Thursday, May 21, 2009

Real advice for how to sell on eBay - Part One

I have sold on eBay for nearly a decade (although not recently) and a friend wrote and asked me for some advice. I realized that since I was typing I'd blog it and others might benefit from what I've learned.

I used to teach a class on how to buy & sell at the Sewickley Public Library in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. I'm not going to tell you how to make TONS of $, but I will give you tips you might not find from others trying to sell you on selling on eBay.

I can tell you everything I know. First of all it's the hardest season to sell as people are away from their computers enjoying outside. The fall is better, but if he doesn't care it's not a big deal.

It's work for you no matter if he sells anything - so most of all you want your time covered. Especially if he thinks that his stuff is worth more than ebay buyers think it's worth. That is the biggest problem selling for friends. If THEY think that THEIR Precious Moments TM figurines are priceless you have a problem. One of the things that eBay did was let everyone know how NOT RARE their special items were. The one or two antique stores you had in your town could claim something was RARE because how could you know? Now we all know that beanie babies are worthless and most 45's hold very little value.

The biggest thing I learned selling in eBay was that something is only as valuable as a buyer tells you it is with their bid.

Secondly - you can only sell something that can be searched. A precious green, glass dish made in the 40's is no good on eBay unless you know that is is an Hazel Atlas Depression Glass Compote - then compote collectors, depression glass collectors and Hazel Atlas collectors can find your item. Green & antique will never be a searchable description. It if has a tag, name or you are an expert you can sell it - if not making your item "findable" is KEY.

The things that actually have the most sellable value on eBay right now are the mid-century - 70's decor. It's not the antiques so much, but the Brady Bunch kind of decor that is the most collectible.

Anything that is hand made should be sold on instead of eBay - handmade items and crafts are undervalued on eBay and have never gotten the foothold and respect they deserve there.

Auctions end on the same day as they begin - so timing the end of an auction is important. Do NOT close an auction during the final episode of American Idol or LOST or something with a huge fan following. Your buyers will be watching tv instead of shopping on eBay. Time zones are also really important. West coast shoppers seem to be more generous - so timing auctions to close well on Pacific time instead of while their stuck in rush hour traffic makes sense.

If you have multiples of items to sell DO NOT list them at the same time. Let your buyers think your item is RARE. I purchased a case of 50's restaurant ware creamers from a yard sale and sold them over two years. I paid $2.00 for the box and sold them individually for up to $25.00 each. Every buyer thought theirs was THE ONLY ONE.

The strangest items have value on eBay and you will rarely ever know what will hit. I listed a lot of postcards I bought at an auction once and this tiny little 70's motel from Anaheim started to soar into unheard of prices for me - had NO idea why. Little did I know it was because there was a tiny corner picture of an old, demolished baseball stadium on the card. Little did the buyers know that I had SIX of them - and each sold very well. The buyer is king on eBay - if you have something that two people want things can get very out of hand - which is very good as a seller.

In Part Two I will talk about listing your items.


Owen said...

Well, this article is unexpected but hey, it's a keeper. You're spot on about West coast folks.

Daisy said...

Very interesting, Heidi.