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Making Money on eBay

Nancy Chesney, a small business specialist for the United States Postal Service, got the attention of her audience immediately: “Everyone in this room has at least $2,500 worth of stuff they could sell on eBay right now,” she said.

Her words, addressed to a group of budding entrepreneurs at the North Hills Library, near Pittsburgh, PA, hit their mark. Everyone there was interested in cashing in on the phenomenal success of eBay, the World’s Online Marketplace.

Although it has only been around for 11 years, eBay is HUGE, with results no one can argue with. Have a car to sell? On an average day, a car is sold on eBay every 60 seconds. On that same day, diamond jewelry sells every 83 seconds; a power tool and a kitchen appliance, every minute.

It’s estimated that more than 450,000 people in the U.S. sell full or part-time on eBay as their primary or secondary means of income. There are 125 million registered users. And eBay sellers ship over 900,000 items per day.

That’s a big marketplace. And that’s where eBay’s partnership with the United States Postal Service comes in: “Sell on eBay. Ship with U.S. Postal Service.”

The postal service offers several services to make eBay selling easier including different shipping options, “co-branded” boxes for shipping, insurance, and tracking. Visit eBay.com/usps for more information.

Just like shopping at the old town square

Ms. Chesney suggests that you think of eBay as a town square marketplace where you can sell and you can buy. As shoppers (virtually) walk around the stalls, checking out the merchandise, they already have a good idea of who to buy from because some of the sellers have good reputations they’ve earned through feedback from past buyers. Feedback is key on eBay for sellers. High feedback marks can bring more buyers your way because it gives them a little more confidence that you can be trusted.)

Rita Venturino, a talented Italian chef and cooking teacher, became interested in eBay when she was bidding on an item, and got to talking with the seller. “We talked and she mentioned that eBay is a terrific way to unload excess items that no longer interest you,” Rita says. “What was a collectible for me in the past has become excess stuff now.” And possible sale items on eBay.

Rita has been selling on eBay for about a year and has listed 500 items so far. She has enjoyed her transactions with buyers, and enjoys the challenge when lots of people are interested in the same item. Also, she has met some interesting people from all parts of the world.

Rita’s advice for those starting out is to do your homework on the items you want to sell. Conduct a search on eBay to determine if there are similar items for sale and what they are selling for so you can set a fair price for yours. Be precise in your detailed description of your item and include any imperfections.

“The more you tell, the easier it is for a buyer to consider bidding. And don’t be discouraged if your item doesn’t sell. It’s all a matter of timing. Wait a while and relist it again.” Rita says.

Proceed carefully if you are considering selling or even buying something on eBay. We all know people who have gotten The Greatest Deal Ever or found the last remaining piece to a prized collection, but also some who have been ripped off.

eBay Basics

Should you decide to sell on eBay, the first steps are simple. Visit www.eBay.com and click on “register.” You will need a valid email address, contact information and a user ID and a password.

To buy on eBay you will have to register for a PayPal account, the currency of eBay. This is generally the way you as a seller will be paid by those who are hot after your posted sales items. Register for an account at www.paypal.com.

There are fees associated with selling on eBay and with using PayPal. This is something you will have to investigate to see if it’s the right fit for you. Then take a look around your home. If Ms. Chesney is right, you may be sitting on a small gold mine.

By Teresa K. Flatley

(Editor’s Note: Visit Rita Venturino’s Italian Table at www.ritaventurino.com.)

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