Monday, March 30, 2009

Be Nimble, Grasshopper

So this is very Sun Tzu - or if Yoda is more your cup of tea - its something he might say to any good eBayer too: "be nimble, grasshopper!"

What do I mean? I mean - if your competition includes giant massive sellers with all kinds of power, and you're small, and the whole situation seems daunting - think like this:

They are big and lumbering, you are small and nimble
They are mammoth and slow, you are gazelle-like and fast
They are impersonal, you provide a personal touch to your customers
The have a huge inventory, your inventory is small and very niche
They have the lowest price, you provide tons of value with so many things, size matters - but bigger isn't always better on eBay.

Is this useful? If so, sign up for the Evenger Secret Library and find out lots more!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Moment for Momentum

Have you ever noticed that it is usually easier to get a lot of things done when you're really busy than it is when you have all sort of time on your hands?

I find this to be very true when listing new items on eBay.

If all my orders have been shipped and the PayPal payments are just rolling in, its harder to bear down and list even more - though that is exactly the time when a good eBayer DOES list a ton more.

On the other hand, if things have sort of stalled, there is a big pile of orders that need to be shipped, and a bunch of customer emails that need to be answered - being productive is much easier.

Watch out - don't fall prey to the easy going times. Be disciplined (it takes practice - work on building the habit) and list a ton of stuff regardless of whether things are feeling productive just then, or not.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

God's True Light

Do your eBay photos look like this?

If so, you’ve got a LIGHT problem! I don’t know about you – but I’m a person who likes light. One of the reasons I’m not a huge fan of winter is not because of the cold, but because of the light! It’s not just that there are fewer hours of light, but winter light has a narrower spectrum (that’s one of the big clues trees use to know when it’s time to shed their leaves).

I digress. The point is that in order to have great photos on eBay, one big thing you can do is to take photos with a full spectrum of light. What is one of the best sources of the full spectrum? You guessed it – that big yellow thing in the sky…..the sun.

If you’re eBaying in a cave – take some of that stuff outside, find a nice plain background, and try taking photos in sunlight – you’ll be surprised how well they turn out.

Is this useful? If so, sign up for the Evenger Secret Library and find out lots more!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ask and ye shall on eBay

Feedback got you down?

You do everything right - you ship like a superhero, you do everything perfect...and then your customer leaves you no feedback? Bummer right?

Well let me ask you this...did you ask your customer to leave feedback?

Now I don't want to encourage you to be one of those sellers who sends like 10,000 emails saying - "please leave me feedback! I beg you, please leave me feedback!"...because frankly, that's just annoying.

But how about, when you send your final "thank you" email (you send one, right?) you include just a simple line like this:

"We strive for 5 star feedback from all our customers! If you had a great experience, please let me know. Or, if things could have been better - please contact me ASAP so we can make it right! I want you to feel good about leaving 5 star feedback across the board!"

...something like that. If you'd like feedback from your customers, make sure you ask for it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Selling other people's stuff is easier

You know, most people (not everybody, but most people) have a lot of s$#t.

They've got stuff they don't even know they have. Boxes and boxes of it.

Have you been to an Estate Sale lately? Every time I go I swear to myself that by the time I'm ready to check out - I'm not going to have all those books and all those boxes of stuff.

Why do people collect so much stuff over their lives? Well...memories of course. Each item a person owns has a memory attached to it - so there is always the fear that if I get rid of this item, then I'll lose the memory I have attached to it. Of course, that's not true....and of course - who is to say that you won't forget the memory even if you hold onto the object?

The other thing is - the longer a person owns the item - the more they have "invested" into keeping it - and the harder it is to get rid of!

Think of all the piles of stuff that people don't use, that they could sell and get $$$ for - but they are reluctant to get rid of extra stuff?

Try this mental exercise:

Think about selling your extra stuff. Stuff that you never use, but is really border-line in terms of your willingness to give it up. Got that feeling?

Now - pretend a total stranger owned those exact same items, and asked you to sell them. How does it feel now?

My point is that it's a lot easier to sell stuff that you are not emotionally attached to. So, if you've got stuff that you know you should sell but are emotionally attached to - just understanding the dynamic that is happening can help you get to a place where you can pull the trigger on that auction (and then the cool thing is - once that auction is going - you won't think about it a bit...much less when you've shipped the item and you have $$$ in hand).

Or, if you know somebody who is wanting to sell some stuff but having a hard time breaking up with it - offer to swoop in and do it for them. It'll be much easier for you to do it than it will be for them to do it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Is it pretty?

As a cyber superhero, I'll be the first to admit - I'm usually not too worried about whether most things are "pretty"

The thing is though, some of my customers - actually most of my customers - well, let's be honest - ALL CUSTOMERS like things to be pretty when they open their order.

Let me give you two scenarios:

Scenario 1: You buy something on eBay and open your order. The box kind of smells funny (someplace between mothballs and cigarettes) and is filled with strips of yellowing newspaper. On some of the newspaper there is some kind of stain - is it blood? Looks like blood. Oh! There is the thing I ordered - it's fine I guess - but was that blood? And what's that smell?

Scenario 2: You buy something on eBay and open your order. The box has that nice new plastic smell and is filled with fresh bubble wrap or foam or stuff that looks cool. My order is wrapped in fresh tissue or papyrus - I don't know what it is but I'm so glad I bought this cool thing.

I'm kind of exaggerating, but you get the idea. Don't use newspaper to stuff your packages. I understand the environmental argument - but honestly...using the right packaging makes your item weigh less which means less energy is used to transport it - and if you purchase recycled materials - you're still being pretty green.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Repeat Repeat Repeat if you can!

So when you're looking for stuff to sell on eBay, if you have the choice to get 10 different things to sell or 10 things that are exactly the same to sell - all else being equal - definitely choose 10 things that are exactly the same...


First of all, instead of having to write 10 listings descriptions and taking 10 photos, you'll be able to use one listing description and one photo 10 times!

Second, you'll only have to figure out the best way to ship that item once. No need to get a bunch of different sized boxes and so forth.

Third, if its a really hot seller and you have multiples of the same item - you can always offer second chance offers to bidders who come in just behind your highest bidder.

So re re re repeat if you can!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

13 is the Magic Mailbox Number

13 oz - when it comes to USPS, that is the magic number when it comes to the mailbox.

Before 9/11, USPS would accept any parcel through a mailbox that would fit in a mailbox. In other words - you could have a very heavy envelope and, so long as it would fit in the mailbox - you were good to go.

However, in recent years - they have added a decal to the top of mailboxes explaining that only items weighing 13 oz or less can go in the mailbox.

Which means...if it's over 13 oz - you've got to go to a post office.

But bear in mind - you can still put international items, flat rate envelopes, even small boxes in a mailbox - just as long as they don't weigh more than 13 oz.

You'd be amazed at some of the things I've managed to fit in a mailbox - I sometimes wonder if I have a "Wanted!" poster out there in some post office someplace.

13! It's magic!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Don't Freak If You Get a Negative Feedback on eBay

"I got negged!"

to get negged: the circumstance where one receives negative feedback from a buyer on eBay

It happens. Sooner or later, the longer you stay on eBay - its going to happen to you. I went 7000 feedbacks before I got my first one. When it does happen to you, depending on your particular disposition, you will have one of the following reactions:

1) "Oh Well"

2) Damn - that sucks.

3) Oh my good Lord the world is coming to the end. I'm sick to my stomach. I'm going to quit eBay.

You may get a negative feedback because you deserve it, you may get one because you don't deserve it. But when you get one - here is what you should do.

1) Don't panic and put it in perspective - if you have one negative feedback out of many, many transactions - it's not the end of the world. Actually, one (or even several) negative feedbacks out of many positives aren't going to matter in the long run.

2) If you messed up and the buyer justifiably gave you negative feedback, reach out to them - apologize. Do whatever you can to make it better. Then, once you've made it better - ask the buyer if they would consider withdrawing the negative feedback through the system eBay has set up to withdraw feedback.

3) If you think the buyer is crazy and you didn't deserve the negative feedback - reach out to them - apologize. Do whatever you can to make it better. Then, once you've made it better - ask the buyer if they would consider withdrawing the negative feedback through the system eBay has set up to withdraw feedback (yes, this is exactly the same advice as described under #2).

4) If you get the feeling the buyer is just playing around or gaming the system or breaking an eBay rule with their negative feedback, reach out to eBay and see if they will remove it. Chances are, if the feedback is truly inappropriate, they will.

In the end, if you do get stuck with a negative feedback - wear it like a badge of honor. Not that you should be glad you got negative feedback. Rather, use the few negatives you do get as a way to contrast all the many many many positive feedbacks you receive and use it as a reminder to do better if you messed up.

A negative feedback will live in your feedback tally for a full year. If you do have a negative feedback - watch it crawl across: feedback left in the last month, feedback left in the last 6 months, feedback left in the last year.... See if you can work that negative off without getting another for a full year.

Don't freak out about negative feedback, it happens to everybody - but don't take it lightly either. Rather - use it as a reminder make you a stronger eBay seller.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Keep Yourself Charged When You List

One thing that a lot of folks fall prey to when it comes time to list new items on eBay is, they lose steam.

That is, they're all ready to start listing a big pile of stuff - but they just can't get motivated to do it.

Do NOT let this happen to you. Listing lots of stuff every day is one of the best ways to assure successful selling on eBay. Here are a 3 things that get me moving when I'm not in the mood to list:

1) Change your state of mind by doing 10 push-ups or sit ups or whatever is going to get you out of your funk

2) Go consume massive quantities of sugar/caffeine - this isn't the healthiest option...but it works in a pinch. The only down side to this one of course is that once you come down from the sugar/caffeine high - you're worse off than you were. But if you can list fast - a couple of diet cokes ought to let you get a good 20 or 30 items up before you fade.

3) Listen to something awesome. This is probably the best option. Once you get used to it, listing doesn't take a lot of concentration - so listen to something that feeds your brain. Two really good things to listen to is music at and the talks at

...or, do whatever works best for you. The important thing is that when you're supposed to list and you're not in the mood to list - GET in the mood to list.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Should you print postage at home?

Should you print postage at home for your eBay packages?

Let me be very clear: YES...for God's sake, YES!

The options for printing postage at home deserve more attention that I want to put in a single blog post. With this post, I just want to address the question of printing postage at home.

Why is it better to print postage at home?

1) Using USPS, for any package that is 13 oz or less, you don't even have to go to the post office, you can just drop stuff off in a mail box.

2) Even for things that ARE over 13 oz, a lot of post offices are starting to have bins where you can just drop parcels off (those that have web postage on them, that is)

3) Even if you do have to stand in line at the post office, if your packages already have postage, you just verify they don't have anything hazardous in them, then slide them across the counter.

4) By printing postage at home, you can link postage costs to each parcel - this make accounting much easier - and you can see where you are gaining money/losing money due to postage.

5) Your parcels look a lot more professional with pre-printed postage.

6) You can put your own logo on postage printed at home

7) You don't have to hand address parcels - addresses are spit out along with postage when you print postage from home. If you have a label printer, it's even easier - just slap the label on.

8) If you use delivery confirmation, the confirmation number can be automatically synced with your orders. In other words, you customers can look at their order record and see where their package is en route.

9) If you ever need to pay for a customer returning something to you, you can print a prepaid return postage label and send it to them.

10) If you are unsure what the most economical way to mail something is, you can test the different options right at your computer - saves money!

If you're wondering about whether you should be printed postage at home, stop wondering. You should.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sometimes your products = your customer

I have absolutely no scientific basis for this, I haven't measured it, I haven't tested it.

But I have noticed that customers who buy certain products of mine tend to have certain traits (I guess there is nothing Earth shattering about that observation). What I have noticed however, is that beyond just the normal demographic stuff - customers who buy certain products of mine tend to always be really trustworthy, responsible, customers.

For example, I sell replica copies of the U.S. Constitution. I've never once had somebody buy one of these replicas and then had the deal turn south. My Constitution buyers always pay right away - very responsible customers. It's a generalization - but it causes me to make the connection that anybody who would buy a copy of the Constitution is apt to be a damn upright citizen.

I don't sell books on "How to be a big dork." But if I did, I bet customers who bought that book would tend to be big dorks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How to become an eBay expert - the answer is HERE!

One definition of the word "expert" that I've heard (maybe you've heard this one too) is this: you become an expert in something after you've spent 10,000 hours doing it.

So let me ask you this: have you spent 10,000 hours on eBay? Perhaps the more important question is: who HAS spent 10,000 hours on eBay?

I've been on eBay for 10 years. So lets say, on average, I've spent 1 hour a day on eBay - that includes vacations, time at work, time outside, time at the gym - all the other stuff I do.

So figure at most, I've spent 10 years x 365 days x 1 hour on eBay - 3,650 hours on eBay. That means I'm only like a 1/3 expert on eBay!

My point is - there are very few real eBay experts out there - so if you are feeling frustrated about making eBay work, don't. There are very few people out there who know it all, so you shouldn't beat yourself when something on eBay doesn't work.

The important thing is - don't get discouraged - keep trying new things. Maybe before the time you're old and gray you'll have it all figured out.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sizing up eBay pictures the right way

So it just breaks my heart every time I see an eBay listing with a picture that looks like this:

How much of the space on that image is being wasted? It's like a sea of blue!

Well, don't despair - there is an easy fix. If you're working in Windows - all you have to do is open up your Paint program (it's under accessories). Once you're there, just

1) Select the area of the image that's important
2) Left click, select cut (you'll see an empty white spot now)
3) Go down to the lower left and shrink the image field so just a bit of the box shows in the upper right corner
4) Left click inside the reduced work area, click paste
5) Then just save it.

It takes about 20 seconds. Now you have something that looks like this:

Sunday, March 8, 2009

On eBay, make money when you BUY

One of the biggest questions eBay sellers often ask is, "where can I get stuff to sell?!?"

That is a whole topic on its own - but one thing that I've learned when looking for stuff to sell is: make money when you buy.

It sounds a little counter-intuitive, but its true. What I mean is, don't bank on making a profit by buying something at a reasonable price, and then hope to sell it for a good price. Rather, look for things that you can buy at a ridiculously low price - then plan to sell them for a reasonable price.

Why? First, your chances of flipping the item quickly are much greater if you can offer it at a reasonable price - which means you can then take the money you had invested and go out and get something else for your inventory. Second, you may still be able to sell that item for a good price, then you make that much more profit.

So, look to make the profit when you buy - it will make getting the money when you sell so much easier.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Back to the Future - eBay and Daylight Savings

So as most of us here in the U.S. hopefully remember - all clocks spring forward 1 hour this evening.

For those eBayers who are hyper sensitive about timing the end of their auctions, its important to realize that any listing that falls across the daylight savings time change gets shifted by an hour. So if an auction is supposed to end at 8 am tomorrow, it will actually end at 9 am.

I can't imagine a situation where a 1 hour change would make such a difference that one would actually worry a lot about it. But if you do worry about it, remember the tweak the timing of your auctions whenever daylight savings is involved.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Worried about not having the right box?

A lot of times I hear about eBayers who are reluctant to list an item because they're not sure how they will send it. Mostly, they seem to be worried about having the right sized box or envelope.

Like so many things - try coming at it backwards. Instead of trying to find a box for the things you list, why not list the things for which you have a box. In other words - if having the right box or envelope is your biggest worry - take the box you have and find out what in your sell pile will fit in that box.

Whatever fits best, that's what you list next.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Anti Clutter Kick + eBay = Powerful Combination

Not too long ago my moma let me borrow It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh (he's the clean sweep guy). I thought it was a pretty good book - Walsh gives some good advice about how to think about stuff. One of the best things in the book is on the very first page where he quotes Fight Club saying, "The things you own wind up owning you"

Walsh mentions eBay in the book as a good way to get rid of extra stuff....but he doesn't dwell on it too long. It occurs to me that an entire book could be written about this subject alone. If getting rid of stuff is all about the mental/emotional balance of: it'll hurt to get rid of this stuff but it'll feel good to have the space...then the extra $$$ that one can earn from eBaying extra stuff can really tip the balance in favor of less stuff.