Top 10 lists are always fun. It's great to get a glimpse of suggested resources you can browse quickly and come back to repeatedly. The Internet is saturated with information about all things, but all things e-commerce seem to receive an extra dose of attention.
Here is a quick look at some of the resources we find especially useful. You'll find Web sites, newsletters, trade associations, and some radio offerings, too. We wanted to start with the things that may be easiest to find, but equally easy to overlook, so we'll take a stab at some of eBay's own educational offerings. We hope you enjoy this little sampling. We have not listed them in order of their value, so please browse at will.
1. eBay's Site Map
O.K., you may think that you are way too far along in your eBay education to depend upon the Site Map for help. But the time we've spent among some of eBay's most successful sellers throughout the last five years has proven to us that this is a sadly underrated and amazingly useful resource for quickly getting to any topic you need to clarify about anything eBay.
We all know how frustrating eBay's Help area can be. But, the opposite is true of the Site Map. Prominently displayed at the top of the Home Page, it still gets overlooked. Simply click through and get more information than you may have imagined about everything from buying to selling, to resources, to emergency contacts. Never underestimate its power and test it out the next time you feel stumped. We're pretty sure you'll be as impressed as we are. It's the opposite of the frustrating and convoluted Help section!
2. eBay Radio
You'd think we'd shy away from recommending sources of information other than printed material, delivered either via Web sites or good old paper. As writers we'll always love the written word and the act of reading. But only a fanatic would go so far as to discount the other great resources available through other media. Sometimes even our eyes need a rest. If you want to keep learning while you sort files, pack shipments, or just doodle, eBay Radio is the place to be.
wsRadio (World Syndicated Radio) produces the shows for eBay Radio, and the star of the broadcasts is none other than Jim "Griff" Griffith, the Dean of eBay University. Griff holds weekly shows and weekly call-in shows, and eBay Radio offers extensive coverage of special events such as eBay Live! He is a gracious and entertaining host. Can't be available when the regularly scheduled broadcasts occur? Not to worry. The extensive archive allows you to browse around for an interesting subject and listen at your leisure.
3. Practical eCommerce Podcasts
The podcasts provide down-to-earth advice for smaller companies hoping to build successful e-commerce operations
These podcasts grew out of an online magazine, Practical eCommerce, begun in 2005 by Kerry and Joy Murdock. The couple had launched their own e-commerce venture and found it to be frustrating, confusing and expensive. They decided to build on their hard-earned education by making articles available to others hoping to join the world of e-commerce. Today the magazine offerings include podcasts. Every day there is a 60-second lesson on the subject of e-commerce. You'll also find archives of articles, discussion boards and a free e-mail newsletter. From the beginning, the Murdocks have strived to provide down-to-earth advice for smaller companies hoping to build successful e-commerce operations.
At the risk of being accused of shameless self-promotion, we can't help but recommend Auctiva's Web site as a great resource. Under the Education tab, you'll find articles that run from beginner advice to the latest news even the most advanced eBay user would find interesting. The articles include how-tos, news and information about every subject from posting to trust and safety issues, to moving your business off of eBay. It's free, updated regularly and draws material not only from Auctiva's own staff of writers, but also from some of the best known authors covering eBay today. For example, you'll find the work of Lynne Dralle, Janelle Elms, Skip McGrath, Dennis Prince and Julia Wilkinson posted here.
No discussion of eBay resources could be complete without a shout-out offered to perhaps the best known and well-respected online newsletter on the subject of e-commerce. AuctionBytes, operated by Ina and David Steiner has long been a constant go-to help site for us. The Steiners have covered all things relating to e-commerce for years. You'll find insight and editorial content unmatched anywhere on the Web. Plus, AuctionBytes is available as a free subscription. Sign up and it will automatically appear in your e-mail inbox. We can't think of a single successful seller who doesn't both read and depend upon this newsletter.
Founded in 2003, the Professional eBay Sellers Association has been a champion of the large seller right from its inception. Now, when you join PeSA, you will automatically become a member of the E-Commerce Merchants Trade Association, or ECMTA. The membership fee of $199 brings you access to some of the most well-known and successful sellers eBay has. Just reading the list of officers is like walking through an eBay Hall of Fame! As a member, not only will you have access to the discussion forums, where literally decades of wisdom and advice can be found, but you'll also gain promotional benefits from some of the companies offering the most useful products for large-scale e-merchants. Alibaba.com, Buysafe, Constant Contact, Doba, endicia and FedEx are just a sampling of companies offering special benefits to PeSA/ECMTA members. Additionally, the group sponsors summits both in the spring and the fall to bring large sellers together. You'll also find corporations attending the summits, and offering services and products to support eBay sellers. The summits are great opportunities to meet other successful sellers, and a single trip can boost your eBay education years into the future.
The IMA is full of successful merchants from all parts of the e-commerce world, and the group is both friendly and responsive to its members' needs
The Internet Merchants Association (IMA) is a non-profit group dedicated to supporting e-commerce merchants. Although many of the group's members are successful eBay sellers, the world of e-commerce at large is the focus of this group. They have an annual conference, which has been very well-attended with ample representation from companies including Google and Amazon. You'll find the group supports a vibrant community including discussion forums and a blog. Membership fees range from $129 for a small company to $4,000 for a large corporation. The membership list is full of successful merchants from all parts of the e-commerce world, and the group is both friendly and responsive to its members' needs.
The Associated Surplus Dealers was founded in 1963 and later added the Associated Merchandise Dealers. Over the years, the ASD/AMD group has grown to be associated with the nation's largest merchandise trade show. The group hosts five trade shows each year in Las Vegas, Nevada, New York City and Atlantic City, and offers the largest face-to-face marketplace to be found. The ASD/AMD has come to attract many merchandisers who are eager to work with e-commerce merchants. These trade shows are an absolute must-visit for anyone who is looking to source for a business, whether virtual or physical. In addition to the fabulous trade shows you can expect from the group, its Web site also offers news, tools and advice for sellers of all typesincluding e-commerce merchants.
9. Internet Retailer Conference
The annual Internet Retailer Conference hosts dozens of sessions and offers workshops hosted by some of the leading operators in the world of e-commerce. Currently in its 13th year, the conference has grown in both scope and attendance. At its most recent meeting, held in Chicago in June 2008, addressed topics ran from search engine optimization (SEO) to shopping aggregators to e-mail delivery systems and more. The sessions all offered attendees proven advice and strategies.
10. Trendhunter Magazine
The folks at Trendhunter Magazine call the publication "the world's largest trend-spotting and cool-hunting network." Stumped about what might be the next great seller? Stop by the Web site and take a look. The folks behind the magazine track trends in everything from fashion to entertainmentto even pets! The magazine's Web site offers a free membership, allowing you to receive its weekly newsletter, browse the archives, and even become a trend-hunter yourself!
O.K., we'll grant you, our Top 10 list is not as funny as David Letterman's. We didn't have starlets or celebrities to read them to you and we certainly can't compete in terms of the graphics. But we hopealthough less witty and sarcasticyou'll find them far more memorable and useful!