Thursday, January 5, 2012

After Fourteen Years and Thousands of Items - How Come I'm Still Not Rich?

I have been selling on eBay since 1998.  I have sold thousands of items and have shipped all over the world.

It can be pretty time consuming.

The steps from start to finish are:

1. First thing I do is take photos of the items I am going to be putting up for auction.  The items I usually sell are small.  I have what is called a "light box", which is a table top photo studio.  It provides for diffused lighting.  I have found that proper lighting is the key to get clear and sharp results.

2.  Next, I crop and resize the photos.

3. After that  I use an application called GarageSale. This software is a client application for eBay's online auction systems.  I use it to upload photos, write descriptions, edit, track and manage my auctions.  I can write the auctions ahead of time and then schedule them to start at a later time in the evening.

4. Once the auctions have started, they run for 7 days.  During that time I might have to answer questions via email about the items.  Even though I state in each auction that I will point out any flaws I notice, most of the questions I receive are regarding the condition of the item.

5. After the auction ends, if an item sells, I will send an invoice to the buyer.

6. When I get paid for the item, I pack it, print a label with postage and haul it off to the post office.

7. Then I hold my breath, while I wait for the buyer to hopefully give me positive feedback.

Over the years eBay has changed a great deal.

When I first started doing the online auctions, buyers and sellers were treated by eBay with equal respect.  At that time the eBay community consisted mostly of individual sellers.

Now, there are more sellers and the competition is more intense.  Professional retailers and importers/exporters are more numerous.  Many products are sourced globally/sold directly and in high volume.  The concentration has changed to favor the buyer, sometimes leaving the seller with no recourse if a sale goes bad.

Sometimes I am totally into it and will have 25-50 auctions up at a clip.  Then after a few months, I start to get bored and will go months when I have no auctions listed.

The last couple of days, I have started listing some items.  I am starting out slowly and currently only have 7 items up for auction.

The exciting part is waiting to see if there is any interest in the items and then waiting to see if anyone will actually bid.  The best is when more than one person shows interest and a mini bidding war takes place.

I mostly sell vintage costume and sterling silver jewelry.  However, over the years I have sold many different and sometimes quite unusual things.  It's amazing what people collect and even more amazing what they are sometimes willing to pay for an item which will complete their collection.

The rewarding part is having the buyer love the item and then they give me positive feedback.   It almost feels as though I am handing out gifts to people all over the world.

Perhaps that's why I have not become wealthy doing this.   I am usually just trying to get rid of stuff that I paid way too much for but had to have. I forget that the point is to try and turn a profit.

I have to say that 99.9% of the people I have dealt with during the last 14 years have been extremely nice, very co-operative and usually willing to compromise.

There was that one time, though, when this evil woman....but that is a long story which I will save for another post.

So if you have questions about how to sell on eBay, feel free to ask.

And if you are so inclined check out my auctions.

My beautiful son Joseph passed away one month ago today.  The pain is constant and the sadness is steady.


  1. I am having so much fun with this auction business.  I have been a part of the "flea market" experience in California, but never anything to do with auctions.  Sebtown knows all about e-bay, and I am learning from a distance.  Maybe it is my remote location that makes me hesitate.  We are a half-hour from the nearest post office, and an hour and a half from a town big enough to feature a Starbucks.  UPS will come up the five miles of dirt road to get to my house, but they never seem to get it right.  We constantly get delivered packages that are addressed to other folks, and that makes me nervous.   I am amazed that you can be so light and breezy with the post, and conclude the way you do.  The indomitable human spirit will rise to the toughest of tasks, and you are a daily reminder.  This resurgent focus on auctions might be just the ticket for you-for today, at least.  Thanks for the tutorial.

  2. Markey must be thinking about Amazon and me - I have never listed on ebay and have only gone there once or twice.  I do  buy new books off Amazon, read them right away, and then sell them as used.  If you stay on top of it you can get close to what you paid and still read the new stuff.  The library is good for lots of things but not the new stuff.
    I am amazed at all the work that goes into the ebay process.  I don't collect things - mostly just books and paint stuff - but for those who do, ebay must be a wonderful asset.  
    I suspect that when Joe was a baby, you celebrated his early life  frequently - as in, now he is one week old, now he is one month old, now he is two months old and that went on every month until he turned one year old.  The next year, you still might have thought about it on the number that corresponded with his birthday, and, perhaps, throughout his life that connection would occur to you.  I know that is how it has been with my two children.  The 8th and the 23rd of many months will make me think of them.  I wonder if the 5th of the month will hit hard for this year and then next year, the pain will soften slightly but the 5th will still matter and, over time, the ache will develop some memories around the edge.  NOT that you will forget Joe, but other parts of life might help make his memory less painful.  One can only help.

  3. I admire that you are able to pick up the pieces of your "regular" life in the aftermath of your recent loss. It is truly inspiring.