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101 ways to make money & score BIG on eBay!

Whether you’re just starting out on eBay and you want to join in on the bargains or you’re a seasoned pro who’d like to increase your sales even more, 101 ways to make money & score BIG on eBay! is for you. This book will show you how to:
  • Win items for the lowest possible amount
  • Sell items for above average prices
  • Develop and keep a 100% positive rating
  • Turn auction problems into opportunities
  • Navigate the entire auction process from finding an item to shipping it to the highest bidder
  • Save time by providing you with pre-made drafts for auction listings, end of auction emails and more

  • The author has eBay’s highest feedback rating (100%) and has had sales of over over $150,000 on eBay. He has made over $1,000 in a single transaction on an item picked up at a garage sale. Here in this book, an internet auction veteran with over ten years of experience on eBay shares his secrets for bargain hunting and high profits. 101 ways to make money & score BIG on eBay! is packed full of ideas, suggestions, tips and techniques that can help put you turn your cash flow from a trickle to a flood!
    On sale now! $7.95

    Please note that even though many of these are not as powerful as the ones in the book, it's important to
    remember that everything is cumulative. So apply as many as you can in order to maximize your savings and profits.

    I've come round to adding new tips in chronilogical order (the latest are at the top). So if this is you're first time to visit, you'll find 75 tips at the bottom that use the same categories as those in the book. If you're a repeat visitor, just scan down to the newest tips towards the top. Thanks, Mike Wood.

    If you receive a response from a Craigslist ad that says, "Is it a available" without a phone number or several specific questions about the item the response is spam. Replying to it will generate a new email with a moneymaking opportunity link. The same rule applies to responses that state, "would you be willing to trade for...," where the offer to trade has a link to a camera on Amazon and does not have a phone number.

    I recently had a dispute on Paypal involving an international sale to Australia. I hate to stereotype but the only problems i've ever had with international sales have all involved Australians. The dispute was ultimately resolved in my favor, but it cost me time and stress. Until it was resolved in my favor, it looked like I might be out $300 plus the product to. As a result of this experience, I am no longer accepting Paypal for international payments. I now only accept Western Union payments. Alternatively, If i can get the international buyer to ship to a friend in the US I can still accept Paypal.

    When placing a Craigslist ad, I almost always start it with the following phrase: "Please send your phone number to differentiate from spam." There are so many automated spam responses to CL, that this is about the only way to separate the legitimate responses from the spam. The spam responses almost always state, "Is it still available?" or something to that effect. Once you respond, you will get an email telling you about some great opportunity.

    - Save your work! I've had a number of times when i've typed a long description into craigslist (rare on eBay, but possible) and when i hit "continue," instead of showing me the verification page (where they ask you to type in the words shown), it instead says: "Oops, the link appears broken" or "sorry, you're posting too quickly and Craig can't keep up." Guess what happens if you try to go back to the previous page? Right, it's gone. So to avoid this, before leaving the description page, save a quick copy to a file.

    - SHOTGUN APPROACH. Typically it works best to place a single bid during the last couple seconds before an auction ends. However, for items that you need more than one of, a shotgun approach may be the next best method. For instance, I go through a lot of running shoes. Normally I would wait until an auction is about to end and at that point place a bid on the model I need. But, due to some lifestyle changes I am not able to get to a computer as much as I used to. So in lieu of trying to bid on an auction when it is about to end, I put in multiple bids for the same model shoe on different listings as soon as they come up. I bid my highest price I am willing to pay during my first bid, and this is the only bid I make. Other people may well bid at the last moment and beat me. If they do, more power to them as I am not willing to go over my set price. But occasionally, other bidders will forget to bid when the auction ends and I'll win an auction. And if I win more than one, it's no problem since I wanted more than one item anyway.

    - Ebay continues to raise their rates. Roughly 9% now for final value fees. I had switched to placing a number of items in the Fixed Price listing (sell it until it's sold). This makes it look like you'll just pay a one time listing fee. In fact, eBay recharges you the listing fee every 30 days. Don't be suckered into this. I only caught this through checking my account invoice.

    - www.bookoo.com provides a national database for yardsale sites. Remember, while you can get more through a national audience on eBay. for many items (especially heavy items) selling through a yard sale site will let you avoid eBay and paypal fees and will save you about 15%.

    - Here is a rate chart that I use for my flat rate shipping costs. Media mail and flat rate priority mail applies throughout the US. But parcel post, priority mail (using your own box) and first class mail are based on shipping an item half way across the country. For me, this is a pretty good average of estimated costs. Note that on parcel post, priority mail (using your own box) and first class mail I also state contiguous US so that Hawaii and Alaska are not included. Sorry the chart is laid out nicely, I'll have to do that when i get more time.

    Media Mail (includes tracking cost and about fifty cents for a mailer):

    (Up to _ pounds)
    1 $2.75
    2 3.25
    3 3.75
    4 4
    5 4.50
    6 4.75
    7 5.25
    8 5.75
    9 6
    10 6.25
    11 6.75
    12 7.25

    Parcel Post (includes tracking cost):

    0-15 oz $5.50
    1 - 1,15 $8.25
    2 - 2,15 $10
    3 - 3,15 $11.25
    4 - 4,15 $12
    5 - 5,15 $12.75
    6 - 6,15 $13.75
    9 - 9,15 $25.25

    Priority mail (with tracking):

    0-15 oz $5.50
    1 - 1,15 $8.50
    2 - 2,15 $10
    3 - 3,15 $10.50
    4 - 4,15 $13
    5 - 5,15 $17.25
    6 - 6,15 $19.50
    7 - 7,15 $21.25
    8 - 8,15 $23.25

    Small flat rate box 8 5/8" x 5 3/8" x 1 5/8" $5.50:
    Regular/Medium flat rate box 11 7/8" x 13 5/8" 3 3/8" or 11" x 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" $10.50:
    Large Flat rate box 12" x 12" x 6" $14:



    0-$50 $1.75
    $50-100 $2.25
    $100-200 2.75
    $200-300 4.70

    UPS Ground:

    0-1 lb $10
    1-2 $11
    2-3 $11.50
    3-4 $12
    4-5 $12.50
    5-6 $12.75
    6-7 $13
    7-8 $13.50
    8-9 $13.75
    9-10 $14.25

    - Our beloved 24/7/365 Post Office is now closed on holidays. And, they are longer open 24 hours a day. New hours are 8AM - 10PM.

    - I'm listing a lot more FREE items locally. This causes people to look at my other items for sale and sometimes they'll buy an item at the same time as they're picking up the free item.

    - eBay continues to change their rates. Listing (front end) fees have gotten lower, but final value (back end) fees have gotten higher. In most cases now, final value fees are about 8%. Motor vehicle parts, manuals, etc are now 12%. On top of this you can add the roughly 3.5% transaction fee that Paypal charges. I plan for an average fee charge of about 15% overall. With fees that all, I list a lot more items on craigslist or kingwoodyardsales before trying them on eBay.

    - eBay/Paypals latest policy is too withhold payment of funds for 21 days, unless you recieve positive feedback from the buyer or Paypal receives a notice of delivery via a tracking number.

    - If you have an item on eBay, and you're using a ten day listing and a minimum opening price; and it's gone half way through the period and you don't even have any watchers, your opening price is probably too high. Consider dropping the price to one cent.

    - If you need to revise an item you have on Craig's list, instead of just revising the item, consider deleting the item and just relisting it. The time involved is about the same, but with a relist your listing will now appear at the top of the search results.

    - Two alternatives to using eBay or Craig's list for selling vehicles is cars.com or autotrader.com. The fees are similar, but the duration of the listing is much longer (unlimited with the premium package). I've had better results as a buyer searching for vehicles by using cars.com and autotrader.com. I've got a test running right now with my 2001 4Runner listed on cars.com and autotrader.com and I'll see how well they work for sellers.

    - Another method that can be used when you receive and email asking you to end an auction early (expands upon #58 in the book) is to ask for a 10% deposit by paypal before relisting with a BIN. After you receive the deposit, cancel any other bids, then relist with a BIN and state the auction is only for a 90% interest in the item - and remove all photos and other descriptive properties. This does three things: It keeps you in compliance with eBays rules; It protects you from loss of fees (and other bids) if the emailer doesn't come through since you received a 10% deposit; And it keeps other people from bidding (since there is only a 90% interest in an undescribed item). Of course you will still need to contact the emailer with the new item number.

    - There's always something to sell. Why? Because nobody's life remains the same. We all get older. We drop old hobbies and start new ones. Our kids use different toys as they grow older. So what we need is always changing - and consequently some items are no longer needed.

    - Make sure you delete your sold items from craigslist, (yourcity)yardsales, etc. It amazes me how many people don't take the time to remove their sold items, which causes them to continue to receive a stream of emails asking about the item.

    - The latest info I have indicates that eBay now employees 2,000 people and spends more than $20 million a year to root out fraud. I've still never had any problems, but it's good to know that their being proactive on this.

    - READ ALL ABOUT IT: Along with listing on eBay, craigslist, etc, many local newspapers will let you run free classified ads. In Houston, the Houston Press, Kingwood Observer and others do this. Sometimes there is a limit of $99 or $200 or so. Sometimes I'll run these free newspaper ads concurrently with items on websites, or sometimes if there's no movement on Craigslist I'll get them going in the newspaper.

    - KEEP ON TRUCKIN': If you want to keep your earnings high, then it's important to keep making forward progress every day. That means doing something every day. Even if you're not listing, you could be researching, taking photos, prepping items for sale, etc. You may want to make it a habit to devote one hour a day or whatever you need. I always remember what my Dad, who started out as a door-to-door salesman told me, "you have to knock on 100 doors to get one sale, but you don't begrudge the 100 "No thank you's" because you know that on average the next one will be a yes." Making money on eBay is similar. You just keep the sales activities moving and the more you do the more they add up to additional sales.

    - WORK YOUR WAY UP: To save time, I use a progressive strategy on items I'm reselling. First, I'll place them on Craigslist and Kingwoodyardsales. This will take very little of my time as I'll only be using a description and won't have taken any photos. Typically I'll get a few bargain hunters that will snatch up some of my items even though I don't have a photo of them. The advantage for me is I've made a quick profit. The advantage for the buyer is that he/she has beat the crowd since most people wait until they see a photo to come buy something. If after a week or so I have any items that still haven't sold, I'll then take photos and resubmit the ads. I prefer to delete and relist rather than to just edit and add the photos. That way your listing is once again placed at the top since it's new. This time around I'll usually sell a few more items since now they'll have the photos. Of course the time factor will have gone up since I'll have had to take the photos, crop them, save them, etc. Finally, if after a couple more weeks they still haven't sold, I'll then place them on eBay. Although eBay will bring a higher price, the time factor will definately go up since now I'll have to fill out a full description form and go to the trouble of packing and shipping. Note that this strategy is only for large items or run-of-the-mill items. More valuable items should be listed on eBay regardless of the time factor because the profits will be so much higher than they would be through Craigslist or Kingwoodyardsales.

    - Try to keep some listings going all the time. Whether it's on eBay, Craigslist or (yourcommunity)yardsales. This keeps a steady stream of income coming in. Don't have anything in particular to sell? Throw a few things on (a no fee site) at a high price. It's just like throwing a line out for a fish. You never know when you'll get a bite. But you won't get any bites if you don't try.

    - eBay has modified the Power Seller program and now offers discounts of 20% on some fees to Power Sellers that meet certain high standards. In the past there were few benefits to being a Power Seller, but this is changing now. With this latest change, if you're selling more than $1,000 a month you should look into becoming a Power Seller.

    - PUT THE BRAKES ON: Sometimes I have to hold myself back from listing items too quickly. What happens is I'll find a garage sale being held a couple blocks from my house and pick up a number of bargains. Then, if they're Craigslist type items (see way #99 from the book) I'll put them on Craigslist right away (or if it's an estate sale that was held on a Thursday, then I might list them on eBay). This has worked great for items that I've picked up at a garage sale a couple miles from my house. It's hard to beat finding a good item, getting home, putting it on the computer and having someone come by that same afternoon and pay you a hundred dollars over what you paid for it. But here's what you have to watch out for. You don't want to pick up an item from a neighbor's garage sale, have someone come to your house and buy it from you at a premium and then stop by your neighbor's garage sale on their way back home. If the what-cha-ma-call-it is sticking out of the back of their pickup truck, your neighbor might notice and then get pissed off at you. True, you bought it from them square and fair, but waiting a day or two could eliminate sore feelings.


    ALIASES: After you’ve been using eBay for a while, obtain a second ID. Secondary IDs are useful for listing questionable items. What are questionable items? They’re things that you’re not sure if they’re permitted under the rules. Your goal here is to avoid any suspensions or blemishes on your main ID. Another reason to obtain a secondary ID is to segregate different types of items you have for sale. For example, suppose you’re bought out an estate sale filled with religious books and in and amongst them is a collection of erotic novels. You don’t want to list the collection of erotic novels on the same account that has the religious books, because (generally) you’ll be selling to two different markets, and you don’t want to offend either one! Think it’s far fetched? This is exactly what I found in an estate sale of 2,000 books I once bought!


    BAD TIMING: Watch out for holidays. If you’ve got an auction running that will end on Labor Day, a significant portion of the population may be on vacation. That means a lower pool of bidders and an overall lower ending price.


    ON THE MARGIN: Buy items from other auction sites and resell them on eBay. eBay is the eight hundred pound gorilla and items will usually sell for more there than anyplace else. Do your research and check the closing prices on the item you are considering. If there is a significant difference between the cost elsewhere and the selling price on eBay, then you’ve got a great candidate for eBay. In my case, I have purchased used books on Amazon.com for $15 and resold them on eBay for $50.

    CLOSE IN ON CLOSE-OUTS: Look for large lots of clearance items you can buy at stores. Some eBayers specialize in finding close-out items and reselling them on eBay. This is another case of simply comparing your cost versus what the items have been selling for (check Complete Listings).

    LET’S BE HONEST ABOUT THIS: Add, “Sorry, we won’t lie on customs forms,” to your shipping information. Sooner or later you’ll have someone ask you to lie about the cost of the item or ask you to claim it’s a gift. Lying for a buyer is not worth the big penalties you could incur if caught. Clearly stating in advance that you won’t lie will reduce the number of people asking you to. It also sends a message that you operate honestly, which helps increase your bids.

    ORIGINAL OWNER: If the item you’re selling is yours (as opposed to something you’ve bought from someone else for resale) and you have a smoke free and/or pet free home, always include that information in your description.


    SHOW OFF YOUR BEST FEATURES: Use bullets and lists to reveal features. Often new users will just write a description as one long paragraph composed of all the same size and color text. This presents one long boring description to potential bidders. In contrast, a description that’s created to display normally (with paragraph breaks, bold text, etc) is much easier to read and gets more bids (and a higher final bid). Using bullets makes it easier for bidders to quickly see different features your item has. And the easier it is to see and understand your items features, the better it will look compared to items listed by other sellers. Of course making your item’s features easier to see will make bidders more likely to choose your item to bid on. Bullets can be created by using:
    <li> </li>
    <li> </li>
    <li> </li>
    <ul> tells the computer to begin an un-numbered (also called un-ordered) list.<li> begins the list text and </li> ends the list text. </ul> tells the computer to end the list.

    ACTING BOLD AND COLORFUL: Use different colors and bold fonts to highlight different points. Colors can be created with language such as <font color="blue"> . Besides blue, you can use red, green, yellow, etc. You can also use an official HTML alphanumeric code for any of 216 colors such as #0000FF (which is blue). Just do a search for HTML color codes on your computer and you will find numerous sites with color charts. To end the use of colors, type </font>.

    Bold text can be created with <b> and ended with </b>. So if you wanted to make one item in a list a bold red color, you would type: <li> <b> <font color="red">Now I'm bold and red</font> </b> </li>.
    This will be rendered as:

    BAIT AND SWITCH: Watch out for fraudulent buyers on items that are easily copied or quickly used. This can include:
    1. Rare CDs
    2. Software (CD-roms)
    3. Rare books
    4. Video tapes and DVDs

    Let’s break down the potential pitfalls with each of these items. For rare CDs, unscrupulous buyers will simply copy the CD and return it. For software, they’ll just install it and return it. For rare books, they’ll read them overnight and return them. And for video tapes and DVDs, they’ll copy them or watch them overnight and return them. Personally, I haven’t had any problems with the last three items. Most software sellers will take the software back if there are any problems installing it, and odds are even if the person did install it the software could just be resold to a new buyer with only a loss of time (bear in mind that additional problems could prop up with licensed copies that must be registered). As far as books are concerned, I’ve sold over one thousand books with prices up to $400. I’ve never had any returns and in my experience, if the book is rare the buyer doesn’t just want to read it, he/she wants to possess it too. Video tapes and DVDs are relatively inexpensive and for most scammers it wouldn’t be worth their time to return them. The main problem I’ve seen is rare CDs. Rare CDs can sell for $40, $100 or more. But they are easily copyable. Thus, for scammers they can just buy the CD from you, claim that it was flawed, that they didn’t want it or whatever. Then they’ll copy it and return it, and only be out a few dollars for shipping. Here’s how I deal with this. First, test your copy and make sure it really is good with no problems. Then in your listing, use this draft:


    Granted, this doesn’t make scammers disappear. It just makes them move on to another seller.

    BREAKAWAY: Do you get breaks at your job or school? If you have a laptop you can work on your descriptions and save everything to an eBay file so that it’s ready to go. If you don’t own a laptop, find a desktop computer (library, break room, etc) and work on your descriptions and save them to your floppy disk or USB keychain flashdrive. Small items like books that you want to sell can be tossed in a briefcase so you can bring them with you. That way as you begin a description of each item you can reference it as you begin describing it. For larger items that you can’t take with you, you can make a rough draft of a description at home and then polish the description during your down time at work or school. The key here is putting your down time to use towards your eBay sales.

    HOTWHEELS: Selling a car on eBay can be much more profitable than selling it locally. As covered in the book, you’ll be selling to a national (or global) audience instead of a local one. I’ve sold a few cars for eBay, including one for more than fifty percent over what I bought it for. Some of the techniques that can be used to maximize your vehicle sales are:
  • Take at least twenty photos (forty is better). You should show every angle of the vehicle and assist the buyer in having a clear idea of the car’s true condition. This will also help prevent the buyer seeking a refund (see way #54)
  • On a photo program (such as Adobe Photo Shop), create one small version (about 3” x 3”) and one large version (about 8” x 8”) of each photo. In your description, display each small photo and provide a link to each large photo. That way the photos will rapidly display if someone pulls up your listing with a slow connection, yet viewers will still have the option to click on any photo to maximize it. Note: You must have your own website (or a friend with one) in order to host your own images to do this. The HTML code for this is:
    <a href="www.YourWebsite/images/ParticularPhotoLargeVersion.JPG"><img src="YourWebSite/images/ParticularPhotoSmallVersion.JPG"> </a>
  • Describe all the vehicle’s features with bullet headers (see way #28 & 108)
  • Make sure your description covers all vehicle damage, flaws and nonworking features. This will help prevent returns and/or legal action due to misleading advertising. If you just state, “excellent condition” and the buyer later finds out that three or four items don’t work on the car, the buyer could use that against you.
  • Add generic caveats such as, “has minor scratches and nicks as would expected with any vehicle that has 50,000 miles” and, “sold as-is, no warranty other than any available through the manufacturer.”
  • Use eBay’s “featured” listing (see way #38).
  • Consider starting at 1¢ in lieu of a minimum price or reserve price if appropriate (see ways #35 & 36)

    TOP TEN LIST: Consider including a “ten-most common problems” list for new eBay users who have feedback ratings of less than ten. New users are more likely to not understand the auction process. Including this list can help educate them while reducing the chances for problems with your transaction. I use the following list:
    1. New Paypal user thinks he/she has sent payment via Paypal, but has actually only deposited money in his/her account.
    2. Paypal recipient email typed in wrong (copy and paste to avoid errors).
    3. New Paypal user error: Thinks that he/she has made payment via Paypal, but has only filled out Ebay's "checkout summery". Paypal will not automatically draft your credit card or checking account when filling out Ebay's checkout summary. You have to specifically authorize it to do so.
    4. Buyer wants expedited shipping. But in-lieu of making payment via Paypal, or US Postal Money Order, buyer instead sends personal check or some other type of money order or check which causes a delay.
    5. Buyer sends check with nothing stating item # or item title that check is for. Seller unable to determine which item check is for.
    6. Buyer makes no contact, then sends check with no address to ship to.
    7. Buyer asks for shipping quote (on actual shipping cost item) but won't send address.
    8. Buyer lives in Texas [adjust to your state], makes no contact and just mails check for taxable items without including sales tax.
    9. On a foreign transaction, buyer sends local currency check instead of making payment by Paypal.
    10. On a foreign transaction, buyer sends US shipping fees instead of sending address so we can determine foreign shipping fees.
    HOT TICKET: If you’re selling a big ticket item like a car, it’s a good idea to keep a small item listed in an overlapping auction (one that continues on for a few days after the car auction ends). The reason for this is that after an auction ends the “CONTACT SELLER” option disappears. And if someone was interested in your car but forgot to bid they may not have a way to contact you. By listing a second auction, interested bidders will still have the chance on your completed auction (the one with the car in this case) to select, “VIEW SELLER’S OTHER AUCTIONS.” Once they click on this link your other listing will come up. They can then click the, “CONTACT SELLER” link through your other auction and ask you about your big ticket item that way. Alternatively, you can just put your phone number or email directly into the item’s description.

    NAME CALLING: Unfortunately, no matter how good your customer service is and how nice you are, sooner or later you’ll get a nasty email from a customer. I find for every nine hundred and ninety-nine customers I have that are happy I’ll get one that will send a mean email or leave a cruel phone call. And this will be on a perfect transaction where I sold them a brand new item that went for a bargain price! What gives? Sadly, dealing with people like this is part of the job. You have to develop a thick skin when this occurs and bear in mind that there are simply some people in the world that just have that type of temperament. Some people engage in browbeating just to try to make themselves feel better or just to get things for free. Methods for dealing with people like this include:
    1. Copy and paste portions from your listing to show the customer that you are doing/selling exactly what you had stated in the original listing.
    2. When dealing with people like this, keep your emails honorable. Save copies of communications and if necessary, send them to eBay as proof of harassment. EBay will suspend customers that don’t behave professionally and honorably.
    3. In some cases, it may even be worth it to give them a refund or whatever just to get them off your back. Just remember, you know you have an honorable character and that fact has been verified over and over by the other nine hundred and ninety-nine people.


    TAPE IT AGAIN, SAM: Best place for packing tape – Sam’s Club. Sam’s Club sells a six pack of clear packing tape for about $17. Pick up a tape dispenser too.

    WILL WORK FOR PEANUTS: I get almost all of the packing peanuts I need just by saving them from items that I’ve had shipped to me. When I do have to purchase packing peanuts I’ve found them to be cheapest at Mail Boxes, Etc the UPS Store. Also, Mail Boxes occasionally sends out 20% off coupons.
    HANDLES LIKE EGGS: Cardboard egg cartons and crumpled newspaper can also be used for cushioning. Because of the weight, I would only consider using newspaper on media items or on items where you know you’re at the bottom of the weight range (4 pounds 1 oz as opposed to being at the top of the weight – 4 pounds, 15 ounces). Since most boxed items are shipped by the pound, adding extra ounces (as long as you stay under the next pound increment) doesn’t increase your shipping costs.

    RECYCLING: Reuse mailers that you receive in the mail that are still in good condition. Just tape a sheet of paper over the old address info and write or print the new address info on it. If you still don’t have enough mailers, new mailers can be purchased economically in bulk from mail order office supply dealers. When using used mailers or packaging material, bear in mind the cost you charge for shipping versus the value of an item. If you sell someone a book for $90 and you have built-in the price of a new mailer into the shipping cost, you’re not going to look too good when you send them their expensive book in a used mailer. On the other hand, when you have a book that you had hoped to sell for $10 and it sells for only $4, a previously used mailer is not out of place. In this case, using a recycled mailer can save you the cost of a new mailer and add a little profit back into your pocket.

    PRIORITY #1: Get free priority mail boxes and priority mail mailers from USPS.com. Preprinted priority mail address labels can also be obtained from USPS.com (plus you get a free box that they ship everything in). Many priority mail boxes or mailers can usually be picked up from the local post office for free too.

    CHECK THE BOOKS: Both a Global Priority flat rate mailer and a Priority mail flat rate mailer will hold a hardback book. This is often one of the cheapest ways to ship hardbacks. The maximum size book they will hold is about 11” x 8 ½” x ¾”. Note that there is no cushioning with these mailers, so you will need to instead use a padded mailer or box for more expensive books.

    KEEPING IT TOGETHER: Styrofoam can be a lightweight and convenient cushioning material for shipping, but oftentimes you will need to cut a piece of Styrofoam to size in order to get it to fit the box at hand. A problem that occurs when doing this is that Styrofoam edges that have been cut (rather than molded) will degrade and create a mess of tiny pieces of Styrofoam all over the box. If you do have to cut a piece of Styrofoam to fit a box, tape the frayed edges with packing tape. Taping will help keep the edges from degrading and will help prevent having a big mess of tiny pieces of Styrofoam inside the box. Similarly, I often wrap items in a plastic bag (garbage bag, kitchen trash bag, or whatever size works) before tossing in a load of packing peanuts to cushion the item. This keeps peanuts from going inside the nooks and crannies on the item and damaging it or making a mess. Do this especially if you are recycling old peanuts as the older they get, the easier they break down.

    EASY DOES IT: Use fragile tape on fragile items. A Consumer Reports study showed the same rate of damage, whether or not fragile was written on the box. But psychologically it’s better for the buyer.

    MASS MARKETING: For big ticket items like cars, I’ll tie in my eBay listing with a mass marketing campaign. For instance, when I listed my 1989 Land Cruiser on eBay, I simultaneously ran ads in the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express, Fort Worth Telegram, Austin Statesman and a couple of websites. In those ads I stated “bidding starts at $1” and listed my email address. Then whenever anyone emailed me on the vehicle, I sent them a draft I had previously made up that had a short description and the eBay link and item number.


    SHIPPING FOR THE LEAST TO THE FAR EAST: Foreign items are almost always cheaper to ship via USPS. In fact, in ten years of checking shipping rates I’ve never found any other shipping services that were less expensive, regardless of the type of item I was shipping.


    ONE WAY OR ANOTHER: eBay latest version of the feedback system does not allow sellers to place negative or neutral feedback on a buyer (as of May, 2008). How will this effect you and what should you do to maximize your benefits from this change? The foremost thing to keep in mind is that more than ever, you must concentrate on good customer service. With the old system, sellers had the option of withholding feedback until after buyers placed feedback. This had the benefit of preventing negative feedback by encouraging buyers to contact sellers first if there was a problem and allowing them a chance to correct it before placing feedback. With the current system, this option is no longer available. Therefore, instead of including phrases in your emails like, “All positive feedback will be automatically returned,” make sure you include phrases like, “If you are in anyway dissatisfied please contact us and give us a chance to resolve the problem in-lieu of placing negative feedback because we are 100% committed to maintaining satisfied customers.”


    SNIPERS: Swooping in at the last moment before an auction ends is known as sniping. As covered in way #91 in the book, it’s to your advantage to place your bid at the last possible moment (so long as you don’t wait too long and place it after the auction closes)! While it’s possible to do this manually, many companies sell bidding software that will do this for you automatically. You don’t even have to be home. Your computer just needs to be on (alternatively, some autobids may be done remotely through a subscription service, in which case your computer doesn’t even have to be on). With automated auction bidding software, you simply log in to the program or service, enter the item number and your maximum bid. Most programs place your bid within the last two to eight seconds before the auction ends, although some allow you to set the time of your choice. A web search will yield a number of programs such as Powersnipe, Auctionsentry, etc.

    NO WAITING: What if you need an item right away and you don’t have time to wait for a few rounds of bidding? You’ll still want to check Completed Listings, but this time focus on buy-it-now listings. Find the low end of these and compare the buy-it-now prices to the regular auction prices. Then go back to the active listings and check buy-it-now prices to see if there are any near the low end of the price range. Your options at this point are to choose a buy-it-now price or to bid a midrange price on a regular auction. Be advised that the sooner you need to acquire something, the higher you’ll have to be prepared to bid for an item. Your best bet to keep costs down on unusual items is to keep a watch list (see way #96 in the book) going, plan in advance and jump on something quickly when a low priced buy-it-now listing comes up.

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS: In contrast to the admonition to avoid selling items that would end on holidays (when a large pool of bidders may be traveling), holiday weekends (other than Christmas) can be a good time to buy items. All other things being equal, you’ll face fewer competitors when bidding so your final bid can end up being lower.

    ODDITIES: Bid in odd increments. In other words, if you’re interested in an item that is worth $20 to you, bid $20.12 or some odd increment slightly over $20. The reason for this is many people will just bid in round numbers and bidding up slightly will allow you to outbid them. Also, if you had bid a round number that was the same as someone else had bid, whoever had placed the bid first would have won. Bidding slightly up keeps you from becoming the low bidder in this type of case too.


    THE TAX MAN COMETH (PART III): In Texas, you are allowed to have two garage sales a year without having to collect state sales tax. Many people carry this thought over to virtual online garage sales and don’t collect state sales taxes or declare sales as income either. But be aware that as you sell more and more items, at some point you cross the line from selling your personal items to operating a business. You’ll have to determine that point for yourself based on your particular state laws and the amount and kind of transactions you’re conducting. The good news is that as you transition to a business operation you’ll be able to deduct a home-based office, office equipment, mileage and many other items. The bad news is that if you make enough profit you’ll need to pay taxes based on those profits. Ask your tax accountant about what you can deduct and what threshold of sales you need to pass to determine how this applies to your location.
    HOME, SWEET HOME: Use caution when logging into eBay from public computers. It’s fine to surf eBay from a computer at the library or in a breakroom, but I wouldn’t log in with my password. There’s simply no way to tell if someone else’s computer is up to date on anti-virus protection. This is especially important when dealing with Paypal where you have money in your account. If you find that you have an item you need to bid on that ends at a time when you’ll be away from home, plan ahead to be on a secure computer during that time period. Alternatively, perhaps your spouse can bid on it from your home computer.

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