Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Build Niche Mini-Sites For Fast and Healthy Profits

'Mini-Site' is a commonly used term in the world of making money online and it has a variety of definitions, but always meaning 'small', hence the term 'mini'. So a mini-site might comprise ten pages or just one but rarely will 'mini' be applied to a site containing hundreds of pages or focusing on more than one tight niche market or product.

Very often a mini-site is a one page site comprising a sales letter for one product and its aim is to convert visitors into paying customers. Because it contains just one or a few pages at most, the site can be highly focused and created in a couple of hours and begin making sales and growing a mailing list very soon afterwards.

And because they are so small and usually tightly focused, mini-sites can be grown quickly around a small number of commonly used search keywords and phrases and quickly begin driving traffic from search engines like Google and Bing.  To illustrate, for a high frequency phrase like 'train a dog to heel', it's very easy to write content for one to ten web site pages containing that term but very difficult to create several hundred articles based on that term for an authority site with hundreds or even thousands of pages.

These are the main steps involved in creating a high profit mini-site:

* Find a popular niche, one that is searched for hundreds or better still thousands of times every day. The greater the number of searches made for the subject of your site, the more people will ultimately visit your site and the more money you are likely to make.

* Find a product or service to promote at your site. Choosing a niche is just one step on the way to making a living from mini-sites and arguably the most important early step.  But regardless of how good a niche you pick and how many people are interested in the subject of your mini-site, you'll still not make money unless there are products at the site for people to buy or advertising links for them to click on to generate commissions for you. So we're looking at finding products to promote from the likes of ClickBank and Amazon, and commission generating links from Google AdSense and similar pay-per-click promoters.

* Create content for your mini-site.  Content is information designed to interest potential buyers for whatever products or promotions feature at your site.  It's keywords and phrases used in articles and blog postings that tempt Google and other search engines to lift your sites higher in search engine returns than sites based on similar niches but without useful information to benefit Google customers. So you need quality articles based on words and phrases that are commonly keyed into search engines to locate sites similar to your own.

* Design a landing page for your site. Your landing page is that part of your site where people arrive as a result of your chosen traffic generating techniques. It's called a 'landing' page because that is where people 'land' immediately they decide to visit your site. Your landing page can be a simple sales page or somewhere for people to sign up to join your mailing list for news of current and future product offers.

* Upload your site to the Internet, determine what traffic generating techniques will best attract potential buyers and pay-per-click users to your site, then develop a plan for attracting as much traffic as possible to begin making money for you.

Job done!

Flipping Websites and Domain Names For Quick and Easy Profits

Some of us do it with houses, some of us do it with cars, and some of us do it with websites. We buy those things, improve their appearance, add a few exciting new features, then we sell up for a few thousand pounds easy profit and maybe a great deal more.  It's called 'flipping' and it represents one of the easiest, most profitable ventures of all, as this article shows.

'Flipping' is the term commonly applied to the exciting business of buying and selling domain names and developing new or existing websites.

Really spectacular profits can come from buying a domain name inexpensively in one location and reselling it for a profit elsewhere, such as by purchasing it from an inexperienced buyer on eBay and reselling it where more knowledgeable buyers congregate, in Internet marketing forums, for example, and companies mediating between domain name and website buyers and sellers, such as Godaddy (http://www.godaddy.com), Flippa (http://www.flippa.com) and Sedo (http://www.sedo.com).

Many full-time flippers buy sites inexpensively, with or without a domain name, and focus on growing value in a site, by adding content, for example, and monetising it with AdSense or ClickBank promotions and growing traffic from articles and blog postings, before finally offloading the whole caboodle to the highest bidder on one of those middleman sites just mentioned.

Website - also domain name - flipping is one of few businesses known to survive and even thrive in an economic downturn, mainly because flippers are targeting up-market buyers, people with money to spend and wanting to buy websites that are already receiving traffic and generating income.  They pay those high prices to avoid having to develop websites themselves, or drive traffic, or identify profitable niches.

Those big price buyers also like the risk-free element of buying an already profitable site, as opposed to paying website designers to create sites for them and having to wait months to see if their new site is profitable or a total flop. So they'll spend heavily on a site that's already making money, sometimes spending many hundreds of thousands of dollars/pounds/whatever currency for a site and domain name that probably cost very little to obtain in the first place. 

A lot of money can be made in very short time, even by people without web design experience and having little or no technical ability, and tales are told of new and experienced flippers buying existing sites for a few hundred dollars (most sales take place on American sites) and offloading them days or weeks later for ten or twenty times more.

Handmade Issues and a Rapidly Developing Marketplace for You to Profit From

There’s talk of one of the world’s most highly respected websites - Etsy - suffering significant problems recently, prompted mainly by an influx of new and possibly bigger competitors in the market for handmade and artist created products. 

At a time when few people realised a growing interest in buying handmade goods Etsy - http://www.etsy.com - emerged as the place for talented artists and craftspeople to sell their wares online to an international audience and for several years Etsy remained on top.

Quality of goods was high and many very gifted creators sold exclusively at the site, leading to high profits for makers and for the company behind the site.  Then as happens for most good things, the competition got wind of an easy way to make money, by simply mediating between people good at making things and others good at selling them.  

Today, Etsy’s main rivals are eBay and Amazon, each with its own developing platform for handmade and artisan created goods, and presenting a major threat to Etsy’s survival.

But for people like us the result is a proven product and plenty of places to market goods you and I don’t have to create and won’t even have to pay for in advance of selling them on sites like eBay and Amazon and, hopefully, Etsy too.

All we have to do is find artists and craftworkers, people typically good at making things and lousy at selling them, and we offer to represent them online. 
It’s all so easy, I’ve done it many times myself and, as soon as Amazon and eBay have all their ducks in a row we’ll take a close look at making money ourselves from other people’s hard work and creative genius.

Until then, keep watching this space!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Public Domain and How It Helps You Make Money From Specific Dates

Look in any magazine, vintage or modern, and you'll find a common theme running throughout, being anniversaries and seasonal articles and snippets.  The need for such contributions by millions of publications all over the world is so intense that many writers earn their entire income writing about things that happened one hundred or so years ago, people (living and dead) who are celebrating an important milestone (birthdays, deaths, marriages, etc.), or relating to regular events like Christmas, Bonfire Night, Easter, and so on.

All you have to do is find relevant information from the public domain which can be converted to modern day terminology which you then use as the basis for paid letters to the editor, alongside articles, captioned photographs, recipes and poems attracting valuable gifts. 

Or you could produce a range of birthday cards or scrolls containing information to interest people born in a particular year or sharing the same star sign.  Add lucky dates and numbers, main events at the time the individual was born, famous and infamous people sharing the same birthday or star sign, and so on.  Then sell your products on eBay, Amazon, Etsy and numerous other sites.

Sell Vintage Pipes on eBay

Collectable pipes are commonly available in offline auction salerooms where they can sell at prices way below their possible resale values on eBay.

Pipes from ancient times to round about the early 1900s were made from many different materials, some from clay and other inferior materials which were easily broken and few examples remain today, others from ivory or rare woods embellished with silver and porcelain. The latter represent the highest profit potential.

Pipes made from finely carved woods, ivory and precious metals fetch the highest prices, especially with famous faces (a bowl with a portrait of Napoleon fetched £400 at a sale in Newcastle a few months back) or commemorating important events (such as military campaigns).  Among the most valuable pipes are long stemmed designs with ornate carved bowls sometimes decorated with silver and precious gemstones.

eBay.com's recent high prices include:

* $3,075.00 was paid for a Lars Ivarsson Pipe

* A large Dunhill pipe fetched $1875.00

* A Dunhill White Spot Briar Pipe and Case fetched $954.81

* An Ivarsson Pipe made from bamboo made $860.00

A few minutes spent studying vintage pipes selling on eBay revealed the following main trends:

* Pipes aged one hundred years or more almost always attract several bidders and good finishing prices and rarely go unsold on eBay.

* Names like Dunhill and Ivarsson are amongst the most valued and collectable on ebay.com and other eBay sites.

* Pipes made from meerschaum are also extremely collectable, meerschaum being a porous mineral found in rock veins.  Being porous, meerschaum pipes absorb nicotine and gradually grow darker which some collectors like and some don’t.  The better types are elaborately carved to represent people or animals.

The more intricate the design on pipes made from meerschaum and other valuable materials, the higher the finishing price is likely to be, such as a meerschaum pipe depicting an elephant's head with long winding trunk and tusks that fetched £1,000 a few years ago at Christie's and a cheroot holder (not exactly a pipe) in the shape of two ladies sitting on a snake that fetched almost fifteen hundred pounds at Sotheby's.

How Clever Sellers Use Free Information Products to Grow their Product Sales

All over the world people are still reluctant to place credit card orders online, despite the high security generally involved.  So Internet companies have to work harder to sell their products than their bricks and mortar high street counterparts. 

One way to gain buyer confidence and increase sales is by letting website visitors download a valuable information product free of charge in exchange for adding their contact details to the online seller’s mailing list.

Once names are added, the marketer sends emails containing useful tips and helpful advice to establish a relationship with list members and ultimately turn them into buyers.   After a couple of weeks the emails can become more promotional in content. 

Then when list members realise the marketer is genuine and approachable, many will begin purchasing from him or her in preference to spending on the high street.

These are examples of free information products designed to attract people to a website and generate confidence in the website owner:

* Say you are a travel agent selling discount airline tickets.  It's a highly competitive business as you will see from hundreds of small ads. placed by competing companies in countless newspapers and glossy magazines.  An online seller might compete by getting people to download a free book of money off vouchers to use at their destination in exchange for joining the online marketer’s mailing list.  Then the seller begins promoting goods and services those people might find useful at their destination.

* Let's say you are selling Barbie dolls at your website. Barbie dolls are immensely popular and literally thousands of companies compete for sales on and off the Internet. But you could easily attract thousands of people to your website by offering a downloadable PDF file of knitting and sewing patterns for clothes to fit Barbie.   Inside your report you place links to dolls and other products available from your website.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Sell Cameras on eBay

Camera', in collecting terms, covers everything from early box cameras with bellows and photographic plates, to more recent 'still photograph' cameras, on to cine and video equipment, even modern mobile phones with photographic capabilities.  They can be large or small, quite modern or antique, some don't even look like cameras. 

But be careful: Unlike most collectibles where older usually means more expensive, the same does not always apply to cameras.

Ironically, our throwaway society creates a situation where specific makes and model of modern camera are in limited supply and fetch higher prices than cameras from the 1940s and 1950s, even earlier. 

To illustrate, a 15-year old Hasselblad camera in working condition recently made £700 on ebay.co.uk, while a Mahogony and Brass Plate Camera from around 1900 fetched just £113. 

Let's look at some of the most popular cameras on eBay and determine exactly what you should be looking for.

Recent eBay Realisations

*  A World War II Konishiroku Tokj Aerial Camera fetch $380.99, about £219

*  A Girl Scout 1927 Official Kodak Camera In Leather Case Went for $270.50, about  £155

*  A 1939 New York World's Fair Brownie Kodak Camera fetch $202.50, about £116

*  A 1900 7.5" x 9" Mahogony and Brass Plate Camera fetched £113.00

Those are not rare cameras. They are no more valuable or uncommon than many items you'll find selling at auctions and boot sales where they rarely fetch more than a few pounds each.  This is especially so at poorly advertised events, like the majority of collectors' fairs and some high street auction rooms, so make a particular point of phoning events organisers every week for details of whatever cameras might be available.  Keep contact details of regular sellers at flea markets and boot sales, phone them regularly about new stock.  Give these people your contact details, too, so they can contact you for fast sales, often of multiple items.

Factors Affecting Value

Most pricing is 'approximate', especially on eBay where bidding wars are common.  Even the experts are surprised sometimes at prices achieved for relatively common cameras, so says the editor of the most authoritative work on camera values, James McKeown (Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras): "The price of an antique camera is entirely dependent on the moods of buyer and seller at the time of the transaction."


Even with a limited study of classic cameras one quickly finds THE names to watch out for among camera makers are Ernst Leitz (maker of Leica models) and Zeiss.  Almost without exception even damaged and worn specimens from these makers are still saleable, even without worthwhile restoration.


According to my favourite camera collectors' site, age is largely irrelevant to resale value (www.marriottworld.com/value.htm).  Reference the Kodak 2C Brownie, produced between 1917 and 1934, which the webmasters say is worth just a few pounds, primarily because many thousands were made over an extensive period. 

Curiosity and Novelty Value

Novelty and curiosity cameras were popular from the late 1900s, looking every bit like James Bond creations and often resembling books, pocket watches, packets of cigarettes, and more.  Referred to, unsurprisingly, as 'spy' or 'detective' cameras, they are often incredibly small, but immensely popular, and can fetch very high prices.  Minolta were prolific makers of tiny spy cameras frequently masquerading as pens and cigarette lighters and worth about £40 to £100, more for advertising specialities or with unusual pedigree.

Production Quantities

Cameras of short term production, (even of inferior quality), can be worth far more than their quality mass produced counterparts.  A good example is high quality, rare and limited edition models made just after the war by such as Nikon and Canon which fetch very high prices today.


With few exceptions condition is vitally important to a camera's value.  Cameras with their original parts in working order, without rust or signs of ageing, fetch a premium.  Original carry cases and product packaging with operating instructions and receipt of purchase have an upward effect on prices. 

Common cameras in shabby, non working condition are almost worthless, unlike rarer specimens which may still find eager buyers.  Rare cameras, in good working and cosmetic condition attract the highest profits. 

It's worth noting that some collectors avoid cameras in non-working or damaged condition, and there's still a good market for low value, poor appearance but fully-functioning cameras, for whatever reason called 'beaters', which you really can pick up for pennies, tidy up a bit, and sell for decent profits.

Collecting Interest

Collecting themes help determine values for most collectibles; for cameras collectability usually depends on the maker (especially Leitz); type of camera (wet plate, dry plate, motorised movement, etc.); materials used (Bakelite is immensely popular); age (sometimes, especially for low production items); past famous owners, model and mechanism.  Enter two or more bidders of widely different collecting themes and amazing profits are possible.

Area of Production

As for many collectibles you'll find people collecting cameras made in specific geographical locations or at particular times.  For example, Japanese cameras, mass produced at the end of World War II, introduced a new high in reliability. This has made them among today's most collectible cameras usually bought to be used and not just for decoration or collecting value. 

Buying and Selling Tips

*  So quickly has the camera collecting interest grown that today even cameras made as recently as ten years ago are fetching high prices on eBay.  This is one product for which  bidding wars will emerge and high prices result for items that are cheap and relatively plentiful in their country of origin and non-existent elsewhere. 

*  Keep whatever throwaway cameras come your way; they could increase in value even in the short term, especially if they're unused, unopened and in original box, with till receipt, operating instructions, advertising materials.

*  Study cameras carefully before buying.  Only the rarest of items will sell in damaged or dirty condition, although much can be done to clean or refurbish quality pieces.   Looks for dents and cracks in the bodywork that might mean the camera has been dropped and could be damaged and potentially unworkable.  At boot sales and flea markets you may have to take pot luck on cheaper acquisitions.  But at auction and for higher priced items ask for time to test the camera before having to pay.  Many auction companies have staff their test cameras before selling and sometimes to provide sample photographs and warranties.

*  As a seller, bear in mind that some collectors favour working only cameras.  It's wise to take some pictures using the camera and add the photographs to your listing.  Otherwise sell  'as is' or admit you have no idea whether your camera is working or not.  It will reduce bids but will save hassle and claims for refund later.  Alternatively, offer a specific period for buyers to test the camera before having to pay.

*  Take close up pictures of camera and accessories from all angles; point out damage in photographs and description.  

*  Learn from the experts, especially those selling cameras on eBay.  I found a great guide on eBay showing what to look for when buying a classic camera, which by implication is important for sellers, too.  Called 'Buying a Classic Camera - What You Should Know' the guide is available from 9248terry (go to advanced search top right of eBay screen, click through, tick 'Items by Seller' at left.  Once accessed, click on 'View My Reviews and Guides'.

It's very easy to buy dirty cameras, clean them up, and find a precious gem lying beneath.

Some Easy Cleaning Tips

*  Be careful and always use gentle, sweeping movements, one way only, to removed surface dust.  Too many backward and forward movements, even with delicate cleaning materials, can cause scratching or lead to an uneven over-shiny patina.  A camel brush is best.

*  Never rub directly onto the lens or other glass areas.  Instead blow dust away either manually or with canned air.  Remove really heavy dirt with lens cleaning fluid from specialist photographic suppliers.  Find them listed in Yellow Pages under 'Photographic Suppliers' or 'Camera Shops'.  Drip the fluid onto a smooth fluff-free cloth and use a gentle circular movement over the lens.  Do not drop the liquid onto the lens and then apply the cloth or you risk surplus liquid seeping behind the lens and damaging the inside of the camera.

*  Don't ever clean the inside of what might be a valuable camera.  The workings are extremely delicate, easy to damage and costly to repair.  Avoid buying cameras that are really dirty inside, they've probably been poorly handled by past owners and could be broken beyond repair.

*  Dirt on the casing can be removed with a soft dry cloth or with a little plain water added to remove encrusted dirt and grime.

Recommended Reading

McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, published by Centennial Photo Service, ISBN: 0931838134

Saturday, February 06, 2016

How The Ten Second Rule Affects Your eBay Listings

They say looks aren’t everything but they’re pretty close to everything as far as selling on eBay is concerned.  According to high level research it takes potential buyers less than ten seconds to pick an eBay product listing and, having opened that listing it takes another few seconds to determine whether to buy or move on.  If a listing doesn’t look good, if it doesn’t meet viewers’ expectations, it won’t be opened at all.

Try this test.  Search for a specific product on eBay, make it one available from several sellers as opposed to rare antiques and collectibles available from just a few dealers.  Scroll quickly through eBay’s search returns, without looking at price and focussing only on images and titles.   Count quickly from one to ten as you scroll down and before ten becomes eleven you click on the next listing you’d probably choose in a real-life buying situation. 

This split second choice while you’re in full swing looking at product listings is the way many people actually search on eBay.  So as a seller you are trying to create a favourable first impression that surpasses all competing listings.  Which in turn means you need to know why people make their split second choices.  Is it the image that does it for most visitors, or words used in titles, is it a sub-title?

The answer is probably gallery image first and titles next with sub-titles coming up a close third.  But if you get your gallery image and title right the sub-title – usually the most expensive part of the listing - shouldn’t be needed. 

Now let us look at features of titles and descriptions that will get people to open your listings and stay to learn more about your product.


*  Create credibility.  Two pals turning over $100,000 every month in designer clothing and accessories tell how their sales jumped by almost forty percent with the addition of just two words to their eBay listings.  Those words were ‘100% Authentic’.

The same sellers made feedback a prime feature of their eBay listings, using a sub-title like this:

          You can stop searching!  This is the best GPS Deal on eBay
          Guaranteed by 1000s of customers’ feedback

When their listings got opened a screenshot showing positive feedback comments for the product in question appeared top of the screen.

(Source: http://www.blog.crazylister.com)

*  Have a high profile discount sale.  This might be a short term idea, given that eBay is constantly making changes and then soon afterwards reverting back to square one.  But let’s look at it anyway. 

On the outside of listings eBay used to reveal a sale was taking place by striking through the old price and replacing it with the new.  That was an incredible way to generate sales from people searching hundreds of listings for those with  discount prices. 

Then eBay stopped doing that - and then they started doing it again.  And so it goes!

So right now any sale you promote will show outside your listings.  But whether your sale is or is not highlighted in search returns it’s still a good idea to mention it in your listing titles, like this, for instance:

          WIDGET This Size That Colour - 20% SALE NOW ON!

Or this:

          WIDGET This Size That Colour
          20% SALE NOW ON!

In the second example a sub-title makes the listing deeper and almost always catches the attention of people scrolling quickly through search returns.  But a sub-title is more effective in competitive markets and for high profit items.  In low competition markets and for low profit products a sub-title might cost more than benefits achieved.

An eBay seller I studied today tells how the percentage discount and words ’SALE NOW ON’ in capital letters in the title lifted his sales by twenty per cent over a similar sale without the mention.

When you create your sale with its high profile title you’ll have to choose listings manually and then edit their titles and/or include a sub-title.  That could take much longer than letting eBay create the sale for you but the reward should be worthwhile.

Remember to change your listings when the sale ends.

*  Use capital letters sparingly.  Same goes for lower case letters too.  Try this:

(i)  Don’t use all lower case letters in your titles.  It looks unprofessional as well as being difficult to read.  The same goes for all capital letters.

(ii) Optimise your titles with one or two main search terms all capital and the rest with first letter only in upper case. 

(iii)  Place your most important keywords at the beginning of your title, preferably in the first four words.  This helps gallery image and title work together and catch most people scrolling through your listings, including a good many who focus solely on image and two or three inches into the title and rarely absorb the final few words.  One reason they do so is to save time spent moving the eyes horizontally across the title and doubling or tripling time taken to scroll downwards.

Here’s an example of all three tips used together:

TITANIC Postcard SIGNED BY SURVIVOR Real Photographic

Compare that title to this one:

postcard real photographic titanic signed by survivor

and this:



Several features inside a listing determine whether visitors stay to learn more about your product or move away from your listing. 

Clarity, brevity and a professional layout are paramount among those internal features of the perfect eBay listing. 

Researchers tell how eBay started life mainly as a place for everyday folk to sell their unwanted household goods and personal possessions.  So imperfect images, even blurred and badly cropped, as well as descriptions, including spelling mistakes and lots of different fonts, were acceptable to most visitors and buyers.  That was then. 

Since then major sellers have arrived at the site and the old folky listings are now looking sloppy and substandard and getting fewer clicks than big names like Tesco and Laura Ashley and numerous other high street companies with their picture and word perfect listings.

Ways to make your descriptions top notch:

*  Avoid using huge chunks of unbroken text and use short paragraphs instead with breaks every five or six lines.  Clear, concise text will get people hitting the order buttons; spelling and grammatical errors will make them wonder if your products are as substandard as your word skills.

People want to know all the benefits of buying your product, without waffle and repetition, and they want that information fast.  Three hundred words spread over six or seven paragraphs is the optimum size according to several research companies I studied today.

*  Make your description fit the average computer screen without visitors having to scroll far if at all to access it.  Far too many people have slow computers and inferior or zero broadband access and some days it can take five minutes or more to scroll down a long eBay listing and for Internet access to break every few minutes. 

In the end people in broadband notspots give up looking and go in search of shorter descriptions that can be viewed without scrolling.  Make yours short and you will capture a small and potentially very responsive share of the market.

*  Finally.  Check and correct spelling and grammatical mistakes.

Insert bullet points to highlight important parts of your description.

Use a font style and font size that most people find easy to read.  Arial and Times are popular fonts and size 12 to 14 can be read by most people.  Try a larger font if your product is for older people or others with poor eyesight.

Don’t use lots of different fonts in the same listing.  Choose one font and stick to it in all your listings and make it a simple font without squiggles and thick lines that make listings difficult to read. 

As an example, there’s a man I buy dog prints from on eBay.  He doesn’t have a template, he uses just plain text in his descriptions.  But every description has sub-titles and bullet points coloured purple and a little larger than the rest of the text.  The first word of every paragraph is coloured purple and emboldened.  His paragraphs are never more than three lines and there is always a half inch gap between paragraphs.  His descriptions are always a joy to read.

That said, a template with attractive border and distinctive word and image layout helps you compete with those major sellers mentioned earlier, as long as the design is simple and uncluttered and doesn’t detract from images and text.

So should you or should you not use a template?  No one knows for certain without testing.  So try running half your listings with a template and the other half without.  See which works best for you.

If you do decide on using a template try using one of the many free ones available before shelling out on something that might be less attractive and not as useful as a paid for version. 

Key ‘Free eBay template’ into the search box at Google.com and then hit the ‘Images’ button.  Study screenshots, most made using free listing templates, along with some paid for templates based on keywords used at the site.  Find one you like, make sure you won’t be charged, then use that for your next one hundred listings or so.  See what effect the template has on sales and profits.

Now you know how to create the perfect eBay listing it’s time to turn that knowledge into action.

Friday, February 05, 2016

How to Get Customers and Keep Them

Say you've just started a new business and most of your money is invested in premises and stock, or maybe you've been in business for many years and you're going through a bad patch. Either way your major concern is how to get customers. Will it be expensive? Will it take a long time to work? Will you always be selling alongside others with much higher advertising budgets? Not if you read this article revealing how to get customers free of charge in ways that few of your rivals even know about!

The trick to getting free and low cost publicity, and keeping the lion's share of the market to yourself, is to promote your business in a different way to your main competitors. That's because if your main rivals use local newspaper advertising to promote their goods, for example, and you do exactly the same, there'll be nothing to differentiate your business over others selling similar products. And being different is what helps you rise above your rivals and capture a major share of the marketplace.

But the most important way to succeed in business is not just knowing how to get customers in the first place, but how to turn them into regular buyers and stop them buying elsewhere.

So you have to make your marketing campaign a two-fold activity:

(i) being concerned with how to get customers in the first place, and;

(ii) being about keeping those customers once you have them.

Let us consider those concepts separately, starting with how to get customers which you do like this:

* Determine your potential marketplace. Is it local? Or global? Does your market typically buy on the high street, or online?

* If you're selling mainly to local customers, primarily offline, consider how to get customers from other sources, such as on eBay, for example, or Amazon. If you're selling entirely online, perhaps you could also sell from a local market stall or car boot sale.

* Work out a plan for all potential markets you've identified, local and global, and consider where else to promote your goods and how. To get customers on eBay, for instance, you might first sell your good at auction to see how bids match up to local prices. If bids exceed local prices for similar products, try selling those products from an eBay shop at a fixed price or with 'Best Offer' attached to tempt impulse buys.

Now you know how to get customers, it's time to look at keeping them which you do like this:

* Offer a discount voucher for sales over a specific amount. Ask recipients to use their voucher within a specific period, such as two weeks, or three months. This tempts repeat visits and reduces the chance of recipients going elsewhere to buy.

* Ask buyers to enter a prize draw by providing their email address for a chance of winning a special prize. Include a message on the prize draw leaflet saying entrants give permission for you to contact them by email to provide winners' details and to send other promotions in future. Then email them every week or so with offers of special promotions for your goods on and off the internet, or special invitation sales or discounts, or whatever it takes to encourage repeat visits.

And that is it, the answer to how to get customers and keep them buying for many years to come. Easy wasn't it?

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

How to Cut Postage and Packing Costs in Your eBay Business

Many eBay sellers consider it wrong to make money by overcharging on delivery fees, not only because overcharging this way is a major cause of negative feedback.  It's best to charge the exact cost of materials and postage or just a little bit more to cover time, staff assistance, travel to the post office. Buyers expect that.

Like many PowerSellers I don't believe in making money on postage costs.  But based on the theory that 'A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned' there's nothing wrong in seeking ways to cut your delivery costs and add more money to your bank account.

* Cut costs on packing materials. Buy on the local high street and you'll usually pay VAT on top.  But if you buy from large office supplier outlets you may get large discounts that counteract the the Value Added Tax.  Alternatively, you won’t be charged VAT at all if you buy from non-registered sellers on eBay or buy second hand or liquidated stock at boot sales and flea markets.  Buy as much as you can afford, as often as you can, of items you know you'll quickly consume.  But don't tie all your money up in packaging so there's no money left to buy stock or pay your eBay fees.  Be sensible.

* Learn to pack properly using as little material as possible. But don't cut corners; skimp too much and your package will fall apart or be damaged in the post.  Not good for your customer, not good for you, highly damaging for your business, and costly in terms of having to replace product and tackling disgruntled buyers.  Oh yes, and managing poor feedback scores!

* Do not forget to change delivery costs in line with increases in postage and packing and other fulfilment costs.  Responding to increased postal charges can be a nightmare, especially if you have hundreds of products listed.  When postage costs increased recently, my PowerSeller daughter decided to wait, just a while - which in her book means 'never' - until she had time to spare to upgrade all 1,000 of her regular listings.  She waited and waited and over several months she ignored a twenty pence price increase. Work 20p out over 400 items a month, over six months. Yes, exactly right, £480, almost £1000 over the year.

Sell Corkscrews on eBay

I knew I'd found something special when a colleague who normally sells vintage postcards turned to listing corkscrews on eBay instead.  

She's someone I check out often and use as a role model because she regularly achieves high prices for her postcards.  I have learned a lot from her.  But I stood to learn - and earn - a great deal more from this new-found interest of hers: vintage corkscrews.

The very first of her offerings, a corkscrew with handle shaped like a mermaid, made over £1,000.  Others, also with novelty and ornate handles, have fetched double figures and, from my experience, they're commonly found at offline auctions and flea markets where price tags of twenty or thirty pounds are common.

Marvel at these recent eBay finishing prices: a rare 'flip out' corkscrew made from brass and resembling a flick knife made £2,051.61; an Italian stirrup shaped corkscrew went for £2750.00; a ratchet corkscrew from 1869 fetched $1812.77, not one of which were well described or blatantly unusual.

Tips to Help You Buy and Sell Corkscrews for Profit

* Corkscrews have been around since the mid-1600s but it's those from 1850 onwards that fetch the highest prices at auctions on and off the Internet.  Before the middle 1800s, most household objects were made to be used, not looked at, so they were plain, functional, not ornate and grandiose such as some appearing later and which now fetch fabulous high prices on eBay.  So, generally speaking, the more ornate and elaborate the corkscrew the higher its price is likely to be.

* That said, I've seen very plain corkscrews priced about £1 a time at flea markets fetching a fiver or more on eBay so it's worth buying anything that's genuinely old and very cheap.  'Dirty' usually suggests the item is old and because few plain corkscrews become auction best sellers you'll rarely find them faked or made to look older than they really are. They are almost always worth buying!

* The earliest designs comprised a steel spiral fixed to a wooden handle. Subsequently handles became precious works of art, made from silver or gold encrusted with diamonds or inlaid with ivory or mother of pearl.  In time the simple spiral was replaced by mechanical devices to make opening bottles easier still, some even had a small brush attached for cleaning dust from bottles.  More desirable and consequently more valuable are specimens with unusual attachments such as brush or bell cap (a metal piece to fit over the bottle neck), and sometimes containing precious jewels or painstaking artwork.

* The Victorians' love of all things new-fangled, somewhat risqué, and heavily ornate, spawned some of the most beautiful and highly prized items. They include a multitude of corkscrews sold not all that long ago on eBay, with 'Victorian' in the title and fetching forty to eighty pounds each.  All were ordinary looking with simple wooden handles and commonplace screw. Similar vintage items not labelled 'Victorian' reached lower prices. So that word 'Victorian' could double your corkscrew's value, as long as it's true!

* My research revealed antique French creations fetching two to three times their corresponding English manufacture values.

* Add something a little unusual or with separate use and corkscrew prices rise, such as a folding antique corkscrew that fetched £158.00, a French creation depicting a champagne bottle with pocket knife in the handle that made £159.99, and a UK corkscrew shaped like a lady’s legs that went for £185.00.

* The screw is sometimes called a 'worm' or 'helix' and was made from twisted wire or cast into shape.  Because corkscrews were constantly used and in regular contact with water and alcohol, the worm on older corkscrews is frequently found broken, damaged or heavily rusted.  

Rust can be cleared or reduced with oil which also helps keep moving parts in working order. Serious damage or sloppy repairs to screw or handle can render a common corkscrew almost worthless and will seriously reduce the value of most highly prized specimens.

* The most collectible corkscrews are those with ornate handles, unusual mechanisms, popular maker's name.  Popular makers include Merritt, Gaskell and Chambers, Lund Lever, Samuel Pemberton.  Precious metals add significantly to resale value. 

* A past famous owner increases value significantly and there are collectors specialising solely in items once owned by the likes of Al Capone and other gangsters alongside more respected citizens such as U.S. Presidents, well known entertainers, writers, and so on.  

Study the long list of corkscrews with past famous owners at the Virtual Corkscrew Museum: http://www.bullworks.net/virtual/signat.htm

* As for virtually any collectible, the addition of a popular theme or subject, for instance a dog or frog depiction, a sport or hobby, leads to multiple bidders from several eBay product categories and can fetch unexpectedly high prices. By far the best corkscrew-related web site I studied values a corkscrew with a rare Swedish penknife attached at £150 and another with a boy's head made from a golf ball at £170. 

How to Choose the Right Category for Your eBay Listing

It's easy to think you know pretty much all there is to know about a product you've encountered daily for most of your life, in my case vintage postcards.

So I was really shocked to discover someone selling an identical postcard to one I had listed on eBay ended up making £300 for his postcard compared to twenty-four pounds for mine. And my card was in much better condition, my description was more comprehensive, my illustration was better than the other seller's by a long shot!

I'm not saying that to brag or to compensate for ignorance that cost me almost £300.

The reality was the other person had found a better category to list his postcard than I had chosen for mine.  Oddly, that other person didn't even list his postcard under 'Postcards', and let me tell you why.

The postcard in question was a woven silk postcard depicting various parts of Belgium burning in the aftermath of bombing during the First World War.

Many people, myself previously included, lump woven silk postcards under the overall category of 'Embroidered Silk' postcards.

That 'other' person put his woven silk postcard under Antiques > Fabrics / Textiles > Embroidery! He made £300 while I made twenty four pounds.

Fancy that! And I still think my category was the better choice, but obviously the punters didn't, and in the end they, the buyers, are all that really matters.

And that's the reason my next woven silk postcard, depicting Queen Victoria went, not under 'Postcards' but under 'Embroidery'............

................ and fetched £100 compared to a similar item I listed earlier that made just £15!

Two things to bear in mind here:

* It's a good idea to search for items listed in one category which may attract more visitors and higher prices in another category. Whenever you see items similar to those you sell being listed in an uncommon category, make a note, and spend a little time each week searching for items to buy and make money by relisting them elsewhere.

* Researching past auctions is the very best way to determine how much your product is worth and how much it is likely to fetch. Had I not researched eBay's completed categories one day last month I'd never have found that woven silk postcard that fetched so much while mine fetched so little.

eBay Arbitrage - Big Profit Margins Without Leaving Home

This article offers a few simple techniques that let you benefit from sellers who either don't know or don't care how their products are listed on eBay and consequently their mistakes and omissions often lead to items going unsold or selling way below their real market value.  All you have to do is look for items poorly or wrongly listed, buy them cheap, correct mistakes and improve their earlier listings, then resell those items at a profit on eBay.

The best way to make steady money is to literally stalk eBay looking for items available for you to buy at less than their normal selling price on eBay.

This discrepancy can be due to several reasons, for example:

- The item is poorly listed and failing to attract interest because it is listed in a category where few potential buyers will find it;

- The listing has spelling mistakes or typos which render it oblivious to eBay's search engines when potential buyers seek for similar items;

- The pictures are poor and that deters people from bidding;

- The item is highly desirable but the seller doesn't know that and fails to describe it properly.

Those and other anomalies suggest a product you might buy cheap and relist almost right away to at least double your investment and maybe earn a great deal more.


* Look especially for items failing to attract bids which are poorly described, listed in the wrong category, having typing mistakes or typos, have poor illustrations, or which are missing essential words and fail to respond to eBay search engines. In all cases the item can usually be purchased below typical eBay value and relisted as soon as corrections and improvements are made.

* Do price comparisons on eBay. You'll often find items available Buy It Now or Best Offer which regularly fetch far more on auction listings. This is because people get caught up in the thrill of bidding and chase items they don't really need or want just to prevent someone else winning them.

With so many items listed on eBay, in several country sites and in hundreds of different categories and sub-categories, you really do need to focus on one or a handful of product types or you'll just get horribly confused. You also need a good system to keep count of items viewed, low price Best Offer opportunities, and so on. A spreadsheet will usually do or the note-taking system available on most computers.