “jiffy” bags – whatever you will need close at hand.
- Finally – take your package for delivery and have a sit down!
What was the question? Can you make money on eBay? Yes, you can – if you have the time, energy, product, buyers, routine, dedication, money and temperament!
The more time you put in, the more you will sell. Professional eBayers say that you need to keep your listings at the 200+ mark to sell on a daily basis. Their advice, always, is “list, list, list, list and then, list again.
I love my little shop but, truthfully, it is a lot of work for one person and does not provide a full time salary.
Surely there must be a “work from home” business that provides a good standard of living.
Mmmmm, I wonder!
If you can, would you please be kind enough to leave a comment, especially if you have journeyed down the same path or are giving it some consideration. Many thanks.