In this dreary season of shocking financial news, we've been fortunate enough to find a whole group of people who are not only enthusiastic about their work, they're delirious about it. They operate every day with the prospect that no other time has been quite so good to make it big on the Internet, and every day is an adventure in learning, commerce and success.
Sadly, we're not talking about eBay sellers per se. We're talking about YouTube. Since all of you are comfortable denizens of the online world, we're going to assume you need no explanation about what YouTube is. You can hardly move around anywhere on the Web anymore without being enticed by a video play box with the YouTube logo in the corner.
But what exactly does YouTube have to do with eBay? We're glad you asked. We've found many sellers setting up shop on YouTube to provide potential customers with video explanations of why their products are the best and how easily buyers can find those products on eBay. While capturing video and putting it on the Web was once the domain of those with special experience, today's innovative cameras and video-sharing sites have made the process accessible to all of us. Putting your video online is now as easy as adding photos to your eBay listing.
Let's look at how some successful sellers are using both video-sharing sites and eBay to sail across today's rough economic waters.
More eyeballs and free advertising
Putting a video on YouTube is free. If you create a good, solid video and put it on the site, you can send e-mail notifications to your entire mailing list to let readers know you've got something new to share. Once customers watch your footage, they can either go to eBay to buy the item, or you can direct them to your Web site, where you can complete the deal on your own. That's what Andy Mowery of Debnroo did with his popular Drinkwell Pet Water Fountain. In a decidedly low-key pitch, Mowery simply presents the fountain with all of its features. He explains why the model he's showcasing is better than others and demonstrates how easy it is to use and clean.
At the end of the video, you can find the URL for his Web site next to the view box. Now you'll know exactly how to find him if you decide your pets could benefit from this free-flowing fresh water device.
"These videos are great for getting search rankings," Mowery says. "It will be a core of our fall marketing campaign."
With YouTube it's possible to give bidders a good preview of the article they want to buy
Many products sold on eBay lend themselves to video representation. Take, for example, the work of Steve the Austrian Barber, known on eBay as austrianbarber. He not only sells the equipment to cut your family's hair yourself, but also the DVD lessons necessary to keep them from looking too goofy when you're done.
"With YouTube it's possible to give bidders a good preview of the article they want to buy," he says. "Without YouTube, you can only show pictures. I sold in pre-YouTube times, too, but now it's easier, and I get more page impressions than before, and sometimes more money, too."
Steve has been busy with his YouTube offerings, and he finds that often potential customers contact him through his YouTube account to get information about selling his items directly without having to go through eBay. It could mean a Web site is in his future.
Sometimes the YouTube-to-eBay equation works a little differently. Both of our examples so far were from established eBay sellers who branched out onto YouTube to maximize their exposure and drive new customers to their items. Now we're going to introduce the Talking Goats, and they're certainly a horse of a different color.
"I saw this goat at a petting zoo and took a video of it. It was the funniest thing I'd ever seen," notes Chrissy Copley. "The only reason I put it on YouTube was because the file was too large to send my parents via e-mail. It had been on YouTube for almost a year before people started watching itbefore it ended up on Jay Leno. Because of the video's popularity, I decided to make a T-shirt and just see if anyone would buy one."
Copley put her T-shirts for sale on eBay, and the combination worked. "The last person to buy a shirt told me that she was buying it as a Father's Day gift because her husband always watches the video and laughs hysterically."
But can Copley draw a direct relationship between her YouTube video and her eBay success?
"YouTube and MySpace were the only places I have advertised the shirts," she says. "It's the only way it's been promoted."
We're going to take that as a yes.
Fortunately, there's an abundance of available free editing software
Tips and tools
"But," you might say, "I've never tried to upload a video to YouTube. I'm not sure I have the equipment or the time to learn all I'd have to in order to put my business up on YouTube."
Take a deep breath and relax. Not only is it simple to create a video, you couldn't find an easier place on the Web to upload and house your footage once it's complete. With the meteoric popularity of Web-based video, good quality, simple-to-use cameras are available at affordable prices. Two of our favorites are the Flip Video Mino and the Kodak Zi6. Both are available for the suggested retail price of $179. They're simple, lightweight and ready to use as soon as you open the box.
Of course, once you've captured your video image, you'll want to edit it so it's exactly the way you want it to appear. Fortunately, there's an abundance of available free editing software. Some may come with the camera you purchase. The Zi6, for example, includes an editing package. If you run Windows XP or Vista, you already have MovieMaker, which is a perfectly adequate tool for editing your videos. Once you get over the brief learning curve, you'll find yourself putting your videos together in no time.
The next step is to upload your footage to YouTube, which is a matter of clicking a few keystrokes and selecting titles, tags and descriptions for your video. With all the experience you've gained doing similar work on eBay, we know you won't need our help with that step.
You can even go one step further by embedding the video right in your eBay listing. Follow the instructions on YouTube for embedding video, copy and paste the HTML code into the description section of your template or Sell Your Item form, preview it and you're all set.
So, with a renewed enthusiasm about this new venture, go take your place as a video producer. Who knows where this could lead? We may next meet on the red carpet.