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Making Money on eBay® For Dummies®, Australian Edition

Table of Contents

Introduction
About This Book
Foolish Assumptions
Conventions Used in This Book
How This Book Is Organised
Part I: Forget the Mall: Getting a Feel for eBay
Part II: Are You Selling What They’re Buying?
Part III: So You Wanna Get Serious?
Part IV: Tips, References and More!
Part V: The Part of Tens
Icons Used in This Book
Where to Go from Here
Part I: Forget the Mall: Getting a Feel for eBay
Chapter 1: Why eBay Is a Terrific Place to Sell
What Is eBay, and How Does It Work?
Why Is eBay a Great Place to Sell?
All About Auctions
eBay auction basics
Private (shhh-it’s-a-secret) auctions
Reserve-price auctions
Buying It Now at eBay
Gauging Interest with eBay Classifieds
Stepping into Sell Mode
Research for Insight and Profit
eBay’s Role in the Auction
Features and Fun Stuff
Getting to know your fellow sellers
Accessing the Security Centre
Extra Stuff You’re Gonna Want
Chapter 2: The Bucks Start Here: Signing Up at eBay
Registering at eBay
Registering Is Free and Fun (and Fast)
So, what’s your sign? Filling in your required information
Please allow me to introduce . . .
Do you solemnly swear to . . . ?
It must be true if you have it in writing
A Quick Word about Passwords
A Not-So-Quick Word about Choosing a User ID
Your Licence to Deal (Almost)
Chapter 3: Getting to Know Your Marketplace
Acquainting Yourself with eBay as a Seller
Sign In, Please
This Bar Never Closes
Exploring eBay: Search and Discover
Searching and browsing categories
Advanced searches
Using eBay’s ‘Welcome Mat’
Window Shopping, the Next Generation
Manoeuvring through Categories
Going Global
Bottoming Out
Chapter 4: My Own Private eBay
Getting to Your My eBay Pages
Choosing Your My eBay Site Preferences
Setting Up Your Account
eBay account status
Other payment options
Surveying Your Sales on Your My eBay Sell Pages
Active Selling
Sold
eBay’s Selling Manager and Selling Manager Pro
Keeping Track of Your Transactions
Getting and Giving Feedback and Ratings
Understanding the importance of feedback and ratings
How to get positive feedback
How to get negative feedback
Improving your DSR ratings
The Feedback page
Reading your feedback
You have the last word — responding to feedback
Leaving feedback with finesse
Part II: Are You Selling What They’re Buying?
Chapter 5: Time to Make Some Money!
Why Should You Sell Stuff on eBay?
Mi Casa, Mi Cash-a: Finding Stuff to Sell
Finding Other Sources of Goods
Looking locally
Going global
Identifying the Next Big Thing: Trend Watching
Knowing When to Sell
Homework Time
Getting the goods on your goods
Spy versus spy: Comparison selling
Know What You Can (And Can’t) Sell
Prohibited items
Infringing items
Questionable items: Know the laws
Forbidden auctions
Meeting Australian Standards
Reporting a Problem Auction
VeRO to the Rescue
eBay Fees? What eBay Fees? Oops . . .
Insertion Fees
Final Value Fees
Optional fees
Keeping current on your cash flow
The Tax Office Wants You — to Pay Your Taxes
Two wild rumours about taxes
‘I solemnly declare . . .’
Chapter 6: Time to Sell: Completing the Cyber Paperwork
Getting Ready to List Your Item
Finding the Sell Your Item Form
Are you registered?
Selecting a category
Examining the Create Your Listing page
Filling in the Required Blanks
Tweaking your category
Creating the perfect item title
A picture is worth a thousand words
Content is King: Writing your description
To auction or not to auction
I want to be alone: The private auction
Listing the payment methods you’ll accept
Setting postage locations
Checking your item location
Adding additional information
eBay Options: Ballyhoo on the Cheap
Checking Your Work and Starting the Auction
Mid-Course Corrections: Fixing Current Auctions
Making changes before bidding begins
Making changes after bidding begins
Chapter 7: eBay Storefront for Rent — Great Exposure!
Selling from Your Own Virtual Storefront
Paying the landlord
Opening your eBay Store
Creating and Designing Your Store for Success
Choosing a design, header and logo
Keeping in touch with your store customers
Markdown Manager: Time for a sale!
Cross Promotions to boost sales
Chapter 8: Closing the Deal and Shipping It Out
Bookkeeping and Staying Organised
Talking to Buyers: The ABCs of Good Communication
‘Thank you — I mean it’
Let’s keep emailing
Shipping without Going to Pieces
Avoiding shipping problems
Shopping for a shipper
Getting the Right (Packing) Stuff
Packing material: What to use
Packing material: Where to find it
Chapter 9: Troubleshooting Your Auction
Dealing with a Buyer Who Doesn’t Respond
Going into nudge mode
Be a secret agent, man
Stepping up your nudge a notch
Some Other Auction Problems
The buyer backs out of the transaction
Houston, we have a payment problem
The item you send is busted — and so are you
You have regrets — seller’s remorse
Auction Going Badly? Cut Your Losses
Try cancelling bids first
Blocking bidders
If all else fails, end your auction early
Extending your auction (not)
Filing for a Final Value Fee Credit
Deja Vu — Relisting Your Item
Chapter 10: Using Pictures to Increase Your Profits
Using Images in Your Auctions
Choosing a digital camera
Choosing a scanner
Making Your Picture a Thing of Beauty
Get it on camera
Software that adds the artist’s touch
Making Your Images Web-Friendly
The Image Is Perfect — Now What?
Sticking to the basics — the easy option
Taking advantage of eBay — the Standard option
I’ll do it myself — with eBay’s help
Getting Your Item Noticed
Putting on the hits
Playing the links for fun and profit
It’s All About Me!
Chapter 10: So You Wanna Get Serious?
Chapter 11: Tools Aren’t for Fools
Save Me! Automating Your eBay Business
The Inside Word: Popular Listing Management Systems
Turbo Lister
Selling Manager and Selling Manager Pro
ChannelAdvisor
My Online Business
Magento
Keeping Count: Managing Your Stock
Boring Bits: Working with Data
Super Shipping
Reviewing your carrier account
Automation tools to boost productivity
Handling All Those Enquiries
Using eBay’s Questions and Answers feature
Working Out Logistics
Chapter 12: Advanced Strategies for Selling
Getting a Better Handle on Your Market
Optimising Your Site for Traffic
Understanding the importance of keywords
Building more traffic
Looking more professional
Keeping Buyers in Your Store
Killer Listing Strategies
Mixing Fixed Price and auction listings
Using multiple eBay selling accounts
Adding risk for greater reward?
Aiming High: Qualifying as a PowerSeller and Top Rated Seller
Becoming a PowerSeller
Achieving Top Rated Seller ranking
Part IV: Tips, References and More!
Chapter 13: eBay’s Security Resources
Keeping eBay Safe with the Security Centre
Abuses You Should Report to the Security Centre
Selling abuses
Bidding abuses
Feedback abuses
Identity abuses
Reporting Abuses to the Security Centre
Stuff eBay Won’t Do Anything About
Working Out Your Options in a Dispute
Resolving a transaction dispute
Negative feedback can be withdrawn!
Walking the Plank: Suspensions
Toss ’em a Life Saver: Insurance and Protection
Trimming in the Sales: Authentication and Appraisal
If It’s Clearly Fraud
Chapter 14: Playing Nice with Other eBay Members
News and Chat, This and That
Hear Ye, Hear Ye! eBay’s Announcement Board
Getting Help in All the Right Places!
Using the Community discussion boards
Using the PowerSeller discussion board
Category-Specific Discussion Boards
eBay International Discussion Boards, Chat Rooms and Groups
Part V: The Part of Tens
Chapter 15: Ten Golden Rules for eBay Sellers
Know Your Stuff
Polish and Shine
Picture-Perfect Facts
List Globally, for Millions of Reasons
Marketing Makes Sense . . . and Dollars
Communication Is the Key
Be a Buyer’s Dream
Listen to the Music
Warranty and Return Policies
Keep Current, Keep Cool
Chapter 16: Ten eBay Success Stories
The Music Shop
Sexy, Lightweight — and Valuable
Dashboard Jesus and Beyond
Swimwear Success
You’re Not Taking the Kingswood!
From Small Market to Big
Consistency Is Key
Growth Platform
Groomed for Success
Mad About Football
Appendix: Easing Your Way on eBay
Australia Post, couriers and more
Readytoship
Temando
PayPal
Credit card
Bank transfers
Turbo Lister
Selling Manager (Pro)
eBay’s PowerSeller and Top Rated Seller programs

Making Money on eBay® For Dummies®, Australian Edition

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About the Authors

Nathan Huppatz started his online career straight out of university, graduating with a bachelor of information technology, and providing second- and third-level tech support for Orica (an ASX-listed company) as part of its IT team. He quickly realised internet and e-commerce were more fun than tech support, and became a starting member of Orica’s e-commerce business unit.

Nathan then moved to a small, purely online, business in Melbourne, which published automotive content and classifieds. Here, Nathan gained experience in online marketing and advertising, business development, publishing and e-commerce — as well as getting the chance to test-drive cars, write reviews, compete in rally events and other fun stuff.

In 2004, Nathan and his partners started the Directshop companies, building a strong eBay business and becoming one of the top eBay sellers in Australia. The business grew, and Nathan and his partners added websites, opened a bricks and mortar store, and developed more products (both physical and digital) to sell. He sold one of Directshop’s eBay businesses, started a new line of business (focusing on consulting and e-commerce-development) in 2009, and continues to expand his passion for the online retail world.

A founding member of the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance in Australia, Nathan is also a regular speaker at e-commerce conferences and events, and is a respected member of the online Australian community.

Nathan lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife, Tanya, and two gorgeous girls, Eloise and Sophie.

Marsha Collier spends a good deal of time on eBay. She loves buying and selling (she’s a PowerSeller) as well as meeting eBay users from around the world. As columnist, radio co-host, author of six best-selling books on eBay, and in-demand educator of all things regarding online business, she shares her knowledge of eBay with millions of online shoppers.

Out of college, Marsha worked in fashion advertising for the Miami Herald and then as a special projects manager for the Los Angeles Daily News. Upon the birth of her daughter in 1984, she founded a home-based advertising and marketing business. Her successful business, the Collier Company, Inc, was featured by Entrepreneur magazine in 1985, and in 1990, Marsha’s company received the Small Business of the Year award from her California State Assemblyman and the Northridge Chamber of Commerce.

Most of all, Marsha loves bargain shopping a great deal — that’s what drew her to eBay in 1996, and that’s what keeps her busy on the site now. She buys everything from replacement toothbrush heads to parts for pool equipment to designer dresses. Marsha knows how to work eBay, and loves sharing that knowledge.

Authors’ Acknowledgements

Nathan Huppatz

I want to thank the huge number of people who contributed to producing this book — the eBay sellers I’ve talked to, via email, eBay chat boards and forums, and in person at conferences. All of you (you know who you are) have contributed in some way to making this book what it is.

I would also like to acknowledge input from Wiley Publishing, in particular Hannah Bennett and Charlotte Duff for keeping me (mostly) on time and doing a fantastic job in guiding, suggesting and editing. I’d also like to thank Bruce Munday for his wise words in the previous edition.

To the staff at Directshop, thank you for your patience with me — I’m sure, on occasion, I spent a little too long at the office working on chapters, and sometimes not paying quite enough attention to the business. I couldn’t ask for a better team.

Special mention must also go to Tim Davies of eBay Australia, Wai Hong Fong of OZhut, Paul Greenberg of DealsDirect, Mark Freidin of Catch of the Day and Phil Leahy, as well as all my past and current clients of Directshop. My relationships and experiences with all of you have helped in some way or another in preparing information for this book. I hope I have helped you as much as you have helped me.

Marsha Collier

This book couldn’t have been written without the input from thousands of eBay sellers and buyers that I’ve spoken to from all over the country. You inspire me to work harder and do my best to help all of you.

I’ve made so many friends along my eBay travels — if it wasn’t for them, this book wouldn’t be here. Thanks to the rest of my eBay buddies — who always seem to have a moment when I call.

I particularly want to thank my editors and publisher at Wiley Publishing, Inc.: Susan Pink, Louise, Ruby, Steven Hayes and Andy Cummings.

Thank you all!

Dedication

From Nathan: To the staff at eBay, who have worked hard for many years to build a fantastic marketplace and create the opportunities it presents. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know some of the great eBay Australia staff, and I take my hat off to them for all that they do.

I also dedicate this book to the many entrepreneurial people who buy this book, read it and use it as a starting point in their online careers. Good luck!

Last but not least, I dedicate this book to Tanya — an amazing wife, friend and support — and to Eloise and Sophie.

From Marsha: To all the future eBay sellers — I look forward to seeing your auctions and hearing your stories.

I dedicate this book also to all the employees at eBay, who work very hard and don’t always get noticed or appreciated by the community. I want to thank all of you for your endeavours; you make eBay a fun and profitable site to visit for millions of people. Keep on doing what you’re doing.

Publisher’s Acknowledgements

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at http://dummies.custhelp.com.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial and Media Development

Project Editor: Charlotte Duff

Acquisitions Editor: Rebecca Crisp

Editorial Manager: Hannah Bennett

Technical Reviewer: Chris Morley

Production

Graphics: diacriTech

Cartoons: Glenn Lumsden

Proofreader: Liz Goodman

Indexer: Don Jordan, Antipodes Indexing

Every effort has been made to trace the ownership of copyright material. Information that will enable the publisher to rectify any error or omission in subsequent editions will be welcome. In such cases, please contact the Permissions Section of John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

Introduction

Welcome to Making Money on eBay For Dummies, Australian Edition! We can’t begin to tell you how thrilled we are that our enthusiasm and excitement for shopping and selling on eBay has spread to all corners of the earth. eBay has more than 95 million users globally and around 6 million in Australia — that’s quite a community. It’s a community of buyers who don’t see the need to pay retail prices for items they buy, and of sellers who forage out wholesale bargains to sell online and make a few dollars. eBay is a true international marketplace — and the best part is that eBay is available to anyone over 18 who wants to take the time to figure out how it works.

Along with the emergence and growth of eBay, the web-based retail landscape has changed in Australia in other ways too, with many more individuals and sellers looking to go online each year. We show you why selling at eBay is a great way to get involved in this growing market!

eBay isn’t hard to master, but just like with any tool, if you know the ins and outs, you’re ahead of the game. Getting the best advice on how, what and when you sell can help make you the most money.

How much money you earn at eBay depends entirely on how often and how smart you are at conducting your eBay transactions, and we help with the smart part by sharing tips we’ve learned along the way. We offer a load of terrific selling strategies for the beginner through to the advanced seller. With this book and a little hard (but fun!) work, you can join the ranks of the millions of people who use their home computers to make friends, become part of the eBay community, have a lot of fun and make a profit.

About This Book

You’ve come to the right place to find out all about selling at eBay. You get all the tools you need to get moving at eBay, turn your everyday household clutter into cold, hard cash and look for other items that you can sell at eBay. We even show you how to streamline your selling processes and become more business-like in your dealings with buyers.

Remember those open-book tests that teachers sprang on you in high school? Well, sometimes you may feel that eBay springs the odd test on you while you’re online. Think of Making Money on eBay For Dummies, Australian Edition, as your open-book-test resource with all the answers. You don’t have to memorise anything; just keep this book handy to help you with the more advanced parts of eBay.

With that in mind, in this book we show you how to:

check.pngGet online and register at eBay.

check.pngNavigate eBay to do just about anything you can think of — research items for sale, set up auctions, monitor your transactions and jump into the discussion forums.

check.pngChoose an item to sell, pick the right time for your auction, market it so that a tonne of bidders see it, and make a profit.

check.pngCommunicate well to your buyers and close deals without problems.

Foolish Assumptions

You may have picked up this book because you heard that people are making money selling unwanted items at eBay and you want to find out what’s going on. Or you may want to run a small business from home to make extra cash, or even start a large business to provide for you and your family. If any of these assumptions are true, this is the right book for you.

Here are some other foolish assumptions we’ve made about you:

check.pngYou have, or would like to have, access to a computer and the internet so that you can do business at eBay.

check.pngYou have an interest in online commerce (marketing and selling stuff) and you want to find out more about it.

check.pngYou want great tips and strategies that can help you sell products and services on eBay and make more profit doing so.

check.pngYou’re concerned about maintaining your privacy and staying away from people who try to ruin everyone’s good time with negligent (and sometimes illegal) activity.

Conventions Used in This Book

We use a couple of conventions in this book to make it easier for you to follow a set of specific instructions.

Steps for navigating menus or categories may appear with arrows between each selection. For example, if you see something like CollectablesCultural and Religious, we’re suggesting that you choose the Collectables category and then click the Cultural and Religious option.

Whenever we want to highlight a message, a special link or information on the screen, it looks like this:

This is onscreen information.

How This Book Is Organised

This book has five parts. The parts stand on their own, which means that you can read chapters in Part II after you read chapters in Part IV or skip Chapter 3 in Part I altogether. It’s all up to you. We feel that to get started, however, you should at least dip into Chapters 1 and 2 in Part I to get an overview of what eBay is all about and find out how to become a registered user.

Part I: Forget the Mall: Getting a Feel for eBay

In this part, we tell you what eBay is and how you use it. We take you through the registration process, help you organise your eBay transactions and interactions using your My eBay pages, and get you comfortable navigating the site from the home page.

Part II: Are You Selling What They’re Buying?

This part gets you up to speed on how to sell your items at eBay. Think of it as an ‘eBay Marketing 101’ course. Here, you find important information on how to conduct your auctions, what to do after you sell an item, how to ship the item and how to keep track of all the money you make. Even the Australian Tax Office gets to chime in on their favourite topic: Taxes. Know the rules so your friendly tax officer doesn’t invite you over for a snack and a little audit.

We also show you how to jazz up your auctions by adding pictures and how to use basic HTML to link your auctions to your own website’s home page. (If you don’t have a website, don’t freak out: Links are optional.) You can make your digital images look like high art with our tips, hints and strategies.

Part III: So You Wanna Get Serious?

This part is for those sellers looking to become more professional or sell higher volumes of product. Perhaps you want eBay to be your main source of income, or you just want to learn more about some of the advanced ways to improve your eBay sales.

We cover tools to automate some of your processes and how to use commercial systems to save you time. We also look at advanced selling strategies you can use when listing items at eBay, as well as online marketing and how to attract (and keep) more buyers.

Part IV: Tips, References and More!

Check out this part to discover how you can resolve selling (and buying) issues with the help of the Security Centre, eBay’s problem-solving clearing house. Also included are ways of having fun with the eBay community and accessing forums.

Part V: The Part of Tens

In keeping with a long For Dummies tradition, this part is a compendium of short chapters that give you ready references and useful facts. We share more terrific tips for selling, and provide a chapter on Australian eBay success stories, to help keep you motivated towards your personal goals.

In addition to all these parts, you also get an appendix, which lists plenty of software programs, products and service providers to help lighten your eBay load.

Icons Used in This Book

Throughout this book, you come across icons. These are handy tools to alert you to certain kinds of information.

missing image fileWhen you see this icon, you know you’re in for the real deal. We created this icon especially for you so that we can give you war stories (and success stories) from eBay veterans (learn from their experiences is our motto). These stories can help you strategise, make money and spare you from the perils of a poorly written auction item description. You can skip over these icons if you want to, but do so at your own risk — they contain gems of useful information!

missing image fileThink of this icon as a sticky note for your brain. If you forget one of the pearls of wisdom revealed to you, you can go back and reread it. If you still can’t remember something here, go ahead, dog-ear the page — we won’t tell. Even better: Use a yellow highlighter.

missing image fileThese indicate things that you just have to know! Time is money at eBay. When you see this shortcut or timesaver come your way, read the information and think about all the hard-earned cash you just saved.

missing image fileDon’t feel our pain. We’ve done things badly at eBay before and want to save you from our mistakes. We put these warnings out there bright and bold so that you don’t have a bad experience. Don’t skip these warnings unless you’re enthusiastic about masochism.

Where to Go from Here

A website as complex as eBay has many nooks and crannies that may confuse the first-time user. Think of this book as a detailed road map that can help you navigate eBay, getting just as much or as little as you want from it. Unlike an actual road map, you can’t get frustrated trying to fold it back to its original shape. Just close the book and come back anytime you need a question answered.

Just like a road map, you get to decide where you go and how you get there — you can take the freeway directly to a topic or meander through some back streets first to get a handle on the basics. Want to work out what to sell? Go to Chapter 5. Know how to list items but want to work out how you can really start raking in the cash? Jump to Chapter 12. Where you go from here is completely up to you.

Part I

Forget the Mall: Getting a Feel for eBay

Glenn Lumsden

missing image file

‘So tell me . . . how does it feel being married to the director of a high-techglobal car company that runs 24/7?’

In this part . . .

New technology can be intimidating for anyone. You’ve wanted to visit eBay, maybe have an idea of what you’d like to sell, but eBay feels kind of big and scary. What you need is someone to point out the most useful tools you need to get around, help you find out how eBay is set up, and start showing you how to do your own transactions. That’s what we do in Part I.

In this part, we give you the information you want to know about how eBay works and what it offers its members. Find out how to become a registered user, manoeuvre around eBay using the home page, and customise your very own private My eBay pages. You can also find out about the all-important feedback profile that follows every eBay user around like a shadow and the Detailed Seller Ratings you start receiving once you have a few sales under your belt.

Chapter 1

Why eBay Is a Terrific Place to Sell

In This Chapter

arrow Finding out about eBay

arrow Discovering why eBay is the best place to sell your items

arrow Getting the scoop on types of auctions and Buy It Now sales

arrow Testing your market with eBay Classifieds

arrow Putting on your salesperson hat and researching your market

arrow Working out what part eBay plays in item sales

arrow Using features and fun stuff

eBay is one of the largest marketplaces in the 21st century. Way back in July 2003, Wired magazine predicted that because of eBay ‘retailing will become the national pastime’. And you know what? This prediction came true, and has extended all the way to Australia. eBay’s founders had a pretty great idea back in 1995, and the world has taken to shopping and selling online. In 2010, e-commerce grew at more than 8 per cent in Australia, and eBay played a huge role in that growth. The eBay marketplace is a safe and fun place to sell everything from collectables to clothing, all from the comfort of your home.

eBay is now also a marketplace for new merchandise. eBay estimates that over 70 per cent of items sold on eBay Australia are new, and these products are often brand-name items too! eBay is no longer just the destination for second-hand goods and old china — the marketplace has changed, thanks to a growing user base and increased competition.

Take a look around your house. Nice toaster. Great-looking clock. Spiffy microwave. Not to mention all the other cool stuff you own. All these household appliances and collectables are fabulous to own, but when was the last time your toaster turned a profit? When you connect to eBay, your computer (or mobile phone) magically turns into a money machine. Just visit eBay and marvel at all the items that are just a few mouse clicks away from being bought and sold.

In this chapter, we tell you what eBay is and how it works. eBay is the perfect alternative to spending hours holding garage sales or sitting behind a stall at markets or swap meets. The site can also be the perfect marketplace for gifts and day-to-day items. Not only can you sell (and buy) stuff in the privacy of your home, but you can also meet people who share your interests. The people who use the eBay site are a friendly bunch, and soon you’ll be selling, swapping stories, trading advice (and no doubt buying) with the best of them.

To get to eBay, you need to access the internet. To access the internet, you need a computer with an internet connection or an internet-enabled device such as a smartphone or smartpad. That’s all. If you’re not ready to take the high-tech plunge, this book shows you how to start operating on eBay (and earning money) without owning a single advanced cyber thing.

What Is eBay, and How Does It Work?

The internet is spawning all kinds of new businesses (known as e-commerce to technology types), and eBay is one of its few superstars. The reason is simple: It’s the place where buyers and sellers can meet, do business, share stories and tips and have fun. It’s like one giant online potluck party — but instead of bringing a dish, you sell it!

eBay doesn’t sell a thing. Instead, the site does what all good hosts do: It creates a comfy environment that brings people with common interests together. eBay brings buyers and sellers together, acting like a massive online shopping centre. Buyers can browse stores and items, and sellers can create a store (and pay some very low rent! ). eBay lets buyers and sellers then conduct their business safely within the rules that eBay has established.

missing image file

All you need to do to join eBay is fill out an online form. Congratulations — you’re a member with no big fees or secret handshakes. After you register, you can buy and sell anything that falls within the eBay rules and regulations. (Chapter 2 eases you through the registration process.)

The eBay home page is your first step to finding all the cool stuff you can see and do at eBay. Buyers can search for products, browse categories and check out some of eBay’s latest Big Deals. As a seller, you can search for competitors selling similar products, find out what’s happening and get an instant link to your very own My eBay pages, which help you keep track of every item you have up for sale. You can read more about the eBay home page in Chapter 3 and find out more about My eBay in Chapter 4.

missing image fileYou may find that the eBay home page changes from time to time. If that happens, don’t stress; eBay often changes its home page. The functions and links we discuss in this book, or something very similar, are likely to still exist.

Why Is eBay a Great Place to Sell?

So why is eBay so great? The answer is simple: eBay brings a massive audience to your door, for very little cost. Starting your own website can be expensive and time-consuming and, even when the initial work is completed, you still need to attract buyers. But eBay has done all of the hard work of creating a website and building a market for you! Now you just have to supply the items to sell.

eBay does charge fees to list items, as well as taking a percentage of your final selling amount. For more on these fees, see Chapter 5.

All About Auctions

In an auction, the value of an item is determined by how much someone is willing to spend to buy it. That’s what makes auctions exciting. eBay offers several kinds of auctions, but for the most part, they all work the same way. An auction is a unique sales event where the exact value of the item for sale is not known. As a result, an element of surprise is involved — not only for the bidder (who may end up with a great deal) but also for the seller (who may end up making a killing). Here’s how an auction works from a seller’s and a bidder’s perspective:

check.pngSeller: A seller fills out an electronic form, pays a fee and sets up the auction, listing a starting bid he is willing to accept for the item. Think of an auctioneer at Sotheby’s saying, ‘The bidding for this diamond necklace begins at $5,000’. You might want to bid $4,000, but the bid won’t be accepted. Sellers can also set a reserve price on some vehicle auctions — sort of like a financial safety net that protects them from losing money on the deal — or also offer the item at a Buy It Now price. We explain how this stuff works later in this chapter.

check.pngBidder: Bidders in auctions fight it out over a period of time (the minimum is one day, but most auctions last a week or even longer) until one comes out victorious. Usually, the highest bidder wins. The tricky thing about participating in an auction (and the most exciting aspect) is that no-one knows the final price an item goes for until the last second of the auction.

eBay auction basics

Unlike ‘traditional’ live auctions that end with the familiar phrase ‘Going once, going twice, sold!’, eBay auctions are controlled by the clock. The seller pays a fee and lists the item on the site for a predetermined period of time; the highest bidder when the clock runs out takes home the prize.

missing image fileYou can choose a starting bid (or minimum price) for your item when you list it. The first bidder needs to bid at least as much as the starting bid in order for bidding to start. You’re free to set the price for the starting bid at whatever amount you choose — high or low.

If you want to offer bidders the chance of ending the auction and buying your item immediately, you can also set a Buy It Now price. Make sure your Buy It Now Price is higher than your starting bid price and an amount you’re happy to sell for.

If you have multiple quantities of an item for sale, you can either create multiple auction listings, or create one Buy It Now listing with multiple items available for sale in the one listing (this can save you fees, and works well in an eBay Store — see Chapter 7 for more info on stores).

Any seller on eBay can use the auction format. For more information on listing items, see Chapter 6.

Private (shhh-it’s-a-secret) auctions

Auctions can be set to ‘private’ to ensure that bidders’ User IDs and details aren’t shown in feedback history. Private auctions are often used by sellers of pharmaceutical products or items that they know some bidders may be embarrassed to be seen bidding on. Others may go the private avenue because they’re selling big-ticket items and don’t want to disclose their bidder’s financial status.

Private auctions are just like the typical timed auctions except that each bidder’s identity is kept secret. At the end of the auction, eBay provides contact info to the seller and to the high bidder, and that’s it.

missing image fileYou can send email questions to the seller in a private auction, but you can’t check out buyers because the auction item page shows the current bid price but not the high bidder’s User ID.

Reserve-price auctions

Unlike a starting bid, which is required in any eBay auction, a reserve price protects sellers in some vehicle categories from having to sell an item for less than the minimum amount they want for it. The reserve price allows the vehicle seller to set lower starting bids, and lower starting bids attract bidders. Unfortunately, if a seller makes the reserve price too high and it isn’t met by the end of the auction, no-one wins.

eBay charges a fee for sellers to run these auctions. Nobody knows (except the seller and the eBay computer system) what the reserve price is until the auction is over, but you can tell from the auction page whether you’re dealing with a reserve-price auction. If bids have been made on the vehicle, a message also appears on the page saying whether the reserve price has been met.

missing image fileOn eBay, you can only set a reserve-price auction when using the auction listing format (not for fixed price or classified ads listings). If you want to set a minimum price for your auction, use the Buy It Now format, or set your auction starting price at an amount that is acceptable to you. See this link for more information: pages.ebay.com.au/help/sell/reserve.html.

Buying It Now at eBay

Buy It Now (BIN in eBay speak) sales now represent more than 70 per cent of all sales on eBay Australia. If you want to sell at a fixed price (like many sellers do these days), setting a Buy It Now price is your best method. Of course, using Buy It Now doesn’t present buyers with the thrill of an auction, but allowing buyers to purchase an item at a fraction of the retail price without leaving their chairs or waiting for an auction to end has its own warm and fuzzy kind of excitement.

missing image fileeBay Stores are a way for you as a seller to have a branded virtual shop for your items listed on eBay. You can add a logo, store pages with more information about your business, and even create tools like a mailing list to contact your customers about new products and sales. If you subscribe to an eBay Store, you can also list items at a Buy It Now price for longer than the standard three-, five-, seven- and ten-day periods usually available for auctions on eBay, and receive other benefits too. We cover stores in more detail in Chapter 7.

missing image fileIf you list an item with a Buy It Now price, or as a Classified Ad, you can take advantage of eBay’s Best Offer functionality. Best Offer can be selected when creating your listing and does exactly what it suggests. It allows buyers to make an offer! But be warned: You might end up responding to quite a few silly offers . . .

Gauging Interest with eBay Classifieds

Instead of going straight to auction, you can list items on eBay using eBay Classifieds, which allow sellers to advertise a car, boat, motorcycle or property. eBay offers this listing format at a fixed cost of $19.95 to the seller. One key difference between the Classifieds format and the auction listing is that a transaction doesn’t take place. Instead, buyers can contact the seller to ask any questions and/or notify the seller of their interest to buy the item.

missing image fileThe Best Offer feature, which allows buyers to submit an offer price (which you can choose to accept or decline) is also available when listing Classified Ads.

Stepping into Sell Mode

As a seller, creating an auction on eBay is as simple as filling out a seller’s online form. You enter the name of your item and a short description, add a crisp digital picture, set your price and voila — it’s auction time. (Okay, it’s a tad more involved than that — but not much.) eBay charges a small fee for the privilege. When you list your item, millions of people (eBay has 96 million active users worldwide) can take a gander at it and place bids. With a little luck, a bidding war may break out and drive the bids up high enough for you to turn a nice profit. After the auction, you deal directly with the buyer, who sends you payment, then you ship the item. Or the buyer gives you the money when she picks up the item. Abracadabra — you just turned your item into cash.

You can run as many auctions as you want, all at the same time. To get info on deciding what to sell, leaf through Chapter 5; to find out how to set up an auction, jump to Chapter 6; and to get the scoop on advanced selling, visit Chapters 11 and 12.

Research for Insight and Profit

eBay’s awesome search engine allows you to browse through countless categories of items up for sale. The search engine allows you to keep your eye on the competition and get an idea of how hot your item is. That way, you can set a competitive price. To find out more about using search options and categories, check out Chapter 5.

The search engine also lets you find out what other people are bidding on, giving you some great insights on what, how and when to sell your own items.

eBay’s Role in the Auction

Throughout the auction process, eBay’s computers keep tabs on what’s going on. When the auction or sale is over, eBay takes a small percentage of the final selling price and instructs the seller and buyer to contact each other through email. At this point, eBay’s job is pretty much over, and eBay steps aside.

Most of the time, everything works great, everybody’s happy, and eBay never has to step back into the picture. But if you happen to run into trouble in paradise, eBay can help you settle the problem.

eBay regulates members with feedback ratings and the Detailed Seller Ratings system, which are described in Chapter 4. The grand plan is that the community polices itself. Don’t get this wrong — eBay does jump in when sketchy activity comes to light. But the people who keep eBay most safe are the community members — the buyers and sellers who have a common stake in conducting business honestly and fairly. Every time you sell something, eBay members have a chance to leave a comment about you. You should do the same for them. If they’re happy, the feedback is positive; otherwise, the feedback is neutral or negative. Whatever it is, your feedback sticks to you like glue.

Building a great reputation with positive feedback ensures a long and profitable eBay career. Negative feedback, like multiple convictions for car theft, is a real turn-off to most people and can make it hard to do future business at eBay.

missing image fileIf your feedback rating drops to –4 (negative 4), your account is suspended, and if your Detailed Seller Ratings fall below acceptable levels (usually an average score of 4.6), your listing privileges can be reduced. This may mean a restriction on how many items you can list for sale, and even a reduction in your search standing (meaning your items appear lower down in buyer search results). You can find out more about how eBay protects you as a buyer or a seller in Chapter 4.

Features and Fun Stuff

So eBay is all about making money, right? Not exactly. The staff at eBay aren’t kidding when they call it a community — a place where people with similar interests can compare notes, argue, buy and sell, and meet each other. Yes, people have gotten married after meeting at eBay. (Take a guess how friends bought them wedding gifts!)

Getting to know your fellow sellers

eBay has great online forums with topics that range from selling tools to trading coins and stamps. So if you have no idea what that old Mobil petrol station sign you found in your grandfather’s shed is worth, just post a message on a discussion board. Somewhere out there an expert has an answer for you. Your biggest problem is deciding whether to keep the sign or put it up for auction. Those are good problems to have!

Visit the boards and get active. You can find help, and an ear or two if you have questions! For quick answers, check out the Ask a Member forum. For more info on the discussion boards, visit Chapter 14.

Accessing the Security Centre

The Security Centre is the catchall resource for information and services about making deals at eBay safer — and for information on what to do if deals go sour. We don’t like to think about it, but sometimes — despite your best efforts to be a good eBay user — buyers or sellers don’t keep their word. In a small percentage of cases, unscrupulous louts invade the site and try to pull scams. The winner of your auction may not send the payment. Sometimes even honest members get into disputes. The Security Centre is an excellent resource when you need questions answered or you need a professional to handle an out-of-hand situation. Chapter 13 tells you all about the Security Centre.

Extra Stuff You’re Gonna Want

At some point in your eBay career, you’re likely to become comfortable selling at eBay. At that time, you may be ready to invest in a few extra devices that can make your eBay experiences even better. More sophisticated digital cameras and scanners can help make your time at eBay a more lucrative and fun adventure. You find out how to use digital technology in your auctions in more detail in Chapter 10. And we cover advanced selling tools and products in Chapters 11 and 12.