Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Make Money With Your Camera

View Avril's Kindle eBook Titles Here

Virtually anyone can make money from photography even with just a pocket camera and a roll of ordinary film. Many projects included here require no special knowledge or experience and some need only everyday photographic equipment such as most individuals and families already own.

These tips will help you get started:

*  Draw up a list of suitable projects and make notes about what to do next. List ideas, markets and venues for you to photograph. Then start one by one to develop a portfolio of profitable projects. The range of opportunities and profits is enormous and most people should easily fill their days and their bank accounts from ideas contained in this guide.

*  Take your camera with you everywhere you go. Opportunity can strike anywhere, at any time. The person who recorded Bing Crosby's fatal heart attack during a round of golf earned himself a fortune!

*  Have plenty of spare films and accessories on hand. A back-up camera is essential. Aim to offer black and white and colour photographs in respect of most promising opportunities.

* Keep your eyes and ears permanently open for profitable opportunities. Make a diary of events, deadlines, anniversaries, and so on.

*  Start an ideas book and keep it constantly updated. List ideas for markets, new projects you'd like to try, and so on.

*  Always do the best you can and remember the very best advertising comes from referrals and word-of-mouth recommendation from satisfied clients.

*  Keep on developing and improving your techniques. Attend a refresher course if necessary and keep abreast of ideas, markets and techniques gained from photographic magazines and newsletters.

*  Have a business card produced and pin it wherever prospective customers will see it: on notice boards in libraries and community centres, in shop and post office windows, in factory and office rest rooms, hospital and GP's waiting rooms, in online photographic libraries, on print on demand sites like and Café, and so on.

*  Advertise direct to your target audience. Small classified ads. in local newspapers and freesheets will attract clients for wedding and family photographs. Niche markets such as dog lover's magazines and mother and toddler publications are ideal advertising sources for portrait photographers specialising in children and pets.

*  Write to likely prospects. Local newspapers, for instance, are prime targets for photographers specialising in local events, on the scene newbreaks, profiles of local celebrities, and so on.

A Handful of Profitable Photographic Opportunities


This is the popular name for photographers who follow the personality trail, sometimes hounding Royals and politicians, television and film stars, even nine-day celebrities like football pools and lottery winners, kiss-and-tellers and dishonoured dignitaries.

Photographs of royals and celebrities sunbathing topless or scantily dressed, even just exercising, can net the opportunist thousands, sometimes millions of pounds.

Such photographs are in high demand everywhere and the world rights to one exclusive photograph can be enough to keep you in luxury for the rest of your life.  Remember, however, that risks are greater than for landscape and events photographers; so too is the pressure and public outrage you might encounter.

Keep a diary of dates and events where famous and infamous subjects might be. Study the area well and arrive early to get a good position. Always take plenty of spare film and equipment. Think how disastrous it would be to get there first, find a wonderful vantage point, aim your camera at the celebrity looking directly at you, and suddenly realise your camera isn't working. Real professionals carry two of everything, always.

National and international newspapers and magazines are your most likely, and most profitable markets for celebrities with wide appeal. For subjects to interest a small section of society, such as a local dignitary coming to open a county fair, local and regional newspapers are a market worth trying.

Working With Agencies and Photograph Libraries

This is perhaps the most rewarding and profitable category of all for the freelance to consider. Payment is good and established agency photographers can expect regular guaranteed work for several years. Agencies usually sell on commission, paying a fixed percentage back to the photographer.  Some agencies work exclusive online, some offline, many do both.

End users for pictures range from newspapers and magazines to advertising specialists, model agencies, and so on.  Hundreds of agencies and libraries operate in Britain alone, but that does not mean the market is easy to break into. It isn't and only the very best photographers will make it. When you do find an agency for your work, regular commissions are likely, and the agency will expect you to commit yourself to a long working relationship.

One successful freelance photographer writing in Freelance Writing and Photography tells how he lodges most of his pictures with libraries, leaving him free to continue taking photographs while still expecting a useful income from them. He further talks about granting restricted rights to some clients, such as postcard manufacturers, meaning he can offer the same photograph to non-competing end users. Recycling, it seems, offers high potential for the organised photographer.

Study agency requirements before submitting. Send only your very best work samples, not photographs others have refused. Photographs must be clear, bright and sharp. Perfect, in fact. Stick to the exact specifications for your target market: subject, size of print, type, number, colour/black and white, and so on. Don't send one or two photographs to an agency then sit back and wait for the profits. It doesn't work like that. Most agencies want literally hundreds of photos before accepting you onto their books.

Postcards, Greetings Cards and Calendars

Take a look in any good newsagent or large book shop and you'll see hundreds of cards, posters, calendars, and other items decorated with photographs of all shapes and sizes. Most are taken by freelance photographers and submitted to manufacturers of the products.  If you decide to do photography for this sector, decide whether to produce the items yourself or to send photographs 'on spec' to established publishers.

If you work alone look for likely outlets among gift shops, newsagents, souvenir shops, art galleries, hotels, tourist information centres, and so on. Offer a commission on all items sold through them.  Quality is of the highest standard, making this a tough market to break into. More than this, careful market study is what distinguishes the successful photographer from the also-ran You must know exactly what your target market requires and make sure you offer them nothing less.  Competition is fairly tough in a sector where rewards can also be very high.

One very successful photographer specialising in postcards reports high earnings from taking, making and marketing cards himself, without involving shops and other distributors. He says marketing is the key to success, emphasising that it's pointless to be able to take great photographs for postcards everyone wants to buy if no-one knows where to get them from. He tells us, no surprise, that most postcards are purchased by tourists and holiday-makers and says the real business of selling should be through shops and retailers in popular tourist areas. Our subject began by studying popular tourist areas, including London and York, where he looked at cards already on sale in these areas, noting which sights were most popular, what photographic techniques seemed most common, whether black and white or colour was the order of the day, and so on.

Then he took some photographs himself, based on the findings of his market research. He began by shooting popular subjects from unusual angles and trying to create other things different about his pictures. He markets his work through traditional retailers offering cards on a sale or return basis and returning regularly to replenish stocks, take his earnings, and maybe add new pictures to the range.

Find useful contacts in Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and place your images on print on demand sites like Zazzle and Café Press where greetings cards are popular sellers.

Travel Photography

Fancy being able to travel the world, almost free of charge? Even better, how would you like to be certain that every holiday and trip you take from now on is going to earn you money, not cost you?

Anyone who likes to travel, preferably to unusual, faraway places, can take photographs of scenes, people and events to interest countless end users, including editors of magazines and newspapers, photograph libraries, restaurant owners and hoteliers, and many, many more.

More than this, did you know you can even finance your trips in advance and generate a lot of spending money by liming up clients for your work before you embark on your journey? You didn't? Well, do we have news for you!

Offer articles to accompany the photographs you take and the world truly is your oyster. Alternatively, how about collaborating with a freelance writer and planning worldwide trips from which you can both earn high profits, as well as getting to see something of the world as you go? As a travel photographer there's virtually no part of the world you'll be precluded from visiting, however remote or uninviting. Naturally, you will want to visit places that interest you, however, as well as generating plenty of photographs for clients.

Remember that not everyone likes being photographed, sometimes for cultural, religious or superstitious reasons. Always ask permission first.  In some countries it is absolutely forbidden to take photographs of military installations, docks, airports, religious shrines, and numerous other sites. Make sure you know in advance what you can and can not photograph. Ask tourist offices or buy a selection of good travel guides.

Markets are truly plentiful coming from all sections of industry, business and commerce. For the main part, travel articles and photographs sell to local and national newspapers and magazines, as well as to publishers of travel books and periodicals, and firms with general or specific interests in the country or countries you visit.  But many other markets await you, such as restaurant owners interested in popular overseas menus and dishes, businesses needing information about their foreign competitors, even writers needing photographs to accompany their own work, and so on.  There are many publishers, in Britain and abroad, whose main interest lies in travel and travel-related themes. Refer to Writers' and Artists' Yearbook for a comprehensive listing.

Specialise in Local Events

Local events are popular with everyone, young and old. Photographs of the occasion also have very wide appeal, to participants and others keen to report on the event, such as newspapers and magazines, even schools newsletters and trade journals, depending on individual circumstances.  There's scope for anyone adept at taking action photographs to earn a useful income purely from photographing at these events.  Try visiting a few local events with a view to taking and submitting photographs to appropriate magazines and freesheets. Alternatively, take photographs of visitors and participants which you can offer to send when developed in return for a small deposit paid in advance.  For venues, consider: school sports days, gymkhanas, cross-country events, rallies and exhibitions, and so on.  If you are good, local newspapers might ask you to cover local events exclusively for them. Send a few sample photographs to local editors. Visit local tourist information boards for details of forthcoming events and keep your eyes open on the 'What's On' columns of local and regional newspapers.


This is another potentially insatiable and very profitable market for photographers, especially if unusual end products are offered like jigsaws, photographs glazed onto china, Christmas and greetings cards, and so on.  Advertise in pet shops, shop and post office windows, through advertisements in local newspapers, at dog shows and obedience training classes, in pet lovers' magazines, etc.  Alternatively, turn up at dog, animal and agricultural shows, where you might work to commission. Ask a deposit for photographs you will later post to clients with an invoice for the remainder due. Horses, pigeon and bird shows offer similar opportunities.

Images of pets and other domestic animals appear on many bestselling items at print on demand sites like Zazzle and Café Press.


Children represent a very lucrative market indeed, whether you work to commission or set yourself up in schools and supermarkets where customers approach you direct. You can offer your services at swimming clubs and galas, school plays, mother and toddler clubs, soft play sessions in sports and leisure centres, etc. Another very profitable option is birthday parties and family celebrations.

When working in schools, it's always a good idea to give a donation to the school in return for a ready welcome next year. Many people think photographing children at school is unnatural, mothers having dressed them up for the occasion, meaning the whole thing is manufactured and false. That said, however, most parents disagree, believing up-market professional images from you will compensate for a preponderance of their own pictures of scruffy, badly-behaved, 'won't sit still for their parents' children. Professional photographers always seem to bring out the best in their subjects, producing pictures, which although stage-managed, usually seem to present children at their best.

Keep accurate records about schools, classes, groups of children to be photographed together, and so on. Always take a brush and comb, disposable ones if possible, to tidy up your subjects. Background is essential, comprising a velvet curtain or other self-coloured material, but nothing too bright or patterned. Good lighting and flash equipment is vital.

For larger jobs like this, check round local photographic firms to get the best rate for high-volume developing.  A regular mailshot about your service to schools in your area should keep you fully booked for months ahead.

Special Events Photography

Visit well-populated events such as: craft shows, antiques roadshows, leek championships, gardening competitions, art and craft shows, sports events, and so on, offering to take photographs of the winners and others on commission. Distribute cards to visitors and take a deposit with the remainder payable on receipt of the photographs. Contact organisers and ask permission to attend the event, if needed, in return for a share in the proceeds.

Most tourist information boards hand out lists of future events in their area. Better still, most offices have addresses of other boards throughout Britain, meaning you could plan your entire year travelling to events all over the country.

Readers' Letters Pages and Filler Markets

This may seem a relatively lowly opening for the experienced photographer but it's actually a market to which many very well-paid photographers, and writers, exploit during their spare time or when more lucrative longer assignments are at a premium.

It can, in fact, represent a very lucrative opening for anyone who takes time to study the exact requirements of the many magazines and newspapers requiring photographs (sometimes with accompanying captions or letters) for their readers' letters and fillers pages. Rewards range from a token pen or stationery set, to high prize and cash awards.

Notice whether editors prefer particular subjects, say dogs or children, landscapes, and such and if a caption typically accompanies the photograph.  Then focus your work on fulfilling editors' and publishers' exact needs.

Keep an eye open for highly popular silly shop signs and names, odd signs on the highway, ambiguous notices, endearing animals and children, and anything unusual or related specifically to your target magazine.

Obtain a few back issues of target magazines and study the photographs they contain. And, remember, you don't have to wait for unusual or interesting things to happen, you can always set them up for yourself.

Aerial Photography

Aerial photography is popular with householders, business and government organisations alike and is simply a case of researching possible clients for aerial shots of homes, business and government premises and expecting to sell a high proportion of pictures taken. Cost of taking pictures is low and potential sales particularly high.  Your role is simply to hire a plane with pilot, organise the flight path, and take photographs on route.

If you can, line up buyers in advance, for commissions photographs, request an upfront deposit which can be used to finance cost of aeroplane, photographic equipment, and whatever photographic and flying assistance is necessary.

When commissioned photographs have been fulfilled and payment received, sell other items door-to-door or offer via advertisements in local and regional newspapers as well as from advertisements in shop and post office windows.  Don't forget to offer sales on commission through retailers, estate agents, tourist shops, and other potential high street shops and offices.

Offer a Range of More Exotic and Elaborate Photographic Albums for Traders

For example, take ornate photographs of cakes and gourmet dishes, items the company may produce very rarely, but still wish to have some means of displaying to clients, in this case photographically.  Likely clients include confectioners, bakers, cake decorators, wedding cake specialists, caterers and restaurants.  Visit prospects in person or by mail but always with a few sample photographs from earlier clients.

Offer to Restore, Touch Up or Re-Photograph Old, Faded, Torn or Damaged Pictures

Earlier photographs were far less durable than today digital versions.  They fade fast, damage quickly, and in just a few decades few physical memories remain of the subject.  However, using today's technology, a great many of those earlier specimens can be darkened, re--photographed and restored to near-original quality.  Either offer to restore old photos to resemble their modern day counterparts, or produce an authentic sepia-toned type.  Advertise in local and national newspapers, photographic journals and newsletters, via postcard and ephemera collectors' magazines, and personally at postcard clubs, genealogy groups, and so on.

Visit Well-Populated Events

The lies of craft shows, antiques roadshows, leek growing championships and gardening competitions, art and craft fairs, sports events and more.  Offer to take photographs of winners and anyone else who commissions you to depict them and their creations.  Hand out business cards in case anyone later decides they'd like a memento, too.  Contact organisers of such events and request permission to attend.  You may have to pay a stall fee or sometimes you'll be asked to offer a fixed share of the taking back t organisers.  Either way, it can be a great way to make money fast.

Take Photographs of Children Visiting Santa's Grotto

You can charge customers or else ask organisers, normally shops, to sponsor you.  Sell you idea to stores as a means of generating after-Christmas custom, typically by taking photographs and a deposit on the day and giving customers a date on which to return for the finished photographs. Evidence suggests that most customers return for their photographs and therefore bring increase custom to the store.  A great selling point for retailers!

Offer to Glaze Photographs onto Plates and Other Items of China

You don't necessarily have to take photographs yourself, customers can bring their own, but it helps further your career and profits as a five minute photographer so aim to cover the whole spectrum.  Advertise in publications or take a booth at shows and fairs, alternatively arrange to operate from space in another firms' premises, say a high street store or market hall.  Suitable glazing materials and equipment can be obtained on eBay and other online marketplaces.

Turn Photographs Into Jigsaws or Table Mats, Wall Prints, and Other Popular Novelty Items

You can take photographs at various events or using pictures taken in the course of other of your business ventures, by offering clients the chance to have ordinary photographic prints transformed into collectible novelty goods.

Market by direct mail or via stands at fairs and markets, exhibitions and special events.  You might also take photographs on the day and arrange the transfer process later.  

ly, or as well as, upload your images to print on demand sites offering hundreds of different product types.  The best include Zazzle and Café Press.

Start a Line of Reproduction Prints of Old Photographic Street Scenes and Special Events

Nostalgia is big business and most people, though they can not afford the hefty prices asked for original photographs (sometimes running into hundreds of pounds) are keen to obtain copies for souvenirs or decorative purposes.  We recently purchased and reproduced photographs of the Titanic to coincide, very profitably, with the film and intense media interest of anything related to the ill-fated liner.    Photographs can be purchased as original or reproduction postcards at postcard, ephemera and collectors' fairs (be careful not to breach copyright) and can easily be re-photographed or scanned as computer printouts.  They will just as easily sell in high volume door-to-door, through retail shops and souvenir outlets, at craft fairs, or by direct mail to likely buyers.

Reproduction views sell particularly well on eBay and Amazon, as well as on products at print on demand sites like Zazzle and Café Press.

Tourist Spot Photography

Install your camera at some busy tourist spot and take pictures of visitors, with or without their prior approval, but be careful not to breach convention and social codes.  Approach subjects and request a deposit against later fulfilment of finished photographs.   

Friday, June 16, 2017

Sample Chapters and How They Send Your eBook Sales Soaring

The idea you’ll read about now represents one of the easiest ways to grow a business, and make regular profits, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re promoting eBooks you’ve written yourself or had someone else write them for you. 

You are going to give a free sample of your product in a way that generates more sales than where people have to pay up front for your product.  

Before we look at how this works, let us consider the way most publishers tend to operate, namely by placing an advertisement for their product, in an ezine, for example, or using Google AdWords, and inviting potential buyers to visit their website.  Advertising this way can be inordinately expensive and not always as cost effective or as profitable as the sample chapter technique we talk about today.

Here’s a clue to what usually happens after those other publishers have placed their advertisements …..

….. most potential buyers will visit the website, scan the marketing message, then close the sales page rather than make an immediate decision to buy.
It’s a fact.

That’s usually because people, especially newcomers to the Internet, are skeptical about placing orders online.  They fear they’ll be scammed, they’re concerned about personal information and credit card details being stolen or passed on for others to use.

New internet users and old hands alike also worry about not liking what they receive, or finding it unsuitable for their needs, and subsequently being refused or unable to claim a refund.

So if you’re selling eBooks, regardless of their subject, there’s a good chance at least some of your target audience, even people desperate for the information your eBook contains, might never purchase your product.   

That’s because:

-  Unless they’ve bought from you already, most people have no reason to trust you or your writing abilities.  They don’t know if you are a liar or a cheat or a very genuine seller.  They don’t know if your eBook is total hogwash or packed with useful advice.

-  They may have read your sales letter, and they think your product could benefit them, but they’re really not sure, and if your eBook fails to live up to its promise, they worry they won’t get their money back.

So what can you do to calm people’s fears; how can you avoid restricting your sales by at least fifty per cent and maybe a great deal more?

One way, and perhaps the most effective way, is by giving a free sample chapter of your product!

Introducing the ‘Sample Chapter’ Technique

A ‘sample chapter’, by definition, is usually one chapter from a publication containing several chapters.  The chapter will probably be provided intact, exactly as it appears in the product from which it came.  It might be the first chapter of the eBook; it may be the last; it could be any chapter in between. 

However, ‘sample chapter’ is sometimes used, erroneously so, as an umbrella term to describe random samples of text and images from the product, or a compilation of the first few hundred words from every chapter.

Sometimes the term ‘sample chapter’ refers, again wrongly so, to a special report bearing no similarity to the main product and merely describing and referring to the product from which it is taken.

The last two paragraphs refer to samples best described as ‘sales letters’.  And that is not what we are talking about today, although our sample chapters will in fact do a much better job of selling the full length product than almost any sales letter ever can.
And that is why I personally think a sample chapter should be an actual chapter - complete and unchanged - taken from the main product. 

Very Important: I always use chapter one and I always make that chapter a kind of sales letter containing lots of cryptic messages that make people curious, sufficiently so to buy my eBook.  Then once the first chapter and identical sample chapter make people curious and get them to purchase the full product, the remainder of the book from the second chapter onwards has to be shaped to match promises made in chapter one.

Alongside making people curious, the sample chapter technique helps overcome initial skepticism about you and your product, as well as getting people to join your mailing list instead of leaving your site empty handed.

Once people join your list to download a free report you can continue marketing to those people for as long as they remain on your list
There is no easier way to make money online!

Confession Time!

I’ve many times created sample chapters and gone on to sell my products with amazing success.  And I’m convinced the reason I have been so successful is that I’ve always created my websites and sample chapters LONG BEFORE I even start work on creating their finished products.
The reason is, if people don’t want my sample chapter, they’re unlikely to want the full length version of my product.  So offering a sample chapter is merely a way of testing the market for a new information product in advance of spending time, money and effort creating a product that proves less successful than you hoped.

Obviously, you can’t invite orders for a product that isn’t already in existence, but you can offer the sample chapter with a mention about a potential full length version being available in the near future.  But in this case you don’t ask potential buyers to click on a link inside your sample chapter.  Instead you email them when the finished product is available to buy.  When that time comes, you withdraw the test marketing sample chapter and replace it with another containing links to buy your full length product.

Creating the Perfect Sample Chapter

I usually begin by studying other people’s sales letters for products resembling the one I want to create.  I’m particularly looking for websites for products I know are generating lots of orders, at ClickBank, for example, or Amazon, and generating the most interest from affiliates at the site.  For obvious reasons, I don’t want to research sales pages for products that don’t sell particularly well and for which affiliates are also thin on the ground.

What I want is proof my proposed new eBook could make lots of money for me, before I even start writing it, and what better way to do that than by studying eBooks on similar subjects which are already proven bestsellers? 

When I find those eBooks, and their sales letters, usually from studying ‘popularity’ and ‘gravity’ figures at ClickBank (my preferred selling site), each of which indicates the product’s success rate with readers and affiliates, respectively, I study their sales pages in very fine detail. 

I’m also looking for order pulling words and phrases, attention-grabbing symbols and images, fear defeating promises and guarantees, and whatever other techniques are used to make people curious and desperate to purchase the full length eBook. 

This element of creating excitement and curiosity from a website, while preserving some mystery about the eBook’s contents, is one of the most powerful ways to generate orders.  It’s sometimes called ‘blind selling’ and it’s a way of getting people to purchase based on curiosity created by the sales message. 

Blind selling is just one of several techniques that turn a sample chapter into a major order-pulling device for you and for me. 

During my research I take written notes and make screenshot copies of the most attractive features of each of my chosen websites for eBooks similar to the one I want to create.  Sometimes I also take ideas from blog postings, articles and email promotions for those proven bestselling eBooks. 

Important: Although we are talking about sample chapters here, this technique of ‘stealing’ ideas from other people selling similar items can also be used to create your own website sales message.  In fact, many writers and publishers, including myself, create a website identical to the sample chapter for their forthcoming eBook.  And many people, again including myself, use that sample chapter as the first chapter of their finished information product.

How is that for killing three birds with one stone?

Very Important Indeed: Whatever content is acquired from other people must be suitably rewritten and use only ideas and concepts belonging to other writers and publishers, not their actual wording and images.  That’s because ideas are not copyright protected, so you can copy ideas as long as no trademark or privacy or other legal rules are broken.  But words and images used to convey those ideas are copyright protected and must not be used by others for gain.

When I’m happy with whatever ideas I’ve gained from other people’s websites and promotional materials, and sometimes by purchasing currently successful titles on subjects similar to my own, I begin writing my sales letter which also forms my sample chapter and first chapter of my book.   By converting all those other people’s ideas - one by one - into my own words and images I’m never likely to copy another person’s ideas too closely.  

Ultimately, my eBook’s sample chapter, and website, and the first chapter of my finished product, will be as enticing and thought provoking as the sites from which they came, and will include all the mystery elements from other people’s incredibly successful promotional materials. 

But unlike most of those other websites, mine will offer a sample of the product to lift sales of my eBook above competing products. 

In short, my eBook should ultimately become more successful than those from which my early ideas derived.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Do You Sell Internationally on eBay? And Why - Sometimes - I Recommend You Don’t!

The benefits of selling your products worldwide are obvious, the disadvantages much less so.

Sell internationally and you’ll target more buyers and increase your sales and profits, as well as maximising the number of people likely to buy from you again outside of eBay and so grow your future profits and minimise your selling costs.

Just perfect!

Or not, as the case might be, because selling internationally is a major source of frustration and loss of profits for some sellers.  Me included.

Putting things into perspective, it isn’t all overseas buyers who cause sellers sleepless nights.  For many of us in the UK, the biggest problem is overseas buyers who don’t understand the English language and are not prepared to use a reliable translation tool to make sure they know what your product is and how it works and whatever else a savvy buyer needs to know. 

So they buy a product having an English language eBay title and description and send back a SNAD complaint - product ‘Significantly Not As Described’ - and claim a refund and force you to send money in advance to pay for your item to be returned.  They know the fact they live outside the UK makes it unlikely you will retaliate when your product doesn’t come back. 

The question is how do those people know the product is significantly not as described when they do not understand the language used in your listing?  And that being so, why does eBay almost always find in their favour?

Those people won’t always be wrong and some will deserve a refund, but many will be using their place of residence to defraud overseas sellers and some will be too lazy to interpret foreign language listings because they know eBay is likely to support their complaints and force sellers to refund.

I’m not alone in my belief that selling overseas should be a last resort - even for countries matching the seller’s own language - and only offered for products that belong naturally in some other country, such as antiques emanating from a specific country and likely to attract higher prices from buyers in that location.  Vintage view postcards, for example, my own particular specialty, invariably attract more bidders and higher prices from collectors in whatever countries they depict.  Sadly, and call me a coward if you like, but I’ve given up buying items more likely to sell overseas - in English and non-English speaking countries - and focus instead on targeting UK only buyers.  That’s entirely because I’ve had it up to the eyeballs with overseas buyers failing to return my goods and forcing a refund through eBay or sending me empty packages purporting to contain my goods because I’m unlikely to sue them for damages outside the UK.

Now, good or bad, eBay has introduced a tool to translate listings to suit overseas sites, as already happens at Etsy, but which Ina Steiner of eCommerce Bytes - - suggests might ‘increase the incidence of misunderstandings and claims.’  Her views are supported by numerous other eBay researchers I studied today.

In an eCommerce Bytes forum populated by eBay sellers in mainly English-speaking countries, I found numerous people who agree with Ms. Steiner that eBay’s new tool may generate more problems than solutions. 

As one forum member puts it: ‘It’s bad enough the bozos (Avril: I think this means all eBay buyers) here don’t read a description and I can’t imagine what kind of translation eBay is giving the foreigners’. 

Numerous other forum members complain about translations currently offered by eBay causing messages to be distorted or end up antagonising or insulting their recipients.

A major fear is that common and uncommon terms used in one language may be translated incorrectly or have various alternative meanings in other countries, as explained at:, where you will read that:

‘In German, the word gift is not quite as pleasant as in English - it means poison! And gift in Scandinavian can mean both poison and marriage.’


‘Kiss has a more juvenile meaning in Swedish - pee.’

So should you or should you not sell internationally on eBay, or might you instead focus on UK only sales and possibly all countries using English as their main language?

These tips will help you decide:

*  Choose from:

-  Sell worldwide.  Recognise and anticipate communications problems and do your best to prevent them.  Something like this in your descriptions might help:

‘Please note I am based in the United Kingdom and my titles and descriptions created in English may have been translated by eBay into wording more appropriate to buyers outside the UK.’   This alerts foreign language speakers to go easy on messages that might otherwise raise their hackles. 

-   Sell only in the UK or in the UK along with some or all other mainly English-speaking countries, especially for products likely to attract bigger profits outside the UK.  You’ll suffer fewer communications problems but be prepared for some long distance frustrations, such as having to refund buyers who retain your possessions.

You can set your eBay listings to avoid selling in certain countries, due to communications problems, for example, or because certain goods are illegal in some locations, such as alcohol in many middle eastern countries, or because delivery can’t be properly tracked or you’ve encountered more problem buyers in some areas than others.  The place to do so is inside your eBay listings where it says ‘Post to’, at which point you highlight locations you want to avoid.

*  Problem translations typically present themselves when eBay turns its own foreign translation back into the seller’s language, or as one eCommerce forum member put it ‘I can spot the buyers who don’t speak English from the appalling translations eBay offers up.’ 

When that happens, the same seller suggests using Google’s translation tool, apparently much more efficient than eBay’s, to write a response in the seller’s own language which Google then translates into the buyer’s main language.  This person warns against using slang terms and words with more than one meaning - such as build (to make, physique), bypass (to ignore, an alternative route), and so on. 

Sellers should then copy Google’s foreign language version and translate it back into their own language and edit ambiguities and misleading words and phrases.

You’ll find Google’s translation tool at:

*  Focus exclusively on products likely to sell fast and attract good prices in the UK and having no obvious superior alternative marketplace.  That way you should almost always speak the same language as most of your potential buyers.  For me, that means selling postcards depicting locations in the UK and avoiding all overseas topographical areas. 

In the end, however, the choice is yours, and you may not be deterred by problems not of your own making.  But someone like me who lets minor problems ruin their entire day might use one or more of those tips to circumvent the problem just mentioned.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Buy at Police Auctions and Resell on eBay

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Police auctions are a prolific source of goods that have been lost or more commonly stolen and have not been subsequently reclaimed. 

Most goods sold by the police are auctioned in local high street salerooms and promoted in the local press approximately seven to ten days before the sale.  Some amazing bargains are possible with many lots fetching around ten per cent of their possible resale value.  Goods are usually auctioned without reserve and sold to the highest bidder. 

The fact they are poorly advertised explains why few people know about police auctions and why some lots sell at a pittance and generate high profit margins on eBay.

However, you won’t find rare antiques and high class jewellery selling at most police auctions or stored in a dirty garage waiting to be reclaimed.  Expensive items are usually stored in bank vaults or in high security lock ups and displayed on police websites until their owners are found.  Valuable items are never sold off cheap!

Because many goods have been confiscated from criminals, you won’t be surprised to see police auction lots matching items commonly targeted by thieves, such as computers and jewellery, garden furniture and spare parts from cars.  Lost items are typically the kind of things people leave on buses and trains, or in parks and nightclubs, for example, and include the likes of umbrellas and purses (without money inside them), costume jewellery and toys. 

So you’re likely to find mainly low value items selling at police auctions, with market value ranging from a fiver or so to a few hundred pounds. 

Low value they might be, but for many resellers police auctions represent the bulk of their sales, including on eBay.

Now you know how they work, let us talk about turning police auctions into a profitable source of goods for your eBay business. 

These tips will help:

1.  Learn about police auctions in your area.  You’ll find them by contacting high street auctioneers listed in local telephone directories and asking if they organise sales on behalf of the police.  Write down phone numbers for auctioneers performing police auctions and telephone every few weeks for information about scheduled sales and others held at short notice.

2.  Ask to be placed on police auctioneers’ mailing lists for information about forthcoming sales.  Give saleroom staff your telephone number, as well as your email and street address.  This is because some auctioneers send details by email or telephone and others send their catalogues by post. 

3.  Make a note in your diary about auction dates and where sales will be held.  Telephone auctioneers a few days before the sale to check for changes to date or location, and to make sure items you want to buy have not been removed from the sale.

4.  Do not bid on items you have not inspected beforehand.  Many times faults and blemishes are hidden behind other auction lots, or camouflaged with lot number stickers, and you could end up buying something that looks good in the catalogue but is badly damaged and unsuitable for reselling later.

5.  Find out when viewing day is and arrive in good time to inspect lots from all angles.  The best time to view is the day before the sale or an hour before the auction begins, preferably both.  Last minute viewing will reveal damage caused to goods part way through the viewing period, as well as highlighting lots withdrawn from the sale but still showing up in the catalogue.

6.  Study the auctioneer’s terms and conditions; you’ll find them in the catalogue and displayed on a wall in the saleroom.  Many salerooms require intending bidders to register before the sale and some charge a small registration fee to deter time-wasters.  The fee is usually refundable against winning bids.

7.  Check what the rules say about paying, namely when payment is due and by what method.  Take plenty of cash because manyI will leave it as it is but there were some unusual things in. Like a silver thimble. I was think about making it £265. xx salerooms lack merchant facilities, and some salerooms refuse to hand over goods until cheques have cleared.   

Big problem: waiting seven to ten days for cheque to clear gives plenty of time for your goods to be damaged in storage, and auction companies are not obliged to compensate you for breakages or loss.

See if any constabularies in your area promote their own sales by keying something like ‘police auction Durham’ into the search box at

Note: Do not pay to join sites offering information about police auctions until you have tried locating that information by yourself.  Many of those sites offer a very reliable service, at low cost, but some services are over-priced and sometimes out-of-date.  Try searching for yourself and making notes about websites listing police auction dates free of charge.   Do a search for ‘police auctions free information’ and you’ll find all the information you’ll ever need to make police auctions you main product buying source.  A similar search today took me to free information and links to sites detailing police auctions.