Jeannie Maynard began selling on eBay for two reasons: to find a home for the items she no longer needed or used, and to begin saving for her son's college education.
The owner of eBay Store Moonlight Emporium knew she and her husband would need to start setting money aside early for their son A.J., with the rising cost of higher education. In the five years she's been selling online, the seller has been able to put away about $5,000 toward her 10-year-old's college fund.
"College is so expensive now that it seems like a very small amount," Maynard says. "But my parents have been buying my son savings bonds for Christmas and birthdays since he was born, and I expect him to earn some sort of scholarship as well."
Contributions to the fund have been less frequent in recent months as the economy impacted the family's construction business, and more of Maynard's eBay profits have gone toward household expenses. But she's looking forward to getting back to saving for her son.
"I do think it's a great idea for any parent to invest whatever they can toward their child's education," she says. "eBay is the perfect opportunity for anyone who wants to make extra money. I never really had a set [monetary] goal in mind. I just loved seeing the money add up."
I have found that eBay is a magnet for people who love the same things that I do
A passion for the past
Maynard considers herself a part-time seller, spending between 20 hours and 30 hours a week on listings. She typically has no more than 30 items for sale on eBay at any one time. While it may seem like a low volume to some, it works for Maynard, allowing her to give each listing the attention it deserves.
"I am by no means a high-volume seller," the PowerSeller notes. "I prefer to list fewer items and spend more time on each listing."
Maynard offers a variety of vintage and antique items in Moonlight Emporium, including glassware and lighting. But her big passion is vintage and antique jewelry. "I am drawn to its quality, the history behind it and the amazing craftsmanship that went into creating it," she explains.
This affection for vintage accessories has resulted in a rather large jewelry collection, Maynard admits, but she continues to buy and sell as much jewelry as she can. She loves examining, researching and wearing the pieces, she adds.
"I have found that eBay is a magnet for people who love the same things that I do, so I think they are attracted to my store for that reason," the seller says.
Building an emporium
Maynard notes that initially, it was hard to set up a consistent schedule to photograph her inventory, write descriptions and post listings, but now she has the process "down to a science." And the benefits of having her own business far outweigh the challenges.
"One of my favorite things about selling online is the flexibility that it allows me," Maynard explains. "I am able to spend time with my son after school each day and even leave town in the middle of the week if I need to. It is never a problem as long as I keep an eye on my listings and maintain communication with buyers. Internet access is all I need!"
She adds to this customer care by ensuring descriptions are as accurate as possible and always including good photos.
"Photos are very important to me because they are the largest representation of an item in a listing," Maynard explains. "A written description is important, but a picture is truly worth a thousand words. I spend lots of time on my photos, and possibly erase about two-thirds of the ones I take."
She admits that good photos take time. In fact, she spends more time on images than any other aspect of the listing process—but it's worth it, Maynard says. Buyers are attracted to clear images that show every detail of the item.
The clarity of Maynard's auction images impressed the judges of Auctiva's Best Shot photo contest, which she entered in February. Though she didn't win that time, she plans to enter again.
"I really enjoy photography, and I already have so many photos of items I have listed, so I thought 'Why not [enter the contest]?'" she says.
I love Auctiva because it makes selling so much easier
Tools for success
Auctiva's listing tools have long been part of Maynard's business practices, allowing her to post professional quality listings in minutes.
"I love Auctiva because it makes selling so much easier," she says. "I found that it is very user friendly, has beautiful templates, fast download time and lots of space for photos."
One feature stands out the most for this seller: Auctiva's scheduling feature, which allows Maynard to prepare a listing in advance, when she has downtime, then specify the date and time she wants the listing to launch. "[It] allows me to create listings at my leisure," she continues.
But good listing tools are just part of her equation for success. Maynard also stresses the importance of good customer service and communication with buyers.
"Most people are reasonable and friendly, and will understand even if you make a mistake, as long as you're honest with them," she says.
Merchants should always strive for honesty, not only in their communication with buyers, but also in their descriptions, Maynard notes. "My No. 1 rule is to treat my buyers as I like to be treated myself," she adds.
She also offers weekly auctions with low opening bids to entice shoppers—and lead them back to her eBay Store. "At the bottom of each auction, I provide a reference to my store," she notes.
And if readers are thinking about selling online themselves, Maynard suggests starting off small, selling one or two items at a time, just to get a feel for selling and see if it's right for them. It has definitely proven right for her.
"Online selling has become a very important part of my life," Maynard adds. "It is extremely rewarding and allows me to do something that I truly enjoy. I have been lucky enough to meet and talk with people from all over the world."