I have a friend who has a pretty good business selling a variety of items on eBay and other online auctions. His system is simple, he goes to flea markets, physical auctions, thrift shops and close outs and buys stock to sell on eBay.
Sometime he does really well and sells something for $100 that only cost him $10. Of course he does not always make such spectacular profit margins as that but generally he does pretty well. In fact these days, like many thousands of other people he makes his main living from selling through eBay.
In fact there is only one problem, he is spending more time and working harder than he did in his former "regular" job. He is up early to get the best bargains at the flea market, then when he gets them home he has to research and write up the item description and take a photograph. Doing this for a couple hundred products every week doesn't leave my pal much spare time. When I met him at a party the other week he was really looking tired and depressed.
"OK I am my own boss but it is like being on a treadmill, if I stop the money stops. I think I might be better getting a regular job again".
The outcome was that I agreed to take a look at his business to see if there was anything that I could suggest that would help him.
When I started to look at his operation two things struck me at once. He was not aiming at any specific market. He was just going out and buying whatever was available so in one week he might buy some books, children's games, some DVDs and office machinery. This might be fine if you are treating eBay as a hobby but not if it is your business.
Whenever you read about any form of online selling the words "niche market" will quickly appear. There is a good reason for this, if as a small trader you want to succeed you must target specific niches. It makes sense to find an easily targeted niche because they will be far more profitable in the long term than trying to sell to the world.
The second mistake my friend was making was that all his sales were one off and rarely did a customer make more than one sale. This was not because of any bad products or service just the fact that someone buying a fishing rod almost certainly would not be interested in a foot spa or whatever else my pal was offering the following week.
These days more and more people are realising that eBay should not be your single method of selling but part of a fully integrated marketing plan. EBay offers you one of the cheapest and easiest ways to build up a highly targeted opt in mailing list and as everyone will tell you the money is in the list. But very few people take advantage of this.
For example your niche market might be books on the subject of aviation. Each time someone buys a book from you on eBay you know that they are the type of person
who will spend money on their interest. So if you offer them similar items they are likely to purchase those as well. If you can get them to sign up for an opt in list you will have a potential customer who might buy many items form you in the future.
These days as a one-person business I believe that it is not enough just sell on eBay
but have a complimentary web site as well. You can promote your web site to your eBay customers in several ways. First of all mention it and create a link on your About Me Page. (What you don't have an About Me Page! As John Mackinroe would say, "You can't be serious"). Also when you e-mail successful bidders to tell them you have dispatched their item tell them about your web site. And of course add a link in the Signature block at the bottom of all your e-mails.
Another way to get your eBay customers to opt in to your e-mail list is to offer them a free report on a relevant subject. Providing it contains useful facts it does not need to be any longer than this article and you can deliver it by e-mail. What could be easier.
Your web site does not have to be complicated; a price list of some of your products, and perhaps some special offers and possibly links to affiliate sites that are of interest to your niche market. You can even bolster the content for your web site by including some drop ship items related to your niche.
I explained this all to my friend and told him that I was really lazy because knowing my market I was able to buy items in bulk This meant I spent far less time listing items as by using Turbo Lister they could be relisted in a matter of seconds.
My lazy way is simple have about 20 products permently listed on eBay as either Buy It Now or regular auction. Build up my opt in e-mail list, and have a web site with information and offers for my niche market. Once a month I send out an e-mail to my list with some special offer and that is it. That was considerably less work than my friend and the return was far greater.
After the recent price rises many sellers quit eBay, whether permanently or temporarily only time will tell. But as long as you rely purely on the auction site you are very much at their mercy. At least by taking the chance to build up your opt in list and developing your web site, should anything happen in the future you will have something to fall back on and not be totally reliant on eBay.
Now I am pleased to say that he has seen the light, his web site is already up and at last he has put up an About Me page. And the really good news is that he already looks at lot less stressed than he used to.
About the Author
The author specialities in all aspects of of
Online auctions especially eBay UK
is the publisher of the UK Auctionline Newsletter
and 6 part mini course which can be found at
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