HOW I MADE POWERSELLER

By Judith C. Kiser Proprietor of Judy’s Corner

Anatomy of an eBay Store.............................................................. 3
Judy's Corner.............................................................................................................. 3 Inventory -- I've sold everything I own...now what? ......................................... 3 Profits -- Am I making money yet?........................................................................ 3 Setting Goals -- Knowing where you want to be is the first requirement in getting there! ............................................................................................................... 3 Getting a Business License -- an important step.............................................. 4 Getting it all organized -- will I EVER get it under control?? ......................... 4 Shipping Central -- boxes, boxes and more boxes....and a WHOLE lot of tape! ............................................................................................................................... 4 The Bottom Line -- You just have to love it......................................................... 4 My Little Bit of Heaven -- Gloucester, VA ............................................................ 4

Offering Penny Auctions ................................................................ 6
AVOIDING EBAY FEES IS NOT THE RIGHT ANSWER!.................................... 6 Fixed Price Items at 1 Penny --- RED FLAG.................................................... 6 Store Inventory Items at 1 Penny -- RED FLAG ............................................. 6 GETTING TRAFFIC TO YOUR STORE IS THE RIGHT ANSWER.................... 6 1 Penny Auction with outrageous shipping and handling -- RED FLAG 6 1 Penny Auctions with reasonable shipping and handling fees -GREEN LIGHT!!! ..................................................................................................... 6 WHAT TO LIST AS A 1 PENNY AUCTION ITEM ................................................. 6 HOW TO WIN A 1 PENNY AUCTION...................................................................... 7 THE 1 PENNY AUCTION IS FUN............................................................................. 7

Never Stop Learning....................................................................... 8
Mistake Number 1: FAILURE TO RESEARCH ................................................... 8 Results:..................................................................................................................... 8 Lessons Learned.................................................................................................... 8 Mistake Number 2: SHIPPING AND HANDLING OVERCHARGING/UNDERCHARGING .................................................................. 8 Results:..................................................................................................................... 8 Lessons Learned.................................................................................................... 8 Mistake Number 3: COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION...................................................................................................... 9 Results:..................................................................................................................... 9 Lessons Learned: .................................................................................................. 9 Mistake Number 4: EBAY STORE VS. EBAY AUCTION................................... 9 Results:..................................................................................................................... 9 Lessons Learned: .................................................................................................. 9 Mistake Number 5 (and the final one I'm willing to admit to!) TRYING TO CUT COSTS ............................................................................................................... 10 Results:................................................................................................................... 10 Lessons learned:.................................................................................................. 10 SUMMARY:................................................................................................................. 10

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Anatomy of an eBay Store
I started selling on eBay a few years ago, after spending a fair amount of time buying on eBay. I thought it might be a fun way to clear out some of the unused items around the house. Once I began, I was driven...driven to make my store a place where I could have fun, meet great people, and earn some extra money.

Judy's Corner
First, I had to select a name for my store.

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I knew I wanted to have a store, because selling items at auction required customers to get onto eBay within a very short window of time, view my item and decide they couldn't live without it. Most of the items I was selling were not of the rare and terribly valuable variety, so the store seemed a nice place to park items that might take a while to sell. I am an EXTREMELY creative person and so, after mulling it over for a long 3 and 1/2 minutes, I decided to go with the OH-SOCREATIVE name, "Judy's Corner". (Who could have guessed I could come up with that one! Of course my name is Judy, but I digress).

Inventory -- I've sold everything I own...now what?
I decided to sell anything and everything.

• •

Friends who had items they no longer wanted, items I purchased from clearance racks or discount stores, or even consignment shops, all fit the bill nicely. I have sold lots of clothing, Beanie Babies, cast iron cookware, stamps, china, electronics, and even my husband's dirt bike! I focus mainly on clothing now, but will always help a friend sell his or her item by either buying it outright from them and then offering it for sale on eBay or by selling it on consignment.

Profits -- Am I making money yet?
My first year of selling -- not terribly creative marketing or anything -- I made enough money to put a small but very much needed deck/walkway between the two back doors of my house. Now I don't have to walk through the mud and wet grass to get from the garage to the back porch. I was thrilled -- I had made some money, but I hadn't actually made a profit. The items I sold the first year were things I had around the house and, for the most part, I sold them for much less than they were worth. Still, I was happy to have the deck and I proudly announced that this was my eBay deck!

Setting Goals -- Knowing where you want to be is the first requirement in getting there!
I started really considering the possibilities that eBay selling might provide me.

• • •

I could have my own store, build it to eventually allow me to use it as my retirement income (I still have a few years) and meet nice people along the way. I could be at home with my family, enjoying their company, and still earning money -- of course, I haven't yet given up the day job! I figured out what I wanted to earn and determined how much I would need to sell to make that money. I created a project plan and set about working it.

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Getting a Business License -- an important step
I knew I could simply report my eBay income when I filed my taxes and all would be fine, but I wanted the advantages of having the business license.

• •

I can purchase from wholesale distributors since I have a business license. If I can get items at wholesale prices, I can still beat retail prices and offer my customers brand new, current items at great prices.

Getting it all organized -- will I EVER get it under control??
I revamped my house to accommodate my inventory.

• • •

The plan was to buy, list, sell and restock. BUT, as life continues to remind me -- I had a LOT to learn! So, I set up the spare room with shelving and organized my inventory. At least I could locate the items when they sold, right? Well, most of the time...whew, sometimes I spend more time stacking and restacking than I do listing! I realized before too long that I would do better to package each of my items and label them as soon as I listed them. This allows me to ensure that they don't collect dust while awaiting their final destination. It also lets me easily identify the items, some of which look VERY similar. I have, on occasion shipped the wrong item and then did I feel stupid! My labels include the item description, as listed in the eBay listing.

Shipping Central -- boxes, boxes and more boxes....and a WHOLE lot of tape!
I converted a walk-in closet in my office to Judy's Corner Shipping Central.

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The postal scale -- purchased on eBay sits atop a long bureau in the closet. The drawers are filled with shipping supplies and the shelves are loaded with boxes. Boxes are free from the United States Postal Service for Priority and Express shipping. Other boxes are saved and reused...buying boxes can get really expensive. Tape and poly mailers I purchase from other eBay sellers because I can get them at a great price and support my fellow eBay sellers. I print my own shipping labels to save money and time at the post office.

The Bottom Line -- You just have to love it
As with any venture, this is work. It takes time, money and lots of effort. But, if you love what you do, it shows and you really get a great return on your efforts. I try to ensure that my offered items are something that I would be interested in purchasing, for the price being asked. I try to ensure that communication with my customers is the very best I can provide, and, of course, timely delivery, at reasonable shipping cost is extremely important.

My Little Bit of Heaven -- Gloucester, VA
Not everyone would call it heaven...but living where I am, in Gloucester, VA, in a nice house in the woods, on a small pond allows me the peace and quite I crave when not traveling on business. Judy's Corner allows me to enjoy this tranquility and still eran extra income. I LOVE IT!!!

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Offering Penny Auctions
Enter a search on eBay and restrict that search to items under $1.00 and your search will return TONS of items. Restrict that search to items under 2 cents and you will still be rewarded with loads of items. Are these items you should bid on? Is there a catch? Why would anyone list their item for 1 penny?

AVOIDING EBAY FEES IS NOT THE RIGHT ANSWER!
As a potential customer, I can easily spot the sellers attempting to avoid eBay fees by selling their items for 1 Penny.

Fixed Price Items at 1 Penny --- RED FLAG
If theirs is a fixed price item for 1 Penny with a shipping and handling cost obviously out of line with the weight of the item, I can be certain they are trying to circumvent the system.

Store Inventory Items at 1 Penny -- RED FLAG
As with the fixed price listing, sellers with 1 Penny items listed in their store inventory often have outrageous shipping and handling fees to obtain the desired profits.

GETTING TRAFFIC TO YOUR STORE IS THE RIGHT ANSWER
The seller who lists his item for 1 Penny in the auction format, is generally trying to drive business to his store, where he has many reasonably priced items for sale, which don't enjoy the traffic of auction items. The seller tries many methods to drive traffic to his store and the 1 Penny Auction is just one of these methods.

1 Penny Auction with outrageous shipping and handling -- RED FLAG
Even if the seller wants to use this format to drive business to his store, if he is charging an outrageous amount for shipping and handling, he is still circumventing the eBay fees.

1 Penny Auctions with reasonable shipping and handling fees -GREEN LIGHT!!!
Here is the seller who is playing by the rules and trying to get the traffic to his store front. He knows he might well take a loss on the 1 Penny Auction item, but he expects to make additional sales of his store inventory items either to the winner of the 1 Penny Auction item, or to those who just stop by to look.

WHAT TO LIST AS A 1 PENNY AUCTION ITEM
I choose to list items that have not received a lot of traffic in my store, and which I think well represent the other items in my store.

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It doesn't make a lot of sense to me to offer a yoyo as a 1 Penny Auction item, if the rest of my store inventory items are clothing items. It DOES make sense to offer a lovely, short sleeved blouse as a 1 Penny Auction item, if I have a nice offering of skirts, pants, and suits with which it might coordinate in my store inventory

I don't typically offer heavy items as 1 Penny Auction items. Even though the shipping and handling for the item might be reasonable for its weight, the perception is still that I am charging an arm and a leg for shipping a 1 Penny item. I only offer items for sale in my 1 Penny Auctions thay I would be comfortable buying for at least $5.00, myself. I don't want to sell junk, even for a penny!

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HOW TO WIN A 1 PENNY AUCTION
As a buyer, I want to win the auction, and, because it is an auction, I obviously want to win with the lowest price possible. This is no offense to the seller -- that's the fun of the auction house -- the name of the game! So, I use the following techniques to discover the items I think I have the best chance of winning at 1 Penny, or just a little more.

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Look for items with odd ending times (after midnight PST is pretty good) Look to see how much traffic the item is getting -- if the numbers are low, the chances are better I will win the auction Look for items with no bids Look for items with misspelled words in the title Having found the items that meet my criteria, either put a watch on them or Enter a bid with the highest amount I am will to pay for the item, and then just walk away

THE 1 PENNY AUCTION IS FUN
But don't fall into traps of paying too much for shipping just to win a 1 Penny Auction. Make sure your seller still offers combined shipping discounts, and that their discount is not based on the selling price of the item. Then, sit back and have FUN!!! JOIN ME IN THE 1 PENNY AUCTION FUN (I always include the words "1 Penny Auction", in my listings that I start at a penny. Customers of Judy's Corner have come to realize this and perform quick searches for those keywords. Of course other sellers benefit from this too!)

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Never Stop Learning
I started selling on eBay as many others do, by simply offering for sale items that were sitting around the house, not being used, but requiring the weekly dusting! Perhaps someone else would find a use for my son's old (but really not old enough to be collectible) Boy Scout Merit Badge books. I listed them (all 20 of them in one lot) with a starting bid of .99, sure that they would sell for that or only a little more, and that the buyer would pay more in shipping charges than he paid for the books themselves. I was surprized when they sold for over $30.00, more than the original price of the books! That really got me excited and I started listing everything that wasn't nailed down! Here is where the real learning curve began. I made the mistakes that I see many others make and I had to learn the hard way. Perhaps I can save you the trouble!

Mistake Number 1: FAILURE TO RESEARCH
I did not research my offered item to see what others of the same type were selling for.

Results:
A. My starting price was too high. It allowed other, more savvy sellers, to offer the identical item for just under my price and they got the sales! My item got a lot of "looks" but, in the end, I paid to list something that didn't sell. B. My Buy-It-Now price was way too low - I sold the item immediately and watched the buyer relist and sell that very item for three times what he paid me!

Lessons Learned
1. Research your product offering. 2. Determine if it is unique or one of many. 3. Test the water with a sample of a single item, if your item appears unique and there is insufficient data to help you make your pricing decisions. 4. If you are offering an item that is selling for much less than you are willing to accept, at least spell out what makes your item worth the extra money you are asking.

Mistake Number 2: SHIPPING AND HANDLING OVERCHARGING/UNDERCHARGING
When I began, I used flat rate shipping charges for everything. I guessed at the weight, and the cost of shipping the item and used that as that flat rate for all customers.

Results:
A. If my auction price was good, I was almost always selling my item to a customer who lived on the opposite coast and the shipping costs exceeded those I had charged in my flat rate. B. For customers nearby, the shipping charges appeared to be too high, and that turned the customers away.

Lessons Learned
1. Flat Rate: Use if the item is under 13 oz. -- price the shipping at First Class rates.. 2. Shipping Calculator: This allows the customer to pay reasonable shipping rates, based on his proximately to you. Offering at least three shipping methods is also nice as it allows the customer to decide what he is willing to pay, based on the services provided. DO NOT OFFER MEDIA MAIL RATE FOR ITEMS THAT DO NOT MEET THE POST OFFICE REQUIREMENTS FOR MEDIA MAIL. While it is tempting, to get the lowest shipping rates, these rates are restricted and I cannot tell you how irritated I am when I get a lot of Beanie Babies, shipped to me via Media Mail! 3. AVOID:

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a. Listing items without shipping charges specified as this requires more work for both you and the customer, resulting in fewer sales, complaints of slow communications, bad feedback when the customer purchases the item before getting the shipping price and is unhappy with the charges, etc. b. Excessive handling charges: do not include the costs of listing your item or the Paypal, and Final value Fees in the price you charge for the Handling part of Shipping and Handling. Handling charges should reflect the cost of the packaging, printing labels, ink, etc, related to the shipping of the item. Price your item sufficiently to cover your other fees, so the buyer won't percieve you to be selling items at rock bottom prices to avoid paying eBay fees and then charging him for those fees in you S/H. On combined orders, I charge a one-time handling fee, no matter how many items are purchased, of $1.50, which is typically sufficient to cover all of the shipping related costs, except postage.

Mistake Number 3: COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION
In the beginning, I sent the invoice at auction end. When I received the payment, I packaged the item and popped it in the mail. I then left positive feedback for the customer.

Results:
1. Customer didn't necessarily receive an automated response letting him know I had received his payment. 2. Before I began printing my shipping labels on my computer, the customer did not receive automatic notification of shipping and tracking information. 3. I received emails inquiring as to the receipt of the payment and shipping status.

Lessons Learned:
1. At notification of sale, send an invoice with personalized thanks for their purchase. Offer combined shipping for multiple items, in case they choose to browse your other items before paying. 2. Upon receipt of payment, send personalized acknowledgement of receipt of payment. Let the customer know when to expect item will be shipped and intended method of shipment. 3. Upon shipment, notify customer of tracking number and/or insured number, if item was insured. 4. Leave feedback promptly! I resent sellers who advertise that they leave positive feedback upon receipt of my positive feedback. I do not believe in holding the buyer hostage in the feedback forum. My feedback is left as the final step of my shipping process. If the customer paid for the item in a timely manner, he gets a positive. If he ends up leaving me a negative about something outside my control, I can always respond to his neutral or negative feedback. If he leaves negative feedback about something that was within my control, I acknowledge that in my response. Mistakes do happen.

Mistake Number 4: EBAY STORE VS. EBAY AUCTION
Listing takes time, so, in the beginning, before I had my eBay store, most of my auctions began in the evening (east coast) after all my other chores had been completed for the day.

Results:
1. While it is true that eBay is a 24 X 7 operation, it is not true that sales fall evenly throughout that time period. Buyers in different geographic areas purchase during predictable time slots. Presuming it takes an hour or two for items to make it into the eBay search, my first hits would usually be during those same evening hours, but on the west coast. Consequently, I was shipping a lot of items out west, and, with my aforementioned flat shipping rate, was costing myself a small fortune! 2. Auctions ending in the wee hours of the morning would almost never get sold.

Lessons Learned:
1. Open an eBay store. This allows you to list items in your store, building up your inventory. Once you have a substantial inventory (each listing costing 2-3 cents in the store), you can use your market research to determine the best time to bring items out of the store to the online auction. 2. eBay stores don't enjoy a lot of traffic unless you bring that traffic to the store. I do this through a combination of subtitles on my auction items advertising more selections in my store, the same advertising within the body of my listing, and running adds using eBay Key Words.

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3. Items that are hard to find, but for which there is not a regular, strong demand, can sit in the store inventory for several months before selling, but they have not cost you an arm and a leg in listing fees.

Mistake Number 5 (and the final one I'm willing to admit to!) TRYING TO CUT COSTS
I am a bargain hunter by nature. That's what initially drew me to eBay. So, when I did bite the bullet and decide to open an eBay store, I went with the Basic Store. Advertising costs for key words seemed excessive, so I didn't "go there". My few auctions I ran each week had the lowest cost features I could use.

Results:
1. For two years I enjoyed the Basic Store, but I did not enjoy a ton of sales. 2. Traffic reports indicated that people just were not getting to my store.

Lessons learned:
1. The old saying that it takes money to make money is true. I finally tested the water with buying keywords. Still expensive, but I was making sales through more traffic to the store. 2. I starting adding subtitles to my auctions so that the customer did not have to actually open the auction item to see that I had a variety available in my store. Again, expensive, but I sell many more items based on this form of advertising. 3. I upgraded to an eBay Featured store, which, I determined after doing the math, was essentially a break even proposition with the Basic Store, because the Featured Store status provided a budget for keywords which offset the additional montly cost of the store. In under two months with the featured store, my sales had jumped to the point that I met the criteria for Power Seller...which brings with it even more available advertising budget for key words. 4. The bottom line is, it does cost money to make money, but the net increase in income is definitely worth the cost!

SUMMARY:
Of two things I am certain. I have not stopped making mistakes. I have not stopped learning! I accept that this will always be a journey of trying different things to see what works and what is not as successful. I hope the basic advise I have given is helpful to others who want to be able to have a business from anywhere. eBay provides the mechanism, we just have to learn how to use it efficiently!!!

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