Having a lot of interests, I accumulate a lot of stuff. I decided to sell some of my surplus stuff on line. I started first with eBay. Doesn't everyone? I gathered up a collection of all kinds of things - sewing patterns and books and magazines as well as Golliwog dolls which are popular with British ex-expatriates and Australians.
I did fairly well with the books on eBay. Then, I got more professional and moved my book stock to an operation called AbeBooks online. They had a wonderful down-loadable, catalogue-utility program where I could plug in the ISBN number. That's important for selling books. Every modern book has an ISBN number. I typed in in the other details, such as the condition of the book, and uploaded my listing. People looking for a book can do a search on Abebook online and, if you have the book on the topic searched for, it will show up on the website listing showing its details, condition and all other pertinent data.
In one phase of my existence I was accumulating occult books and I had quite a few of them. In Rosedale, which is a high income neighbourhood in Toronto, someone put out boxes and boxes of books at the curb. One of my relatives grabbed them for me and hauled them over to my place. I catalogued them all in preparation for sale.
My sister reads a lot of mysteries so I ended up with quite a mystery-novel collection.
I was selling off parts of my own book collection too because my shelves were groaning with books. I had books I had acquired and books I no longer needed, so I started selling them. I met a lot of interesting people thhis way. These were simple transactions. You want it. I've got it. You buy it I mail it. I used PayPal, of course. Credit card transactions through PayPal are a mainstay of online selling.
I should emphasize that, in selling online, the most important thing is honesty. You have to be scrupulously exact in describing what you are selling.
I bought a little postal weighing machine on eBay, so I wouldn't have to go to the Post Office. I'd just set my item on the little scale, then calculate the postage from the Post Office tables on line.
I got a postage meter, which was a bit of overkill, but I also sell CDs online for an entertainment group, so I needed to have the postage meter for that. Now, I just use the excellent Canada Post Internet utility called Ship-In-A-Click.
Between eBay and AbeBooks I did about $2,000.00 worth of business one year. A fair amount of work went into setting up listings, especially on eBay. There, you need a picture and a description and you have to categorize it and state the time frame of the auction and so forth. You have to decide on a price that will attract eBay buyers, because they are all bargain hunters on eBay. You set your initial price not too high and not too low. Then, you wait to see if the fish will nibble at the bait.
In the beginning I was looking all the time to see who was hitting on my auctions, not bids but traffic, which would show up in the counter I had on my listing. Then, I found out that counters made for slower load times. People's attention span on the web is remarkably short, so the less load time it takes to bring up a webpage the better. You don't really need to know who's looking. You only need to know who's bidding. If you have a lot of listings, eBay has good online software to handle and keep track of all of them.
I had a lot of cloth-doll patterns I was no longer using. The named-designer patterns went very well. The occult books, too, went very well. There was reproduction item of Crowleyana that was sold to a fellow in Florida. I think he ran a bookstore. They were having a heavy-weather event there. This was just before Hurricane Katrina and everything was flooded and discombobulated. I was just about to cancel that auction, because it was taking too long for him to pay, when a desperate note came from his friend's computer in another State saying, "Hold on! As soon as the water goes down he's going to pay you!" and he did. He certainly did.
If I was going to give tips for selling on eBay I would say, have a very clear picture of the item and work on your description and your key words. Your title is really important because it's a grabber. Sometimes that's all they really see. Research the pricing, so your item is placed not too low and not too high. If someone else is selling the same thing in the same frame of time, you might want to hold off, or you could price your item a bit lower. Pennies count.
I learned while selling books that the most off-beat thing, like mountain climbing in Peru, will have a niche audience. A little pamphlet about an obscure automobile with cartoons, published by the company that made it years ago, has someone wanting it because they are a collector. You can look up prices on the Internet to get an approximate worth for your item. The auto pamphlet went to someone in a museum in New Zealand. That's the other thing. You are selling globally. I sold a fair amount to the Far East, to Australia and, as mentioned, New Zealand. I sell primarily into the United States and Canada, where I live, but I have sold to Britain and to France, parts of Scandinavia, to Holland and so forth.
It's quite exciting when you send your parcel off into the ether. Postal services are quite wonderful. It continues to be amazing to me how a parcel sent from my corner mailbox can safely arrive in France.
That's my story about selling on line. Basically, anyone can do it, if you just have the patience to list stuff in the Abebooks database or on eBay, each in their own special fashion.
It was fun while it lasted but I'm burnt out now and I'm not going to do it any more. I've got over 600 positive responses (called Feedback) on eBay, with no negative Feedback on my record. I'm proud of that but, like I say, "Game over."
I still buy on eBay and on Abebooks. There's stuff you can get there you can't get anyplace else.
© Sonia Brock 2006