6 Common Sense Pro-Tips You Need to be a Successful Seller on eBay & CrazyLister Review

I’ve been focusing on the quality of my items, but I’ve been ignoring the marketing side. Viktor reached out to me, and I think his service at Crazylister.com can help put me over the edge.

Note: No affiliate stuff here. Just a neat, intuitive service that I plan on using for the future! It will be making an appearance over on my Tools of the Trade page though since it’s so easy to use.

What CrazyLister Is

CrazyLister is a template creating service. They allow you to use a few pre-made listing templates for free, but if you’re feeling extra artsy, you can create your own from scratch.

CrazyLister has two pricing plans, a Basic (free) and a Pro.

CrazyLister Pricing Plan

I’ll be sticking with the free version for now.

The best part to me is that you can use the pre-made listing templates which are really nice, and you can save up to 10 of these for free. Additionally, you can either have CrazyLister host your photos (up to 100 for free) or you can just create a template without. The system lets you embed images right into the listing if you’d like to but, it’s not required.

What CrazyLister Isn’t

This isn’t a listing service. It does require you to actually copy and paste! GASP!

Comparing to other services out there (like inkfrog), this is OK with me. I like a lot of control when I’m listing items and don’t want to have to use a different listing interface when I don’t have to.

The CrazyLister Experiment

I’m going to be updating a few choice, high-dollar listings using one of the CrazyLister pre-made templates and embedded images. Basically the works.

For everything else, I’m going to have a few templates (one for pants, one for shirts, and one for generic other stuff) that won’t include embedded images. This will still give my listings more of a professional feel.

This is a no lose situation for me as the free version let’s you use the template!

So make sure to check out their site if it’s something you’d be interested in – CrazyLister!

CrazyLister eBay Screenshot

How fancy does this look? I feel like I should be wearing a monocle when listing now.

Without further ado, here’s Viktor who (on top of offering a kick ass service) has given us some tips which can help anyone who’s selling on eBay. He lists them as “common sense” but a few smacked me upside the head.

6 Common Sense Pro-Tips You Need to be a Successful Seller on eBay

I’ve been selling on eBay since 2008. I’ve been a top rated seller and a power seller throughout that entire time. How’s that? Well it’s because I used my intuition and didn’t let ineffective selling strategies get the better of me. Sometimes an injection of plain old common sense is what people need when doing business on eBay.

  1. No description is NOT enough. Your listing description is basically eBay handing you a virtual playground through which you can either use to your advantage in order to boost sales, or you can fudge it up and use it your great disadvantage while losing countless potential customers; it’s all a matter of how you utilize this gift of free advertising space. With great power comes great responsibility, use the force, etc. So instead of wasting your time and energy mucking up a perfectly good thing or ignoring it altogether, why not take advantage of it? Common Sense Tip #1: Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth! Use the listing description eBay so graciously gave you to boost your sales.
  2. Common Sense Tip #2: So how good is this listing description? On average, as a seller on eBay, you’ve got about 7 seconds to stand out from hundreds if not thousands of similar listings. Your listing description is as good as the content you place in it to snag a customer in just seven measly seconds. Think of your listing description as your own personal billboard advertising your item. And don’t forget that no matter what, even if you’re a niche seller, there is bound to be some competition. So this Big Tip Number Two is really just this: all your efforts in marketing and listing can be over in the blink of an eye if you don’t act fast and grab your viewers’ attention. Now how we do that?
  3. Common Sense Tip #3: Don’t go crazy with the special effects. This is not a Michael Bay movie. A lot of sellers think the best way to catch a viewer’s attention with loud colors, crazy galleries, and sometimes even music. No. Step away from the HTML. You don’t need gimmicks or bells and whistles. All that junk may catch your viewer’s eye for long enough to hit the “back” button, however it does nothing by way of keeping a casual browser put and engaged in your listing. So what does?
  4. Common Sense Tip #4: Looking legit. The thing that is really going to set you apart from a sea of anonymous sellers is building a personalized brand and looking like an honest seller. So how do you go about looking legitimate? Well, what you need is to captivate your audience with a professional, authentic looking listing description. Here’s how you DON’T sell honesty: if there is an empty wasteland of nothingness or a smattering of crude HTML designs from the 90’s, then you’ve already lost the battle. You’re not going to engage your viewers, you’re going to dissuade your viewers into ignoring your listing and moving on to the next.
  5. Common Sense Tip #5: Here’s how you do sell honesty: social proof. You can make small yet meaningful adjustments to each and every listing description like adding a photo of yourself to your listing description to psychologically bring yourself closer to. People are simply more inclined to trusting the seller they can see with their own eyes.
  6. Common Sense Tip #6: Customer service – It’s not just what’s on the outside that counts – the way you treat customers effects sales. I would say the most important piece of advice for online selling is performing and ensuring the best customer service, support, and satisfaction possible. Here’s how: Rapid-fire reassurance and response to any and all inquiries: when a customer receives an immediate response that there is someone on the other end who is going to help them it makes a great first impression and improves your chances of completing a sale.
    Reply in depth: don’t just write a three-word incomplete sentence, provide informational details specific to their query or concern. Try to think what they might ask next and address their questions in advance. This method will help to reduce the number of message exchanges between you and the customer and it will impress the customer. Overtime, there will be generic questions that you will start to identify and you will be able to apprehend and even answer their query before they are asked.
    HotKeys: write up detailed generic responses to your major concerns and create HotKey answers. Compile a list of all your generic queries and publish a FAQ on your site (but keep it short and sweet – don’t inundate customers with too complex questions/answers).
    It can’t hurt be friendly – don’t just copy-paste answers, add a personal touch to the email – address your customer by their name and be sure to sign your name at the end of the message as well, it reaffirms that the two of you are real human beings talking to one another.

Now that we’ve gone through the plain old common sense tips and tricks, here’s an example of a listing that encapsulates all these simple common sense rules. You may notice that it’s not designed by a professional graphic artist, rather by an everyday seller who uses common sense to build trust, display the product, and produces an equally balanced eye-catching and informational listing:

Crazy Lister Case Study Example

Case study of listing created by CrazyLister

Quick summary of why this listing works:

First, the seller exhibits a strong logo and provides personalized information (a photograph of his family), or an indication of trust. This immediately provides visitors with strong social proof and authenticity. In conjunction with breaking the anonymity of online selling with photos of his family, the seller also immediately provides accurate images of product itself. Nothing is vague or left to the imagination. Following in suit with clear images of the product is a written description of the item.

This description is a great example of a seller using their listing description to design with the clear intention to inform, advertise, and ultimately to sell their product. It’s amazing how a little common sense can go a long way.

About the Author:

Viktor Levitin is the Co-founder at CrazyLister, a super easy Drag&Drop editor for eBay sellers.

He is now the head and CEO of the parent group, LGO Israel, and LGO UK, two award winning eCommerce companies. LGO Group provides eCommerce and conversion optimization services to leading brands.

Chef’s Knives on eBay

Hitting you up with some research today. We’ll be taking a look at chef’s knives that sell well on eBay. This blog is right on the cutting edge!

 

OK, that’s the last knife pun. I tried a bunch of others but even I couldn’t handle them (unintentional pun). Way too cheesy. Believe me, we’re all better for this decision.

So, chef’s knives! Chef’s knives.. umm.. what the hell are they anyways?
If you’re wondering, I am not the chef in my house. Unless it’s eggs or on a grill, I’m not that good.

The thing is, I’m willing to cook. It’s just that my wife doesn’t want to eat it. I argue that my wife is too choosy. She says I’m too picky and won’t try new things. I say that she needs too much variety. Can’t you just be happy eating a sweet potato and some chicken with hot sauce every day like me?

Her response: No.

Because of all this, I don’t do much cooking. Is it in a box? I can probably make it. Does it require a recipe? Why bother? I can just add some garlic and hot sauce, and it will be great. I do clean the dishes afterwards though, so I’m not completely useless.

What’s the point of that ramble? It’s that I don’t know jack when it comes to chef’s knives other than which end to hold. Although I’ve apparently been cutting things with the wrong technique! I can’t even cut things right. Jeez.

On top of not knowing them, I haven’t even sold a chef’s knife on eBay yet. I’ve just been intrigued by the knife/silverware sections that you find in most thrift stores. There’s all those big bins just loaded with sharp objects. What’s not to love?

eBay T-Rex

I’d be the worst caveman. Caveman 1, “Those teeth look sharp.” Me – “I wonder if I can scavenge them to re-sell at the market!

It may look like a pain in the butt at first, but that’s the catch. If it’s hard to deal with, that’s a nice barrier to entry. So all you need is a little bit of an edge (shoot, that’s another unintentional pun, I swear), and you can be looking at big profits.

Since I don’t know a lot about knives, I figured that we can start off with the basics.

How is a chef knife different than a regular knife?

Per Wikipedia, it’s a knife that was originally used to disjoint beef (yum) but is now an all purpose kitchen knife.

I feel like these are used by people who want to get into cooking more stuff. Yes, the knives you were using were what was really holding you back. ;)

I won’t include this kind of sarcasm in my listing though and won’t judge you if you’re buying from me.

Brands

There seem to be a ton of them. So, let’s add a few in lumps that seem to be popular.

German
  • Wusthof
  • J.A. Henckels
  • F. Dick (Why do I still giggle at these types of names?)
French
  • Veritable Sabatier Bresduck Paris France – “Sabatier” is actually used by a TON of companies in France. I think that it’s a safe buy as long as it’s in good shape, and you can get it for a few bucks.
  • Dufresne & Co La Trompette
  • Thiers-Issard
  • Jean Pernot
Japanese
  • GLOBAL – These have some really futuristic looking blades – see below.
  • Sakai Takayuki
  • Shun – subsidiary of Kershaw, an American company
  • Kikuichi
American
  • Lamson & Goodnow
  • Dexter-Russell – I find it ironic that there was a T.V. show about a serial killer called Dexter, and there’s also a nice set of knives of the same name.
  • Gerber – Don’t mess with these babies.
  • Kershaw
  • Calphalon – This is an American company that makes their knives out of Japanese steel.
  • A.G. Russell

Cutco brand knives can sell for over $30+. Ones with a certificate that came with the knife sold for a little more. The certificate lets someone send it back in for either sharpening or a replacement. These apparently are good knives even though they are sold through a direct marketing, in your home method. I might still take a shot at them

I did not see a lot of Pampered Chef, but I’m betting if you could grab a bunch in really good shape on the cheap, they would sell well too.

Handle Style

You’ll want to include the material of the knife handle (stainless steel, wood, marble, etc.).  GLOBAL brand is known for a more futuristic all metal knife.

GLOBAL Chef's Knife eBay

Do they market these knives as more aerodynamic because of the handle? I’d love to hear “woosh” as I was chopping something up…

Metal Type

There’s a Rockwell scale for metal that’s also used for knife blades. The higher means it will keep an edge longer. The harder alloys are also able to have a steeper angle too. Japanese knives tend to be towards the higher end (60 HRC). If you can find the actual value of the knife’s hardness from a manufacturer’s website, it’d be great to include in your listing.

Dimensions

Like clothing, it’s nice to include measurements of a knife. The important ones are the length of the blade, overall length, and the width (height?) of the blade. Chef’s knives are generally 8″ long, but can range from 6″ to 14″ depending on brand.

Edge

The edge will be something you’ll want to describe when you’re listing your knife. It’s probably not as important when out thrifting, but still can mean the difference to that one eBay buyer who wants your knife! Here’s a great resource for identifying a knife’s edge (just look along the edge of the blade with the point towards you and perpendicular to a flat surface). Most of the time, the edge will differ based on the country it’s made in.

Chef’s Choice makes some electronic knife sharpeners that sell for $40-80+ too! Even more if you still have the box.

How to ship a Chef’s knife

Ideal method would be just a regular box. Just wrap it in something soft like paper towel. Be especially caring to the sharp edge/point. You can even throw it into a plastic bag too. Then plop it in the box and stuff the box till it doesn’t move!

If you don’t have a box that the knife will fit in, you’re going to have to be a little more careful. The pointy edge is what you’re going to want to focus on. I plan on using a square of cardboard. You can fold the cardboard in half, and then fold over the top of the cardboard. This will make a sheath. As long as the whole knife is covered by the cardboard and is secure, you can fit it in a flat rate padded envelope or a regular one if it’s under 13 ounces.

Make sure to tape all edges if possible. Hard/sharp ends can poke through, and you can lose the knife in transit.

If you were wondering, kitchen knives are allowed to be sold on eBay. If you’re selling international, just make sure that knives are allowed per the receiving country!

Finally, no, that sword cane doesn’t count as a chef’s knife, even if it is really cool.

eBay Sword Cane

These are NOT allowed to be sold on eBay!

 

Image Credit: David Monniaux, Minnesota Historical Society

Maniac Monday Recap – Items Everywhere!

Yesterday, I took off from my 9-5 job for a little stay-cation. I planned a Maniac Monday where I would go crazy listing and prepping items all day.

The plan was this:

  • Drop daughter off at daycare. She went in very easy and was excited to be wearing her Tinkerbell clip.
  • Drop package off at the post office (Amazon sale). Box barely fit in the Mylar bag but I was able to jam it in and tape it together. Just dropped it in the box at the post office right before 8AM. They have a HUGE drop box that most of my bigger items can fit in.
  • Go to the gym. Deadlift x5 – Got to 325 lbs. This is lower than my PR from 2013 by 30lbs, but then again, I haven’t been lifting regularly!
  • List remaining items that have already been photographed (12). There were actually 14! So that’s good. All listed but it took me a little longer than I thought it would. I finished this listing at about 1030AM. At this point, I took a break and ate lunch.
  • Grab a huge pile to sort through and list until I have to pick my daughter up from daycare. Here’s where my plan broke down a bit.

So what did I learn from my Maniac Monday?

Add in some wiggle room

It seriously took me from 1130 to 420 to handle all of these 50 items. In reality, I put my hands on way more than 50 items. At least 20 items had flaws like bad stitching or a stain. These suck and really take the wind out of your sails. It’s good to get it out of the house (donating them to a homeless shelter on the way home today), but that’s still wasted money and time!

It takes a good amount of time to research each item and take some preliminary notes.  For clothing, I include a description, size tag, material, country it was made in, and condition notes. I take measurements later when I photograph. There’s going to be hiccups along the way. Expect some delays.

Use unscented laundry detergent!

There was a blanket and a vintage Wu Wear sweatshirt that both had a funk. I threw these in the wash and felt lazy so I used a Tide pod. Holy moly. These little suckers have a really strong smell. I’m airing out the blanket so our entire upstairs smells like a flower shop. Or a grandma who wears too much perfume.

Crazy Frickin eBay Lady

How could I not re-use this picture?

Have everything you need in front of you

I used my 4.5 Inch Knife Edge Thread Nippers all day. I also used a staple remover since some thrift stores love their double staples. Other than that, I just blasted some music over Pandora.

Plan but don’t go too crazy.

I could not find any more of the clear plastic 12″x15″ bags that I use to store my items until they sell. I spent at least a half hour trying to find these. I ended up ordering some more. Turns out that I’d ordered some in November but have used them all up!

Ended up a moot point since I never photographed anything. Time wasted when it could have been better spent. This also means that I’ll have to do some reprocessing once the bags arrive.

End Results

To re-cap, I did not photograph the 50 items like I’d hoped to. I only prepped 50 items.

50 Items Prepped for Photographing eBay

Yikes.

Even though it just looks like 50 items smooshed into a bookcase, it’s really 50 items smooshed into a bookcase with a retail value of $1500-2000!

If you haven’t realized this yet, my operation is not glamorous. I’m still happy with the progress I made. A lot of inventory was moved yesterday.

Weird note: I’ve been avoiding any non-clothing items for some reason. The two awesome 1910-1920 Oregon Agricultural year books were the only things that weren’t clothing. I guess it’s just easier to get into a rhythm when you’re working with the same types of items. I think my next targets will be shoes. I have a lot of them and want to stop avoiding them!

Did it work?

I’d say yes. I have items ready for me to photograph through the rest of the week. I’m going to play it by ear but would love to have the 50 items photographed by the end of the week so I can list them all each morning.

I’m always fascinated about others’ tips for streamlining their listing. Please let me know if you see a glaring issue in my methods or if you have some awesome tool that lets you blow through a big pile! And should I have used Manic instead of Maniac?

Image Credit: Orin Zebest

 

Maniac Monday

I’m not working my 9-5 today. I’ve planned a maniac listing day!

Crazy Frickin eBay Maniac Lady

This is what I’ll look like by 4:30pm.

This has been in the back of my mind since seeing the folks over at Beeminder discuss their succesfull maniac weeks. I can’t spare a week, but I’m going to try out a single day to see how it works! And sorry, I won’t have video time-lapse like those guys do. :)

Maniac Monday Plan

  • Drop daughter off at daycare.
  • Drop package off at the post office (Amazon sale).
  • Go to the gym.
  • List remaining items that have already been photographed (12).
  • Grab a huge pile to sort through and list until I have to pick my daughter up from daycare.

I have a lofty goal of getting 50 items ready for listing today plus listing the 12 items. Stretch goal is to have some of those 50 items listed. This will set me up for success for the rest of March and help clear out some of my piles. It will also help me have a better month than February!

I’ll update everyone tomorrow with how much I blew the target out of the water

P.S. I also wanted to say thanks for the encouragement last week! I guess my post came off as borderline whining. And there’s no whining allowed here. Got a few smacks upside the head through either comments or e-mails. Both were seriously appreciated.

Has anyone else tried to do a maniac listing day before? Any success?

Image Credit: Orin Zebest

February 2015 Profits – Good not Great

2 months in the book, and February was an improvement over January! We’re headed in the right direction, but we’ve still got a ways to go.

February by the Numbers

Jan-15 Feb-15 Total
Income
Sales 975.61 928.27 1903.88
Shipping Income 24.73 38.12 62.85
Returns 0.00 -85.99 -85.99
Expense
eBay Fees 105.98 98.33 204.31
PayPal Fees 38.90 30.14 69.04
Shipping Costs 150.29 121.96 272.25
Cost of Goods Sold 170.5 14.12 184.62
Mileage 19.20 4.02 23.22
Utilities 25.35 0.00 25.35
Amazon Fees 8.41 15.43 23.84
Office Supplies 20.65 0.00 20.65
Office Expense 374.94 0.00 374.94
Advertising 37.00 0.00 37.00
Other Expenses 0.00 23.75 23.75
Profit / Loss 49.12 572.65 621.77
OK-button_-_Macro_photography_of_a_remote_control eBay February

I can’t wait for the “KICK ASS!” button to make an appearance.

Seeing numbers below my goal ($833 profit per month) makes me worried that I won’t make it. I know that there’s not any real world consequence, especially since I kind of pulled the the $10,000 number out of my butt a hat. The issue is that I’ve put myself out there, and now I want to hit my milestone! Plus, that cash will cover some major HVAC upgrades.

Last year, I was short by a small amount. Talking about it doesn’t make me feel that excited. Hopefully tracking my profits monthly (and regularly) will let me push through the barriers here and really get some traction.

The more I look back though, I have improved over last year, and it’s all about that purchase money.

I spent $3,500 on new inventory last year! That’s a TON! And it was about $500 in January/February 2014 alone.

In 2015, I’ve been going through a lot of inventory that I bought last year while limiting my purchases. It’s really paying off. Almost all of my sales go right to profits.

I did have 1 small trip to Goodwill last week, but it wasn’t planned1. The items are prepped and will be photographed once I get through my next batch of items to be listed.

So, to recap:

Goal is $10,000 in profits for 2015. So far, I’m at $621.77 for two months.

If we assume that I make the same profits for the rest of 2015 as I did in February, that gives me a total of ~$6,000+. That’s a big deficit!

Insert U.S. national debt joke here.

So this monthly check helps me out in two ways.

First, I get a needed swift kick in the butt. It will be a lot easier for me to course correct now in February March than in the fall. So there’s that.

Second, I now have my priorities. I haven’t been focusing enough on the thing I promised to. The listing!

I feel like this is similar to weight loss where everyone focuses on the workout when the diet is 80% of the issue.

Now, I set myself up with a little bit of wiggle room when I included my tracking mechanism on Beeminder. So let’s check out the graph.

So does that mean that my goal (15 listings per week) isn’t aggressive enough?

I still feel like part of the issue is that I’m transitioning more and more to clothing. I love it because of the ease of shipping and my knowledge in it, but it’s definitely seasonal (who wants to buy shorts when they’re getting hit with snow???).

On top of that, they’re more of a long tail item. I think this is just inherent in the clothing category, and as such, I need to build up my inventory quickly.

15 items a week just doesn’t seem to be enough. If I’m still behind the 8 ball in March, then I’ll look at increasing my goal or maybe going through a maniac day. Something ridiculous like “list 50 items in a day!”

So, once again, I’m not on top of my goal. The important thing is that I’ve realized this, and I’m making some corrections. No more tablet purchases.

In the end, I’m still making money on a hobby and I’m having a lot of fun doing it, even if I have room for improvement. Right now I’ll focus on getting through my unlisted piles, and really pushing to clear out as much stuff before garage sale season starts up in about a month!

I get spring fever, but mostly it’s just garage sale fever! It’s not just the eBay dreams

Image Credit: Maximilian Schönherr,


  1. The only reason I was there was due to a car not/barely starting. The mechanic we go to was right around the corner from the Goodwill. I spent $14.12 which I think will sell for a minimum of $150. Right in the $20+ profit per item range.  I was lucky that I was able to start the car and didn’t have to get it towed! I didn’t think it was just the battery since I didn’t hear that terrible clicking sound. It seemed like more of a starter issue if I’d have guessed. Thankfully, we’ve been putting away money each month for auto related maintenance expenses (gotta love YNAB) so we were totally prepared. 

USPS Boxes for Free!

The bottom line in this hobby is very important. You try to squeeze out every dollar you can. The hard part is that when you start out, you don’t have the ability to scale. As your eBay hobby (business?) grows, you can start to buy larger quantities of routine shipping materials – think mailers, bags, and tape. When you buy more, the price gets closer to $0. But this requires a larger initial investment which most new sellers don’t have! It’s definitely a catch 22.

To help you get out of this space, I recommend two things.

First, get free boxes anyway you can. Amazon shipment came? FREE BOX! Talk to the secretary at work, and let them know that you’re on the lookout. FREE BOXES. Set up an RSS feed on Craigslist for boxes in the free section. Tell your friends and family that you want any bubble wrap they get their hands on! I’m telling you, sometimes you get that Christmas morning feeling when you get a free box!

The second thing you can do to minimize your costs is to check in with the USPS!

USPS – You are AWESOME

I’m not going to talk about how great the USPS is here. It really blows my mind how they can re-locate items from my blue box to wherever I tell them to. They do this within a week in most cases. It’s just ridiculous.

On top of the USPS quickly shipping huge amounts of items all over the US, they also offer a service which I use all the time.

The USPS literally gives boxes away. Delivered right to your door FOR FREE.

There’s a caveat here: all the boxes are either Priority or Priority Express. If you’re shipping light things like t-shirts or video games, you’ll be overpaying for shipping by using these boxes. But, if you were like me when I started out and just needed ANYTHING to put an item in, these can be a life saver!

Here’s the link to the USPS store with all of the free office supplies.

My go to is the Padded Flat Rate Mailer. This thing lets me stuff in almost any piece of clothing and ship it coast to coast for $5.35 ($5.70 if you don’t have TRS).

The other ones that I like are the Regional A and B boxes. There’s two sizes of each, but they give you a cheaper rate than just straight Priority.

Finally, there’s the Priority Shoebox. This is NOT A FLAT RATE BOX! You pay regular Priority prices, but a free box is still really nice!

Pro-Tip: I ship most shoes without a box, even if they’re NWT. I make this clear in the listing, and it cuts down on the weight. The only exception or this would be a collector’s pair (think vintage Air Jordans).

Vintage Air Jordan Free USPS

Two Words – SPACE JAM.

So, for any of you readers who are getting started and trying to pinch pennies, try out the USPS website, and order some free boxes to help alleviate any start up costs! They usually come in about 1-2 weeks.

And remember, if it doesn’t fit in that flat rate mailer, you’re just not trying hard enough! Seriously though, sometimes all it takes is an extra set of hands from an annoyed spouse to get a bulky sweater squished into one of these babies.

eBay is my RPG

My last post included some startling information about me. I wasn’t one of the cool kids in school. There, I said it. It’s out in the open. Wait, you’re surprised that all the cool kids don’t go out every Saturday in the summer and buy things at garage sales to re-sell on eBay?

I used to play a lot of video games and computer games, including RPGs and MMORPGs. Think Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft (before it got really popular and mainstream – we paved the way for that dumb Mr. T commercial).

Pick your own Caption! A - I think I saw that goat guy at the last flea market I went to. B - One feather in my cap is that I've never done Live Action Roleplaying. That's where you beat each other up with Styrofoam weapons.

Pick your own Caption!
A - I think I saw that goat guy at the last flea market I went to.
B - One feather in my cap is that I’ve never done Live Action Roleplaying. That’s where you beat each other up with Styrofoam weapons.

My wife (girlfriend at the time), several other friends, and I would all set up our desktop computers (no one had laptops), and play till all hours of the night. We had a blast. Killing monsters, leveling up, researching the best ways and equipment to improve our characters, and the loot. Oh the loot. In the end, we’d end up either selling our loot to other people or equip it and kill more monsters to get more loot.

People spend a lot of time playing these games, but I’ve gotten out of the habit. I’m recovered. And who needs it? I have something else that gives me a lot of the same feelings that I chased while playing video games. Instead of paying to play a game, I have an eBay side hustle where I actually make money!

eBay as an RPG

Since I’ve been selling on eBay for a few years now, I’ve come to realize that it has a lot of similarities to the RPGs.

Leveling

You start out at level 1 with an RPG. As you progress through the story and kill more monsters, you gain more experience and levels.

In eBay, you start out with 0 feedback, and it increases as you get more sales and buyers leave you feedback.

Quests

Characters in RPGs have you go out and walk around, finding items or killing monsters. When you do this, you either get experience or you get or new items (loot). You need to search every corner to make sure that you didn’t miss any extra goodies.

I like to think of my garage sale and thrift hunting as my questing. I’ll even stop at a non-advertised garage sale (like a side quest!) if I see one. I also make sure to check every area of the thrift store so I don’t miss anything.

Combat

You fight monsters or other characters to either get loot and experience.

Let me talk to you about this one buyer I had. I felt like I needed to be ready for combat! Instead, I offered a full refund on return, and then I stayed away from the eBay forums and eCommerce Bytes. Those are dark places, and we don’t even link to them for fear of getting lost. Action beats whining around here.

The Psychology of eBay

Sigmund_Freud_Bobble_Head_Wackelkopf eBay

I’m sure Freud would love the fact that I got started selling on eBay because my Dad was having a lot of success with his store!

So eBay and RPGs are similar, but there’s some even creepier reasons why selling on eBay is borderline addictive. Cracked.com had a great article (NSFW) that compared RPGs to Skinner Boxes and breaks down these methods. When I read that article, I see a few of these methods in the eBay system.

Variable Ratio Rewards

It’s been shown that if you want someone to keep coming back, that they need to have random rewards that are tied to how many times you play. Think lottery tickets and slot machines. Or RPGs and eBay.

You actually get hit twice in this eBay “game” – sourcing and selling!

The more garage sales, thrift stores, and flea markets you go to, the more goodies you can find. Has anyone else felt compelled to stop at that one garage sale on the way home even though your car is already filled? “Think of all the goodies I might find to re-sell!” or “I feel good about this next garage sale.” I sound like one of those slot junkies at the casino. “Just one more pull, and Grandma’s gonna be rich!”

Note: I do not actually call myself Grandma.

Then there’s the selling. The more items I list, the more sales I have. We all know how awesome that “cha-ching” sound is. The thing is, you can’t force it to happen more often. You can increase your average rate though. And how do we do that? By going out to garage sales, buying more stuff, and listing more! Rinse and repeat and try not to become a hoarder.

Avoidance

Avoidance is giving you a negative action when you stop doing things. The example in the article is that your Farmville crops die if you stop taking care of them. Now, is this true for eBay?

Caveat: I haven’t seen any proof of this, but damn it, it really feels true when you’re having a slow week like the one I just had.

There are rumors that if you aren’t listing consistently, your sales dip (or your listings get buried). Now, we know that if we list more, we will increase our sales (assuming we’re not buying useless junk). We can’t force it. There may be a lot going on here.

Is this just you noticing your sales rate decrease, or are your listings getting bumped down in best match result? Are you actually just ending up with your “worse” stuff in the store since all the good stuff sold? Are you wasting time worrying and complaining on the internet when you could be photographing or listing? WHO THE HELL KNOWS!

In the end, we can’t control anything but the number of items in our stores, the quality of those items, and the quality of our descriptions and pictures. That’s it. So if we want our eBay stores to sell more items. We need to keep listing. And list more. And list after that too.

The best part about this? It will lead to some more of those nice little random “cha-ching” sounds. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re all living for. The money’s  nice, but it’s also pretty cool to realize someone else saw the value in that old pair of boots that you just sold. Take that judgy thrift store clerk.

 

Image Credit: RalfHuels, Gizlog

Vintage Mille Bornes Card Game

The toy and game area of the thrift store is normally jam packed with stuff. You’ll find tons of cool things you can flip. I’ve discussed a lot of these previously “fun” flips already:

If it’s not obvious yet, I’m not, haven’t ever been, and don’t plan on being one of the cool kids. Because of this, I feel at home in the toy and electronics section. And by “electronics” I mean video games - no use lying here.. I’ve come to terms with this, and I figure that I can use my love and knowledge to my advantage!

1971 Parker Brothers Mille Bornes Card Game

That green thing is a card tray. More card games need to use these to help keep game-play organized!

A French Card Game?

The Mille Bornes card game was a French car-themed game that was made in 1954. The idea behind the game is that you’re doing a touring race with the other players. The objective is to be the first to get to 1000 km while avoiding hazards such as flat tires. It sounds fun, and I wish I got to play it before I sold it! Maybe I’ll see it again?

Pro Tip – You can use eBay as your own Rent-A-Center. You can buy video and board games, and  re-sell them once you’re done playing them! I’ve done this with a few video games where I only ended up paying the eBay fees on my sale.

Here’s the details of the flip.

  • Purchase price – $2.14
  • End Selling Price – $26.99 + 5.60 S/H
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $7.73

Total Profit:  $22.72 This flip is right in my target range. The thing is, if I had seen it on the shelf now and checked completed listings, I’d probably not even buy it!

Timing a Flip

I’ve talked about this before when I flipped my huge RC plane, but timing is everything on a lot of items. In that situation, I flipped the plane for a cool $140 profit (sold for $189.99 including S&H). By the time I got around to writing a blog post about it ~5 months later, they were selling for $36 including S&H. The sucker cost me over $25 to ship it, so I’m not sure how the seller even made a profit!

The Mille Bornes card game lesson isn’t as drastic, but it still points to the same result. I sold this about 6 months ago for a $32.59. Here are completed listings that I just found.

Mille Bornes 1971 Completed Listings eBay

There were a few that were closer to the $30 mark, but a lot were lower.

This just re-inforces the List it and Forget it (LIFI) idea to me. I’m not in this game for a quick nickel. Let’s take that slow quarter and list it high. The right buyer will come!

Box condition

Have you ever seen one of those game boxes with tape all along the corners to hold it together?

Peck's Bad Boy Board Game eBay Taped Corners

I think every version of Mouse Trap looks like this after the first time it’s been played!

Depending on the age, you can still sell games in this condition. Someone who’s going to use the game might grab a damaged box one on the cheap. They still get to enjoy the game at a fraction of full price. Collectors will most likely shy away though. A very old game can be the exception.

Is the game complete?

When you buy any board or card game, you need to check to see if all of the pieces are there. There are three resources I use for this.

The first is other eBay listings. Sometimes, another seller has already done all of the research for you and will include the game components in their listings! These listings usually have “complete” in the title, so you can use that as a key word when you’re doing your own research. I don’t trust this method on its own unless I have to, but it’s a great starting point.

The second resource is the instructions. Newer games explicitly list all of their pieces, but the older ones were a little more “loosey-goosey.” When I listed the Mill Borne card game, I wasn’t sure if all the cards were there just using eBay and the instructions.

Next, I go to the last (and probably best) resource for board games on the internet.

Board Game Geeks (BGG)

This site has reviews, tips, instructions, and general ratings of basically every board game ever made. It’s fantastic. We’re going to finish this blog post up on a tangent!

800px-Tangent-calculus_a eBay

I think I’m going to try to use this picture once per month.

My wife and I love playing board games. We used to play a lot more before our daughter was born, but that’s life I guess. And no, I’m not just talking about Monopoly. We’ve been playing board games since college when we got introduced to Settlers of Catan. This was before it was sold at Target too. So yeah, we’re board game hipsters. Back when we actually had this elusive “free time” and had “disposable income” that wasn’t being thrown at daycare and the mortgage, we were able to play a large variety of games.

The best resource to find a game, hands down, is BGG. The reason it’s so helpful is that you can add a lot of filters, like how many players you have, how long you want to play, the style of game (party, trivia, war, etc.). On top of all this, every game on the site has extensive reviews, comments from other players, and even some videos to help with instructions. It even has helpful links to eBay and Amazon if you want to purchase the game. If you’re looking for a new board game, this site is the place to go.

So there you have it. I’m not only becoming an clothing re-seller expert, but I’m also a gaming geek. Just don’t give me a swirly.

Image Credit: Wikimedia

January 2015 Profits – Need More Listings

Happy Groundhog Day! In line with David Seah’s Groundhog Day review, I’m going to look at how I’m doing and where I need to go if I want to hit my 10k in profits for 2015. I’ll break away from his methods and report profits the first of every month, but I figure it’s as good a day to start as any.

On a side note, am I the only one hoping for a huge snowstorm still? I’m sure any New England readers would slap me for saying that. We haven’t gotten anything significant down here, and it’s been pretty disappointing.

Huge Slim Profits

I was hoping to come out in January, guns blazing, and hitting goals left and right. Let’s just get this out of the way and pull off the band-aid.

I barely turned a profit!

Deflated Balloon Wikipedia eBay

This represents the sound of my ego deflating. You might not be able to hear it over the sound of Seattle Seahawks fans whining though…

Now, there’s some silver lining here so let’s start out with that. I’ve increased my eBay store size from 176 items on 1/5/2015 to 261 items as of 2/1/2015. That’s 118 items listed in the month of January! (I also sold 33 items). That’s a lot of listing! Prepping over the weekend and listing 5+ items every morning has really been working out. I could be over 500 listings in just a few months at this pace.

I’m also hitting my listing goal for Beeminder:

The auto-integration has really helped me keep on track listing at least 15 items per week. I’ll probably ratchet that up a little in the future. I’ve built up a great buffer just in case I slip up, but I do no plan on doing that!

I will be using GoDaddy Bookkeeping to keep track of these numbers so I don’t have to do any of the calculations. On top of that, it will force me to keep up on the data entry.

Jan-15 Total
Income Total
1,000.34 1,000.34
Sales 975.61 975.61
Shipping Income 24.73 24.73
Expense Total
952.21 952.21
eBay Fees 106.97 106.97
PayPal Fees 38.90 38.90
Shipping Costs 150.29 150.29
Cost of Goods Sold (New Inventory)* 170.50 170.50
Mileage 19.2 19.2
Utilities 25.35 25.35
Amazon Fees 8.41 8.41
Office Supplies 20.65 20.65
Office Expense** 374.94 374.94
Advertising*** 37.00 37.00
Profit / Loss 48.13 48.13

So yeah, that’s not too great. I mean, it’s still in the positive. So there’s that.

Where did all the profits go?

They all went to those pesky little asterisks. Let’s get through with my whining explanations as to what these were.

*First note is that I only count my new inventory as an expense when I buy it. I do not remove it from my sales as an average cost of goods sold. I’ll clarify how I’m tracking my COGS in a future tax update.

But onto how I actually spent the money… I swore up and down I was going to refrain from buying this January. But then there was an estate sale right in our development, and my wife wanted to go! So basically this is all her fault (not really).

I went, spent $20 on ~6 items, and we also bought a couch! It was a pull-out love seat in fantastic shape for only $50. But no, I couldn’t include it in my cost of goods.

So when I returned with my car to pick up the couch, I mentioned to the lady that I would love to take all of the clothing and shoes from her at the end of the day. She told me to return after 1.

There were 33 pairs of shoes (women’s size 5. Some generic brands and some nicer ones), a pair of cowboy boots, and a ton of leftover clothing. I got it for about $110, but the deal required that I take all of it. I was able to group a good amount together plus donate a bunch of it. As such, I’m going to sell a big chunk of these in lots, and probably, *gasp* at auctions no less! I just want to move these piles. They’re next on my list as it was 3+ garbage bags full of listable items!

** Sigh. I bought a tablet with a keyboard. It’s a Microsoft Surface 2 (RT), and it has let me gather listing information a lot easier. I’m using it to add all of my measurements, and it’s streamlining my listing process. The tablet came pre-loaded with the Microsoft Office suite too!

It’s not an entertainment tablet like all of the iPads and the Android tablets. Still, this is a lot of money to drop on a tool when I’m trying to hit a ridiculous goal. That hindsight isn’t making me feel great about the purchase, but when I’m using it, I’m really appreciating it.

***This is a blog plugin that let’s me easily add Amazon affiliate items to my posts (including pictures and buy buttons). They’re over on my Tools of the Trade page. I’m trying it out and figured that $37 was worth a shot. Theoretically it will pay for itself and help keep this blog in at least the black (break even would be perfect for now). I’ve made a few dollars from ads, but I don’t think I can count this blog as a side hustle!

These numbers aren’t going to cut it if I want to hit my $10,000 in profits. I’m already starting in the hole now, and I’m a month behind.

Remember, I’ll need to have $833 in profit each month. If we ignored the tablet purchase, I’d still only be at $423.07 in profits, or about 50% below my target. So while the tablet purchase wasn’t ideal, it still wasn’t the only thing that was holding me back.

I did sell some brands from my clothing series including an L.L. Bean fleece, 3 Pendleton Flannels, 3 Polo Ralph Lauren shirts, a Woolrich sweater, and pearl snap! Plus I sold another pair of my Fashion Bug plus sized pants too! There’s definitely profits in clothing!

Next steps – Always Be Listing

The point of these monthly breakdowns is twofold. First, I’m updating my readers on how I’m progressing using real numbers and not just looking at potential (looking at you haul video people). We all know that the buying is fun, but it doesn’t make you anything but a hoarder if you’re not listing.

The more important reason is to give myself a smack upside the head when I’m not hitting my goals.

Let’s just say this is a sobering wake-up. Here’s my plan to have higher profits in February

  • Keep on listing. This is a no-brainer. Listing more yields to more sales.
  • Don’t buy any expensive electronics. I’ve done it, it’s helping, but I don’t need more (even though I do want a few).
  • Don’t buy anymore inventory. If I were trying to do this full time, I couldn’t afford the luxury of just buying whenever I wanted to. To simulate this, I’ll refrain from buying in the month of February. OR ELSE.

So, with Groundhog Day upon us, I’m going to course correct and get to where I want to go!  Don’t want to be living the same month over and over again for the rest of the year.

groundhog-day-bill-murray-day-ebay'

Sometimes I feel this crazy.

Image Credit: Coyau, Doddle

Pearl Snaps – eBay Clothing Series #7

Final day of my clothing series and the #YourTurnChallenge! It’s been rough getting these last two posts out. I wasn’t as proactive as I would have liked either. Don’t mind any rambling or me getting sidetracked. At this point, I’m just glad that I was able to push this out!

We’re going to wrap up the series with a western theme. Pearl snap shirts!

 

Pearl snap shirts are similar to normal button down shirts, but they have little snaps instead of buttons. The snaps are shiny and have a pearl-like quality. I don’t think I could pull off this shirt at all.

Pearl Snap Brands to Look for

Wrangler and Levis

I’ll try to buy either one of these brands as long as it’s vintage. They usually sell for $30+. Just be wary about condition due to their age. I’ve gotten too many shirts home and only noticed a small hole or stain after the fact.

Wrangler Pearl Snap eBay

This shirt had fancy blue snaps to go with it.

Levis Vintage Pearl Snap

Notice the “Made in USA”. This lets me know that the shirt is true vintage.

Carrhartt

Carhartt clothing is usually well made and sturdy, so people are willing to pay a premium for it. I’ll pick up pants or heavy shirts with this brand at any time, even if it’s not a pearl snap. The regular button front shirts aren’t the best though. As usual, this shirt was an XXL and moved pretty quickly.

Carharttl Pearl Snap eBay

Sold for $30. Right on point for me.

Rockmount and H Bar C

These brands are my white whales for pearl snaps. Rockmount is still open today, but H Bar C doesn’t seem to be around since the 1970s.

You can buy true vintage Rockmount directly from their own website, and they’ll run for $100. The going price on eBay is about $30 for plain shirts and $50+ for their crazier styles. Definitely add it to your BOLO List!

Both brands will jump out at you with their ornate designs and are reminiscent of the singing cowboy outfits. I think that they are worn at western horse riding shows or when they go out line dancing.

H Bar C Pearl Snap eBay

A lot of western shirts have the long tails. I’m not sure why.

Rockmount Ranch Wear eBay

Rockmount tags are just as ridiculous as their shirts!

Pearl Snap Duds

Whenever I see a pearl snap, I get a little excited. They sell well and pretty quickly. The issue is that more modern brands (think Urban Outfitters) have put out their own. I would stay away unless you can lot them together or if they were really ornate. They just don’t meet my $20 margin.

Ruddock
ruddock pearl snap usa

“Tall” should set off your profit sensors!

This Ruddock pearl snap sold for $25 with free shipping, but it’s because it was a Tall size. If it were regular, it probably wouldn’t have sold for more than $20. I had originally grabbed it because of the size and the “Made in USA” mark.

Taos
Taos Western Pearl Snap

I should have known when I saw the “Made in China.” It generally means it’s newer and not worth a lot.

Some other brands to avoid are Roper, Lucky Brand, and Plains. These are mostly made overseas and are usually thinner too. If you can grab a bunch for cheap, you can sell a big lot. I just pass over them though.

Well, there you go! I’m done with this 7 day challenge and the clothing series (for now). I’ll probably add a post to the series every few months as it seems like people were pretty interested in the topic. Thrift stores are normally >50% clothing, so it’s a good target market.

I’ll follow up with a post next Monday (in February). We’ll see how I did for the month of January and how it’s looking for my goal of $10,000 in profits for 2015.

If you missed any of my previous posts on clothing, you can find it here:

Day #1 – Concert Merchandise

Day #2 – Polo Ralph Lauren

Day #3 – Tommy Hilfiger

Day #4 – L.L. Bean

Day #5 – Pendleton

Day #6 – Woolrich

1 2 3 7