Mastering alternative means of income and doing for ourselves are essential to our economic recovery (as Black peoples). Take getting your hustle on seriously, and don’t turn your nose up to alternatives like selling items online.
In previous posts, I have talked about the importance of Black Men and Women providing for themselves and securing income streams beyond employment. With so many of us carrying felonies, bad credit histories, and lacking college education, a lot of employers would shred our job applications before the ink dried.
Rather than begging for jobs (or even worse, government assistance), we should be learning how to leverage the best of the technology that we have to make our own bread and move product for our own sake, and eBay has been – and still is – a great stream of income for me and many others. This post will break down how I supplement my income by moving units on eBay.
To be a successful Ebayer, you need to know three things
1. What to sell
2. How to sell
3. How to get started
What to Sell
Figuring out what to sell on EBay is usually the first problem that people come across, but if you think of eBay like an electronic yard sale, you can start by looking around your home, in your back yard, and at yard sales in your area. Gather up your items, take great pictures and write HONEST descriptions of what you are trying to sell, and you will be on your way.
Once you have gotten rid of items laying around in the crib, the best way to decide on what products to sell next is brainstorming. Get a small notebook – one that you can carry with you, and for the next week, every time you see a product that catches your attention, write it down. If you hear someone talking about a product they like, write it down. Check out blogs and sites to see what new and exciting products are down the road (TechCrunch and HypeBeast.com are good ones) and even check out some Google Trends. Here are a few other idea sources:
- Trade & hobby magazines
- Antique stores
- eBay ……Spend some time browsing through eBay, just to see what is there. Browse through several categories! The purpose of this is to help expand your mind about the enormous selling potential of a vast array of items.
- Local classified ads – what things are being sold in the paper or on Craigslist? A lot of times there are products that are regularly bought and sold in your region that aren’t available in other parts of the country. I used to buy motorcycles when local prices drop in the winter (it gets pretty cold in my part of AmeriKKKa) and re-sell them to buyers in California and Florida where it stays warm year-round.
Creating products could be a good idea for some individuals. Informational products (specifically eBooks) have become some of my best eBay sellers, and can easily become yours too, regardless of your writing ability!
An eBook is an illustrated document that is created in a Word Processor such as Microsoft Word, and then turned into “book” format using either an eBook creation program or Adobe Acrobat. Most people have several potential eBooks in them! The key to having a hot selling eBook on eBay is all in your subject matter. The narrower the niche of your subject, the better you will do with the book.
Don’t try to produce the typical “lose weight” or “make fast money” eBook and then sell it for a dollar. This is NOT the market that you want to get into! Books on a specific narrow subject, for example, 101 Martial Arts Kicking Techniques or 15 Do It Yourself projects to Keep Your Kids Busy attract an audience of specific committed buyers who are willing to pay for information that matters to them!
Here are the only three guides I like for creating eBooks:
You could also create an audio or video tutorial that teaches people what you know. Have you spent the last year explaining to all your family and friends how to use their computer? Or how about a CD set on your best cooking techniques? Or your grandmother’s southern recipes? You could create a CD or DVD for every different type of cuisine imaginable!
What is your hobby? What are your skills? Chances are there are many other people out there with the same interests that would love to have the benefit of your experience. I have a friend who is a DJ and has the gift of taking something complex and making it simple. Right now I am trying to get him to make some instructional, how-to audio CDs and DVDs.
A PERFECT product for the next tax season would be a tutorial on how to use popular tax software programs, and since my fiancée is a tax preparer, I’m planning on getting her to produce some informational products!
Even buying and re-selling event tickets can be big, IF you know what you are doing. The secret to buying tickets is finding out about the event early on, snapping up the tickets, and then re-selling them 3 days or less before the concert. People will procrastinate and end up spending a lot more money than you bought the tickets for. Your local stations are always giving away tickets, and for a few minutes spent dialing, you can make a decent profit. Check out How To Become A Ticket Broker for some specific tactics you can use.
Scan the newspaper and the net for “Going out of Business” sales (I did pretty good when Circuit City went out of business two years ago and even found a few deals when Borders’s went away). You can buy up the failing company’s inventory for pennies and resell it for below market value and make a lot of money on the flip.
Also, offer to sell products online from mom and pop stores and street salesmen. In my city we have an area where street artists sell their wares on the sidewalk. I am in the process of negotiating an agreement where one of the brothas sells me his goods at half off and I resell them…better than him standing in the rain with no buyers! Or you can simply negotiate under the following terms:
You let me photograph and list your products for sale. Once they sell, I come in and pick up the item; you make money for doing nothing. If the item doesn’t sell, you lose nothing. You make money without having to spend any of your own, and without having to carry an inventory!
Another idea: Everyone has “junk” laying around that they want to get rid of. I stumbled on a $200 Television that my barber was about to throw out, bought it from him, and resold it for a 130% profit online. Ask relatives, friends, and coworkers to inventory their houses for items they don’t need and want to get rid of. Agree to split the profits with them and you have just made money!
How to sell in order to maximize profit
Pictures are mandatory! The problem with buying things online is that you can’t physically inspect your purchase. Therefore, take quality pictures, and have the picture included in your page listing (for instance, if you go to the eBay site, you will see listings with pictures and without. Don’t be one of the listings without!). Set your digital camera to display the date on the photograph, so shoppers know the pic is recent.
You will make more money by starting your bid at $0.99 than at $10. People will be in a feeding frenzy to snap up your product and will drive the price a lot higher than if you had set a high opening bid.
Be honest about any damage, and show that damage in the photograph. That will lower the chances of people leaving you negative feedback, and will prevent fraud (I had a guy buy some speakers from me, punched a hole in the side, and then tried to get all his money back. Since I had the date on the photograph and a clear pic of the side of the speaker, he lost his claim. With that being said, include the statement “Not responsible for damage incurred during shipping” in your listing!)
Lastly, offer a money back guarantee. If you are selling legit products and are honest, you won’t have to worry about too many returns. People will always buy an item with a money back guarantee over one that doesn’t have one. With online selling, anything you can do to earn trust is a good thing!
This little bit of advice should be enough to get you started with building your eBay Empire.
8 Steps to Getting Started
1. Follow the step-by-step guide to registering on eBay
2. Register for a PayPal account. You will need to link it to a bank account or credit card of some sort, so go get one of the pre-paid debit cards from a check cashing joint and load it with $10
3. Gather the first items together that you will sell
4. TAKE CLEAR, WELL LIT PICTURES OF THE ITEM FROM ALL SIDES with your cell phone! If it is an item of clothing, take pictures of the front, the back and the tag. If there is any damage on the item, take a picture of that, too. Some buyers don’t mind a little wear and tear as long as you are honest about it. Don’t try to be slick.
5. Write a paragraph or two about what you are selling, where you got it from, why you are selling it, and how fast buyers can expect to get their purchase. Remember to include “Not responsible for damage incurred during shipping”.
6. Log into eBay (go to the library if you don’t have internet access at home), hit the “SELL” tab, and walk through the process. Upload your three pictures, type up your item description (USE SPELL CHECK!), and auction off your item. Stick with three-day long auctions – seven days can be too long to incite a sense of urgency on the part of your buyers, and 1 day gives buyers less time to make a decision.
7. Pay attention to your listing! If someone asks a question, respond to it promptly and use the eBay option to post your responses on the listing page. This will save you from answering the same questions repeatedly and will give buyers a sense of confidence in your ability to respond to their requests.
8. Once your item has sold and you have money in your PayPal account, ship the item. Don’t wait to get the item into the customer’s hand. Feedback is important to the eBay community, and nothing kills your feedback rating faster than slow shipping.
You are now in business!
In future posts, I will reveal a few of my sources for brand new items sent directly from Chinese and African manufacturers so you can really get into the game and start moving decent units, so if you haven’t done so, SUBSCRIBE TO US VIA RSS FEED (Click Here) OR OUR EMAIL NEWSLETTER TO STAY CONNECTED!