The Old eBay Seller's Almanac
By Greg Holden
If Ben Franklin was alive today, he'd probably be setting up shop on eBay. It would be the perfect marketplace for this most industrious and enterprising of Americans.
And chances are Ben Franklin would be a PowerSeller. The man who said "Early to bed and early to rise" would have been first in line at the local estate sale. And the same advance planning he promoted in his famous Old Farmer's Almanac would smooth out the peaks and valleys of selling on eBay. Experienced sellers know that sales slow in summer, only to pick up dramatically around October and November. How can you promote a steady stream of sales throughout the year? Follow the philosophy of Ben and create your own eBay Seller's Almanac.
By planning a year in advance, you'll follow seasonal demands as well as eBay's own promotions, organizing your sales activities around them. Looking ahead will allow you to buy when prices are low and sell when prices are high. You might create the following entries in your almanac:
Christmas and Hanukkah are alive and well this month! Now is the perfect time to buy wrapping paper, figurines, ornaments, decorations, and anything else that stores are closing out. Create a long-term storage area, and pack holiday items in clearly labeled boxes so you can retrieve them when needed-about ten months from now.
When eBay announces fee increases, as they did earlier this year, they sometimes take effect in late February. So get your sales online during the first part of the month. Look for a promotion around Valentine's Day like the five-cent listing day announced by Bill Cobb on February 13.
Secondhand stores, as well as retailers, will be removing winter items from their shelves. Make your purchases of gloves, scarves, and sweaters now. You can put them up for sale in early fall, before they appear on retailers' shelves.
School days are ending and the mood switches to vacations, picnics, and trips to the beach. This is when you put out those warm-weather items you've been saving since last fall.
Your venue of choice for selling should now be eBay, during the eBay Live conference. Why? When many sellers are out of town, your competition dwindles.
Open boxes labeled "backpacks," and "extra-long twin sheets," and "school supplies" and put the contents up for sale. Think of it as helping to advance education.
But don't get so distracted with selling that you forget to buy. From swimsuits to beach balls, summer items are ripe for the picking. If you stock-up now at rock-bottom prices, you'll be in good shape for the following spring.
Take advantage of closeouts of binders, folders, and other things students need so you won't be tardy when the school bell rings next August.
If you buy leftover Halloween costumes and decorations now, you'll have eager takers next October. But there's no rest for the weary; also focus on unpacking all the holiday merchandise and gift-worthy items you've been saving for the end-of-the year season, which is the busiest time of year on eBay.
Your kids may counting the days until Christmas, but your present arrives December 26 or 27 when eBay holds typically holds a seller promotion. But that's not the only time you can get a good deal. Watch for other free listing days on other eBay sites. These are usually announced here on AuctionBytes, so keep checking; you can upload sales to the Australia, UK, or Canadian versions of eBay and save substantially in insertion fees.
Scheduling is very important, but be aware that there are some eBay promotions you just can't anticipate. The following was posted on the Announcements Board (http://www2.ebay.com/aw/marketing.shtml) less than a day before the sale began:
1-Day Only: 50% Off Fixed Price Insertion Fee or Free Buy It Now for Auction Listings
Also keep your eyes open for special savings opportunities like a one-cent subtitle deal that was held April 11, and the eBay Treasure Hunt, which was held February 15. The best way to be on the look-out is to subscribe to receive eBay's announcements on a daily basis by going to the eBay Groups page for the General Announcements Board and clicking the Join Group button.
To sum up with some Ben Franklin-style words of wisdom: Set aside a long-term storage area where you place your end-of-season purchases; create a seller's almanac - a calendar on which you write reminders. To make it most effective, divide it into two categories: one month in advance and eight to ten months in advance, using different colors for each.
The important thing is to plan ahead to buy bargains and take advantage of every opportunity to sell at a profit. To paraphrase a wise man, "A penny saved on eBay is a penny earned in your PayPal account."
About the author:
Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.
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