2014 Goal and Blog Theme Update

Hello there! I’ve changed the blog’s theme (Dynamic News Lite) to give me a wider text area; I like the extra real estate available for me to ramble. We’ll see how it goes. At some point, if I continue with the blog, I’ll probably update to a pay-for theme. Right now, I can’t justify it though!

October Profits and Goal Update

If you’ve been here since the beginning of the year, you’ll remember that I set out on a goal of completely funding my Roth IRA for the year of 2014 using only profits from eBay and Amazon re-selling. I’ve been sporadically updating this goal with a nice little graph as shown here for the month of October and on the right hand sidebar.

20Oct2014 Online Re-Selling Profit Update

~63% there. That’s almost $3,500 that I didn’t start the year out with!

Ignoring the fact that I’m most likely going to come up shy, I’ll still be able to put aside a huge chunk of cash. This is definitely a win on all fronts.

For anyone who’s sweats the small stuff though, this update is for you. I’ve had to modify my original goal.

eBay/Amazon Profits

I’m no longer going to be using a lot of this money for Roth IRA contributions. Since I wrote that original post in January, I’ve gotten a new job, moved into a new state, bought a town home, my wife got a new job, our daughter transitioned back into daycare, and we’ve have had to deal with minor renovations – new carpet upstairs, ripping up carpet downstairs and sealing some pet odors from the previous owners, and EVERY OTHER LITTLE THING THAT I NEVER HAD TO PAY WHEN I RENTED! Damn it, broke my own no whining rule!

JL Collins had it right when he said that houses aren’t a good investment. They are a very emotionally satisfying and make you feel a little more stable considering that a landlord can’t kick you out even if you are making all your payments, but wholly hell, if you want to be comfortable, there’s a lot of little things that need to get updated! Weather stripping, painting, toilet seats… am I whining again already? Crap!

We plan on living here for a while and may even rent the house out in the far off future. But that’s neither here nor there… well I guess it is there. At least it’s definitely not here!

So now that I’ve burst your financial investment bubble, this goal still works in everyone’s favor. Instead of allocating money towards my future retirement, I’m saving money for my future replacement of old, large appliances!

1907 Industrial Furnace Online Re-Selling Profits

This is an actual photo of our ancient furnace! (No it’s not)

We have old but well maintained equipment here and all will need to be replaced since they are original to the house – water heater, furnace, and HVAC. At least the blower on the furnace died two weeks before we bought the house! And yes, we did get a home warranty. But instead of paying $400 next year to extend the warranty, I’d much rather save up more than that $400 to cover the costs of the expected repairs/replacements! Additionally, being able to do this on the side lets us throw some extra money at our mortgage to pay it off early.

To cap this all off, I’m still here, I’m still blogging, and I’m still making good profits re-selling garage sale, thrift store, and flea market finds on eBay and Amazon.  I’m also squeezed into my desk which barely fits in the hallway of our downstairs since we’re planning on getting new carpet in the office/play room in the next month or so.

Since I have all of these new expenses to plan for, we’re using the extra eBay and Amazon sales to save up for future issues, and the goal name has been updated accordingly – Online Re-Selling Profits.

If you have any issues with this, please feel free to use the contact page and let me know. I’ll expect your paypal account and will invoice you any future expenses!

Seriously though, my next blog post will be a Q&A. I already have a few really good questions from readers that can probably fill one post, but please give me more in the comments or straight through my e-mail dollarflipper@gmail.com. If the list gets too long, I can either break it into a few posts or just write a novella sized post like this one…. It was supposed to be short and sweet. But remember, I love to ramble!

Photo Credit: Mohylek

Vintage Hand Painted Silk Ties

The buying hiatus is over! So is the blogging hiatus! I think I just needed a little break from everything after traveling two weekends in a row. It’s amazing how many chores accumulate when you’re not around for a few weekends. Enough of that though, let’s got on to the eBay flip!

Not your ordinary ties

Vintage Hand Painted Silk Ties eBay Flip 1

“Hand Painted” definitely jumps out at you in the days of machine made clothing!

One of the ties in this buy was an unbranded one, but the other two were both vintage Towncraft ties. While researching the ties for listing, I found out some helpful info about Towncraft; Towncraft is a JCPenney’s brand. They still make new clothing that isn’t worth a lot. This includes men’s suits, blazers, and ties.

If it's blue, then it's not for you!

If the tag’s blue, then it’s not for you!

The blue tag above is the current Towncraft label. Just because it is a current Towncraft item doesn’t necessarily mean bad quality. It’s just in line with any other normal department store quality. Not something that you’re going to buy for the long haul.

These ties on the other hand were something else all together!

Awesome Tie Designs

These ties have great detail and content.

Vintage Hand Painted Silk Ties eBay Flip 2Vintage Hand Painted Silk Ties eBay Flip 3

Flamingos, beaches, and grouses. Oh my!

These ties are borderline novelty. I’m still on the fence on whether they’re a great conversation starter because they look cool or because they look ridiculous. Maybe we can have it both ways?

In general, beach novelty items from the 50’s and 60’s are a safe bet, and the woods scenes are always popular too.

The flamingo tie did have a small mark on the back of the fatter end, but since it would be facing the person wearing it, it didn’t really matter. I still made sure to disclose it though – you never want any surprises for the buyer.

Tie Flip Details

  • Purchase price – $0.75
  • End Selling Price – $85.00
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $14.27

Total Profit:  $69.98

The best part? There’s more than one best part!

First, all three ties went to the same buyer! I did end up cutting him a really sweet deal on the 3rd tie since he already agreed on the prices for the first two. Originally, I had the ties listed at a total of $110. You might say that $25 is a steep discount, but again, getting rid of all three within a month of listing made it worth it! I shipped it through eBay’s global shipping program and got glowing reviews.

Second, check out that purchase price! $0.25 a tie!! :) Like shooting hand painted silk ties in a barrel. I wish they were all this easy.

And as a final note, this transaction wasn’t all rosey. Ignoring the buyer who haggled like a pro, I also was unsure if I’d even get paid! After negotiating a deal for him, he just disappeared off the face of the earth for about a week. I use eBay’s unpaid item assistant, and it automatically opens a case when a buyer doesn’t pay within 4 days (you can change this setting using eBay’s instructions for the Unpaid Item Assistant). Near the end of the 4 days, he sent me a message saying that his wallet had been stolen while on vacation and they had been delayed in coming back. He then asked if I could wait another week until pay day.

Looking at the situation, I had two outcomes: first, I could just say no way, get my final value fees back, re-list the ties, and wait for 3 new potential buyers. The 2nd, and the option I ended up choosing, was to say no problem. Worst-case, I’d still go through with option 1 but it would be delayed by a week.

Generally, as long as a buyer is communicating with me, I won’t open an unpaid case. Things happen and sometimes money gets tied up. I get it. In the end, he paid as promised, and both of us were happy!

Tiger Electronics Handheld Games eBay Flip

Wheel of Fortune Electronic Handheld eBay Flip

Am I the only one who ends up yelling at the TV just as loud for NFL games as contestants screwing up on Wheel of Fortune?

Tiger electronic handheld games can bring you in some nice cash. I may need to bring you on a convoluted route to prove my point, but we’ll get there! Hold on to your seats.

First little note that’s probably only interesting to me is that as I began for this post, I found out that Tiger Games is not the same as Tiger Electronics! If you notice in the picture above, the Tiger Games logo has something that looks like a claw swipe above it. The Tiger Electronics which I actually wanted to write about makes the “R” have an extra long tail…. you know, like a tiger!

Tiger_Electronics Logo Ebay Flip

Seeing this brings me back to the 90’s!

At the time, these handheld games were actually fun, and we didn’t have Game Boy, Game Gear, Nintendo DS, DSi, 3DS, smart phones, or even dumb phones with games. Now, the games look terrible, the controls are impossible to figure out, and the sound makes you grit your teeth. But the people buying these are buying for NOSTALGIA. They don’t care if the game is crappy. They want to re-create the feelings they had when they were a kid and played these games. This is good news for sellers!

Here are some rules of thumb that you can use when on the prowl (tiger pun!) for handheld electronic games at garage sales or thrift stores!

Older Electronic Games are Better

As with a lot of different video games, the older ones are more popular. This is especially true with handhelds. There seems to have been a brief period during the 80’s when the quality became decent (relative to what other games were available then) and there’s not a huge quantity that were made. This is a great thing for people like you and me who are looking for deals!

Condition

You’re going to want to look at the art work and make sure there’s no significant tears or scratches. If it’s new in the box, then this can be a gold mine! When you have one of these puppies to sell, always take a picture with a test battery in to show that the cells on the screen are working. I will usually take the battery out before I ship though (Hey, that battery can be used to test something else!). Just make sure to say “batteries not included” in the listing.

Content is King

I’m going with a gut feel here. There were a lot of handheld games that went along with actual video games. I’m not sure if handhelds were a way to have a lower barrier to entry in terms of cost (cheaper to buy a hand-held than a system, TV, and cartridge) or whether they were just another marketing gimmick. “Muh-om! I need to have the handheld version of the Double Dragon game so I can play it on the way to Jimmy’s where we’ll play the real one on his NES!”

Video games from the 90’s bring in a premium. Disney sets can bring in some money (like selling a lot of 5 from different 90’s Disney movies).

So you may be asking, “you’re telling me that content is king, then why do you have a Wheel of Fortune game? That’s pretty generic, right?” Let’s take a look at the numbers and then we can talk!

Flip details

  • Purchase price – $1
  • End Selling Price – $9.99
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $4.52

Total Profit:  $4.47

Well, crap. There goes my argument!

~$5 isn’t worth my time!

Yeah, I get it. Ignoring the fact that there aren’t a lot of other ways for you to just turn $1 into $5 if you’re a salaried employee (can’t work OT) as easily as re-selling on eBay, you’re right. This is not ideal. I personally have a lot of items that can bring in a lot more profit just waiting to be listed right now. This one is definitely below my usual threshold.

The thing is that if you are flipping consistently, you are going to buy things that aren’t that great and aren’t above your profit threshold at some time or another. But that purchase is a learning experience, and you can just pass it up next time. Or you can decide to buy it again. I mean, this Wheel of Fortune game was cheap to buy, required very little prep for listing, and was easy to ship!

I personally don’t like these types of sales and try to avoid them. The only saving grace is that I actually found the exact same handheld the next day before I even got this one listed!  So when I did the listing, I was able to use one listing and just put the quantity at 2, which was a huge time saver.

So now let’s look at selling two:

  • Purchase price – $2
  • End Selling Price – $19.98
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $9.04

Total Profit:  $8.94

OK, this isn’t as bad! Obviously not breaking bank, but just goes to show you that a $9 profit on a “mistake” is AWESOME!

But just to make sure that you all don’t think I’m crazy picking up these handheld electronics, let’s take a look at some completed listings (sorted from highest to lowest to make a point).  See, there are some big fish out there!

Tiger Electronics Handheld eBay Flip

Make sure you pounce (tiger pun 2!) on ones like these and pass up the Wheel of Fortune ones! Unless you need the $4.50…. I won’t judge though; every little bit helps!

Image Credit: Vector.me

Tarot Cards eBay Flip

Let me look into my crystal ball – I see dollar signs in your future…

Tarot Cards Balbi Bilingual eBay Flip

The King of Cups translates to “El Rey de Copa” for anyone wondering.

Balbi Tarot Cards

I’ll generally purchase any set of vintage tarot cards that I see, especially when they’re on the cheap. This set was even better than a routine purchase since it was bilingual – English and Spanish. This most likely caters towards someone who speaks both languages, and, of course, niche sells!

From my listing (borrowed from someone else’s completed listing):

The brilliant, if unconventionally colored Tarot Balbi was created by Italian artist Domenico Balbi and published by Heraclio Fournier of Spainin the mid 1970’s. It has bilingual English & Spanish titles on the Trumps (except Death) and Spanish titles on the Court cards. Balbi’s simple line drawings are generally Marseille-derived, with ornamentation in the pip cards 2-10 of each suit that goes beyond the general flowers & banners of historical Marseille decks. Typically nude characters in the Trumps include a hint of male nudity as well.

I guess Balbi was a little naughty. Maybe that helps his tarot decks sell?

But that box is in rough shape!

The box is in well worn condition, but remember, it’s from 1978! I know people who are in their 30’s who have more wrinkles and creases than this box… :)

There’s several important things to note about this set. The first is that the box is worn but still has all of it’s color and holds together well. The second is that the cards look near perfect and the set is complete – all 78. As a note, nearly all Tarot decks have 78 cards but also come with extra information inserts. Make sure that your sets have 78 of the named cards!

Tarot Cards Balbi Bilingual eBay Flip - 2

You’ll want to make sure to disclose any condition issues with the fronts or backs – creases, scuffs, scratches etc.

Antique is better!

As noted in the Wiki article on Tarot, it’s been around for a LONG time – mid-15th century. Let’s just say if you can get your hands on some really old ones, they could be worth a ton. As I was writing this post, a complete set from the late 1800’s sold for a cold $2,000!

Tarot Cards Balbi Bilingual eBay Flip - 3

No, mine weren’t worth anywhere near $2,000!

Flip details

  • Purchase price – $1
  • End Selling Price – $39.99
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $8.36

Total Profit:  $30.63

Talk about bread and butter. They were listed for about 2 weeks, cost $1, sold for a $30 profit, and shipped 1st class (under 13oz). Sales like this are what keep me going!

This was a great, easy sale, but I’m still going to keep an eye out for some older packs. I know I sure wouldn’t mind a sale of a couple grand!

2014 Roth IRA Goal August Spending Breakdown

Well, we’ve just finished up with August. That’s 2/3 of the year gone already. Holy moly, right? Too bad the goal graph is just under 1/2 filled. :-/  They say that if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Lots of room for improvement here.

31Aug2014 Roth IRA Update

Insert funny graph joke here.

What’s Eating up the Profits?

First off, I don’t think anything’s eating up my profits. I actually have a lot more money coming in than the above graph shows. The question is , where did the rest of the money go?

I’m going to ignore the shipping costs and eBay/Paypal fees for this post. I’ve talked about it before, but I try to limit what I’m buying based on how I will be able to ship it. This is why I stick to smaller items or things that can fit into a flat rate padded mailer (unless I’ll make a killing on it).

So the money has to be going somewhere else.

Business Spending Breakdown

We budget and track our family spending via YNAB (affiliate link that gives you $6 off). It’s a great product that helps you handle large spending by breaking it up monthly. It also has some really useful graphs/reports, and if anyone has any questions, feel free to post them in the comments. Here’s a visual breakdown of my business spending:

 

Part Time eBay Business Spending Profit

It would have taken me a much longer time to create the same report within Excel!

Pow! Right in the kisser. Pretty glaring  that I’ve spent almost $3,000 on purchases alone in 2014. Yikes! On top of that, the ~$500 on office supplies wasn’t only packing materials. Some of that was my new shelving (post on that in the near future), printers, labels, etc.

Now, at a quick glance, it looks like I’ve spent more than I’ve made ($3k vs $2.5k), but both of these categories are directly from my profit bucket. All fees and shipping costs have already been taken out. To really get a good handle, we have to add the spending total to my Roth IRA contributions and that gives us well over $5,500 for the year in pure profits.

I’d like to think that my spending here is investing in the future, but at some point, it can become too much.

When is enough inventory enough?

Should I stop spending on new inventory? That’s a good question. We have the winter coming up and theoretically it’ll be slim pickings since there’s no garage sales. I have a few more planned ones in the next couple weekends, but I’m honestly thinking about taking a break from buying for a bit.

On top of this, eBay sellers know that the winter months are some of the best in sales.

Goals, goals, goals

Soccer_Youth_Goal_Keeper_eBay_Profits_Roth_IRA

If I don’t try to figure out where I want to end up, my goals are going to be wide open for any type of distraction to take front and center.

This post is one of the reasons that I love writing on this blog. It makes me take a good look at myself in the mirror. I set up a goal for this year to fully fund my Roth IRA and part of the reason I’m not going to hit it (as of now) is because I’ve been focused on increasing inventory instead of listing.

I feel like I’m on a treadmill. Instead of the usual consumer driven treadmill, I’m on an inventory buying treadmill. But this post has made me realize that this treadmill isn’t even pointed in the right direction for where I want to go.

I think we need a break…

No, not you guys! I’ve decided that I will take a spending break. No more buying for the month of September. Instead of searching for the next big find, I’ll be focusing my efforts on the inventory I’ve already purchased. So just sit back and relax while I show off how this is no buying thing is going!

Photo Credit: Torsten Bolten

Victoria’s Secret Mood Thrift Store eBay Flip


 

Don’t lie, you saw the title and came here hoping to see some ladies in lingerie. Let me get this out of the way quickly: you’re going to be disappointed!

Victoria's Secret Mood Perfume Candle Lotion Set eBay

Sealed Victoria’s Secret Mood Scented lotion, candle, and perfume.

When I brought home this awesome set from the thrift store and told my wife that I was going to sell it on eBay, I’m sure she was a little disappointed too!

I think disappointment is going to be the theme of this post.

Victoria’s Secret – Ye Shall Not Enter

Victoria's_Secret_store_in_Las_Vegas_eBay_Thrift_Store_Flip

LOL Calm down, those are mannequins…

For some reason, as a dude, stores like these are intimidating to me, and I’m sure I’m not alone. When I walk into a store like this shopping for my special someone, I feel like there’s an alarm going off “PERVERT ALERT! PERVERT ALERT!” Who cares if I have good intentions, and I’m just trying to buy something nice for the wife. I just feel like I don’t belong and stick out like a store thumb. eBay let’s me avoid these awkward feelings!

Health and Beauty – It sells! And You can avoid face-to-face awkward interactions! Win-Win!

So as noted above, it’s great that you can avoid the brick and mortar store and not have to talk to anyone while purchasing off eBay. On top of this, health and beauty is a huge category on eBay. I’ve talked about selling hair curlers before, but out of stock scents/sets really sell well too. The set I sold was from Victoria’s Secret and came out in 2007 but has since been discontinued. I bet sales are driven by nostalgic women, people trying to get their favorite scent that they can’t find anywhere, and desperate husbands looking for a good anniversary gift… :)

Flip details

  • Purchase price – $5
  • End Selling Price – $89.99
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $17.96

Total Profit:  $67.03

I’m not disappointed with that profit! I was especially thrilled that the kit was able to fit into a flat rate padded mailer too.  Luckily it came in a sturdy box so I didn’t even throw any extra padding on it.

I think I owe my wife the next set I get. Unless it’s worth a lot on eBay of course… :)

I’m going to try to keep the flip posts a little shorter so I can get more of them out. We’ll see how that goes.

Photo Credit: Samantha Marx

Update:

It’s been brought to my attention that “Perfumery products with flammable solvents” have restrictions when shipping (must be labeled properly, can’t be shipped internationally, and must be shipped using ground only). Please use the USPS’ website as a resource. Never heard of this before. Thanks to Mary for pointing it out!

DSR D-Day – eBay’s Detailed Seller Ratings

Well, the new Detailed Seller Ratings (DSR from here on out) are here. We can pile it on the reasons that we already love to hate the platform that we make money on, or we can embrace it be wary but not aggressive towards this new system. I mean, I’ve had 2 sales today! So it couldn’t have impacted me negatively… I know, i know. That’s only n=2! But seriously, I think that in the long run, we’ll all feel a little silly about all of this.

Hey, can’t we all be a little optimistic?

Chicken Little eBay DSR

That sky didn’t fall after all!

What’s DSR anyways?

eBay’s been touting its new DSR system for seller feedback for a while. Months it seems to me. All in all, eBay explains the system here on their own site. I’m going to give a brief overview of each rating, my issues with the system, and I’ll top it all off with why I think we’ll all be fine (even if the implementation is a little clunky). Here are the 4 categories and my interpretations.

1. How accurate was the item description?

This is an important one. Did you describe the item correctly. Condition, issues, correct pictures (we all know the colors can be misconstrued on different monitors), etc. This is the exact reason I type out the color of an item and give its actual measurements. “Large” can mean a whole host of different things for a shirt depending on the material, the brand (NFL brand large is HUGE), and the year it was made.

99% of the time, this is on the seller. There’s always a fluke or two (like a buyer who thought a 20-year-old Walkman was an up to date one, but hey, it’s still sort of my fault since it didn’t work regardless of it being sealed in its original plastic).

I think the reason this one is getting hit on so heavy by eBay is due to their large amounts of data. I’m going out on a limb, but I’m betting that they can prove a direct correlation between buyers having to talk to a seller about item not as describe and less future purchases from that buyer.

Still, this is the detail that you can control the most. It’s in your court. Be honest, and you’ll be fine overall.

2. How satisfied were you with the seller’s communication?

If you didn’t have to talk with the buyer at all before hand, then you should receive a 5 star rating. I’d say this is true for about 90+% of my sales. Otherwise, you are supposed to talk to the buyer quickly. Doing this lets the buyer know you’re serious and care about them. It’s hard when you’re someone like me, doing eBay on the side though. If this is you, then you probably don’t need to worry about the loss of a discount due to a loss of Top Rated Status.

3. How quickly did the seller ship the item?

This one’s a tough one. eBay does give you an automatic 5 star rating if the tracking information is entered quickly (if you purchase postage through eBay this won’t be an issue) and that it’s scanned at the post office as received within the required time. After that, you really can’t do anything.

eBay does instruct buyers “Don’t hold sellers responsible for delays in mail services, international custom delays, or for the time it takes for your payment to clear. ” I’ve also seen instances where sellers receive dings because of a delay at the post office and eBay says “you could have chosen a different courier service.” Putting this in one of the myriad of eBay FAQs and actually explaining to the buyers the impact of giving low feedback are two completely different things.

I think this falls into the “control what you can” mantra that I’ll keep harping on.

4. How reasonable were the shipping and handling charges?

I’m in the “Free Shipping” camp. First, it adds that little banner on items which theoretically draws more attention. Second, it lets me build the price of shipping into my items price. I generally only ship first class, priority, and media mail, depending on the weight and type of the item. I’ve seen parcel post take a long time, so even though it’s cheaper, it isn’t for me. I’ve also used FedEx about 3 times. If I know it’s a huge/heavy item, then again, I’ll add the shipping cost into my sale price.

If you add free shipping, then eBay automatically gives you 5 stars. Seems like a no brainer to me. Otherwise, just don’t try to hose the buyer on shipping costs.

I do not know how this impacts the Global Shipping Program though since we only have visibility to the US shipping costs for it. Time will tell if the GSP buyers can give feedback on shipping prices when you have no control over most of the cost!

Issues I have with the new DSR system

Buyers sometimes don’t know the best way to contact a seller. Now, if they contact you with the reason being “item not as described” even if that’s the wrong reason, you’ll get a hit to your DSR. We’ve heard rumblings that you can get these defects removed, but I’ve also heard that wait times are up (see below) and that the process is harder to go through.

3 stars = bad. Or does it?

When a buyer says that the seller gave a them 3-star service experience, it should mean that it was average service. The issue is that eBay will now look at 3 star ratings as negative (same as neutral feedback being a negative). This is going to be a gray area for a while.

The thing is though, if you are getting average ratings for a while, should you be in the TRS bracket? I don’t really think so. And remember, I’m not going to be in the TRS bracket due to my DRS being a little too low (2.42% as of now)

Where’d the reports go?

How do you even find your reports? Last week, I was able to view my “dings” for the past 12 months. eBay’s seller dashboard would spit out a clunky .csv spreadsheet that had your item ID (no titles??) and the categories that had issues. At this point, I was going to show everyone this awesome tool which translated the stupid .csv into a site that showed you what item it was.

EDIT: My report is now working. Must have been a weird little glitch!

Since I couldn’t find this information, I decided to call eBay. I had an estimated wait time of 33 minutes due to “unforeseen higher than average call volumes.” No shit!

As of today, I use the same method, and I get a fancy blurb:

Congratulations! As of August 21, 2014, none of your transactions over the most recent evaluation period have defects.

That sounds like great news, right? Well, sure, but the most recent evaluation period isn’t the only thing you’re graded on. eBay looks at the last 12 months. How can I view those? I haven’t found a solution yet.

As I’m on the phone line listening to eBay’s below-average, annoying wait music, I’ve been pondering the lack of DSR information. The only thing I can think of is that I haven’t had 10 DSRs in the new format. The nice voice recording said something about needing 10 DSR feedback before you can get a report, but that isn’t really fair since we’re being held accountable for the last 12 months anyways, regardless of the format of feedback.

Here’s what the eBay representative basically said at first:

Hmm, that’s strange. You should be able to view it. The information is generally compiled on Thursdays, so that may be the cause.

After a brief hold, he then followed up with

You shouldn’t be having this issue, and it might be a potential site bug. We will escalate it, but I recommend you to keep trying to view your report and call back in a day or two if you still can’t find any information.

So since I can’t even look up my report to, as eBay so eloquently put it, “try to improve my performance and learn how to receive Top Rated Status,” I’m going to stop worry about it for now.

At least I’ve notified them, and on top of that, the customer rep was very friendly! I’ve done what was in my control!

Does any of this matter?

Probably not.  We’ll all keep selling. We’ll all keep making money. We’ll all keep finding new types of items to sell.

Think about it, if you can’t keep yourself in the top rated area, what do you lose? 20% off of your final value fees? Well, the eBay takes 10%, so really, you’re only saving 2% of your total off of your gross sale. I feel like giving a good, honest description, communicating openly with your buyers, and finishing that off with shipping like you say you’re going to will all end up with you selling more than enough to compensate for a 2% loss.

The types of business who thrive on volume instead of quality of items might have a lot more to worry about this, but then again, they can always sell more. With smaller sellers like me, we’re much more limited.

The hardest part for me throughout this whole situation is that Etsy, Amazon, and Bonanza do not give you anywhere near eBay’s traffic for the types of items I sell. Even if eBay’s traffic has been diminished since the whole Google fiasco, it’s still better than the alternatives.

So for now, I’m going to keep selling on eBay, keep flipping items for profits, and next week, we’ll hopefully put all of this behind us and talk about cool items to look out for when you’re thrifting, garage saling, or flea marketing (those are all real words; I swear)!

Keep-calm-and-carry-on ebay DSR

Remember, we said no whining last week.

Sorry for any ranting above, but I’ve seen the sky fall a bunch of times on eBay whenever they put a new change out there.  And I think that in this case, their hearts in the right place but the implementation is a little lacking. Hopefully it’ll be improved in the future!

PLEASE let me know if I’ve misconstrued any of the information that I’ve gotten from eBay about the new DSR. There’s a lot out there, and I’m bound to screw up my interpretation somehow. I’d hate to add to the myth’s that are out there, so if I’m wrong, just add a comment and I’ll update accordingly!

-Dollar Flipper

P.S. If the content is a little convoluted, it’s probably because my wife wasn’t able to edit this post. She tends to translate my rambling into coherent words. You guys are stuck with the real thing this week!

Photo Credit: dbgg1979, Carolyn Coles

Surf Rock Record – The Cre-Shells – Dracula

I mentioned this sale in my previous post where I described how to embed a YouTube video into your eBay listing.

The item I sold was a vintage surf rock 45 Record – The Cre-Shells – Dracula.

 

Be forewarned, I am going to whine learn a good lesson. I left a lot of money on the table, and I hope that you’ll avoid my mistake!  Still, the sale was my highest profit yet on eBay.

Surf Rock Creshells Dracula Whining

Please put away the cheese. No whining allowed.

Try to buy in volume

As I’m wont to do while I’m out garage saling or thrifting,  I put together a bunch of smaller items (~60 records and some cool bar ware) and asked if they could cut me a deal. Sometimes it works (like when I bought my Fashion Bug Plus Jeans), and sometimes it doesn’t. It never hurts to try – you don’t have anything to lose!

This lady was a shrewd negotiator, but after some haggling, I got the lot for $25. I figured I could sell the bar stuff for ~$50 so this was a great deal. A few of the records did catch my eye, so I was keen on getting them too.

Don’t miss the diamond in the rough

Once I got home, I went straight to researching. Conveniently, the baby went down for a nap at the same time. Ahhh, timing is everything :)

Record by record, it was looking more and more like a flop. The most I saw any of my records going for were ~$20… and these were few and far between. Then, there was this one record that I couldn’t even find on eBay. Let’s just put that to the side for now until I’m done.

Well, I finished and still nothing great. Just a handful of (5-10) records for mostly $15 including free shipping. Yuck.  Not what I was hoping for, but this was my first time dealing with records like this.

After looking at the handful of records that might sell on eBay and the box of ones that wouldn’t go for anything, I decided to go back to that mystery record. I did another eBay search and found nothing again. I *ALMOST* put it in the donate pile. Then I happened to turn it over and look at the back. There I noticed the title on that side of the record – “Dracula”.  That made me pause.

Cre-Shells Dracula Surf Record

Vintage Dracula is popular. The name should jump out at you!

Google is your friend

With a quick Google search of “Cre-Shells Dracula Murecord” (ignoring my awesome YouTube video), Popsike is the first result. This site gave me a TON of information!

First, the record has some value. It sold for almost $300 in 2005! Now, that’s before the economy took a crap, so maybe it’s not worth as much. I plugged in the record title into PopsIkes’ search bar and found more!

The nice part about the Popsike website is that it contains the description from the original eBay listings. People generally pay WorthPoint a lot of money to have this service, and I happened to find a website that does it for free in the niche I’m researching.  Score!

And uhoh, there’s two recent sales in the $70-80 range. Oh well, what can you do? That’s still a pretty decent profit.

But as I read through the details in these listings, I started to get excited again. The ones that sold in that $70-80 range were either severely warped or had some hissing due to scratching. My record was in near flawless condition. It played perfectly (this is the most important part of record grading, but there’s a lot that actually goes into it, as noted here).

Surf Rock is popular?

When I think of Surf Rock, I’m thinking of the Beach Boys. From my research on Popsike, I was able to glean that this record was special, and used a lot of the information from their website in my own listing (please ignore the misspelling of “instrumental”).

Ultra rare surf instrumenta; Made in Pennsylvania. Highlighted in John Blair’s Surf Guide as an important, outstanding release!

Who knew? Apparently this sweet little old lady had a gem buried in her record pile. I almost threw out this record, but instead, I did my due diligence. I actually looked through each record and dug deeper when I couldn’t find anything on it at first. The tedious work paid off!  I’d say a good rule of thumb is that if you can’t find it at all on eBay, it’s probably rare…. or just really worthless…. It’s at least worth a 2nd look with a Google search.

Flip details

  • Purchase price – $25 (for the lot)
  • End Selling Price – $208.07
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $28.92

Total Profit:  $154.15

WOW! Now I only need to do that once a week, and I’d be thrilled.

Now, since this was my biggest sale so far, I’ll get to teach you the biggest lesson I’ve learned…

eBay Auctions are just like gambling – you’re going to lose in the long run!

Imagine that you are the gambler sucked in at the casino and the eBay buyers are the house. Really now, hear me out.

A lot of buyers take advantage of auctions and their low prices. Here’s a podcast over at Scavenger Life with a guy who buys rare coins from eBay auctions and then re-sells them as Buy It Now – all on eBay!

eBay got started with auctions only, so people think they still need to use that as the mode of delivery. We all imagine that there’s going to be a bidding war, but these are actually few and far between.

Auctions on eBay are good for ONE thing. Moving inventory. That’s it. If you don’t want to sit on a lot of stuff in your storage area, auctions are for you.  But that’s about it.

EDIT: I say below that Auctions are only good for one thing. This isn’t exactly true. They’re also helpful for testing the waters on a new category of items or just to get started on eBay. Thanks to Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions for reminding me of this!

Bonhams Auction House Cre-Shells Surf Record

Start high and let the buyer get close to you!

For those of us who would like to make a little more profit (slow quarter vs. fast nickel), Buy It Now is the way to go. This lets your item get seen by many more buyers, and you can add in that “best offer” option to entice people. Auctions are only there for a week. On top of that, you are basically saying, “Well, here’s the lowest price I would go, but really, I want more.” You would never do that when haggling.  Nope, instead if you have to throw out a number, you start with your HIGHEST.

SO how much did i leave on the table with my surf rock record? Probably about $100. There were a few records between 2005 and now that all sold for $290. If I could do it all over again, I’d probably set the listing up as a Buy It Now at $350 with an auto accept of $299.99.

I hope you only use the auction option to sell quickly, as I will from now on. Oh, and keep an eye out for some vintage surf rock! Who knew?

-Dollar Flipper

Photo Credit: Daniel R. Blume, Bonham’s Auction

YouTube – How to Embed Video in Ebay

This post is going to teach you how to embed a YouTube video into one of your eBay listings.

Just as an FYI, It requires NO coding background whatsoever. Seriously, you’ll just need to be able to copy and paste!

Including a YouTube video in your listing is perfect for an item that has moving pieces or plays music (think snow globe, wind up music box, record player, etc.). Descriptions using words can only do so much.  Adding a video really showcases the quality of your item.

Step 1 – Record your video!

I just use my Republic Wireless Moto X, but you can use any old smart phone,  hand held camera, or HD camcorder you’d like.

Make sure to record the video in landscape! This means holding your phone sideways. I know it’s not as comfortable in your hand, but it really does help to utilize the whole camera’s capabilities. It also gets rid of those ugly black bars that show up on the sides of videos that you shoot. It took me way too long to figure this one out.

Once you’ve recorded the video, just pop it onto your computer in an easy to find spot (I have an eBay folder on my desktop that I like to use).

Step 2 – Upload your video to YouTube

So, for this you will need a YouTube/Gmail account. They’re free, so it’s not expensive to get one and it really isn’t  too much of a hassle.

First, log into YouTube. This is where we will upload the video. Just click the “Upload” button to get the process started.

Embed YouTube Video Ebay Listing 1

Convenient button to upload is right at the top of the page when you log in.

After clicking the upload button, you’ll want to select your video file from your computer. Just click on the handy button which will allow you to search through windows explorer to find the video.

Embed YouTube Video Ebay Listing 2

You can actually add multiple files at once. This might hit your internet connect hard though, so if you’re on a low speed dial up, DSL, or cable modem, I’d stick with one video at a time.

YouTube will begin to process your video right away. What is going on here is a mystery. I think it’s checking it for general content like music or movies which could be copyrighted and shouldn’t be uploaded. It can also be cleaning the video/audio up a little bit and converting from your video file to whatever YouTube uses for its own videos.  Regardless, it will do its thing.

While the processing is going on, you can add a title, description, and tag the video with meta data key words.

Embed YouTube Video Ebay Listing 3

I don’t try to make money on YouTube; I’m just trying to show off my awesome item. I’m sure key words are important for search #’s if you’re trying to get some affiliate link money from YouTube, so if that’s the case, do some extra homework!

I did hit a snag at this point when I was uploading my video. For whatever reason, it timed out. Video 1 wouldn’t update the processing %, and video 2 was already completed. At that point, I cancelled the first, and re-uploaded it without issues. Not really sure what happened, but it ultimately ended up working when I tried again.

Step 3 – Get your listing ready.

Just get your listing together like normal. Include your pictures and select all details as usual. Generally, I don’t add in any of the description until I’m done adding in the video.

The reason for this is that I don’t know HTML at all. When you’re adding the video into an already created description, you’ll have to find the exact spot in the code where you can put the video, and it won’t break the listing. If you add in that video before you add any other information, then it’s a lot easier since there’s no other code that you’d have to deal with.

SUPER IMPORTANT Step 4 – Embed the YouTube video into your eBay listing!

Here’s where the actual code comes in. Don’t worry though, it’s a simple copy/paste exercise.

On your video’s page on YouTube, you’ll want to go to the “share” tab, click “embed” and then check the box that says “Use old embed code.” If you don’t do this, the video won’t work.

eBay listings don’t support HTML5 videos, so you’ll have to just pop in the regular old flash version. The fact that our HTML code isn’t up to some popular standard doesn’t really matter to us though. For our purposes, any old code that allows the video to play will do just fine. So just check the box. Feel free to change the video size if you want a bigger or smaller video. I’ve found that the base settings work fine.

 

Embed YouTube Video Ebay Listing 4

It’s as easy as 1-2-3….. 4?

Finally, copy all of the code text (labeled 4 in the picture)! Now we’ll take this little bunch of HTML code over to our eBay listing.

Step 5 – Add the YouTube video to your eBay listing

As noted above, I go to my blank details section of the listing and click the HTML tab. Now you can paste the HTML code that we copied from YouTube right here.

Embed YouTube Video Ebay Listing 5JPG

I feel like a computer programmer now!

After you’ve pasted the video code into the HTML section, just click the “Standard” tab. This will bring up the regular description view which most people use to describe their item. If you’re lucky, you should see your video right there! You can now add the rest of your description to your listing.

You’ll also probably want to say something like “Video included” or “With Video” in your title if you have the spare room.

I try to keep the video towards the top of my listing. Remember, a lot of people buy on eBay using their mobile phone where screen space is at a premium.

Step 6 – Preview your listing before posting!

This is an important one. Without this step, you might have messed something up and might miss it. I generally don’t review my listings when I publish, but listings with videos are the exception. After publishing, I’ll even check the listing out on my phone to make sure it works there too.

That’s it!

Not too hard, right?

Hopefully I’ve helped you out a bit with the process of uploading a YouTube video to your listing. I know it’s a bit intimidating, especially if you don’t have any coding experience, but it’s a pretty simple addition that can really showcase your item.

Feel free to ask me any questions or let me know if you need me to clarify anything.

Next time, I’ll talk about the item that I included some YouTube videos for when I listed it. It was my highest grossing sale to date!

-Dollar Flipper

Back on Track – E-Mail Subscribers Benefit!

Our move is 95% FINISHED!!!!

Last major thing to do is set up my eBay area. I figured that the rest of the house might be a little more important…

In the mean time, I’ve been very lucky and have been able to store my live eBay and Amazon inventory at an “associate’s” warehouse during the move. They’ve helped out with shipping too. If it weren’t for them, I’d have had to turn my listings off and wouldn’t have had any of the profits that I got in July. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.  ;-)

I feel like I owe any readers who stuck around, so if you’re still there, thanks! That’s the best part about subscribing via e-mail.

E-Mail – AOL Approved since 1993 – That’s right, AOL Mail can legally drink in the US…

youve-got-mail

I know that you’ve been up at night worrying about my eBay sales. Don’t worry, subscribe by e-mail, and I’ll bug you on my own time!

You can forget about me until I e-mail again with something new to look out for, some info about a neat sale, a new technique to add to listings, or musings on other on-line selling info.

On that note, here are my upcoming topics that I’ll be working on in the next few months:

  • Embedding a YouTube video – doing this helped aid in a >$200 sale! Best sale to date!
  • eBay’s new DSR (Detailed Seller Ratings) – I’ll try to go over the pro’s and the con’s (there are a bunch of con’s). Overall though, I’m still not worried and will definitely be continuing with eBay
  • Internet Service Provider flop – I had big plans on switching to a smaller provider. I choked on this one but I’d like to go over the process for those that aren’t afraid.
  • Tie Flip! This was my second foray into the men’s neck tie area. Let’s just say this was a complete success (especially considering that my 1st shot is still listed and hasn’t sold in 6 months)
  • I’m also going to include a few posts on some flops. I want to bust through the “glamour” of online selling and talk about some of the not-so-hot buys I’ve made.  Hey, live and learn. This hobby reminds me of a favorite saying of my great grandmother, “That’ll learn ya!”
  • Guest posts from my wife – I’ve only really talked about eBay so far – but that’s only one side of things. As a family, we try to live a frugal lifestyle. My wife is going to discuss some of the ways we save around the house and some ways she’s made some extra cash on the side through other real world (not online) avenues!

Profits!

I have updated the profits banner up on the right. Here’s the monthly totals so far:

Month Contribution
Jan-14 $           615.75
Feb-14 $           114.90
Mar-14 $           371.34
Apr-14 $             63.26
May-14 $           342.58
Jun-14 $                   -
Jul-14 $            787.50

Best month this year!! That’s $2,295.33 saved so far! Technically, I’m failing (should be at $3,210 if you look at the monthly average for my goal’s projection), but really, I’m still thrilled. That’s a large amount of money going towards our retirement with no debt incurred. Can’t beat that!

Look forward to helping everyone out once we’re all settled in here at our new home!

-Dollar Flipper

1 2 3 4