EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 91 - March 23, 2003 - ISSN 1528-6703     6 of 7

'Dear Nick': Advice Column for Auction Users (Help for an eBay Newbie)

By Nick Sevino

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eBay PowerSeller Nick Sevino (a pseudonym) answers questions about buying and selling on eBay.

Dear Nick,

I am a new seller on eBay. I have only been listing my items for about a month. I am trying to sell gel candles and scrapbook items. I listed approximately 35 items (some twice) and I only sold three items, all at the beginning price, which barely would cover my cost. Out of the three I sold, only two have been paid for. Is selling normally this slow?

When I first started buying on eBay about six months ago, everything I looked at had at least 10 to 20 bids. I have been checking out a lot of other items in different categories and nothing seems to be getting many bids, and a lot of them with less than 24 hours to go have no bids. I didn't put anything back on this week. I can't afford it. No more sales than what I have had so far won't even pay the listing charges. Please help, is it something I'm doing wrong or what?

Thank you, Ashley

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Dear Ashley,

Your situation is quite complex and raises many questions about business strategies and execution.

To start, you need to get as much information and input as possible. Sending a letter to me is a great start (aren't I modest). But in addition, why not post your question in a forum? My suggestion would be hobbies and crafts on eBay. Or try the AuctionBytes forum.

If you want to be a professional seller on eBay, than you should be perusing the eBay forums. I spend at least 3 hours a week keeping up and learning from other sellers' situations. The community pages have a number of forums devoted to different aspects of eBay and many of the categories have their own. http://pages.ebay.com/community/boards/index.html

Examining your auctions, I noticed one fatal flaw. A picture is worth a thousand words, and your pictures just aren't saying, "I'm beautiful, buy me." Specifically, they are blurry, small and lack detail. Also you have only one picture at the bottom. Many templates exist that will add a picture - maybe even three - to the top or side of the auction. If customers can't see details of your candles, how can they fall in love with them? Your goal is to make them want to own your candle more than they desire to keep the money in their pocket. Find a reference book on how to take good photos. "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Digital Photography" is a good place to start. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0028644530/auctionbytescom

There are myriad ways to sell your beautiful candles. For example you could try selling at local flea markets, swap meets and craft fairs. Since you manufacture custom candles, possibly you could send specialty shops pictures of your works, and even tailor products to what they sell.

For example, look up bears on eBay and you'll find a number of sellers who specialize in Bears. Come up with a nice bear candle and contact them. Many sellers have repeat clientele who follow their auctions. You may be able to piggyback on their success. Less gross profit, but you won't have the high advertising expenses either. Consider using auction-sites that specialize in crafts as well. They might offer lower commissions than eBay.

If you plan to run a serious business, then you should have a Web site. Many sellers use eBay as a medium to attract new customers. Once someone has purchased an item from you, there is no rule that they can't come back to your Web site and purchase direct.

I'd suggest that you change your eBay ID. Try to match a Web site and eBay ID, many potential buyers prefer to buy direct and will just punch your name (URL) into their browser. An example would be wwwlovingcandlescom as your eBay User ID and lovingcandles.com as your Web site address.

Hosting your own Web site and registering a name doesn't need to be expensive. GoDaddy.com http://www.godaddy.com at $8.95 a year is the undisputed low-cost king of registrars. Need a place to host a Web site and get custom email? Digital Space.net has a starter package for $36 a year that'll give you a custom email address and enough space to host a basic site. Once you have a Web site, you should learn how to drive traffic to it (that's another topic altogether!).

Ashley, right now we are in a recession, but this doesn't mean that sales aren't being made. People are always buying and selling. It just means that sellers have to be more creative and try more venues. Don't get stuck on just one channel, experiment with many to find the most effective way to sell your special candles.

I really can empathize with you about the slowness, especially this week, with the beginning of the war. Sales are off for many eBay sellers, including me. It is frustrating to see items closing without a bid and feel yourself going into the hole. But eBay selling is like any other retail business. Some weeks and months are slower than others. If you develop more venues to sell your products, then eBay becomes more of an advertising fee.

You've made a good start in realizing something is wrong and that you need outside advise to get started.

Good luck,

Nick


About the author:

Nick Sevino is a pseudonym for an eBay PowerSeller who wishes to remain anonymous. In "Ask Nick," he will answer questions about buying and selling on eBay. Send questions to nick@auctionbytes.com


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