bizStarting a Business on eBay

EBay does something that our economy hasn’t — create jobs. Many people, myself included, create businesses using eBay. I started mine in September 2004 and have been making money every month.

When I was growing up, my dad owned a Dunkin Donuts franchise. Franchises provided a way for an average person to learn how to and create a business. Today, you need to be a millionaire to own a franchise.

In many ways, eBay is like a franchise. It provides you the tools to create your business. Your business can be collectibles, books, coffee beans, candles, whatever it doesn’t matter. eBay provides the tools and the user community to assist you with your business.

Thinking about opening a business? Make sure you check Zenbusiness or these top-rated LLC services.

You will learn a lot running an eBay business. You will learn how to:
1. price items
2. write product descriptions
3. scan products
4. photograph products
5. determine shipping costs
6. ship products

Selling Items
There are three ways to sell items:
1. auction
2. fixed price
3. buy it now

An auction contains a starting price (bid) and an optional reserve price. The starting price is the minimum you want for the item you are selling. A reserve price is a price that a bid must meet otherwise the item is not sold. These two examples illustrate the difference.

I have a candle that I want to sell. I set the minimum bid at $5.00. The auction ends and Sara placed the highest bid of $10.00. Her bid wins the candle.

I have a beautiful glass candleholder that I want to sell. I don’t want to sell it for less than $75.00 but feel that may be to steep of a starting bid. Therefore, I set the starting bid at $50.00 and set a reserve price of $75.00. This item will sell if one or more bid meets the reserve price ($75.00). If not, the item is not sold.

Be careful using this option. If you use it too often, people will not visit your auctions. They want to buy items. If they continuously receive “reserve price not met” messages, they will stop visiting your auctions.

Fixed Price
You can sell items at a fixed or set price. I have a candle to sell. I set a fixed price of $7.50. This is the same as buying a product in a store. If Sara wants the candle she pays $7.50.

Fixed prices are a good way to sell items. People see an item they like and they want to buy it. Give them this option.

This method also has a best offer option. This allows me to give the buyer the option to make a counter offer to my fixed price. For example, Sara may like the candle I am selling but she believes $7.50 is too expensive. She makes a best offer of $5.00. I can either accept or reject this price.

If you offer this option, accept reasonable counter offers. If not, just sell your item at the fixed price.

Buy It Now
The buy it now option works in conjunction with an auction. I have a dozen aromatherapy candles to sell. I decide to sell them as a package. I set the starting bid at $60.00 ($5.00 per candle). However, I want to sell that item quickly so I set a buy it now price at $90.00 ($7.50 per candle). Sara sees this item. She knows that they sell for $10.00 per candle at the candle shop. Nobody has placed a bid on this item so she uses the buy it now option to get this bargain.

This option is valid only if no bids are placed. For example, Once a bid is placed the buy it now option become invalid and the highest bidder wins the candles.

Writing Product Description
Product descriptions are either informational or they appeal to a person’s needs. Here are two examples.

1. Tascam Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorder. It includes RCA inputs and outputs, 1/4 inch microphone input plus an XLR microphone input. This unit provides quality recording at 3 3/4 in., 7 1/2 in. and 15 in. per seconds. Includes both digital audio meters and analog VU meter.

2. Enjoy a hint of summer with the light scent of rose. This candle will make your home feel like summertime. Great for personal use or the hint of rose will let your guests know that you appreciate them. Candle color is a mixture of red and white.

The first description (Technics Reel-to-Reel tape recorder) is informational. It describes the product’s features. The second description (candle) describes how the candle will make the buyer feel good. (It will make your house feel like summer time. It tells your guests that you appreciate them.)

Scanning and Photographing Your Product
A picture is worth a thousand words. People like to see what they are buying. Unlike a physical store, they can’t touch and feel the product. They rely on your description. A picture greatly enhances this aspect of the sale.

You can scan or photograph your product. Scanning works well for stamps, magazine covers, the box of your item, and so on. Photographing provides you more options.

You don’t need a digital camera. A film camera works well. You can have your images scanned directly to CD. It is inexpensive. You can have prints made and then scan the prints. Either option works well.

Whether you scan or use a camera, it is useful to have a photo-imaging program. It doesn’t have to be an expensive version, you’ll only need to use some basic features.

Cropping is the most important feature. It allows you to cut out the unnecessary aspects of your photograph and focus on your product. Other features you may want to use are:

1. Color correction — corrects the color of your photograph. This is useful depending on the lighting used when you photographed your product and how well the photofinisher did their job.

2. Brightness and contrast — adjusts the brightness and contrast of your photo. Use this option to make the details of your product more noticeable.

Use the Save for Web option. This makes the saved file size smaller. This is beneficial for making uploading and downloading quicker. It also saves disk space. EBay gives you 1 Meg of disk space for photos. They are happy to sell you more space.

Shipping and Shipping Costs
You can ship anything just about anywhere. It doesn’t matter if it is ice cream, books, clothing, glassware, and so on. You have two options: the post office or a shipping service (for example, UPS or FedEx).

The post office offers a variety of shipping services. Four are of interest:
1. parcel post
2. media mail
3. priority mail
4. express mail

Use parcel post to mail packages. The post office accepts packages that weigh up to 50 lbs. It takes two to nine days for delivery.

Use media mail for books, videos, and CDs. It is less expensive than parcel post. It takes two to nine days for delivery.

Use priority mail for quick shipment. Delivery takes two to three days.

Use express mail for next day delivery.

I find most customers are happy with media mail or parcel post. Offer them a variety; they pay for the shipping costs.

How much is shipping? Shipping costs are determined by destination and weight. eBay provides a shipping calculator. You enter your zip code and the buyer’s zip code. Next, enter any shipping and handling fees (price of packaging materials). A sample of prices appears.

The post has a web site with pricing and other information ( UPS ( and FedEx ( also have web sites with pricing and other information. Other shipping companies also have sites with this information.

In Closing
eBay businesses make money. It is easy to create an eBay business. This type of business teaches you how to:
1. price items
2. write product descriptions
3. scan products
4. photograph products
5. determine shipping costs
6. ship products

eBay is an excellent tool if you need extra money or want to start your own business.

Read other articles for business starters:

I’m Daniella. I love to try different stuff and share my feedback and my thoughts about them. Hope you enjoy my blog. Thank you!

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