Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed June 4 2014 19:07:35

eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay sellers who are fans of Toolhaus.org, a free tool that helps evaluate both buyers and sellers by analyzing eBay feedback, were relieved to see the site come back online after a brief outage. After the site went offline, some sellers speculated that eBay had pressured Toolhaus or that it was related to eBay's recent security breach. Toolhaus founder Win Bent was clear that neither was the case. The website was down due to a combination of financial and web-hosting challenges the site faced.

Last week, Bent told EcommerceBytes that he wasn't sure if he would be able to bring Toolhaus back online, but thanks to an outpouring of support from donors, the financial contributions will allow him to operate the site for another year. "I've never been in this for the income, but I do need to cover the basic costs." he said. "There are technical requirements for running Toolhaus, and I'm learning that those are hard to find when you're on a shoestring budget."

Other free online seller tools, such as AuctionSubmit and Invenna (listing tools), Medved's Auction Counts, and others haven't fared as well over the years. Online selling has always been fertile ground for programmers, many of whom created tools for their own use, then shared them with the general public. But, tools offered for free have real costs, from web-hosting to programming and other maintenance costs. Some free resources offer a donate button, like Toolhaus, and others are ad supported.

So which free tools do you use and which tools have you used in the past that are no longer available? How do you show support (donations, clicking on ads, etc.) for free resources that help you sell? Toolhaus is a reminder to sellers to support free or low-cost resources or face living in a world without them.




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Perminate Link for eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted   eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Wed Jun 4 21:12:08 2014

I have used Toolhaus and contribiuted a couple of years ago. I will contribute again.

I like Toolhaus because I can remove a few bums every time I run it and then add several more to my BBL which I try to keep as small as possible.

Thank you, Win!

Perminate Link for eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted   eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted

by: OnlyPollyPocket This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 4 22:24:55 2014

I use Fotofuze extensively which is a free image background removal tool...invaluable to help me have more professional-looking imaging on my web site.  I have a Paypal subscription to "donate" every month.  

Really important when you have valuable FREE resources like Toolhaus to keep them alive by helping to defray the costs.

Perminate Link for eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted   eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted

by: Graeme This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Jun 4 23:05:20 2014

We run a free tool website for Etsy sellers. What people don't realize is that nothing is free and someone has to pay the costs to keep these websites running. The more popular a website, higher are the costs associated in keeping them running due to data costs.

The people who run these free sites are not in it for the money but the ongoing financial costs over time without help kills them eventually.

If you find a website useful and frequently use it, you should consider donations as gratitude for helping you find the information that you need or the service provided and the time that it has saved you.

Perminate Link for eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted   eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted

This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Wed Jun 4 23:19:19 2014

@OnlyPollyPocket

Thank you (!!!) for the FotoFuze referral. I just tried it and it works!  

Perminate Link for eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted   eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Wed Jun 4 23:42:32 2014

Don't forget the time involved in creating these tools. Programming such things does take a lot of time and effort, as well as computing resources. Most of us developers love writing code, but it can take time away from other income-producing work to do so, especially if you try to keep improving it or adding new features. There's a lot of work involved in even simple applications and costs can add up once you add in web hosting expenses. Like the Toolhaus guy said, there are costs involved and not everyone has the resources to absorb them in order to offer tools for free.

Perminate Link for eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted   eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted

by: pfft!! This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 5 03:57:11 2014

I think those sites are cool, and I've donated to Toolhaus in the past.  That said, it amazes me people will expend all that knowledge and time and then just give it away.  
I guess if you don't NEED the money it might be a cool hobby.  But why in the world just GIVE away all that effort away for free if you NEED money to keep it going?  
I've never understood why Toolhaus doesn't sell advertising sponsorships on its' site.  I can't imagine anyone who uses the site would care.  And it's such a popular site with sellers that you'd thing certain advertisers would LOVE to be able to have an ad on it.  
Again...just wondering out loud .........

Perminate Link for eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted   eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted

This user has validated their user name. by: David Steiner

Thu Jun 5 05:24:10 2014

"I've never understood why Toolhaus doesn't sell advertising sponsorships on its' site.  I can't imagine anyone who uses the site would care.  And it's such a popular site with sellers that you'd thing certain advertisers would LOVE to be able to have an ad on it."

For some reason, the advertising model doesn't fit well with online tools. My experience is that banners on tools have abysmal click-thru rates, and if an advertiser's banner is not resulting in visitors, then advertisers don't stay too long. Content and informational resources tend to have much higher CTRs.

"it amazes me people will expend all that knowledge and time and then just give it away."

BTW, Jonas Salk, the developer of the Polio vaccine, never patented it, so in essence he 'gave it away'. Some people are not in it for profit. Maybe hard to understand, but easy to admire.

Perminate Link for eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted   eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted

This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Thu Jun 5 10:03:45 2014

''I like Toolhaus because I can remove a few bums every time I run it''

@ Ming:
Check out the SA's buyer feedback on the haus. /wink

Perminate Link for eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted   eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted

by: SmartBidder This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Jun 5 11:20:51 2014

A similar scenario - SmartBidder was initially a graduate project for MIT and when done, the team disbanded and the free sniper was in limbo. It was purchased for self use but was such a cool resource it couldn't be kept under wraps for long.

Perminate Link for eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted   eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Thu Jun 5 17:37:05 2014

@ Puck

I'm a little dense. Who or what is SA?

Perminate Link for eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted   eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted

This user has validated their user name. by: WatchCount.com
Web Site

Thu Jun 5 19:20:23 2014

To add to what Tula said earlier, there are also ongoing technical efforts (time = money) to maintain free applications as well. There are always bugs that pop up both old and new; tweaks, or code rewrites, that need to be made when eBay changes things on their end; end-user support; monitoring for and reacting to abusive behavior (hackers, spammers, bots/scrapers); server software adjustments/upgrades; reacting to search engine ranking/traffic changes; regularly reviewing certain technical forums, blogs, and social media venues related to the application's niche; etc...

Perminate Link for eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted   eBay Sellers Learn, Don't Take Free Resources for Granted

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
Web Site

Sun Jun 8 11:35:05 2014

I don't use a lot Toolhaus, but I understand the difficulty to maintain a free tool and the site.  



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