Sunday, February 27, 2011

eBay Success Tip - Become a Self-Builder

A common question I receive from clients, readers, and people who know of my success building a home eBay business is, "How can I be successful with an eBay business? What should I do differently than others who fail?"

First, let me give you my disclaimer that I absolutely do not know everything about eBay and cannot definitively answer this question for every person. But, after coaching hundreds of clients around the globe for the last few years, I have seen a pattern. It is summed up quite well in the business classic, "The Success System that Never Fails," by William Clement Stone.

Mr. Stone, also known as Mr. Positive Attitude, was an insurance magnate, philanthropist, author, publisher, and motivational role model. His philosophy was that you must become a "self-builder" to succeed in anything in life. Whether your goal is to become an accomplished athlete, be a movie star, play a musical instrument, find personal happiness, or become wealthy. The path to any goal in life begins with becoming a self-builder. So, what does this mean?

A self-builder is a person who constantly tries to improve himself, is a lifelong learner, associates with people more successful than himself, and chooses an environment conducive to accomplishing his goals and dreams. Sounds great, right? How is this possible with so many negative influences in our world? You have to make it deliberate and change your self-talk and self-think.

When I started selling on eBay in 2003, it was out of sheer desperation. I had lost my job at a marketing company and gone thru a divorce at the same time - with 2 small children at home to care for. My entire life changed in a matter of weeks. It was time to punt, time for plan B.

I started selling on eBay as a way to pay the bills while I figured out what to do. I was determined not to lose my home and not to rely on anyone else to help me. This was back before eBay was cool. There weren't many books on the subject, and hardly any information online to help the new eBay entrepreneur. I was laughed at, mocked, and talked about behind my back by my family and people in my community - "She has a college degree - she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Why is she selling clothes from Goodwill online? Has she lost her mind? Why doesn't she just get a normal job?"

And that is where becoming a self-builder started. I read everything about eBay and online selling that I could get my hands on. I talked to other people who were making it work - if they could do it, so could I. There were a lot of bumps in the road - products that didn't sell well, eBay's ever-changing rules, lack of money to invest in inventory, long 12 -15 hour days. But finally, it all started coming together because I had already decided failure was not an option. I was going to do this and it was going to work. Period.

So, back to becoming a self-builder. Here are some things you can do to build yourself - become who and what you want to be.

1. Read something related to accomplishing your goal every single day. Even 15 minutes a day - because 15 minutes a day equates to 91 hours a year of learning. Books, magazines, blogs, trade publications, and online articles. Much of this won't cost you anything. I used to go the library and check out back issues of Entrepreneur, Money, Business Week, Newsweek, and other business magazines. So what if they were a few months old, I was still learning. It was new to me. You're not going to agree with everything you read, but exposing yourself to new ideas is the only way to grow and learn. Business books I recommend:

The Success System that Never Fails (William Clement Stone)

Think and Grow Rich (Napoleon Hill)

Made in America (Sam Walton)

The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell)

What the CEO Wants You to Know (Ram Charam)

(Get these cheap on Amazon in used condition, or free at your local library. Also check Project Gutenberg and the Library of Congress for free downloads.)

2. Control your environment before it controls you. Do not expose yourself to negative people or put yourself in situations that do not help you reach your goals. This is one reason I started my own Facebook group for eBay networking - the eBay community groups were dominated by a terribly negative group of people who love to play the victim, whine, complain, and create drama where there is none. These types of groups are toxic so choose your associations wisely. You are only as good as the people you associate with. Think of an athlete here. If a golfer wants to improve his game, he hangs around with golfers who are more talented, have had more training, are more successful, and are more accomplished than he is. You must do the same thing in life. Get away from the time and energy vampires. They will suck the life out of you as long as YOU let them. You've got work to do, negative people will only slow you down and keep you from your goals.

3. Understand what it takes to reach success. Study successful people, who they are, what they experienced before they were successful. You can read biographies, or watch the Biography Channel, focusing on entrepreneurs. (I record these to watch on my downtime.) Some of my favorites are Donald Trump, Ray Kroc, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, and Michael J Fox. All were told they wouldn't succeed. None believed it. All failed many, many times before reaching success. (Click here to read more about famous entrepreneurs who failed.) We all have one thing in common - opportunity. Either you take it or you don't.

4. Don't stop trying - continue until you succeed. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that the successful ones keep going. Do not let yourself be defeated by setbacks, problems, or disappointments. Get up and keep going. Persevere. Retain your focus. Be determined. Don't make excuses. People who make excuses do not achieve their goals. Take action - deciding to do something is not the same as doing it - it is the execution where people fall short. Consider failure or disappointment as a learning experience, you are now wiser for it. Refer to #3.

So, there you have it. The recipe for success. Now, what are you going to do with it?
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Using Penny Bid Auction Sites for eBay Inventory

There has been a lot of advertising for penny bid auction sites in recent years. Almost everyone has seen advertising for these sites, but many people wonder if they're really as good as the advertisers lead you to believe. The ads claim you can get all kinds of amazing products (like iPads, etc.) for pennies on the dollar – up to 98% off of the retail price.

Penny auction sites work by selling penny bids (for more than a penny). So while you do bid a penny at a time (in that the price of the item only goes up a penny at a time, except in the case of some international bids), you're really paying 30 cents to a dollar for each bid that you place. The majority of penny auction sites charge around 60 cents to 75 cents for each bid.

Even with these charges, penny auction sites are still popular. Many people are able to get great deals on high ticket items. However, some people have complained that they spent a lot of money and didn't get anything to show for it, that they didn't ever receive the items that they purchased, or that the site led them to believe that they were a winner when they in fact were not. These sites make their money on the bids from people who don't win, so keep that in mind when you are paying for bids.

Penny auctions can provide great deals, but it's very important that you understand exactly what you're doing and getting when you participate in them. You need to fully understand the rules of the site and develop a good strategy in order to be successful. Your best bet is to wait until items are at a price that similar items have sold for and then begin to bid. If you can place these bids at a time when fewer people are online, you'll increase your chances even more. Some of the best times are Tuesday nights and Monday and Saturday mornings. Most days at 2-3 am are also good. Most people are asleep or busy at these times, so you'll have less competition. The majority of sites will let you view closed auctions as well, which can help you get an idea of the average price items go for.

Don't be afraid to try penny auction sites. Just do your research and develop a game plan, and you may be able to score some great deals for yourself or to sell on eBay!

More strategies for getting eBay inventory online:

Flipping eBay listings (finding misspellings)

Daily Deal Sites

Wholesale Sources

Information - Selling Public Domain Info Products

How to Create and Sell Information Products on eBay

Friday, February 18, 2011

Free Promotion for Your eBay Products

eBay and online sellers are always looking for new ways to promote their products. The internet is vast and infinite and there are unlimited opportunities for exposing your product to your target audience. Many of these strategies are free.

If you want to get the word out on the internet about your product but don’t have time to sit on Facebook and Twitter networking, try this technique - blogger outreach. Leverage the power of the blogosphere to reach your target audience.

Have you ever visited blogs with product reviews? This is an easy way to reach your target audience who is already assembled in one place, interested in what you sell, and accessible. Here is what to do.

1) Go to sites including Techorati, Blog Catalog, Google Blogsearch and Twitter and search for blogs about your niche product. Maybe your product is hunting, camping, and survival gear. You won’t want to target your competitors that sell the same types of items you do. You want to target blogs that discuss topics like camping and hunting retreats, family travel tips, adventure vacations, outdoor survival skills and tips, etc.

2) Seek highly trafficked blogs. The more visitors, the better. To see how much traffic a blog gets, look for the SiteMeter widget and click on it to view the stats. Or, look for the Feedburner widget that says how many readers the blog has. You also want to look for blogs with lots of comments on the posts, which is an indicator of the blog’s popularity with its readers.

3) Next, using email, Facebook, or Twitter, contact the owner of the blog and ask if he will do a product review. Then, send that blogger the actual product so he can use it and form her opinion and write the review. Most bloggers won't turn down a freebie.

4) The blogger doesn't have to like your product - and they may not. The blogger is going to give it an honest review. Whether they like it or not isn't the point - you will still get exposure online and have a highly trafficked site linking to your products. (A little controversy is good sometimes - it gets people talking about you and looking at your site.)

Think about how this can work for you. Large companies use this marketing technique all the time. Pharmaceutical companies use doctor's offices to promote and introduce their new products to the end user - patients. Food companies use grocery stores to set up demos of their new products to reach the consumer. You can use the blogosphere to do the same thing!

More ways to promote your eBay items for free:

How to Promote Your Business on YouTube

How to Use Yahoo Answers to Drive Traffic to eBay Listings

How to Use Facebook to Increase eBay Sales

Monday, February 14, 2011

How to Work More Efficiently Selling on eBay

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Time is everyone's most valuable resource. You can never get more time. Even the phrase "time management" does not make sense - you can't manage time, only the things you do that take up time. Email is essential to an online business - but it can also waste a lot of time. Check out these tips for gaining more time in your day and reducing the amount of email you receive.

The first step (and one of the most important) is to get rid of unneeded emails - even if you immediately delete them, it’s a waste of time. Plus, it’s very overwhelming to check your email in the morning and have 200 emails sitting there.

Start by getting rid of the junk. Gmail is one of the best for this - they have an amazing spam filter. You can't spend time reading email you never receive.

Next get rid of the chain emails. A lot of people have family and friends who think they need to share every cute picture of a kitten, joke, or Power Point show that they receive. Email them and politely tell them that, although you appreciate the thought, you’re trying to cut down on the number of emails you receive each day and you don’t want to receive any forwarded messages. This may hurt some people’s feelings, but it will pass. For those who ignore the request, create a filter that routes their emails directly to your trash folder. If you miss something truly important that they sent, you’ll hear from them another way to ask why you haven’t responded.

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the junk, it’s time to figure out a system to help you empty your in-box in as little time as possible.

Move quickly as you go through your email. Deal with one message at a time. Delete it, archive it (if you’ll need it later), add it to your list of things to do (and get rid of the actual email), take care of the task (only if it takes less than 2 minutes - and then get rid of the email), or forward the email to someone else to handle (and get rid of it). Don’t leave any emails sitting in your inbox. The more often you do this, the faster you’ll get. My mantra is "read it, delete it, delegate it, or deal with it." Don't just leave it sitting there for later. Later is the kiss of death when you are trying to manage your time.

Delete as much as you possibly can, and don’t feel guilty about it. It’s not necessary to reply to everything. If nothing too bad will happen, just delete it and don’t worry about it. This will help you narrow down what’s really important and get it taken care of as quickly as possible. And this will cut down on the compulsive email answerers - those who have to have the last word on everything. You know who they are, they respond to everything you send back. So, you need to be the break in the chain - don't respond to those people and you won't hear back from them about trivial stuff.

When you reply to emails, say as little as you can. Limit yourself to several sentences - this will force you to say only what’s necessary and save you a lot of time. Some people will take this as rudeness. I have a friend who always thinks I am mad because my emails are short, to the point, and business-like. I don't ramble on, use little smiley faces, or get sucked into drama. Say what you need to say and move on.

Go through all your emails at once. Don’t do a few and tell yourself you’ll finish later - more will just pile up.

If you get emails (such as newsletters) that you want to read, place them in a folder when you get them so you can easily read them later. (Later here is ok, since newsletters are not time sensitive and don't require a response.) Or, print them to read away from the computer later.

And finally, don’t check your email constantly - twice a day is plenty. Many people are compulsive email-checkers. Checking your inbox takes at least 20 seconds, even if nothing is there you have spent time doing it. If you are doing this all day long, you could be wasting up to 1 hour of valuable work time each day. (This includes checking email on your mobile device.) And over a month, you have wasted almost 2 whole work days just checking email.

Stay tuned for a special class coming up soon that addresses time management and making more time in your day for income producing tasks. Email is great, but it can also be a huge time waster. In my upcoming course, you will learn how to use technology without it running your life, how to identify what tasks take up the most of your time, how to leverage your time better for more productivity, how to plan backward to reach your goals, and many more strategies for increasing the amount of money you earn each day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Selling Event Tickets on eBay - It is Legal!

While “scalping” tickets (reselling them for more than their face value) is illegal in some states, it is completely legal to sell tickets on eBay for as much as their face value. And in some states, you can sell them for more than that.

eBay has designed their system to follow all state laws and to help their users understand how to follow the often confusing regulations. The price tickets can be sold for depends on where the event is, where the seller lives, and where the buyer lives.

eBay allows tickets to be sold that are for a variety of entertainment events - sports games, plays, concerts, etc. But, it’s important to be sure that you’re following all of the laws and regulations that apply to your situation.

Be wise with your keywords when you create your listing title. The majority of buyers will find your tickets through a keyword search. Make sure your title includes “tickets” as well as the teams or artists that will be at the event, as well as any often used abbreviations.

Pricing is a very important part of your listing. You don’t want to end up with worthless tickets at the end of your auction because you asked for too much money. Start by checking completed auctions to get an idea of what people are willing to pay. Then choose a starting bid that’s lower than the average sell price to encourage multiple bids. It’s a good idea to choose a starting price that’s about 60%-75% of fair market value. Another good idea is to start the tickets at $9.99 - this will help increase the number of bids you receive. Also, don’t use a Reserve Price. Many times a Reserve Price will lessen peoples’ interest.

It’s very important to have a refund policy that covers event postponement and cancellation. Events aren’t canceled often, but it will make buyers feel better to know that they will receive a refund if the event is canceled. And as the original buyer, you should receive a refund as well. Accept returns and issue a refund for tickets that are returned within 15 days of the cancellation.

For more information on selling event tickets on eBay, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Free Publicity for Your eBay Business

Today's post is brought to you by my colleague Miriam Otto. She is a joy to work with and a very knowledgeable eBay seller and teacher. She told me about HARO and I have already signed up.

Interested in getting some free publicity for your eBay store or blog? Sign up for HARO. HARO (which stands for “Help A Reporter Out”) is a free resource that connects people with reporters and bloggers who are looking for sources to quote. Once you sign up for HARO, you will receive emails a few times a day featuring queries sent in by members of the media. For example, a reporter might be looking for someone in Oregon who became an eBay seller after losing his or her job.

According to the HARO website, “from The New York Times, to ABC News, to and everyone in between, nearly 30,000 members of the media have quoted HARO sources in their stories. Everyone’s an expert at something. Sharing your expertise may land you that big media opportunity you’ve been looking for.”
Here are some tips to help you make the most of HARO:

1. Check your email often. The last time I was quoted, I answered a query moments after receiving a HARO email. Once a reporter has found a source they like, they may stop looking.

2. Be clear and concise when responding to queries. Let the reporter know why you should be quoted. What are your credentials? I like to point out that I am a Top-Rated Seller and an eBay trainer.

3. If you are quoted, keep in touch with reporters via Twitter, Facebook, or email. They may need you again in the future.

4.Be sure to provide all of your contact information. Give them your phone number and email address so that they can get in touch with you immediately .

Sign up today at, and take advantage of this free resource!

Miriam Otto writes the blog "The eBay Life," is an eBay Powerseller, and teaches eBay classes in Northern California.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Using eBay's Markdown Manager

(Photo -

Have you tried eBay's Markdown Manager? My clients report having success with this free eBay tool, especially during weekends. When using Markdown Manager, sales can be run for any reason - to correspond with a holiday or season, to promote a type of item, or just to get rid of some inventory. There are two different types of discount sales that you can choose from on eBay - a free shipping discount or a price discount.

You can offer price discounts on your fixed price listings by taking off a certain amount (such as $3), or a certain percentage (such as 25%). Price discounts can be set for any percentage from 5% to 75%. The discounted price will be shown as the Buy it Now price in most places on eBay. There are a few places that the price will show as a sale price (with the regular price struck through and the discount shown) - in your listing, on cross promotions within listings, in search results (within your store), in the Watched Items section (in My eBay), in any reminder emails from Watched Items, in store promotion boxes, and in any email marketing messages you choose to send.

You cannot use a price discount with auctions. But, you can offer a free shipping discount on all listings - both auctions and fixed price. Free shipping discounts only work on the first type of U.S. shipping service you added when you created your listing. It won’t apply to any other shipping services you may have added.

Make sure you promote your sale as much as possible! Send a customized email to your Store’s newsletter subscribers announcing the sale. How many emails you can send and how often you can send them is determined by your subscription limits, as well as by eBay policies.

For more information on eBay's Markdown Manager, click here for a free tutorial.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

How to Identify Trolls Visting Your Blog

I have to do one of these posts a couple of times a year to let the stalkers and trolls know that they aren't as smart as they think they are, and they aren't as anonymous as they think they are either. Don't people realize that everywhere you go on the internet can be traced back to you?

If you have a blog, you may have to deal with trolls who leave nasty comments, even anonymous comments, you can find out exactly who they are, and even see a picture of their house! Here is what to do.

1. Install a site tracker or stat counter on your blog. I use Sitemeter and it is free. I use it on all of my sites and blogs.

2. Log into Sitemeter. You will get a summary page like this:

3. Next, you can identify WHO'S ON, or click on REFERRALS to see what site referred the visitor to you. You can also click on ENTRY PAGES or EXIT PAGES to see what pages visitors landed on, and the last page they looked at before they left. If you are identifying a troll, the last page they were on will be the post they commented on. The time will also sync up with the timestamp on the comment.

3. For the purpose of this demo, let's look at WHO'S on my blog right now. The screen looks like this:

4. Click on the little number to the left under the DETAIL column. You will get a screen with everything about that visitor, right down to the resolution and color depth of their computer monitor. Find the line that says LAT/LONG under LOCATION:

5. Next, take that latitude and longitude and plug them into Google Maps. You will see a map of the location and a photo of the building at that address.

6. Now that you have the troll's address, you can plug it into Google or any website that finds people by their address, and discover their identity.

See, you can be a detective, too. This certainly won't stop the trolls from visiting, but at least you can find out who they are. Remember that sending threats or hate comments is a Federal crime. Blog comments fall under this law. Do not hesitate to identify these people and report them to your local authorities - now you can easily find out their identity and get the law on your side.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thrift Store Score - Smith Corona Typewriter

Talk about an obsolete item in today's society - a typewriter? It is nearly impossible to even find ribbons for them anymore. As my teenagers said, "What does it do?" Thanks for making me feel old, kids. But, they hold their value on eBay. Below is my listing for a vintage Smith Corona typewriter with case. This was marked $10 at a thrift store.

The typewriter sold for $129.97. This is a case of waiting for the right buyer. I had placed the item on auction for 7 days and did not receive any bids. Then I listed it on fixed price and it sold in 3 days. The listing only had 25 page views. Click here to see the completed listing.

Typewriters can bring really good money on eBay. Here are a few completed listings for typewriters that sold at astronomical prices:

Vintage Royal Typewriter - sold for $611

Vintage Underwood Typewriter
- sold for $600

Vintage Olivetti Typewriter - sold for $455

So there you go. Old obsolete items can be a gold mine on eBay. For more ideas on vintage items to sell on eBay, check these two blog posts, which are updated regularly:

List of vintage items to sell on eBay

List of thrift store items to sell on eBay

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

#1 Excuse for a Failed Business - I Don't Have Enough Time

I am going to give it to you straight here - no sugar coating. So if you aren't up for a reality check , stop reading now. This is going to be harsh - sort of like Lou Gossett, Jr as the drill sergeant in "An Officer and a Gentleman."

I have coached hundreds of clients on how to succeed with online selling, creating passive income streams, and starting a home business. The #1 excuse I hear regarding why clients don't do assignments, and therefore don't succeed:

"I don't have enough time."

This is a classic (lame) excuse and usually comes from the people with the most time to spare. We all have the exact same amount of time in every day, 24 hours. A perceived lack of time is usually lack of something else - discipline, focus, prioritizing, passion, or decision making. When I hear, "I don't have enough time," what that person is saying is, "I don't want this badly enough." The cold hard truth here is:

You will make time for what is important to you.

What do you really want? To make more money? To quit your "regular" job and earn a living on eBay full time? To earn enough money for a down payment on a house? To retire early? Financial freedom? The way you spend your time is how you show value for the important things in your life. Fact:

If you don't spend time on something, you do not value it.

Now, I am not saying you should be glued to your computer 12 hours a day and neglect your family, yourself, or your life. Building a successful business is about making choices. Being an entrepreneur involves many unpaid hours before you start to see results. Are you letting the drama of life get in the way of your focus? Are you spending time on things that will help you reach your goal, or are you frittering time away on activities that are unrelated to reaching your goals? Consider this:

You are where you are today because of choices you have made in your life.

Every choice you have made up to today has shaped your current situation in life. For example, when you are working on your eBay business, and a neighbor comes to the door, do you tell them you are working and can't chat? Do you turn off your phone while you are working, or do you allow the phone to interrupt you? Do your evenings revolve around mindless TV - something that will never help your business grow? Do you jump at any invitation to socialize knowing that your work won't get done?

It is time to stop living in the land of excuses. If you want something badly enough, you will work towards it. You will make time for what is important to you. We all have the same amount of time in a day, what you do with it is your decision.

"Desire is the starting point of all achievement - not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything." ~ Napoleon Hill, author of "Think and Grow Rich."

That's my story, and I am stickin' to it.