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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Learning To Balance Real Life And Being An Entrepreneur

When you first become an "entrepreneur", you are filled with excitement, hope and spunk!  One subject however that is sometimes glossed over is balancing work when faced with personal adversity.  Our lives are constantly changing day by day.  Some days are awesomes and sometime in your life, something comes out of left field and seriously knocks you for a loop!  How do you stay on track?  The answer will not be the same for everyone, for me I have had to put my life in compartments.  One of my compartments of course is work.  If I don't work, well then bills don't get paid! So even if I am confused, saddened, maddened I still have to shop and get items prepared to send into Amazon.  I also have to sort through items that might not be suited for Amazon and list them on eBay.  This compartment has to run as if everything in my life is A-OK.. but it hasn't been.. you probably either knew that or suspected.  As always I share, and it is time to share.

This is my son and his daughter.  While in the mother's care, the stepfather assaulted her. Since the mother was in Illinois and the father lives in Indiana, Stephanie has been stuck in foster care.  Thankfully because of many people all over the US helping financially and with prayers, Levi has been able to have an attorney in both states.  She will be coming home soon, but let me tell you there will have to be lots of therapy.  You can read about it here

During this time, it would have been so easy to be paralyzed.  But I made a goal,  I needed to travel to Illinois to hug my little 9 year old granddaughter.  Since I live on the East Coast, well commuting wouldn't be cheap so I worked and worked and prayed and prayed!  We just came back last week from a visit.  Levi can spend the whole weekend with her as long as he doesn't take her across state lines, so this summer they have doing a lot of camping.  I met them at the campsite and wrapped my arms around this sweet little girl.  

I sold this baby to a sweet person this week that collects dolls.  This doll was actually on clearance at Kmart.  I picked it up because Berenguer designed it, and I know that people like to buy these types of dolls to make Reborn dolls. (those types of dolls that look creepy real. lol)  My buyer asked if I would lower it to $20 and I happily did do that for her. It cost me $10... not a high profit but I know it made her very happy.

Ebay has a really neat promotions tool now.  You can learn more about it here.  I have set mine to only show to people I share a special web address with.  Many of you will remember I use Ki-Tracking application  (I do not get compensation from referrals to this)  This application sends out an email after tracking shows that it is received.  I have customized my email to also give them my secret sale link!  Not sure yet how it will work out. I did an earlier blog post about Ki Tracking here.  Let me know if you are using eBay's promotions and how it is working out for you.

Many of you wanted to know more about how I choose things for Amazon.  I use an application on my scanner (Profit Bandit and also the free eBay Seller App).  I scan items, and I like to have my items profit to be double and a low rank.  The lower an item's rank, the quicker it sells.  I try to stay within the lowest 5% of rank of the particular category. Many people buy items in a higher rank, because of course there are so many different business models.  Right now this is mine because my goal is to get the bills paid now.. lol  For instance,  I try to get groceries under 50,000 or 80,000 if there is no competition for the item.  Toys I like to stay 50,000 or less and of course I want less!! Kitchen: 150,000,  Home 250,000,  Beauty 75,000 and so on.   I don't by gobs and gobs of the same thing each time because in groceries for example you can have a great price one week and someone can come along and undercut you until the price tanks.  Sometimes it is a get in and get out type of thing.  So I figure how much I sell in two weeks time normally and send that in.  Every week I send in shipments.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend all!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Traveling A Winding Road

Dear Diary,
I do not know where the time has gone.  There has been so many changes, so many questions that I have asked myself and so many roads traveled.   You will remember that last year I packed up my life and moved across country to a new state to start over.  I moved here working on eBay to supplement our income.  I was working night and day... and then one day I decided that there had to be another way.  Truth is, eBay I have not been faithful.  I went on the River... I rolled down the "River"

I started buying items and sending them into Amazon and was bit by the bug.  I think I loved the fact that I could bypass the product storage factor and get the items out of my home.  I loved that if I was very careful on items that I chose, sending in lower rate that the items would fly off the shelves.  I could check my account multiple times a day and get immediate satisfaction of all the sales...    eBay I still love you, but with all the changes in the last few years it has been hard to truly enjoy you!

Because I stopped worrying about the hoops to jump through at eBay, truth is that I lost my Top Rated Seller status.  With my move over to Amazon, the sales were sparse.  But... what has happened because of losing that status has been refreshing.  I no longer stress over the transactions (few as they are).  I am not worrying over those crazy seller defect rules that was just implimented.  I am not worrying over items that I can not get shipped out right away.  In fact, I'm now listing items on eBay that I have sitting in the Amazon warehouse.  Now THAT is something different for me.  Amazon will ship those items for me.  

I am selling more NEW items that I have purchased wholesale.  On those items I can use a stock picture and do a 3 day handling time.  Amazon normally sends that item out next day if I choose Priority.  

I now am happier with a lower profit margin.  In the old days (if you have been reading for a few years you understand) we could ask a higher $$ for an item and still have it fly off the shelves.  Now times are harder and people think a little longer before pulling the trigger.  

I have decided this week that I will be listing more and more items on eBay to try to get back into the swing.  It is difficult because the Amazon business requires so much shopping to keep my store stocked. (night problem to have)    In truth, I will probably hire out the listing of products so I am free to shop, shop, shop!  

Stay tuned... I am back...  I am going to share the good, the bad and the ugly.  It won't always be pleasant, it might be surprising.. this will be the real me.  The person with more questions than answers.  I am NOT a guru... I am NOT an authority.... I am in truth a little granny struggling to adapt to the changing times.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

eBay International Market

Dear Diary,
There has been a lot of talk lately about International visibility.  I just feel the need to set the record straight, using eBay's written directions as my source.

We all know that in our listing forms, there is the International Listing section where we CAN choose "Worldwide" shipping.  Choosing "Worldwide" simply means that you will ship Internationally and the shipping prices will show up for that customer.  eBay does not charge extra to be seen on International eBay sites, although listings are in the "International" section and not integrated with their local listings.

If you use GSP (Global Shipping Program),  the buyers do not have to come to the US site as your GSP listings are made available on International localized sites.  For instance, I have this toaster listed with GSP:
My toaster is #1 on Australia.  Items that are NOT GSP listings, and you have marked World Wide are found at the very bottom of the page (about 4 listings) and then there is a link that you can click to see all the International Listings that match.  All my items that are 4 pounds and over are listed GSP.  My light items are regular listings and would be found at the bottom.. well not really.. because I'll be showing you how to list to be integrated within the regular listings and NOT buried at the bottom.  And NOOOOOO this is not by checking the International Boxes on Site Preferences!!!!!  Oh, now I am getting ahead of myself.  Oops!

Some people list directly on the International Sites and pay extra for this service.  To be able to list directly on the sites (you would have to pay extra) but NOT log in... you would change your site preferences to do this:
So what does THIS mean?
Changing your site preferences to include all the countries simply means that you can now create a listing template in Selling Manager Pro and by doing that you will be given the OPTION of selecting the eBay site that the template is for. (Read it for yourself)  This enables you to list there without logging in...   Just checking these options does NOT put your listing in those country listings in the regular mix.  Your listing will still be in the International portion of the search page just like all other world wide shippers that do NOT use GSP or...eBay International Market

So.. what is eBay International Market?  This is a program that eBay has created that displays your listings in their language, with their currency, in their time zone.  This is available for FIXED PRICE LISTINGS.  The following countries are included in this program :  Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Portugal, Russia and Sweden.  How do you get your items in this program?  Well I can tell you that it is not by changing your site preferences. 
The instructions can be read here.  I always try to encourage every lister to read the information themselves and not just to take my word.  In short... what you do is that instead of clicking "World Wide",  you choose Custom Locations and then check the country areas you are willing to ship to. (I check them all)  I do not know why eBay has this as the method of being in the program, you would think that eBay would just make this automatic but it is just not the case.
eBay International Market buyers in the above list can search in their own language and purchase on three sites.  , (Germany) and (UK)

Other than GSP there are only 3 ways to list Internationally to get your listings lumped together with the local sellers. (as opposed to be buried in the bottom International section)  

So now, when you are tweaking your listings, change that International portion of your listing for Custom Locations.  Disclaimer:  Your items will be seen without eBay International Market and some have grown a very nice International business even with their items being shown in the International Section.  These customers normally can speak/read English.  This program reaches out to those customers that do not speak / read/ write our language.

Listing in the eBay International Market puts your listing in the main search only for the participating countries (Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Portugal, Russia and Sweden).  All the rest of the countries will see their listing in that little International section.

I finally found Remington Tight Curls!  This set had damage to the lid so I listed as $49.99 in view of that fact.  I had almost given up ever finding one of these babies!

I found this Revere Ware skillet at the Salvation Army for $5.99 and today I sold it on a Best Offer for $35  I'm not looking forward to making a box for it but I must not whine!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

FedEx SmartPost

Dear Diary,
eBay has added a new choice in our proverbial shipping menu.  It is called FedEx SmartPost.   This new service is for items that are not time sensitive, it WILL take longer for the most part for delivery.  FedEx will deliver your package to USPS, and they will then deliver it to the end destination.  In some instances, it can really save you money.  If you have an item that is going across country, heavy, or has a little larger dimensions then you might want to compare the shipping choices.  

For instance, this item was an 18" Blue Willow Meat Platter.  At the time I shipped this item, I used the FedEx Home Delivery choice.  Had this choice been open to me, I would have chosen the SmartPost since the customer had chose Parcel Post from the list.  Both services are calling for 2-8 Days...  The one thing I DO NOT like about FedEx is that it does NOT come directly out of my Paypal.  It goes on our invoices.  That is annoying.  Please keep in mind that anything mailed through this choice has to be taken to a STAFFED FedEx location.  You can NOT utilize the drop off boxes.

My goal for this week is to clean up and organize my eBay room.  Oh my... my room is a mess and I am so embarrassed.  Moving across country from Indiana to Virginia Beach VA was a chore and I am NOT caught up and NOT in the swing of things even though I have been here going on 6 months.  I am going to show you a picture, please do not laugh, snicker or make me feel worse than I do!!!
I purchased a commercial shelf today for these bins.  I will update the blog when I am done.  I have clothes in the closet and china in two china cabinets in the dining room.  Hopefully I can free up some of this floor space.  I've also have unlisted items piled on the left, and even a box that is unpacked in this conglomeration.  Oi!

I found this set in the Salvation Army for 4.99 recently.  I initially listed it for 59.99 and accepted an offer for 49.99 plus shipping. It took about a month to sell.

Dang!  I am happy these are gone.  I've had them listed as Southwestern for awhile  because of the color choices.  Finally I put Geometric and slashed the price.  I'm just happy to get a little $$ investment back to purchase better items.  These are just butt ugly to me, but I am sure others would disagree.  Good thing we don't all have the same taste.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

eBay Collector

Dear Diary,
This week I noticed something different on my account. I noticed eBay Collections, kind of like Etsy Collections.  Not everyone has this option yet, but to see if you have it... look in the upper left corner of your eBay screen that has your name.  Click the little downwards arrow and if you have it, you will see a link to building your collections.

Once you get started, all you have to do is come up with a snazzy title for your collections and then start browsing stuff that you want to put into your collection.  Once you find something cool, click to open up your item and notice that there is a handy dandy link to add it.

The purpose it for readers/buyers/sellers to "follow" your collections resulting in sales.  Now, I'm thinking that eBay needs to take it one step further.  You see on Etsy when you have a collection.. you can click on the followers and see what other collections they follow.  By doing that you can now follow more people and they can do the same to you making a viral following circumstance.  eBays seems to be a dead end, but we will see.  Once you follow someone those items I assume will end up in their home page feed.

You can see the beginnings of my collections here.  I don't have any followers yet, but then I don't think people really know about collections yet.

About a week ago I found a Richard Caruso curler set.  Before I purchased the set, I opened the box to make sure that the foam was okay.  (These curlers are known to dry out and break apart)  The sets normally sell around $40 to $50 so I won't lie... I was excited to find another set.  Well... when I opened the box, it was good news bad news.  Bad news that the unit was not in the box.  This was curlers only. (for a 2.99 price)  So I set it back and began to walk away when a thunderbolt idea nearly knocked my block off!  Okay... since the curlers are known to have drying out issues... I bet these would sell as good replacements!  Yep, I bought those babies, broke them up into 5 sets for $10 each set.  I have sold three sets to date.  I have two sets of 3 jumbo curlers left.

I have to tell you about my latest adventure!  Yes I love thrift stores, and you love thrift stores so working at one must be heaven!  Right?   Wrong.  I got the bright idea that working at the thrift store would be my dream job!  Note to self, do not pick a extremely big for profit thrift store to work at...   So anyway, I was hired as a pricer for a certain thrift store.  The owner was very friendly, no complaints there.  But... I have to tell you of the serious... the scariest... the most frustrating issues that I had.

  1. Goal: Price around 1000 items daily.  Yes you heard that right.  There are two pricers (technically three since I was in training), and a continual stream of boxes coming in.  You see the owner goes to Salvation Army auctions, store clean outs, hoarder clean outs, old yard sale cleanouts.. you name it.  The boxes never stop coming out...awk!!  Okay so lots of good stuff to look at! Yes and no...
  2. Learning to price isn't as easy as it sounds.  Although I have lots of experience with thrift store pricing.... this store has some items with crazy high prices.  You know what I am talking about.  I'm sure you have went into a thrift store and said, "Say What?"  Yep...
  3. I am a klutz... a klutz and a box knife does not compute.  Can you picture constant bandaids, blood running down my arm and down the hallway?  Okay well not down the hallway (because it is filled with boxes)  but I did have blood on every finger.
  4. Did you notice in Number 1 I said hoarder cleanouts?  In case you haven't watched an episode of hoarders I'll fill you in.  Nasty... nasty.... cockroach egged, yellow smoker film, things that haven't seen the light of day since the dawn of the earth.  Okay, wear gloves right?  Please see #5
  5. Most boxes are from auctions and yard sales, therefore there are price tags on almost everything.  Plus you know those crazy tags that just won't come off unless you put water on them for scrape them off?  Okay,  more blood because now I am using the box blade on tags.  I tried to wear gloves because of the freaking insect crap (literally) but I soon had an inch build up of old tag scraps on my cut up latex gloves.  Ain't nobody got time for that!
  6. Rules are, if puzzles/games are open they are thrown in the trash.  If books have a name written in them at all or a little yellow on the edges they are tossed.  And... I couldn't save them, take them home ....  I cringed every time as I could see $ signs flying out the window.. 
So yeah,  I think I lasted about a week and a half.

I found this Avirex Urban shirt this week at the thrift.  I think I did pay 3.99 for it, but I knew it was special.  It is a man's shirt, and I knew that somewhere out there was a man looking for a cartoon shirt!  It sold within the week to a nice buyer in France.  I had $39.99 OBO and the offer was $30  Not too shabby!  I love finding unusual items to sell.  Way Word!!  Kaboom!! Olla!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Needle In A Haystack

Dear Diary,

So eBay has changed its user agreement to include this clause: " To further create a marketplace where buyers find what they want and drive positive user experience, we updated the provision regarding listing conditions to recognize that the appearance and placement of listings in search and browse results will depend on a variety of factors.  So, in some situations a listing may not appear in some search and browse results regardless of sort order."

I am not surprised at this change, in fact I believe it has been the case for a long time.  I also expect that the recent change resulting in giving us all the free listings made it inevitable that the the practice would be brought out in the open.  eBay is fluid, ever changing...  so my question is to you.  Have you noticed a change in your sales?

It is that time again!!  The glorious season of coffee cups.  The weather is slightly cooler, fall weather is approaching and customers are looking forward to a hot cup of coffee sitting outside on the porch as the steam dances in the crisp air..  Are you ready?  I have been busy adding some coffee mugs this week.  Yesterday I listed this Scottish Terrier mug.  I paid 49 cents for it.   

I listed it for 24.99 simply because right now I am into the quick flips instead of the slow dimes.  It sold within hours.  I'm not worried if I left money on the table as now I can take my $$ and reinvest quickly.  Isn't it funny how your business model can change?  A few years ago, when eBay was hopping, I was into pricing higher and waiting on that right buyer.  

Yesterday I went into Kmart and checked out the toy section. Most of the toys are on clearance, but I decided to check out the summer toys.  The sign said "Up to 50% off" , so I picked up a big honking laser squirt gun and took it to the scanner.  Those suckers were ringing up half price off of clearance price.  Now, I can tell you.. once you load up a cart until it is over flowing.... and it starts puking out toys as you struggle down the aisle... well you get a few comments.  "Are you having a party?"  "Are you buying for Christmas?"  No... I am a hoarder. You never know when you will need a squirt gun.... SILENCE... <snicker>
This is my haul, and I might add that these are the huge bags.  DH just shook his head when he unloaded the truck today.
I am having lots of good luck with the Revere Ware.  This is a little 6 1/4" omelet pan, Pre 1968 that I purchased for $1.99 and sold for $24.98    If you don't know a lot about Revere Ware and dating the pans, here is a good place to bookmark.  I've got a few other posts about Revere Ware, like how I clean mine.   (although I didn't use Taco Sauce this time.... Ketchup works too)
So I thought I would occasionally add some great video's to help you in your online business.  I have been scouting a number of smart online sellers/teachers that have videos.  I'll share the ones that I really feel can make your selling easier, more profitable and are just plain interesting.  This video is from Cindy Sorely.  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gas Can Treasures

Dear Diary,
Many of you know that originally I was a country girl.  Our garage was nicely stocked with old plastic gas cans... I mean when you have a lot to mow, well you just have that kind of stuff hanging around.  Well now we live in the city and in an apartment complex so there isn't a need for lots of gas cans.  Too bad they are in our Indiana storage building!  You can be sure when we drive back to visit, I'll be bringing them home.  Look at these completeds!
In the old days you could buy these plastic gas cans for around $5, but of course those days are over.  Hubby was surprised when he saw how much they sell for now.

Hmmmm, have you ever heard about the eBay International Market Program?  (eIM)  I hadn't until recently and frankly it is a little confusing.  Of course we all know about the new Global Shipping program where we send the purchased item to the hub in Kentucky and eBay takes care of the shipping from there.  We also know about International Shipping in our listing, where we choose flat rate or calculated shipping...  I normally choose Worldwide shipping and then have my exclusions set so my items aren't sold to risky places.  Apparently the eIM program is another option.  This option, instead of choosing the worldwide,  you choose the "custom locations" and then check the areas where you would like eBay to figure the cost and be available for purchase.  You are also given a second option to choose areas where you would like the buyer to contact you to get an international quote.  The difference in this program is that eBay translates the listing and can buy your items on (Germany), (United Kingdom) and of course   Ebay says that this is only available for the following countries:

  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Sweden
This leaves me a little confused, perhaps someone out here can enlighten me.  Why would we have three programs?  The regular, the Global Shipping and the eIM program.  Regardless, I have taken a few of my listings and tailored them for this program.  I'll see if it is an advantage for me.  I've chosen Harley items, and after my sale on Levi's is over, I'll try them on this program as well.

I purchased these Twizzlers at the Dollar Tree.  They sold within 24 hours.  They fit in a padded flat rate envelope, but luckily the buyer was near my zone.  That mean't that the Regional A box was just as cheap and looked nicer.

I love selling Levi's !  If you are lucky enough to find the larger sizes like this one, you can really clean up!