Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Who Fancies a Sex Change on eBay?

A group of Israeli researchers tested buyer attitudes on eBay and discovered that women sellers tend to receive lower prices and fewer sales than men selling the same and similar products. The team tested their result over various different products and age groups and reached roughly the same conclusion.  

There were some minor variations, however, one being that buyers tend to trust women more than men to accurately describe quality and condition of used goods.  But for new goods, male sellers came out tops in most situations where seller gender is known.

The obvious exception is where prospective buyers don’t know and can’t easily determine whether a seller is male or female. 

Like most high level research, the Israelis’ report extended to numerous pages of statistical jargon most of us don’t need to know about anyway. 

But we can all benefit from knowing how to use the research to our advantage.  One way is for female sellers to avoid using predominantly female names in eBay ID and eBay shop names.  So instead of ‘Avril’s Collectibles’, I should fare better calling my eBay shop ‘Collectors’ Emporium’ or ‘Harper’s Shop’ (very rough and hopefully fictitious).  And we girls would probably be better off not mentioning gender or first names in our listings and messages.

You boys have no such problem, although you might like to consider a name change if you’re selling mainly used items.

You may think I’m over-reacting but I personally agree one hundred per cent with the Israeli team, based among other things on something a local flea market stallholder said last weekend when I complained about having encountered two really difficult buyers in just as many days.  He said, and he meant it: “It’s because you’re a woman and they think they can run rings around you.” 

Next day I used my husband’s name to reply to both problem customers, saying Avril was away on business and he was in charge.  Did I just imagine both people becoming more polite and less hostile?   

I don’t think so and that’s why I’ll be letting an imaginary male colleague tackle badly behaved buyers in future.

In Praise of Auction Selling on eBay

I’ve always liked auction selling, more so than listing products fixed price and there are several reasons why. 

For one thing, auction is a great way to determine the value of an item you haven’t sold before and which no one else has offered recently on eBay.  That being the case you can’t do an advanced search for recent listings for similar items to see how much they fetched.  So you run an auction and let bidders say how much your product is worth. 

Another good use of auctions is to generate a bidding frenzy between two or more people placing bids much higher than they originally intended, not merely to win the product but to stop someone else having it.  Yes, it does happen, and no, I don’t know why.

Then there’s a reason that has more to do with fast turnover of goods and never having to pre-test or guess selling prices or dispose of stock at a loss.  This technique works contrary to the way most sellers source and list products on eBay, typically by buying in bulk at wholesale discounts and using a fixed price multiple product eBay listing.  Some sellers do but most sellers don’t test prices by performing several different priced offers before running long-term promotions.  And that sometimes means sellers lose out on potentially higher prices and bigger profit margins for their products.

The better way is to obtain one unit of product, on the high street if necessary, then you run an auction with a starting price matching the lowest profit you need to make after all acquisition and selling costs.  Run a ten day auction to optimise viewer and bidder numbers. 

One of three main things will happen:

(i)  No one bids and the product goes unsold.  You can check your listings for mistakes and oversights which when corrected might generate bids and sales.  If none exist you will probably drop the product and use it yourself or sell it off at a loss.

(ii)  Only one person bids and you make a tiny profit, suggesting the product is unlikely to be a regular seller. You’ll probably do another few test runs just to be sure.

(iii)  Lots of bids ensue, some much higher than your minimum acceptable profit price.  So you send the first product to your winning bidder and you submit Second Chance Offers to some or all unsuccessful bidders whose bid achieves your minimum acceptable profit.  When Second Chance Offers are accepted you obtain sufficient stock to fulfil orders, plus another couple of units to relist the product on eBay.  Use the same starting price as before and see how many bidders emerge and how far prices go.  As before, fulfil your winning bidder’s order and submit Second Chance Offers.  Rinse and repeat one more time.

After the third auction you’ll have a good idea if your product is a likely long-term regular seller, as well as knowing what the majority of people are prepared to pay for it and what level of inventory to carry without overstocking or running out of product and delaying delivery. 

From thereon you can use multiple product fixed price listings based on the optimum price from your combined auction listings, both cutting your eBay listing fees and allowing your listings to develop a sales history to help them rank higher in eBay search returns.

Learn more about Second Chance Offers at:

Anti-Virus Software and a Major Problem to Guard Against

Today I want to reveal problems I experienced this week that were entirely avoidable and I don’t ever want you to encounter anything similar. 

Let me begin by updating you on that computer I ordered a few weeks ago, the one a very well-known courier company said they had delivered but in fact they hadn’t.  The computer did actually turn up, a week later than expected and via an altogether different carrier and the packaging was in terrible condition.

But worse was still to come and it gave me two sleepless nights and panic attacks for several days.

In a nutshell, what happened was this: as I was installing anti-virus software and Microsoft updates on the new computer, I very stupidly did something I have many times told my readers never to do.  I downloaded what I thought was a genuine programme, in this case Google Chrome, then I began using the computer.

Within minutes and going on for several days there were advertisements popping up all over the screen; I turned a blind eye to them all, believing my anti-virus software would eliminate all possible threats.

Then my husband began using the computer and said ‘What’s that ‘b’ in the middle of Google Chrome’s logo down there?’

And that is when the penny dropped and I realised I had innocently downloaded what is called ‘malware’, a very intrusive programme that can destroy files and steal essential personal data, like financial and personal details, also eBay and PayPal and other website passwords.

I looked into my programmes folder and found more than twelve malware programmes, including one called ‘BoBrowser’, the one using a logo that resembles Google Chrome, with just a few tiny exceptions, including that ‘b’ at its centre.

My husband and I spent hours trying to remove those programmes but the faster we removed them, the more appeared in their place.  Eventually, with more than two hundred suspicious programmes in the system, I turned off the computer and looked for expert help.

Why didn’t my anti-virus software detect the problem and prevent me from downloading the rogue ‘Chrome’ programme?  It’s because malware isn’t always infected, as such, just majorly disruptive and potentially very damaging, and that is why many anti-virus programmes will find and remove viruses but not always malware. 

The long nightmare ended for me using a free malware detection and exclusion programme from 

The free trial takes just minutes to remove all malware programmes and the paid for version will keep your computer malware free.  It cost me £20 to activate my free download and clean up my wonderful new computer and I can honestly say it’s one of the best investments I have ever made.

Please go do the same.

How to Sell Your eBay Goods Way Above What Any Sane Person is Willing to Pay

I’m going to tell you now about people who will pay way over the odds for something you are selling, just to make sure they get their hands on that item and stop someone else buying it instead

As an eBay seller that sort of thing happens to me every day, and once you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll be no stranger to receiving top whack prices for items you purchase for pennies or low pounds at boot sales and flea markets.

Before I reveal how to make this idea work for you, let me tell you about something that happened to me more than forty years ago and which I have regretted every day since.

It happened at the Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham City, at a flea market where a dealer had a massive selection of vintage topographical postcards from my own collecting area, namely towns and villages close to Peterlee where I lived at the time.

I had twenty or thirty pounds in my purse, enough then to buy a fistful of average price postcards.  I bought what I wanted and was about to leave for home with enough money left to pay the rent for the week ahead.

And that is when I spotted two identical real photographic postcards depicting the interior of a long gone railway station in a nearby village.  I had been looking for this view for years!

I had enough money to buy one of the cards, but if I bought the card I would not be able to pay the rent.  What should I do?

Well, I’m not one for avoiding my debts, and there was a second card available, so I asked the stallholder where he would be the following week.  Then I set off for home, confidently expecting to see at least one of the cards at next week’s flea market.

But, I never saw those cards again, not at the following week’s flea market, not on eBay, not anywhere else!

And that is why, faced with potentially losing an item I really want to own, I will jump at the chance to buy it in future.  And I will hand over my money right away.  On eBay, that means hitting the ‘Buy It Now’ button faster than you can say “Give the rent a miss this week!”

And my experience is mirrored by other collectors desperate to own a particular item and willing to pay ten or more times what the item is really worth. 

For obvious reasons, this idea works with unusual or unique items, like antiques, art and collectibles, but not for mass market products available aplenty on eBay.

You can locate suitable high profit items by researching eBay daily to find recently completed auction listings for art, antiques and collectibles.  Auctions represent the very highest finishing prices and sometimes dozens of bidders. 

All you have to do is jot down the highest prices paid for items with the highest bidder numbers.  Then you go looking for similar items at boot sales and flea markets and priced less than half the amount paid for those items recently on eBay. 

You get the item home, recheck its potential on eBay, then list it in your eBay shop with a price at least twenty-five per cent higher than the recent highest finishing price for a similar item on eBay.  Use a fixed price listing and add ‘Buy It Now’ and ‘Best Offer’ to the mix, then wait.

Within days you’ll begin receiving ‘Best Offers’, some derisory, some pretty close to what you will eventually get.  Be courageous and refuse all early offers less than ten per cent below your own fixed price.  Do so for two or three weeks because there’s always someone willing to pay a silly price for something they can’t live without.  If your item remains unsold after three weeks, accept the first offer exceeding the highest recent finishing price for a similar item.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Tipping the Scales in 2016 and Beyond

January is never a very profitable month for me on eBay, mainly because antiques and collectibles auctions are few and far between from November to early spring, and that’s when I tend to spend less time looking for products to sell and more time looking for ways to improve my earnings on eBay. 

Today’s eLetter gives you the benefit of my findings to help grow your own profits this year on eBay. 

In no particular order:

* At a flea market last week an old selling friend told me ‘You don’t make money when you sell, you make money when you buy.’ 

He means, of course, that simply spending the majority of your time listing stuff on eBay isn’t the most important part of the money-making process, especially if like many people you buy products you think might make money when you really should focus on buying items you know will make a healthy profit. 

My friend explained it like this:

Visiting dealers at flea markets go from stall to stall, picking up anything and everything going cheap on the day and from which they expect to make a few pounds profit on eBay.  ‘People like you.’ he said, pointing to me. 

And he’s right, I do sometimes leave a fair with four or five plastic carrier bags filled with hundreds of different items, mainly postcards and ephemera, few of which have more than a passing chance of making a couple of pounds over what I paid for them. 

My friend on the other hand leaves each fair with a couple of items wrapped up in newspaper and shoved into his jacket pockets. 

My friend is selective in his buying habits and rarely buys anything offering less than fifty pounds pure profit.  He does it by inspecting just a few products at flea markets and other buying locations, like auctions and antique shops, and he selects between ten and twenty items to research for profit potential. 

My friend makes notes or takes photographs of items he wants to research and then goes to a coffee shop where he uses his mobile phone to research prices paid recently for similar items on eBay.  When there’s a clear profit to be had he makes a purchase. 

I tried following his lead at the same flea market in Gateshead Stadium.  In my case I studied and made notes about thirty or so real photographic topographical postcards - among the highest priced collectable items on eBay - and then I studied recent sales for similar items.  Ten items promised profits of ten pounds each or more and the other twenty or so would just about recoup their investment.  I bought those ten items and ignored the rest.

This same idea of buying only when you’ve researched an item’s potential resale value on eBay can be applied to virtually any product.  Go and give it a try.

* Aside from only buying products I know will make money, I’ve decided to focus more on repeat sale items than one-off affairs.  So instead of buying, say, an antique print likely to make ten or twenty pounds profit on eBay, I’m looking for original artwork since passed into the public domain, allowing me to copy those designs and sell them hundreds of times as prints and other decorative pieces. 

I might get to pay fifty pounds for my painting or other original artwork but by choosing carefully I can earn ten or twenty pounds and maybe more from reprints.  As long as the subject of the original piece appeals to a potentially unlimited audience I can sell copies indefinitely.  That potentially unlimited audience covers people interested in iconic artists like Rembrandt and Louis Wain and collectable subjects like dogs and transportation.

Other repeat sale items guaranteed to make money over the indefinite future include greetings cards (just one design can generate a full time living spread across marketplaces other than eBay, such as Amazon and Etsy); wedding favours (there’s a bottle opener reproduced from an antique key design that’s selling several times every day as a gift for male attendants at the wedding); reproduction vintage photographs (especially topographical images, such as street scenes, which I’ve personally sold in abundance), and numerous other products alongside. 

Find repeat sale products at  Choose ‘eBay Tools’ top of the screen, then ‘eBay Most Popular Tool’ bottom right of the dropdown menu.  Next page enter a product type into the search box and GoofBid will return listings for items achieving multiple sales, sometimes thousands of sales over a couple of months.

Use some of those listings to create your own unique products based on other people’s best-selling designs but make yours better and more appealing.

*    I make a lot of my own products, things like jewellery and keyrings featuring various dog breeds, and they always sell and make a decent profit.  But twenty items is my maximum output each day and that doesn’t take into account describing and listing those items on eBay or packing and delivering them to buyers. 

Compare that to visiting art and craft fairs looking for products on display which already match those fetching regular sales and high prices on eBay and you’ll realise how anyone can buy many more items to resell than they might ever make themselves in the average working day. 

For the record, some of my highest profits have come from selling the work of local artists and craftworkers on eBay.  You’ll find fairs advertised in your local evening newspapers, usually at the weekend.

Now please go try those ideas yourself and let me know how you get on.

Time to Plan Your New Year Resolutions

New Year resolutions more or less describe things you plan to do for the first time in the early New Year or which you have already done in the past and want to do better in future.  Such as losing weight, for example, or being a better parent, starting your own business, beginning a correspondence course, and so on.

In business, resolutions might focus on developing new products and introducing innovative selling campaigns, along with performing other tasks you may have thought about in the past and didn’t develop to their maximum potential or they were dropped at the planning stage.   

So you may have enjoyed a great Christmas selling period in 2014 from products you dropped from inventory in January, 2015, and failed to restock for Christmas this year. 

Maybe you found a product other people were selling aplenty on eBay and you had an idea for making your version very different and potentially sell more units than other people are selling.  Then another product idea came along, followed by another, and another, and they all got lost in the muddle. 

Now let me suggest ways to prevent similar problems by revealing the thinking behind my own New Year resolutions and recommend ways for you to create your own plans for bigger profits and reduced workload and stress in 2016.

Here we go:

*  I’ll start by telling you about my close friend who sells on Amazon, using FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon), a process whereby he lists his products on Amazon’s site and sends goods to Amazon to take payment and fulfil orders direct to buyers. 

Having once sold exclusively on eBay, and doing very well, he decided to expand his products to Amazon where, after just a few months he says Amazon sales beat eBay by about seven sales to one every day.  More than this, using FBA he doesn’t have to pack products and submit them for delivery and he doesn’t have to deal with delivery problems or bounced payments.  Amazon does all of that for him, at a cost, but one my friend says is negligible compared to available profits. 

So my resolution is to expand my selling beyond eBay, including on Amazon and Etsy.  I’ve chosen Etsy because listings are easier and take less time to create than on eBay and feedback isn’t quite so in-your-face and damaging to a seller’s reputation than on eBay.  So I can spend less time listing similar products on Etsy than on eBay and less time worrying about negative feedback blighting my business reputation.

They’re just two of many viable and reliable selling platforms and you may find other platforms more suitable to your own requirements.  

One thing I don’t want you to do is stop selling on eBay which remains one of the most heavily visited sites of all and generates a good income for millions of sellers.  Not forgetting that eBay is the world’s biggest auction website where finishing prices can sometimes exceed all reasonable expectations.

* The 20:80 Rule, sometimes called ‘Pareto’s Theory’, suggests that, among other things, close to twenty per cent of an entrepreneur’s time is spent performing tasks that will make eighty per cent of his income and, conversely, eighty per cent of working time typically accounts for twenty per cent of income.  That suggests you could work just one-fifth (20%) of your current working week and still take home four-fifths of your current profits.  So if you normally work forty hours a week and make, say, one thousand pounds profit each week, Pareto’s Theory suggests you could make eight hundred pounds every week working just eight hours.  Or thereabouts! 

So my resolution is to determine my most profitable working hours and where I am achieving limited profits from four-fifths of my working day.  Then I’ll expand my twenty per cent of profitable tasks and reduce or eliminate proportionately lower profit tasks.

Personally, I find that vintage postcards I have cherry picked at flea markets and antiques fairs amount for the majority of my profits on eBay, while items bought at auction typically yield lower profits and demand longer hours spent listing them on eBay and fulfilling orders.  So my resolution is to spend more time and money at flea markets and antiques fairs buying vintage postcards representing subjects currently fetching the highest prices on eBay and cutting back on buying auction lots containing mainly low and medium price items.

*  A report I’ve neglected since finding it online six months or so back reveals numerous reliable statistics telling why some auctions end with higher finishing prices than others, including that bidders tend to trust PowerSellers more than ordinary sellers and that auction finishing prices tend to grow in line with a seller’s positive feedback rating.  So the more positive feedback ratings you have, the more your auctions are likely to make.

So my resolution is to grow my positive feedback rating and work very hard to avoid neutral and negative feedback and having poor feedback revised to good.

This report is an eye-opener covering more than just auction listings and the reason I haven’t read more than a snippet or two is because it’s written in statistical jargon with lots of charts requiring more than a cursory glance.  So I haven’t had time, or rather I haven’t made time to read a report I honestly believe will have a very positive effect on my eBay profits.  That is something I will correct when things slow down for me on eBay between Christmas and the middle of January.   The report is called ‘Online Auctions Efficiency: A Survey of eBay Auctions’ and you can download it at:

Don’t let the early date on that report deter you because many of the findings remain just as valid today.

*  Lack of focus is the main reason people fail on eBay and other marketplaces and it’s a problem anyone can solve with a diary and pen.  You do it like this:

-  When you find products fetching high prices and regular sales for other people, you make a note of the product in your diary, along with ideas for making the product more profitable for you than for other sellers.  Spend at least half an hour developing the product by jotting down profitable ideas from other people’s listings, comparing other people’s prices to sales ratios, and so on.  Now move forward five to ten days in your diary and place a big red asterisk top of the date allocation along with the product name and the date you researched it.  This allows several days for the product idea to ferment in your mind and present itself as a workable or not so workable idea.  If the idea still sounds good, you make the second date in your diary the day you turn your product idea into reality.