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How To Make Money On eBay – Graphic © WealthPowerBoost. Photo – Pixabay
Here is a full-length FREE tutorial with 26 amazing tips for selling on eBay – written an experienced seller with 100% positive feedback from over 890 transactions.
Included are unique perspectives, “insider” tips and ideas – some of which may be fairly well known… but others are not so well known or may even be unique. Use this guide as and idea source and as a complement to other eBay material that is out there.
PART 1 – THE BASICS
#1 – PREPARATION
#2 – FEEDBACK
#3 – THE ACCOUNT TITLE
PART 2 – SELLING
#4 – WHICH ITEMS SHOULD I SELL?
#5 – PHOTOGRAPHING YOUR ITEM
#6 – TESTING YOUR ITEM
#7 – SELLING BROKEN, POSSIBLY FAULTY, OR DAMAGED ITEMS
#8 – SHIPPING TIPS
#9 – HOW MUCH TO CHARGE FOR SHIPPING?
#10 – TIMING YOUR SELL
#11 – THE ITEM TITLE
#12 – THE ITEM DESCRIPTION
#13 – USING BUY NOW ONLY
#14 – TIME MANAGEMENT AND AUTOMATION
#15 – CORRESPONDENCE
PART 3 – BUYING
#16 – FINDING UNDERPRICED ITEMS
#17 – WHO TO BUY FROM
#18 – THE PROS AND CONS OF SNIPING
PART 4 – ADVANCED TACTICS
#19 – GETTING TRAFFIC TO YOUR AUCTION FROM OUTSIDE OF EBAY
#20 – BUYING ON EBAY AND SELLING IN THE REAL WORLD – AND VICE VERSA!
#21 – ADVANCED SEARCH TERMS
#22 – BECOMING AN EXPERT IN A CERTAIN ITEM
#23 – CREATING / KEEPING A CUSTOMER DATABASE
#24 – UP-SELL AND CROSS-SELL
#25 – “UP-BUY” AND “CROSS-BUY”
#26 – TIPS FOR HOW TO SPOT A FAKE AUCTION
I LOVE eBay: The thrill of the hunt; the ability to sell things you’ve been wanting to get rid of; the opportunity to generate a second income; the feedback system that encourages good trading practices and honesty; the feeling of being part of the community… and of course… the triumphant moment of winning the exciting auction or clinching the sale.
I have spent huge amounts of time on eBay. Searching though lists of items, buying, selling, learning, conversing with other eBayers. I’ve done a great deal of of research into the subject, and endeavoured not only to participate successfully in auctions, but to play the game well – with finesse, style, honesty and good conduct. As a result, my feedback as both a buyer and a seller is 100% over many transactions, including a good number of international sales and purchases, and some high ticket items.
In this guide, I share my own exciting eBay discoveries and concepts – including some that you may not see anywhere else! There are many eBay guides out there already that cover the basics of account setup and so on, so we are not going to go over those things. Instead will let you in on my secret strategies and what has worked for me!
There are many points of finesse to learn on the road to becoming a skilled eBayer. eBay is a big subject, and there are many guides to eBay out there – also an incredible amount of information on the eBay site itself. I STRONGLY recommend that you read thoroughly, and then re-read, eBay’s own advice on account security, and articles about avoiding scams. This is one topic I haven’t attempted to cover: Not only is this in itself a big subject, but it has been covered so admirably elsewhere as to render any efforts on my part superfluous.
PART 1 – THE BASICS
#1 – Preparation
Computer Hardware: If you’re serious about eBay, get yourself two monitor screens (and a video card that supports them if required) and you’ll be in eBay heaven. You may well wish to keep track of several auctions at the same time. And the twin screens will enable you to view two things at once: Perhaps your auctions on the left and your personal notes on the right. Or, an auction you are viewing on the left and your “confirm bid” page on the right (if you are attempting to fire in a winning bid in the final few seconds of an auction.) There’s one neat feature that both Safari and Firefox have, that I really like: The ability to save multiple tabs to one bookmark folder. Then, I can come back the next day and open all these bookmarks in tabs with one click. This is killer for watching eBay auctions.
Connection: If you are a serious eBayer and intend to participate in a lot of auctions, a fast internet connection is useful. You will likely be skimming through a lot of pages – and slow load times from a poor connection will drive you crazy. If you like to place last-minute bids on items, you will want to be able to refresh the page quickly.
Ergonomics for Computer Users: This part is common sense. (Please note, I am not a medical professional). If you are going to make a career out of eBay (or of computer use in general), you may well be spending a lot of time at your computer. Get a good chair, one that doesn’t give you backache and encourages good posture. I have found arm rests with soft padding for the elbows to be surprisingly helpful. I have also benefited from a wrist posture that keeps a straight line from the elbow to the knuckles, in other words with my wrist slightly raised and supported so that the hand is not bent back when mousing or typing. If you are concerned about or think you might have RSI (repetitive strain injury) seek professional medical advice. I have also heard it recommended that the top of the computer screen is at eye height when you are sitting up straight. This makes sense to me and I used to get neckache in the old days using a laptop, looking down at the screen.
#2 – Feedback
Your eBay feedback is absolutely vital. If you have poor feedback, it is a plain fact that your items will not be bid so high and people will be less trusting. So if you are serious about eBay, do your best to make people happy. If you have 100% feedback over numerous transactions, you have credibility. People will trust what you say about an item, and also sellers will be happy to sell to you.
So, here are some tips to keep your feedback looking good.
a) The most important one of all: Your personality! If you are faultlessly honest, careful and sincere, you will have to be extremely unfortunate to get negative feedback. Be friendly, careful and meticulous with auction details, and show goodwill.
b) Preparation. Many issues and complications are caused by poor preparation for an auction. It takes a little while to get everything together. eBay can be time-consuming and being detail-oriented is a plus.
If you are selling, get everything in order before the auction starts. This means: Photographs, item description, research into the right price, knowledge of the product, testing your item to make sure it works. More on this shortly.
c) Avoiding trouble. Employ good communication skills. Communicate! Be friendly, helpful and polite. It is almost always possible to avoid disputes – and most of the time this can be done by getting things right before the auction starts. If you have described your item accurately, you are in a strong position to avoid trouble. “See to it before it happens.”
If someone gives you a bad vibe during an auction and looks like a deadbeat or troublemaker, you can ban them from your auction. This happened to me once – someone started being very unpleasant and threatening right off the bat – so I contacted eBay customer service, who were very helpful indeed and responded to me that as a seller I had the absolute right to sell to whomever I wished – and had every right to cancel bids and to block someone from bidding on my auctions. Once an item is sold, however, it may well be a different story.
d) Giving negative feedback can result in getting one back. This was always one of the problems of the eBay feedback system; however eBay has now taken some measures to limit the possibility of this. If someone has done something that is not right, see if you can work it out before “firing them a neg”.
If you are a beginner, start by buying or selling some small, low-risk items. These will give you some experience. Buying or selling high-ticket, rare or fancy items requires somewhat more skill and experience – therefore get some – and some positive feedback – before you go big.
#3 – The Account Title
If you are in e-commerce, a good tip is to use your brand name as your eBay account title. I don’t think eBay permits URLs as account names any more. Otherwise, simply something memorable, amusing or positive-sounding might be a good idea. It’s good to personalize the name and make it sound friendly and welcoming. On this note, it’s often a good idea to fill out the “me” page with a little information as people typically like to feel connected to a ‘real person’.
PART 2 – SELLING
#4 – Which Items Should I Sell And How Much Should I Sell Them For?
First of all – it is VITAL to do market research rather than flying blind. You can learn much from eBay itself: A golden market research tip for those looking into e-commerce, whether on eBay or elsewhere: Look at the eBay sellers who already sell the item you are considering selling. By looking at the feedback and the store of several sellers of the kind of item you are interested in specializing in, you can get a good idea of the volume of turnover, whether it usually goes smoothly, how often there are problems, what the potential problems are, the kind of customers that are attracted to the product, etc. Also compare their feedback with that of other sellers of the same item…. some items are a “headache” and it is not so much the fault of the seller as the fact that certain items are more prone to going wrong or leaving customers dissatisfied.
An important tip is to get a ballpark figure for how much your item will likely sell for. A good way to do this is to do a search for the item using “Completed listings only” within the “Advanced Search” feature. Items that sold have the price in green, Items that didn’t sell have the price in red. Bear in mind that typically the selling price is set “by the market” and there isn’t much you can do to sell for more than the going rate. It’s good to have an idea of this, which the completed listings feature permits you to do. It’s usually true that “the money is made on the buy, not the sell”.
The Completed listings feature can give valuable additional information too. For example, you can see how often an item did not sell: If the item is often listed but often doesn’t sell, or there is very low sales volume, this is an item you would not want to specialize in selling – the demand is not there.
‘Complicated’ items that you dont really understand how it works
Very large or heavy items (difficult to ship)
Anything worth less than about $10 (not much point when you have taken out shipping – unless you need every penny you can get)
Anything with a high failure rate
Anything highly fragile
See my full list of 27 Surprising Things You Can Sell On eBay For Quick Profits!
#5 – Photographing Your Item
The importance of good photography to eBay auctions cannot possibly be overstated. Good pictures can make an enormous difference to the price someone is willing to pay for an item. However, getting good photos needn’t be expensive. Here are some recommendations.
1) Good Camera. Cell phones often do not take good enough photos, though they are improving every year. Depending on how serious you are, you may wish to invest in a “real” camera.
2) Tripod. This is ESSENTIAL. No matter how steady your posture, a tripod will take a sharper pic. Just get one. Here’s the one I bought, it’s an amazing piece of gear and I would certainly get the same again: Dolica AX620B100 62-Inch Proline Tripod and Ball Head
3) Make sure your item is clean and dust-free. Dust shows up nicely in the camera’s flash and has a habit of making things “look dirtier than they actually are”. Of course, only use cleaning materials that are appropriate for your item. Some antique items – old coins for example – are actually better off not cleaned and cleaning an old coin for example is typically highly frowned upon..
4) Fabric background. It’s often a bad idea for there to be all sorts of other junk in the background of your photo. A clean background makes your item stand out better, and dark colours often work well with modern cameras, showing your item’s attractiveness to best effect. Go to a fabric store and buy a couple of yards of nice satin or velvet fabric in two or three dark colours: personally I go for maroon, royal blue and black. These make excellent backgrounds for your photos (and have other uses around the home too when not in use for your eBaying!).
5) Lighting. This will make all the difference. Have you noticed how hard it is to get a good picture on a mobile phone indoors? It is because there is simply not enough high quality light. Again, if you are a pro photographer, by all means get all the gear… but for the home eBayer who is trying to make money rather than spending it, bear the following mantra in mind: Bright Natural White Diffuse Light. Spotlights are bright but can often cause reflections and shadow angles. Large paper lanterns help to diffuse the light – alternatively, spotlights can be aimed at walls or ceiling – reflected light has a much more diffuse quality. Fluorescent light tubes are certainly diffuse, as they cast light from a long bulb – but do you ever see pro photographers using them? They may work but I find the colour of the light they give out can be cold, clinical and unappealing. Final lighting trick – get a couple of lamps or spotlights with coloured bulbs or a string of multicolored LED xmas lights and add these into the final color mix. Fun! And you can’t beat those coloured sparkles and added shades!
6) Scanning. Some items (i.e. coins) may come out better if scanned than if photographed.
7) The more expensive the item, the more photos you will typically want to have. If people are going to spend a lot of money, they like to be as clear as possible as to what they are getting. The more photos you have in these cases, the better. See if you can cover all the essential points that someone would want to see.
8) Photo showcase galleries. Ebay offers options to host scrolling galleries at the foot of an auction page. If you have more than one auction going at once, these galleries are highly recommended as they are known to increase the view count of auctions. Showcase galleries are offered by services such as Vendio, Crosspitch or Auctiva. I’ve also posted images or video on my own web site and linked to them from the auction. But be sure not to be driving eBay’s traffic to go shopping elsewhere, they don’t like that.
#6 – Testing Your Item
This is another thing I have not seen mentioned in other eBay guides. It’s simple, makes sense, but is often overlooked. Ask yourself this: Are you 10000% sure the thing you are selling actually works??
Did you actually switch it on?? As in, not ten years ago, when you put it in the basement, but just before you listed it for sale! Especially in the case of electronic items. Test it before you sell it! Mandatory! Especially if it has been sitting for a while. You can also then state confidently and honestly “I have just switched this thing on and played a game on it and it works fine.” etc.
Knowing for sure that an item works usually enables you to sell it for higher value. Many sellers auction untested items, either because they are shifting a large turnover volume or because they lack the knowledge or equipment to test a specific item effectively. Sometimes, items are untested because they have no power cord. I believe that going to the nearest electronics store, buying the power cord and testing the item will certainly be financially worthwhile, plus you can then say those magic words “includes power cord”. Whatever you can do to make someone’s life easier is called SERVICE and customers love top notch service. Final note – if your item is a piece of audio gear, make sure it makes the sounds it’s supposed to. Just because the lights are on, it doesn’t mean there’s anyone home… 😉
#7 – Selling Broken, Possibly Faulty, Or Damaged Items
You may on occasion find yourself wanting to sell something you know is faulty. Or, you might be unable, unwilling or will not have time to test or fix an item. Sometimes you have no way to be sure if it is working; for example an obscure item of consumer electronics with a missing power supply. What might come as a surprise is that these scenarios can still work out fine, so long as you deal with them correctly. And the way to handle this type of sale without problems:
Be 100% honest!
If your item has scratches in the paintwork or any other physical damage, mention this specifically in your item description, as well as taking a close-up photo of the damaged area. If your photo does not show the extent of the damage, say so. In one case recently I said something like “This item has some scratches on the screen which you can only really see in the third pic.”
I have sold items that were completely defunct on eBay – yet because I was absolutely crystal clear about this and gave a lot of details in the sale description, it was ok. The buyer knew what they were getting and the sale went just fine, they thanked me and I received positive feedback.
You gotta love having the ability to sell your old junk to someone who knows exactly what they are getting and is happy to give you money for it….
There are some fairly standard eBay phrases to cover scenarios of this type: For example you might say something like “I have no way to tell whether this item is working or not. It may not be working, therefore it is for sale AS-IS, with no guarantees whatsoever.” Or, in another instance you might say something like “Important – this item DOES NOT WORK. However, you may be able to use some parts of it as spares.” Such a direct manner may well seem foolish to the uninitiated, but it is considered good form on eBay (and in any business for that matter) to be meticulously honest about things. The clearer the information you can provide about what the buyer is actually getting, the better. As a general policy, attempting to hide details that a buyer would want to know about (and is going to find out about as soon as the item arrives), is a very poor idea.
#8 – Shipping Tips
Have the item packed up and ready to ship by the end of the auction or straight afterwards. Nothing pleases a winning bidder more than getting their item FAST.
Also, make sure you package things well. If you are doing serious turnover, get yourself stocked up with mailing supplies. Very often this can be done very cheaply by buying your eBay supplies on eBay! Buy some good parcel tape. Sharpie type markers are good for writing addresses if for whatever reason you do not wish to print shipping labels.
Saving money on packaging: I like to keep costs down as low as possible, and this includes packaging. If you have enough space where you live, start keeping cardboard boxes, packing peanuts, bubble wrap. Re-use! Not only are you helping the environment, but with a big enough hoard of these things and a good pair of scissors, you may only need to buy sticky labels, a permanent marker and parcel tape.
One of the most common causes of problems in eBay auctions is damage during shipping – and very often this occurs because the item was not packed properly. Ebay’s selling practices policy states that it is the seller’s responsibility to ensure that the item arrives as described. Package things more securely than you think they need to be packaged. I’ve had bad experiences. Seems that certain couriers like to throw things around – and on more than one occasion I have had expensive electronic items or wooden furniture arrive seriously damaged. In all instances, sure, if the item had been handled gently and stacked well it probably wouldn’t have happened…. but in truth the items were poorly packed in the first place.
If the items had been packaged adequately and securely, it definitely would not have happened. And this is the part of the equation that you do have control over.
With heavy items, it’s not good enough to just put it in a box with packing peanuts all around. During transit, things vibrate and move, and before you know it, all the damn peanuts have worked their way round to one side of the item – and then all it takes is for the thing to be put down heavily on the wrong side, and it’s busted. Packing peanuts are also a total environmental evil (styrofoam); try instead bubble wrap, padding, shredded paper and airbags.
If it’s an expensive or delicate item, don’t mess around: Go pro. Near to where I live there is a small business which handles shipping. They will box up an item for me, all nicely padded and protected. As a buyer I would be delighted to receive an item that had been so well packed. It’s a great service and well worth a few extra dollars to have the confidence – and to be able to say “I will have this item professionally packaged” in the auction description.
Save time at the post office. If you live in one of those places – like I do – where there’s always a line at the post office and waiting seems to take forever, you could investigate services such as www.stamps.com (PC users), http://www.usps.com/shippingassistant or UPS internet shipping.
#9 – How Much To Charge For Shipping?
Some sellers charge high for shipping – and it is even known for people to offer items for practically nothing and make their money on the shipping costs. However, offering free shipping gives you the opportunity to offer the magic word “Free” in your item description – and people love this word. You can simply offset the costs with a higher “buy now” or minimum bid. I think this works best, but if you wish to charge shipping, the main thing is to be reasonable – high shipping costs can sometimes convey an impression of greed. You don’t want to make people feel “stung” by the shipping cost. And eBay has a policy regarding excessive shipping costs – please be sure to abide by this.
#10 – Timing Your Sell
The end time of an auction can be critical to getting the highest bids. You can either set an auction to run an exact number of days from the moment you start it, or you can set a start time (and therefore an end time). It’s fairly widely claimed that on Sunday evening more people are on eBay than at any other time. But another factor is less often considered; don’t forget the difference in time zones. Where are your bidders? 8pm in California means 4am Monday morning in the UK and you will miss out on the Brits. And 10pm in California means 1am on the East Coast – you are going to miss out on many of these too. So if you are in the USA, how about an end time of 6pm Pacific? This means 9pm on the East Coast – nice. And only 2am in the UK, so you are a little more likely to get a late night bid from the UK. Apparently Sunday Morning is a good time on eBay – and Sunday 11am in California is Sunday 7pm in the UK. I haven’t experimented with this particular timing but it may well be worth it.
#11 – The Item Title
This is critical – the title is the “gateway” through which all people pass through to your auction. Use words which are likely to get searched on. But watch out for “keyword stuffing” – eBay has a lot of rules on this now. Making absolutely sure your title is free from spelling errors and typos is very important! A misspelt title can be disastrous, as people searching for you item by name will not find it.
#12 – The Item Description
Essentials: I won’t go overboard here – but make it clear, accurate, honest and concise. If the item has a lot of tech-spec you can refer the buyer to the manufacturer’s specific web page with a link.
The Story: Tell the story, get buyers excited – especially if the item is vintage or historical. I’ve seen some great auctions that included some real “sales copy” – telling interesting tales of an item’s history that add to the sense of value, desirability and mystique of the item.
Spelling: You MUST check your spelling. Misspelling in the description can make you look amateurish or even suspicious. If you are uncertain, why not have someone else read through your text. It’s a known fact that others will sometimes spot mistakes that the writer didn’t notice even after several reads.
Linking: eBay does not permit linking to other items for sale outside of eBay. However, certain types of link are permitted. eBay’s Links Policy is detailed and specific – and it pays to be sure!
#13 – Using Buy Now Only
One great tactic for sellers that I stumbled upon, was to select the “buy now only” option and not bother with the whole process of bidding. This can often have a very positive effect on sales. The reason for this is simple: If someone sees an item that they know they want, and it is listed with a competitive buy now price, they know that they will have to buy it there and then, or someone else will snap it up. It gets people to commit. Also, you have an element of certainty that if your item sells it will fetch a price that you want it to fetch. And furthermore, you often don’t have to wait 5 or 7 days to see what happened. You can “set and forget” and go and do something else.
#14 – Time Management And Automation
As I mentioned earlier, eBay can be very time-consuming. However, there are many strategies that can help with this.
Multi tasking: If you have a slow internet connection, you can be doing other things while pages load. Also, get into good habits when watching auctions. There’s no point in checking in every couple of hours to see how it’s going: You are wasting your time. Go and do something else! Noting end times of auctions you are bidding on will help you a) not to waste time checking your auctions when there is still a lot of time left and b) to be at the computer in time to react to being out-bid, if that is something you wish to do (see the section below on sniping).
Timers: If you are bidding on an auction that is very important to you, you’ll want to be there for the end – and sometimes, auctions end in the middle of the night. If you have a fancy mobile phone, you can set up an alarm which will remind you a short while before the end.
Also there are several free softwares out there which can set up alarms. A good example for OSX users is iCal. You can easily store your auction end times as calendar notes with alarms and messages. A five or ten minute warning can wake you up in time to bid.
Auction automation: If you are doing a lot of work on eBay, it can get really time consuming – and this can become an enemy of profitability.
Fortunately, there are many tools out there that can assist with automation of eBay processes and save much time. Ebay has their own suite of tools – such as Turbo Lister which enables bulk listing and has a toolbar to give additional control. Others things worth investigating are Vendio, Andale and Ezlister.
#15 – Correspondence
Keep all correspondence. This is a simple tip but worth it. I keep *all* old eBay correspondence in a folder and never throw anything away – because you never know. When it comes to time to file taxes, or look up details in case of a dispute, it makes life so much easier if it’s all there!
The follow-up letter: Soon after an item has sold, always write a brief note to say thanks and that the item is on its way. I usually do this right after the item has shipped. People like the certainty of knowing you have dealt with their order, and this will help with getting good feedback. Also, you can include links to other products, free gifts, all kinds of stuff in your letter.
PART 3 – BUYING
#16 – Tips For Finding Underpriced Items
There’s an old saying – “money is made on the buy not the sell” – and this applies to eBay: Very often the price you can sell something for is dictated by the market, whereas there may be no lower limit to how cheaply you might be able to get something. There are several factors and cool tricks to consider when on the hunt for items to buy for less than their market value:
1) Know the true value of what you are buying. As mentioned above, you could use the completed listings to find out how much a particular item has been actually selling for recently, and how great the demand is (number of items sold in a period of time, number of bids on each item). What’s interesting is just how variable final sale prices can be for identical items… some of these factors relate to the auction itself, and other times it’s just the luck of the draw. Sometimes there just so happens to be two people who both want an item badly, and on other occasions, the competition is thin. Knowing just how high to bid, and “staying unattached to the outcome” are things that can really help.
2) Use the “Sort By: Lowest Price inc. Shipping” function to find the lowest priced items. You can also use the “minus sign” in your search to remove items you don’t want to have to scroll through.
3) Items listed at the “wrong time of day”: Sometimes people set their auctions so that they end in the middle of the night in the major country that they are listing in. It might be worth the effort to stay up late or set an alarm – as you will have less competition.
4) Misspelt / miscategorized items: Items on eBay are misspelt or placed in the wrong category alarmingly often. However the good new is that this tends to mean that far less people will find them – and so they may sell for less money than they are worth.
It can be an indicator that the person you are dealing with might be careless – but most often it’s just a simple typo. When you think of the millions of items that are listed on eBay daily; there are inevitably thousands of misspelt items out there at any time.
A simple way to look for misspelt items is to search through the item categories rather than by item name.
Another way, if you are more serious about this, is to create and save advanced search strings (see part 3 for more on advanced searches) with many possible misspellings included.
However, more interesting that this is that several cool tools have sprung up which makes finding misspelt auctions easier. A few good examples from the many out there: Bargain Checker, Auction Speller and Fat Fingers.
#17 – Who To Buy From
After a while, this becomes instinctive. You look at their feedback, the kind of items they are buying or selling, the manner of their description and their photos, and you just get a “vibe”. It takes a little eBay experience to develop this “sixth sense”.
The difference between buying from pros and amateurs. Certain things are worth buying from pros – highly experienced sellers with consistently high feedback. You know what you are getting, you can trust that it will be handled well…. it’s just a little less likely that you will get a real “score” type bargain, as these people tend to know the exact worth of their item, and typically make fewer mistakes in attracting good bidding to their auctions.
It can sometimes be really good to buy from amateurs – those with minimal feedback – but making the right choices consistently takes skill.
Sometimes a newbie will not know about the true value what they have; or it may be poorly photographed, etc. If you are an expert in this item and can tell even from a poor photograph that it is what you are looking for, you have an advantage.
On other occasions, it can be a nightmare to buy from amateurs: they can screw up important factors like packaging the item properly; speed and efficiency; good sales behavior. If you are buying from those with minimal feedback, look for people who appear to be sincere, careful and capable, yet may simply have little experience of eBay. This can sometimes work out surprisingly well – but it depends on how good your “feel” is for the personality of people you are dealing with.
Asking questions: The best trick to buying from beginners? Ask them a question. In addition to learning more about the item, you can learn all sorts about them from the manner of their response. Someone who is pleasant, courteous, helpful and informed is someone who is usually good to do business with. Also you may be able to give them a little helping hand with their eBay skills – and make a new friend. Asking a simple question is very often all you need to do in order to separate the deadbeat from the intelligent, well-meaning beginner.
#18 – Sniping (The Pros And Cons)
“Sniping” is the controversial art and science of firing in a winning bid in the final few seconds of an auction.
It’s interesting that many people think sniping is not allowed by eBay. It is absolutely allowed! eBay says so specifically – and their own glossary says under the entry on sniping:
“Any bid, placed before the listing ends, is allowed on eBay.”
So there it is – the matter is, I believe, closed. eBay is fine about a bid being placed even in the final second of an auction. 🙂
Is sniping an advantageous bidding method?
The short answer – sometimes yes and sometimes no. It depends.
The pros of sniping…
There are items I have bid on where I knew I would not be near a computer within the final day of an auction, so I put up my bid a day before the end for what I was willing to spend, and hoped for the best….
I didn’t win. It was an easy matter for someone who wanted the item, to raise their bid until they had outbid me by a couple of dollars.
All I did by bidding early was to help the seller get a higher price for their item.
Whereas, if I had been at a computer, I could easily have fired a bid in towards the end and won the item at a much lower price, giving the competition no chance to react.
The cons of sniping…
Sniping can often lead to charged emotions and a lack of rationality during bidding, that may lead to spending more money than you really wanted to spend. Even if you bid in the last few seconds, you still have to beat all the other bids – and so you might overbid in order to make sure that you “trump” any other last-minute bids. And if your last minute bid gets outbid, you might be tempted to make a reckless higher bid in the final seconds…. with no real time to think it through.
The trick? Do your homework in order to know how much you would be willing to pay for an item before hand, and stick to your margins.
If you find yourself under pressure, it’s good to remind yourself that most things will come along again sooner or later – it’s ok to let it go. You can set up a “saved search” that notifies you when a certain item re-appears on eBay.
Keep a note of the actual sale price for future reference. Another tip is that you can also mention these prices as examples in your own auctions to drive up bids.
And remember to follow the adage “money is made on the buy, not the sell”.
PART 4 – ADVANCED TACTICS
#19 – Getting Traffic To Your Auction From Outside Of Ebay
Getting traffic from other sources to your auction can be worthwhile – especially if you are selling a high ticket or specialist item that others would like to know about. It sounds obvious, but the best thing to do is to go to the place online where the people hang out who would be interested – and (in a non-spammy way) let them know. The places are often forums or special interest sites. Other options include your Facebook wall and any other internet “real estate” that you own.
#20 – Buying On Ebay And Selling In The Real World – And Vice Versa
Everyone knows that everything is cheaper on eBay, right? So why not consider buying on eBay and selling in the real world? This is a form of what is known as “arbitrage” – and arbitrage is basically the art of profiting from the differences in prices between different markets. There are many wholesale distributors who work through eBay – and if you can find a good wholesale source for something you sell elsewhere, you can make substantial revenue.
The opposite of this is also true – there are also places where things are cheaper in the real world. For example, thrift stores can sometimes turn up valuable vintage clothing – and some people have thriving businesses based on this model. Another example is buying items on special offer from big stores… possibly discontinued or clearance items – these might still sell well online and I have come across examples of people successfully buying the “right” items from stores when deeply discounted and selling them online.
#21 – Advanced Search Terms
Learning about “advanced searching” can be incredibly useful in finding the kinds of items that you want. Most people know that a minus sign returns search results without the word immediately after the minus sign. But there are many other ways to customize eBay searches and get more useful results.
The best thing about learning these tactics is that you get to find things that others don’t find. Just adding possible permutations to your search can be incredibly effective. For example if you were looking for a type of synthesizer called a Roland SH-101, a good search to perform would be (SH101,SH-101). This would give you both possibilities of the way someone might have typed the model number of the product. Here’s the page with the full list of eBay advanced search terms.
#22 – Becoming An Expert In A Certain Item
One possible way to eBay success is to become an expert or specialist in a certain item. This can have several benefits.
By continued trading of the same item, you develop a hyper-keen sense of its market value. You’ll gain a clearer insight into the best buying and selling prices – and you will immediately be able to snap up undervalued items. Being an authority or known source can lead to returning customers – especially if you advertise as such or create a niche eBay store.
In-depth product and market research: If you are a specialist in a certain item, it is good to keep a log of statistics over the course of time. This will give you a very strong ability to predict prices and a good idea of “what the market will support”.
Use of a spreadsheet software like Excel will be good for this. You can save auction stats – prices of actual sales, volume of customers buying a certain thing, a database of your actual customers, etc etc.
Statistical analysis is critical in business. Some people find it boring… but it’s a lot less boring when it starts to lead to improved results.
You can also write onsite ebay guides to items you are an expert in, which will increase your visibility.
#23 – Keeping A Customer Database
Most people don’t think of doing this, but it’s a truly great idea to create and keep a database of all people who have ever bought anything from you in the past, including eBay customers. A great way to do this is in the form of an Excel spreadsheet – and then you can make extra notes as to the type of item they bought – and other details.
It might seem a little laborious to do all this data management – but bear in mind that many businesses do their best business with existing customers. Often, lists of existing customers have a much higher conversion rate than you will achieve through advertising for new clients. Just be sure to respect privacy laws.
#24 – Up-Sell And Cross-Sell
Once someone has bought from you, you have a perfect opportunity to introduce them to other products, maybe at discounted rates! After making a sale, you should of course thank your buyer – and in the thank-you note, you can always offer them more products! These can be other eBay auctions, or perhaps free gifts such as information products that involve visiting your web site. Please note that eBay now forbids the sale of digitally downloadable products in its auctions. However, a simple email of thanks which also mentions another product or service you offer, is acceptable.
Another essential tip is to mention any other auctions you may have running. You could offer a discounted shipping rate for buying more than one item.
#25 – “Up-Buy” And “Cross-Buy”
You probably knew of the up-sell… but have you heard of the “up-buy”? Another cool trick you might wish to consider is that if you have bought something great from someone, to ask them if they would be interested in they wouldn’t mind notifying you when they have other items for sale of the type you are looking for, or even that you would be willing to buy any more they can offer at a certain price. You don’t have time to search for everything – and this kind of relationship can often work out well.
A further step here would be to create a “wants list” of things you are either habitually looking for or are currently interested in – and forward it to those who my be interested or to those who have already sold to you.
#26 – Tips For How To Spot A Fake Auction
OK. I said I wouldn’t touch the subject of eBay security, but I couldn’t resist this one. I’ve gotten so good at spotting these particular scamsters that I think I’m almost infallible – although they don’t seem to be anywhere as common as they used to be. Maybe the loophole has been closed – I hope so.
If someone with good feedback who hasn’t been active on eBay for maybe a year, suddenly pops up out of nowhere and starts selling high-ticket boutique items at crazy prices, with generic photos, 1 or 3 day auctions, and bad spelling in their auction – chances are their account has been hijacked. Another clue is that they may well even drop an email address into the auction listing which seems entirely unrelated to the name of the account holder. Remember the old saying: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
A classic tip to get someone to prove to you that they actually have the item in question in their possession is to request that email send you a photo of the item and include a common household article in the picture, such as a cup, or a piece of fruit or some other thing that anyone might have. Some sellers make their own custom photo backdrop with their ebay name on it – an excellent strategy both for branding and to establish that you actually have the item in your possession.