An Online Seller's Education

eBay's Education Specialist program can open doors for you, as well as those you teach.

by Cindy Shebley
- Aug 23, 2010

I've been honored to be a guest on the Top-rated Seller Secrets panel at the eBay: On Location events this year. It's given me a chance to travel across the country and talk about the recent changes and how they affect our businesses. Plus, I've had an opportunity to meet a lot of brilliant eBay sellers. I've found a real kinship with them. eBayers are fun-loving and generous. And they never stare at me as if I'm from outer space when I start talking about the Internet.

This summer in Chicago, I met an eBayer named Lisa. She and I hit it off instantly. A couple of times during the On Location event, Lisa turned to me and said, "I want to do what you have done. I want to teach and write, and I hope to be able to someday speak at these events."

It gave me pause to think about the wonderful opportunities that have come my way since I started my eBay career: I've written books, taught classes, been featured in newspapers and magazines, traveled, and had a great time.

Like so many of us, Lisa wondered where to begin. I got started by joining the eBay Education Specialist program. The program is an offshoot of the original eBay University. "eBay U," lead by "Griff," toured the country teaching people how to use and get the most out of selling on eBay. During those early days, eBay discovered that people wanted more one-on-one opportunities to learn how to sell on eBay. Thus the Education Specialist program was born.

eBay sends out annual mailings to to put us in contact with educators, who may be interested in hiring us to teach

How does the program work?

The Education Specialist program was officially launched at eBay Live in 2004. I didn't make it that year but joined in shortly afterward. My certificate states that I graduated into ranks on June 25, 2004. Sharon Guldner directs the program and ARI/PowerU administers it.

eBay supports its Education Specialists in a number of ways. First, it provides an online directory of all the classes Education Specialists offer. This is a great place to list your classes, link to your eBay Store and promote your services. In the past, eBay has also provided professional media training, presentation training, social media training and more in special sessions.

The eBay team sends out annual mailings to local community centers, schools and other potential parties. These mailings, referred to as the "Leads Program," help to put us in contact with educators, who may be interested in hiring us to teach. When someone responds to one of these mailings, the local education specialist gets the lead to follow up on.

There are lots of other small and big things eBay does to support its Education Specialists. Thanks to the program, many of us have had a chance to talk to the press. eBay also provides us with the use of logos and patches—you'd be surprised how effective the Education Specialist logo is. One Education Specialist wears her logoed clothes whenever she's at a public event, and has garnered several paying clients as a result.

What does it take to be an Education Specialist?

To be eligible to teach the basics of eBay you must have five recent feedbacks, have a feedback score of more than 98 percent, take the training course and pass the exam. If you think that's a low barrier to entry—it is. But it doesn't mean the program is something to scoff at. My own arrogance was quickly swallowed when I ended up learning things I didn't know after several years of selling.

Once you pass the Education Specialist exam you get a packet of materials, including a professional PowerPoint presentation to use for the class, an instructor's guide book and student workbooks.

You also have access to a special forum only for Education Specialists. The forum is a great place to find tips and techniques other Education Specialists have used to find venues, approach schools, get gigs with the Small Business Administration and the like. We're a friendly bunch who loves to share our successes and experiences.

After you've taught for awhile and built up your Education Specialist feedback (which you get from your students) you can progress up the ranks to teach "Beyond the Basics," "eBay Stores," and "eBay Giving Works" classes. To be eligible to teach these courses, you must have 100 eBay feedbacks, plus 10 student feedbacks as an Education Specialist.

I've received calls and consulted with businesses all over the world because of this certification

A doorway to new opportunities

Joining the elite group of Education Specialists, called "Certified Business Consultants," takes a while longer. First, you must have been teaching "Beyond the Basics" for at least six months. Then to be eligible you must have 200 feedbacks on eBay. Of these, 100 must be from selling, and five must have happened in the last 60 days. You must also have 50 student feedbacks.

In addition, you must take and pass an exam that no one passes the first time. I'm one of the few who's achieved Certified Business Consultant status since 2006. As challenging as it was to achieve, I can tell you it was one of the best investments I've made in my own business.

The very first day after I became a Certified Business Consultant, I got a phone call from a businessman who wanted help getting on eBay. He drove up from Portland to Seattle to spend the day with me. He did so because there are so few of us—at this time there are fewer than 30 eBay Certified Business Consultants worldwide. Once you get your certification you have access to a special logo and special listings on the Education Specialist portal. I've received calls and consulted with businesses all over the world because of this certification.

The Education Specialist program provides you with the materials and complete guidelines on how to teach eBay. I will always be one of its biggest fans. It was the perfect jumping off point for me.

Since then, I've gone on to teach classes on subjects beyond eBay, create CDs and DVDs that help online sellers, and more. I doubt I would have done it without the eBay Education Specialist program.

Once you have the Education Specialist program under your belt, please consider coming over to the Web Sellers' Circle , where we have several courses that will help take your teaching to the next level. Several Certified Business Consultants are members and regularly participate in our discussion forum. We have tutorials on how to present professionally and how to teach online classes, and this fall we're teaching a course on how to use your knowledge to produce a sellable information product.

Lisa, if you're reading, I hope this gives you a place to start.

About the Author

Cindy Shebley is an eBay Certified Business Consultant, Education Specialist, Store Designer and author who teaches throughout the Northwest. The recently released eBay Marketing Bible is available in bookstores everywhere. Cindy’s Web Sellers Circle program helps sellers grow their businesses and stay competitive in today's marketplace.

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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