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1. Keywords are truly KEY. Take the time to use the right ones and bidders come. Use only words or phrases that legitimately pertain to your item (customers and eBay get mad at keyword spamming). Use words or phrases potential buyers might type in as search words or phrases. I routinely use the manufacturer, item type, size, and color. It pays to take an extra few minutes to do a thorough description of your item as some check the box to search ads too. There are some keywords that are sure draws including old, vintage and sexy. If relevant – use them, they build traffic to your sales.
2. Draw more traffic to your store and auctions by writing and posting an “About Me” page, join eBay Groups, set up your Blog, write reviews or guides (or both). Ebay users are both sociable and curious. They want to know more about you and especially those with whom they share a key interest (eBay, hobbies or collecting). So, they spend some time reading – if you are diligent and engaging in what you write, potential customers will be looking through your store and auctions in no time.
3. Be seasonal. You may personally dislike holidays but don’t let the "Grinch or Scrooge" lurking within make it into your ads or auctions. If there's a holiday coming, recognize it and do sales and/or promotions related to it. I tried a Red and Green sale on Thanksgiving weekend – in which my subscribers took 50% off any red or green items in my store. My newsletter subscribers have fun with it and they know they are special because I do it for them. If you are able to feature your sale with a hot seller holiday item or two, do so to draw holiday browsers. During the holiday season put a special greeting in your invoices and auctions (use a keyword relative to your store for extra keyword exposure in searches).
4. Know the power of a newsletter and write one to your subscibers that announces sales and /or any specials you are running.
5. Use shortcuts and templates for descriptions. A template is an already created ad that you just plug in the specific information. Develop a series of them to cover whatever you sell. When filling in the information use numbers rather than spelling out numbers (i.e. use "11" rather than "eleven.") This works for two reasons; A buyer has many ads to go through and the more accurately they can scan (and the faster), the happier they will be with the shopping experience you provide them; and 2) Potential bidders do searches for single items not sets. They key in the item name and search for what they want. Generally, they want something far more specific than a set. And, it is entirely possible to catch potential buyers who were not looking for your item but happened upon it while browsing (often brought there by the numbers match). The idea is to maximize exposure any way you legally and properly can do it.
6. Be wise about what it costs to list and sell. Stay away from $10.00 as a start price because it costs more than $9.99 in listing fees. The same is true of any other even number such as $25, $50, or $200. Bricks and Mortar storekeepers long ago learned that $9.99 looks less expensive than $10.00. While on the subject of start prices, I will never understand how people can routinely sell things at 99 cents and not loose their shirts. I have read that some folks use the 99 cents sales as "loss leaders" to get people into the store. I have not yet tried this technique and will be VERY careful when and if I do because it usually costs more than the .99 to list the items and it would be an easy way to go bust. I also believe that most folks are well tuned into the "if it sounds too good to be true -- it is" axiom and will not buy such "deals" anyway for fear of fraud.
7. Specialize in what you have a great deal of interest and knowledge in. Are you an avid antiques or doll collector? Do you know good jewelry from across a room? Do you know the baseball statistics on your favorite teams since the turn of the 20th century? Are you an old movie buff with an attic full of posters? Are you a theater person with a million Broadway programs from the last 30 years? If so, these are obviously a passion. When you follow your passion into a hobby, you never resent the time you spend doing it. When you turn that hobby into online auctions (and eventually, a business), you have followed the dream. That means that you can still love what you do, while making a living. In fact, you have done as every motivational speaker recommends….you have followed your passion into doing what you love while earning income. So, even if you are dabbling now (and dabbling is good for learning and experimenting), work toward specializing in what you know and love. When you specialize, you take knowledge into the effort AND you constantly (and painlessly) learn as you grow, too. If you learn enough and work at it hard enough you acquire expertise that is useful in selling, buying AND teaching others. Specialization has other key benefits, too. When you are an expert, you get repeat customers who look to you for guidance and knowledge. Happy customers share sources in clubs and hobbyist meetings, spreading the news about a great source (YOU). Your knowledge inspires and acquires customer loyalty. I have several customers who have been coming to me for years now. They like the suggestions I make based on my experience with them personally and my taste generally. One informed me she regularly reads my quarterly newsletter and visits my site once a week – whether she needs anything or not!
8. Communicate! Get those invoices out soon after the auction and make sure the message is a positive, informative and grateful greeting. If a seller has questions, answer them. If you don’t already use the US Postal Service’s “Click and Ship" (where you can copy in an email thanking customers for their purchase and let them know you have mailed their item) start now --it's easy efficient and FREE. If you don't use the integrated mailing system, do send customers a quick canned email through Ebay that you sent the item (and when), providing a tracking number if you have one. With USPS "Click and Ship" they can also track their own package. People love knowing when their item is likely to arrive. For you, as a seller, it is a couple of keystrokes to have a canned message and to copy and paste it and hit “send.” You will be amazed at how important this type of customer care can be. It can bring plenty of business your way through repeat customers and word of mouth because you are efficient and communicate.
9. If you aren't already signed up with an online payment service (such as Paypal), join one now. As a seller, you save postage and your customer saves wasted time sending a payment. As a seller you get your payment sooner and can move the merchandise faster. Fast is GOOD on Ebay.
10. Check out and emulate the best of the competition! There is no worse feeling than to have sold a very expensive item for a very low price because you did not know its value. If a brand is unfamiliar to you you might also not know how to draw bidders to your site to bid on it. Do searches for items similar to yours. Take a critical look at the ads and pricing – especially if there are more bidders and higher prices. You can learn much from your competition. Shamelessly steal good ideas or take a reasonable idea and make it even better.
11. If you can’t write well or spell you are in good company. However this is where you copy and paste (control + C and control + V) your ad into a word processing program, check it for grammar and spelling (the computer does it for you in seconds with tools “Spelling and Language”). Then copy (control + C) and paste (control +V). it back into the ad. This is important because, when a potential buyer clicks the tiny search box beneath the main search box, ("Search in title & description,"), that single choice turns EVERY word in your description into a keyword. A misspelled keyword is a squandered opportunity to bring bidders your way.
12. When possible, use coupons, discounts or buy in large lots to save money on what you sell. I have seen many clothing sellers who routinely comb the discount ladies clothing stores to find great merchandise on sale. Each penny saved on the purchase is more profit at the end. Buy in lots (more than one item per auction), if you routinely go to auctions and they have an interesting box lot – buy the box lot if there are one or two treasures you are sure will make at least the money you spent on the box lot back for you. Then the sale of other items becomes pure profit.
13. Get or create a “Logo” and a “Look” for your stores and auctions. Consistently use it throughout your paperwork (invoices, receipts, business cards, packing slips, etc.) You can do it yourself by learning a little hypertext mark up language (HTML). There are tons of cheat sheets on the web that can help you “professionalize” your listings. It is an adventure that, to some, is great fun. If you don’t want to do it, there are lots of folks on eBay who will do it for you in the colors and types of font you want for a set price. My Blog Banner was only $19.99 from a fellow Ebayer.
14. If you sell your merchandise in lots, make sure your ad extols the virtue of buying a lot (savings on postage, etc.). If you can demonstrate the actual savings a buyer makes buying by the lot in your ad, that draws buyers too.
15. Believe it or not, there are some sellers who actually make a hobby and/or a living reselling what was not listed well to begin with! THAT shows you how important a well written listing can be. It is so hard to imagine that one could buy an item, pay
to have it shipped and resell it for a bigger profit still! Yet -- they do it everyday. There are many methods for doing this but a fellow Ebayer shared her process with me for this since she does it as a hobby. She goes to Ebay search and simply searches on "old." That brings up an unlimited list of things for sale that might qualify for purchase and resale. Then she just starts browsing through. She looks for items being sold with poorly written ads or by new sellers that are unsure of what they are doing but are selling items with resale potential. When she finds something interesting, she will ask questions about the item before bidding if there is time. Then she will research similar items recently sold before making a decision on potential resale. The likely sale price tells her what her high bid limit on the item will be. Of course, sometimes snap decisions are necessary when she finds things with only a few minutes left in the auction. This leads us to how to check to see if you might have the deal of the century for resale…..(see item 17)
16. Keep it all friendly and upbeat – be approachable – love what you do. It shows and people come back for more of positive people. I happen to love the old Annandale counter Ebay used to have that said simply “Thanks for Looking.” It was functional and was a nice simple message that is exactly what I would say if I could talk to each and every visitor to my sales.
17. Your eBay search has led you to what you think might be the greatest buy for resale of all time. You want to snag a bargain and resell for a fine profit. The question remains -- can I make a profit on it? You can check into it instantly. Open the Ebay home page and do a search for the item “St. John Jeans.” The results returned will offer those for sale now, since they are also incomplete sales. This doesn't give me the bottom line I need to make a decision on resale because I need to know what they sold for on completed sales. This, however shows me the numbers of interested buyers and the bidding rythym. I need to know how much they went for in recently completed sales. So, I look down on the left column of the page and click on "Completed Items." Here I can see a list of similar items and what they sold for. This information gives me a pretty good look at what I can expect to make if I pick up this pair of hot selling jeans and resell them in the present market.
18. Pictures are important. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Many will not bid on items they cannot see first. A good picture often holds up a less than perfect ad. People can see what they are interested in and that you actually have it. Items with images get more hits because there are many Ebayers who will search on those ads with galleries only. The exposure is very valuable for your sale and profit potential. So, do get a camera and learn to use it -- simple is better and a cheap digital camera is just fine.
19. If your asking price supports it, use additional or packaged listing features. Just be careful that you are aware and keep track of additional costs to sell the item. Obviously, a gallery picture is a must to me because there are some bidders who never take the time to look at ads without them. The exposure to the market place ones gets with a gallery is an essential in my book. The only exception I can think of for not using Gallery photos is something that costs less than five dollars. However, I always use them.
20: There is no denying that feedback is important. However, don't let a seller's few feedback with only a few successful sales or a lot of feed back with a few negatives a year deter you. All sellers run into that customer who is impossible to please no matter how far they will go to try. We all get to the point where we recognize that it comes with the territory. There are those who use feedback as a bargaining chip (bad) and the seller may have been the victim of vengeance feedback, which is bad feedback having nothing at all to do with the actual transaction. I am truly convinced there are people out there who just plain delight in negativity and feedback spoiling. Don't be bullied by them and don't be turned off from a seller who has been a victim of it -- look at the overall feedback profile to make a decision about doing business.
21. I have said it before, and I say it again – don’t hide profit in the postage. It is now against Ebay policy, but more importantly, buyers really resent it. The lower your postage, the more bidders you will have. Give bidders an option to buy insurance (recommending it for fragile items). I make it clear (without being nasty) that I will not be responsible for items not insured. This is simply to put both the risk and the choice to insure or not to insure -- with the seller -- where that decision resides and belongs.
22. Accept returns, the little hassle you have with them is well made up for in the additional customer base you have and build. People work hard for their money and if they are trying to save using Ebay, they really don't want to take a chance on something that might possibly be a waste of their money. Making sure you won't have to deal with returns very often is simple. Provide good descriptions, good measurements, note all flaws, and leave nothing out that may be important to a potential owner. To omit facts about the items frustrates customers and paints a seller as not trustworthy. At one time, I even paid return postage on returns until I realized that, rather than take accurate measurements of themselves to determine if the item I was selling would fit, customers had nothing to loose by buying it trying it on and sending it back on my dime. I equalized the deal when I changed my policy to always allow returns with return postage being the responsibility of the buyer. Seems to be working fine.
23. One of the best tricks on Ebay (when you have time to do it) is to search for items you have an interest in that are misspelled in the listing. This is a true internet treasure hunt. Since the item manufacturer or name is misspelled, fewer people will find it, there will be fewer bidders and less competition for the item. That saves you money! Here's how. Let's say we are looking for a Ralph Lauren Cashmere Sweater. Type Cashmere Sweater, Ralph L* -Lauren into the search engine. One may misspell Lauren any number of ways and they will all turn up in this search (in addition to the correct spelling.) You can also imagine misspellings and try them too. There is third party web based software you can look up possible misspellings and search for them too.
24. Do search for auctions of shorter duration, such as those for three days only. Your searches might be: 3-day, 3 day, Three day or Three-day. You can also add an s to any one of these searches too, jut to see what turns up.
25. Insomnia. If you just can't sleep and it is 3 a.m. -- check out Ebay! When most of America is asleep is a great time to find super deals. Go to ebay.com. Search for the item you want. A list of items will be returned on the initial search. Click one of those links, beneath the item title and number is a link to a more broad category to which your item belongs. Click here and you get another list of links. Look near the top of the page for a link that says "Going, Going, Gone." Clicking on this link takes you to merchandise that is ending soon. Bid prices are generally much lower due to lack of traffic in late ;ate night early morning. That means big savings for you. Or just click on ending soonest and scan quickly as the sales move fast!
26. There is much out there about auction timing. Try hard to have your auctions listed (and therefore they will end) in Prime Time (9-11 pm Eastern through 6-8pm Pacific). To have items ending outside of those times is costing you bids and higher sales prices. The closing moments of your auction are when your item listing "bubbles up" to the top of more eBay searches, even searches not directly related to the item you have up for bid. So, try to avoid having your auctions ending while the majority of your potential customers are sleeping or are at work. As discussed earlier -- there is little competition when an items ends in the wee hours of the morning.
27. College education or not -- use a simple rule everyone knows -- the KISS rule (Keep it simple stupid) Use simple words that everyone knows. One rule I learned in journalism career is to write at an 8th grade level if you want to be understood by America. Strangely, it works.
28. Shop Ebay stores when you visit auctions to find additional bargains and get combined shipping. Look for stores with Best Offers and name your own price too! If you would like to know what kind of a break you would get if you buy a number of items, -- email the seller for more information.
29. Keep up on security matters -- PLEASE don't be a victim! It is MUCH MORE than an inconvenience!
30. Today's customer is tomorrow's seller. Take opportunities to "pay it forward" and help new people in the ebay community. We are a welcoming and fun community made up of (mostly) great folks. Good always comes from helping.
31. Have fun. it is a great new world out there with so much to learn. It will keep you sharp while keeping you connected with those things and people that interest you.
Thank you and please don’t forget to rate this guide as YES, if it was helpful. Lastly if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.