Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sell Poison and Perfume Bottles on eBay

Long ago, when I sold at flea markets, I knew lots of people who sold just bottles, mainly beer bottles, and they made a generous living.  I saw glass beer and wine bottles and the stone types used for ginger beer fetch double figures, sometimes hundreds of pounds apiece. 

That was more than twenty years ago, so I expected some growth in prices since then, but I was quite unprepared for the staggering prices achieved today for drinks bottles on eBay.  Such as, in the last month:

*  An 18th century English Sealed Mallet Wine Bottle went for £1116.00

*  Two Green Glass Wine Bottles, one dated 1761, went for £420.62

*  An old Irish Whiskey Jug Stoneware Bottle for Emmett's Whisky made  £362.00

*  A 19th century saltglaze stoneware Stout bottle from Milton Dorset fetched £317.11

*  A rare amber Wadsworth 6oz Codd Bottle fetched £561.00

*  A Cobalt Blue Newcastle Pictorial Mineral Water Bottle fetched £288.00

*  A Vintage Stone Stout Bottle fetched £271.69

While researching those prices on eBay I learned something else I hadn't realised earlier: there's more to bottles than just holding drink.  In fact alcohol represents a minority of bottles fetching hundreds and thousands of pounds; many more higher priced bottles once held perfume, or medicine, engine oil, baby milk, snuff or horse linament, food and vitamins, even poison. 

As well as whatever bottles once contained, certain themes and subjects are evident among specimens fetching the highest prices on eBay, such as maker, materials from which they were made, past owners, advertisements on bottles, special event issues, place of manufacture, special characters depicted on bottles, and more besides.

In fact you really could focus exclusively on bottles for your eBay business and still offer hundreds of very different products to buyers of widely differing interests. 

Because so much overlap exists between reasons people collect bottles it makes sense to consider some of the most common variants to help you spot best selling bottles at boot sales, flea markets, auctions.

This is because:

*  A bottle might be collectable in its own right and there are many people who collect anything bottle shaped, regardless of purpose or size, ancient or modern, rare or quite common.  Just buying and selling bottles, any bottles, regardless of purpose or shape - as long as they're old - could get you started fast in this easy profit making area.

*  Many more collectors specialise, by type for example, according to whether the bottle once held wine or beer; others collect specific shapes and colours, particular makers and materials. 

*  For some buyers the bottle is a side issue, not the reason they want the item, their interest lies in anything from past famous owners to well-known designers; characters depicted on the bottle, the label or bottle cap, and more besides.  So bottles depicting sports, for example, with golf ball or bullet shaped stoppers will attract interest from several collector types, namely of bottles, and sports depicted on those bottles.

*  Yet other collectors care nothing about bottles or their purpose, or who made them; they're more interested in an alternative use of the bottle or  what became of the bottle after use and on eBay you'll find some wonderfully artistic and unique creations made from bottles and fetching fabulous prices.  Such as a John Deacons Perfume Bottle that doubles as a paperweight and fetched £41.75 on eBay last week and, more impressively a 19th century Baccarat Paperweight stopper cut glass bottle that made $865.59.  There's a sneaky trick that may have increased value of that last item which I'll tell you about soon.

The truth is few people know all there is to know about bottles and even the experts overlook bottle bargains locally that subsequently fetch high prices on eBay.  So bottles represent a great arbitrage opportunity for you to buy inexpensively from a poor or misspelled listing on eBay and relist free from errors with fabulous pictures and a much higher auction starting price.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Five Ways to Grow Your eBay Profits in 2016

2015 is coming to an end and it’s time to make plans for increasing your profits on eBay.  There are hundreds of different ways to do this, by seeking ways to reduce your eBay selling fees, for example, or cutting your product acquisition costs, choosing and testing a lower cost delivery company, creating more responsive eBay listing titles and descriptions, and more besides.

My own most successful New Year resolutions are based on locating products likely to attract higher profits or more regular sales than products I’m currently selling on eBay.

Here are five ways to copy my objective:

* Sell goods people want to receive the following day and don't wish to spend time on comparison shopping. But lots of eBay sellers target this type of buyer, so you must get potential buyers to favour your listings. This can be done by giving bonuses and offering better service and faster delivery than others are offering.  Virtually any product fits the bill here.

* Spot a need and fill it, especially one not already being met on eBay. The stronger the need, the more likely people will pay for a solution.  Examples are numerous health & beauty products, such as pimple removing creams and acne treatments, unusual and one-of-a-kind gifts and novelty items, fad and gimmicky items, flood defences like sandbags, dog coats when winter weather arrives without warning, and so on.

* Provide luxury goods at low prices.  When people are made redundant or can’t find jobs, it’s luxury goods they will cut out first, such as brand new current season designer clothing and accessories.  But people who balk at secondhand or last season designer labels during good times might be less finicky about buying secondhand when money is in short supply.   

That’s when you might consider selling last year’s designer clothing and accessories, alongside secondhand car parts, moneymaking books and courses, used toys and baby hardware (prams, cots, garden swings, etc.), refurbished household goods and ornaments.

* Stock goods other people don't like selling or are too embarrassed to sell. I'm thinking here of things like hair nose clippers, shoe stuffers to make you look taller, adult sex toys, marital aids, and so on.  You may not enjoy the selling but you will like the profits.

* Choose repeat sale items over one time sales, especially items needing constant replenishment. The hardest work for any seller, the biggest expense and the highest risk goes to obtaining first time buyers. That's why it makes no sense at all to constantly seek new buyers when so many products have inherent repeat sale and replenishment value.

Suitable product include: soap, make up, children's clothing, packaging, annual price guides for antiques and collectibles and numerous other goods and services, craftwork materials, collectibles issued in sets, and so on.

How One Short eMail Can Earn Hundreds of Pounds You Don’t Have to Share With eBay

Many sellers issue newsletters to buyers on eBay, sometimes through eBay’s system, sometimes independently.  

It’s communications sent outside of eBay we’ll talk about today, the purpose of which is usually to turn first time customers into regular buyers without sellers having to pay listing and final selling fees to eBay.  Don’t worry, it’s completely within the rules, as long as those messages are not sent through eBay. 

The usual method is to have new buyers sign up to an outside eBay web page to receive your newsletter or product updates or you might compile your own buyers’ names and addresses manually, all of which is legally acceptable as long as there’s a quick and easy way for people to remove their details from your list.

Marketing to people who have bought from you already is called ‘backend selling’ and it usually takes place outside of eBay, so selling costs are low or even non-existent and profits can be much higher than selling similar products on sites taking a large share of your profits.

Here are more reasons why backend selling is such a good idea:

* People who've bought from you once and enjoyed the experience are likely to buy from you again, perhaps over the lifetime of your mutual existence.  For future sales made on eBay you’ll forfeit a huge chunk of your profits.  And that’s why saving their contact details to promote backend sales outside of eBay - and most other sites charging selling fees - is the first and most essential step after attracting a first-time buyer.

* It costs little or nothing to email past buyers with hundreds of current offers, unlike listing all those items individually on eBay.

But the biggest benefit of backend selling is that you have a target audience of people who trust you and whose buying habits you understand and will help you source products just for them.

How to Avoid Lost and Stolen Packages Slashing Your eBay Profits

Every year end a massive number of regular customers on eBay choose to buy on the high street instead, usually because they fear their orders may be lost or stolen in transit or they’ll arrive too late for giving as gifts or to use in the Christmas festivities.

Misplaced orders, goods lost or stolen in transit - I’ve had them all over the years, not just as a seller but as a buyer too.  And, personally, I would never consider buying time-sensitive products online. 

I’ll explain why with an entirely personal tale that’s shared by many other buyers and sellers.  A computer I bought from Amazon a few weeks ago has not turned up, but the firm delivering the computer says it has.  At their site the transporting company says a delivery was attempted at 9.15am Saturday just gone, at the same time I was sitting in the front room, close to the front door, running my eBay business.  Hand on heart: no delivery was attempted. 

So I contacted the delivery firm via their web chat link and that’s where things took on a whole new perspective when, during about fifteen minutes of scribbled messages passing to and fro, the representative continued repeating the same message in various different formats, something to the effect that queries about goods in transit have nothing to do with the delivery company and all questions must be made to the retailer.  During that short conversation the representative even told me the package had been delivered within the last few minutes - another big lie.

In short, the package never arrived and when I phoned Amazon they sent a replacement computer without asking me questions or researching the matter themselves.  That’s either because Amazon is a caring company with a great reputation for customer service - which is true - or maybe it’s because the delivery company concerned has a massive spate of nasty reviews from customers relating the exact same misery I have just endured.  Those reviews are at TrustPilot.com. 

I won’t give the name of the delivery company other than to say it isn’t Royal Mail or Parcelforce, but I would ask you to check whatever delivery company you are using to process your eBay orders. 

Go to TrustPilot.com and key your delivery company’s name into the search box and you will find some really professional delivery companies and one very big name firm with a horrendous history of lost items and incorrect and downright untrue messages given to clients - buyers and sellers alike! 

If that company is delivering your orders I recommend you stop using them right away.  I also advise you to constantly check any other delivery company’s reputation to locate problems that could be forcing you to refund buyers whose goods don’t arrive and which lead to you receiving negative feedback and low detailed seller ratings.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why eBay Shops Are a Better Alternative to Selling on the High Street

eBay Shops have much in common with retail outlets operating on high streets in villages, towns and cities all over the country, all over the world, the most obvious difference being that high street sellers typically work face-to-face with customers, while on eBay all the buying and selling is done online.

But in reality there's a world of difference between how eBay's virtual shops operate compared to their high street counterparts.  And for most retailers, the difference is significant and eBay is almost always the best option.

For example:

* On eBay you’ll be paying a tiny fraction of most offline sellers’ running costs, allowing you to undercut their prices considerably.  And no one will ever guess you are a one man or one woman operation or that you work entirely from home.

* eBay's heavy insistence on fair play for customers and sellers and urgency to remove rogue traders and troublesome buyers, represents credibility that's rarely found elsewhere, even in the biggest of high street companies.  That allows you to generate customer confidence much faster than most high street sellers.

* On the high street, customers expect to pay for and pick up goods the same day and most would leave a shop empty handed than wait for replacement stock or choose an alternative product.  And that’s why most offline retailers have to stock multiple units of numerous different products which is not only expensive but requires a major investment in storage space.  Not forgetting that stock may not sell and will have to be disposed of at a loss.   On eBay, although you must only list items you already possess or can quickly obtain, you can order stock after orders arrive or have dropshippers fulfil direct to your buyers.  So you never have to stock items until an order is placed.

* Because you don't have to stock duplicate products of all shapes and sizes, you'll rarely have valuable space eaten up by outdated, old-fashioned and damaged goods.

On eBay you can sell worldwide from a corner of your living room, take time off when you want to, you can even ban undesirable people from bidding or buying in your eBay Shop and you can earn money 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Compare that to being always available in a high street shop and working 9 to 5 even when it's pouring down and the high street's empty, as well as having to tackle difficult customers, and you’ll see why so many first time and veteran retailers are choosing that best of all trading models ... eBay!

Why You Should Never Give Your eBay ID to a Competitor

There's a lot of talk in online forums right now, between eBay PowerSellers, primarily those selling books and courses telling how to make money on eBay.

A string of comments I spotted today originated from one PowerSeller stating he had been asked for his eBay ID, so a person, purporting to be a potential book buyer could check the book seller's actual success against profits he claimed to be making on eBay.   Within days a whole string of negative feedback points arrived for the PowerSeller, all from different eBay buyers.

After days of gruelling investigation, it transpired the individual seeking this person's ID was also an eBay PowerSeller, although he had not left feedback from his own account for fear of being exposed and reported to eBay.  Instead he had enlisted 'friends' to open accounts, buy from our victim and then leave negative feedback.   

Several major PowerSellers reported similar problems, all having given their eBay IDs to untraceable individuals who subsequently recruited others to leave negative feedback for the victim in order to make their own accounts look good by comparison.

So it's a hot argument: do you or don't you give out your eBay ID?  I always did and I know other PowerSellers who still do and haven't encountered problems, yet!  

And before I move on, yes I have fallen victim to this awful practice, in one case receiving four negatives within days of someone asking for my ID which I gave. This one, not so cute or clever as today's operators, left negative feedback from his own eBay account before he had even been invoiced or paid for the products.  eBay removed the feedback points and expelled the offender the very same day.

It really is up to you what you do about revealing your ID, but I suggest you confirm the email address of the person making the request.  You could also ask for the other person’s eBay ID so you can communicate directly at the site in which case both parties’ messages will be recorded and allow eBay to investigate your concerns.

Don't Sell on eBay Until You Do This

Far too many people rush to open an eBay account, fall over themselves to make their first sale, and in all the panic and confusion they suddenly realise they're losing money fast!  So they give up selling on eBay and return to working for someone else!

Very sad, especially when just a few simple steps are all that stand between failing on eBay and growing an income limited only by time and effort put into the business.

So why fail, why not succeed beyond your wildest dreams, why not follow a few simple steps to guarantee your success on eBay?

* Decide What to Sell

You must have some definite product or service in mind, or you'll be running round in circles, forever chasing new ideas and getting nowhere fast.

Counter this common problem as soon as you sign up at eBay by spending at least two or three days looking at what other people are selling, especially sellers with hundreds of monthly feedback points and high profit margins.

* Grow a Tough Second Skin

It's sad to say the customer is not always right on eBay and although most customers are very genuine, there's a tiny minority who exist purely to upset other people.  These people leave negative feedback for any reason or no reason at all, and they can be extremely hurtful to first time entrepreneurs.

Like many people, I think eBay's one-sided feedback system is seriously flawed and I can't quite work out why sellers can only leave positive feedback or no feedback at all for buyers, including those who insist they haven't received your product even though you have their signature on the delivery form.

This sort of thing happens because the Internet is largely anonymous and people who'd never create a scene in a high street shop can be extremely obnoxious in eBay messages and feedback comments.

So you must learn to accept this unfair situation and report every unpleasant experience to eBay.

* Be Upfront and Professional Right From Day One

The most successful sellers are those who take their responsibilities very seriously, towards other sellers, towards customers, and especially towards government authorities.

In particular, way too many people take chances when it comes to handling matters like income tax and trading standards, these being the two most likely areas to land you in a whole heap of trouble and send your eBay business plummeting.

In short, you MUST determine your legal and financial obligations as soon as you begin selling on eBay, and you must take steps to ensure you never fall foul of local, national and international trading rules and regulations.

That does not mean you need an accountant right from day one but you do have to tell the income tax authorities you are running a business and provide specific information for each trading year.  Read all about it at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk

You should also study eBay's help pages to determine eBay's own seller rules as well as local, national and international rules and regulations concerning sales made on eBay.

Last, but not least, contact your local town hall for advice about local and non-local trading laws.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Simple, Cost-Free Way to Drive Traffic to Your eBay Listings

Here’s a great way to eliminate rivalry on eBay, an incredible way to make sure hundreds of people open your listings and buy from you without ever studying similar products listed at the site.

Imagine this: you’re selling Product A, as are hundreds of other people on eBay, and for those other sellers it’s a question of trying to make their listings stand out from the crowd when a potential buyer keys ‘Product A’ into eBay’s search box.  Just how do those sellers get buyers to choose their listings over all the others?

One way is to make their listings different, by offering lower prices and bonus gifts, for example, and that can work well for someone with hours to spare and who doesn’t mind fighting price wars for the lifetime of their products on eBay.

All you have to do, however, is make sure your listing is the only one people see when they search for ‘Product A’!  But in this case, it’s not people searching on eBay you want to capture, it’s millions more people using Google and other mainstream search engines.

The trick is to drive traffic to your listings from outside of eBay in a way that ensures only your listing appears to countless potential buyers.  The way to do that is to get your eBay product link, and only your link, to as many people as possible.

This is the sort of traffic you’re looking for:

i)  People searching for information about a specific subject but not necessarily looking for something to buy.  So they might want to know what causes acne, for example, and how to cure the condition using such as home remedies, camouflaging techniques, and more besides.  They have no particular product in mind right now.  But if they see a product along the way they’re very likely to buy it.

ii)  People on the lookout for a product to treat acne, either a specific product they know about already or something they see recommended by other sufferers, preferably people who’ve already found a cure … or know someone who has. 

Now let’s look at just one way to redirect all that traffic to your product listings, in this case for an imaginary product called ‘Acne Away’.

The way to do it is called ‘guest posting’ and simply means submitting content to someone else’s blog, preferably a high profile blog related to your product type.  The more people who visit the blog, the greater the number of people likely to read your post and the more visits will be made to your Acne Away listing. 

Guest posting is a little different to the usual way of posting on other people’s blogs where visitors typically write a short post to compliment whatever someone else has written.  Those short posts, usually at the end of the main feature can prove very profitable and drive traffic, but remember you’ll be sharing that traffic with sometimes hundreds of end-of-page blog posts. 

But most visitors encountering page end posts read the first ten or so and then move away from the blog, so you have to be quick to get your post noticed.

One way to do that is to make a list of blogs relating to your product and visit those sites daily, looking for new content and being one of the first to respond.

Now on to guest posting which demands a little more work and is potentially much more profitable.  It happens where your contribution is the main feature of the page, not just an add-on comment at the end.  Your feature might be read by thousands of daily visitors to your chosen blog.  Provide quality information and a high number of visitors are likely to click on an active link to your own website or product listing.

‘Guest’ is the operative word here, indicating you normally have to be invited to write the main blog post.  And because this form of marketing can attract massive traffic for the writer it’s also among the most difficult to achieve.  But well worth trying.  The process is typically to write to blog owners, telling them about yourself and giving ideas for a post you will write just for them.

You can increase your chance of being invited to guest blog by providing a killer review of your intended post.  I found a great article revealing fifty-two ways to do just that at:

Tip:  Look for blogs with hefty membership levels as well as ranking high in search returns and generating regular new visitors and members.  That way just one good guest post can keep you in traffic for years to come. 

Search for high profile blogs on your subject by keying ‘blog + subject’ into Google’s search box.  The biggest blogs should rank top of search returns and sometimes lead to lists of high profile blogs. 

Also key something like this into Google’s search box:

subject (e.g. acne) +  blogs + that + accept + guest + posts

My search for that term today returned three pages of workable listings.

Footnote: This idea for promoting an acne treatment works just as well for countless different product types.  Just change ‘acne’ to your own product type - such as steps for disabled dogs, pacifiers for crying babies, cream for ageing skin - and expect thousands of visitors and hundreds of buyers to your eBay listings.

Sell Vintage Collectable Dog Collars on eBay

Dog has long been man's best friend and many popular collectibles have developed from their relationship. One of the most highly priced and highly prized on eBay is dog collars.

The rarest and most expensive British collars date from the 15th to 18th centuries and were usually made from iron with spikes to protect working and hunting dogs from being savaged by wolves and boars.  Most such collars were highly unattractive, more functional than decorative, but can be worth up to £2000 each. Compare this to collars made in Austria and Germany which were ornately carved from precious metals and packed with rare jewels, serving mainly as status symbols and also worth high prices today.

Like almost every old and modern canine collectible you'll rarely find dog collars going unsold on eBay, even at grossly inflated prices, making this a great product to target individually or as part of an overall doggy-related venture selling vintage canine memorabilia alongside modern items like dog beds, kennels and recent manufacture dog collars for practical or decorative purposes.

Despite the fact some early specimens are valued in hundreds or thousands of pounds, they can sometimes be found at offline auctions, especially country sales and auctions disposing of farming and family estates extending back over several generations.

For example, a dog collar I saw recently at a country house sale in Darlington went for £50 against a possible value of several hundred pounds for similar items spotted in ‘Miller's Collectables Price Guide’.

Sadly I knew nothing of the potential of that collar which went to a dog loving individual, not a dealer, and doubtless a far higher price could be achieved by targeting a world packed with dog lovers, on eBay, where recently:

- An antique English dog collar from Cromer Hall in Norfolk went for £77.55. The seller added a neat touch that must surely have increased value and interest in the collar by mentioning Cromer Hall as the place Sir Arthur Conan Doyle visited while researching ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ and apparently he also used Cromer Hall as the backdrop for the book. Consequently the collar appealed not only to dog lovers but also to Conan Doyle devotees and topographically to Cromer Hall and Norfolk enthusiasts.

- A sterling silver dog collar engraved ‘1938’ and apparently used for Greyhounds fetched $356.99.

- A leather dog collar with pouch for messages carried by dogs on active service during World War II fetched $246.50.

- Even books about collectable dog collars fetch staggering prices on eBay in the UK, notably 'Four Centuries of Dog Collars at Leeds Castle', published in 1979, which recently fetched £123, £100, and several lower but nonetheless very attractive prices. If you can afford it the book is well worth buying for a wealth of fabulous pictures and articles to help you describe and value dog collars on eBay. In itself the book can only grow in value should you decide to sell it later, making it a very good alternative investment.


* Premium prices are fetched for collars with names and other engravings especially for well-known owners and rare accomplishments, as well as of local topographical interest. Collars engraved with place names and well known owners fetch the highest prices at auctions close to their area of origin. So a collar engraved, for example, 'Towser, William Jones, Gateshead' bought in London might be expected to fetch more when re-auctioned in Tyneside (yes, you should consider selling at local auction as well as online), but it should fetch even higher profits on eBay.

* Many early collars are decorated with motifs and symbols pertaining to a specific era which greatly benefits the dating process.

* Dog collars are often wrongly identified as collars worn by prisoners or slaves which are actually much rarer and more valuable than collars worn by dogs. But there's good news for anyone able to identify the more uncommon slave and prisoner collars from items selling mistakenly and undervalued as dog collars and then selling those items with more accurate descriptions on eBay.

Buy Goods Cheap From Wholesalers and Sell at High Prices on eBay

Wholesalers typically offer products in bulk at a significant discount on retail value and represent one of the easiest ways to locate products with regular high profit potential on eBay.

They deal with trade only because selling to private will alienate them with commercial buyers. And that's the reason most wholesalers ask for proof of trading status before allowing you to enter their premises. As an eBay seller you can prove your business status by creating your own letterhead or business card in Microsoft Word and adding your business name and eBay ID. Alternatively, open a business bank account, have your cheque book printed with your eBay ID or formal business name and use that to gain entry.

Most people think wholesalers operate from huge warehouses in major towns and cities, which many actually do, but there are numerous other places to locate high profit goods in bulk at massive discounts.

You can obtain virtually any product from wholesalers, even antiques and collectibles, but sometimes excluding designer brands whose makers prefer to sell direct to the public through approved retailers.

Because so many items are available from wholesalers - some specialising, others selling countless different goods - you can research any product fetching regular high profits on eBay, then obtain just one sample to test the market and later decide whether to purchase goods in bulk to add to your permanent inventory.

However you look at it, buying goods inexpensively from wholesalers and reselling them on eBay is one of the easiest and most problem-free ways to make money online.

Now then, haven’t I just given you a whole bundle of ideas to work with?  

Should You Clear Cheques Before Posting Goods?

I wish I had a pound for every time someone has asked me that question and that way I'd probably make more money than I've ever lost by posting goods before cheques clear - or don't clear as the case might be!

Bounced cheques can be a problem, especially for new eBay sellers who don't want to celebrate their first few sales only to find the cheques bounce for goods that have already been sent to winning bidders.

Another problem for newcomers is fearing negative feedback for not delivering goods immediately after payment arrives, even though cheques take up to seven days to clear (or to bounce!)

Thankfully, there are ways round the problem and I can honestly say I invariably send goods before payment clears and I've only ever been let down twice! For tiny amounts!

My view is that most people are honest, few will bounce cheques and for small amounts (less than £20 in my books) I always send the goods without clearing payment first. The same goes for payments awaiting clearance through PayPal.

My philosophy has always been that it's not worth making the honest majority wait for their goods just because a tiny few payments might be dishonoured. You need to keep your good customers happy and tempt them to buy from you again and nothing works better than fulfilling orders fast and trusting them to honour their side of the bargain.

That said, if a lot of money is involved or the buyer looks 'iffy', I break my own rule and let payment clear first.

With experience these are the rules I apply which you are free to copy in your business:

* Check buyer feedback, look for high feedback scores from other sellers, search for comments indicating payment disputes.

* Risk low amounts to new buyers but not if feedback already indicates a problem customer. For example, I would never send goods without clearing payment for anyone with low feedback and several derogatory comments made by sellers.  Be aware, however, no matter how dishonest the buyer and no matter how disgruntled the seller, the seller always has to leave positive feedback or no feedback at all for customers, both criminal and honest.  But you can sometimes spot warning messages made by sellers along with their forced positive feedback.

* Decide a maximum acceptable sum beyond which you will let all monies clear before sending the goods. I use £20 but I will go much higher for buyers with good feedback who have been registered on eBay for more than a few months and for anyone with whom I have already had a trouble-free transaction.

* Bear in mind banks charge you when payment fails, unlike PayPal where you won't be charged. I recommend PayPal for all your transactions.

* There is one time I don’t clear cheques before sending the goods. It's when someone buys and before the cheque arrives that person begins hassling me about delivery times or, worse still, threatens negative feedback if I don't get the product to them fast. In my experience payment from people like that has always failed.

Four Steps to Internet Marketing Millions

Today I want to suggest the best way possible to virtually guarantee you'll always make money online, both on and outside of eBay, and it's all down to keeping four steps in mind for every product you sell.

Those four steps are:

1.   Find a market comprising people with a problem or need.  Basically the bigger the problem, the greater the need, the more money you are likely to make.

But there is one other important thing to consider here, namely one of finding people with money to spend and money they are willing to spend to solve their problem or satisfy their need.  If members of your target audience have money but they don't want to spend it on your product, you're onto a loser right from the get go.

Similarly if people have a big problem or a passionate need and no money to spend on whatever product you find to benefit them.

2.  Find a product to solve the problem or satisfy the need. The more you can ask for the product and the less you have to pay to acquire it, the more money you are going to make. The product can be exclusive to your business or it might be something a good number of other people are selling.

Also important, you should look for products that not only solve the problem or satisfy the need of many people within your target market, but which also have repeat or back end selling potential where people return regularly to buy from you.

3.  Design a contact point, called a 'landing page', where potential customers congregate and which directs them to buy the product right away or sign up to a mailing list.  On eBay this landing page is your listing and it can be an auction listing or a classified advertisement, a Buy It Now or fixed price listing.

4.  Drive traffic - namely people with a problem or need - to your landing page.  On eBay you do this by using keywords in titles and descriptions that people will actually use to find your product, and you also need to create very clear illustrations to make sure people open your listing rather than move on to sellers with better product images.

How to Make a Full Time Living Selling the Same Product As Hundreds of Other People on eBay

Sell the same product as hundreds of other people on eBay?  Have I gone insane?  Isn't that just a little bit like flooding your own market and doesn't it also mean sharing sales and profits with longer-established traders with more money to spend and more experience of selling specific high demand products on eBay?

Well, yes, it could mean that, or not as the case might be, depending on what our seller does next, and how hard he works to differentiate his offer from people selling similar items on eBay.

The following tips explain how someone selling wigs and hair extension might achieve this objective:

* Sell the same product in much the same way as his currently more experienced counterpart.  This can be a good idea, sometimes, because too much variation between listings might mean the new one lacks some essential feature that generated another seller's high profits.

But the new seller should avoid copying other people's listings too closely or he risks being charged with breach of copyright or even finding himself expelled from eBay.  But there's no copyright on ideas, such as what to charge for a product or how many illustrations to use in one listing.  However, using the exact same illustration or more than a few words of similar text from another person's listing, except as provided by manufacturers for resellers, is definitely wrong.

So our seller could adopt much the same ideas but use different illustrations and words to convey a similar message in his own listings.

You never know, he might even improve on other people's listings and could grab a huge chunk of those other sellers' markets for himself.

* Make his presentation different, but not so different that his listing bears no resemblance at all to other people's successful listings for similar products.  The best way to differentiate his own from other's people's listings is to emulate other people's listings, as closely as possible without breaking the law, and to incorporate some reason for people to buy from him in preference to purchasing from those other people. 

There are several ways to do this, such as by:

- offering a free bonus to accompany his wigs and extensions, preferably a unique item with high perceived value, such as a hair ornament made to our seller's own exclusive design, or a pocket mirror decorated with the buyer's initials.

- offering faster delivery than other sellers, some of whom might ship from China and other low cost manufacturing countries, meaning delivery can take several weeks.  So our seller could import products or source them from domestic markets, store them in his attic or spare bedroom, and post within 24 hours of being paid.

- keep a close eye on average number of sales each week, product cost and other overheads, then look for ways to cut costs, such as by purchasing product and packaging materials cheaper in bulk and passing savings to buyers. This ultimately means undercutting rivals and increasing his own customer base.

Now you can see why this whole exercise is actually quite easy and wigs and hair extensions are just two of millions of products you can research and turn into regular, best-selling, high profit products for your eBay business.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Ten Tips to Help You Make a Full-Time Living Selling eBooks on Amazon Kindle

Today I want to talk about an easy way to make money from Kindle that helps writers earn not just from selling their work but also from giving it away free of charge on Kindle.

Why give your work free of charge on Amazon?  Several reasons, really, including:

-  Free copies create a feel-good factor that tempts readers to leave reviews that are almost always more favourable than reviews from paying customers.  Reviews, especially good reviews, are essential to attracting paid for sales. 

-  Despite what I’ve heard so many times to the contrary, it seems you can use Kindle eBooks, even preview samples and free downloads to promote affiliate products and/or grow a mailing list for promoting your own and other people’s goods for the indefinite future. 

As far as I can see Amazon don’t allow their own affiliate offers to feature inside Kindle eBooks but they’ve done little - I reckon nothing - to stop top contributors growing mailing lists and promoting affiliate products inside thousands of sales and free downloads each week.  And that’s where many writers and publishers seem to be making a good part of their income.

And knowing how they make money giving their work free of charge is the reason I’ve spent the last month researching other people selling on Kindle and reading comments by top research companies and compiling tips to help total newbies begin making a good living promoting eBooks on Kindle, both paid for and offered as free downloads.

Here are ten tips to help you get started:

#1- Find a niche to write about.   Choose a niche that’s popular on Kindle and has lots of searches each month but with few suitable titles available.  This takes time as well as being a tad monotonous but well worth the effort once you find a subject almost guaranteed to make money for you. 

One way to find a potentially very lucrative title for your eBook is to type niche market keywords into the search box at Amazon, then choose ‘Kindle Store’ from the dropdown menu.  Look for words returning less than twenty titles, then click inside a few of those titles looking for any with double number reader reviews, preferably from people who’ve actually bought the book.  You’ll find reviews from actual buyers marked ‘Amazon Verified Purchase’.  Reviews from paying buyers reveal titles that are popular and lucrative for other people to write about. 

Next you jump in and ‘reverse engineer’ those best-selling titles.  In this case, reverse engineering simply means studying other people’s products looking for reasons for their success: noting whether longer works tend to outsell shorter, spotting similar keywords in several best-selling titles, studying contents pages and checking sample downloads, and so on.  When you think you know what makes one title super successful and another a hopeless flop you model your own title on the best of the bunch - but make yours better, of course.

#2 - Create peripherals like book illustration, title, chapter headings, book description and promotional pieces before starting work on researching and writing your book.  Doing as much work as possible in advance of writing helps keep you focused and your work concise and to the point.

#3 - Create an attractive book illustration and compelling title.  Your image and title should be eye-catching and say what your book is about and how it benefits readers.  

Your title must include words and phrases commonly searched for on Amazon and outside search engines.  You’ll find high frequency search terms for your titles by keying words relating to your niche subject into the search box at: https://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool

Using high frequency keywords in title and description gets your eBook noticed by search engines and spotted by potential buyers and freebie seekers on and outside of Amazon. 

Conversely, choose a title based on words no one keys into search engines, provide a book illustration that never gets noticed, and even the best researched, most professionally written eBook may never attract buyers.

#4 - A week or two before your product is ready to launch, write reviews for it on appropriate blogs; get bloggers and website owners to write reviews for you in exchange for payment or free content for their sites.  Ask for reviews to be published as soon as possible after your eBook launch, preferably on the actual day of publication.

Achieving early reviews helps your eBook rise in Amazon’s best seller lists - even if it’s only been downloaded free of charge.   

#5 - Browsers get to sample the first ten per cent of a book and it’s important to make that ten per cent compelling and interesting and packed with benefits and solutions to problems, etc.  One way to achieve your aim is by replacing copyright notices, disclaimers and other pre-reading matter normally found on the first two pages, with a preface or author’s introduction.  Make your preface or author’s introduction, or both, more like sales letters than basic information.  Include cryptic clues about the contents of your book, hint about benefits found in certain chapters but don’t tell the whole story.  The idea is to make readers curious and keen to buy or download your freebie eBook right away.

#6 - Grow your profits by getting readers to perform some money-making action from inside your eBook, such as by clicking on a link through to an affiliate product or signing up to your mailing list for more information about the subject of your Kindle eBook.

But be careful because Amazon does not want writers and publishers using Kindle purely as a marketing tool and will remove blatant advertising products.

You have to be unobtrusive and make it appear you are doing readers a big favour when you suggest they visit your website or sign up to your mailing list or click on some link in your eBook that takes them through to a money-making page.  Offering something like one-to-one email advice should work well, as will the offer of a free report to help readers grow knowledge gained from your Kindle book as long as that knowledge is additional to promises made in sales material for your book.

#7 - Your book description is a vital part of the selling process and, like your sample preview, it must be interesting and make readers keen to buy or download your work.

Answer these questions in a non-fiction eBook description:

-  What problem, task, subject does your book tackle?

-  How do you address the problem, issue, need, passion on which your book is based?

-  What benefits will readers achieve from your book?

-  What problem will readers encounter if they don’t read your book?

-  What can you reveal to readers that they don’t know already and which they won’t find from any other book on a similar subject?

-  Why are you qualified to write about your chosen topic?

-  Do you have any examples of people using your technique or ideas?

-  Do you have complimentary quotes or testimonials?

#8 - Readers like to know non-fiction books, especially ‘how to’ titles and others containing website addresses, are up-to-date and in usable condition before deciding to buy.   There’s a tendency to be suspicious of information products published two or three years ago with no obvious sign of having been updated.  Solve the problem by actually making regular updates and overprinting the image of your book with something like ‘2015 Update’ or ‘7th REVISION’.  Add the same details to your title and description.

#9 - It’s one thing having a great book that’s ranking high on Amazon, but quite another to actually make money from all your hard work.  One way to make money is to write for people with money to spend and avoid creating titles for people who can’t afford to buy your eBook or products recommended inside. 

Learn whether people are spending on the subject you are writing about by keying the main search terms for your book into Google’s search box.  If no AdWords appear from your search, it’s safe to say your subject is not currently attracting advertisers.  And no AdWords promotions generally suggests your chosen keywords are not worth writing about.

#10 - You can write under several different pen names inside one Amazon Kindle publishing account and it’s a good idea to choose pen names to match your chosen niche subject.  Two reasons: one being that some subjects are more appropriately written by men than women, and vice versa; the second being the same author name on eBooks in very different niches will make you look like a jack of all trades and master of none.