In the early days of eBay.com, it seemed like the sky was the limit. People were buying and selling a variety of items: from used records and clothing, to rare collectibles, and everything in between. Over the years eBay has grown to include houses and cars, as well as images of the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich.
With eBay becoming so ubiquitous in our culture, is it still possible for the average person to make a decent income? Yes, but with a caveat. Compiling the advice of popular, professional, eBay sellers, here are some tips to follow:
Do Your Homework
Before you sell anything on eBay, make sure that there is actually a market for it. This should be rule one for any small business offering, but considering the immense competition on the web, you want to be certain that your product will sell before paying fees and taking time to list it.
July Jennifer (http://myworld.ebay.com/love2crystal) who sells Swarovski Crystal Rhinestones on eBay, recommends not only doing the basic research (studying your market and determining if there too many other sellers with your products) but also to find a way to sell “better.” She explains, “Offer more choices than your competitor, colors/sizes, etc. and, sell support products to your main product to keep buyers interested.”
And of course, don’t be in a rush to list an item. Michelle Zak sells collectibles and artwork on eBay (http://myworld.ebay.com/fascinationstfineartgallery) and says that, “If the item you’re selling is already listed by 5 different sellers for $200, you most likely will not be able to get $300 for it. Try listing for $195. If you can’t go that low, don’t list the item until the market has cleared out a bit.”
Sometimes it’s best to sell used music or memorabilia after the musician has gone on tour, or if there is a spike in interest regarding a particular topic because of a media event. If a “My Little Pony” movie comes out, and you have a lot of “My Little Pony” items, well…that’s a good time to start selling!
Pick Your Products Wisely
Whether you want to sell items for your business, or just clean out the attic, there are many different ways to earn income on eBay. Faran Thomason, (http://myworld.ebay.com/maxrenn) says,”I have a had a lot of success w/ trade show giveaways, 90’s clothing items, and stickers. These are things that most people just toss, but collectors place value on. Unless you have a good source of high value commodity items, I would stick to things that are quirky and nostalgic.”
World Wide Product Access (http://myworld.ebay.com/wwpa) takes client items determined to be no or little value and creates a profit. For example, a decades old gas-burning stove originally determined to be of no value was sold for $500. They sell items from individuals, businesses, and government municipilaties
Ian Aronovich, (http://myworld.ebay.com/cywebholdings) a former contributor on the eBay radio show, and seller specializing in government auctions, recommends buying in bulk and reselling individual pieces to make a huge profit. Additionally, he warns, “Don’t buy from distributors because everyone else buys from them and your price won’t be that much different to distinguish yourself on eBay. By focusing on events like closeout sales or government auctions, you can grab items for pennies on the dollar then resell them at a discounted price on eBay for a profit.”
George Fox (http://myworld.ebay.com/tees-for-all) opened an eBay store a little over a year ago and has already had over 8000 sales, and says, “Go with items you are knowledgeable about, and do research on costs, demand and competition. While it would be easier to sell an item that is in high demand with no competition, there aren’t many such niches left. Don’t be discouraged if there are other sellers already doing what you’d like to do. Make your business different from the competition by offering lower prices or a better customer experience. Customize your products, or focus on a specific theme that will make your business fun and memorable.”
Minimize Your Costs/ Maximize Your Revenue
Listing on eBay is not free. Not only do they take a small listing fee, they also take a commission off the portion of the sale of the product. With inventory costs, shipping costs and listing fees, it’s best to do all that you can to maximize your revenue.
Faran Thomason actually recommends shying away from auctions, and sticking to”buy it now” or an eBay store listing. Unless, of course, you have a super-hot item that can potentially bring in more income. With many eBay browsers wanting immediate satisfaction, it may be a quicker way to get the sale, as opposed to having someone wait until an auction finishes.
EBay changed their search algorithms so that the listings by Top Rated Sellers come first. Glenn Rudolph, CEO of David’s Jewelers, (http://myworld.ebay.com/Davidjewelers) suggests that it costs no more to be a Top Rated Seller than it does to be an average seller on eBay. “In fact, it costs less. Provide the finest customer service and ship your items in one handling day to become Top Rated. In addition to far more potential buyers seeing the seller’s listings, the seller will receive a 20% discount off the eBay final value fees. This adds to profits for the seller.”
Create a Stunning Listing
Your eBay listing is key in drawing in customers and making sales. George Fox credits his listings to being the key in making money with a competitive t-shirt niche.
His advice is to use clear, bright photographs in an attractive, organized listing with details about the product and your shipping, payment, and return policies.
Glenn Rudolph echoed this sentiment and added, “More items or listings are not always better and fewer items reduce inventory costs as well as eBay fees. Customers online are impulsive. Immediate satisfaction is important to them. They would prefer to have all the answers they want from the listing so they can make a purchase without asking further questions. Also, being the lowest price is not necessary. Being price competitive with excellent product and customer service is more important.”
Photographs from every angle are essential in a good listing.”Especially if you’re selling high priced items, a buyer will want to see as much as possible before committing to a large purchase.” Adds Michelle Zak.
Market Outside of eBay
World Wide Product Access wisely recommends promoting the sale of your items through your contacts and social media.
Don’t just limit yourself to those who happen to be browsing eBay looking for your items at the time you sell them. Promote through Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and your own website or blog. It’s even better if you create a mailing list for your previous customers and potential buyers to alert them to new products or sales.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
Hopefully, your listing will provide all the information a potential customer would need to purchase your product. But in the event that a customer has questions, make sure respond quickly and succinctly. Always respond to any negative feedback given, and be sure to be available in case any questions arise throughout the selling process.
George Fox also states that once you have a history of providing good customer service, it’s not difficult to earn eBay’s Top-Rated Seller Status. Not only will you receive a fee discount, your listings will bump up in the search results, which is a great boost to your business.
In addition, Michelle Zak says that one way to provide great customer service is simply to offer free shipping. After all, buyers love to have their shipping costs waived.
EBay launched it’s first auction on Labor Day, September 4th, 1995. Since then they have had billions of transactions, buyers, and sellers with every kind of product imaginable. Even if the”gravy train” days of a shiny, new idea have passed, there’s something to be said about creating income with an established powerhouse. It may take additional time and effort to establish your niche, but it’s well worth the effort if you can make a profit and create income at home.
Think about all the extra money you could make by being a mystery shopper, starting your own business, or working from home for a legitimate company. Take control of your income and check out our LEARN page for a list of classes, books, and more!