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The eBay Business Answer Book: The 500 Most Frequently Asked Questions about Making Big Money on eBay

The eBay Business Answer Book: The 500 Most Frequently Asked Questions about Making Big Money on eBay

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by Cliff Ennico

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Each day, more and more eBay sellers are getting serious about their enterpreneurial efforts. Whether they see their eBay business as a modest addition to their revenue or a potentially full-time venture, they need expert advice on how to do it right. In The eBay Business Answer Book, popular eBay University instructor Cliff Ennico provides readers with much


Each day, more and more eBay sellers are getting serious about their enterpreneurial efforts. Whether they see their eBay business as a modest addition to their revenue or a potentially full-time venture, they need expert advice on how to do it right. In The eBay Business Answer Book, popular eBay University instructor Cliff Ennico provides readers with much-needed guidance in response to their most commonly asked questions, including:

• What are the things I have to do—both online and offline—to start selling professionally on eBay?

• Where do I find inventory?

• Should I set up an eBay store?

• My winning bidder won’t pay me—what do I do now?

• When do I charge taxes—and when do I pay them?

• How should I keep track of all my eBay business records?

• What do I need to know about dealing with international buyers?

Filled with in-depth, easily understood answers to real questions readers can flip to as-needed, this is a one-of-a-kind resource for any eBay seller.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A valuable addition to the number of eBay how-to guides because of the author’s experience and consultation with other experts. Ennico has created a book with [a] friendly writing style and logical organization.” Foreword magazine

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Read an Excerpt


Not too long ago, it would have been considered a contradiction in terms—or oxymoron—to refer to an “eBay business.”

When eBay first got off the ground in the mid-1990s, it was considered a fun thing: “Oh, look, Irma, we can sell stuff from the attic and actually make a few bucks without all of the hassle of doing a garage sale!”

But then people got hooked: “Gee, Irma, there’s somebody in Timbuktu who’s actually willing to pay us five bucks plus shipping for that old, broken chair we thought was worthless....Is there any more stuff around here we need to get rid of?”

Then people realized they could make serious money selling stuff on eBay:“Irma, we’ve made $30,000 in six months selling on eBay, so I’m quitting my day job. By the way, have you seen Junior around lately? Oh... well, okay, but you did get the buyer’s PayPal payment before you shipped him, didn’t you? I would hate to have to eat the return postage...”

And so you have it. Today there are about 1 million people in the United States alone making a full-time or part-time living selling things on eBay, the world’s largest online retailer, to eBay’s more than 233 million unique registered users worldwide.

But making the transition from an eBay selling hobby to a real online e-commerce business isn’t easy. You will have questions, and The eBay Business Answer Book is here to help you answer them.

Questions? You Have Questions?

Any professional speaker knows that the scariest part of any talk, panel, or presentation is the question-and-answer period at the end, because this is the only part of the program you cannot control—anything can happen here, from the sublime to the ridiculous. One of the key performance skills of any speaker lies in how he or she handles questions from the audience, because it’s being done in real time without a safety net.

As a faculty member of eBay University for the past several years, I have had the privilege of teaching an “eBay for Business” class to thousands of eBayers around the United States. I have been asked literally hundreds of questions, and after a while, like any speaker, I noticed that the same questions keep coming up over and over again, especially from newbie, or inexperienced, sellers.

I have spoken to other eBay University instructors as well as many of eBay’s Certified Education Specialists around the country (see Appendix A for more information about these folks), and they have shared similar experiences and confirmed my suspicion that eBay entrepreneurs keep asking the same questions over and over again.

This book is a collection of FAQs—frequently asked questions—that many newbie and experienced eBay sellers are getting stuck on and that aren’t always answered in other eBay books or on the eBay website.

The Questions You Should Be Asking When Running an eBay Business

The questions you should, and sooner or later will, ask when you start taking your eBay selling seriously as a real business fall into a number of common categories:

• Choosing the right stuff to sell on eBay and finding the right sources for your eBay inventory

• Registering your business for federal, state, and local taxes

• Knowing what you can’t legally sell on eBay

• Making sure your eBay listings don’t create problems for buyers or eBay

• Making sure all your eBay listings (or as many as possible) sell through to buyers so you don’t have to relist the items

• Dealing with difficult, or downright crazy, buyers

• Understanding and complying with eBay’s policies and User Agreement

• Knowing when you can (and can’t) back out of a deal if you’ve made a mistake (or get a better offer)

• Knowing what taxes you have to pay, how much, and to whom

• Knowing how to report your eBay selling income and expenses for tax purposes

• Knowing when to charge your buyers sales taxes

• Knowing what you can (and cannot) deduct for tax purposes

• Understanding how to set up and market an eBay Store

• Using search engine optimization and search engine advertising (they are two different things, did you know that?) to drive traffic to your eBay listings and eBay Store

• Keeping accurate and thorough books and records that track your eBay selling profits and losses and other key financial data

• Selling to buyers overseas on eBay

• Dealing with partners, employees, and independent contractors

• Coping with multiple businesses, when selling on eBay isn’t the only thing you do to make money

The questions in The eBay Business Answer Book are organized along these lines, so you can find the answers you need as quickly as possible.

Why a Book, When I Can Get All the Answers I Need on the eBay Site?

When you come right down to it, eBay is really two things:

1. It is a Fortune 100 corporation based in San Jose, California.

2. It is a community of buyers and sellers worldwide who engage in commerce on eBay.

One of the amazing things about eBay is that if you get stuck on something and can’t find the answer anywhere else on the eBay website (see Appendix B for a step-by-step guide on how to do this), you can ask the entire eBay community for help, and you will actually get answers from them. Furthermore, some of the answers (actually, most of them) are right!

The Community section of eBay’s website contains several important resources for eBay sellers. There are discussion boards, where eBay members exchange views on just about every aspect of eBay selling and buying. There is an Answer Center, where sellers and buyers can ask questions of other eBay members and (most of the time) get the right answers. There are Groups, where eBay sellers in a particular country or region of the United States, or with a particular common interest (such as eBayers working from their homes, eBayers who want to share their favorite recipes, or eBay sellers who have received negative feedback from Buyer X and are banding together to torch his house and family), can share advice, support, and viewpoints. There is also a listing of free webinars, or workshops, offered by eBay members (including me) on specific topics of interest to the eBay community.

If that isn’t enough, there are Blog and Wiki sections in the Community space, where eBay members volunteer information on just about every topic you can imagine.

I guarantee that the answer to just about any question you may have about doing business on eBay can be found on the eBay website somewhere, if you just take the time to look for it.

Then why this book? Simple—you don’t have the time to look for the information!

The amount of information on the eBay website is often overwhelming. Just as an example, go to the Answer Center in eBay’s Community section, click on PayPal, and you will see 608 pages—pages!—of discussion threads (about fifteen threads to a page) dealing with just about every topic under the sun relating to PayPal alone. A discussion thread consists of an eBayer’s question, followed by multiple (and often redundant) answers from other eBay community members. These threads are arranged in reverse chronological order (the most recent ones first), and there is no index by subject matter to help you quickly find the information you need. Do the math: If you have a PayPal question, it’s probably been addressed in the Answer Center, but you will have to search through over nine thousand individual questions to find your answer. Your time is much more valuable than that.

One of the reasons you find the same questions being asked over and over again—especially in the Answer Center, but really everywhere in the Community section—is that eBay sellers (like all entrepreneurs, let’s face it) are under incredible time pressure. They need answers, and they need them now! They don’t have time to wade through hundreds of discussion threads looking for the one piece of advice they need. So they post their question without doing any research whatsoever, in the hope of getting a quick, simple answer.

This book is not an attempt to reinvent the wheel. It is simply an attempt to get you the answers you need to your most pressing eBay business questions— right here and now!—so you can get on with the business of selling stuff and making money on eBay.

Where the Questions (and Answers) in This Book Came From

The eBay Business Answer Book is an attempt to provide real-world answers to the most common questions eBay sellers ask about starting and running a business on eBay. Each question in this book is an actual question that has been asked (many, many times) by eBay sellers in a seminar, in a workshop, or on one of the eBay community resources described here.

In deciding which questions should appear in this book, I relied first of all on my own experience as an eBay University instructor teaching the popular course “eBay for Business.” I polled other eBay University instructors and eBay Certified Education Specialists (see Appendix A) around the country and asked for a list of their most frequently asked questions. Where the same question came up multiple times, I made sure to include it in this book. Where my expert friends seemed to differ slightly in their answers (or where my answer was different from theirs), I tried to include all relevant viewpoints so readers would know we are all as confused as they are.

Finally, I spent hundreds of hours doing what most eBay sellers don’t have the time to do: combing through the thousands of discussion threads in eBay’s Answer Center, discussion boards, and chat rooms looking for those business-related questions that come up over and over again.

You will note that occasionally the same or a very similar question appears twice in some of the chapters. There are two reasons for that:

1. Attendees at eBay University seminars and other live presentations tend to ask the same question in different ways. So, for example, “When do I have a real business on eBay?” and “When do I have to start paying taxes when I sell on eBay?” are fundamentally the same question, but they appear separately in this book because I want to make sure I am answering exactly the question a reader wants to ask, using the language the person would actually use to ask me a question in one of my presentations.

2. Some of the eBay experts I interviewed for this book had slightly different takes on the answers to particular questions. For example, a Web designer almost certainly has a different perspective on what you should do with an eBay Store than a marketing expert does—and where it was not possible to combine them into a single answer, I thought readers should see all expert opinions to get a more thorough, comprehensive answer to their questions.

Meet the Author

Cliff Ennico (Fairfield, CT) is a lawyer specializing in legal and tax issues for small businesses, and is a popular instructor at eBay University. The host of the PBS show MoneyHunt, he is a frequent contributor to Entrepreneur magazine and the author of The eBay Seller’s Tax and Legal Answer Book (978-0-8144-7425-9) and Small Business Survival Guide. His weekly syndicated column Succeeding in Your Business appears in dozens of newspapers and websites.

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