Sunday, September 23, 2018

What It's Like To Have Sold on eBay for Twenty Years

*This post contains affiliate links*
A couple weeks ago a friend set up a group for people who sell things to let people know of sales and such. I wasn't allowed in. Why? Because I sell on eBay instead of Etsy or a multi level marketing company. I don't think they understand what selling on eBay is like, so I thought I would share:
I want to tell you a little bit about selling on eBay. I've been doing it for twenty years. (How many of you have stayed in the same job for that long?) . I've become a lot more knowledgeable and serious about it in recent years. Five years ago I had under 300 items listed. Now I am hoping to have 1300 by the end of the month! Unlike selling with some MLM I have all 1300 items in my house (plus many more that are not listed yet.) . I also have TWO storage units filled with unlisted items -- at this point I have quit sourcing for new items to sell.
I have repeat customers who I know what they like and if I am out and see something that I think these people would like, I purchase it. A couple examples are I have a buyer who loves community cookbooks from Virginia. I have another who loves co-ed Catholic high school cookbooks. Sometimes I will buy these things (and those for repeat customers) even if I have a low ROI (return on investment) because I want to keep customers coming back to me. It's not exactly common that people buy multiple times from the same seller on eBay and I want to be a seller they seek out!
When people begin selling on eBay, it's fun and many times people will not think it is a job. I've easily sold over 15,000 items (and that's probably a low estimate) over the last 20 years. That's sourcing an item, taking photos, writing description, waiting on payment to come in the mail (pre-paypal), packing the item, shipping, and any follow up that needs done. I do enjoy the flexibility and freedom it gives me, as well as being able to bring in decent money without having to leave the house and having to have another car, business clothes, etc.
There have been times people have told me they would "let" me teach them to sell on eBay. How do you think you would respond if someone came up to you and said they would let you teach them how to do your job.
I no longer sell for others. Why? After someone called me and said "Their buddy is in jail and owes them money and he had some belt buckles that belonged to him". Another time, someone called and wanted me to list magazines for her. She said that some of them could even sell for FIVE DOLLARS EACH! (I don't list anything that low.) . Also, I have made as low as 1% selling items for others. It's the same amount of work to list something that I will keep the money from as it is to list something for someone and make only a few cents. While I do make exceptions for selling for others, it's extremely rare, and I generally say I don't sell for others.
I have over 6,000 positive feedback at 100% satisfaction on my new account (back in the day I had multiple accounts for different things.) . I called eBay one time about having my listing limits raised. I was told "Your buyers love you." With pride, I said, "Yes they do."
Many people sell more than I do. I'm small potatoes in the circles on Facebook I hang out in. But I learn more and more stuff every single day. The eBay of 1998 is not the eBay of 2018. I've kept up with changes. I have bought multiple computers over the years, not only that I have invested in iPads, cameras, and even photo studio tabletop boxes where I can take nicer photos. Of course then there are all the reference materials I have. Ring sizers so I can tell what size a ring in, a book on how to identify first edition books, plus my favorite item of all -- a tape dispenser that has one side for regular sized tape and beside it a place for packing tape. I have invested in myself so I can become the best seller I can be.
I also have spent literally thousands of dollars in the last twenty years on tape, boxes, bubble wrap, and more. I highly recommend uPackAndShip on eBay
It's a job. A real job. I'm thankful for it because it allowed me to be able to bring in some income while I was dipping into savings each month when my mother needed help. I am thankful for it because if I am sick, I can pretty much just leave everything but shipping for a few days, and I am working with my husband to get things easier for him to be able to ship if I don't feel up to it. When my mother was in ICU in Pittsburgh, I asked a friend to ship a couple items for me. I have to be responsible for each and every sale, no matter what happens. I had to ship items between the day my mother died and her funeral. I have to *plan* for days off, and I never get paid time off like most jobs give. I sometimes think people don't understand this when it comes to the planning I need to do (and factoring costs) of being gone for more than a weekend. My September through January are always busy. I barely have time to breathe because I can work as much as I want because that's the busy time of year. But, my husband usually has Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday off as his "weekend", and I can do what I need to do those days and work harder on the days he has off so we can spend his days off together. No one loves their job 100% of the time, but I have to say most of the time I very much enjoy it, and I am thankful for the flexibility.
I often wear a slap bracelet ruler when I am listing. It makes finding a ruler easier. There is a lot of measuring. There is a lot of cleaning of times. A lot of research. Sometimes a lot of negotiation.
I give 10% of everything I bring in to charity. It helps my items be seen on eBay. It helps others. And I get 10% discount on my eBay fees.I do many things to bring in money. This is the one I have done longest. So that is a bit of insight into my life.
As Christmas approaches, remember real people like me sell on eBay. If you can buy from a smaller seller (vs. a big company) on eBay you are helping someone pay their light bill, save for a vacation, or buy school clothes for their kids. Yes, some eBay individuals are huge sellers, but think of us as small businesses, not a cog in a giant corporation.
I have one professional in my area who gives me a small business discount when I do business with him. Why? Because I'm bringing money into our area. I might sell something to Australia (which I do often), but then I buy gasoline for my car locally -- which helps the store employing my husband and over two dozen others stay in business.
This is a glimpse of my life. If you enjoyed reading this, I can write about other things I do to make money and such over the next few weeks.

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