How to reign as an eBay queen! Hints and tips to conquer eBay!

How eBay selling helped during my career crisis!

Ebay photo
How to eBay like a queen! Hints and tips for conquering eBay!

A little while ago I found myself facing my own financial apocalypse – two redundancies in one week!!  Both from jobs I had held for nearly nine years each.  One company was almost a textbook case of how to properly organise a genuine redundancy.  Months of notice, organisation wide consultations with all employees, plus offers of deployments into other positions.  There were invitations to apply for new positions, employee counselling, multiple briefings.  In short, every device available to lessen the blow on employees.  The other organisation…..well…….

For my family it was the beginning of a crisis that we are still learning to cope with.  With no time to prepare for the loss of our largest income and a literal mountain of debts it was officially time to panic.  We had assets but they were hardly the liquid variety and you can’t eat your assets!

I started by finding everything I could that might have a value on eBay.

First to go – my huge collection of new and near-new designer clothes!  My “court” clothes were next!  I never wanted to wear them again.  I never want to be a part of an office or organisation again.  A few favourite “power” outfits were stashed (you never know when you might need to do a presentation or kick some butt after all!).  The rest I listed as soon as I could say “photo session”……

The new face of eBay did surprise me, I have to admit!  It has completely changed since the first time I sold items with any regularity.  This was some fifteen years ago, when I had my first baby.  Some of the changes are for the better, some much, much worse.  It is sad to me to see the proliferation of big companies dominating what was originally a great place for little sellers to market their wares.   Fifteen years ago I used to make and sell little handbags with great success, I don’t know if that could be done so easily now.

So enough babbling, my hints for selling on eBay follow:

Ebay hints:

List it right!

*  Make sure you are making money!  Sounds simple and it is but I am aghast when I do a search and see what some people are charging sometimes.   Seriously, they will be out of pocket if they sell an item that low!  If I am selling a new product that I have bought in to sell I start with the wholesale price.  Then I add all the fees I will be up for if the item sells.   This can include the listing fee, the final sale fee , the fee I will be charged on the post, and the Paypal fee.

After adding all this I have to add in my profit.   There are lots of schools of thought on this one, it really depends on how you approach it.  If it is a small item that you might be selling a lot of then you can afford to make only a few dollars as you will be selling heaps (hopefully!)

If it is a more one-off item you might want to consider some factors.

I.e. How long it has taken to obtain the item, photograph the item, crop your photograph, write your listing, package your item and take it to the post office.  Hopefully you are doing all these tasks in batches but you can easily spend hours on each “batch” of items.  If you time yourself you might be able to work out an average time spent on each item.  You then just work out how much you want to pay yourself and allocate.

*  You also need to research the market for the item you are selling.  There is no point in pricing it so high that it never sells.

This is why it is good to sell in a category you have a lot of knowledge in.  For example, I know a lot about designer labels and vintage clothes and keep myself up to date on the prices paid for items, on both eBay and Etsy.

*  Don’t panic if your item doesn’t sell straight away.  Don’t drop your prices to something so low that you will lose money in the hope that bidders will bid the item up.  In my experience on the modern eBay marketplace, this doesn’t happen as much as it used to.  I’ve found it is better for me to just list something for a price I am happy to sell it at.   This is after all, what eBay recommends you do!

*  Following eBay’s recommendations – these can be really helpful but I wouldn’t follow them slavishly.   They can alert you that an item or a label you are not familiar with has a value higher than you would have thought!  And vice versa.  Jut remember, they are there for a guideline only.  All prices are dependent on trends and the condition of the item overall.   Everything is only ever worth what someone will pay for it after all!

Always write an honest description!

*  Be completely honest with your description.  If there is a flaw you really need to say so straight up and show a photo with a detailed explanation of the flaw.  I try to avoid listing clothing with any flaws at all.  However, if it is a really cool item I will but make sure to underline the flaw’s existence.  This will help in any later dispute.  Remember eBay’s guarantee is actually a guarantee with YOUR money, not theirs!  You might make a genuine mistake and a seller contacts you to complain about a flaw.  It is always my policy to give them the benefit of the doubt.  They will usually send you a photo to show you what they are talking about. 

It is not a matter of avoiding negative feedback for me, it is more a matter of honesty and compliance with Australian law.  The Trade Practices Act (Cth) and most state consumer laws state explicitly that if you sell something that is substantially different to the description then you are liable to refund.  (This usually doesn’t apply to individual making one-off sales.  However, if you are selling in a consistent, organised way, you might be considered running a business.  You are therefore subject to the usual consumer legislation).

There’s some weirdos out there….

*  On negative feedback – it is pretty much forgone that sooner or later you will strike a strange one and may receive negative feedback.  I’ve had a couple of nasty buyers who demanded money back from me for no reason or were just plain psychotic.  Although I have 100% rating at the moment I am sure sooner or later a wierdo will rear their ugly head.   I think sometimes they target people with 100% as they think the seller will be scared to lose their spotless rating.

Sometimes you know you have done nothing wrong, e.g. the item was brand new and you are sure you carefully inspected it so there is nothing wrong.   Plus you know it was delivered due to Aust Post tracking.  I would advise sticking to your convictions and just bear the negative feedback.  Explain as best you can on your feedback page and move on.  Don’t let it get you down, some people cannot be made happy!

Get organised

*  List consistently – I try to have regular photo and listing sessions – there is always something in the works!  Customers get used to you offering a variety of carefully curated items.  They will return to see what you have on offer, especially after they have a good experience as a buyer.

*  Have the item ready to ship straight away.  I take the business seriously and have dedicated space for my items.  It is surprising how much room they take up.   They are kept away from the general household and can’t be played with by children, sat on by pets or split on/absorb cooking smells etc.  Ready to go as soon as sold.  I buy my satchels in bulk so I am always able to jot down an address and drop to the post office as soon as an item is paid for.  Buyers love to get their items straight away and hate an unnecessary wait.

*  Get organised with all the tools of your new trade – while listing you want scales to weigh the items so you can accurately figure out the shipping costs.  You need materials to package your items for post.   Start to save any bubble wrap that comes into the house.  Stock up on sticky tape, brown paper or any other items you can use to post items safely.

*  Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer and try to think of the information they need to make an informed purchase

Give all the measurements you can in your listing, mention any flaws, talk about the items features, take many photos.  Generally, if people have to ask questions, by the time you are able to reply, they have already moved on to another listing.  Make sure your listing is the one that tells them what they need.

eBay can be a great way to clear the decks and make some extra dollars but be mindful about the process.  You don’t want to waste your time for a few dollars!  Make sure you take breaks and get out and enjoy the sunshine!  It can be lonely plugging away at the computer!  Reward yourself with a little treat once you have hit a few goals and it will be easier to go back to next time.

Hopefully you found a couple of hints in there, please feel free to comment with any suggestions, I’d love to hear from you!