Jennifer Sinsel began selling on eBay with the idea she could make some extra cash for her family and stay home with her two sons. Little did she know her experience—more specifically, her desire to keep tabs on just how much she was making—would spark the creation of an auction tracking tool that would help hundreds of eBay sellers.
"I truly love selling online, and helping others sell as well," Sinsel says. "I have taught several friends the basics so they could get started selling on eBay. We've met some great sellers in person at eBay Live in Boston and Chicago as well as through e-mail and telephone in talking with our spreadsheet users. We really enjoy it!"
A business begins
Sinsel, the owner of Molasses Creek Trading on eBay, began selling in 2003. "I thought eBay would be a great way to make some money from my childrens' outgrown items while also using my marketing skills, all while being able to stay home with our sons."
The now-Top-rated Seller knew of eBay. A close friend had been selling on the marketplace for years and taught Sinsel the ropes, helping her list a landscaping book she randomly chose.
"I listed it on a seven-day auction," the seller recalls. "It sold in the last hour for a very low price, but it motivated me to see what I could sell and how much I could get for each item. Once I had about 10 items listed at auction per week, I started seeing regular orders."
Eventually Sinsel opened her own eBay Store. The shop offers children's items including home décor and nursery products, books, toys, clothes, costumes and more. This niche made sense to Sinsel. "That is what I had around the house and what I knew," she explains.
Between eBay and PayPal fees and any difference in shipping, it was hard to tell what my profit actually was
Figuring out the figures
Sinsel considers herself a part-time seller. She tries to keep about 100 items in her shop at any time. But happily, she sometimes has difficulty keeping that number up.
"The more I list, the more I sell, of course, so it's a little less than 100 [at times]," she admits.
But along with listing more—and selling more—comes the necessary task of keeping track of which items are sold and unsold, and of course how much the seller is making in profits. This can get tricky, as Sinsel quickly learned.
"Between the eBay and PayPal fees and any difference in shipping, it was hard to tell off-hand what my profit actually was," she explains.
The first time she tried to figure it out she began manually entering each transaction's information into a basic Excel worksheet. "My husband thought there must be an automated tool to retrieve the fees from eBay's servers," she says. "When we couldn't find a comprehensive spreadsheet that had all of the transaction information in one place and organized, he decided to create one."
Sinsel's husband Joshua spent months perfecting the spreadsheet, determined to make the best tool he could for his wife.
"When it was finished, I was able to easily see which items were more profitable than others without having to go through the effort of tediously entering all of the data myself," she says. "After I showed a few friends who also sell on eBay, they really loved it and encouraged us to make it available to others."
And so Easy Auctions Tracker came to life.
Easy Auctions Tracker collects sellers' information about both sold and unsold items, displaying item numbers, final value and insertion fees, as well as shipping information. This makes it easier for sellers to track their profits and stay in the good graces of Uncle Sam, Sinsel says. eBay approved the tool as a compatible application, and today hundreds eBay sellers selling on eBay's U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia sites now use Easy Auctions Tracker.
Kristine McKinley, the author of "eBay Tax Tips" and a CPA, says Easy Auctions Tracker "will make your bookkeeping and thus your tax preparer's job much easier, which will mean less time and lower fees for you."
The flexibility of running an online business has allowed Sinsel to continue pursuing other passions, like being a mom, helping nonprofits in her town by offering her services in these organizations' eBay departments and teaching others what she's learned. She sometimes combines her passions for volunteering and her kids by helping at the children's school.
"I can work when the kids are at school and be there for them when they get off the bus," Sinsel notes. "If the kids are sick or if life gets especially hectic, I can take a day off or work early in the morning or late at night."
She can also take some time off to go on family vacations, which she recently did. During that time, Sinsel simply closed her eBay store, and put up a message on her store's home page to let buyers know that she would be away for a few weeks.
However, Sinsel admits that having the flexibility of creating her own schedule can at times be a challenge. "Since I don't have a boss to report to, I find myself working many, many hours; it's hard to stop sometimes," she admits. "I struggle with this a lot, but I'm always trying to do better with the scheduling aspect of being an online seller."
I love that the Auctiva Scrolling Gallery helps promote other items in my store
Keeping an eye on fees
Sinsel's time on eBay has allowed her to pick up many tips. Among them is one that seems simple enough, but that some may not think about: "I would encourage new sellers to really watch what they are spending on fees," Sinsel notes. "It's very easy to add many features to your listing without realizing how much it is eating into your bottom line."
Sellers should also make sure to monitor what items are profitable and which ones spend too much time on their virtual shelves. "Also, work hard and your efforts will likely be rewarded," she continues. "It may sound obvious, but the more you list, the more you're likely to sell. It's sometimes easy for me to forget that."
Sinsel has also found success by providing accurate descriptions that don't overstate the condition of her items, and by providing detailed photos that let shoppers see exactly what they're bidding on. Auctiva's photo storage helps her with this, allowing her to add as many photos as she needs, at no added cost.
"I also love that there are hundreds of eBay templates to choose from and the Scrolling Gallery helps promote other items in my store."
Visit Molasses Creek Trading.