Auction Elements

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Location: Ohio

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Little Brag!

I've been wanting to mention this for a while. In addition to writing a book about selling on eBay, I found out two weeks ago that I am being profiled in a book about selling on eBay called Ebay Income: How Anyone of Any Age, Location, and/or Background Can Build a Highly Profitable Online Business with Ebay by Cheryl Russell. I'm rather excited about this! I completed an interview for Cheryl back in the fall and then ended up forgetting all about the book. I received an email from her letting me know that the book has been sent to the printers and will be ready to ship in May! You can read more about it and order it on

The introduction to the book by Business Consultant, eBay PowerSeller and Certified Education Specialist Mardi Timm reads in part:

“For business newbies, she explains the basic concepts of business
in easy-to-understand terms, helps you understand eBay and the
tools available to you, and shows you concrete ways you can build a
business and earn a living on eBay. For the seasoned eBayer, she gives
tips and ideas to grow your business and let people know you are

The difference between this book and others I have read is that
this book focuses on the fact that doing eBay right is really doing
a business right. You must have a solid understanding of business
and good business practices in order to be a success on eBay. In
other words, eBay is a business just like any other. By following the
map that Cheryl has laid out, anyone can and will be able to create
a successful online, ecommerce business on eBay and beyond. I am
recommending this book to all my students.”

If you get the book, I'd love to hear what you think about it!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone, Pt. 2

Last month I wrote about stepping out of your comfort zone in order to expand your business. I related how I took the leap from 50¢ and $1.00 books to paying $12 for a single book to resell on eBay. For me, that was a big step, one I've taken in the past, but rarely.

Well, I blew it last week. I subscribe to a service that notifies me about local auctions. One of the auctions caught my eye. Among other items featured was 12 place settings of Franciscan dinnerware with serving pieces in the apple pattern. I ate off those very dishes while growing up, so they were familiar to me. I did a quick search of completed listings on eBay and got excited. Sets of the dinner plates alone were selling for the equivalent of $10-12 per plate! Just imagine how I'd do with dinner plates, soup bowls, salad plates, cups and saucers, berry bowls and more! I determined I'd be willing to pay $225 for the lot and would bring it home and turn it around for a nice profit on eBay.

Friday rolled around and I was ready for the auction. I arrived in plenty of time to preview that evening's offerings. Yep - the Franciscanware was right there on the stainless steel cart, just like in the photo I saw online! It was in perfect condition! This was going to be good! I looked around the room and tried to figure out what kind of competition I would face. It didn't seem like the dishes were getting too much attention from anybody else. This might be easier than I expected! I was anxious for the bidding to begin.

The auction started and I impatiently waited for the auctioneer to start the bidding on the dinnerware. About halfway into the auction, she finally opened the bidding - at $300! Well, no takers on that opening bid, so she incrementally lowered the starting price until she finally got a bid at $100. Bidding took place between one person present and one person who had submitted their bid ahead of time. Eventually the bidding reached $145, at which point the absent bidder dropped out. Now was my time to step in. Okay. All I had to do was raise my card and I'd be in. Just lift my arm so the auctioneer could see my card and know I was interested. Lift the card, already! What was I waiting for!!??!!?

The dinnerware sold for $145 because I just couldn't get up the nerve to spend that much money on something for eBay. Dumb, dumb, dumb! I knew the eBay value of those dishes! I knew that I could get them for a great price and make loads of money on them...come on - I could have sold the dinner plates alone for around $120! I knew because I had done my research. I knew they were in demand, that most listings sold, and that most listings sold for a decent price compared to what I would spend to acquire them. I'd even determined a maximum bid that far exceeded the current bid on the dishes. I just couldn't get it through my brain that it is okay to spend a lot of money when you know you can make a lot more from it!

Now, if I hadn't researched ahead of time and weren't fairly confident of my ability to turn these around for a nice profit, and if I weren't familiar with the dishes and their general appeal, then maybe it would have been foolhardy to spend $150-200 on what would amount to speculation. But I knew!!!

I'm going to another auction this Sunday. I'll have another chance to spend lots of money with the expectation of turning it into lots more. I'll be in one comfort zone - books - but I have a feeling the bidding will be outside what I am comfortable with.

I've already done my research. I know what the books are worth. I just hope I can raise my card when I should and that I don't obsess too much about the fact that most auctions I've gone to end in the low double digits (like the teens)! I'm quite comfortable with the idea of spending $30 and coming home with 4 or 5 boxes full of stuff. I think that bidding on these items will far exceed that. I just need to trust my research and my instincts and not let unreasonable fear get in the way!

What about you? Do you have an experience where you stepped out of your comfort zone? One where you wanted to but didn't? I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Long and Short of It...

Did you know that Steiff growler teddy bears can have one of two different growlers? What is a growler? What is a Steiff teddy bear? Well, these are things I didn't know either until I received a consignment that included several Steiff bears. Actually, yes, I did know about Steiff bears. I just didn't know anything beyond the fact that they were well made, collectible, and among the first to produce stuffed bears as toys. Growlers are noiseboxes that are supposed to mimic the growl of a bear when manipulated properly.

About the growler...I have a Steiff 1912 replica teddy bear listed right now. I mentioned in the listing that the growler works well. This morning I received a question from a potential buyer concerning whether the bear had a long or short growler. Huh?? In my research, I had not come across anything identifying different types of growlers so failed to mention it in my listing. I replied as well as I could, having no basis of comparison. Here's the actual text of my response to her:

"Hi Sue,
Thank you for your interest in this collectible bear. I've not had too much experience with Steiff bears with Growlers but this one seems to me to be long. I can't give an actual length, but to estimate, when I started it by leaning him back, I started counting at a normal pace. Each time, I got to '3' before the growler ended. I hope this helps in some way! Thanks again and happy bidding!

Admittedly, that is not the most informative answer I've ever written. My buyer replied quickly that a long growler sounds like a cow mooing. Well! There was my answer. This bear is definitely a cow in disguise, which is a good thing for me because it seems that some people collect bears with long growlers and others collect short growlers. My buyer has a penchant for the long growlers and said she will definitely be watching my bear. (Here's hoping she decides to bid on it, too!)

Lesson? Even thorough research might not tell you everything you need to know for your listing. Always answer your potential buyer's questions! If you don't know the answer, research and try to find it. If you still don't know, admit your ignorance and then ask the questioner for more info - they might be able to enlighten you enough for you to give a relevant answer. Whenever you do this, however, project a sincere desire to provide the information they need and don't sound too ignorant! : )

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"Choose Your Words Wisely...For They May Be Your Last"

One of my favorite movies is Ever After with Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston. If you've not seen it, it is an adaptation of the Cinderella story, sans Fairy Godmother (unless you count Leonardo DaVinci!) Towards the end of the movie, the Queen speaks sternly to the step-mother (Anjelica Huston). She advises, "Choose your words wisely for they may be your last." This is advice well-taken concerning your listing title as well, although admittedly the consequences will not be as dire if you fail to do so!

The number one most important part of your listing is your title! You may have created the most clever, comprehensive, beautiful listing ever, with crystal clear photos and all the information any buyer could ever need but if you fail to write a good title, all your hard work will be for nothing. Yes, the item description is important, but the title is more important. Spend a few serious minutes thinking about how you can best use the 55 spaces allotted by eBay to draw bidders to your listing.

Here are a few tips to consider as you do so:

  • Use all the space provided - failing to do this is like getting for a full page ad but using only 1/4 of it. Fill as many of those 55 spaces with as many pertinent keywords as you possibly can.

  • Think about the terms your buyers are likely to use and use them in the title. You can decide between certain words by doing searches on them to see how many listings are returned in the results. This isn't indicative of how buyers search, of course, but of how sellers list so it isn't a definitive way to decide, but might help.

  • Don't use words that won't be searched - that, too, is wasted space. These would include "WOW" "NICE" "LOVELY" or my all-time favorite "L@@K!". Sometimes you will have used all the pertinent keywords you can think of. Then you can perhaps include a meaningful word about condition or another element that might appeal to your potential buyer.

  • Don't use punctuation marks like quotations and exclamation points. People don't use them in searches and again, they take up space that could possibly be used for searchable keywords.

  • Don't use multiples of the same word. If listing an item with a title, duplicate words can be eliminated. Use " Cat in the Hat" instead of "The Cat in the Hat" and free up space for additional keywords. The results of a person searching the first title will be identical to the results of searching the second title.

  • Spell-check your title! If your keywords are misspelled, it is very likely that your item will either not sell or will sell for far less than its potential. Be aware that there are tools available on the web that will run searches for people of common misspellings of words and then return eBay searches on those misspellings. Buyers use the tools to find items that will otherwise be overlooked by searches and then they buy them cheaply, often for the starting bid. (Thanks, Rob for reminding me of this! This is an important tip I overlooked.)

  • DON'T USE ALL CAPS FOR EVERY WORD IN YOUR TITLE Many people dislike this immensely. They may think your entire listing will be that way and choose to pass before ever seeing it. You can use caps to cause certain keywords to stand out in your title but be judicious in doing so.

  • Although choosing your words wisely may not be as important for you as it was for Anjelica Huston, you will still reap the rewards of more hits and hopefully more bids and higher final values by doing so!

    Just needed to put our picture near the top of the blog...

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Last week I wrote about expanding your horizons as far as what you sell is concerned. There are other ways to expand your horizons that can have a positive effect on your eBay bottom line. Be willing to re-evaluate your business on a variety of levels.

    I recently read a blog at the Auction Rebel about an old item called "Good For" Advertising Pocket Mirrors. While Gary states in this article that these items are relatively hard to come by, I was intrigued by the consistent high prices he said they bring on eBay. These mirrors sounded interesting.

    I was still pondering his writing when I took my daughter to her choral group rehearsal in Oberlin, OH, several weeks ago. There is an antique shop with an inviting appearance on the main street in town, just down from the library where I usually spend my time while she is rehearsing. We were in town earlier than usual on this particular day and the antique store was still open. I decided to venture in to see if I could find any real life examples of the Good For mirrors.

    Confession time: I am a very thrifty person at heart! I strive to spend as little as possible and sell for as much as possible. My thrifty nature has kept me out of antique shops because my general impression is that even if I find something worth buying there, I will be unable to afford it or it will not afford enough profit to make it worth the expense. So, I've avoided antique stores as a general rule.

    While in this antique store I found several books that I thought had some potential. Since I am used to paying .25-1.00 per book, though, I couldn't justify paying the $15.00 that was marked inside most of them. The store was closing for the day so I jotted down the names, authors and copyright dates and went to the library where I proceeded to look the books up on eBay and on Most of the books turned out to be duds but one of them seemed to have promise. My research showed it was listed for between $75-350 on some bookselling sites. It was definitely worth getting.

    I still had a hard time justifying so much money for one single book, however. After consulting the wise eBay mentors at eBay Establishings who quickly set me straight, I decided to buy the book. I'd actually already reached that decision myself but needed their confirmation that it was the right one! I went back the next day and asked what the best price was that they could do on the book (my thrifty nature at work!) They called the owner who said $12. I said, "Sold!" and paid for it willingly.

    I have yet to list the book but intend to put it in my store to wait for the right buyer to come along. In the meantime my horizons have been expanded yet again. Although my search for the Good For mirrors failed, my outing to this antique store was a success in at least two respects.

    First, I stepped out of my comfort zone that consists of thrift stores, auctions and yard sales and ventured into an antique shop. I discovered that while some items may be overpriced for eBay, not everything is.

    Second, I stepped out of my comfort zone that consisted of a very narrow idea of what is a reasonable amount of money to spend on an item for resale on eBay. You have no idea how difficult it was for me to make the decision to spend the money to buy that book when, all along, it should have been a clear-cut decision.

    Have you stepped out of your comfort zone lately? I'd love to hear your experiences.

    Oh, what was the book I found? It is a first edition, first printing of The Flying Girl by Edith Van Dyne. Never heard of her? Edith Van Dyne was a pseudonym for L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz books.

    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Consistency is the Key!

    I'm always going on about the great benefits that an eBay business offers. I think that the flexibility that eBay gives a person and the ability to control his own time are among the top ones. Those very benefits could prove to be a problem for some people, though.

    People who have trouble staying focused or who procrastinate might find that eBay offers a little too much freedom. While they might possess the potential to create wonderful listings for wonderful items, if they do not discipline themselves to get the work done, they will find themselves wondering what happened to the time.

    Ask me how I know!!! Yes - I am one of those highly distractible people! I've had lots of reasons to be distracted lately but I have to get beyond those excuses and just get down to business!

    Consistency and planning really are two key elements of success. A third is follow-through, though. I've made great schedules in the past but failed to follow through. As a result, my listings suffered (quantity, not quality) and consequently so did my profits.

    It may seem obvious to most people, but it bears repeating: make a plan for your business and stick to it. Set goals and then identify the steps necessary to accomplish those goals. Finally, take those steps! You know the old saying, "Those who fail to plan, plan to fail?" Well, I've created a variation of that: "You need to plan your work and then work your plan."

    I've got lots of plans - I just need to implement them! I also need to eliminate or manage the distractors in my life. Although my main distraction is the fact that I miss my husband!!! it exhibits itself in many other ways. Among my primary distractors right now are the following:
    • My children - I try to always be available for my children but this can be a problem, sometimes, especially if they are interrupting me for frivolous reasons.
    • Clutter - I am not a productive person when the area around me is cluttered. A few days ago I moved my computer desk into the room that is seen first when somebody enters our home (some people might call it a parlor but that's a bit glorified for this room!) I did this hoping that it might encourage me to maintain a tidy workspace. I have less area to work in now because I can't spread things out all over the dining room table like I could before. All that means, though, is that it takes less to make the area cluttered. Should take less time to clean it up though! We'll find out as soon as I finish writing this!
    • Socializing - this is a big one for me right now. I am lonely since my husband isn't here and I find myself spending more and more time with my online friends. I really like the people I've met online and find their company, even if limited to IM and Yahoo groups, to be encouraging and reassuring.
    Knowing the things that distract me is a step in the right direction but I need to have a plan to deal with them. I've thought of the following so far:
    • I'm going to stress to my girls that I will be working during certain hours each day and should be interrupted only for something that is important. At 12, 13 and 15, they are old enough to understand this so don't think I am neglecting infants or toddlers! (Make note - set work hours!)
    • I have to make sure that my overly optimistic expectations of what I can list each day do not take over the area where I work! In other words, I should keep all but a few items out of sight until those few are listed. By doing this, I will eliminate most of the clutter that accumulates each day. (I have a bad habit of going to my attic where I keep my eBay items to get two or three specific items and then come down with boxes full.)
    • I need to treat my online friends and groups as a reward for a good day's work instead of an emotional outlet throughout the day. This will be the most difficult to implement because they are just a click away while I am doing my work.
    What about you? Do you have plans or wishes? Do you have realistic goals? What steps are needed to accomplish those goals? Are you working those steps? Be specific. Write out your goals as well as the steps that will get you to them. Then create a schedule that will realistically enable you to follow those steps. Finally, remove from your environment the things that will distract you and keep you from getting those steps done.

    Well, I've got a room to clean so I can get some work done! Talk to you later!