Monday, February 26, 2007

The Importance of Good Feedback

When buying and selling on a community like Ebay Good Feedback is crucial! If the first thing you do on Ebay is start selling, you will make far less money until you get your feedback rating up. This is because Ebay is synonymous with scams. There is no way to prove that the Apple Ipod you are selling is real, or you just used stock photos, other than to see how satisfied other people have been with your transactions. Good feedback creates trust in the community, and the higher your feedback, the better your auctions will sell.

The place where the lack of feedback is not such a big problem is when you are selling low cost items, or when you are bidding on other peoples auctions. Few sellers will turn away bids on their auctions because they want a bidding war, and you can't have a bidding war with only one bidder.

So, the best way to get good feedback is to start buying on Ebay. Buying on Ebay will also help you familiarize yourself with how auctions work, and how other sellers act. If you do buy to build up your feedback, try to buy from Power Sellers, or people with a lot of feedback ratings. Then you can not only get good feedback, but you can also learn to see what they do as far as customer service goes.

When buying, make sure to be very prompt with your payment, as this is the goal and the only real thing sellers care about (besides customer complaints). And the faster you are, the better your feedback should be.

Also, do not hesitate to ask for feedback in your emails. As a seller I do not give good feedback until I receive it, so if you are pleased with your item, give the seller feedback, and then ask for some in return.

Another way to get good feedback, and make a little money at the same time is to sell low cost items. Items where there is little chance or reason you would try to scam someone. Though you will not sell as many items at first, and your final bids might not bring you as much money as you would like, this is still a good way to start getting feedback.

I would not consider selling anything that was worth more than $24.99 until I had a good 10 or 15 positive feedbacks. And make sure they are good ones, not mediocre saying things like "item arrived, and is nice," but something like "A++ Ebay Superhero, Best Seller Ever! I want to buy more!" That might be too many characters, but you get the idea.

After you get about 100 positive feedback people tend to stop reading them before they bid, and you will notice an increase in percentage of sales as well as an increase in the final bid.

Remember that when you are selling, not just while you are starting out but through the duration of your Ebay career, you should strive to be as accommodating as possible. The customer is always right, and if you want your feedback to stay positive you should try to do as much as you can for them. Quickly respond to questions, ship with care, refund when necessary.

If you buy something from me, I will give you great feedback! Check out the top right of the sidebar, for what I am selling now!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Photos In Your Ebay Auction Title Increase Sales

So it is definitely worth the Extra .35 Cents!
Adding pictures at the side of your Ebay auction title is easier than adding them to your description. All you have to do is add the URL in the 3rd step of building your auction. Adding a photo to the side of your title draws something like %60 more clicks than photos without a picture and the presence of a photo will increase your selling power on ebay.

Adding a picture to your Ebay auction title is the single best upgrade you can buy. It is much better than highlighting or making your auction bold because it further describes what your are selling and draws more bidders.

I am sure you have also noticed that some peoples pictures are bigger than others on the side of their auction title. This is because the sellers crop their picture into a square instead of the traditional rectangle which normally comes with photos. This square photo takes up the most title space possible. I usually crop the special square when I have an item which I think I will be able to sell for a lot of money. It is worth the extra time spent to enhance your ebay auction titles, and the square picture is the perfect way to go.

You can get a perfect square in any photo editing program by clicking, holding the shift button, and then dragging. This makes your picture more visible than your competitors, since many of them will not put the time into this detail.

I hope this helped everyone, but if I somehow left anything out, or you have any questions about selling on Ebay, or anything, please do not hesitate to ask/comment.

The Importance of Pictures in Ebay Auctions

When constructing an Ebay auction, one of the most crucial elements you can add is a picture. The next best thing you could add to your auction description would be a second picture. Seriously, they are that important. The only way to tell what you are buying from someone is by looking at their pictures. Think of the last time you bought something without seeing it first. Exactly. Having pictures in your auctions is a necessity, and fortunately, it is an almost painless process.

If this all seems like review, skip down to Adding Photos to your Ebay Auction

The Camera
If you do not have a digital camera, and are attempting to sell on Ebay, you are doing something wrong. Buy one now! They do not have to be that good, they just have to take relatively clear pictures.

You do not need a 10.4 Mega pixel SLR digital camera to sell on Ebay. You can get a relatively cheap used one, mine is a 2.3 Mega Pixel point and shoot, and it does fine. The reason you do not have to worry so much about quality of photo, as far as pixels go, is because you will be posting your pictures on the internet. Here bandwidth is key, and the smaller the picture, the faster it will load.

I set my camera to its lowest setting for taking pictures at a resolution of 600x800, there are some that go smaller, and that is perfect for what we are doing here. The important thing is that your pictures look crisp.

Taking Pictures
So now, assuming you have a camera, and you are comfortable using it, lets talk about taking the pictures. When you are taking a picture it is going to have to have a background. White I have been using recently is my wooden table. The brown wood grains provide a nice neutral backdrop, but others use solid sheets.

The important thing is that you are not taking a picture of a black object on a white background. Harshly contrasting colors will make your photo lack detail, the easiest thing to do is to use a neutral type color that works with black as well as white and shiny objects.

If you want to get really serious about taking pictures, you might want to look into making a Light Tent, or Light Box (I need to put this on my to do list).

Editing Pictures
Well great! Now we have pictures taken, and you have figured out how to put them on your computer, now we just have to get them ready for the web. In order to do this you are going to need a photo editing program. There are a lot out there, many of which are free, and for your uses will be fine (I use Adobe Photoshop. All you really need to do, assuming you took good pictures, is crop them.

If you are taking a lot of pictures, hopefully you don't have to crop or edit them. This stuff might only take a couple of minutes, but if you are doing 40 posts a day that adds up! I usually try to take the best couple of pictures I can, and then just post them, but if you plan on selling the same thing over and over, or are focusing on quality, not quantity, it is worth spending a lot of time making your photos shine! If you need a basic tutorial and a good free photo editor check out Gimp.

When editing your pictures, make sure they are small enough that they load quickly. I always save my photos for the web as a JPG. This way I can have pictures with decent quality and small size for good loading time.

Adding Pictures to your Ebay Auction
Okay, now we are to the most important part. Adding pictures to your auction. Well, first we need to take the photos from your computer and upload them to a server. WE DO NOT USE EBAY'S PHOTO HOSTING SERVICES! This is a huge waste of money if you want to add multiple pictures (which you do) or have a large image in the middle of your description (which you do!). You save a lot of money by doing this yourself, and it is no harder.

The photo hosting service I use is Photobucket. It is quite simple, and allows for multiple uploads which makes my life considerably easier. The steps are simple, follow them and upload your pictures.

Now comes the not so tricky part. Adding photo's to your website is as easy as this:

Just replace the "yourimageurlhere" part with, well, do I really have to spell it out? You can place this tag wherever you want, and put as many photos as you feel is important to describe you are selling.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Tips to Save Money Listing Your Ebay Auctions

When you start to post several ebay auctions a day, your fees begin to mount. However, there are some things you can do to save some of your money from FeEbay.
The best thing you can do is to start your auction for .99 cents or less with no reserve. The reasoning behind this is that not only does it only cost .20 cents to list each auction below $1.00, but also the lower the price is the more tempting it is to buyers. Ebay sellers everywhere seem to agree that you make more money starting your bids low.

However, this way of saving money should be further looked into.
Let's imagine that you create 10 Ebay auctions a day, and you start them at .99 cents.
The Ebay fee structure works so that items starting .99 cents or below cost only .20 cents to post.
Thus your 10 auctions a day cost $2.00 a day to post, and $60.00 a month. You can see how Ebay fees add up.

Now, if you start your auction for $1.00, instead of .99, as many people do this will cost you an extra .20 cents an auction. That is an extra $60.00 a month you are just throwing away. That idea kind of makes me want to vomit. It is no wonder how Ebay makes so much money.

Here is a breakdown of how each extra cent will save you money.
.01-.99 = .20 to list -->
1.00 - 9.99 = .40 to list --> .01 extra is a waste of .20
10.00 - 24.99 = .60 to list --> .01 extra is a waste of .20
25.00 - 49.99 = 1.20 to list --> .01 extra is a waste of .60
50.00 - 199.99 = 2.40 to list --> .01 extra is a waste of 1.20
200.00 - 499.99 = 3.60 to list --> .01 extra is a waste of 1.20
500.00+ = 4.80 to list --> .01 extra is a waste of 1.20

The thing that blows my mind, and I hope you become aware of, is that even though it is a difference of .01, people are still posting things for $50.00 If you started 10 auctions a day for a month at this price you would be literally throwing away $360.00 a month.

This is not just a mistake made by beginners either, Powersellers are doing this too! It hurts me to look at them. But you need to learn from their mistakes! Look at this Auction house, for example: clarsauction.
This was just a random sample that I found, but it illustrates my point so well. Clarsauction is starting all of their bids at $10, $20, $25, $50, $100, $200... increments. And at this moment clarsauction has 1082 auctions running.

Here is the breakdown:
10 auctions starting at $10.00 --> loss of $2.00
148 auctions starting at $25.00 --> loss of $88.80
215 auctions starting at $50.00 --> loss of $177.60
67 auctions starting at $200 --> loss of $80.40
26 auctions starting at $500 --> loss of 31.20
Total auctions starting at a bad price = 466 (43% of total auctions)
Total amount of money thrown away in 10 days = $380.00

That is right, this auction house is throwing away $380.00 just to have their auctions start at a round number. Sure, as a brick and mortar auction house, they are making tons of money, 20% commission for up to $70,000, but the amount of money they throw away could pay for the person that posts their auctions. I would fire them! This is 466 10 day auctions. These people are throwing away more money in 10 days than most Ebay sellers make in a month.

I hope that I made it painfully obvious how this one little tip can help you save money on listing all of your Ebay auctions.

Please let me know of any other horror stories like this.

How to Write an Ebay Auction Description that Sells

Writing A Title
Nobody will look at your auction description if they can not find it. The first thing you have to do is write a good title. I wrote pretty extensively about this on a previous post, it is called Writing Good Auction Titles. The basics are:

  • Be as descriptive as you can
  • Lead with Brand Name first, then other specifics. Many people just type "Women's Jeans 8" and the Brand name first will set it apart from the other titles. Also, I like to CAPS the brand name, "GAP Women's Denim Jeans Size 8 NWT"
  • Don't spam keywords that are similar to your item, and don't use "L@@K," this is a waste of precious space, and nobody searches for "L@@K." If they do, you do not want their bids!
Item Specifics
Make sure you provide Item Specifics, many people use the sidebar to help narrow down their searches, and these are narrowed down by the "Item Specifics." You can add these above the "Description" box in the Sell your item page. For clothing Item Specifics would be things such as Style, Size Type, Size, Color, Condition. Try to fill in as many of these as possible, if you can not figure them out, look to auctions similar to yours and see what they write.

Item Description
This is probably the most important part! It is important to write as thorough of a description as you possibly can. Try to imagine what the bidders might ask you, and write it down! This will save you a lot of time in not having to answer questions, and also make you look more trustworthy. Add as much information to your auction description as you can, this is the internet, there is no space limitation! When selling pants I provide something like this:
  • Brand: Gap
  • Style: Boot Cut Jeans
  • Material: Denim/100%Cotton
  • Color: Dark Indigo
  • Size: 8
  • Waist: "32
  • Inseam: "30
  • Rise: "8
  • Condition: New With Tags
Actually, this is the basic format I provide on my clothing auction descriptions as well. Whatever you sell though, you should note anything any of the tags say, things like Model Numbers and such, as well as the dimensions. Describe it to the best of your ability. This is why we are supposed to research the things we sell, so that we can learn from others success.

After you have all of your specific information about the product it is helpful to sell your item a little more. Don't hype it up too much, but it would be fine to say something like, "These pants are so comfortable, and fit great. I am sure you will be pleased with them." It is a good thing to write your description as if you are talking to your bidder in an informal type of way. Also, saying things like "I am sure you will be pleased" inspires confidence in the bidder.

When writing your auction description it is a good idea to say something like, "You are bidding on a..." implying that they are already committing to a transaction. It is also important to tell the bidder to "BID NOW" or something to that extent. "If you don't bid, you will never understand how comfortable these pants are!" Ask them to bid, tell them to bid, get the idea of bidding into their heads.

Another good idea is to say something like "the high bidder will own this item at the end of the auction," this is functional because it implies that once you bid you already kind of own this item. This kind of mentality induces bidding wars; if a bidder already thinks they own an item, they will not be so happy when someone "steals" it from them by bidding higher.

Ebay sellers thrive on their bidders passion!

Also, as a seller, it is your goal to not only sell the item that you are currently writing the description for, but to sell all of your items. If they are similar, there is a good chance one bidder would want to buy something else from you. You have to sell yourself. Tell bidders to check out your other auctions, tell them to look at your About Me page, tell them to add you to their favorite sellers list. Provide buttons and links for all of these in your description.

Another good way to get the same bidder to buy multiple things from you is to offer a discount on shipping multiple items. Reward your bidders for their patronage, they will appreciate it, and sometimes bid on more of your auctions!

Adding Photographs.
This demands an entire post for itself, and one is coming, but we can get you started for now. First of all, you have a description, and that is great, but if you want to make any money selling on Ebay, you will need a photo. A photo is worth a thousand bids, (well maybe several) and listings with photos end with considerably higher prices than those without. Photos enhance you description like nothing else you can do, and even if you are selling an Ebook, or something that does not exist in real life, a picture will still make it sell better.

If you are doing this as a business, you need to not rely on Ebay's photo hosting service. It is crap! It does not allow you to have a photo of any decent size, and the photo that is on your page is at the bottom of your auction's description. Also, you have to pay more for multiple photos. This is a huge waste of money, and really adds up if you do a lot of auctions a week.

Hosting your own photos is easy, the service that I am currently using is It is simple to use and has a multiple upload feature which is quite easy. It also provides you with the code to add pictures to your descriptions in a very easy way. If you only do one thing this article suggest, HOST YOUR OWN PHOTOS!

Special Policies
when writing an Auction Description it is also important to specifically spell out your selling policies. What kind of payments you accept, shipping, returns, everything.

Payment Instructions: I used to accept only Paypal, as it is fastest, but now I believe that it is worth the wait for a money order, especially if the person who wants to buy with a money order drives the price of the auction up. The more payment options you offer, the more bids you will get. But don't get too wild, dealing with cash is sketchy, and against Ebay policy. Also be sure to provide a time frame for payment. I usually give them a week, but I am thinking about becoming less lenient and requiring payment within three days at the end of the auction unless they contact me asking for more time. Buyers can be lazy, and it is nice to get paid as soon as possible so you can move on to other things.

Shipping: I usually offer two different shipping options. USPS Parcel Post, as it is quite economical, and the low price attracts more bidders, and Priority, because sometimes people want to get their item fast, no matter how little they pay for it. Also, it is important to spell out how often you ship, within 24 hours of payment, in 1 business day, or 2. People depend on these guarantees. To find out which shipping provider is right for you, check out this article: Comparing USPS UPS and FedEX Shipping Fees. Also, make sure you have a tracking number, even if you don't provide it. This can save you from scamers later in the game.

Return Policy:
It is a good idea to have a return policy. It inspires a lot of confidence in your bidders if they can return their item if it is defective. A good disclaimer I like to throw into the description is that they can return their item if it is not as described, though others prefer a policy where they accept all returns no matter what. If you have a lot of similar items, it is a good idea to do a return as an exchange, though if you sell many different things, a return might be better as cash back.

Please let me know if you have any more tips, or if any of these ideas have worked for you.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Comparing USPS, UPS, and FedEx Shipping Fees.

One helpful way to make money selling on Ebay, is to avoid some of the costs of working in an online business. As you start selling on Ebay, you also have to start shipping packages to your customers. There are several providers out there, USPS, UPS and FedEX seem to be the shipping providers that are the most accessible, depending on your area.

01/31/2008 Update: Find out other ways to save money shipping eBay and Amazon orders with a Thermal Printer

Now the tricky part comes with choosing a shipping provider. I created a table for your use in comparing shipping prices for USPS, UPS, and FedEX for their parcel post and ground shipping options (at the bottom of page)

There are programs that cost 15.00 a month for this kind of information. I am such a nice guy I will gladly give it to you for free!

USPS Parcel post will deliver your package in 8 days
UPS Ground will deliver your package in 5 days
FedEx Ground also delivers in 5 days

When choosing a shipper, you should consider the weight of the packages you ship:

  • If you are shipping packages that weigh under 3 pounds, or can fit in a fixed rate box or envelope, you should definitely ship with USPS.
  • After 3 pounds, you should go with FedEx, as they become considerably cheaper.
  • If there is not an available FedEx in your area, you should ship with the USPS for up to 6 pound packages.
  • From 6 pounds to 25 pounds it is cheaper to ship with UPS ground then USPS.
  • And above 25 pounds, if you do not have access to a FedEx it is cheaper to switch back to using the USPS.
I hope this information helps you in your shipping quest.
Update: I added the spreadsheet below to let you better visualize the savings.

Price Comparison Spreadsheet

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Writing a Good Auction Title

Now that you found something to sell on Ebay it is time to learn how to write a good title for it (description next time)

The Title
When writing a good title it is important to be specific, remember, you are trying to have as many key words as possible that might be searched for. For example, I am currently selling the Super Nintendo cartridge Donkey Kong Country. However, when creating a title for this game I will not simply write "Donkey Kong Country," but I will make it more specific. It is the first of a series of 3 games, so it deserves a 1, but also, people often use roman numerals in searches so it also gets a "I." Also, it is important to indicate which system this game was made for, as there are many other Donkey Kong items floating around on ebay. In the end it became Donkey Kong Country I 1 (Super Nintendo).

When writing the title it is important to be as specific as possible, and attempt to guess what the potential bidder will search for. Sometimes this includes misspelling listings. For example, the brand Quiksilver is often misspelled, and if there is room in the title it would be appropriate to also include "Quicksilver."

One thing you should never do with titles, which I hope some day dies out, is to write something like "L@@K," This is obnoxious and a waste of keyword space. If you want someone to look at your item, add a picture to the side (we will get into this later). Also, when writing your title do not write keywords to similar but better and more popular things. Instead attempt to describe your product as best as possible with your limited amount of space.

Adding a Subtitle
Sometimes it is a good idea to add a subtitle to your item to draw more attention to it. It is especially worthwhile if the item will sell for a lot of money. Subtitles are especially effective if they set your almost identical auction apart from many others. Here you can draw interest in specials you offer, for example your Ipod comes with "3yr warranty and extras." Or the signed book you are selling has an inscription saying "I am so glad to hear about your sex change, Chuck Palahniuk." These are things that draw attention and will help you get more bids.

However, a subtitle is not necessary, and a waste of money if you know your item has perspective buyers and will only sell for $24.99. Subtitles are not worth the extra fee for lower priced items.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What to sell on Ebay and Where to Get it

First of all, sell what you have. Go through your house and take items that you think might be valuable and look them up on Ebay. It is more effective to do an advanced search and click the completed listings box, this will allow you to see all of the completed listings for your search criteria in the last 15 days.

After you have made some sort of pile of items you would like to get rid of, and researched them, there is a good chance that some won't be worth selling. But going through this process will give you good practice with Ebay and a basic idea of what actually sells and what does not.

Once you have sold all of the things in your house: used clothing, DVDs, books, electronics, Christmas gifts you never returned, weird glass bottles, skiing equipment, etc… it is time for you to start looking elsewhere for products.

This is the part where you start selling what you know, or what you are interested in. For example, I was lucky enough to befriend an Ebay seller who makes her own all natural home-made soap. Now, she has a great product of which she fully understands the intricacies. She sells bars of soap as a business at farmers markets and on her website, but she also extends her selling potential by creating auctions on Ebay for her oddly shaped and extra bars. Her seller name is Sacred Organics. She sells what she knows and does a fair job of it.

She also introduced me to expanding horizontally by selling several different types of products. For example she also sells used clothing to supplement her business’s income. You can sell anything you put time into learning about, be it related to your other auctions, or not.

There is another important lesson to learn in the selling of used clothing, and that is to sell something with name recognition. For example, while searching through piles of clothing looking for something to sell it would be a good idea to pick a pair of Gap or Old Navy Jeans, because the companies have tons of TV commercials and advertise like crazy to have recognizable name brands. It would not be a good idea to pick a pair of Costco’s Kirkland Jeans, something that nobody really wants to buy second hand, as it is not trendy, or well advertised.

When finding items to sell, make your job easy by selling something that is popular and has name brand recognition.

Now that you have an idea about what you want to sell, and you have researched how this thing sells on the completed listings, you just have to find products. There are a lot of different places to look, and the reason you did your research was so that when you are out in the field scouting for products you know which items are popular and the price you will be able to resell them.

It would be helpful to get a journal to keep ideas of what you want to sell, and prices these things have sold for on Ebay.

Places to start looking:
  • Estate Sales – be early!
  • Garage Sales – be early!
  • Church and Rummage sales – be early!
  • Goodwill and other places that sell used goods
  • Physical Auctions As well as Goodwill Auctions
  • Craig’s List
  • Freecycle – upon signing up you will receive a lot of spam in your email, but there is often good stuff to find that you only have to drive to pick up.
  • Antique Shops
  • Wholesalers and Overstock Liquidation - I will go in future posts
This should get you started with knowing what to sell and where to find it. But you should also tell your friends and co-workers that you now sell goods on Ebay. I have received boxes of books, and pairs of new J.Crew pants from friends who just wanted to get rid of their stuff but did not have a reason to donate it.

Good luck hunting, there are people out there waiting to buy what you have to sell!

Branding your Ebay Business

When you start selling on Ebay it is best to set lofty goals for yourself and for what you plan on selling. If this is part of your business, or you are a part time seller with high aspirations it should be reflected in your username.

I will use myself as an example, when I first started selling on Ebay as a hobby; I just shortened my email address and made my seller name “carl.8630.” This did not really say anything about me, or what I was trying to sell. I decided that I wanted to focus more on selling clothing and then chose the more appropriate name of “pdx-apparel”

What I am trying to hammer home here is that you should not be using a nickname for your user name. Instead you should attempt to create a brand that will reflect the products you are selling. This is especially true if you occupy a niche market and sell only one type of thing, like shoes or DVDs.

Lastly, creating a brand will give you more recognition and inspire repeat business. It does not inspire confidence in your customers when you are selling books on Ebay but your user name is thepopesmokesdope420. Act accordingly and watch your business slowly grow!

Selling on Ebay: Blog Goals

Ebay Selling Guide's goal for this blog is to teach how to better sell on ebay and make more money while doing so. Selling on Ebay is fun, profitable and relatively easy. By reading the Ebay Selling Guide, you will hopefully learn how to write an auction title that sells; create a great auction description, take better photos, save time and money on repetitive tasks, and make more money by enhancing your Ebay Auctions.

If I can not teach you how to make more money on Ebay, I will at least teach you how to save more time and money by automating tasks, changing listing strategies, and changing shipping providers.

Reading the Ebay selling guide will not only allow you to make your auctions better, but it will also help you keep your bank account full of hard earned Ebay money!