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How to Sell Artwork on Ebay

Selling artwork on Ebay can be a fun experience, but there are certain things you need to know before attempting this. First, you’ll need either an already established artist, or a group of artists so that you can sell plenty of artwork in your storefront and properly market it. The artists that you deal with will also have to be prolific in order for you to turn a profit, so you’ll have to have plenty of items to sell. If you’re dealing with unknowns on Ebay, it’s going to be hard to make the final price go all that high. However, you can set a buy it now price and provide large, detailed photographs of each item, group them all together, provide information on the artists, and have an online gallery of your own. This might even be best coupled with its own website off of Ebay to attract even more attention to the Ebay storefront and auctions.

Five Things to Consider When Selling Artwork on Ebay

1. How will people find you? You could be the next Van Gogh, but if you’re an unknown, you’re likely to stay that way unless you continually sell, sell, and sell some more. Over time, you could develop a following on Ebay, but the road is going to be long and winding one.

2. Is there a market for the type of artwork you are selling on Ebay? Maybe landscape paintings sell like crazy on Ebay, but abstract sculptures don’t. The marketplace for artwork on Ebay is a curious beast, so get out there and do some searching before you put up your valuable artwork for pennies on the dollar.

3. Cheaper priced artwork doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be making more sales.Higher priced products sell on Ebay, too. While the paying customer may ultimately determine the price of your artwork, you should have some standards and minimums you’d like to set. If you already have a price point in mind, stick to it, and figure out instead how you’d like to get more interested customers to see your artwork.

4. Not all traffic is the same. If you have 1,000 hits from StumbleUpon, or maybe a website that linked to you that sells monkey diapers, you’re not very likely to make a sale. These are casual window shoppers. Where are the real buyers? You’ve got to go find them, and direct them to your auctions. They could be lurking in forums, or they could be searching around the internet for the perfect painting. Create a page or blog to promote your artwork, then expand on that.

5. To sell a lot of artwork online, you have to be able to write well, too. Search engines care more about the words than they do pictures (if search engines had feelings, that is). In other words, they give higher preference to those websites that have plenty to say. If you have a gallery of photos and little words, you could be missing out on potential search traffic. Besides, if you can offer more information on each piece of artwork you have for sale, the better your chances of landing a sale.

In each auction, you should include a bio about the artist, if available, as well as as much information that helps describe the product as possible. With artwork especially, customers are going to expect a professional looking auction, so be sure to find an auction template that is clean and attractive.

Customers will also want to make sure that the product arrives intact and in perfect condition. While you personally can’t hand deliver the product, you could share with them how you take the utmost care in packaging the product to avoid potential damages. These tips for shipping Ebay items will help you out. It might be a good idea to have insurance included in the shipping costs to cover yourself.

Last, but not least, you’ll want your reputation to be 100%. That means you’ll need to bend over backwards to make every transaction a complete success, even when you feel like the buyer is wrong. This means you might have to accept returns, and that you should write up a return policy so there’s no confusion down the road. Put that return policy in each of your Ebay auctions, where buyers can clearly read it.

If the item you are listing doesn’t sell, don’t give up hope. There’s the fixed price format that can lead to occasional buy it now sales. As you build up your artwork inventory, you might even consider opening your own Ebay store to promote your personal brand. Having a permanent place for buyers to find you — your store URL — is always an advantage in terms of promotion as well.

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How to Promote Your Ebay Store by Blogging

eBay buyers first and foremost are usually looking for a deal. To increase repeat traffic to your listings, eBay buyers are looking for the total package, a great experience from start to finish..so if they’re satisfied with their first transaction, there’s a possibility they might come back. One way to keep in touch with past and potential customers is through blogging. You’ll be able to promote your store through your own personal blog. Better yet, ask someone else to blog your site or store.

Blogging is definitely one of the better ways to increase traffic to your own website or eBay store, and being on eBay you already have some sort of traffic flowing to your blog. But how can you increase it? The more targeted traffic to your blog, the more possible sales from potential buyers who might slip into your store and make a purchase.

Use keywords.

Not only is there a search bar in the eBay blog, but the search engines can find you as well with good keyword usage. Sprinkle in some items that you sell, maybe your store URL, and other relevant keywords.

Link all over your store and listings.

Leave links to your eBay blog in your listings and you’ll see more traffic headed to your blog. Most will return to your listing, and some will want to return to read more information, perhaps taking a visit to your store? Link throughout your store on any pages you can, even on your listing frame if you’d like.

Offer something unique and different.

There are thousands and thousands of blogs to read, but what makes yours stand out? Would a reader return for more? Is it compelling, well-written, error-free and informative?

Don’t spam.

It’s best to leave great content, and keep your spamming limited, if any. Readers want content, they’ll visit your site based on how they like your blog. Generally, spam and advertisements have negative impacts on the number of readers.

Refrain from a text only post.

Pictures, bullets, numbering or other means of breaking up a page will let readers more quickly scan your blog, absorbing more of your content and providing more interest. Think about it, when you see a large block of text, you may immediately think “boring!” Add some variations and try new things, use your own pictures or creative ways of presenting your blog.

Pay attention to your traffic.

Looking at how many people have viewed your blog is very important. This way, you can see if you’re blogging is paying off, being read, our related to your increase in sales. Maybe it might be time to change up your content, or maybe you have a winning formula! You can also view your my world page to see how many people have viewed that as well.

Blog daily.

Blogging often is one of, if not THE, most imporant part of effective blogging. If you make a great post that has garnered some traffic, you want to follow it up soon with another high quality post. Your readers will appreciate it, and they’ll come to expect it.

Add even more links!

Link in your email signature, forum signature, other blogs, about me page, and you’re certain to see some more traffic.

Be Consistent.

Not only is the regularity of your postings important, but sticking to the topic is something people want to see. For example you have an ebay store, and you post about one of your hobbies, your knowledge of your store items, and maybe some seasonal anecdotes. Sticking to this usual recipe is a good idea, if that’s what people like and it’s getting traffic. If you never get a comment on a post and you’ve posted MANY times on that subject, maybe it’s a dud and it’s time to rethink how you’re wording your posts or titles. Or, it might be time to think of a new regular topic.

Give them something to talk about.

People love controversy, information they can’t find anywhere else, or things that really make them think. They want something that is going to help them in their own lives, or give them something to pass along to someone else. How can you relate this to your products? Only you can know based on what you’re selling, but generally people are in love with secrets. Let them in on some of yours!

Ebay recently deleted their blogs from their systems, leaving thousands of posts suddenly vanished. Use your own blogs, which are free, and you’ll experience more traffic anyway.

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How to Avoid Fraud and Scammers on Ebay

Scammers have been at it on Ebay for years to try and dupe sellers into shipping out merchandise that was purchased using a hacked account. This is a huge issue for both buyers and sellers on Ebay, and the issue isn’t going away. One of the most recent cases was by these fraudsters who tried to dupe a security expert on Ebay. In the auction, the buyer hacked into someone’s PayPal account to purchase the item, then cancelling the payment in hopes the seller would not receive the email before the seller found out. The buyer keeps their money, and gets the laptop. Luckily, PayPal responded fast and sent the email quickly to the seller.

This is an all too familiar incident for sellers. How many times have you had an item yanked down because of fraudulent bidding? It’s just plain annoying. So how can you reduce the number of items that are removed by Ebay for fraudulent bidding? Don’t make your listings attractive to these types of people. Not always, but a good majority of these buyers are located internationally. Set your payment settings to require a feedback above “0,” and don’t sell to countries that are constantly trying to scam you. Check out this forum thread on the Ebay Discussion board that lists some of the riskiest countries to ship to on Ebay, along with some dialogue from experienced international shippers.

It almost seems like it comes with the territory if you sell on Ebay to expect a certain number of bids and sales to be fraud, especially if you are selling in certain categories. Electronics and expensive clothing/accessories are highly susceptible to hackers. Apparently they have a thing for handbags and laptops.

Here are some related resources you may want to give a read through:

 

Photo by lovelypetal on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

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How to Develop a Following on Ebay

Gaining customers for life that trust your business

Any successful business has built a following, and most of them have grown slowly over time. Those ones that rise quickly usually don’t have much of a following, and sink as fast as they rise. On Ebay, the same sentiment is true. If you have a big following, you can grow slowly over time and become a presence on the Ebay site (and off).

Photo right of followers courtesy of marfis75 on flickr.

There are several tools available to you that you can take advantage of to start a “following,” but first, you need to have a passion for whatever it is that you sell. Enthusiasm will win every time. If you don’t like what you sell, it will eventually catch up with you, and you’ll fizzle out.  For those of you that know your niche, keep reading.

Yes, Ebay does provide you with some great tools to promote your store, but you need to know how to use them and you have to have a goal in mind. Let’s take the blog format for example. Ebay provides sellers with blogs attached right to their profile page, and these are indexed fast by Google. Like any type of online writing, you need inject some personality into the post to make it appealing and fun to read. It also has to be optimized for search engines, which is actually not hard. Blog consistently about products that you sell, and you’ll not only start seeing some search engine traffic, but you’ll see develop some connections with other Ebay sellers. All Ebay blog posts are posted to a main page, http://blogs.ebay.com/. You’ll have your chance to have a post right on this PageRank 5 site. Post daily, post whenever you can, just keep posting, and you’ll see results. The main thing is don’t quit.

Update: The ebay blog feature is now defunct. Instead, strongly consider starting your own blog and promoting your items there.

The forums are another niche area you can offer up your expertise and network with other sellers. If you sell antiques, buyers might have questions about some antique clocks that you can answer. You might not be gaining a sale right then, but do this over and over for a period of time, and you’ll gain a reputation. You’ll also have your signature link to your store in every post, a good opportunity for traffic.

The Ebay Guides section also allows you to spout off about whatever your an expert at, and link back to your store. Do buyers have questions — the same questions — over and over again? A guide to answer their questions might be just the thing you need (plus you’ll get a backlink to your store!). You can also make as many guides as you want. These, like the blogs, are indexed well by Google and have a lot of respect in the search engines.

Next, you’re going to want to make your store just as spiffy as all of your Guides, forum posts, and blog posts. Use those free custom pages Ebay gives you. Fill out the header of your store and tell everyone what exactly you sell. Make it easy for them to navigate around your store, and make it easy for them to sign up for your store newsletter (link to it in every auction).

Speaking of auctions, that’s one of the most important parts to your success. Running auctions dependably at certain times every week can also bring you a following. A store selling discount shoes that always sells a big batch of shoes on Fridays starting at noontime will soon develop a following of customers that are hungry for these buys every week.. but only if they do it consistently, and they continue to advertise this fact.

Now that you’ve blogged, built your guides, started posting in forums, and run auctions every week, it’s time to link all of them together. Actually, do this at the first chance you get. Networking all of these pages together will create more links, more traffic, and make your presence bigger. One tip: link related things for the best results, not random stuff.

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Five Ways to Increase Backlinks to Your Ebay Store

If a store is good enough, shouldn’t bloggers and other websites automatically be linking to your website? If buyers can’t find you, then they aren’t going to link

 to you. Websites that naturally receive backlinks are usually those that are the most helpful and provide some sort of reference. Backlinks are how your Ebay store will be found in search engines, and it’s one of the best ways to grow your business. The more quality backlinks that point to your website, the better your chances are of gaining a customer base outside of the Ebay marketplace (an entirely new market for you!).

Things are different and ever changing with SEO and backlinking strategies. Yesterday, you could count on links from many different sources like article websites, directories, and blog commenting. Today, those methods aren’t working.

Today, you’ll need to focus on social media, and connections. Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms will provide you with a way to reach new customers.

First and foremost, you should make sure you have plenty of words and keywords in your Ebay store. If your store is empty, then search engines are likely to avoid it. This means you’ll want to fill out your store header and description with keyword rich sentences that accurately describe the items that you sell. If you offer free shipping on these items, that’s a good thing to include there as well (and it’s a highly searched term).

Ways to Increase Backlinks to Your Ebay Store

Mainly, it’s going to be you providing the new backlinks to your Ebay store. You’ll be trying to attract new links, as well as put new links out there on the web.

1. Facebook. Today, Facebook drives just as much traffic as Google. A popular website on Facebook is a popular website on Google. The two are intertwined. A link that goes viral on Facebook can generate thousands of visitors. It’s up to you to create the content that will be worth enough to get that much of a reaction in the first place!

2. Twitter. While links from Twitter may not be the mostly highly valued links, they do matter. Tweeting a link to an individual custom page or store category can bring in new potential buyers. It might also earn you a retweet if it’s helpful to buyers.

3. Your Blog.The notion of blogging can be a scary concept for non-writers to grasp. Don’t think of yourself as a writer or a blogger, but rather a business person that’s merely describing items to the buying public. It’s just like your Ebay auctions. Describe them to the best of your ability, but now on your blog, add a little extra. Tell people the best ways to use a specific item, give them a reference guide for buying a brand, or tell them about your newest items in a top ten list. Link back to your auctions, your individual store pages, your About ME page, and your other blog posts.

4. Web Directories. (Please note: we do not consider web directories a valid source of traffic in 2017, but we will leave this information for archive purposes. Consider the other linking methods talked about here instead, unless you can find one or two great directories that you think would be an asset to your business).

Once you’ve established a niche for your store and you’ve developed a following, you should be able to easily find related web directories for your Ebay store. While listing your store in paid directories might not be worth the aggravation or money, there are thousands of free, high PageRank web directories on the web. If you spent just five minutes a day adding your link to directories and making a different custom description for each one, that’s 365 new links from 365 different domains. In Google’s eyes, that’s authority, and it can land you a decent spot for the keyword terms you’re looking for in search engines.

5. Blog Commenting. While most blog comments are nofollow, many are dofollow. The difference between nofollow and dofollow are basically that the “nofollow” links tell search engines to ignore the link. Dofollow links DO count. Blog commenting works best when you leave insightful comments on a blog related to your niche. “Nice blog, I agree with you 100%! Check out my blog if you have a minute” is a horrible comment. It doesn’t draw the reader or the blogger into your comment. In fact, it might even hurt your reputation if you leave that same comment on many blogs. Try to stick with the relevant comments that provide value. Just be honest, be open, and be thorough. The result can be traffic, as well as extra backlinks to your Ebay store

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Approaching Businesses About Selling Their Goods on Ebay

This is the arguably the toughest part of selling on Ebay. After all, if anyone could just walk up to the Gucci store and say “hey, I’d like to sell your stuff on Ebay” and have them be cooperative, we’d all be filthy rich. That’s not the case though. Building contacts and approaching businesses isn’t as hard as it might seem. First off, you’re best sticking to the niche that you are most familiar with. This way, you’ll be familiar enough with the items that you can accurately describe them to potential buyers. If you’re a painter, approach a gallery and see if they would like to have you sell their items on consignment on Ebay. If you a group of people that sell handmade crafts, offer to sell their items in your store, with a commission that goes to you.

Intro image of storefront by Atelier Tee on flickr.

You can also approach other small businesses and let them know about your Ebay business. In this case, you’re going to want to make your store and business appearance as professional as possible. The word “Ebay” sometimes has a negative connotation to it that turns people away – so you’re going to have to do your best to make them realize selling on Ebay is a good thing.

The Top Five Things to Say to Reassure Businesses They’re in Good Hands with Your Ebay Business

The beauty of Ebay is that everything is set out on the table. Every single transaction that you have made can be seen by the buying (or selling) public. After 90 days, the item itself will not be visible, but the feedback the buyer has left for you will still be there (forever!). This is a good thing for honest, trustworthy sellers, and a bad thing for people that plan on ripping off the buying public. It’s ebay system of making sure you do the right thing, and it works well.
When you’re offering a storefront or presenting a new sales opportunity to businesses, the business is going to want to be reassured that you are trustworthy. So, go ahead, show them your feedback if they are by your computer (this is another reason why selling your own stuff is so important – it boosts up that feedback score!). Leave your business card with the URL of your Ebay user ID address (you can even purchase a forwarding domain to forward people to the page if you’d like to make it easier for them to type in).

So what should you say to a business to make them feel comfortable about you and Ebay?

Tell them how many transactions that you’ve had on Ebay. Don’t be shy about the number, just be honest with them. They’re going to find out anyway, but just be confident in the number (people can sense confidence!).

Tell them about your policies. Be clear and up front about how you handle returns, how you take pride in the accuracy of your listings, and how you take accurate, detailed photographs of the items.

Mention the benefits of having the extra exposure of their product on Ebay. Ebay.com is one of the biggest websites in existence today. Millions of people do their shopping on the biggest online auction site every day, making it the biggest marketplace on the planet. This could translate into better branding of their business, recognition of their products outside of their physical storefront, and potentially more traffic to their website if the customer decides to Google the products.

It’s one of the best proven ways to increase Ebay sales, especially in a tough economy. When sales from a suffering economy start to slide, it can be tough to maintain sales, let alone grow your business. The extra sales from Ebay can provide that much needed leverage over the soft market.

Tell them that you will have something in writing that will guarantee to the terms you agree to.

Stores are going to have a lot of reservations about using Ebay to further their sales, but if you can clearly spell out the many advantages of using you to leverage their business, you could wind up with a whole new line of inventory (and a happy client!).

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Ecommerce & Ebay Photography – Making Your Product Listings Look More Professional and Profitable

We’ve all come across items on Ebay, Amazon, Etsy, or a random site offering products that have poor quality photos, and those auctions or sales performances often have poor results. It’s a shame that sometimes just a few simple things could make an auction look that much more professional.

Learning some basic photography tips can greatly enhance the quality of your photos, and your end price. From taking a quick glance across Ebay right now, here are a few of the common mistakes that I see sellers making:

1. Using a flash. This bleaches out the item and makes it appear white, flat, and boring. Turning off the flash and using some additional lighting around the items might be all that it takes.

2. Not cropping the photo or zooming in. Cropping the photo and zooming in on the product will give buyers that initial glance at the item that is so crucial. We’re talking about the gallery photo that appears in the auction search results, and that’s what buyers will be drawn to.

3. Camera shake or blur. A steady shot isn’t too hard when you’re taking photos in a brightly lit area, so make sure things are bright enough and that your arm is steady. Otherwise, you can set up a tripod to get the perfect photo.

4. Stock photos. While stock photos are often professional looking, for higher priced items especially, they can drive buyers away. If you have an item that other Ebay sellers are also selling, chances are they might be using that same stock photo. Taking your own photo will not only set you apart, but will tell the buyer that you mean business, and that you have the item on hand. Otherwise, they might think that you’re a drop shipper (which some buyers tend to avoid). Stock photos are also prone to being removed by Ebay, since permission is required from the manufacturer to use their photos.

5. The background is distracting. If you take a picture of your item on your hardwood floor, on the dirty carpet, have a bunch of kids toys lying around, or it’s just a general mess, this is a turn off for buyers. Have a solid color in the background for best results. Even better, choose a color that compliments the item. A fabric sheet will due the trick nicely.

Ebay also has a list of rules that they’d like you to comply with, along with some suggestions for better auction photos.

Here are 5 things you should be doing with your Ebay photos that will lead to more clicks, more interest, and more money for you:

  1. Invest in a simple photo editing program like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, or use the free Gimp editing program. A simple touch up and some cropping will pay off the program in no time.
  2. Organize your files and categorize them by folder. Keep them on hand for a year. You never know when you might need them. If space on your computer is an issue, upload photos to a free hosting site.
  3. Host your own photos, except for the gallery photo, off of Ebay. Hosting your own photo will provide the buyer with a bigger, more detailed photo, and will save you money on Ebay fees. You’ll also have the photos on hand for future reference and use.
  4. Take a look at the competition’s photos before you list and photograph your items. Make yours better, different, and more appealing to buyers.
  5. Include multiple photos of the item from all angles. Top, bottom, inside, outside, the tags, the zippers, the box, the receipt (you can black out sensitive information), the condition, any flaws (this will save headaches and actually result in higher bids in most instances).

Depending on what type of items you sell, you might want to invest in a mannequin or model for your items. Generally, items look better fitted onto a body than laying flat on the floor or on a doorknob. Other items might call for a pedestal, a large table, or other surface to compliment the items.

With the right photos in your auctions, buyers are a lot more likely to buy it now instead of waiting for the auction to end. The better your photography, the more money you’ll make. The downside? Your family and friends might be bugging you to take photos of their kids, dog, or maybe even their auction items.

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What’s My Ebay Item Worth?

Tips on Pricing Your Ebay Auctions So They’ll Sell (at a Good Price!)

Have an item that you just aren’t sure how much it’s worth? Pricing your items can be tricky, but once you’ve done it a few times it will be a snap. What’s the big trick to setting the right price for your auctions? First, to evaluate your items, you have to determine if the auction format is even the best choice for the given item. Next, you’ll have to check the competition and the demand for similar items. Once you’ve checked those, you’ll have an idea of what your item is worth. If you start some auctions that don’t end as well as you would have hoped, don’t get discouraged. There are plenty more items out there for you to sell. One of the most important things is to persevere, get the experience under your belt, and learn from what just happened. Just try it on a less expensive scale first!

The following tips will help you determine the worth of your Ebay item, and will help you price it correctly from the beginning:

Find Out How Much Your Item is Worth on Ebay

  1. Research completed items on Ebay. It’s simple. Just search for the item you are selling, then check off the “completed items” bar. The past 14 days of sales will show up for you.
  2. Skip the reserve auction. These never work out, and buyers hate them. I know I do! The thrill of Ebay is getting a deal, and starting an item at 99 cents with a reserve is just a tease and letdown.
  3. Use Google to figure out the buy it now price other online retailers are selling the item for. This should give you a good idea of what people are willing to pay, if the item is out there.
  4. Toggle your keyword search and omit words or use synonyms. You may find items ending at higher prices (or lower) that are using different descriptive words. Example: the word “and.” Many brand names use the word “and” or the “&” symbol in the title. Buyers use both to search for the item.
  5. Do you have several of the same item? Include the buy it now option, or place an extra of the item available in your store at a higher buy it now price with free shipping. Link from the auction to your store and promote the fact that they can get it right now.
  6. If you’ve purchased an item that is selling for less than what you paid for it, or close to it, consider the loss leader strategy. This will pull in traffic to your auction. Consider it like an advertisement. Promote the heck out of your Ebay store from within your auction, write off the loss, and call it a day.
  7. If you have a one-of-a-kind item, put the item on auction. Bidding creates excitement, and can generate even more sales towards your BIN items.
  8. Starting items too cheap is usually a mistake. Start your items at $9.99 at least. 99 cents items for some reason tend to linger at that price for far too long. People think the item has something wrong with it, or it’s some sort of scam.
  9. Always price the majority of your items at a minimum bid price that will make you a profit. Take into consideration any shipping expenses that you might incur. Don’t just hope that the bidding goes up high, because it often times won’t.
  10. Used items often give a higher profit. New items may go for more money, but the chance for profit is lower. Why? They cost more to obtain the items, and there’s usually more competition. These used items often do very well when the starting bid is very LOW.
  11. Always include the full retail price of the item in your auction. This will make the item appear like more of a steal (and that’s what Ebay is known for, great deals!)
  12. For items like gemstones, gold, and other jewelry, you may need an appraiser. It can be difficult to grade these on your own.
  13. Vendio has an even better ebay research tool for $20 a month that will give you the average selling price, trends, and the selling history of keywords beyond 2 weeks. You can price your item more accurately and learn more about your items this way.
  14. Always check the Amazon price of an item. This is Ebay’s biggest competitor, and a good estimate of the true value.
  15. Remember when buying your inventory that Ebay is a place for deals. People expect a deal, so it’s not unreasonable to see your item selling for 20-60% of the retail price.
  16. Price your item to sell now. Waiting too long can open up the competition and lower the average selling price.
  17. Are you the exclusive seller of this item on Ebay? You’re best bet might be the auction format, along with a high fixed price format. Take advantage of this as long as you can!
  18. Experiment with the free shipping option. This can give you better visibility in the Ebay search, so it may be worth it to roll the shipping costs into the price of the item.
  19. Keep records or spreadsheets (or use some of the auction software programs out there) of your best selling items. Is the price on the downswing? It might be time to dump this item and not buy any more of the inventory, or maybe you should be buying variations of this product. Is a newer model available?
  20. Including the retail price in the subtitle of the item usually increases bids (if the item is of high worth). It will attract more bids, excitement, and overall traffic.

Once you’ve determined the worth of your item, it’s time to take photos, list it for sale, and ship it. Then, if you enjoyed it, or you’d like some extra cash, it’s time to do it again.

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A Fatal Mistake – Starting Ebay Auction Items too Cheaply

When you start your auction, starting price does matter. Ebay is the place where everyone is looking for a deal, and buyers know how to find them.  If you price your auctions too cheaply, the buyer will not only not bid, but maybe even stick around and see if they can snag that item up at that low starting bid.

So is it worth it to start an item so cheap? Sometimes, Ebay isn’t the answer to everything. There are different avenues to sell your item, so it might be better off going back into your store inventory awaiting a buyer that’s willing to pay more for it.

There are ways that you can prevent your item from ending at a cheap price, and not surprisingly, one of the best ways to do so is to conduct some prior research through completed items. Second, you’ll want to avoid that temptation of starting the auction cheap just to make a sale! If you’ve had the inventory lying around for 6 months or so, it might be time to dump the item cheap, but if it’s new… this could be a big mistake. I’ve had many, many auctions end at 99 cents that I’ve lost money on. However, these were items that I just wanted to get rid of so it was no big loss (like the picture of the track jacket in the intro, bombed out at under a buck and it was brand new!). Also keep in mind the PayPal fees and Ebay fees, these add up quick.

You can also use some of your items that aren’t selling as loss leaders to bring buyers to your store. If the item simply won’t sell, start it at the cheapest possible price and chalk it up to advertising for your store. You can always right the losses off on your tax return at the end of the year.

Photo right by adifanset on Flickr.

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The Ebay Loss Leader Sales Strategy

The loss leader method has been around Ebay for a few years at this point, and has been working remarkably well for some sellers. For others, it doesn’t work so well. The loss leader method is, in a nutshell, auctioning off a high worth or high interest product at a very low starting bid to encourage traffic, excitement, bidding, and linkovers to your Ebay store. These have their pros and cons…

Pros of the Loss Leader Method:

  • More traffic to your other auctions and your store.
  • More bids on that specific item.
  • Inventory moves fast as you gain more traffic and sales
  • Sales go up
  • Interest is piqued in your store and brand
  • More email newsletter signups
  • Low listing fees for the loss leader item

Cons of the Loss Leader Method:

  • Possible loss of income if the auction is unsuccessful
  • Additional fees for the item listed on auction
  • Smaller or negative profit from individual item

Can you think of any more cons to this method? I can.

  1. Buyers might hold out until they find this item at a low cost. If you start the bidding low, it could drive the overall value on Ebay for that item lower.
  2. People who would have normally bought the item at full price will wait for the auction to end, and possibly not buy the item at all.

On the opposite side of things, the buyer could:

  1. Not feel like waiting for the auction to end, and buy the item right now.
  2. Bookmark your store. This wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t offered the low starting bid on the item.

Ebay is getting pickier about items that are displayed prominently in the search results. Often times those items that are cheapest and have the lowest shipping (along with best seller feedback rating) will be given an advantage due to the “best match” search option.

Utilizing the Loss Leader Method Correctly

Done correctly, the loss leader method can yield some great results. As you can see above, the pros really do outweight the cons. With your loss leader auctions, you’ll want to follow some simple guidelines:

  1. Make the item something interesting, and something that’s in demand. Selling off a cheap item isn’t going to work. People want higher priced items at a bargain. Try slashing the price down to $9.99 or less.
  2. Link to your store in your loss leader auction several times. Better yet, link to an identical item in your store that they can purchase right now with free shipping. Or, link to a category of your store selling the same type of item.
  3. Create some enticing anchor text links that makes them really want to click it. Something like “Can’t wait for the auction to end? Click here to buy it now in our store with free shipping.” This works.
  4. Create some suggested items within the auction for them to click on. If you can add some thumbnails of suggested items at the bottom of your auction, this is likely to receive some hits. The Auctiva gallery store window also works well.
  5. Budget in your loss leader item as part of your advertising costs. That’s what it is, isn’t it?
  6. Don’t pull out all of the stops, but pull out a few. A small upgrade like the border feature, subtitle, and/or highlight might make your loss leader stand out.

So what do you do once the auction is over? Now, fulfill that order and make the buyer love it. The item will likely be receiving traffic even after the listing is over in the completed listing results. If they scroll back and see that the buyer left glowing feedback, there’s a good chance they’ll look at your current listings. Having links in your completed auctions to your store is an excellent idea, and might bring in some additional traffic.

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