Starting an eBay Business For Dummies

Starting an eBay Business For Dummies

by Marsha Collier


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Starting an eBay Business For Dummies by Marsha Collier

The gold standard for eBay users who want to get serious aboutselling

Want to turn your eBay use into a steady revenue stream? Come towhere everyone starts, with a copy of the latest edition ofStarting an eBay Business For Dummies. EBay superstar authorMarsha Collier packs the fourth edition of her mega-selling bookwith everything you need to know, from how to tap the explosivepower of social media for promoting your business to the verylatest on eBay's fees and payment structure, how to maintain yourown customer service center, ways to build an audience, and muchmore.

  • Shows you how to lay the foundation for a business by settingup a store and reviews legal requirements and restrictions
  • Helps you price and source your merchandise
  • Explores how to attract an audience using social media throughyour own site
  • Gives you a quick MBA in budgeting, money transactions,customer service, shipping, and more
  • Offers insight on other sellers who have been successful oneBay and what you can learn from them

Kick-start your eBay business and get profitable with thismust-have guide from eBay superstar Marsha Collier.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781118004678
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 04/12/2011
Series: For Dummies Series
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 546,367
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Marsha Collier is a world-renowned eBay maven, sought-after speaker, and bestselling author on eBay topics, with more than a million copies of her books in print. She has written all editions of eBay For Dummies, Starting an eBay Business For Dummies, and eBay Business All-in-One For Dummies.

Read an Excerpt

Starting an eBay Business For Dummies

By Marsha Collier

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-6924-4

Chapter One

Using eBay to Launch Your Business

In This Chapter

* Getting serious about your business

* Making decisions about what to sell

* Having what it takes to make a living online

* Running an efficient auction

You've decided to get serious about your sales on eBay, so now you have to step up to the plate and decide how much time you have to devote to your eBay business. I talk about all kinds of eBay businesses in this book. Even though you're not quitting your day job and selling on eBay full time (yet!), I still think you're serious. A large portion of sellers, even eBay PowerSellers (those who gross more than $1,000 a month in sales), work on eBay only part time.

eBay sellers come from all walks of life. A good number of stay-at-home moms are out there selling on eBay. And so many retirees are finding eBay a great place to supplement their income that I wouldn't be surprised if the AARP creates a special eBay arm. If you're pulled out of your normal work routine and faced with a new lifestyle, you can easily make the transition to selling on eBay.

In this chapter, I talk about planning just how much time you'll be able to devote to your eBay business - and how to budget that time. I also talk about figuring out what to sell. Your eBay business won't grow overnight, but with dedication and persistence, you may just form your own online empire.

Getting Down to Bidness (er, Business)

Before launching any business, including an eBay business, you need to set your priorities. And to be successful at that business, you must apply some clear level of discipline.

I won't bore you with the now-legendary story of how Pierre Omidyar started eBay to help fulfill his girlfriend's Pez dispenser habit, blah, blah, blah. I will tell you that he started AuctionWeb with a laptop, a regular Internet Service Provider (ISP), and an old school desk. He and his buddy Jeff Skoll (a Stanford MBA) ran the twenty-four-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week AuctionWeb all by themselves. When I began using the service, I had a lot of questions - and I always got prompt, friendly answers to my e-mails. When the site started attracting more traffic, Pierre's ISP began to complain about all the traffic and raised his monthly fees. To cover the higher costs, Pierre and Jeff began charging 25 cents to list an auction. Pierre was so busy running the site that the envelopes full of checks began to pile up - he didn't even have time to open the mail.

When Pierre incorporated eBay AuctionWeb in 1996 with his partner Jeff, they were each drawing a salary of $25,000. Their first office consisted of one room, and they had one part-time employee to handle the payments. They started small and grew.

Budgeting your time: eBay as a part-time money maker

A part-time eBay business can be very profitable. One thing that I stress in this book is that the more time and energy you spend on your eBay business, the more money you can make. That said, I now move on to the lowest possible level of time that you should devote to your business.

Maybe you enjoy finding miscellaneous items to sell on eBay. You can find these items somehow in your day-to-day life. So let's suppose that you could spend at least a few hours (maybe three) a day on eBay. Now you must include the time it takes to write up your auctions. If you're not selling only one type of item, allow about fifteen minutes to write your auction, take your picture or scan your image, and of course, upload it to eBay or a photo-hosting site.

How much time it takes to perform these tasks varies from person to person and will improve according to your level of expertise. Regardless, every task in your eBay auction business takes time, and you must budget for that time. See the sidebar "Some handy eBay timesaving tips" for pointers.

Only you can decide how much time you want to spend researching going rates for items on eBay and deciding which day or time your item will sell for the highest price. You can take great photos and write brilliant descriptions, but cashmere sweaters won't sell for as much in the heat of summer as they do in winter. Doing your research can take up a good deal of time when you're selling a varied group of items.

You also have to consider how much time it takes to shop for your merchandise. You may have to travel to dealers, go to auctions, or spend time online discovering new ways to find your auction merchandise. Many sellers set aside a full day each week for this undertaking. Your merchandise is what makes you money, so don't skimp on the time you spend identifying products. The time you spend on this comes back to you in higher profits.

Here's a list of various activities that you must perform when doing business on eBay:

  •   Photograph the item

  •   Clean up and resize the images in a photo editor (if necessary)

  •   Upload the images to eBay Picture Services when you list or before listing to your ISP or third-party hosting service

  •   Weigh the item and determine the shipping cost

  •   Choose an auction title with keywords

  •   Write a concise and creative description

  •   List the auction on eBay

  •   Answer bidder questions

  •   Send end-of-auction e-mails

  •   Carry out banking

  •   Perform bookkeeping

  •   Pack the item safely and securely

  •   Address the label and affix postage

  •   Go to the post office

    Time yourself to see how long it takes to accomplish each of these tasks. The time varies when you list multiple items, so think of the figures that you come up with as your baseline, a minimum amount of time that you must set aside for these tasks. This information can help you decide how many hours per month you need to devote to running your part-time eBay business.

    Jumping in with both feet: Making eBay a full-time job

    As you can see in the list in the preceding section, the tasks required for your eBay business can be time consuming. But careful planning and scheduling can turn your business into an online empire.

    The best way to go full time on eBay is to first run your business part time for a while to iron out the wrinkles. After you become comfortable with eBay as a business, you're ready to make the transition to full-time seller. The minimum gross monthly sales for a Bronze-level PowerSeller is $1,000. If you plan your time efficiently, you can easily attain this goal. Head to Chapter 3 for more information on the PowerSeller program.

    Running a full-time business on eBay is the perfect option for the working parents who prefer staying at home with their children, retirees looking for something to do, or those who'd just rather do something else than work for their boss. Read some real-life profiles of happy full-time sellers in Chapter 18.

    See Figure 1-1 for an example of the eBay home page, the first stop for most buyers on eBay. Note how eBay makes an effort to reflect some sort of promotion to better market the items you put up for sale.

    Deciding What to Sell

    What should I sell? That is the million dollar question! In your quest for merchandise, you're bound to hear about soft goods and hard goods. Soft, or nondurable, goods are generally textile products, such as clothing, fabrics, and bedding. Hard goods are computer equipment, housewares, and anything else that's basically nondisposable.

    Following are just a few points to consider when you're deciding what to sell:

  •   Shipping costs: Some differences exist between shipping hard and soft goods. Soft goods can fold up and be packed in standard box sizes, available from the USPS, or (better yet) in bubble or Tyvek envelopes for much lower shipping costs. Most hard goods come in their own boxes, which may or may not be individually shippable. You'll also need to use Styrofoam peanuts or bubble cushioning or double package the item in an oddly sized box. See Chapter 17 for the lowdown on shipping and packing.

  •   Other shipping considerations: Do you want to handle large boxes and deal with the hassles of shipping them?

  •   Possible storage problems: Do you have the room to store enough merchandise to keep you going? Soft goods can take up considerably less space than hard goods.


    You don't always have to buy your items in bulk to make money on eBay. The first things you sell might be items you find in your garage or attic. To find out about some other fun ways to acquire goods to sell, check out the next section.

    Turning your hobby into a business

    C'mon, you've got a hobby; everyone does! Did you collect stamps or coins as a kid? Play with Barbie dolls? Maybe your hobby is cars? Did you inherit a bunch of antiques? Been collecting Hummel figurines for a few years? eBay has a market for almost anything.


    You can't possibly be an expert on everything. You need to keep up-to-date on the market for your items, and following more than four or five basic item groups may divert your attention from selling.

    Selling within a particular category or two can be a good idea for repeat business. Should you decide to major in miscellany and sell anything and everything, you may not realize the highest possible prices for your items. This can be okay if you have a source that permits you to buy items at dirt-cheap pricing.

    Collectibles: Big business on eBay

    Pierre Omidyar started eBay with the idea to trade collectible Pez dispensers. eBay now lists fifty main categories of collectibles (see Figure 1-2), and those categories are divided into thousands of categories, subcategories, and sub-subcategories. Almost anything that you'd want to collect is here, from advertising memorabilia to Girl Scout pins to Zippo lighters!

    If you have a collection of your own, eBay is a great way to find rare items. Because your collection is something dear to your heart and you've studied it on and off for years, you could probably call yourself an expert. Bingo - you're an expert at something! I recommend that you hone your skills to find things in your area of expertise at discount prices (you're liking this more and more, aren't you?) and then sell them on eBay for a profit. Start small and start with something you know.

    If there's one thing you know, it's fashion!

    Are you one of those people who just knows how to put together a great outfit? Do you find bargains at Goodwill but people think you've spent hundreds on your garb? Do you know where to get in-season closeouts before anyone else does? Looks like you've found your market (see Figure 1-3).

    Buy as many of those stylish designer wrap dresses (you-know-whose at you-know-where) as you can, and set them up on the mannequin you've bought to model your fashions for eBay photos. (For more on setting up fashion photos on eBay, check out Chapter 11.) Within a week, you just may be doubling your money - 'cause sweetie-darling, who knows fashion better than you?

    If a ball, a wheel, or competition is involved - it's for you

    I don't want to preach in generalities, but I think I'm pretty safe in saying that most guys like sports. Guys like to watch sports, play sports, and look good while they're doing it. I see that as opening up venues for a profitable empire on eBay. I don't want to leave out all the women out there who excel and participate in many sports. Women may have even more discriminating needs for their sporting endeavors! I know I do. My golf game stinks - but I do make a point to at least look good when I go out there, with respectable equipment and a fabulous outfit.

    eBay has an amazing market going on right now for soccer equipment, and I don't even want to go into how much football and golf stuff is selling on eBay. And the last time I looked, golf items totaled more than 57,000 listings! What a bonanza! New stuff, used stuff - it's all selling on eBay (see Figure 1-4). It's enough to put your local pro shop out of business - or perhaps put you in business.

    Including the whole family in the business

    Sometimes just the idea of a part-time business can throw you into a tizzy. After all, don't you have enough to do? School, work, soccer, kids glued to the TV - you might sometimes feel as if you've no time for family time. However, the importance of family time is what brought me to eBay in the first place. I was working long hours in my own business, and at the end of the day, when my daughter Susan wanted to go shopping, perhaps for some Hello Kitty toys or a Barbie doll, I was just too tired. (Can you relate?)

    I'd heard about AuctionWeb from a friend and had bought some things online for my own collections. (Okay, you got me; I collected Star Trek stuff - call me geek with a capital G.) I'd also browsed around the site and found some popular toys selling for reasonable prices. So one evening I introduced Susan to eBay, and life has never been the same. We'd go to toy stores together right when they opened on Saturday morning, so we'd get first dibs on shipments of the hottest, newest toys. She'd go to the dolls and I'd go to the action figures. We'd buy several, go home, and post them for sale on eBay. We made money, yes, but the best part was our toy runs. They will always remain a special memory.

    Susan has since graduated from college (she majored in business and marketing - must have been inspired by our eBay enterprise) but she still calls home when she finds a hot CD or closeouts of a top-selling item. We still purchase and list items together. The family that eBays together ... always does.

    My short trip down memory lane has a point: A family business can succeed and everyone can enjoy it. I was in charge of the financing and the packing while Susan looked up ZIP codes on the Internet and put pins in a 4' x 5' map showing every city that we bought or sold from. She learned some excellent lessons in marketing, advertising, and geography, all in one swoop.

    Toys, books, and music - oh MY!

    Having children in your home brings you closer to the latest trends than you could ever imagine. I remember sitting at a Starbucks a couple of years ago watching some dads and their sons pouring over notebooks full of Pokémon cards. (Actually, the kids were off playing somewhere and the dads were coveting the cards.)

    And what about Star Wars? Star Trek? G.I. Joe? Can you say action figures? (If guys have them, they're not dolls - they're action figures.) If you have access to the latest and greatest toys, buy them up and sell them to those who can't find them in their neck of the woods.


    Excerpted from Starting an eBay Business For Dummies by Marsha Collier Excerpted by permission.
    All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

  • Table of Contents


    Part I: Getting Serious about eBay.

    Chapter 1: Launching Your Business on eBay.

    Chapter 2: The Finer Points of eBay Selling.

    Chapter 3: Cool eBay Tools.

    Chapter 4: Safe Selling Equals Profitable Sales.

    Chapter 5: Expanding Sales with an eBay Store.

    Part II: Setting Up Shop.

    Chapter 6: Finding Merchandise to Up Your Profits.

    Chapter 7: Pricing Your Items to Sell.

    Chapter 8: Establishing and Marketing Your Web Site.

    Part III: Business Is Business — Time to GetSerious.

    Chapter 9: Software Built for Online Auctions.

    Chapter 10: Dollars and Sense: Budgeting and Marketing YourSales.

    Chapter 11: Setting Up Listings That Sell.

    Chapter 12: Providing Excellent Customer Service.

    Chapter 13: Collecting Your Money.

    Chapter 14: Shipping Your Items: Sending Them Fast and SavingMoney.

    Part IV: Your eBay Back Office.

    Chapter 15: Getting Legal: Understanding Taxes and Licenses.

    Chapter 16: Savvy Record Keeping — Keeping the Tax Man atBay.

    Chapter 17: Building an eBay Back Office.

    Part V: The Part of Tens.

    Chapter 18: Ten (or So) Sellers Who’ve Made the Jump fromHobby to Profits.

    Chapter 19: Ten Other Places to Move Your Merchandise.

    Appendix A: eBay Business Glossary.

    Appendix B: The Hows and Whys of a Home Network.


    Customer Reviews

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    Starting an eBay Business for Dummies 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I just finished this book and as a current eBay seller I have to warn you the information is incredibly outdated! This book was written three years ago and eBay has changed so much even in the last six months, that I had to laugh at some of the suggestions she made regarding things that don't even exist anymore. I would estimate that about 10% or less of this book was useful to me as an eBay seller in 2004.
    endersreads on LibraryThing 5 hours ago
    OK, so you have gotten started on eBay. Now you want to get serious about selling on eBay. Marsha Collier is the person to tell you how to go about taking your business to the professional level. Start up an eBay Store, launch your own selling site in juxtaposition to your ebay business, get an introduction to bookkeeping, and get hot tips on how to avoid losing your money and how to make money. Get the current revised edition.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    You made no sense while writing that nonsense.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I met Marsha at an eBay U. event and realized this lady knew what she was talking about. I bought her book immediately afterwards and read it cover to cover. It helped me grow my eBay business from a fledgling operation to a full-time career. This book not only gives you ideas on how to better use eBay, but also how to run a small business (and run it on the cheap using eBay as a supply tool). Can't wait to see what Marsha puts out next!