Back to Basics, Part 1

Tips to get started selling on eBay, or just refresh your approach

by Janelle Elms
- Mar 23, 2010

I just hired someone to start listing all of that junk/"treasure" that has accumulated in my so called eBay room. Well, really it's not just one room. It has spilled out into the garage, my office and sometimes the living room—I'm sure you all can relate.

Since these items are completely different than the niche of Success Education CDs I currently sell on eBay and in my eBay Store, I opened a second eBay User ID to list them. As I have started to teach my new assistant what eBay is, how to list, and about customer communication and 5-star shipping, I realize how much of this I take for granted after 10-plus years of doing business on eBay.

Those of us who have been around this part of the Internet for a while have a definite rhythm to getting things done in our businesses. Perhaps we've found a favorite listing tool, a method of shooting pictures in a more automated way, better organization of our communication or even a great source for shipping supplies.

All of this has become so automatic in my business that, in teaching my new assistant, I'm surprised how many tips and tricks I've learned over the years. Because of this, I thought it would be beneficial to write a few columns about the basics of eBay selling. It's always a great reminder for those of us already doing business who have developed daily habits (good or otherwise). It's also good information for those just starting out.

Here are some of the areas we covered this week:

1. Great, I have zero feedback… who is going to trust me?

All of your feedback—both buying and selling—counts toward the score potential buyers will see

Brilliant question and observation on the part of a new seller. But there is an easy way around this one. Although eBay no longer allows the selling of feedback (yes, back in the day, feedback used to be an actual "product"), there is a way to "buy" feedback points.

Remember, all of your feedback—both buying and selling—counts toward the score potential buyers will see above the fold on our auction listing page. So I am giving you permission to go shopping (but I'm not paying the bills, lol)!

My favorite items to buy for feedback points are recipes and coupons. Simply go to Advanced Search in the top header of eBay, type in the keyword "recipe" or "coupon," scroll down, and mark the box that reads: "Show items priced from $." Then enter 99 cents and $2 in the amount boxes. (You can enter any amount you would like, but you'll find plenty of recipes and coupons in that price range). Go down to Buying Formats and click the "Buy It Now" box. Also mark the "Free Shipping" box under Shipping Options. Now click "Search" at the bottom, and shop away.

Do make sure you pay attention to the seller's feedback as there are a few bad sellers in these two categories (even if you sort by Best Match).

Within two days of following this strategy I have enough recipes to make the best chocolate chip cookies, 90 delicious cheesecake recipes, knowledge on how to make more than 50 coffee drinks and fabulous coupons that I would have purchased anyway for the groceries I normally get. Plus, I had an easy 10-feedback rating as well. Enough to instill that security and confidence those buyers are looking for.

2. I'm ready to list, but I want my listings to stand out

It's much easier to start off a successful business by differentiating yourself from the all the other online sellers. This is much easier than it sounds. Of course as you write and fine-tune your Road Map to Success, you will start finding your niche and branding your business name.

But for right now let's just start off with a simple auction template to keep you out of the realm of "if you treat your business like a garage sale you are going to get garage sale prices." We want you to not only stand out, but also look professional, and help build up security and confidence in your buyers.

We purchased an auction template from Jennifer at Meepworks for our new eBay User ID. Jennifer has quite a few templates to choose from and will, for just $10, customize them with your business name, terms of service, links to your About Me/Store/Custom Pages and much more. She is easy and professional to work with and will have your customized template back to you within a few days. If you're ready for something more, like a custom eBay Store design or a re-haul of your Web site, she can do that, too.

The template is easy to use. While using the Sell Your Item form, or something like Turbo Lister, simply find the HTML tab and copy and paste the code Jennifer sends you into that description section. No worries, she will send you specific instructions about how to do this.

eBay listing services, such as Auctiva, also provide a wide range of customizable eBay templates.

3. How do I keep track of all of these listings and e-mails and… ?

I remember receiving a frantic call from my sister when she started her eBay business, Busy Boutique. In a stressed voice, she asked how in the world she was supposed to keep all of this organized—listings, e-mails coming in and going out, payments, etc. I remember being overwhelmed with the information overload when I first started on eBay, too. There are many ways to organize this part of your business and I'm going to share the two we worked on this week:

Selling Manager is, by far, one of my favorite tools that eBay has created

  • Selling Manager
  • Gmail

Selling Manager — This is, by far, one of my favorite tools that eBay has created. I use Selling Manager Pro in my eBay business, but if you're just starting out, you may not be ready to pay the $15 monthly fee.

Most beginning sellers (and even a few veterans) aren't aware that eBay has made this tool free to all sellers, but you have to subscribe to it first. It's easy. Simply:

  • Log into My eBay.
  • Hover over the Account tab and click on the Subscription drop-down link.
  • On the Subscription page find Selling Manager. On the right side, click on the "subscribe" link.

While you're on the Subscription page, you might as well take advantage of another hidden free tool: Sales Reports Plus. We'll go over this powerful tool that allows you to analyze your business in a later article, but for now you might as well sign up for this feature.

O.K., now you have Selling Manager in your My eBay account (you'll find it has replaced your Selling tab). So, what can it do for you? Quite a few things:

  • See your listings progress at a glance: This is the page I look at first in the morning. It tells me what sold, who purchased it, if they've paid and what their address is. Wow. At a glance, I can set up my To-Do list for packaging and shipping that day.
  • Bulk feedback: The only thing your buyer is required to do is pay you. Once they have done this, they deserve positive feedback. Selling Manager allows you to leave feedback for multiple buyers in one shot. This saves you from having to leave feedback one at a time for various buyers. You can customize a variety of feedbacks to use. (Marketing & Branding Tip: Use your business name in your feedback, i.e., "Thank you for Choosing Success with OSI Rock Stars," etc.).
  • Bulk relisting: Selling Manager also allows you to relist in bulk, again saving you quite a bit of time in relisting individual listings.
  • And more: Selling Manager also includes customized e-mails, management of unpaid bidders and much more.
  • I'm going to have to save the secrets of Gmail for the next column, but here's a hint: I'll share my favorite trick for using Gmail to be more efficient in your business, saving time and automating processes. And, of course, this will create more time for you to make money!

    About the Author

    Janelle Elms is a best-selling author, inspiring educator and Visionaire of the OSI Rock Stars. You can hear her on wsRadio every Wednesday on Ask Janelle Radio. Learn the success information you need to grow your business at For step-by-step training on how to set up an eBay Store for maximum exposure and profit, visit One Percent Coach.

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

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