Friday, October 23, 2015

There are 1.8 Billion Millenials Around the Globe - Are You Marketing to Them?

Millenials are the largest generation in history and they are about to move into their prime spending years. Smart marketers look at what and how millenials buy consumer goods. The purchasing power of millenials is $170 billion per year, and we need to know what the heck they are buying so we can sell it to them! If you are not in touch with what millenials are buying, you are leaving money on the table.

I've had a secret weapon and millenial informant for the last few years - and now you can benefit from her knowledge, too. I am excited to announce that my daughter, Melanie Wells, is now offering eBay tutoring and consulting services to help other sellers grow their eBay businesses. Not only can she help you get in touch with the millenial consumer, but she can help you learn to be a better eBay seller.

Many of you have been following my daughter's eBay journey on my blog and my Facebook Group. Melanie started selling in 2012, at the age of 18. She has worked hard building her store - she has sold over 2,000 items in her eBay career, while working other full and part time jobs.

Training closely beside me every day for the last  3 1/2 years, eBay is a way of life for Melanie. If there was a Bachelor's Degree in eBay, she would have one. Melanie was industrious enough to work her eBay business and save enough money to pay cash for a car earlier this year. (Read her story here.) She has been a mentor and leader in the eBay community by helping other sellers and participating regularly in the Money Making Mondays threads on my Facebook Group. Here are some of her posts about her sales:

She is a smart cookie. As a 21 year old, she is in touch with what Gen Y / Millenials are up to and has taught me how to cash in on that market. She pays attention to what is posted on social media, what her friends are into, and what is new on the scene. She has helped me make a lot of money by mentioning brands that sell well, decorating trends, crafts, or repurposing ideas that I was clueless about. She also knows how to use technology and social media for sourcing inventory, such as her recent score on a Facebook Group that she flipped on eBay.

Melanie has also helped several local sellers with their eBay business by teaching them what to buy for resale, teaching them how to list, hhelping them learn how to ship, and serving in a listing and shipping assistant role. She was a big help to our dear friend Catherine - who will live in infamy for the funniest eBay fail ever, but also has an amazing boutique in her basement.

How can Melanie help you? She offers the following services:

Feel free to contact Melanie with any questions about her services. She is a delight to work with and you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Flipping Facebook Sale Items on eBay

Opportunities for making money are all around us. Most folks selling on eBay already know how to source from thrift stores, garage sales, and estate sales. But have you tried using Facebook groups as a source of inventory? Lots of people don't want the hassle of figuring out how to sell on eBay or ship items. They just want to sell extra stuff around their house a little at a time to local people.

That's where eBay sellers can seize the opportunity. Scroll though the "For Sale" posts on local Facebook buy / sell groups and you can score some real deals. My daughter recently found this lot of 12 Mary Kay foundation makeup tubes for $15. (Pictured above.) She bought the lot on Friday, and by Sunday had already sold 2 tubes to different buyers. Here is the listing for the sold item:

If she sells all of these at this price, profit is around $128. Not bad for a few minutes time scrolling through Facebook group posts, meeting the seller about 5 miles from home, and listing the item.

The key is to use the resources around you to make money.  Opportunities are all around you - but you have to pay attention to them. Think about how many households are in a 5 mile radius of your home, and how much stuff is in all of those households. Those people may be posting things on Facebook that YOU can resell for a nice profit on eBay. Pay attention!

Related Articles:

What is Alpaca and Why Should eBay Sellers Care?

Here is What I Love About eBay

Atlanta eBay Sellers Do You Have Too Much Inventory?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What is Alpaca and Why Should eBay Sellers Care?

Time for an eBay vocabulary lesson! If you are not familiar with alpaca, it is time to add this to your vocabulary and your inventory. An alpaca belongs to the animal family Camelidae as a cousin to camels and llamas (and the lesser known vicuna and guanaco). Alpacas are native to South America. They grow long, soft, silky fleece which is made into wool. 

Alpaca wool is different than sheep's wool because it is warmer, not prickly like sheep's wool, and doesn't contain lanolin which makes it hypoallergenic. (Lanolin is a fatty substance and is extracted and used in ointments and moisturizing products.)  Alpaca is also water repellent and is hard to catch on fire - making is a safer textile than many other fabrics. 

Alpaca products are a major export of Peru - but don't be surprised if you sell a lot of it to Peruvian buyers. Products made from alpaca include sweaters, socks, gloves, ponchos, and blankets. And here is why you should learn about alpaca - it has a good resale value on eBay and sells well year round. Let's take a look at what the research shows:

eBay shows over 3,300 completed sold items in Clothing and Accessories in preowned condition.

eBay shows over 2.300 completed sold alpaca sweaters.

eBay shows over 2,700 completed sold listings for alpaca in the craft category (look for alpaca yarn at estate sales, thrift stores, and garage sales).

Alpaca isn't as plentiful as cashmere or regular wool, but keep your eyes open for it. Here is one of my best sales for an alpaca item - an Eileen Fisher cardigan that sold for $99 in August.

Happy hunting!

Related Articles:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

If You Are Earning Money on eBay - Listen Up!

This is not a "what to sell" post or a "hot discontinued item" post, but I recommend you read it anyway. It could save you a lot of time, money, frustration, and disappointment in the future.

If you are selling on eBay, and depend on the income, or ever want to rely on the income to prove you can afford a mortgage loan, start preparing now. If you have any plans to move, downsize, or rent, start getting your paperwork in order now. Even if you already have a CPA.

Here is the problem. If a CPA has been doing your taxes for you, that is great! A CPA is trained to make sure their clients pay the minimal amount of taxes. With self-employed people and entrepreneurs, their goal is to whittle down "adjusted gross income" so that taxes owed are minimized. This is what accountants are trained to do. Unfortunately, CPAs and mortgage lenders are looking at financial information from two different perspectives. The CPA is looking a how low he can get your income so taxes are minimized. The mortgage lender (or apartment leasing office) is looking at a person's income and ability to pay, which is the amount of income they have claimed and what they pay taxes on.  Usually, you can't have it both ways - if you are self-employed, you may have to strategically prepare tax returns so that you can qualify for a mortgage.

This is where worlds collide and it isn't pretty. Let's face it, self-employed people can look bad on paper. Because of all the deductions we can take, and how we pay expenses out of our business accounts, our taxable income is usually much lower than what we actually "take home." I have talked to several sellers lately who have run into the problem of not being able to prove their income to get a mortgage. They may be able to afford where they live now and have excellent credit. But after the housing crash in 2008, lenders look at self-employed people much differently - as a risker borrower. It is all about how the numbers line up on the Schedule K (if you are an S-Corp) and how much of a salary you take. Bottom line:

The mortgage process is designed for people with a regular W-2 income, not entrepreneurs. 

I am not a CPA or a tax professional, but I am telling you to consult one if you have any plans of moving in the next 12 months. Make sure your CPA knows your goal of getting a mortgage loan or renting a new place. If you aren't showing enough income on your tax returns, or taking an official salary, you may not be able to qualify for a mortgage or even a rental agreement. It is tough out there for single self-employed folks when eBay is the only source or income, or both spouses are self-employed. This post not meant to cause panic or alarm, but to inform so you can prepare.

Start looking into this now because you may have to make adjustments to show more income so you can qualify for what you want in the future. You may need to show fewer write-offs or take a larger salary to make the numbers work. Disbursements usually don't count - you need to show a salary.

If you don't have a CPA, now is the time to find one. Check around in your area for CPAs who offer free initial consultations.  Call the Chamber of Commerce or use our good friend, Google. This is a great time of year to start a relationship with a CPA - come January through April they will be slammed during tax season.

And if you aren't keeping records on your sales, you certainly should be. (I recommend this spreadsheet for eBay sellers.) Get your paperwork in order now. Taxes and accounting definitely aren't the fun part of eBay, but just grit your teeth and do it anyway. Your future self will thank you.

A few tips:

1. Keep good records. Record all inventory purchases, fees, and supply expenses. KNOW WHAT YOUR PROFIT IS AND HOW MUCH MONEY YOU ARE MAKING. (Yes, I am yelling!!)

2. Don't co-mingle personal and business money. Lenders don't like to see that.

3. Mortgage lenders will look at 2 years of tax returns - so make sure you have enough time to get the right documentation in order before you plan to move. (Talk to a CPA!)

4. Work on improving your credit score. Self-employed people have been stereo-typed to have lower credit scores than W-2 employees.

5. Start saving for your down payment. A larger down payment may help counterbalance any self-employment income issues.

6. Talk to a CPA and different mortgage lenders. Seek out lenders who work with entrepreneurs - they may have some workarounds or connections that will help you. Some lenders won't even work with self-employed people because of all the extra paperwork and hassle.

Here are some helpful resources if you are considering buying a house (that includes downsizing) if you are self-employed (even if one spouse is self-employed):

Self-Employed? Good Luck Getting a Mortgage

How to Qualify for a Mortgage When You are Self-Employed

Self-Employed? How to Get a Mortgage