10

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.

16

Taming the eBay Search Engine. If you know what you're doing, you can quickly find what you're looking for on eBay - and the more you know about how buyers find you, the easier you'll find it to be found. Here are a few golden searching rules. Be specific: If you're searching for the first edition of the original Harry Potter book, you'll get further searching for 'harry potter rowling philosopher's stone first edition' than you will searching for 'harry potter'. You'll get fewer results, but the ones you do get will be far more relevant. Spell wrongly: It's a sad fact that many of the sellers on eBay just can't spell.

Whatever you're looking for, try thinking of a few common misspellings - you might find a few items here that have slipped through the cracks. Get a thesaurus: You should try to search for all the different words that someone might use to describe an item, for example searching for both 'TV' and 'television', or for 'phone', 'mobile' and 'cellphone'. Where you can, though, leave off the type of item altogether and search by things like brand and model. Use the categories: Whenever you search, you'll notice a list of categories at the side of your search results. If you just searched for the name of a CD, you should click the 'CDs' category to look at results in that category only. Why bother looking through a load of results that you don't care about? Don't be afraid to browse: Once you've found the category that items you like seem to be in, why not click 'Browse' and take a look through the whole category? You might be surprised by what you find. Few people realise just how powerful eBay's search engine is - a few symbols here and there and it'll work wonders for you. Wildcard searches: You can put an asterisk (*) into a search phrase when you want to say 'anything can go here'. For example, if you wanted to search for a 1950s car, you could search for 'car 195*'. 195* will show results from any year in the 1950s. In this order: If you put words in quotes ("") then the only results shown will be ones that have all of the words between the quote marks. For example, searching for "Lord of the Rings" won't give you any results that say, for example "Lord Robert Rings". Exclude words: Put a minus, and then put any words in brackets that you don't want to appear in your search results. For example: "Pulp Fiction" -(poster, photo) will find items related to Pulp Fiction but not posters or photos. Either/or: If you want to search for lots of words at once, just put them in brackets: the TV example from earlier could become '(TV, television)', which would find items with either word. Don't get too tied up learning the ways of the search engine, though: a surprising number of eBay users don't search at all, preferring to look through eBay's category system and save their favourites in their browser. The next email will show you how to make sure these people can find you too.

05

Staying Out of Trouble with eBay's Listing Policies. While you can sell most things on eBay, quite a few things are banned. If you try to sell any of these things then eBay will remove your auction and all bids will be void. Here is eBay's full list of prohibited or questionable items: Academic Software Airline and Transit Related Items Alcohol (also see Wine) Animals and Wildlife Products Anti-circumvention Policy Artifacts Authenticity Disclaimers Autographed Items Batteries Beta Software Bootleg Recordings Brand Name Misuse Catalog Sales Catalytic Converters and Test Pipes Celebrity Material Charity or Fundraising Listings Comparison Policy Compilation and Informational Media Contracts and Tickets Counterfeit Currency and Stamps Counterfeit Items Credit Cards Downloadable Media Drugs & Drug Paraphernalia Electronics Equipment Embargoed Goods and Prohibited Countries Encouraging Infringement Policy Event Tickets Faces, Names and Signatures Firearms, Ammunition, Replicas, and Militaria Fireworks Food Freon and Other Refrigerants Gift Cards Government IDs and Licenses Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Items Human Parts and Remains Importation of Goods into the United States International Trading - Buyers International Trading - Sellers Lockpicking Devices Lottery Tickets Mailing Lists and Personal Information Manufacturers' Coupons Mature Audiences Medical Devices Misleading Titles Mod Chips, Game Enhancers, and Boot Discs Movie Prints Multi-level Marketing, Pyramid and Matrix Programs OEM Software Offensive Material Pesticides Plants and Seeds Police-Related Items Political Memorabilia Postage Meters Pre-Sale Listings Prescription Drugs and Devices Promotional Items Real Estate Recalled Items Recordable Media Replica and Counterfeit Items Satellite and Cable TV Descramblers Slot Machines Stocks and Other Securities Stolen Property Surveillance Equipment Tobacco Travel Unauthorized Copies Used Clothing Warranties Weapons & Knives Wine (also see Alcohol) Most of this is very obvious - of course you can't sell illegal things like drugs, pyramid schemes or stolen goods. Almost everything that is on the list is there because there is law against selling it. Some of the reasons, though, are a little strange. The 'autographed items' entry, for example, doesn't mean that you can't sell anything that's been autographed - it just means that you can only sell it if it comes with a certificate of authenticity. The 'artifacts' entry prohibits you from selling Native American graves; 'celebrity material' means you can't sell unauthorised pictures of celebrities; 'embargoed goods' means that you can't sell anything that comes from Cuba… on and on it goes, and most of it you never need to know. If your chosen kind of item seems to be on the list, though, and you're concerned that you might not be able to sell it, then check the full list at http://pages. ebay. com/help/policies/items-ov. html to see whether the item is banned entirely or there are just a few restrictions. eBay says it will remove any items that it believes violate copyright law, but in reality they don't have that many people to monitor the site. You will generally only find that your auction gets removed if someone decides to report you - and even then, they might not get around to it. Really, buying and selling on eBay can sometimes feel more complicated than it really is, thanks to all the rules surrounding it - not to mention the jargon. Our next email is a 'jargon buster', to help you learn the language of eBay.

24

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.

38

Watch Out for eBay Automobile and Computer Scams. There aren't that many scammers on eBay - but the ones there are tend to be greedy. This means that they will always try to pull their scams on high-value items like cars and computers, so that they can make a lot of money quickly. Since buyers generally buy these items very rarely, they may not know about the various scams out there. Automobile Scams. With cars, you will generally find that scammers try to get you to send them money in advance, for whatever reason. For some reason, some people aren't all that reluctant to pay 50% or 25% of the money before delivery using a relatively insecure payment method, especially on a car. They reason that the seller will obviously deliver it, as they'll want the other half of the money. But there never was a car! Pictures of cars aren't hard to find, and the experienced scammers will have a whole library of pictures of different cars. The seller just got your $5,000 for nothing, and you can leave them all the negative feedback you like.

They'll just go and open another eBay account and find their next sucker. While it's not an outright scam, what you might find is that the car does turn up, but simply doesn't live up to the description - it has been oversold, in the tradition of used car dealers through the ages. If this happens to you then you should open an eBay dispute and say your item was not as described - you might get a partial refund. Computer Scams. If you bid in a computer auction but don't win, the seller might email you to ask whether you would like to buy a computer the same as the one they just sold through their own website.

This is a bad idea! You have no guarantee that the item will ever arrive, and you haven't just given them your money - you've given them your credit card details too. There are sellers with nothing but positive feedback who use this scam often - and since you won't be able to leave them any feedback on the transaction, their reputation will stay that way. If you complain to eBay that you bought an item outside the site and got scammed, they will tell you to get lost and not do it again. How to Beat the Scams. There are lots of ways to beat the scams. First, whenever you buy anything expensive, be sure to check your seller's reputation thoroughly. Make sure they have sold items of a similar high value before, and haven't just sold a string of $10 items to get their feedback rating artificially high. If you want to be even more cautious, insist that the money is placed in an escrow service (eBay recommend escrow. com - don't use any other service unless you're sure of it). To be honest, it's generally quite a bad idea to use eBay to buy things like cars and computers to begin with - you can get them anywhere, and the discounts aren't that big any more. It's better to use eBay for those rare, special things that you can't find anywhere else. The next email will give you some tips for buying collectibles.

31

The eBay Buyer's FAQ. So you have a question? Has something gone very wrong and you don't know what to do? Well, fair enough. Here are the questions that I hear all the time from buyers. Does eBay have a Customer Service Department I Can Phone? eBay are notoriously hard to contact, should you ever need to - it sometimes seems like they expect the site to run itself. You can email them, as long as you don't have your heart set on a coherent response: go to http://pages. ebay. com/help/contact_us/_base/index. html. You might have better luck in a 'live help' webchat here: http://pages. ebay. com/help/basics/n-livehelp. html. Only eBay Power Sellers (sellers with a very high feedback rating) get to phone customer service. If you really want to try your luck, type 'ebay [your country] phone number' into a search engine and you'll probably find something. Unfortunately, the chances are you'll have gone to all that trouble for the privilege of leaving an answerphone message. It might seem cruel, but imagine the number of people who would call eBay every day with the silliest questions if they gave out their phone number everywhere. Its Wild West nature is, in a way, part of its charm. eBay Sent Me an Email Saying They're Going to Close My Account. What Should I Do? This email asks for your password, right? It's a scam, an attempt to frighten you, make you give up your details and then steal your account. eBay will never ask for your password or any other account details by email. eBay say that you should only ever enter your password on pages that whose addresses start with http://signin. ebay. com/. They even offer a special 'Account Guard' as part of their toolbar, which lets you check that you're not giving your password to a dodgy fake site. You can read more here: http://pages. ebay. com/toolbar/accountguard_1.html. It Seems Too Good to be True. How Does eBay Make Money? For you, the buyer, eBay is free. Sellers, though, pay all sorts of fees: a listing fee for each item they list, a final value fee (a percentage of what the item sold for). They can they pay optional fees for extra services, including Buy it Now, extra pictures, reserve prices, highlighting the auction, putting it in bold, listing it first in search results or even putting it on the front page. You can see a full list of fees at http://pages. ebay. com/help/sell/fees. html. It's obviously worth it to the sellers, though, or they wouldn't carry on using eBay. The system is quite efficient, and basically forces both eBay and the sellers to keep their profit margins as low as possible - otherwise prices will simply go too high and the buyers will stop buying. How Safe is eBay? Well, as it happens, that's the subject of our next email! All of eBay's safety services for buyers and sellers are in one place, called 'SafeHarbor'. SafeHarbor handles fraud prevention and investigation, helps with dispute resolution and keeps rule-breakers in check. Read all about it next time, and be safe.

07

5 Simple Steps to Posting Your First eBay Auction. It's surprisingly simple to get started posting your very first auction on eBay. Here's what you need to do. Step 1: Open an eBay seller's account. If you've bought things on eBay, then you already have an account - just log in with it and click 'Sell' in the toolbar at the top of the page, then click 'Create a seller's account'. If you've never used eBay before, then you'll need to open an account first using the 'register' link underneath the toolbar, and then click 'Sell' and 'Create a seller's account'. The eBay site will then guide you through the process. For security, this may involve giving card details and bank information. Step 2: Decide what to sell. For your first little experiment with eBay, it doesn't really matter what you sell. Take a look around the room you're in - I'm sure there's something in there that you're not all that attached to and could put in the post. Small books and CDs are ideal first items. Step 3: Submit your item. Click 'Sell', and you're on your way to listing your item. The first thing you need to do is choose a category - it's best to just type in what the item is and let eBay choose for you. Next, write a title and description. Include key words you think people will search for in the title box, and all the information you have about the item in the description box. Now set a starting price. $0.01 is the best starting price, as it draws people in to bid who otherwise wouldn't, and items will almost never finish at such a low price. The next thing to set is the duration of the auction: 3, 5, 7 or 10 days. This is up to you: longer sales will usually get more bids, but will also seem to drag on forever. If you've taken a picture, add it now - items with pictures always sell for more. Finally, tick the payment methods you will accept (just PayPal is best for now), and where you will post to (limit yourself to your own country to begin with). Submit and you're done! Step 4: Wait for it to sell. This is just a matter of sitting back and letting eBay do its thing - buyers will find your item and leave bids on it. Some bidders might email you with questions about the item, and you should do your best to answer these questions as quickly as you can. Remember that if your item doesn't sell then you can list it again for free. Step 5: Collect payment and post it. eBay will sent your buyer emails guiding them through the process of sending you payment for the item. Make sure you have the money before you send anything. Once you've got the payment, all you need to do is pack the item for posting (make sure to use some bubble wrap), take the buyer's address from the confirmation email eBay sent you, and write it on the parcel. Put some stamps on, post it, and you're done! I hope you enjoyed selling your first item. Now that you're starting to get into it, the next email will give you a checklist of things you need to do to be a successful seller.

12

10 Steps to Successful Selling on eBay. So you want to be a successful seller with your own eBay business, do you? Here's a simple, ten-step path to eBay enlightenment. Step 1: Identify your market. Take a while to sit and watch for what sells and what doesn't out of the items you're interested in. Any market research data you can collect will be very useful to you later on. You'll probably see the 'sweet spots' quite quickly - those one or two items that always seem to sell for a good price. Step 2: Watch the competition. Before you invest any money, see what the other sellers in your category are up to, and what their strategies are. Pay special attention to any flaws their auctions might have, because this is where you can move in and beat them at their own game.

Step 3: Find a product: Get hold of a supplier for whatever it is you want to sell, and see what the best rates you can get are - don't be afraid to ring round quite a few to get the best deal. If the eBay prices you've seen are higher than the supplier's, then you're set. Step 4: Start small: Don't throw thousands at your idea straight away - get started slowly, see what works and what doesn't, and learn as you go. Remember that it's very cheap to try out even the craziest ideas on eBay, and who knows, they might just work! Step 5: Test and repeat. Keep trying different strategies until you find something that works, and then don't be ashamed to keep doing it, again and again. The chances are that you've just found a good niche. Step 6: Work out a business plan: A business plan doesn't need to be anything formal, just a few pages that outline the market opportunity you've spotted, your strategy, strengths and weaknesses of the plan and a brief budget. This is more for you than it is for anyone else. Step 7: Invest and expand: This is the time to throw money at the problem. Buy inventory, and start spending more time on your business. Set a goal number of sales each week, increasing it each time. Step 8: Make it official: Once you've made a few thousand dollars worth of sales, you should really register yourself as a business. Don't worry, it's not expensive or hard to do - a lawyer is the best person to help you through the process. Step 9: Automate: You'll probably find that you're writing the same things again and again in emails or item descriptions. This is the time to give up on the manual method and turn to automated software that can create listings for you, and respond to completed auctions and payments with whatever message you provide. Step 10: Never give up: Even when it looks like it's all going wrong, don't stop trying until you succeed. If you keep working at it then you'll almost always find that you make a real breakthrough just when things are starting to look desperate. Once you get into the swing of things, you might start thinking that you should quit your job and take up eBay selling part time. But it's not always as easy as that - there are all sorts of factors that you need to consider. The next email will weigh up the case for and against taking up eBay full-time.

35

Introducing the New eBay "Buyer's Credit" Program. In an effort to compete with more 'traditional' shops, eBay has started to offer finance agreements though PayPal for expensive items. This means that, if the seller decides to offer it, you can now spread the cost of an item into affordable monthly payments. This is good for buyers, good for sellers, and good for eBay. Buyers can get the kind of credit agreements they're used to in shops.

Sellers can make their items more attractive to buyers who might not have all the money then and there, but eBay still pays the sellers upfront - they don't have to wait to be paid each month or anything like that. Buyers make their monthly payments to PayPal's credit provider instead. The APR of the Buyer's Credit program is currently 12.9%. You can pay back $999 or more over 12 months, or $1,999 or more over 24 months. There are also interest-free options for purchases of $199 or more over 3, 6 or 12 months. The reason why some of these credit offers sound better than others is that it is up to the seller to decide how good the credit offer should be and pay extra to PayPal to offer it. To give their buyer the best promotion, for example, of no interest for twelve months, the seller must pay 3.75% of the item's cost to PayPal. Basically, this means that sellers pay less when the buyers pay interest, and sellers pay the cost of the interest on the interest-free offers. PayPal makes its interest either way, buyers are happy to get credit, and sellers are happy to sell more. Can I Get This Credit?

On items over $199, Buyer's Credit is now being automatically offered to buyers in the USA only. Just click the link when you buy something for more than $199 and you will be taken through the application process, which includes a 30-second check on your credit history. Then you just go through the buying process as normal, and you get your item before you've paid a penny. Why are eBay Offering This? eBay say they want to "level the playing field", to allow eBay businesses to compete with the big chain stores, and they also want to promote PayPal as a payment method. Relatively few buyers can afford the more expensive items on eBay all at once, and so the introduction of Buyer's Credit seems likely to significantly increase prices and sales at the higher end of the market. It is worth noting that you can use Buyer's Credit anywhere PayPal is accepted, not just on eBay. PayPal say it's "like a credit card - minus the card!

" You don't get a card number - you can pay with credit with just your email address and password. The only thing left to do now, then, is find the best deal for that really special item - the expensive thing you've been wanting for ages but could never afford. But how can you be sure you're getting the best price? Try our tips and tricks for eBay searching, in the next email.

33

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.

30

You Won that eBay Auction! Now What Do You Do? It's a heady feeling when you win your first eBay auction: a mixture of happiness and perhaps just a little fear. After all, there seems to be so much to do before you can actually get your item. What do you do next? The simple answer is: you send payment to the seller, as quickly as possible. The quicker you pay, the more your seller will like you, and the sooner your item will arrive. But how you go about it? That all depends on how you plan to pay. PayPal. PayPal is one of the most popular options for paying on eBay, to the point where eBay decided to buy the company. It allows instant electronic payment across the Internet. Money goes instantly from your credit or debit card to the seller's PayPal account, where they can either use it for Internet purchases or transfer it out to their bank. eBay offer incentives for using PayPal, and almost all sellers now accept it. Its instant nature makes sellers very happy, and means that they can have your item packed and sent and leave you some positive feedback within a few hours of the auction ending. When paying by PayPal, you will be covered by PayPal's own insurances and guarantees, as well as any that your card might have. Cheques and Money Orders. This is payment the old-fashioned way, and will lead to a long wait to your item. You need to post the cheque or money order, then the seller has to take it to the bank and get it cleared, and only then do they send the item. The only reason to use this method is if either you or the seller distrusts electronic payment methods. If you're willing to go to the trouble with these sellers, though, you might get an item very cheaply, as most buyers just can't be bothered. When you pay by cheque or money order, make sure to print the eBay order confirmation page (it will be emailed to you) and put it in the envelope with your payment. Underline or circle key information like your mailing address and the item number. Finally, remember to be patient: keep in contact with the seller, as it really can take a month or two before everything falls into place and your item turns up. Money Transfers and Bank Deposits. Some sellers may ask you to pay them using a wire service like Western Union, or simply give you a bank account number and ask you to pay money into it. Unless you really trust the seller, this is generally a bad idea - these methods are hard to trace and you're unlikely to get any money back if anything goes wrong. Paying in cash, it hardly needs to be said, is an even worse idea. It's all a lot to take in, isn't it? I'm sure by now you've got a few questions, which is why the next email will be a little eBay buyer's FAQ. Let's hope we can solve any problems you might have.

28

eBay Auction Buyer's Tips and Tricks. eBay isn't just an auction and a marketplace: often it can feel quite a lot like a game. Like any game, you can get ahead if you think strategically, using your head to outwit the other buyers and get the best price. Here are a few things you can try. Shop in the Summer. This is simple, but effective. Summer is the quiet season on eBay - almost everything sells for less. While everyone else is out enjoying the sun, invest a little time to find some real bargains. Beat Them by a Few Cents. Outbid people by a few cents instead of a few dollars - if they don't check back before the auction ends, then you will be the winner. To avoid people using this tactic on you, though, always bid strange, hard-to-guess amounts instead of round numbers. Play Dirty. If you know when the auction ends, you can get in there at the very last second and outbid your rivals. The chances are that they won't have the time to sit in front of the auction waiting for it to end - as a rule, he who stays wins. If someone else does retaliate at the end of the auction, though, try not to get carried away in those last few seconds and end up paying too much! Take Risks. This is a strategy for the braver eBay buyer. All of the advice you will see for eBay beginners tells you to buy items that have good pictures, clear descriptions, trustworthy sellers and all the rest. If you're brave, why not take a risk and do the exact opposite? Many buyers won't want that item from the seller with a feedback rating of 5, no picture and a one-line description. If you take a calculated risk and bid anyway, you might be able to make a tiny bid and win by default. There are people on eBay who make their living from winning auctions like these, taking good pictures of the item, writing a good description and then reselling it at a huge profit. Be careful, though: do this for long enough, and you will inevitably lose your money at some point. It's especially unwise to try it with very high-value items. Avoid Bidding Wars. There are few things on eBay that are so rare that you'll only see them once and never again. There are usually quite a few sellers who have an item. What's more, they will generally have more than one to sell, even if they haven't listed them all at once. Always check your seller's history to see whether they sell your item all the time - and if they do, then wait for the next one instead of bidding to the skies. Now, there may come a time in your eBay life when you realise that you've screwed up your bid, and you wish there was an 'undo' button. Here's the good news for you: there is! The next email will be all about withdrawing your eBay bids.

13

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.

21

An Introduction to Bidding and Buying on eBay. Have you noticed that whenever you open a newspaper, watch the TV or have a conversation, people seem to be talking about eBay? If you've never used it and you've no idea what it's all about, then the chances are that you're starting to feel a little left out. But don't worry! This email contains everything you need to know about the basics of bidding and buying on eBay. So What is eBay? eBay is an online auction website - and not just any auction site, but the biggest one in the world. If you know how an auction works, then you already know how roughly eBay works. Someone adds something they want to sell to the site, and then buyers come along and place bids on it. The highest bid wins the item! It's that simple.

eBay being an online auction makes a big difference, though. Buying and selling are not reserved for any elite. eBay accept almost any item, no matter how small, and will then advertise it on their sites all over the world. It's a powerful combination of an auction and a slightly chaotic marketplace. What is Bidding? Bidding is when you say how much you will pay for an item in an auction. Bidding on eBay, however, doesn't work in exactly the same way as a normal auction, at least in theory. On eBay, you tell the site what the maximum you are willing to pay for each item is, and then eBay places the bids on your behalf. That means you could say you were willing to pay up to $100 for something and only have to pay $50, if that was the highest maximum bid anyone else placed.

It's not as complicated as it sounds - the best way to get used to it is to give it a try. First, the best thing to do is to go to the eBay website designed for your country. If you don't know the address for it, just go to ebay. com and it will tell you there. Now, on the front page you should see a big box marked 'search': just type in anything that you'd like to buy there. Wasn't that easy? Now you should have a list of items for sale in front of you, along with how much people are currently bidding for them and the time when bidding ends for each item. If you click one of these, you can read the description, and then - if you're happy with the item and happy to pay more than the current highest bidder is - you can bid! How Do I Bid? Go ahead and scroll down to the bottom of an item's description page, and type the maximum you are willing to pay (your maximum bid) into the box. Then simply press the 'place bid' button - you will need to sign in once you press the button, or go through a quick registration process if you don't have an eBay username). If someone else's maximum bid on that item is higher than yours, then eBay will tell you and give you the opportunity to bid again. Otherwise, you're now the new highest bidder! All you need to do now is wait until the end of the auction - if someone else outbids you, then eBay will email you and you can bid again. All sounds great, doesn't it? But by now you might be wondering whether a site as chaotic as eBay can really be all that safe to buy from. That's why the next email in this series will be about your rights when you buy from eBay.

34

How to Get eBay Coupons. You have to be very lucky to be one of the chosen few who receive an eBay coupon by email. These coupons are just like cash that you can use towards anything you buy on eBay - the only conditions being that you pay using PayPal, and that you are using eBay in the USA, Canada or the UK. There are two ways to get eBay coupons. Wait for that Email. Of course, if you just wait, you'll be waiting for a long time. You have to do something to make yourself look like the kind of person eBay would want to tempt back with a coupon. If you open an account, buy a few medium-value things and then suddenly stop, the chances are you'll find yourself with some kind of special offer - but still, not always. Go Searching. The better way, of course, is to go and find the coupons that are out there on the web. This is quite hit-and-miss, as eBay don't always have an offer on, but when there's a valid code you can guarantee that it'll be everywhere within a few hours. Just type 'ebay coupon codes' into your favourite search engine, but be prepared to pick through some rubbish. You might find you have better luck if you use a more obscure search engine, where people haven't taken the trouble to game the results. If going through search engines is too much for you, then just keep an eye out at any community forums you frequent, where someone might just post one. You probably have the best chances if you make a few friends on eBay's own forums at http://hub. ebay. com/community. It can be fun and educational to chat to the regulars there too, so you really have nothing to lose. How do You Redeem Coupons? A coupon is basically a code, with some being quite long. All you need to do is pay with PayPal as usual for the item you want to use the coupon towards. After you choose PayPal as your payment method, you will notice a heading that says 'Coupons, Gift Certificates and eBay Anything Points'. Type the coupon code in here: they can be long, so you should use copy-and-paste to make sure you get it right. Just click 'Redeem', and it's good to go. Don't worry about causing problems for sellers by doing this, by the way - they have no way of even telling that you used a coupon, as eBay just pay them for the item as usual. Coupons are good for sellers as they attract more buyers to eBay, meaning that they get more bids on their auctions. After all, why would they object to getting more money without you actually having to pay it? Since you're interested in making your eBay shopping more affordable, you might be interested to know that you can now buy eBay items on credit. Our next email will tell you all the details of eBay's new 'Buyer's Credit' program.

40

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.

03

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.

26

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.

19

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.

01

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.

[ 1 2 3 ]