The World at Your Fingertips
Here at TheSelfEmployed, we have a pal who once went bankrupt. After that, needing to do something new, he began to buy used motorcycle parts at garage sales and sell them on eBay. It cost him almost nothing to start this business, but before he knew it, he was self-employed and making $5,000 a month on eBay. And then $10K, and then $20K.
The fact is, starting an eBay business for almost no money is a great way to gain international exposure for your products, without having to pay for international advertising.
Set up your eBay profile in a way that humanizes your business — Showing some personality can go a long way…
However, competition is very stiff, and even large companies peddle their wares on the popular auction site. So, how can you take advantage of the exposure afforded by eBay and use it to build a successful business, without having a huge budget?
One of the great things about starting a business on eBay is that your entire operation is scalable. You don’t have to start with $50,000 worth of inventory. Instead, start with $50 worth of well-chosen books from the thrift store or $100 worth of collectibles from an estate sale.
You can get started with whatever your budget will allow. Just make sure you reinvest some of your profits in growing your business, and plan to scale up in size as your profits grow.
When you’re considering what you might like to sell on eBay, hot ticket tech items might be some of the first things that come to mind. After all, who doesn’t like to have the latest gadgets, right?
The problem is, everyone else wants to sell the hot new consumer products, too.
While you could forge a successful business selling the latest gizmos, you might actually be better off finding an under-served, niche market, and specializing in serving it. Doing so will drastically limit your competition, will simultaneously giving your business abundant opportunities to grow.
Know Your Product
Whatever you decide to specialize in, you should either be very familiar with, and have a love for the product, or be willing to do plenty of research. Clients are most comfortable purchasing from sellers when they know the sellers are experts on their merchandise.
Let’s say, for example, that you decide to go into clothing resale. If you don’t have an especially keen sense of fashion, you’ll really need to keep up on what’s in style and what’s not. Find out what websites and magazines your intended clientele pay attention to and subscribe to them or set up a system of daily research.
That way, you’ll be ahead of the curve when new trends start to take shape. You’ll know what type of stock to double down on and what clothing items you should dump while they're still selling (or hold on to until the next time it’s in style, which could take awhile).
Build a Solid Reputation
If you hope to build a loyal clientele of repeat customers who would be likely to refer others to you, then you’ll need to establish a solid reputation. Think about it: even if your business is in a highly specialized niche, it’s a big world out there.
Chances are good that your customers can get the same goods elsewhere, perhaps for even cheaper than you are selling them.
The factors that will keep them coming back to you are the same ones that make you drive a little longer to support your favorite local businesses. First, you need to establish a rapport with your customers.
This might seem hard to do so on a website like eBay, with its innumerable sellers and tons of daily traffic, but showing some personality can go a long way. Set up your profile in a way that humanizes your business. Post a good photo of yourself. Update your bio. You might be surprised at the results.
Maintaining your integrity is another important part of becoming a successful eBay seller. Don’t let the supposed anonymity of the Internet lull you into making unethical business decisions, or it will come back to haunt you. Instead, be as helpful as you can, if unsatisfied customers contact you.
True, resolving the issues brought to you may take some extra time and effort, but it will be worth it in the long run. Positive feedback that shows you’re willing to go the extra mile when everything doesn’t go quite as you had planned, is worth a more in the eyes of your prospective clients than “A+++ eBayer, Great Transaction!”
But that doesn’t hurt either, of course.
Do you have a great story about running a successful self-employed business on eBay or another online auction site? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!