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How to Check an eBay Seller's Reputation (and Why You Should Do It). When you buy something from an eBay seller, you are giving them your money and hoping that you will get something in return. However many guarantees of safety eBay might make to you, nothing is certain: if you just give your money to scammers all the time without doing any checks then the chances are you won't get all of that money back. That's why you should always check the seller's reputation, or 'feedback rating'. This is a quick and easy-to-read summary of their history as an eBay seller, which gives you some idea of whether or not you should trust them with your money. Buying anything is a calculated risk: you want to minimise that risk. How to Check Feedback Ratings. On each item's description page, there is a box in the top-right hand corner about the seller, with the title 'Seller information'. This contains the seller's name, their feedback score, and their positive feedback percentage, as well as any stars they have earned. Different coloured stars are given to eBay sellers depending on their rating, in this sequence: yellow, blue, turquoise, purple, red, green, shooting yellow, shooting turquoise, shooting purple, shooting red. Anyone with a 'shooting' star is an experienced eBay member who you should be able to trust. If you click on the seller's name, you can get to a more detailed view of their reputation - their 'member profile' page. This page shows the total number of people who gave them a positive or negative rating, as well as a breakdown by time. You can also see a complete history of all the comments that have ever been left about them, with the most recent first. What to Look For. You might assume that anyone with a very high number can be trusted, but that isn't always true. It is more important to look at their positive feedback percentage - and you should really consider anything below 99% to be a red flag and investigate further. Take a look through the first visible page with the most recent transactions: are there any negative comments? What do they say? Take others' experiences into account, as they could happen to you if you deal with this person. Be careful not to punish sellers unfairly, however, if they did bad things in their past on eBay but have improved since. You should look at the breakdown by time and ignore any negative feedback that was left a long time ago. Equally, though, you should sit up and pay attention if a seller seems to have been left an out-of-character amount of bad feedback in the last month or so. Now that you know who to trust, it is worth learning a little more about how the different kinds of auctions work, so that you don't accidentally slip up and make yourself and your feedback page look bad. Our next email will be about the different kinds of auctions you can expect to encounter during your time on eBay.

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Is the eBay Customer Always Right? I can answer this question for you right now: the answer is 'yes'. In fact, the answer is 'YES!' - the biggest yes you've ever heard. Of the course the customer is always right. If you want to be a successful eBay seller, you should go miles out of your way to make sure every single one of your customers is 100% satisfied, however much time or money it might cost you. A dissatisfied customer will leave negative feedback, and negative feedback is to be avoided at all costs. That one piece of negative feedback will always cost you more than it would have to deal with the complaint, whatever the value of the items you sell. You should consider any positive feedback percentage under 100% to be an absolute disaster, and a personal failure on your part. But What If… But nothing! There is no situation where you, as a seller, should get into any dispute with a buyer. Here are a few common situations and how to handle them. They say the item never arrived: Politely ask the buyer to wait a few more days to see if it turns up, and then email you again if it still hasn't arrived. If it still hasn't arrived, you should assume it was lost in the post somehow and offer to send a replacement if you have one, or give them a full refund otherwise. No, I don't care what that costs you. Are you serious about selling on eBay or not? The item has been damaged in the post: You must offer to replace it or take it back for a refund without hesitation. They say the item doesn't match the description: Resist the urge to email back with "yes it does, you just didn't read the description properly". Take the item back for a refund, and edit your description if you need to, to make any confusing points extra clear. I'm sure you're spotting a pattern by now. Offering a refund will make almost any problem go away, and it really will cost you less in the long run. Remember, one piece of negative feedback will stay with you forever, while having a 100% positive rating is like owning a bar of solid gold. You should always handle customers' complaints before they complain to eBay - in fact, you should email them pre-emptively to ask if they have any. Going through the dispute process is time consuming, reflects badly on you and is downright unnecessary. Are you still not convinced? Think this would only work with cheap items? Well, you see, the higher the price of the items you sell, the more your reputation is worth to you. Let's say you were selling $10,000 worth of items each week, for example, and making a $1,000 profit per week overall. You might think that refunding one customer's $1,000 purchase would be a tragedy, losing you your whole week's profit. It's far better to look at it this way: if you don't give that refund, then not only will you lose the next week's profit, but you'll probably lose a few weeks' profit after that too. Now which option looks better? I absolutely can't emphasise enough the importance of really believing that the customer is always right. But trying to make excuses for complaints isn't the only thing you need to avoid. There are a lot of pitfalls that you need to avoid if you don't want to kill your business before it's even started properly - and I'll show you in the next email what they are.

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When Things Go Wrong: How to Resolve eBay Disputes. eBay has quite an intricate and long-winded dispute resolution procedure. In this email, I'll try to break each step down for you, so you can see what's involved and how long it takes. As an example, let's go through what you would do if you paid for an item but didn't receive it from the seller. Before you open a dispute: Give the seller a chance to send the item before you get ahead of yourself and open a dispute. If you're concerned about how long the item is taking to arrive, the first thing you should do is send a polite email to the seller saying that you haven't received it and asking whether they have posted it. You should also check your own email address in eBay's options, to make sure that the seller can reply to you. As a last resort before opening a dispute, you should try to call the seller on the number eBay has for them. You might have to pay long-distance charges for the call, but that's better than dragging the auction through mediation for months. Step 1 - You open an Item Not Received dispute: You can do this here: http://feedback. ebay. com/ws/eBayISAPI.

dll? InrCreateDispute. All you need to do is enter the item number and say that you did not receive the item. Step 2 - eBay contacts the seller: eBay sends the seller an email that tells them that you've said you didn't receive the item. Then can then choose to tell you one of three things: that your payment hasn't cleared yet, that the item is in the post, or that they'll give you your money back. The seller can also tell eBay that they would like to send you a message. Step 3 - You talk to the seller: You try to work out what's happened directly with the seller, sending messages back and forward. Hopefully they'll agree to give you a refund for the sake of their feedback, or your item will turn up in the post during this time. Step 4 - Closing the dispute: After 30 days (or 10 days if the seller didn't respond), you have two options to close the dispute: either you were satisfied or you weren't. If you weren't satisfied, then you can claim under eBay's purchase protection program for up to $200. Independent Dispute Mediation. If you don't want to go through eBay's own process, and especially if the auction was for a high-value item, then you can use a third-party mediator. eBay recommend SquareTrade, at squaretrade. com, who provide mediation to many websites where there are buyers and sellers. They will contact the seller on your behalf and then mediate as you negotiate what to do from there. Sellers who are committed to going through SquareTrade's mediation for any disputes can sign up to display the 'SquareTrade seal' on their auctions. This gives their buyers $250 fraud protection, and shows that their identity has been independently verified so they are who they say they are. When your sellers aren't in such good standing, though, you need to be careful to avoid being a victim of fraud. There are a few scams that you especially need to look out for - we'll cover them in the next email.

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How to Use eBay to Grow Your Other Businesses. Most of the people who make money from eBay don't actually make all of that money on eBay. There are all sorts of ways you can use eBay to give your existing businesses a helping hand. The Supply Side. If you have any leftover stock or used items from another business you run, then why not sell them on eBay? You can make this a regular thing, using it to get rid of things that won't sell for the premium you ask for in a shop, or items that are no longer in demand in the town or city where your business is based. You can really make a lot of money this way, if you know what you're doing. You will, of course, already be an expert in the items you're selling, as you use them in your business, and you'll know that the items are of high enough quality to be sellable.

This is a whole new market for your old inventory! Not only that, of course, but remember that your good eBay reputation will make you a great buyer! If there's ever anything you want to get for your business, the chances are you'll be able to get it on eBay for a discount. The Sales Side. Here, though, is where the true power of eBay lies. eBay give you an 'About Me' page, where you can write anything you like and link anywhere you like. This means that you can get traffic to your business' website by linking to your website from your About Me page and linking to your About Me page from each auction.

To create an About Me page, just click on 'Community' on the toolbar, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click 'Create an About Me page'. You then get the option to either enter your own HTML or let eBay guide you through the process. All you need to do is write a little about your website, link to it, and you're done - you'll notice that more people start to come to your site straight away. There are thousands of people who swear by this technique to drive traffic from eBay to their website - with a little persuasive sales copy on your site, they say, you can sell directly to buyers, cutting out the eBay middleman. What's more, all the traffic you'll get will be targeted - because the people who click through were interested in your auction to begin with. This can be a really powerful technique, especially if you've already got an e-commerce site. Even if you haven't, you might find it worth your time to set up a website that does nothing but list your eBay inventory with a few dollars off each item, with a PayPal 'Buy Now' button for each item.

Then simply make the link to your About Me page read 'Visit my website for even more bargains!', and you're done. Now that you've seen how to drive visitors to your website, maybe you'd like a little help getting your auction in front of buyers. That's why our next email will show you the secrets of taming the eBay search engine.

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When and How to Withdraw Your eBay Bid (and Why You Might Not Want To). eBay are a little strict about letting you withdraw your bid. They call it a 'bid retraction', and have a stringent set of conditions that you must meet before you are allowed to do it. Here are eBay's three acceptable reasons for withdrawing a bid. You made a typographical error: This means that you accidentally typed the wrong amount into the bid box, bidding a far higher price than you meant to. This can be scary: imagine bidding $100 and accidentally adding an extra '0'! You are entirely allowed to withdraw your bid in this situation, and bid again if you want to. The item's description changed: If you bid on something and then the seller updates the description, you have the right to withdraw your bid. It wouldn't be fair, after all, to force you to take something that you now realise you don't want. The seller is uncontactable: If emails to the seller bounce and they don't answer their phone, then the auction obviously can't continue, and you can cancel it. So How Do I Retract My Bid? eBay hide away the bid retraction form a bit, because they don't like people using it. You can find it by going here: http://cgi1.ebay. com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI. dll? RetractBidShow. Now all you need is the item number from your auction: this can be found on the item description page's top right corner. If you can't see it on the page, look in your browser's title bar, and in any emails eBay have sent you about your bid on the item. Choose one of the three allowed reasons, click 'retract bid', and you're done. Are There Any Consequences? Well yes, there are. The more unethical among you might have considered that you could just cancel bids anytime you feel like it by saying that you accidentally entered the wrong amount. eBay are one step ahead of you. Each time you retract a bid, it is counted on your feedback page for all to see - and anyone with a lot of retracted bids looks more than a little dodgy. eBay also say that abusing the bid retraction feature could get you banned. So is there a way to retract your bid without facing a penalty? There is if your seller is nice, and most are. Sellers can cancel bids on their auctions at any time, and if you email them with a half-decent excuse then most will be more than happy to do this for you. After all, it's not in their interest for their item to go to someone who won't like it, as you might leave negative feedback. Of course, retracting your bid should still be a rare thing: you won't win auctions that way! If you've followed us this far, the chances are you've won an auction by now, or you're close - but you might be a little puzzled about what to do next. Our next email will give you a few pointers.

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What's Your eBay Reputation Really Worth? Your eBay reputation is everything you are on eBay - without it, you're nothing. Your reputation is worth as much as every sale you will ever make. If you've ever bought anything on eBay (and the chances are you have), then think about your own behaviour. Buying from a seller with a low feedback rating makes you feel a little nervous and insecure, while buying from a PowerSeller with their reputation in the thousands doesn't require any thought or fear - it feels just like buying from a shop. A Bad Reputation Will Lose You Sales. In fact, a bad reputation will lose you almost all your sales.

If someone leaves you negative feedback, you will feel the pain straight away, as that rating will go right at the top of your user page for everyone to see. Who's going to want to do business with you when they've just read that you "took a month to deliver the item", or that you had "bad communication and sent a damaged item"? The answer is no-one. Your next few items will need to be very cheap things, just to push that negative down the page. You might have to spend days or even weeks selling cheap stuff to get enough positive feedback to make anyone deal with you again. It's even worse if you consistently let buyers leave negative feedback - once you get below 90% positive ratings, you might as well be invisible. You Can't Just Open a New Account. Besides eBay's rules about only having one account, there are far more downsides than that to getting a new account. You literally have to start all over again from scratch. You won't be able to use all the different eBay features. Your existing customers won't be able to find you any more. Your auctions will finish at a lower price because of your low feedback rating. Opening a new account is like moving to a new town to get away from a few people who are spreading rumours about you: it's throwing out the baby with the bathwater. A Good Reputation Will Get You Sales. When a PowerSeller tells me something, I tend to believe them. They can be selling a pretty unlikely item, but if they guarantee it is what they say it is, then I trust them - they're not going to risk their reputation, after all. This is the power of a reputation: people know you want to keep it, and they know you'll go to almost any lengths to do so. This is true even to the point that I would sooner buy something for $20 from a seller I know I can trust than for $15 from someone with average feedback. It's worth the extra money to feel like the seller knows what they're doing, has all their systems in place and will get me the item quickly and efficiently. You really will find selling on eBay so much easier, and there's only way to get a good reputation: make sure you please your customers every time. But some customers can be, well, just a little difficult to please. In the next email, we ask: is the eBay customer always right?

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eBay: The First 10 Years. Yes, you read that correctly: ten years. eBay was created in September 1995, by a man called Pierre Omidyar, who was living in San Jose. He wanted his site - then called 'AuctionWeb' - to be an online marketplace, and wrote the first code for it in one weekend. It was one of the first websites of its kind in the world. The name 'eBay' comes from the domain Omidyar used for his site.

His company's name was Echo Bay, and the 'eBay AuctionWeb' was originally just one part of Echo Bay's website at ebay. com. The first thing ever sold on the site was Omidyar's broken laser pointer, which he got $14 for. The site quickly became massively popular, as sellers came to list all sorts of odd things and buyers actually bought them. Relying on trust seemed to work remarkably well, and meant that the site could almost be left alone to run itself. The site had been designed from the start to collect a small fee on each sale, and it was this money that Omidyar used to pay for AuctionWeb's expansion. The fees quickly added up to more than his current salary, and so he decided to quit his job and work on the site full-time. It was at this point, in 1996, that he added the feedback facilities, to let buyers and sellers rate each other and make buying and selling safer. In 1997, Omidyar changed AuctionWeb's - and his company's - name to 'eBay', which is what people had been calling the site for a long time. He began to spend a lot of money on advertising, and had the eBay logo designed. It was in this year that the one-millionth item was sold (it was a toy version of Big Bird from Sesame Street). Then, in 1998 - the peak of the dotcom boom - eBay became big business, and the investment in Internet businesses at the time allowed it to bring in senior managers and business strategists, who took in public on the stock market. It started to encourage people to sell more than just collectibles, and quickly became a massive site where you could sell anything, large or small. Unlike other sites, though, eBay survived the end of the boom, and is still going strong today. 1999 saw eBay go worldwide, launching sites in the UK, Australia and Germany. eBay bought half. com, an Amazon-like online retailer, in the year 2000 - the same year it introduced Buy it Now - and bought PayPal, an online payment service, in 2002. Pierre Omidyar has now earned an estimated $3 billion from eBay, and still serves as Chairman of the Board. Oddly enough, he keeps a personal weblog at http://pierre. typepad. com. There are now literally millions of items bought and sold every day on eBay, all over the world. For every $100 spent online worldwide, it is estimated that $14 is spent on eBay - that's a lot of laser pointers. Now that you know the history of eBay, perhaps you'd like to know how it could work for you? Our next email will give you an idea of the possibilities.

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When to "Buy Now" and When to Bid. You will often find yourself facing the choice of whether to pay a fixed price or keep on bidding. This choice might be presented to you in a single auction, or you might be choosing between different auctions of the different types. So should you use that 'Buy it Now' button or keep on trying to outbid everyone else? It's all a question of weighing up the advantages and disadvantages. Buy it Now. - The Advantages. When you use Buy it Now, you know the asking price and you can take some time to decide whether to pay it or not - you can even negotiate. You don't need to keeping your eye on the auction, or get caught up in the last-minute bidding frenzy that is now inevitable on any popular item. Not only that, but the seller will be happy to get a fixed price for their item, and they're likely to nicer to you than usual. Some sellers can be a little resentful when they feel that you got a little too much of a bargain on their item. - The Disadvantages. You will almost certainly pay more for the item, especially with more expensive items. Also, it takes some of the fun out of eBay. Aren't you there for an auction, after all? If you want to pay a fixed price then there are thousands of online stores you could be visiting. It's like pressing 'collect' instead of 'gamble' on a fruit machine: it's the boring option. But then, maybe that's what you want. These rules are relatively constant: there are few times when using Buy it Now would allow you to get something cheaper, or when bidding would be an easier way to do it. In the end, as with so many things in life, it's a simple question of price vs. convenience, and it's up to you. There are those times, though, when the strategic use of the Buy it Now button can be a useful tool to help you outwit your competition. If the current bid is almost as high as the Buy it Now price, then why bid higher and keep the contest going? Clicking that button is a no-brainer. The same goes for times when a seller has, for some reason, set the Buy it Now price only slightly higher than their starting price for bids. Why bother to go through all the hassle of bidding? You might also find that there are times when you should leave the Buy it Now button as a last resort: it can be a useful way of ending last-minute contests with a decisive 'this is mine' gesture. In fact, there are all sorts of tricks you can use on eBay, if you want to get ahead of the game. Remember that most buyers on eBay are casual, and don't know what they're doing: a little knowledge can go a long way in getting you an advantage. Our next email will have a few tips and tricks for you.

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How Important is Your Buyer's Reputation? Your reputation as a buyer (or 'feedback rating') is the most important thing people see when they deal with you on eBay. It is on the basis of this little number that they will decide whether they can trust you or not. Each time you buy or sell something on eBay, people can leave feedback for you, and you can leave feedback for them. This feedback can be positive, negative, or neutral, along with a comment. Your feedback rating, then, is worked out using a very simple sum: the number of positive feedback comments people have left for you, minus the number of negative ones. This means that someone with a feedback rating of 28, for example, might have 30 positive ratings and 2 negative ones. If you are a considerate buyer, then you should find that positive feedback will just appear next to your username, without you needing to do anything. If you want to help it along, though, there are a few things you can do. Always leave feedback for others: People will feel an obligation to leave feedback for you if you leave it for them (eBay will send you an email after each transaction to offer you the opportunity). Take the time to write a positive comment about sellers who do what they should and the chances are they'll do the same for you. Pay promptly: Sellers love nothing more than to be paid promptly - paying as soon as the auction ends saves the seller all sorts of worry, especially if you pay by credit card or another electronic method. You will often find that your positive feedback appears within a few minutes of you paying if you pay as soon as the auction ends. Don't be a difficult customer: Understand that your seller might take a day or so to respond to you, and perhaps a few days to send your item - harassing them is nasty and unnecessary, and won't get you good feedback. Build relationships: If a seller sells a lot of a certain kind of thing you like, buy from them a few more times. They will be very happy to find a regular customer, and will go out of their way to leave positive feedback like 'a joy to deal with as ever'. Also, they might offer you a few special deals! Sellers won't generally be reluctant to sell to buyers without much of a reputation, simply because it is the buyer who takes most of the risk in a transaction. It is worth remembering, however, that transactions where you are the seller and where you are the buyer are counted towards the same feedback total - so if you ever want to start selling, being a good buyer is especially worthwhile. On eBay, people pay far more attention to sellers' ratings than they do to buyers' - most sellers can't be bothered to check their buyers' feedback, while bad feedback on a seller can (and should) be a dealbreaker. When you are buying, then, you need to worry more about the seller's reputation than you do about your own, and that's why the next email will be all about sellers' feedback ratings.

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eBay Title Writing Tips. Trying to be help your buyers find your auctions can be a truly daunting task. Most people only search eBay by title, not by description, and that means that you only have those 55 characters of the title to cover all the possible search terms. That's not easy. In this email, I'll give you a few pointers. Don't bother with eBay clichйs: There are plenty of eBay auction titles that say things like "Super rare camera wow look low price". These are stupid things to put in your title, as no-one is going to search for them. Think like a buyer: If you were looking for your item, then what exactly would you type into that box? If you think it'd help, try searching yourself to find someone else selling your item. What were the first things you thought of typing? Think like other sellers: Keep an eye on which sellers are doing best with items like yours, and try to copy their title styles - if it works for them, it can work for you. Be specific: You should be sure to write the item's brand and specific model number in the title, as people will often search only for this information. Make sure that you also say exactly what the item is. A Few Examples. Here are a few examples of good titles. They're real, and they're on eBay right now, making their sellers money. So what makes them good? "Dell Latitude Laptop P3 500mhz Notebook PC Computer" If you know about computers, you'll know instantly what this auction is selling. It has manufacturer (Dell) and product line (Latitude), followed by a few technical specifications (P3 500mhz is the processor speed). Notice also that the title includes the four words 'laptop', 'notebook', 'PC' and 'computer', as the seller wants people looking for any of those words to see his auction. "OASIS Don't Believe the Truth CD Album (New)" This auction for a CD is well formatted: it gives the artist name in capital letters, followed by the album name. It then manages to include the two key words 'CD' and 'album', as well as the word 'new' - that means that anyone searching for 'new oasis cd', 'oasis new album' and so on will find this auction. "1840 Penny Black stamp, certificate, four margins" Here's a slightly more obscure one, from the exciting world of stamp collecting. A penny black is one of the oldest and most famous stamps. It uses a few key words that collectors will consider important: 'four margins' indicates that the stamp has been cut out with some margins around it and so isn't damaged, and 'certificate' tells you that the item has a certificate of authenticity - it's a real penny black. Remember to use every bit of space to squeeze in as much important information as you can in the title. So now that you've written a winning title, you need to start on a great description. The next email will show you how.

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An eBay Seller's Checklist. Being a seller is a lot of responsibility, and sometimes you might feel like you're not doing everything you should be. This simple checklist will help you keep on top of things. Have you found out everything you possibly could about your items? Try typing their names into a search engine - you might find out something you didn't know. If someone else is selling the same thing as you, then always try to provide more information about it than they do. Do you monitor the competition? Always keep an eye on how much other items the same as or similar to yours are selling, and what prices they're being offered at. There's usually little point in starting a fixed price auction for $100 when someone else is selling the item for $90. Have you got pictures of the items? It's worth taking the time to photograph your items, especially if you have a digital camera. If you get serious about eBay but don't have a camera, then you will probably want to invest in one at some point. Are you emailing your sellers? It's worth sending a brief email when transactions go through: something like a simple "Thank you for buying my item, please let me know when you have sent the payment". Follow this up with "Thanks for your payment, I have posted your [item name] today". You will be surprised how many problems you will avoid just by communicating this way. Also, are you checking your emails? Remember that potential buyers can send you email about anything at any time, and not answering these emails will just make them go somewhere else instead of buying from you. Do your item description pages have everything that buyers need to know? If you're planning to offer international delivery, then it's good to make a list of the charges to different counties and display it on each auction. If you have any special terms and conditions (for example, if you will give a refund on any item as long as it hasn't been opened), then you should make sure these are displayed too. Have you been wrapping your items correctly? Your wrapping should be professional for the best impression: use appropriately sized envelopes or parcels, wrap the item in bubble wrap to stop it from getting damaged, and print labels instead of hand-writing addresses. Oh, and always use first class post - don't be cheap. Do you follow up? It is worth sending out an email a few days after you post an item, saying "Is everything alright with your purchase? I hope you received it and it was as you expected." This might sound like giving the customer an opportunity to complain, but you should be trying to help your customers, not take their money and run. Being a really good eBay seller, more than anything else, is about providing genuinely good and honest customer service. That's the only foolproof way to protect your reputation. Of course, you might be wondering by now whether it's really worth all the hassle to get a good reputation on eBay. Won't people buy from you anyway, and couldn't you just open a new account if it really comes down to that? Our next email will set you straight.

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Understanding the Different eBay Auction Types. Over the years, eBay has introduced all sorts of different auction types, in an effort to give people more options when they buy and sell their things on eBay. There are many people who don't like the idea that their item might sell for a far lower price than they intend. Equally, there are people who have hundreds of the same item and don't want to sell them individually. This email gives you an overview of the different kinds of auctions and how to spot them. Normal Auctions. These are the bread-and-butter of eBay, the auctions everyone knows: you bid, others outbid you, you outbid them, and the winner gets the item. Simple. Reserve Auctions. Reserve auctions are for sellers who don't want their items to sell for less than a certain price - a concept you'll know about if you're familiar with real auctions.

They work just like normal auctions on eBay, except that you will be told if your bid has not met the reserve price set by the seller. If no-one is willing to meet this price, then the auction is cancelled, and the seller keeps the item. You can spot these auctions by looking out for 'Reserve not met' or 'Reserve met' written next to the current bid on an item's description page. Fixed Price ('Buy it Now') Auctions. Buy it Now auctions can work in one of two ways.

A seller might add a Buy it Now button to a normal auction, meaning that you can choose either to bid normally or to simply pay the asking price and avoid the whole bidding process. Some sellers, though, now cut out the auction process altogether and simply list all their items at fixed price. Recently, eBay added a twist to fixed price auctions: the 'best offer'. This means that you can negotiate a price to someone who offers their items using Buy it Now, which could be a great way to get a bargain on things that don't seem to be selling. Fixed price auctions are easy to spot, as they have a little 'Buy it Now' logo either next to or instead of the current number of bids on the search listings page. Multiple Item ('Dutch') Auctions. These are auctions where a seller is selling more than one of a certain item. Dutch auctions can be done by bidding. Buyers bid a price and say how many items they want, and then everyone pays the lowest price that was bid by one of the winning bidders.

If you have trouble getting your head around that, then don't worry - everyone else does too! These auctions are very rare. What is more common is when a seller has a lot of one item, and lists it using a combination of two auction types: a multiple-item fixed price auction. This just means that they say how many they have, and offer them at a fixed price. You can enter how many you want and then just click Buy it Now to get them. After all this, you might find yourself facing a dilemma: when you have the option, should you bid, or should you just use Buy it Now and save yourself the hassle? That's what the next email will be about.

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10 Tips for Increasing Your eBay Response. So you've got the buyer in front of your auction, and they've read the description. They're must be interested, or they wouldn't be looking… but just how can you push them over that line and make them leave a bid? Read on for some tips. Improve your picture: In all that description writing, you might have missed the vital importance of your item's picture. A picture with bad lighting or an intrusive background looks amateurish and won't make anyone want to buy from you. Add an About Me page: You'll be surprised how much you can reassure bidders just by creating an About Me page and putting a little bit about yourself on your business on there. You can also have a few special offers there for people who bother to look at the page, and let people subscribe to your mailing list so that you can email them updates. Use SquareTrade: Signing up at SquareTrade and displaying their logo on your auctions shows that you are committed to have them resolve any disputes that arise. You always see this on PowerSellers auctions - it makes you look more professional. Write terms and conditions: Have the 'small print' clearly visible on all your auctions, giving details of things like shipping times and prices, your refund policy, and any other business practices you might have. This helps build confidence with buyers. Show off your feedback: Copy and paste a selection of the feedback comments you're most proud of to each item's description page, instead of making bidders go and look for it. If you have 100% positive feedback, be sure to write that on every auction too. Add NR to your titles: If you have extra space in a title, put 'NR' (no reserve) on the end. Bidders prefer auctions that don't have a reserve price, and doing this lets them see that yours don't. Benefits not features: Make sure your description focuses on the benefits that your item can give to the customer, not just its features. This is a classic sales technique. If you have trouble with this, remember: 'cheap' is a feature, 'save money' is a benefit. List more items: If you want more people to respond to your items, then list more items! You might find you have better like listing items at the same time, instead of one-by-one. There's no need to use a Dutch auction - you can just keep two or three auctions going at once for an item you have more than one of in stock. Accept unusual payment methods: To reach those last few buyers, accept payment methods that many sellers don't, like cheques. Buy some upgrades: The best upgrade is the most expensive one, which makes your item appear first in search results. In crowded categories, you might find that this is worth the money. Once you've got some buyers, you want to keep them coming back to you. The next email will show you how to turn one-time buyers into long-term customers.

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Learning the eBay "Lingo". Do you have trouble sometimes understanding when people talk about eBay? Don't worry, some of the jargon is really obscure, and you can't be expected to understand it until someone's told you what it means. Here's a little list of some of the most useful lingo to know, but you don't need to memorise it - even the most common jargon is only used relatively rarely. Words.

Bid: telling eBay's system the maximum price you are prepared to pay for an item. Dutch: an auction where more than one of an item is available. Feedback: positive or negative comments left about other users on eBay. Mint: in perfect condition. Non-paying bidder: a bidder who wins an auction but does not then go on to buy the item.

PayPal: an electronic payment method accepted by most sellers. Rare: used and abused on eBay, now entirely meaningless. Reserve: the minimum price the seller will accept for the item. Shill bid: a fake bid placed by a seller trying to drive up their auction's price.

Snail Mail: the post, which is obviously very slow compared to email. Sniping: bidding at the last second to win the item before anyone else can outbid you. Abbreviations. AUD: Australian Dollar. Currency. BIN: Buy it Now. A fixed price auction. BNWT: Brand New With Tags. An item that has never been used and still has its original tags. BW: Black and White. Used for films, photos etc. CONUS: Continental United States. Generally used by sellers who don't want to post things to Alaska or Hawaii. EUR: Euro. Currency. FC: First Class. Type of postage. GBP: Great British Pounds. Currency. HTF: Hard To Find. Not quite as abused as 'rare', but getting there. NIB: New in Box. Never opened, still in its original box. NR: No Reserve. An item where the seller has not set a reserve price. OB: Original Box. An item that has its original box (but might have been opened). PM: Priority Mail. PP: Parcel Post. SH: Shipping and Handling. The fees the buyer will pay you for postage. USD: United States Dollars. Currency. VGC: Very Good Condition. Not mint, but close. The chances are that you'll find more specific jargon related to whatever you're selling, but it'd be an impossible task to cover it all here. If you can't figure one out from your knowledge of the subject, then type the term into a search engine, followed by the word 'ebay'. The chances are that someone, somewhere will have seen fit to explain it. While it's good to be able to understand others' jargon, avoid using it unless you really need to (for example, if you run out of space in an item's title). Many people on eBay are not experienced buyers and you will lose them if you write a load of gobbledegook all over your auction. By now, you're well prepared for eBay life, and you're probably ready to get started with that first auction. In the next email, we'll show you how to dive in and get started.

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A Beginner's Guide to the Different eBay Auction Types. Over the years, eBay has introduced all sorts of different auction types, in an effort to give people more options when they buy and sell their things on eBay. For every seller who doesn't like the idea that their item might sell for a far lower price than they intend, there's another who wants to shift hundreds of the same item quickly. eBay tries to cater to all tastes. This email gives you an overview of the different kinds of auctions and their advantages for you. Normal Auctions. These are the bread-and-butter of eBay, the auctions everyone knows: buyers bid, others outbid them, they bid again, and the winner gets the item. Simple. Reserve Auctions. Reserve auctions are for sellers who don't want their items to sell for less than a certain price - a concept you'll know about if you're familiar with real auctions. They work just like normal auctions on eBay, except that the buyer will be told if their bid does not meet the reserve price you set, and they'll need to bid again if they want the item. If no-one is willing to meet your price, then the auction is cancelled, and you keep the item. Fixed Price ('Buy it Now') Auctions. Buy it Now auctions can work in one of two ways. You can add a Buy it Now button to a normal auction, meaning that buyers can choose either to bid normally or to simply pay the asking price and avoid the whole bidding process. Some sellers, though, now cut out the auction process altogether and simply list all their items at fixed price. This lets you avoid all the complications of the auction format and simply list your items for how much you want them to sell for. Recently, eBay added a twist to fixed price auctions: the 'best offer'. This means that buyers can contact you to negotiate a price, which could be a good way to get sell some extra stock at a small discount. The only downside to reserve and fixed price auctions is that you pay a small extra fee to use these formats. In general, it is more worth using reserve auctions for higher-priced items and fixed price auctions for lower-priced ones - but remember that you can combine the two formats. Multiple Item ('Dutch') Auctions. These are auctions where you can sell more than one of a certain item. Dutch auctions can be done by bidding. Buyers bid a price and say how many items they want, and then everyone pays the lowest price that was bid by one of the winning bidders. If you have trouble getting your head around that, then don't worry - everyone else does too! These auctions are very rare. What is more common is when a seller has a lot of one item, and lists it using a combination of two auction types: a multiple-item fixed price auction. This just means that you can just say how many of the item you they have, and offer them at a fixed price per unit. Buyers can enter how many they want and then just click Buy it Now to get them. Now that you know about the different types of auctions, you should make sure that the items you plan to sell don't violate eBay's listing policies. The next email will let you know what's allowed and what is a big no-no.

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What You Need to Know BEFORE You Get Started on eBay. So you've decided that you want to get started as a seller on eBay. There are a few things that you really need to know before you go and throw yourself in at the deep end. What to Sell. First off, you need to know what it is you're going to sell: what's your speciality? You'll do far better on eBay if you become a great source for certain kind of products, as people who are interested in those products will come back to you again and again. You won't get any loyalty or real reputation if you just sell rubbish at random. When you think about what to sell, there are a few things to consider. The most important of these is to always sell what you know. If you try to sell something that you just don't know anything about then you'll never write a good description and sell it for a good price. You might think you're not especially interested in anything, but if you think about what kind of things you usually buy and which websites you go to most often, I'm sure you'll discover some kind of interest. If all else fails mention it to your friends and family: they'll almost certainly say "Oh, well why don't you sell…", and you'll slap your forehead. Out of the things you know enough about, you should then consider which things you could actually get for a good enough price to resell, and how suitable they would be for posting. If you can think of something of that you're knowledgeable about and it's small and light enough for postage to be relatively cheap, then that's great! Don't worry if you think the thing you're selling is too obscure - it isn't. There's a market for almost everything on eBay, even things that wouldn't sell once in a year if you stocked them in a shop. You'll probably do even better if you fill a niche than if you sell something common. Tax and Legal Matters. If you earn enough money, you should be aware that you're going to have to start paying tax - this won't be done for you. If you decide to sell on eBay on a full-time basis, you should probably register as a business. Prepare Yourself. There are going to be ups and downs when you sell on eBay. Don't pack it in if something goes a little wrong in your first few sales: the sellers who are successful on eBay are the ones who enjoy it, and stick at it whatever happens. Anyone can sell on eBay, if they believe in themselves - and if you do decide it's not for you, then the start-up costs are so low that you won't really have lost anything. If you're ready to start selling, then the next thing you need to know is the different auction types, so you can decide which ones you will use to sell your items. Our next email will give you a guide.

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eBay Description Writing Tips. Once you've drawn the buyers in with your title, the next thing to do is to tell them all about your item with the description. But just what should you write in your description? At its heart, your item description is an ad. Without making it too obvious, you should be writing sales copy. You're trying to get buyers excited about your products, and that's usually hard - but on eBay, if you have the right thing to sell and give enough details, the buyers almost excite themselves. Technical Details. Include every technical detail you know, including the item's manufacturer, its condition, how big it is, where and when it was made, its history, and anything else special about it. Don't be too boring, though: the best descriptions are written in friendly, conversational language, and show a real knowledge of the item. Whatever you do, make sure you tell the truth!

Remember that most of the people who'll be buying your item will be just as knowledgeable about it as you are, if not more - this is their hobby, and they're experts. Don't feel like you need to explain the basics of the item: just go into as much technical detail as you can. As a rule, don't write anything in the description if you don't know what it means, as the chances are someone will, and if you've got it slightly wrong then you'll look like you don't know what you're talking about. Interesting Details. You might find that you enjoy writing a few things about how you got the item, why you're selling it, and who you think might like it. This isn't strictly necessary, but it gives your auctions some character and a personal touch, and can make people more likely to trust you. People might wonder what you're doing selling 500 CDs all at once, and if you tell them the reason, then they'll feel reassured that nothing dodgy is going on. If you're selling them because you're having a baby and you need the space, just say so. Write as Much as You Can. Leave nothing out of your description, even if that seems to you like it makes it cumbersomely long. There is no way you can be too thorough: someone, somewhere will appreciate that you took the time to write the extra information. Don't assume that anyone who wants extra information will email you to ask a question: many buyers are shy and won't do it. Think of questions that buyers might have and add the answers to your description, as people generally tend to ask the same questions over and over again. Each time a buyer does email you with a question, you should both answer their question and update your description so that it will include the answer next time. If people ask questions that are answered in the description, try putting these parts of the auction on a line alone, or in bold, to make them easier to notice. In the next email, we'll focus on increasing the number of buyers who respond to your auctions.

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Using PayPal on eBay. PayPal and eBay were made for each other - and now that eBay own PayPal, using them together is getting even easier. What is PayPal? People with PayPal accounts can send money to each other securely online. You can deposit money in a PayPal account from a bank account or a credit card, and withdraw money to your bank account. It is the most common way of paying on eBay, as well as being in widespread use on the rest of the Internet. Opening a PayPal Account. It's very easy to get a PayPal account.

Just go to paypal. com and click the 'Sign Up' link. As a buyer, you should get a Personal account - you can always upgrade later if you decide to start selling. Then all you need to do is enter your address, phone number and email address, and create a password, and two secret questions. You'll be emailed a confirmation, and then you're done!

If you want to deposit money into the account now, then you need to register a credit or debit card or your bank details, and if you want to withdraw money then you need to register your bank details. There's no need to do anything like that just yet, though. Paying with PayPal. Paying with PayPal is very simple.

When you win an auction and click 'Pay Now', you'll be given a list of payment methods the seller accepts. You should always check what the seller accepts before you bid, as there are still some sellers who won't take PayPal. If the seller does accept PayPal, it will already be chosen for you on the payment page. Now you just need to press 'Next', type in your PayPal username and password and confirm the amount you want to pay. The first time you pay with PayPal you will need to enter the details of your card or bank account, but after that it will remember for you. Becoming Verified. You might have noticed that there is a limit to how much money you can send or withdraw using PayPal before you need to be verified. Verification has two steps. First, PayPal deposit some very small amounts of money in your bank account and you need to tell them how much they deposited. Second, they need to phone you to confirm your address and phone number. Once you've done that, all the limits on your account will be lifted. Log in at paypal. com and click on 'Get Verified' for more information. While you've been paying for your items, what you might not have realised is that eBay occasionally offers money off coupons. But where do you get them? The next email tells you all about it.

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Taking Advantage of "Slow" eBay Auctions. Some auctions get hundreds of bids, but some go much more slowly, getting only a few bids or even none at all for days. Auctions are generally much slower during the summer months than they are in the winter - and sales on eBay are slowing each year, as more sellers than buyers sign up, hoping to get rich quick. There are a number of ways that you can take advantage of slower auctions to get the best price. Wait to Bid. If you bid, then everyone can see you're interested - and that might make them interested too. Leaving the item alone for as long as you can bear will make it look less popular, and keep the price down so you can come in at the last minute and get a bargain. Make an Offer. If the seller is selling an item using 'Buy it Now' and it still hasn't sold when the auction is about to end, use eBay's 'Best Offer' service to make them an offer on it. The chances are they've listed the item two or three times before, and they'll be so annoyed at the prospect of re-listing it yet again that they'll accept your offer just to get rid of the thing. Conspire with Other Buyers. You might not have thought of this, but if there are two auctions for the same item and only you and one other buyer are bidding, why not get together and work out a 'you take this one and I'll take that one' deal? This avoids you raising the price on both auctions just to get one each. If you make a few friends, you can even work together on auctions long-term, taking it in turns to bid. Be Snobbish. Send the seller emails asking questions about the condition of the item, and making it very clear that you are a discerning buyer and will only accept things of the highest quality. This will make them feel better about selling you their item for less. Don't Feel Guilty. There really are too many sellers on eBay now, to the point where you can get common items at very low prices. Long-term, this will probably force those sellers out of business, but that's the way a market works - it's supply and demand. Buy in Bulk. When auctions are slow, many sellers will have had the same stock for a long time. If you offer to take ten things off their hands all at once then you can almost name your price - the chances are that they'll fall over themselves to give you a good deal. If you come back again and buy another ten items then they'll love you even more. The longer you spend on eBay, the more experienced you'll become - and the greater the chances are that you'll stumble across an auction for something very odd, and quite unexpected. In the next email, you'll hear all about the strangest eBay items ever sold.

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eBay - Part Time or Full? How to Decide. Going full-time as an eBay seller is living the dream: making a real income, working from home, being your own boss and all the rest of it. It's the promise of a million scams, and it's finally come true - at least for some. What they don't tell you in the success stories, though, is that becoming a full-time eBay seller is by no means for everyone. You really, really ought to try it part-time before you even consider taking it up full-time, and even then, caution is advisable. Before you burn your suit, here's a list of questions you should ask yourself. How Much Do I Earn From eBay Now? Work out how many hours a week you spend doing eBay-related things (be honest here), and divide it by the average amount of profit you make in a week. If you were doing full-time hours, would you earn as much as you earn now? Do I Have a Good Job? Think about what you might lose if you give up your job to focus on eBay. If you're in a well-paid job with good promotion prospects then it's well worth reconsidering: you might get a few years down the line and wish you'd stayed in your traditional job, as you'd probably be the CEO by now. Would I Really Make Much More Money? Unless you're selling a large quantity of small goods, most of what you do on eBay will be waiting for auctions to end - and you can wait at work just as easily as you can at home. This is why whether you would make more money on eBay really depends on what kinds of items you're selling - for low value items, going full-time could be a good move. For high-value ones, the chances are you'll hit the limits of how much money you have to invest in inventory long before you hit the limits on your time. Is my Home a Good Place to Work? Quite apart from anything else, you might find that the dream of home working is more of a nightmare in reality. People can start to depend on you to get things done that need to be done during the day. If you have a wife and children then they can resent the fact that you're in the house but refuse to have anything to do with them for large parts of the day. Giving in to any of these things and stopping work for a while will cause your profits to fall. Can I Survive if it All Goes Wrong? In the end, would you be able to get by if you had a month or two where you sold literally nothing? Or would you be desperately looking around for a job and cursing the day you ever discovered eBay? That's the real test. If you made it through all these questions, then I guess you're cut out for the eBay life - and even if you didn't, you'd be surprised just how far you can get part-time. In our next email, we'll show you how to think like the eBay elite: the PowerSellers.

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