I’ve been selling items online for about 5 years now.  Currently and hopefully for the rest of my working days this is a full-time gig.  In the past it has run the gamut from part-time in addition to a full-time lifesucking corporate job, little time because it was just a hobby, to virtually no time as in listing on occasion and letting the “business” sit there until a sale occurred.

 As with most things in my life, I have learned this business the hard way.  From my mistakes, from others’ mistakes, from reading incessantly for hours, and from trying a variety of new things as I went along.  Some attempts were successful and many were abyssmal failures but all were necessary to get where I am today – a mild to moderate success with much improvement needed.  🙂

I still feel like I don’t know a lot about this business but there are a few things that I feel that I know for sure.  These thoughts have occurred to me a lot in the last few weeks so I felt the need to write them down.  You may agree with some of these things.  You might strongly disagree but this has been my experience.

1.)  Online selling is a numbers game.  All the studying, Tweeting, webinars and podcasts do NOT replace listing and more listing.  The more I list, the more I sell.  Period.

2.)  Surround yourself with whiners, complainers, and do-nothings and that is what you become.  There are plenty of capable, successful people on the internet that are more than happy to be an example of what works and will share many helpful ideas on their blogs or on Facebook/Twitter.  There is a disproportionately large number of disgruntled negative sellers that feel the need to channel all of their energy into “not selling so that I may complain.”  Avoid them.  They are everywhere.  Especially in chat forums.  Enough said, until you get to Number 4 anyway.  But first, Number 3… 

3.)  Put the Best Offer on your eBay listings and OBO (Or Best Offer) on Bonanzle.  Not everyone will be a lowballer and I can always reject any offer.  It’s also FREE, so why not?  This single item is the best thing that I’ve done for my eBay store this year.  Not every buyer uses it but many want to haggle and succeed in getting an even better deal.  Some offers get declined but I wake up to a few of these every day.  In a tough $$$ week, I’m happy to see these offers because they represent to me “money in the bank.”  If I accept an offer on eBay, it’s an automatic sale.  Craig Stark of BookThink just wrote about this feature and his experience was similar.

4.)  Chat forums are, by and large, supreme time wasters.  Hours can go by while I read about the latest “controversy” on each venue.  I use the chat rooms now as a water cooler (with time limits in place) or as a place to go to find answers.  Working at home is isolating but I don’t need to have hours of online conversation either.  Don’t even get me started on the people who spend all of their time Tweeting news stories all day…  😦

5.)  Be flexible.  As much as it pains me to constantly change and ‘roll with it, baby’, it’s a fact of life online.  Things move fast here and when you sell on many venues there is always a “major change” ahead.  Each venue is constantly improving themselves (or they’re trying anyway) and that means CHANGE.  Whether I like it or not.  Will I complain if I don’t agree with the change?  Yep, but hopefully not for hours in a chat room and not for long.  I will tell myself to get over it and plan accordingly.  It’s their sandbox and I’m not taking my toys home unless it causes me to lose a significant amount of money.  Then I’ll just leave. 

Many MANY people criticize eBay.  I have many not-so-nice opinions of the way they’ve done business over the last two years.  I’ve never left them though.  It’s where I have made a large amount of money and their traffic still can’t be beat.  When I tell people that I sell on Bonanzle, they’ve never heard of it.  This is changing and it’s why I stay even though my sales there have been poor.  I have faith in Bonanzle and the people that run it.  When I tell people that I sell online, they say “You sell on eBay?”  It’s still the synonomous word for “online sales” and that is where the average internet buyer will go to look for a deal.  So I stay there and roll with the changes, for good and for bad.  Which brings me to…

6.)  Sell on various venues.  Don’t get roped into believing that one venue is the answer.  Always have an alternative site or, in my case, many sites.  I’m not so enamored of eBay to not realize that they can shut me down in a second.  I’ve read all the stories and heard all of the tales.  If Bill Harding at Bonanzle was offered a mega-million dollars to turn over the keys to Bonanzle, would he be foolish enough NOT to take it?  Even if it happened to be from his competitor?  And I wouldn’t blame him one bit for taking it and running.  These types of things happen all the time in business.

Spread yourself around and try to stay away from trouble.  Read the guidelines of each site and try, although this one is tough, to keep up with the ever-changing rules of each site.  Don’t try to cheat the system.  Don’t give a venue a reason to shut you down.  If you get an offer on eBay, keep it on eBay.  If you’re not allowed to direct a buyer to your blog off-site, don’t post your website on your listing.  When you get a sale from Borders through Alibris, don’t tout your own site in your packing materials.  “Dance with the one that brought ya” as they say. 

7.)  Sell a variety of items.  Having a mix of new, used, collectible, and rare items is a good plan for me.  Used books are becoming harder and harder to sell for any real money.  This is the market that I started in and it is becoming the part of my business that I’m spending the least time with.  The Kindle is here whether we like it or not.  Used books donation bins are becoming a business model for more and more megasellers.  Friends of the Library sales are increasingly rare and usually picked over by the libraries themselves, who have finally figured out that the books they were selling for 25 cents are worth a lot more to keep and sell on their own.  Amazon is continually hawking how easy it is to “Sell Yours Here” to anyone that pushes the button.  Anyone can be a bookseller on Amazon, just hit the button.  Many wholesalers are now competing against their retail customers too. If I stayed with the books I would be very much worse for the wear right now.

These are just a few things that I know and I have so much more to learn.  For now, I’ll be listing auctions for the rest of the day because —  8.) Blogging  doesn’t make me money despite what I’ve read on Twitter…

I did it.  I started a different blog on Blogger.  Blech.  Hated it.  Backed myself into a corner with it.  Didn’t like having ads either.  Did I already say “Blech”?

More importantly, I’m coming back to my little WordPress blog that I missed.  Blogspot just didn’t “do it” for me.

I’m not going to back myself into a corner with this blog.  I never have here on WordPress.  It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want.  Just because “the experts” say to get a niche, don’t mix business with personal, stick with one topic, use high traffic keywords, don’t talk about your family, don’t make it a journal, yadda yadda yadda…  I’m still going to go back to doing it my way.  Writing about what I want that may add something of value to my readers.  If I want to write about my grocery store experience today, I will.  Stay tuned because that’s what’s coming.  I know you’re on the edge of your seat…  Stick with me here if you’re a cooking fanatic.  Even if you’re not, you’ll want to know what I learned today about saving money at the supermarket.  Trust me.

I thought about writing a private blog.  If I just wanted to journal, maybe I would.  This isn’t a journal.  I’d like to share information and get some feedback, opinions, and ideas from others. 

I’m not going to write about politics.  Not because I don’t have opinions, but it just seems pointless to add to the bazillions of political blogs and, in my opinion, there is no changing anyone’s mind once people pick a side.  And those blogs are not fun for me.  I plan to have some fun here, not to go back and forth about our leader’s decisions good and bad.

I want to share some tips with readers.  I have many interests other than my full-time Internet business.  I’d love to write about them here.  I’d love to write about Internet sales too.  It’s always changing and it amazes me every day that I’ve made this my career.

Stick around.  I’m doing this my way even though my goal is to add value to my readers.  I learn so much from my favorite blogs and started this so others may feel the same way about this one.  It’s really not all about me.  It’s more about us.

Here’s the handy dandy money saving part:

Cooking tip that I did not know until today — and I’ve been cooking for MANY years…

I happened to be lucky enough to land on this blog about a week ago.  How the heck this blog escaped me for two years is unimaginable but to make a long story short, it’s filled with my favorite kinds of recipes – the kind that are easy to make that use the ingredients that I have in my kitchen already and are yummmy. 

I printed off about five of these delicious looking recipes and discovered that I was short two spices and was out of canned tomatoes.  Did the grocery shopping today so I brought my list.  Headed down the spice aisle and to my surprise a bottle of the “famous” brand of nutmeg and the store brand of curry was over $10.00!!  I thought that maybe I’d leave them out of the recipe and use some spices that I already had at home.  But, there’s nothing I hate  dislike more than to make a recipe for the first time and to alter it.  I like to give it a chance.  There’s a reason (usually) why it’s published the way it is.  So I grabbed the very expensive spices and told myself that I was saving SO much by cooking and not eating out (we don’t eat out a lot anyway but I lied to myself to feel better.)  Does everyone do this?  🙂

Five minutes later I was heading down the ethnic food aisle.  This section had it’s own spice rack.  Hmmm…  Probably just some adobo, cayennes, pepper mixes, etc.  right?  Wrong!  They had curry powder for a third of the price for a bottle (no lying this time) that was four times larger than the expensive brand!  I quickly grabbed the large bottle and put the thimble-sized one I had put in my cart five minutes earlier back on the shelf.  I felt like I was doing something wrong… How could this be?  They couldn’t possibly have the nutmeg too?  Wrong again!  There it was staring back at me with a tiny little price tag on a whomping big bottle.  Same store.  Same spices.  Different brands.  Different aisle.  Less than $4.00 for both bottles that are four times the size!  Who knew?  Not me.  I’ve been cooking for years and have lived in a small city that has always had ethnic foods available.  I’d never thought to buy spices in the ethnic aisle.

Here’s a picture of my new friends that will always remind me that there is often a cheaper way to acheive the same results:

Spices

Did everyone know this trick except me?  

Where do you buy your spices?  I’d love to hear your comments.

My first blog post.  Hmmm…   Why do people blog anyway?  I sure read a lot of them.  Enjoy most of them.  Had to finally cut back on the quantity of blogs that I was reading since it started taking up to an hour a day just to read them! 

I always thought that I would never blog since I don’t have a fascinating life, but then realized that most people don’t either and I still enjoy reading about their musings anyway.

Why do you blog?  What makes ordinary folk like us take the plunge and spill our thoughts out on the Internet for the world to potentially see? 

What did you learn from blogging?  I can use all the advice I can get.  This is very new to me and I need some input from the “experts”.

I’m interested to see how many people will actually “land” here.  Leave a post if you are so inclined.  I’d love to hear from other bloggers.

My business website is www.booksaroundtheclock.com.  I will be getting to that aspect of my life in a future post.  Just dipping my toe in for today.  🙂