CEO of Me is excited to introduce this 4 part series on the Secrets to Successful Selling on eBay by our guest blogger Christy Silkaitis from The Shoppers Apprentice! Click Here to view the previous posts from this series.
You’ve found some great items to sell and now you are ready to write-up your first eBay auction!
Figuring out fees
If you’re going to accept PayPal for payment (and almost all sellers do), you can count on the total fees being somewhere near 15% of the selling price. This includes the insertion fee, the final value fee (which is based on a sliding scale), and the PayPal fees. Some sellers try to recoup their costs by charging a large handling fee, but that practice is discouraged by eBay (and I agree).
So now you have an item that you want to sell, and you’ve decided that you will probably make a profit on it….what’s next? You need to get a picture of the item to show your bidders what they will be getting, so you will need either a digital camera or a camera phone. Take a few pictures, upload them, and edit them to best show off your item. Is one picture enough, or will your item require multiple pictures to best show it off? If you need multiple pictures, you can load them separately onto eBay (only the first picture is free) or edit multiple views of the same object into one picture. I do this with Microsoft Image Composer, but there are several programs out there that can do this kind of task. Note that eBay is becoming more controlling of the pictures on their auctions (I believe in order to reduce storage requirements on their systems). It is important that your pictures are crisp, clear, and colorful, so do your best with them. A picture truly is worth a thousand words!
Listing your item(s)
The picture is complete, and now you need to start the auction. There are several ways to do this. I use Turbo Lister, a free program provided by eBay for medium to high-volume sellers (or us busy moms!). Turbo Lister allows me to maintain a template I can change with each listing. The inputs are simple, and I can do the work offline, so I put my auctions together during the week and then upload them all at one time using Turbo. This is a great convenience! If you’re not going to use Turbo, you will have to enter the information for your item manually through the “sell your item” page on eBay.
There are so many choices to make! First, come up with a title for your auction. Include as many keywords as possible that a buyer might search on. You then need to select a category – look at the category of similar items that have sold, and put it in the most popular category. Now write a description, and be as detailed as you can. Make sure you include information about defects, cracks, repairs, holes, or any other details about the item’s condition. If you’re selling clothing, list the size, but also use a tape measure to make exact measurements (some sizes vary by manufacturer).
Then you will have to decide what style auction you want. Most auction-style listings are 7-day auctions with no Buy-It-Now (BIN) option. You have the choice of adding Buy-It-Now, but this costs extra. If you want your bidders to have the ability to buy your item outright, you need to decide on the price that you will be happy with. You can do a straight Buy-It-Now listing (no auction), an auction in combination with a Buy-It-Now (buyers can start bidding at a price lower than the BIN, but if someone comes onto the scene and is willing to pay the BIN price, the item is theirs for that price), or a straight auction with no BIN.
You also need to set a starting bid for your item. Some sellers start all their auctions at $.99 and let them ride, but it’s helpful here to think about the lowest price that you would accept for the item you are selling. I usually start my auctions at $9.99, but I’ve been at this for many years and am experienced in auction trends. Start carefully until you are sure about what you are doing! There’s nothing more frustrating than having an item sell for much lower than it was worth – and this has happened to me numerous times. The other side of the coin is the items that sell for far more than you expected, and I figure they balance each other out.
Now you need to make some decisions about shipping. First, figure out how you will ship your item. Will it fit in a bubble envelope, or do you need a box? I’ve had great success in getting free boxes from grocery stores. Find the right box for your item, and weigh the item with the box. You’ll need to input the weight into eBay so they can compute exact shipping charges. I usually ship breakable items Priority, and non-breakables Parcel Post. (Packages that are shipped Priority are handled much more gently.) If you are shipping books, CDs, or DVDs, you can ship them media mail. It takes longer, but is extremely inexpensive! Just make sure there are no advertisements in your media mail items, as anything with an ad disqualifies your item from media mail shipment. Items under 12 oz can ship First Class.
Now you can decide if you want to include a handling fee. I always include a $1.70 handling fee when I am shipping an expensive or breakable item – this is the cost of USPS insurance for items up to $50. I figure if I sell something for more than $50, I will pay for the extra insurance myself, since the item did so well! Insurance up to $200 is $2.10, and there is a sliding scale for more expensive items. Just make sure you don’t use the word “insurance” in your auction itself — eBay won’t allow it!
Now you have to decide if you will ship your package overseas. I usually allow this, but I charge a sliding scale handling fee based on what I think the shipping fees will be. Some fees, such as PayPal fees, are computed based on the total payment — so if it costs $50 to ship that package to Germany, you will see much higher PayPal fees because of the high cost of shipping. My average added international shipping fee is $5.00, because not only do I get charged higher fees based on shipping, I also have to fill out customs forms at the post office and wait longer while the clerk processes the item. To me, my time is worth money, and I charge accordingly. I am upfront about these charges in my listings, so my international bidders can decide if the shipping fee is something they are comfortable with.
You can add other options to your auction listing, but there are additional fees. eBay has a good tutorial about the various selling options on its website. I rarely (if ever) pay more for these services.