Using Turbo Lister
Turbo Lister (http://download.ebay.com/turbo_lister2/setupUS.exe) is a program created by eBay which manages and uploads your listings all at once. This is an amazing resource for sellers, because it gives you the opportunity to spend time whenever you want writing ads, and then save them for uploading later. Best of all, this tool is free.
So when you’ve got those things that you sell every week, you can write ads for them once, and keep uploading them forever and ever at the click of a button. If you want to spend time during the week writing ads for your product, you can do it easily, and save any work for later if you don’t finish. This program also calculates all of your fees for you before you list, which is helpful for organizational purposes. I cannot recommend this enough for anyone who wants to sell things through eBay.
Don’t worry about using the other sales tools at all. All they do is generate some simple reporting tools about some of your auctions. It’s not worth your time or money.
When to Sell
While you’d think that anytime would be the right time to list your item, this simply isn’t the case. Most buyers are snipers, that is, they make one large last second bid to ensure that they won’t be outbid by another user. That means that in order to get the most bids, you need to end your auction at the time when there are the most potential bidders. This means that on Sunday night, around 7pm Eastern Standard time, your weeks auctions should be ready to go and uploaded.
In the same vein, you want to make sure that your product is getting the most face time with the most people. For almost all potential buyers your auctions are on listed first on only two occasions: when it first goes up (user is browsing by “Newly Listed”), and when your auction is about to end (user is browsing by “Ending Soonest”). If someone is browsing the “Newly Listed”s on a Sunday night, they’ll find your product early in the week and begin watching or bidding. If they’re looking to buy that night, they can shift to “ending soonest” and see your products on the top of the pile. For this reason I always recommend a 7-day auction cycle, no matter the product. You lose out on those early bids by doing a 3 or 5 day auction, and a 10 day auction means that you’re losing out on the largest number of searches when you’re newly listed.
It is also advantageous to list your items during the period of highest activity. This means that you’ll be listing almost all of your auctions in late October through April. When I say “almost all” I mean that you really want to hit these months hard (December and January especially), and sell everything you’ve got that isn’t a seasonal item (Summer clothes, picnic baskets, and baseball bats would obviously wait). You can use the products you’ve created yourself and assorted seasonal items to fund your business during the summer months.
Don’t list in bulk. If you have 15 of an item, list one a week for 15 weeks, or until you run out. The idea here is to increase scarcity, and make your item look once-in-a-lifetime. If a buyer searches for your item and sees that you have fifteen ads for the same thing, they’ll figure that they can come back at any time and get one. If they see only one, they will likely bid on it to attempt to win. You can also take advantage of multiple bids on an item, by making second-chance offers to the bidders who didn’t win. What this means is that they are offered the opportunity to buy the item from you at their maximum bid price. Ebay collects 20% of the final selling price on these items, which is a lot, but you essentially make two or three sales instead of one.
One final tip for this section: list everything at once. You want to put up as many items each week as you can in order to draw attention to your other products. If you look at the bottom of each advertisement, you’ll see, automatically put in at the bottom of the page is a short list of other items you’re selling that are most similar to the item the buyer is looking at. This is done to attract buyers of multiple items, and can be a great way to increase the number of bids you’re getting. Even if you don’t think that everything will sell, you should always create a basic uploading package inside Turbolister which you put up whenever you have something to sell. The idea is to generate traffic to your different items, and listing everything at once is the best way to get that done.
In the end, you need to be able to write strong ads if you plan on getting anywhere with eBay. I always start with a template that I created for myself which has a little splash of color and a large clear font. Just like having a Me page, this shows that you’ve put extra effort into your business and makes you more trustworthy than just anyone. Most of the eBay templates that you have to pay for are pretty miserable, and costly at that.
Next, you need to write the title of your item. Include as many search terms as you possibly can, but make at least a portion of the title read like a sentence. When you write a title, try to think of all the possible words that you would look for when searching for a similar item. Brand name, color, synonyms, and the word “new” or “nib”(New in box) are excellent ways to tell your prospective buyers what’s inside before they click on your item. Be careful however, as eBay policy prevents you from listing brand names in your title if your item is not of that brand (in other words, don’t list your purse as “Like a Prada.” You can only include the brand name “Prada” in your auction if the item is a Prada). When creating your titles, type in all caps LIKE THIS because it makes your title stand out. Do not alternate caps LiKe ThIs! because that hurts the eyes, and makes you look like a fifteen year old kid.
There is almost always one single category that your item can fit in. Listing in two categories immediately doubles any fees you’re going to incur while listing the item, and is not recommended. When in doubt, check on eBay and see what category similar items are listed in, and choose accordingly.
Your description of the item needs to be perfectly clear. When selling items, you don’t want to go overboard with the descriptors, and you especially don’t want to exaggerate the quality of your items. This leads only to trouble. First of all, you have the tendency to sound like a bad infomercial which will turn off the majority of buyers, and second, if your product fails to deliver, you’re going to get requests for refunds, and probably the poor feedback that goes along with it. It is best to be honest with your buyers.
When you’re writing your descriptions about a generic item, include measurements, history of the item, and describe fully any damage to the item. If the damage is very minor, I will include a warning, but also a close up picture to show exactly how small and irrelevant the damage is. If you are selling electronics, always test them to make sure they work properly because you get more bidders if you can verify that an item works properly. Of course, you could just wing it, but make sure that if you don’t test an item to list it with that warning. I’ll remind you again that you need to protect your feedback rating at all costs.
If your item is something that buyers will be at least a little familiar with (like a book, movie, or CD) you don’t need to be overly specific. If you take the option to use pre-filled information, you only need to write a little about the condition or damage, and you’re done. You can assume with products like this that the buyer already has a good idea of what he is buying.
The decision to sell things separately or in lots of multiple items can be a difficult one. In general, if you have a collection of related items, you want to list them together (i.e. List ten Disney movies together, list 5 video games and their system together). However, this does not apply for things like clothing. I see people listing five pairs of pants, from multiple brands, and multiple sizes, in lots together all the time. They will get far less money for their auction, because although the items are related, they are differently sized, and differently branded. Someone who wants American Eagle shorts, doesn’t necessarily want Levi’s jeans as well.
Offering a return policy on your items is one of the easiest ways to protect the all-important feedback. 99% of the time, nobody will bother with returning your item, but if they email you to complain, you should always offer a refund. Surprisingly, some of my best feedbacks have come from unsatisfied customers who requested a refund. On products you create yourself, either offer to send a replacement out for free, or offer 100% money back and let them keep the product. In the end, it costs you very little. Should you get more than one complaint on an item, stop selling it and rethink or recreate the product before listing again.
Take well-lit pictures of your items and include one in your listing. If you have a lot of items, try to fit all of them into a single picture to use as the gallery image.
If you want to add some more pictures to your auction, perhaps giving greater detail or showing individual pieces, don’t upload them directly through eBay and pay a fee. You can do this for free using phosted (www.phosted.com). This site has a size requirement and will delete your pictures after 35 days, but since you should only need the pictures for two weeks, it’s not a problem. Besides, you can always re-upload your pictures after the time period has expired. If your images are too large, you need to use a photo editor to shrink the size of the pictures. Most digital cameras come with software that will do this for you. If you don’t have any, check out the Image Resizer Power Toy for windows (http://download.microsoft.com/download/whistler/Install/2/WXP/EN-US/ImageResizerPowertoySetup.exe).
With this, you simply right click on a picture and choose Resize Image, then hit small (640×480) and OK. You’ll get a second file which has (small) appended on the name, and this will always fit on phosted.
Every single thing that you do to your ads to make them stand out is going to cost you. Some of these upgrades are worthless, and others are absolutely necessary. Lets discuss which are which.
I highly suggest putting a gallery picture and a gallery picture only on almost all of your items. It costs thirty-five cents at the time I’m writing this, and seems to be the most powerful upgrade you can get. The gallery picture is so powerful, in fact, that items will rarely sell without them.
If you have a very expensive item, you might considering doing Feature Plus, which ensures that your item gets put ahead of all others when people search by category. Sometimes though, this is not a good idea. If you’re selling software, for instance, you’re not really buying an upgraded listing. It lumps you in with over 7 pages of other people who have also purchased the Feature Plus listing, and at almost $20 now, this is in no way worth the price you’re paying.
As I said above, listing in two categories is something that I do not recommend, however, it can be useful if you can’t decide between similar categories, or don’t know what your item exactly is. It doubles the listing fees that you’re paying, so be careful.
Underlining, Bold, Gallery Featured and Highlighting are also tremendous wastes of time. Avoid these like the plague. It reeks of amateurish style, and is expensive to boot.
Pricing is difficult for even the most expert eBay seller. Mispricing leads to more buyer deals than anything else. While there is no tried and true method for pricing, here are some things to think about.
The higher your start price, the more you pay in fees. Check out eBay’s fee schedule to determine where the break levels are and make sure to price your items accordingly. For instance, starting an item’s price out at $25 costs you $2.40, while starting it at $24.99 costs you only $1.20.
The higher your start price, the less potential bidders you’re creating. Fewer people will watch your item because fewer people are willing to pay higher prices. While the argument can be made that they wouldn’t pay as much as you would have liked anyways, the fact is that the more bids you have on an item, the more popular your item becomes, and most bidders will think that it is of higher quality because there are so many bids. These conservative bidders also don’t like to lose, and may find themselves bidding more than they initially planned to.
The lower your start price, the less your item will probably sell for. Unless you’ve got a brand new, name brand item, or something very desirable, you probably won’t get a whole lot of profit out of starting an auction for a penny.
I typically tell people to start their items out at the lowest amount they are willing to sell an item for, and to include the price of your time, and fees into that price. Of course, doing this can mean that you need multiple bids to make any money whatsoever. Coincidentally, most of my items were high demand items that I knew would get multiple bids. However, the vast majority of items on eBay end with a single bid, so consider your plans before listing. One of the best way to do research is to put some similar items on your watch list, and see what kinds of prices they ended at. Start your items at half that price, and then hope for lots of bids.
Another option is to go on the fee avoidance path with pricing. That is, charge a penny for the start price, then charge $28.00 for shipping, knowing that you’ll only spend $5 on actual shipping. You’ll pay the start price fee to eBay for the one penny amount, but make your money back on the shipping cost. This is a good way to avoid fees, and while I am all for a handling charge, recognize that many people will bid on your item and not realize that you don’t actually intend to use all the money for shipping (stupid, I know, but it’s true). For the reason of protecting your feedback, I suggest that you always charge only $1-5 more in shipping than it will actually cost to ship.
One other tip I was given was by a person who advocated bidding early on items (typically not a good strategy for winning, but whatever). Her reasoning was that by bidding early, you’re locking the price in place, as sellers can change the start price at any time right up until the first bid comes through. She noticed that if an item had no bids, but a lot of watchers, that sellers would, rightly so, raise the start price to eliminate the real bargain hunters and keep only those willing to pay a good price for the item. This works very well. If you have more than seven watchers and no bidders after a few days, raise the price so that your $50 item doesn’t get sniped for $10.
You can offer a Buy-it-now price if you’d like, but again, this will tack on an extra fee. This is a popular option closer to the holiday season, so include it then for sure, but make sure that if you do, you can get the item to the person quickly. Buy-it-now prices are normally not recommended, because if people wanted to buy an item at a flat rate, they wouldn’t have searched for it on eBay, where they know they can get a better deal using the auction methods.