There are hundreds of little things that you need to do in order for you to build your business into a machine that makes money for you. The point is to be consistent with your efforts by constantly improving on your services. Your success with a brand new eBay business is not going to be overnight and you have to be aware of that.
There are people who thought that once they were all set up and had the mechanics in place, that they were somehow going to be able to make as much money as the businesses that were already in place. Just because the foundations are the same, doesn’t mean the conduct is the same.
There are measures that need to be taken in order for you to be constant. Just like with any business out there in the world, it takes a lot of passion to be successful. If you are not passionate about your eBay store, then the chances of success are not in your favor.
In order to help you be a smashing success, I have put together these 15 tips to be a general guideline to follow to help you place yourself in a position where you increase profits and see momentum. Many people fail in their efforts because they do not see the success in the early stages of their business and give up because they think that by making a little amount of money.
You are not going to be making a ton of money right out of the gate. You need to take this in strides and in bite-size pieces as you continue to grow. These tips that I highlight are for your education on how to capitalize off of eBay.
The mindset that I need you to have is that these tips that you learn and keep in mind as you learn by practical application – meaning experience. The best and most-effective way of learning the methods of what works in your particular business is by doing business. How you are going to fully comprehend the tips that I place is through a consistent interchanging method. You will learn by academic knowledge then activity knowledge. Then repeat the cycle until you really begin to understand the process and words that are described.
Have you ever read a book and there was a lot of great information that read but didn’t fully digest. But I bet you did what the book said, or part of what the book said and you learned from activity. Then when you came back to the book it seemed as if it were an entirely new book because of the things that you had learned while applying the first round of knowledge. This is the same way. Read it, apply it, read it, apply it, and so on.
Tip 1: Choose your niche or market wisely.
This is the beginning of your business. When you begin to look into the market that you want to penetrate, there are plenty of markets and industries to choose from. You can’t sell everything. People that have started businesses in eBay have been excited to sell their products only to find out that they went overboard. They placed too much of a variety of items that overwhelmed the customers into confusion so they didn’t buy.
The method to choose a proper niche or market is to think small. You shouldn’t be searching for niches to sell to, but micro-niches. Micro-niches are a better bet because they appeal to a more specific audience. Here are the levels that you need to hone in on to get your products to your customer.
- The macro-industry (fashion, automobiles, health, etc.)
- The micro-industry (shoes, Ford Mustangs, yoga, etc.)
- The macro-niche (Steve Madden, classic Mustangs, yoga accessories, etc.)
- The micro-niche (women’s SM shoes, 1967 classic mustang accessories, yoga DVDs, etc.)
- The customer
By understanding and zeroing in on your micro-niche and customer base, this will help you in choosing what is best for you. Choose something that you are passionate about. That’s the real secret. You shouldn’t necessarily choose a niche because you think that it will be profitable, although this does have some benefits. Often profitable niches are heavily saturated by huge competition. I’m not saying you can’t work your way to the top and compete. I’m saying that you need to start with what you love to talk about over the dinner table.
The reason you choose something that you are passionate about is because your customer service is going to be awesome. You are going to be come across to customers that you know what you are talking about and that you have a connection with that person trying to acquire what it is that you are selling. You know what you want to sell. I think if you really look at your situation and lifestyle, you’ll see it like a beacon at night. Most of us have a certain hobby that we enjoy doing and maybe that hobby can now be a business.
That’s how a lot of businesses are started is through personal interaction and expansion. People love what they do so much that they want to share it with the world. Think of the guys that started the franchise REI, the outdoor store. Here were a couple of young guys that enjoyed camping and rock climbing.
They started to change their own gear and rig it to their specifications. They saw that the stores of K-Mart and Wal-Mart weren’t delivering a quality outdoor selection so they started their own.
You know why they became so successful? Because they were passionate about their business. They were passionate about their products and their customers. That’s the biggest thing that you are ever going to learn in any book or in any seminar is that once you discover a passion, and apply massive action toward it, the money comes. It really is in due time.
Tip 2: Watch your competition but don’t copy them.
Your competition is one of your best resources of information. If someone in your niche is doing something better than you, it would be beneficial to you to follow suit. Mirror what is that they are doing and do it better. I don’t want you to copy them and do everything exactly how they are doing business, but just understand what is that you think is bringing them in business and do it.
Sign up for everything on your competitor’s site such as newsletters or catalogues. See how they are executing their marketing and how they strategically get items in front of you to purchase. It’s somewhat like having a teacher but the teacher doesn’t know what is going on.
They just know that another person has joined their newsletter or list and want to sell items to you. But with you playing private detective, you can write down the strategies that you believe are working great for them or the opposite.
It’s always a great idea to learn from those that are doing what it is that you want to do, whether you pay for it or not. That is why information is so valuable today. People are out there scraping in their business trying to make it work and they purchase all sorts of books and products on how to learn to do what the author had done.
This is just another way to learn but have more of a visual and interactive way of digesting the information. It is one of the most effective ways to learn. I would keep one window open of their store and one open of your store and take note of the differences. Then read their marketing materials very closely and notice if you see any keywords and key phrases that you know they are targeting for.
Tip 3: Imagine the next sale.
Once you have managed to get a customer, you have the ability or opportunity to up sell them or sell them another similar item. As long as the experience was pleasant for the customer, there is a great chance that they will come back, if you keep your business in their minds when they are ready to buy again.
Chances are that if they buy from you one time that they will buy from you a second and third time if your products appeal.
In the world of e-commerce, the proof is in the list that you have. If people go to your website by searching for an item that they have in mind or by some other means of marketing methods that you have in place, one of the biggest strategies is to get them to sign up for a newsletter or get them to give you information about them in order to maintain communication between the two of you.
I had this conversation with a person the other day who has a goldmine that he is unaware of. I came across this person’s website and found out that he had an Alexa ranking of around 12,000. That is huge. He is a major contributor online and has had a website up for over 10 years.
So this guy turns out to be an “old school” person who believes in content. He’s hired about 20 writers to produce content for him on a daily basis in-house. We got to talking, and he was worried about his website and that he was losing money. Of course, I had to be nosey and wonder why a person with an Alexa ranking of nearly 12K and over 2 million monthly unique visitors was losing money. This seemed to be crazy to me!
So I went to his website and found out why. This website had no way to sign up for any kind of subscription base or any way to maintain a relationship with his company. He was merely inviting people in and educating them on matters that he wanted to share with the world. He had no products and was making his revenue from advertisements. I quickly sent him a long email describing the importance of having a list. There is a reason why people need to have a list of their visitors and customers. And that is to sell them the next item.
Here’s a quick lesson. If you have a website that gets traffic and you are looking at monetizing it and partnering with ad agencies. One of the first questions that they are going to ask is how many registered members you have, aka – the list that you can blast information and products to.
I once advertized with Military.com. They have over 10 million members registered in their database. They push out newsletters and articles on a daily basis. For me to place one rotating ad on their website, on four pages, cost me $10K for 30 days. They were able to charge that because of the registered members and the reach to customers they already have.
So you see the point is this. Your repeat customers are your very best customers. By being able to contact them consistently is they way that you are going to be able to win the game. It is not enough to constantly depend on your fresh marketing tactics to make the money. You need to use the tools that are available in eBay and build your business. People will even offer you large amounts of money to buy your eBay business if you are successful at this.
It’s all a chain. You push out fresh marketing (I call it cold-marketing) and you get the unique visitors to the site. The unique visitors are the ones that are visiting your site for the very first time. When they are there, you need to capture any information that you have about them and sometimes all you can get is an email address. That is fine. You just need a way to contact them. Statistics in internet marketing firms have proved that the average customer that has opted in (signed up), to learn more information or to remain updated on sales, will make a purchase on the 5th through 7th exposure.
That’s a lot of waiting if you only send out newsletters once a month. But the fact is that it is all in the next sale. Once you have a customer, you need to treat them as they were the most important thing in your business, because they are.
Tip 4: Start small and grow your business.
Success does not happen overnight. Growing an eBay business takes a lot of time and effort. It isn’t as much as a business-in-a-box like some people say. It really is a legitimate business that needs to be treated and conducted in that manner. If you are expecting your eBay business to grow in exponential leaps and bounds, you need to go grab a cup of coffee and look at some facts.
Most eBay businesses fail. It’s just the sad fact that people do not want to hear but it’s true. Most businesses fail in general. It’s not just online businesses that fail. It takes a certain type of person and business model to make a business work. The way that it works is by accepting the position and situation that you are in and accept that you are a tiny operation. And that’s what it is.
Your business will grow from a small business into a medium business and on to a large business. And then eventually you will come to the arena of having a Gargantuan eBay business. But this takes a lot of steps along the way. There’s no simple formula to conduct. The formula is in the generalities of how internet marketing is operated and you must follow those general guidelines according to the business and niche that you are in. The more that you know about the target market that you have the better that you will be able to put items that they want in front of them. And then you take the strategies that I write about and tailor them to those customers that purchased or visited the site.
Tip 5: Try, Try and Try again.
This now leads into the growing pains. Trust me, it can be very stressful to see how others are doing their business and you copy them to only find out that it doesn’t work. Then you get distracted or upset to the point where you give up. I’ve seen this time over time over time again.
The bigger eBay businesses that are making the big bucks had to go through the same growing pains. But did they quit? No. They did not quit and they took those hard-knock lessons and put them to use. They did something that I wish every eBay business would do, they learned from their mistakes and tweaked their strategies along the way.
It’s going to be tough if you are a small operation with little capital for marketing and implementation for traffic. But that doesn’t mean that what you have doesn’t work.
I have met some pretty successful people that became successful from things that they did that wasn’t arranged and calculated. It was actually by chance or accident. Haven’t we all heard of these stories? Remember the Post-It note guy. Here’s a guy who tried hundreds of times to try to make the perfect glue that would not break or decay. After all of his experiments he essentially became an accidental success. He found out that all his papers were sticking together softly and that his glue sucked. It wasn’t the most powerful and permanent glue in the world, it was actually the most temporary glue. Papers that were glued together came apart very easily. Then he had his eureka moment. He became a multi-millionaire from his failed experiments. By using his “worthless” glue and cutting them into little notepads that would pull apart with ease.
Do you see what I am trying to say here? Your intensity is great in certain areas of your business, but sometimes you never know what is going to click and work. The more that you try, and continue to try, the more chances that you are going to be able to find out that what makes your business unique and has the potential in areas that you thought were mere business repetition.
Tip 6: Use a standard template for all your eBay auctions.
Using a standard template on your eBay auctions listings will give you a professional appearance. If you can’t design your own template, search on the internet for free eBay templates that you can use.
Make sure your template for eBay auctions always contains links to your About Me page, your feedback, your eBay shop and a link to add you as a favorite seller.
You do not want a person to think that you are inconsistent with your business. If you are inconsistent with the appearance of your business, who’s to say that you are not inconsistent with the rest of the features of your business.
Tip 7: Stay up to date.
There is a lot of information out there in the world that directly handles the trends that are in alignment with your niche. You need to research and find the top ten references where you can get your information to stay on top of the game. When something new happens, you need to know within minutes of how to implement that trend into your store.
Here’s what I do. I have Google Reader on my iGoogle page that is set up as my homepage. So every time I wake up in the morning and sit down at my computer with my cup of coffee I see all the new information that is streamed to me.
I have visited dozens of websites, magazines and blogs, and set up an RSS feed that is automatically sent to me. I did it one time and now I am updated every morning when I sign in. It is such a simple measure to take that is crucial to the success of your eBay business to stay on top of trends. I even keep track of news that happens around the world to predict the results that comes from those news articles.
Let me share an example with you on how I implement this. Let’s say that there is a presidential election that is happening to where a person came out of left field into the limelight and started sweeping the nation’s vote. This particular presidential candidate that is growing in popularity has grown to become an icon of sorts because of the fact that he is an underdog story. Isn’t this a familiar story? President Obama was a flux in e-commerce. He had Americans wearing t-shirts, hats, flags, etc., with his name and face on them. It was an entire bandwagon movement.
The first ones that get onto the trend will be on top. If you were to wait until a month after the election and sales went down, you were left out. The point is to simply keep informed on anything that happens in any spectrum that could effect the nature of your business.
Tip 8: Use Skype!
What a great and common sense tool that is so underutilized. Why are people so afraid to be involved in their own customer service? Many people think that their eBay store is a part-time business and that they do not have time to sit around and answer a call from every person who stumbles across their eBay store. You are missing out if you think this way.
Put the personal element back into e-commerce. People want to buy from people and that is a fact. This is a relationships game as much as it is a marketing game. If you do not want to be on Skype the whole time talking to potential customers, outsource it.
But make sure that the person that you hire is at least a little like you. If you have a store claiming that you are a stay-at-home mother of three who runs a business, don’t have a person from India talking to the customer. Hire another stay-at-home mom to do it.
If people know that you are accessible your sales will quadruple. They will actually feel a connection with you and feel that your passion comes across as genuine and honest. I’ve found that people pay for the experience just as much as the product. If you make the communication easily accessible and pleasant, they will probably think of you as a person instead of a store and come back. With the advent of all these new tools and Web 2.0, no one is in the business to make sales anymore, they are in the business to make friends.
Tip 9. Find Alliances
Traffic is very hard to get on the web. Lack of traffic is what destroys great small businesses because they can’t get the customers in the “door.”
This is why I am a very strong advocate of going to the source of where the traffic is already at. People before you have already laid the tracks of generating traffic. You need to see about going to those websites that have the clientele already, that are in alignment with your niche, and make a deal with them.
Trust me, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on trying to get traffic from Adwords, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, you name it. I wrote articles and content to rank high in SEO organic search results.
But the fact remains the same. People that have been around already dominate the traffic. You just need to find it in yourself to be a team player. Figure out those websites that could help your eBay business and see how the two of you can conduct a partnership. Go in with the mentality of what you can do for them. Websites with the bigger numbers always are getting hit up from the little websites for partnership. But if you have some great products because of a season or activity, go partner up.
Tip 10. Outsource.
If you are not good at something, like writing, SEO, design, or anything, than you need to outsource. It is not that expensive to go out there and find someone that is better than you to do it for you. It’s actually common practice. I found out something interesting recently. Did you know that 2/3 of the list on the NY Best-Sellers list were actually written by ghost writers? You see, people are out there with a lot of talent. Let them handle the affairs that you are deficient with.
Tip 11. The W.I.I.F.M Complex.
We are usually looking out for ourselves in our business. It’s just nature to gather nuts and berries and to reserve for ourselves. But that is where the nature of trading is flawed. You cannot have the mentality of What’s In It For Me. The most important person is the customer. It’s all about them. You need to look at the items and service that you give through their eyes and be honest if you are looking out for the customer, or merely yourself. Many people who own their own eBay business love that they have no boss, but they are wrong for thinking this, they do have a boss; their customers.
Tip 12. Start a mailing list or newsletter.
If you have an eBay store, you can start your own newsletter, you can use this newsletter to send out emails advising customers of new items you have listed. If you don’t have an eBay store you can still set up a mailing list, I personally use Aweber but there are many auto responder mailing lists available on the internet, just perform a search on Google. Some are free but will include advertising or limit you to only 10 messages.
Remember my story of the guy that had 2 million unique visitors? Well I had a consultant come in and take a look at his website. Had he had a mailing list or newsletter in place for the past ten years that he had his website, he would have been making over $6MM a year from his list. Think of how much he’s missed out over the past 10 years without having one. It should make him want to cry.
Step 13: Automate as much as you can.
As much as I want you to put the person in the business, there’s has to be ways that you can automate the business while you sleep. The tools that eBay gives you are the best of the best. Set up everything that you can to automate.
I also believe that outsourcing is a way of automation. If you do not have to do the business, you have automated that part. This is like hiring a management person or company to handle affairs that can’t or do not care to do. Nobody want to answer emails all day.
Tip 14. Never Underestimate SEO
I always find it fascinating, and disturbing, when people have absolutely no regard for the powers of SEO. Everything on eBay is catalogued and indexed in order to help the customer fin exactly what they want.
This can be another thing that I want you to outsource for your business. The constant changes in SEO are so complex and in flux that it really takes a full-time organization to execute this properly. The major point is to be found. One of those ways that you are going to be found is by ranking in the search engine results.
Tip 15: Don’t Give Up!
No matter how low your sales are, no matter how bad things look, don’t give up. It may even look like everything is going wrong! But stick with it! Just keep trying and testing. It takes time to build up an eBay business, but if you keep working hard you will finally make a breakthrough. Apply these simple 15 steps and you will make your eBay business a success.