Earn Your Living Online

Earn Your Living Online

More than 430,000 people earn part or all of their living selling products on eBay, but only 90,000 have achieved PowerSeller status by selling at least $1,000 worth of goods each month and maintaining at least a 98% positive feedback rating. PowerSellers have mastered the art of selling online through hard work and savvy buying and selling.

Michael Miller, author of several books about eBay, including his latest, Making a Living from Your eBay Business (Que; $24.99), offers 10 tips for becoming a PowerSeller:

1. Focus on one product category.Former co-workers Raymond Ramsey and Charles Ross Jr., co-owners of Cash Money Buyers in Chicago, opened a retail store in 2004 to buy and resell a range of products. On eBay, however, they specialize mainly in consumer electronics and power tools. eBay sales now account for 45% of Cash Money Buyers’ business.

2. Buy low, sell high. PowerSellers research prices and routinely monitor demand using free reports at the site. Ramsey and Ross buy their inventory wholesale, then clean, test, and prep the items before listing them. But “the beauty of eBay is that you may get a bidding war,” says Ross. “Even if a saw is worth $100, [a buyer] may pay $200.”

3. List in volume. Cash Money Buyers lists about 200 or more items a month, while James and Brenda Daniel, owners of Best Designer Wear in Woodstock, Georgia, list more than 400. They sell new and used women’s fashions from Jones New York, Ann Taylor, and Gap at more than 50% off retail.

4. Be organized. Miller suggests that sellers who are serious about making money create an assembly-line operation for packing and shipping products, which takes a lot of time.

5. Create professional-looking listings. “The better looking your item listings, the more auctions you’ll close — at higher prices,” Miller says. eBay has free templates available to help sellers create more attractive listing pages. Even inexpensive digital cameras help improve image quality.
6. Write compelling descriptions. Miller says the item listing title is critical to getting a buyer’s attention and should be as specific as possible.

7. Use auction management tools. James Daniel estimates that automating e-mail responses and feedback has cut time spent on administrative tasks by half. He believes eBay’s tools are easiest to use, though Miller suggests also checking out Andale.com and Auctiva.com.

8. Accept credit card payments. Businesses are almost certain to lose sales unless they accept payments through PayPal.com or apply for a merchant credit card account, says Miller.

9. Provide stellar customer service. Because customers love communication with sellers, the owners of Cash Money Buyers spend about an hour a day answering e-mails and inquiries. Shipping quickly using appropriate packing materials is also key.

10. Treat it like a business. “There are eBay businesses out there selling more than $1 million a year,” says Miller. “But there are more businesses doing $2,000 to $5,000 a month.” With eBay, you can size your business to meet your needs.

For more information about how to sell products on eBay, visit www.ebay.com.