June 26, 2012

eBay: Top Tips from a Top Seller!

Over the past several months, as a member of eBay's Parent Panel, I have had the great pleasure of meeting some fantastic bloggers and influencers, as well as eBay staffers and executives. Everyone comes to the table with different backgrounds, but the thing that brings us together really is an interest in SELLING! Although I list frequently now, I am definitely still getting the hang of the "how to"-- But  thanks to Top Sellers on our team like Tristen O'Brien,  I've been learning some great tips and tricks along the way. Recently, I touched base with Tristen who shared with me how he got his start as a full time eBay seller AND how to sell and make money with ease. 

1) How did you get started selling on eBay?

My eBay experience starts when my corporate job decided to transfer me to another city.  My wife (Amy) was nine months pregnant (with Jack) when we finally settled in.  One month later, the job that I had moved for decided that they had to make cuts.  Just my luck, they had to cut my position.  With a new baby and a new mortgage, I had to find a way to support my family.  I turned to the business I knew best, eBay.  I had been selling items since 2003, but now I was forced into selling full time.  I now am a power seller with a passion for sharing my message.  I truly believe that anyone can create a successful full time business on eBay!  My goal is help other entrepreneurs create a full time business while still having the freedom to stay at home.

2) I recently moved and discovered I owned more surge protectors than one would think humanly possible. I have them sitting in a box... but I understand that people flock to ebay to buy cords, surge protectors etc. First of all, WHY is this popular? How much should I sell them for? And what's the best methodology when selling "LOT" items in electronics?

That is very true, people really do flock to eBay to buy these things.  I have sold many in the past myself!  There are all types of surge protectors out there on the market today, and they are popular because they protect expensive electronics.  The reason why people are flocking to eBay to buy these is because they can be really expensive in the retail environment.  Surge protectors very rarely go out, so consumers do not mind buying them used if it means getting a deal on eBay.  When selling a surge protector on eBay, the price you may get depends greatly on the type of surge protector you have.  Some sell for $10 and other sell for over $100!  The easiest way for you to figure out how much to sell your item for would be to use the completed listing feature in eBay's advanced search.  This way you can put in the brand and model number to get a more accurate understanding of what your surge protector is worth.  Many times, if you have many of the same like item, it is worth selling them in a "LOT" type of auction, but in this case, surge protectors sell well individually, and you would make more money going that route.

3) How often do you sell via local pick up? Have you ever allowed a buyer to come take a look at an item prior to them bidding? If they were interested and offered you a reasonable price, but you had an auction going, can you unlist it and sell to them? Walk people through this scenario.

I have sold items via local pick up before, but I rarely use this service unless I have a large item that I cant ship.  I think the beauty of eBay is that you can sell to the whole world, but in some cases it is easier to just advertise your listing as a local pick up.  When it comes to allowing buyers to come take a look at an item before they bid, I say no.  I take enough pictures and video for the buyer to understand its condition.  Its not that I think its a bad idea, but I like to keep my address private as much as I can.  Once, I have had a buyer who was interested in buying my item locally, but he needed it that day.  He did not want to wait and bid on the auction, and he asked me if I would end the auction and sell to him.  His offer was fair, but under eBay's rules, it did not fall under the requirements of ending an auction early.  In most cases you can end an auction early if the item is lost, broken, or otherwise no longer for sale, but you can not have less than 12 hours left on the auction, and you can not have a bid (with out selling it to the highest bidder).  If you do happen to fall under these requirements then you can end your auction with no problem.  There is a great tutorial that can be found: http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/end_early.html

4) Summer time! What are items that people should be yanking from their closets and putting up for auction in June?

June is all about Fun in the Sun, and thats whats hot right now.  I sell a lot of men's polo shirts that I find at Goodwill.  They sell really well in the summer time, and I usually make around $7 - $15 per shirt.  Clothing and shoes sell really well and they are easy to list!   

5) What are some alternative ways to save on shipping (but still charge a fee for it)? 

Saving money on shipping can be easy if you are prepared.  First of all, never pay for a box.  USPS gives them away for free if you use Priority Mail, or any retail store would be glad to give you theirs on shipment day.  To save money, I try to find the lightest material possible for shipping.  I found that Poly bags work wonders when shipping clothing or other small items.  They are light, and they can hold a lot.  This will get you a cheaper shipping rate.  Secondly, driving to the post office will use up gas money, so have USPS come to you.  You can schedule a pick up, and they will come to your door step for free.  Lastly, print your own shipping labels directly from eBay's website.  Its fast, easy, and it gives you a discount when you do so.  More information on how to do that can be found here: http://pages.ebay.com/help/pay/questions/print-labels.html

6) What's the coolest thing you've ever sold and the most money you've ever made from one sale?

The coolest thing I have ever sold may only be cool to me.  I am a big Back to the Future movie fan, so I just so happened to have found a used shirt and jacket that looked just like the one that Marty McFly wore in the movie.  I knew this would be sold to a smaller niche, but sometimes that is good!  The outfit only cost me $8, but I sold it for $65.  I think it's a lot of fun when you can think out side the norm, and come up with a new way to sell your item.  The most money I have ever made on a item was $1200 off of an old camcorder that I found at Goodwill for $25.  Those opportunities don't come often, but when they do, I get really pumped up about selling on eBay! 

7) Your top tip for new sellers or people that just want to clean their closets and make some cash is ______________?

My top tip for new sellers would be to take it slow.  I know a lot of sellers that are really excited at first, but quickly get burt out.  Taking it slow allows you to get familiar with eBay process, and it won't take long before you are a professional!  For those who just want to clean out their closets and make some cash, I would say to not under estimate what your items are worth.  At first when I was just starting to sell on eBay, I went through my house and saw some items that I thought no one would buy, but in the end, they sold and some of those items were my most profitable. 

eBay is a great marketplace for anyone who wants to make some extra money, or make it into a full time business.  I have a website that is dedicated to helping everyone reach their eBay goals.  If anyone of your readers are interested, they can visit www.TheEbayEntrepreneur.com for more information.

June 25, 2012


I think I tell my son what to say a LOT....

Say 'Thank You.'  Say 'No, Thank You.'  Say 'Please.'  Say 'Hello.'  Say 'Goodbye.'  Say 'Sorry' .  Say you 'had a nice time.'

From big to small, I hand Jonah lines often... I tell him what to say, hoping he'll deliver the goods and it will be well received...  If it's meant to be kind, I hope it's heard. If it's meant to be funny, I hope it lands. If it's meant to be sorry, I hope it's forgiven...

I simply want him to "use his words," and use them well... And last night, he most certainly did... 

As he was getting out of the bath, he pushed the drain down.
J: Mommy, I like this drain so much better than the drain at our old apartment.
Me: Oh yeah? Why?
J: Because the other drain was so old. I had to pull it out and it sucked my finger sometimes. This is just a switch. It's so much better.
Me: It IS so much better. This whole apartment is so much better, don't ya think?
J: Yeah, I love it.
(Drying him off)
Me: What else do you love?
J: Those knobs... those knobs are beautiful.
Me: Yes, very beautiful. What else?
J: Living with P. I love living with P. That's different. And better.
Me: Aw, sweetheart, I agree and that is so nice to hear. Do you think we should tell him how you feel?
J: Yes...

All pajama'd, soft cheeked and 4 year old wet-hair-slicked-back, he marched in to the bedroom and climbed on to the bed.... That's when I STARTED to tell him what to say...
Me: Tell P what you said in the bathroom...
But that's when I didn't have to...
J: Um, P... I love living with you, because well... before it was just me and my mommy... and well, it was kind of lonely. But now we live with you and I love it so much. I'm so happy.

He used his words. And mine.
I handed him a script, but he spoke from his heart. And mine. 

June 13, 2012


.... AKA: Having Ikea Furniture

June 5, 2012


As I attempted to rock Jonah back to sleep last night, I felt that pang of sentiment that all moms feel, a lot and throughout, their children's lives: At some point, I won't be able to do this. It was his first night sleeping at our new apartment so I knew there would be a few sleeping hiccups... Given the fact that this child can negotiate as if it were a serious hostage terrorist situation, I knew that simply leaving his room and saying "goodnight" was far from realistic. (My favorite "Wait, Mommy, don't leave!" moment was when he noticed my earrings and LITERALLY had me convinced that he was interested in when I got them and at what Nordstroms I went to). I also knew that no matter how many carbs I loaded him with, and how comfy and secure his bed was, the boy was gonna wake up. And call me. Four times.

The fourth and final time he called, I didn't hear him so he got a little (a lot) worked up. I knew the only way to calm him down was to rock him, in his (I might add, newly recovered, fabulous) chair. Holding my boy, who is just 2 inches shy of 4 feet tall, I wondered how much longer we could do this. It's already not so easy to pick him up, at what point and age will I really not be able to do that? I realized that cherishing THAT moment was the only way I'd be able to get through exhaustion at 4:30 in the morning. And it worked. Until I remembered it actually was 4:30 in the morning and I could have sworn I heard the sample of La Mer eye cream (that one day I'll actually fork up the $ to get a big girl size of), laughing at me from my bathroom: "You think there's a miracle cream for the puff after a night like this? Good luck, lady."

There are a slew of things Jonah does or says that I don't want to change.... in fact, some of the things he says wrong, I don't want to correct. At 16, he's not going to say, "Mommy, you're the GOODEST Candyland player ever." OR "Oh, please, oh please, can we go to OLD MacDonald's for dinner?" OR "Wow! That is ridicLIous!" OR "I'm sorry I made a mistake. What's my QUANCE-A-QUENCE?"

I just can't bring myself to correct him. I love it. I want him to tell me he's "JUSS joking" forever. I want to bundle him up like a baby burrito after a bath forever. I want him to show me how big his muscles have gotten because he eats my spinach and  how fast he runs and high he jumps because he's a super hero FOREVER.

At some point, it would be nice to get a full night of uninterrupted sleep. But the trade off is worth it. Very worth it. Good thing I know someone who works at the La Mer counter....