I love eBay. I love buying on eBay. I love selling on eBay. I love browsing eBay. I love sneaking in eBay at work. I love looking for silly stuff on eBay. I love wasting time on eBay. I love designing auctions and creating descriptions on eBay. I love making money on eBay.
It is that last one that I have been spending much time and interest in lately. And to that end I have picked up a great book by Skip McGrath, entitled Titanium EBay.
Titanium is the top level of eBay power seller. A power seller is someone who sells a certain amount of stuff on eBay…the bottom level is brownse-$1000 a month. Once you have sold $1000 worth of stuff on eBay for three consecutive months and met the other requirements (account in good standing a descent feedback score, etc) then eBay invites you into the Power Seller Program. This doesn’t mean that they have profited $1000, just moved that amount of stuff on eBay within a 30-day period for at least 3 consecutive periods. If one is at the Titanium level then they are selling over $150,000 A MONTH on eBay! Basically you are an eBay Rock Star! There really are Titanium Power Sellers out there!
Titanium EBay is written to teach how to be an eBay rock star! It really is a great book. It covers all of the basics-getting officially organized as a business, how to sell something on eBay and where to find stuff to sell on eBay and how to sell stuff more efficiently on and off of eBay. It talks about business management, financing and organization. The not-so-basic is how McGrath simply explains the ins and outs of those subjects.
I have been thinking about officially getting organized (in the IRS sense) as a business for some time. But I thought it was expensive and complicated; I was very intimidated! But McGrath explains the process in plain English and it turns out it is fairly simple and not too expensive! Chapter 3 is dedicated to the different types of businesses-how businesses can be organized. Chapter 4 talks about local business licensing, federal tax ID numbers, state sales tax numbers, and talks about employee taxes. The author even provides links to download forms for organizing businesses. I printed out several forms and have been carrying them folded up in the book!
The book gives you very simple and powerful tips and tricks to sell on eBay. Much attention is given to researching products to sell on eBay. In my opinion this is one of the most important subjects of the book. My problem of late is not finding a source from which to buy products to sell, but which of those products will actually turn a profit on eBay, which ones will sell! McGrath goes into great detail about the different methods to research the salability of a product. He talks about life-cycles of a product. And even how to track products that have sold through eBay.
My other problem of late has been finding stuff to sell on eBay at a cheaper price! McGrath spends much time addressing this as well. In my opinion this is the other most important part of the book! One of the best quotes from the book:
There are four levels of wholesale distribution: manufacturer, importer,
distributor, and middleman. The closer you can get to the manufacturer the less
your product will cost. Never buy from the last level, the middleman. It is
virtually impossible to make money.
So of course I currently have access to a middleman. But after reading Part 3: Product Acquisition, I have a much better knowledge about finding products at a cheaper price.
I discovered that there is a whole lot that I am doing right on eBay and a whole lot that I already knew about. For instance, using auctions to promote store items and using the “About Me” page to promote an Internet web store (off eBay). It is a pretty cool feeling to know that I am on the right track. But there are many things that I learned and can’t wait to implement.
One thing that I did not know before reading the book and did not wait to implement was almost worth the price of the book: How to extend an auction from the normal 7 or 10 days to 26 days! This was almost worth the price of the book. Almost because eBay changed their policy! So this trick no longer works. I lost some money figuring that one out, over $100.00.
Which brings me to a big disappointment: The author directs you to his website where there should be a section devoted to those that have bought this book, his book; a sort of community. I was hoping for updates, corrections, or expanded explanation, maybe questions submitted by readers or a blog. But if you go to that address www.skipmcgrath.com/titanium the only thing you will see is “UNDER CONSTRUCTION”. I have been checking for about a month with the same results. The book has a copyright date of 2005, plenty of time to have SOMETHING up and running. I contacted Mr. McGrath and he responded to this issue, he had requested a Titanium site from his web server and they merely hadn’t put it up-they forgot (or made it a low priority) and no one had ever brought the issue to his attention, he promised that the site should be up in a day or two of our correspondence. The site should be up and running at the time this is initially posted. On a related note I was very impressed that the author took time out of his busy schedule to not only reply to my email, but respond to my specific issues and to correspond with me, thank you sir.
Automation is another huge issue that is addressed in the book. With the right tools one can automate most of the selling and buying process. There are many tools out there that will help you post many auctions or store items in large quantities. For instance, you can post 100 or even 1000 items at once. The more auctions the merrier right, more money to be made. But this brings a whole new problem: WHAT IF THEY ALL SELL?! How are you gonna handle that many orders? Again, automation is the answer.
With the tools mentioned in Titanium EBay one can easily impliment automation. An initial automated email from the seller indicating that the buyer has won an item. An automated email from the seller acknowledging payment has been received. Automated feedback. An automated email to the seller specifying what items need to be shipped and to where! An automated email from the seller verifying that the item has been shipped and maybe providing a tracking number. An automated follow-up email asking the buyer to provide feedback or asking them if they are satisfied. Customized up sells can also be provided at every level of the correspondence directing buyers back to an item you are selling on eBay or, better yet, directing them to your personal website where they can place an order. Automation solutions to automated postings. AWESOME!
I would have liked for the author to go just a little deeper concerning how one might “connect’ up with eBay. For instance, one of the things I would like to learn how to do is integrate my website with eBay’s so that I can automate myself. I would like to use my own code to interface with eBay and implement automation.
For instance I would like to create my website so that I can provide feedback automatically to an eBay customer; use the website that I am helping design so that MY website can automatically give an auction winner the appropriate feedback. I know it can be done; the author lists many services that are already doing it. Instead the author directs you to a myriad of services who have already figured out how to integrate with eBay. He could have, at the very least, pointed in the general direction. But the author lists many websites and programs that are available for folks to automate certain facets of their business operations. I contacted Mr. McGrath and he responded to this issue, it is possible to integrate with eBay, but that I would have to become an “eBay Certified Solutions Provider” and that “costs a lot of money”. McGrath encourages the use of Vendio within his book and within his email correspondence. Again, thank you Mr. McGrath for addressing this issue personally. This was especially useful to me as there may just come a day when I bite the bullet and take the Ebay certification journey.
It is fairly easy to implement automation. Most of these solutions require the eBay seller to direct the eBay customer to a 3rd party non-eBay site (such as Vendio). I would like to avoid that; I would like to automate as much as I can without directing the buyer to a different site, even if it is my site. I’ve heard negative feedback concerning having to use a checkout process that is not eBay’s-at best a matter of inconvenience at worst a nightmare of confusion for the buyer to make a payment! Regardless, the buyer’s info has to be initially entered into a personal website or a 3rd party site for the automation to work, so the final question is should the buyer do this manually or should the seller do it manually for each and every purchase?
One thing is for sure: It takes money to make money. For the person just starting out, there does not have to be that big of an investment, but there may be smaller profit margins than if you have money to invest to buy product at a cheaper cost. McGrath also addresses this problem with chapters on how to raise money; either through loans, grants, or investors. He also talks about creating business plans and proposals.
All in all it was a great read. It was an easy read and mildly inspiring. There was much information that could direct newbies to many different paths that could lead to success with hard work and determination and with just a little bit of money. Skip McGrath’s website is full of excellent resources, and I hope that web experience will only be enhanced once the Titanium section is finished.