.:The Internet Home Business Magazine for Moms & Dads:.

Tell Me About Your Big eBay But…


Let’s get it out of our systems now. Show me your but’s. ;)

I want to sell on eBay but:

  • …where the heck to you find enough to sell?
  • …how do I know I won’t get ripped off?
  • …I don’t know anything about computers.
  • …I don’t like dealing with people.
  • …what if I get negative feedback?
  • …it seems so complicated.
  • …where do I start?

I feel your but’s, I really do. giggle giggle Okay, seriously, I hear this stuff all the time. The easiest way to get started seems to be to tell you how I got started. You will quickly see how simple it was. An accident, really. Let’s say, serendipity.

When I became pregnant with my second child, Goose (a web moniker), we were quite short of money in our house. In fact, we were quite short on house, as we had just lost everything we owned in Hurricane Katrina. Down to a bare slab of concrete. Ouch. Needless to say, Goose was a bit of a Hurricane Baby Surprise, catching us with our financial pants down.Despite our financial pressures, I was still determined to remain a stay-at-home mom, so I was open to finding ways to make money from home. How I came upon eBay selling was nothing more than a fluke.

Having not a stitch left from all of our carefully preserved hand-me-downs from my firstborn (Pants, another moniker), I had to start from scratch again for the new baby. While stocking up on new baby supplies, I found that my favorite baby wash and lotion had been discontinued. Fretful Baby BathI was clinging to all things nostalgic at the time, so combined with raging pregnancy hormones, this was equal to sheer devastation. No baby-smelling baby wash? Whatever will I do? And let me tell you, I was serious.

As a veteran eBay buyer for years, I knew there would be some of the coveted baby products there, so I eagerly logged on, only to be disappointed at the incredibly high bids at which they were going. Paying $12 for an 8 ounce bottle of baby wash was not in my budget, thank you. I felt like I was being looted by the eBay pirates.

So I hit the discount stores. The salvage stores. Anywhere that might be clearing out the baby product stock. I didn’t have to search long before I found it. For $2 a bottle. Hot dog! Jackpot! In more ways than one, in fact.

After stocking up a ridiculous amount of product for myself, it occurred to me that there was nothing stopping me from becoming an eBay pirate myself. After all, where were these other sellers getting this stuff? Why couldn’t I give selling baby products on eBay a go? Especially at a profit of close to $10 per bottle. So I bought approximately two dozen bottles in a variety of the discontinued line’s products, an investment of less than $50, and hit eBay to do some research about how to be a seller.

Everything you need to know about selling on eBay is right on their site. I could probably end my blog right there. However, if you are reading this, you are probably looking for more than just how-to information. On we press…

In less than a day, I taught myself how to sell on eBay, using nothing more than their online tools. It was incredibly simple. I looked at the auctions that were selling for the highest price (I’ll teach you later how to do this by searching “Completed Auctions,” one of the absolute keys to launching successful auctions), made notes about what I liked and didn’t like about my soon-to-be competitors, broke out the digital camera, and got rolling.

Oh, and one more thing, I made sure I stood out by throwing in a free bonus gift with every winning bid and I advertised this in the listing. At one of the stores I had visited, I bought a bunch of travel sizes of the same products, knowing they would make perfect bonus gifts. Having received such surprise extras from sellers before, I knew it was the extra touch I needed to stand out from the pack.

Within 24 hours I had my first sale. I had created a mix of two types of listings:

  1. Auction-style listings with a Buy It Now option
  2. Buy It Now listings with the option to buy at whatever quantity the customer preferred, ranging from 1 product to 12 products

It quickly became clear that I had hit the right note somewhere, as the sales never stopped. In fact, buyers were paying more for my auctions than they were for identical listings. As the demand grew, I raised my prices, but it didn’t deter my buyers. Was it my bonuses? Was it my design? My photos? My descriptions? I mean, there are only so many ways you can pitch a bottle of baby lotion, people.

Later, I would more closely analyze what was attracting buyers to me, which I will be sharing with you over the coming posts. In short, it wasn’t so much a formula for selling, but a customer-satisfaction-based approach. I wanted my buyers to be happy. I wanted them to enjoy buying on eBay. And my buyers wanted to give me their money.

Baby Feet TowelBut the supply of discontinued products eventually, well, discontinues. I had to find something else to sell. I was hooked. But where to go now? I certainly didn’t have any old cookie jars or Matchbox cars to sell, unless anyone wanted to lend me some scuba diving gear and was willing to buy severely waterlogged vintage books with pages nibbled by creatures from the Gulf of Mexico. Yet, I was a month in and there was no turning back. I had tasted the satisfaction of being both a stay-at-home parent and a contributor to our family finances, all thanks to baby wash. I. was. hooked.

Are you, yet?

Next up is the “turn.” I move from fluke to calculated success and I plan to bring you with me.

eBay Selling for eParents next post: How I became known as “The Bay Rum Runner.” Yep, I was about to become a real eBay pirate. But Ye be warned: Here be monster profits to be made. Arrr!!!

In the meantime, think about your big ole eBay “but…” Tell me about it. We can discuss it over some rum and gold doubloons.

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    On September 11th, 2007 at 4:24 pm, Nell said:

    Here’s my but: where do I find the extra time? And the other side of the same but: how much are we really talking?

    On September 11th, 2007 at 4:34 pm, lornadoone said:

    I’ve considered selling on eBay, but . . .

    . . . I feel like everyone just wants to make money selling “how-to be successful on eBay” books, but no one is really interested in actually teaching someone to be successful.

    . . . there’s so much information out there that it’s too overwhelming to slog though and figure out what is actually useful.

    . . . there’s so much stuff on eBay that no one will ever notice mine and want to buy it.

    . . . I don’t have anything worth selling, and drop-shipping companies seem like a scam.

    (OK, that’s enough for now!)

    On September 12th, 2007 at 9:26 am, Believer in Balance said:

    Ooh! I’m intrigued! My husband has sat down to sell on eBaby his unused Diplomacy game no less than four times, but never seems to figure out what to do next. I’m more annoyed that it’s still sitting here getting dusty than the fact that I paid a small fortune to buy him this game he’s never used!

    On September 12th, 2007 at 2:46 pm, andi said:

    Nell and I share the same but - how creepy is that?

    I look forward to your future posts. You just might get me hooked too.

    On September 12th, 2007 at 5:14 pm, Jennifer said:

    This is quite interesting. Seriously, Megan, I’m actually interested.

    Great post!

    On September 12th, 2007 at 5:44 pm, FENICLE said:

    I can’t wait to hear your stories!!

    I love seeing the ridiculous things people will bid on…like used underwear :)

    On September 12th, 2007 at 7:15 pm, Christine said:

    Looking forward to hearing more of your story. I’ve sold on eBay plenty of times…’BUT’ I don’t know how to go about finding inventory to keep it going. Up until now I’ve just sold stuff around the house that I don’t want/need anymore.

    More info!

    On September 13th, 2007 at 3:57 am, Christina said:

    Now that I’m a SAHM, I’m looking to sell on eBay, too. I’ve done it in the past quite a bit, but never to seriously make money.

    My buts:

    …where do I find the time without completely neglecting my kids?

    …how do I take good pictures that look good?

    …how fancy do I have to make my listings?

    …where do I find stuff that will sell so I’m not stuck with a house full of useless stuff?

    Can’t wait to read more!

    On September 13th, 2007 at 7:47 am, Sarah at In the Trenches of Mommyhood said:

    Hi Megan! Best of luck with this venture!
    Ok, here’s my question:
    I have a TON of little boy clothes in fabulous condition. How do I make money selling them?

    On September 13th, 2007 at 7:50 am, Beth said:

    Hi Megan - I’ve tried selling on eBay several times before. A couple just to unload some spare household items, and more than I’d like to admit to try and make a living. BUT it has never worked for me, so I’m anxious to read your upcoming posts. I’ve tried buying things at discounts, from distributors, and using drop ship companies, only to find everyone else doing the same thing, and often for less than I had paid!

    Tell me more!!

    On September 13th, 2007 at 10:51 am, carrie said:

    i hate you and your amazingly convincing storytelling! you make me want to be an eBay seller, and who the freak has time for THAT?!?

    carrie, the dissertating procrastinator who shouldn’t be considering other careers when she has yet to begin the one she has subsidized through loans for entirely too long. :)

    On September 14th, 2007 at 11:24 am, Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said:

    I’ve tried selling a few things here and there but like others, I wonder how to find the time and the inventory. I have a lot of gently-used baby clothes but I notice that new ones seem to sell better. And from the few I have sold, I don’t think I’ve made much profit after the fees Ebay charged plus shipping costs. I’m looking forward to reading your tips!

    On September 14th, 2007 at 6:07 pm, Holli Jo said:

    I would love to start selling on eBay, but…

    I don’t know how to find things to sell.

    Do people really buy stuff on there anymore?

    How can I distinguish myself from every other seller on eBay?

    What if I’m left with a room full of inventory and an empty bank account?

    On September 22nd, 2007 at 5:53 pm, trish said:

    I tried to list buy it now with free shipping but I found the ebay fees more than ate up any profit. I deliberately listed within the low to medium price on popular books - now I have a ton of Hallmark ornaments and no idea how to list them and not get killed with fees.

    Mentions on other sites...

    1. Welcome to the New eMomsatHome.com Internet Home Business Magazine - eMoms at Home - The Internet Home Business Blog for Moms & Dads on September 12th, 2007 at 10:52 am
    2. eBay Selling for eParents on September 14th, 2007 at 12:00 pm

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