Veteran eBay seller Kathy Keefe of Sassy's Savings is also a medical transcriptionist. Like many eBay sellers, she has a side business, although her eBay business has become her main source of income. She became a PowerSeller in just 90 days and now teaches others how to sell on eBay.
My love of knowledge and people led me to where I am. What makes me complete is being able to help other sellers
In this two-part interview, Keefe describes how she got started selling, what she's learned about drop shipping and the need for new sellers to learn from more established, successful merchants. A lover of marketing and research, she also discusses social media and research tools. She tenacious, doesn't give up, and has proven time and again that Darwin's law applies on eBay: You adapt or you die.
It all started with a lull
Schepp: Tell us about yourself and how you got started on eBay.
Keefe: It seems so long ago that I started on eBay, but it's just under 11 years. I had already been self-employed, working at home and I loved waking up knowing I am the boss!
It's hard to remember a time (but there was) when I wasn't self-employed. I spent most of my days working in my primary business, medical transcription, but as with any job there were lulls.
During those lulls I started shopping on eBay and fell in love; I was hooked.
So I thought, "Why not start an eBay business? If these people are cleaning out their closets, why can't I?" I dabbled; I was not a full-time seller, but I'm the type who doesn't give up.
First I need to learn, and then I need to apply what I've learned. I have a long background in taking care of "the books," so there was really nothing too earth shattering to learn there. What was new was the idea of a virtual business and following what I had learned from reading. I made PowerSeller in 90 days. It was onward and upward from there.
My love of knowledge and people led me to where I am. What makes me complete is being able to help other sellers. I am an education specialist and prefer one on one, or even a few friends or family members for teaching. I feel that I can offer a more personalized experience. I also do private consulting, and participate in seller groups where everyone helps everyone. I'm sure the helping people part comes from my years working in the education system.
I have to understand completely. I want to know all I can about any subject. I'm never satisfied with 'because it's a policy.' I want to know why it's a policy
In the last few months I have made some changes, and while I still do medical transcription, it is much less than previously. So I have more time to spend on my eBay business. I look forward to continuing to grow that business and even venture to other platforms.
Knowledge is power
Schepp: You researched PowerSellers before you really got into selling on eBay. What were you looking for?
Keefe: I researched all things eBay before starting to sell. PowerSellers intrigued me, and I needed to be sure I had a plan to get there quickly. I needed to know everything there was to know about the program, the hows and equally important, the whys.
That's part of who I am. I have to understand completely. I want to know all I can about any subject. I'm never satisfied with "because it's a policy." I want to know "why" it's a policy. What purpose does it serve? Why is my business going to be more successful if I follow this policy or even the best practices?
Schepp: You now sell a variety of products and did a lot of drop shipping for a while. Tell us about how your inventory changed with the times.
Keefe: I've changed my business model since the Spring Seller Update this year. I have given up all drop shipping. Wholesale lots were the majority of my drop-shipping business. With drop shipping, I found I had to think outside of the box to be successful.
If I'm selling the same product that thousands of other sellers are, how can I stand out? Selling wholesale lots was a way for me to do that. With the Spring Seller Update came re-evaluating my business model to optimize it for the best practices going forward. At that time, I dropped my drop-shipped listings after deciding that was not the best strategy for me.
I do a bit of consignment work, so I never really know what my next product (s) might be, but have discovered I love the variety and the opportunity to continue learning. I love the research and stepping out of my comfort zone in terms of items to sell.
Like many other sellers, I shop the thrift stores, estate sales and even garage sales along with some retail arbitrage. I rely on research in deciding what to buy and what to leave on the shelf.
With eBay, like any e-commerce business, the only constant is change. It's a mindset really. If I'm not flexible and willing or able to make changes on the fly, I'm going to be left in the dust
Policy change forces seller to change
Schepp: You sold information products on eBay and had to stop doing that because of policy changes at eBay. Tell us about that.
Keefe: Ah, my second ID still has a few information products available. But that endeavor and the resulting change in eBay policy can be fully chalked up to Murphy's Law.
As I said, I love research; I crave knowledge, so information products were a natural fit into the grand scheme of things. Shortly after opening my second ID, setting up a store and stocking it with information products, the policy was changed on eBay in that digitally delivered products were no longer allowed on the main site.
So I studied and learned the method for transferring the information products, purchased the software needed so they were professional and not just a file burned on a CD. It worked great, started out great guns and then boom! It slowed down, it crawled and for the most part, it stopped. The reason? Too many sellers circumventing the policy and continuing to run their business with no regard to the new policy.
Chock it up to experience, move the items to a webstore and keep on keeping on!
With eBay, like any e-commerce business, the only constant is change. It's a mindset really. If I'm not flexible and willing or able to make changes on the fly, I'm going to be left in the dust. It's really that simple.
I might not like all the changes, but complaining wastes too much time that could be better spent actually implementing any necessary changes so my business doesn't stall out, wither and die.
Schepp: Thanks, Kathy! We're looking forward to Part 2 and learning all about how you do Internet marketing, use tools such as Terapeak and much more.