Many people have sold on eBay for a decade or more. Others are eBay educators of one type or another. There are even people who get paid to speak about eBay at Meetups, conferences and so on. But very few folks can honestly claim to be superstars in all three arenas.
I was selling more on eBay in the first month than I was at the store… We closed the store a few months later and moved entirely to eBay
Cindy Sorley can. She's a leading expert on eBay selling. She's also the administrator of the popular Facebook Group Cindy's Online Selling Tips (CO$T) and is active on LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter. She's also in great demand as a speaker at eBay Meetup Groups and participates in invitation-only focus groups, such as eBay Voices.
In our two-part interview, Sorley describes how she got started on eBay and how the site has changed over the years. She also shares advice on selling on mobile, using social media for marketing and sourcing.
Needlework starts it all
Schepp: How did you get your start as seller?
Sorley: I owned a brick-and-mortar specialty needlework store in Layton, Utah, for a few years. I started selling cross stitch supplies in 1982 and always had my hand in it, moving around the country with my husband's Marine and airline flying career.
I was notified that the rent was going to increase, and I might have to close because a freeway interchange was being built. It was then that I decided to give eBay a try.
I had been buying on eBay since 1998 and had sold a few things on the platform. So I decided to try selling some needlework supplies from the shop. I was selling more on eBay in the first month than I was at the store. I was tied to the store 24/7 and, with a toddler, it was tougher to go in each day with him wanting to get into everything. We closed the store a few months later and moved entirely to eBay.
The biggest changes I have seen on eBay involve mobile. I list, buy and do all correspondence by mobile, and it saves me hours a week
Mobile is the biggest change
Schepp: How has eBay selling changed over the years?
Sorley: I tell sellers the eBay of 2013 is not the eBay of 2014, or 2015. It is always changing, and we, as sellers, have to adapt.
There may be rules and changes we don't like. I have complained about some of them. But every one of the changes eBay made benefited me after I implemented them. I was not thrilled to have to change all my photos to meet the dimensions. I understand the reasoning. I remember when we were charged for each photo.
I ship worldwide. eBay notifies my potential buyers that they are responsible for customs, VAT etc., so I don't have to have that information in my listings. But I remember when we had to include the cost of shipping in each listing. eBay now shows the customer right up front what they will pay.
But the biggest changes I have seen on eBay involve mobile. I list, buy and do all correspondence by mobile, and it saves me hours a week. I have been known to research an item's value while in a store and have it listed by the time I get to the register to pay for it. I couldn't have done that a few years ago.
eBay does listen
eBay really does listen to sellers. I feel if you approach anything with a positive attitude rather than a negative one, you will have a better chance of being heard
Schepp: You participate in eBay Voices and are a PayPal Ambassador. Tell us about that.
Sorley: The eBay Voices and PayPal Ambassador programs are focus groups that allow employees, or teams to come to sellers and buyers and describe policies that might be in planning or that will be soon implemented.
We have a chance to voice our opinions and be heard. I hear all the time eBay does not listen. But eBay really does listen to sellers.
I feel if you approach anything with a positive attitude rather than a negative one, you will have a better chance of being heard. When I have a pain point, I contact eBay with the issue, and what I suggest as a solution.
CO$T fosters community
Schepp: You're also the administrator of CO$T. Who can best benefit from it?
Sorley: I started the group a couple of years ago at the request of Debbie Wieder, an eBay seller, who just needed motivation and help. She wanted the room to be small, and we had about five eBay employees who were helping to teach how to sell.
As word spread about the group, we added sellers we felt would benefit from learning from other sellers. Most of the "CO$Ties," as we call ourselves, are eBay sellers. We also have sellers from Amazon, Etsy, Bonanza and other venues. We're like a big family. If a seller or a buyer has an issue, we walk them through how to respond to a buyer or seller positively.
We help beginners to advanced sellers. We have motivational threads, including our famous Friday and Saturday night "Listing Parties," where we all list together and chat. It is nice when you are looking at a computer by yourself and can ask a question, or just chat to make the time go faster.
If you want to join, please message me on Facebook or email me at Cindy at cindysorley.com, and ask to join.
You can use clothing to protect your breakables when packing your baggage to go home
Schepp: You've picked up a lot of items for resale. What sourcing tips can you share?
Sorley: When I travel, I always take an extra duffle bag or suitcase. When you travel by air, think of the cost of checking that bag in. Some airlines charge; others don't.
I have a credit card with the airline I travel with that allows me free baggage. You have to add the cost of the baggage fees to the item(s) you buy when you figure your cost per item. Don't forget the weight of the baggage. It will be costly if you are overweight. You can use clothing to protect your breakables when packing your baggage to go home.
I have gotten out of selling a lot of clothing except for music tour shirts and Hawaiian shirts. The music tour shirts do well. I sell them to people who may have attended the concert but didn't buy the shirt, or to those who wore theirs out. The Hawaiian shirts that do well for me are in extra large sizes or are made in the U.S., or have unique designs.
Coffee cups can represent good money. Most are 50 cents to a dollar at thrift stores. I can sell them for $15 to $40. Look for uniqueness. Boynton, Starbucks, Taylor & NG and Old Fire King with Snoopy to McDonald's do very well.
Finally, after you buy your inventory, try to list it as soon as you can. Items that are sitting are not going to have the chance to sell!
Schepp: Thank you, Cindy. We look forward to Part 2 of our interview, where among other things you'll share the best advice you ever heard about selling on eBay!