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Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 2)


The first step to selling on eBay is to establish a seller account. This will require more personal information than your original registration with eBay, including verification of your identity, but it is, again, secure and never shared with other eBay users.

Choosing Your Product
Next, you need to figure out what to sell. When just starting out it is better to get a feel for the way it works and to iron out all the kinks before starting your business, so you may want to consider using the “Laundry Basket” approach. Take a basket around your house and fill it with items you don’t need or use anymore. This is always good for those spring cleaning or sort through the attic days. You can sell almost anything on eBay, but there are a few exceptions, which you can view on eBay’s Prohibited and Restricted Items List.

To list an item, make sure you are signed on and then click the “Sell” link at the top of any eBay page. The form for selling an item on eBay is fairly simple, and it will walk you through each step, with help links available along the way.

Be aware of the fact that eBay does charge fees for selling. You will first encounter insertion fees, which are based upon how many features you use in your auction listing. You will also be charged a final value fee when the auction ends, which is a percentage of the final sale price. A list of these fees can be found on the Basic Fees page.

Taking Photos and Developing Item Descriptions
Once you have determined the item(s) you’re selling, you will need to take quality pictures to put on your listing. Items without pictures are much less likely to sell. The first picture for every eBay listing is free of charge. Each additional picture is $0.15.

This is where a digital camera and scanner come in quite handy. If the item is flat, like a book, a scanner works great because it captures the cover well. Other items need to be placed against a solid colored contrasting background, so that the features stand out and the item can be viewed easily. Make sure your picture is crisp, not blurry. It is also recommended that you stay away from stock photos on the manufacturer’s website. Buyers want to see what the actual item you’re selling looks like.

Also, make a list of details about each item to put in the items description. The more honest information you provide to the buyer, the more likely they will be to bid on the item. Indicate the dimensions of the item, the size, the condition it is in, number of pages, etc. It is important to remember that, when describing the condition, you do more than say “good.” Tell the buyer exactly what you see.

You will need a heading for your listing. This will be the first thing potential buyers see on their search results, so it needs to be something that will grab the buyer’s attention, as well as indicate crucial keywords so that you listing will come up on as many search results as possible. Avoid using unnecessary words like “cute” or “wow” in your heading, as these are not words that a buyer will use in a search. Also, you are limited on the characters you can use in a heading, so you need all the space you can get.

Next, determine what the starting price for your item will be. Items that start at $0.99 and under will often get the buyer’s attention more easily, but there is risk involved with starting the item that low, since it is uncertain how many bids you will get.

Do some research on ended auctions for items like the one you are selling and see how popular they are. You can do so by using the advance search and checking the “completed listings only” box. This will give you an indication on how high the bidding might go on your item and if the risk is worth it. For example, if the DVD you are selling typically sells for $10, then starting it at $0.99 shouldn’t be a problem. But if it usually sells for $3.00, chances are, your item may not go much past the starting price.

All auctions have the option of adding a “Buy it Now” or “Reserve Price.” Buy it Now gives the buyer the option of buying the item for a set amount, so long as no one has bid on it yet. This is great for items like DVDs, when you are willing to sell them below market value.

A Reserve Price allows you to indicate the minimum amount you are willing to take for the item. This amount is not revealed to any bidders. All they will see on the auction is whether or not the current price of the item has met the reserve price. If it does not meet the reserve by the end of the auction, you are not obligated to sell the item to any bidder. However, you will still have to pay the insertion fees for the auction.

Shipping Options
You will also need to determine shipping costs. This can sometimes be difficult, so I recommend that you first buy a postage scale and then prepackage your item before you list it, so that you can determine the actual weight for shipping. The form for listing your item provides a postage calculator that will determine the shipping costs, based on weight and package dimensions, for most carriers (USPS, UPS, FedEx).

You have the option of setting a flat shipping rate that you pre-determine, or a calculated shipping rate which is based on the buyer’s address and any handling charges you may add (which are not revealed to the buyer). I recommend adding the cost of shipping supplies, eBay listing fees (typically under $1) and Paypal transaction fees to your shipping charges, so that those are covered even if you item only sells for $0.01. PayPal does charge a percentage of the transaction amount when money is sent to you, though it is quite minimal (less than 5%).

The eBay listing form is very easy and there are helpful links indicated to get you through it. Once you’ve listed one item, you’ll have the form down, but it will take observation to see what works to grab the seller’s attention. Get some practice with small household items before transitioning to a full-blown business, so that you know what you’re in for.

View Part 3 – Casualseller to Powerseller
View Part 4 – Building an eBay Empire
View Part 1 – Learning the Basics

• eBay Made Easy

Helpful Links:
• Getting Started as a Seller
• eBay Center

Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 3)
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 1)
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 4)
Easy Return Policy Means Return Customers
Starting Your Own Business, Part 4 of 4

By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, December 20th, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

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