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Old 09-29-2009, 08:17 AM   #41
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Curious then about how long might be optimal to put something on ebay since most are watching till the closing... seems a shorter sale period my be the key to higher turnover of product.... not too short of a period to be missed though.

I mix my sales up . If I'm doing auction I go for seven days you want enough people to have seen your item . I also put things up on fair value (one price ) which seems to attract the middle of the night shoppers . To succeed you really have to research the product and offer great customer service even when some of these people get nutsy .
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Old 09-29-2009, 10:09 AM   #42
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Curious then about how long might be optimal to put something on ebay since most are watching till the closing... seems a shorter sale period my be the key to higher turnover of product.... not too short of a period to be missed though.
A lot of the process can be automated, but authors still tend to think that buyers want to be watching the countdown timer when the auction ends. So by listing at 1-2 PM HST, the auction ends for west coast buyers at 4-5 PDT to east coast buyers at 7-8 EDT.

eBay buyers can build searches to keep an eye out for new auctions of their products. So if a seller can correctly categorize (and spell) then the searches make it hard to miss something. But there's whole book chapters on how to track down miscategorized/misspelled items, buy them for pennies (because no other buyers notice them) and resell them for dollars. It gets pretty complicated to design a good comprehensive search for keywords like "solar" when you just want to see solar panels of at least 50 watts, or misspellings of "photovoltaic". At some point you spend your time wading through dozens of listings of the wrong stuff.

Or maybe the authors just need something to write about.

I guess a three-day auction would more than double the turnover of a seven-day auction, but it'd also more than double the workload. I can see the profit of self-employment or the fun of a hobby, but unless you love what you're doing then it turns into just plain ol' work. But there's a lot of money to be made by scooping up local items (where they're usually priced ridiculously low for a local market) and reselling them worldwide. Craigslist has saved us thousands of dollars over retail.

At least we're cleaning out the attic and our kid is re-hearing the family stories. And a crowd of neighbors is stopping buy to pick up used stove parts.
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Old 09-29-2009, 02:13 PM   #43
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Yeah, that's a concern, especially with our short-attention-span teen who once left the oven on all night. I'm hoping to find some kind of lock button or program setting to minimize that. Either that or I'll be obsessively checking settings six times a day.


The upside is that I have never actually turned it on by accidental button presses. Temperature lights go on but the start button never seems to get pressed by accident.
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:09 PM   #44
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I mix my sales up . If I'm doing auction I go for seven days you want enough people to have seen your item . I also put things up on fair value (one price ) which seems to attract the middle of the night shoppers . To succeed you really have to research the product and offer great customer service even when some of these people get nutsy .

i agree 100 percent... if the customer isn't happy then there is no doubt you wont get top dollar!
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:35 PM   #45
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Thanks, everyone, I'll try them on eBay. I wasn't sure there was a market for items like this.

It'll be interesting to see how the pamphlets sell...
A few eBay tips... I buy and sell many things on eBay.

1. If you don't know if an item will sell, then list only 5 items per month. eBay now waives insertion fees for the first 5 items. I typically sell more than 5 items per month, so I list my "testing the waters" items as the first 5.

2. eBay's high activity time and when the most bids are going on is from about 8 - 10 pm EST on Sunday.

3. To get your item in front of the Sunday audience twice with one listing, use a scheduled listing. It costs an extra $0.50 to do this trick but it pays off. Start it at 9 pm EST (6 pm PST) on a Thursday. The scheduled listing costs $0.10 and then make it a 10 day auction (another $0.40). This way the item will be listed for two Sundays. I have found that 10 day listings done this way tend to do much better than 3 day or 7 day listings.

4. Start with a listing price much lower than you normally would. People jump on this and items with many bids tend to snowball and get many more. Once someone is involved in bidding and watching the item they get emotionally involved with winning and odds are you'll have a better ending price by starting low.

5. Offer a 7 day DOA warranty on electronic items. This does amazing things for moving the product because people know they aren't buying junk. In 6 years I've not had one person return an item, though I've always offered a DOA warranty. Highlight this policy in red and bold.

6. Don't pad shipping costs, and let bidders know this. I always post in the description that I never pad shipping costs. Highlight this in red and bold.

7. Point out your feedback score if its 100%. Again, highlight this in red and bold.

8. Make sure you offer optional insurance with shipping (next month eBay is going to start requiring insurance).

9. Start the product description with something other than the product info. Humor works well and seems to draw people in when you tell a story about the item. For example:

These memory sticks are in great condition but I have to sell them because my collection is getting too large and my wife is threatening to put me in the dog house if I don't make room.

10. Give as many details as you possibly can. People are lazy, and would rather read the specifications on your listing than take the product number and search Google. This being said, also, when possible, include a link to the manufacturer's product page for the item.

11. Search for "completed listings" of similar items. Pay attention to the items which sold for a good price. See what the seller included in their description and do something similar. Additionally, start with a similar starting bid price.

12. Whenever possible, do not use a reserve price. This turns off many people because they know your opening price is meaningless. Trust that it will sell at a decent price without using reserve and it usually does.

Often the reason you see a ton of last minute bids is people use snipe programs to bid at the last possible moment. Additionally, someone may bid $10 more than the current bid, but it will only show up as $0.50 over the current bid. When the next bid comes in, the person's $10 bid is automatically rebid for another $0.50. This is why you may see 2-3 bidders with several bids (they actually only made one bid each and eBay proxied the bids for them).
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:39 PM   #46
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nice tips... thanks
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:46 PM   #47
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You're welcome. I recycle many of my personal items through eBay and average a few thousand dollars each year using these methods. Some items, such as a dryer, go directly to Craigslist.

Generally, I'll go eBay first. If it doesn't sell, I'll put it on Craigslist. If it still doesn't sell I give it to Goodwill and write off the amount on my taxes, using sold item prices on eBay as the guideline for what its worth (print these eBay pages and keep them with your tax records).

Then there are items which are simply not worth my time to put on eBay/Craigslist. These go directly to Goodwill.
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Old 10-04-2009, 09:21 PM   #48
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Sold the Indianapolis spoon today for $9.50. Four watchers near the end of the week, but zero bids until the final hour. The winner sniped it away in the last five seconds. After Paypal (58 cents), postage ($1.05), and eBay's invoice for the September auctions ($2.65) the total is now a bit over $55 net. $8-$10 per spoon may be the going rate.

Not only does eBay automate the bidding, but it seems to automate the payment. This was the second time the winning bidder had their money in my PayPal account within minutes after the auction ended.

This has been surprisingly painless so far. Last week's buyer of the Jamaican coins canceled his eBay account a few days after his PayPal deposit. I'd already mailed off the coins and I didn't notice until I started looking for his buyer's feedback. I guess I don't have to do any more with him!

Neither the graphics card (300354158240) nor the German spoon (300351826567) sold. At $25 for a 128 MB card I might have set the minimum bid too close to actual value. I relisted at $15 and it apparently was the right move because 30 minutes later it gained a watcher. Good enough.

I'm not sure what to do with the spoon. The other spoons fit neatly into a relatively popular “sterling souvenir spoon” category but this one is in “Non-U.S. Silver > Germany” and it might only be silver-plated instead of sterling. No makers marks or any other info on it. I guess the first step is to try to figure out the spoon's composition and date, and then I can try listing in both categories. The Silver Forum (Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers' Marks) has an unbelievable amount of info and a lot of their posters seem to live in Europe. One poster already helped me figure out that one of my utensils is a baby-food pusher from the early 1900s. Hard to Google that sort of thing when you don't know the vocabulary.

I've been listing the spoons two at a time (300354150632, 300354152769) but next week I think I'm going to put up all of the remaining eight-- or at least as many descriptions as I get around to researching & writing. I haven't had many questions from the buyers and the post-auction pack&wrap is no problem. I'm even getting rid of the eight-cent stamps...
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Old 10-04-2009, 09:31 PM   #49
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Nords, when you put up all eight, be sure to add a line "please look at my other 7 listings" - and say that you combine shipping.

You may get a happy buyer of several items, and only one package for them for the post office.

ta,
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Old 10-05-2009, 10:02 AM   #50
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Nords, when you put up all eight, be sure to add a line "please look at my other 7 listings" - and say that you combine shipping.
You may get a happy buyer of several items, and only one package for them for the post office.
ta,
mew
I'm offering free shipping, so I'm not sure how that's going to work out. I wouldn't hesitate to kick back a couple bucks to the winner but I don't want the hassle of running afoul of eBay's "outside the auction" prohibitions.
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Old 10-11-2009, 12:40 PM   #51
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Sunday morning (Hawaii time), only six hours left on this week's auctions.

It's interesting to watch things develop over the week. 300354158240 is a three-year-old graphics card, a VisionTek 9550 (ATI Radeon 9550) of 128 MB video RAM. A couple weeks ago at a $25 minimum bid it didn't get a single watcher, let alone a bid. (This card has sold for $25-$30 in other auctions.) I relisted it at $15 minimum and had a watcher within 30 minutes.

Still no bids, but during the week the number of watchers has been slowly creeping up. Yesterday it was at five, and this morning it's at eight. Are these all potential bidders, or are some of you guys just hanging around to watch the conclusion? Should I call for extra crowd-control security or for more popcorn? How fast can eBay's server farm process those final proxy bids in the auction's last 30 seconds?

I'm going to put up the remaining nine items this afternoon-- seven spoons, a baby-food pusher, and the wooden display rack. Hopefully in another week I'll be mailing out the last of it.
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Old 10-11-2009, 01:14 PM   #52
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Sunday morning (Hawaii time), only six hours left on this week's auctions.

It's interesting to watch things develop over the week. 300354158240 is a three-year-old graphics card, a VisionTek 9550 (ATI Radeon 9550) of 128 MB video RAM. A couple weeks ago at a $25 minimum bid it didn't get a single watcher, let alone a bid. (This card has sold for $25-$30 in other auctions.) I relisted it at $15 minimum and had a watcher within 30 minutes.

Still no bids, but during the week the number of watchers has been slowly creeping up. Yesterday it was at five, and this morning it's at eight. Are these all potential bidders, or are some of you guys just hanging around to watch the conclusion? Should I call for extra crowd-control security or for more popcorn? How fast can eBay's server farm process those final proxy bids in the auction's last 30 seconds?

I'm going to put up the remaining nine items this afternoon-- seven spoons, a baby-food pusher, and the wooden display rack. Hopefully in another week I'll be mailing out the last of it.

It is really strange with watchers . I will have two items up . One will have lots of watchers and no one bids and another will have no watchers and ends with multiple bids . I only do auction anymore for real hot items . The rest I list at fixed price and wait for the sales .
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Old 10-11-2009, 09:34 PM   #53
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Sold the graphics card and both spoons.

The card didn't sell a couple weeks ago for a minimum bid of $25, but relisting at $15 brought eight watchers who bid it up to $20. I can't tell if the bidders weren't around a couple weeks ago, or if they didn't get paid until the beginning of the month, or if I really hit everyone's price point.

I don't know if a fixed price/"Buy It Now" works well for this type of low-end sterling. Most of them seem to go between $5-$10. I'm wondering how many of my buyers plan to just shine up their purchase and get a few more bucks for it. More power to 'em. I've learned a lot about sterling in the last month but I don't think it's going to turn into a hobby.

Both spoons sold ($6.50 and $12.50). The $6.50 winner sniped it with two seconds to spare. Impeccable timing.

Counting the $30 Craigslist sale of the RAM, I've grossed $103 and netted $84. The other nine pieces up this week will probably boost that by $50-$100.
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Old 10-11-2009, 09:45 PM   #54
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Counting the $30 Craigslist sale of the RAM, I've grossed $103 and netted $84. The other nine pieces up this week will probably boost that by $50-$100.
Better watch out - keep this up and you'll end up in a higher tax bracket...
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Old 10-11-2009, 10:14 PM   #55
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Setting the "entertainment" factor aside, any idea of an estimate of time (including trips to P.O.) your spent in your e-bay adventures?
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Old 10-11-2009, 11:34 PM   #56
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Better watch out - keep this up and you'll end up in a higher tax bracket...
Whoa, did I say that out loud? I've had a significant number of deductible investment expenses this year...

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Nords
Setting the "entertainment" factor aside, any idea of an estimate of time (including trips to P.O.) your spent in your e-bay adventures?
nwsteve
Well, I thought I was the only one who kept track of that!

I won't include the time spent composing E-R.org posts. And if I only had 10 minutes to put each listing together then they'd probably read a little differently-- and sell for a lot less. So having lots of free time has probably worked against me on a $/hour rate. I won't count the couple hours I spent determining that the stamps & pamphlets were not worth selling on eBay. I also won't count the 10-20 minutes a day I spend checking the listings, rubbing my hands together, and cackling with glee while spouse and I discuss the psychology of eBay auctions.

I've spent about an hour on each of the 11 sterling objects: learning about maker's marks, manufacturing techniques, special vocabulary, and the designs on the spoons. (I've also learned an amazing amount of trivia about state/city municipal monuments.) Add in another half-dozen hours for one spoon (300356515288) that was probably bought by (or given to) my great-great-grandfather as he left Bremen in 1880 for the U.S. I've put up a few posts on a sterling collector's board to learn more about that, as well as a type of sterling silverware called a "baby food pusher" (300356519005) that was used by my great-great-grandmother with my great-grandmother. I spent way too much time squinting through a lighted high-power magnifying glass.

Photos took about an hour total. Composing each listing was about 30 minutes.

The RAM and the graphics card took a grand total of 30 minutes each, from photos to listing. When the RAM went up on Craigslist I got a call in 20 minutes. The buyer picked them up a half-hour later.

Mailing has been the easy part. The spoons are under the USPS $1.05 rate, so I've just been putting them in a bubble-wrap mailing envelope and sticking them in the mailbox. For the heavier graphics card and the Jamaican coins, our post office has a self-serve kiosk so I don't stand in line. It's also 10 minutes away from our house and I usually combine it with my errands. If I'd been even lazier I would have used USPS.com, printed out my own labels, and paid a couple extra bucks for pickup. So I'd say that I've spent a total of an hour on mailing. If I had bigger/heavier objects then I'd just use USPS.com to print out labels, pack the stuff in their free priority mail boxes, and request a carrier pickup. That's a LOT easier than it used to be.

So call it 27 hours to date, with probably another 1-2 hours to go for the final pack & wrap. If I net $135 then it's $5/hour.

Keep in mind that I'm doing eBay in the most arduous manual-labor manner possible. The power sellers focus on a few specialty categories that they know very well, so listings take less research/composition time. Depending on their merchandise they might not even need to take new photos. Listings can be automated, or extended with "Buy It Now" pricing. Much of the money handling can also be automated. So the more serious sellers have invested a lot of up-front time (and $, and website code) to later be able to churn a tremendous volume of merchandise with little additional effort.

I've read a number of eBay books and researched a lot of sellers' experiences. I did a ton of buyer's research when I was looking for cheap photovoltaic panels, and now I have some seller's experience too. I've learned enough about the eBay process to know that I don't care to spend the time on it. I enjoyed the research, learned a little more about my heritage, had fun with the selling, kept stuff out of the landfill, and now I've reached my entertainment quota. Whatever doesn't sell this week I'll probably donate to Goodwill.
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:14 PM   #57
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The first few listings I did took me forever and the pictures were awful . Luckily I now have it down pat . I usually list about twenty to thirty items and it takes me about three hours . I do try to find multiples of the same item which makes the listing go faster . It is definitely not for everyone . When I was a little girl I was always setting up shops and selling things so this is my childhood dream revisited but instead of selling koolaid pops I sell party dresses and pencil skirts .
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Old 10-12-2009, 07:18 PM   #58
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Nords,
Many thanks for the detailed accounting--far more than I expected. It does confirm what I had kinda figured--that unless there is an "entertainment" quotient to it and you want to continue it as an avocation, the returns from E-baying are not the path to high returns.
When we downsized, we did use Craig's List and Freecycle to move merchandise, mostly larger household goods like a freezer and garage door opener. Personally, my minimum point for selling versus "Goodwilling" was about $75.
Do you see EBaying as part of your future time allocation? Would you do more of it if you could not surf?
Thanks again
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Old 10-12-2009, 08:15 PM   #59
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Do you see EBaying as part of your future time allocation?
Nope. Too many other things in this world to see & do.

Like just about any income stream, the profits are a function of the effort. Friends spend their days at Goodwill (and their weekends cruising garage sales all over the island) buying high-end baby/toddler clothes and reselling them on eBay. They netted $25K last year, and that's even paying Hawaii's shipping costs. Another friend, an aviation enthusiast in San Diego, spends his time tracking down collectible aviation magazines and aircraft models to sell & collect on eBay. His hobby pays for itself. One of this board's inactive members, Wab, spends some of his time scarfing discount computers off Dell clearances and other websites and then reselling them on eBay for a markup. He might not even take custody of them-- he might be able to drop-ship them from Dell directly to his buyers.

eBay & Craigslist have been a great way to "clean up" and "reuse" stuff that I just hate to throw away. (I had a hard enough time getting myself to set aside those pamphlets for the library's book sale.) But if I want to make money then I have far more skills. I'd rather start my own business than be an eBay seller. Heck, I'd even have the Mint ship dollar coins to me for credit-card rebates.

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Would you do more of it if you could not surf?
Good question. I think the answer is still "nope"-- if I couldn't surf I'd devote my "new" time to other recreational activities-- even if it meant I was spending the day in physical therapy. I don't even make the time now to read as many books and watch as many movies as I could.

I donate money to a 501(c)3 called "AccesSurf Hawaii". Every month they help paraplegics & amputees across the beach (special wheelchairs or crutches) and into the surf (on specially-equipped boards or kayaks) where these guys proceed to make me feel very humble with their skills and persistence. I've watched a guy with both legs and one arm strapped to his board paddling/steering with his remaining arm (and a very attentive lifeguard). So I don't want to consider how bad I'd really need to get before I couldn't surf.

I don't know if you're already a diehard eBayer or just considering it, but Marsha Collier was the most useful author I read. All of her books are good. I also tremendously enjoyed "eBay Hacks". The coding projects in there give you an idea of just how much of your life you can devote to the business.
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Old 10-13-2009, 10:20 AM   #60
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I just cleared out the family home of 71 years in a city 2500 miles from here. I can appreciate this thread. Used a contents/estate sale advertised widely, then craigslist and Kijiji. Sold collection of electronic magazines from the 50s to a dealer for $100. Two loads to Goodwill and Sallyann. Two truck loads to the dump.

I have some rare coins and bills that I will eventually sell on ebay. (Thanks.)

When I left that home for the last time, it was clear and spacious for the first time in my memory. Listed it for sale on the last Wednesday (9/23) I was in town. It sold the following Tuesday for 7% above list price. Early closing this Friday (10/16).

I had to call the phone company and cancel the number that had been the family's for 71 years. (Also sold three original black dial phones.)
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