Ebay

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by mwtslf23, Oct 18, 2006.

  1. mwtslf23

    mwtslf23 Texan in Ohio

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    Anyone out there making a decent living off of ebay? I sure want to find someway to make a living from the farm. I would like to do something with ebay and the farm.

    Mike
     
  2. omnicat

    omnicat Well-Known Member

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    I have sold stuff on ebay before. But just for "closet cleaning", not for trying to make a living. I don't have that much stuff. And most of what I'm discarding - well, there's usually a reason why I'm discarding it, which makes it difficult to resell...

    I don't like shopping (or selling) enough to try and garage-sale re-sellable items, or fuss with finding wholesale sourses for regular selling.

    I've sold seed before, though, since I always have extra. Not very profitable though - since all the fees invloved mean that your profit tends to be swallowed up too quick when selling low-priced items.

    It's possible to supplement your living though - if you produce or make something interesting, that people want.
     

  3. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Probably 99% of what you hear about people making BIG bucks, with MIMINUM effort, selling on eBay is bunk. Like the stories in the paper about people quitting fairly well paying jobs to buy and sell Barbies and such. I suspect almost all of them are back working for someone else within a year.

    The problem with eBay is largely the thundering herd aspect of it. If you have goats and make goat milk soap, likely there are hundreds of others offering goat milk soap on eBay*. Unless you have something REALLY unique, and do an EXCELLENT job of marketing it, you are going to be run over by the thundering herd.

    (*When I did an inquiry, there were 365 regular (bidding or B-I-N) listings for goat milk soap and another 1,488 in eBay stores.)

    For anything you think you might be able to sell in enough volume to do well on do an inquiry on it to see what your competition is going to be.

    Some folks make beautiful crafts which don't sell well on eBay as they are largely something buyers want to see and feel in person. I've seen this multiple times with guys who are part-time or hobby blacksmiths. They knock out some items, offer them on eBay and they bomb. Soon they have given up doing so.

    eBay stores are GREAT; however, you still have to find ways to drive people to them AND even here you still face being run over by the thundering herd.

    You also have to compete with brick and mortar business which also sell on eBay on the side. For example STANLEY now sells some of their tools directly on ebay.

    Likely the days of being about to purchase for eBay resale at auctions are largely over as a profitable activity. Problem here is soooooo many other people have the same idea. I have seen people walking around at auctions/estate sales obviously talking to someone on their cellphone who is obviously on a PC checking out the resale potential of particular items. (And even here you sometimes compete against the auction crew who have had additional time to do item research.)

    It is possible to buy at wholesale (or even retail) and then list the items on eBay, but pretty well ONLY if you are the only one doing it. As soon as others see you making sales here comes the thundering herd. Soon everyone is trying to undercut the other guy and all profit margin disappears.

    On markups, if you are only doubling your money you are doing little more than breaking even due to all of the associated selling expenses. Even that doesn't include your time and effort. You can make some tripping the price you paid. It is the ones which go three or more times better where you can make the money. Difficult to consistently find items on which to do so.

    Yeah, you hear those stores about 'finds'. I sold a small glass figureine for a friend. She paid $.50 for it at a yard sale and it sold for a bit over $75.00. Turns out to have been a collector's item. Had we known what it was, and offered it as such, likely it might have gone significantly higher. However, those 'finds' are few and far between.

    I sell extensively on eBay. I expect to gross between $48-50K this year, out of which I'll net about 1/3rd before taxes. However I have a very specialized area, in which I have virtually no competition, selling to a nitch market. I'm sort of the gorilla in my particular area of specialization. I create most of my items, sometimes taking one cheap item and turning it into two moderately priced ones (value added concept). On a lot of my items I am THE only one selling them on eBay. Even with about 500 listings only a handful of them are my real money makers.

    However, I note between the shop, eBay, packaging and shipping time I often put in an eight plus hour day on it.

    It is a hobby business for me more than anything else. If it were to grow too much I'd likely control sales by raising prices so it doesn't cut into my 'quality' time, which can include doing nothing more than leaning on a gate watching this year's calf crop graze.
     
  4. clovis

    clovis Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Ken wholeheartedly. The wisdom he shares on this topic is incredible.

    The market is tough. I personally know of only two people selling on ebay as their only source of income. And I must admit that I think both of them are near broke at this time.

    I do believe that ebay is a great way to make extra money if you know what you are selling and get a little lucky now and then. I have personally sold $477 worth of stuff on ebay this week alone. I figured that I honestly had $44 in all the stuff that I sold. I do go to as many auctions as possible and hit every garage sale I see. I spend virtually all my free time buying and selling stuff for flea marketing, so it is a little easier for me to find a deal or get lucky on some item.

    I think it would be very difficult for me to continue this type of selling and profiting each and every week. It is not every day that I can find a Nikon camera with accessories in like new condition for $30, or a box of Legos that has some hard to find figure that sells for $61.

    The other side of the equation is that I am just not knowledgeable about what will sell on ebay. For instance, a friend of mine bought a new well pump for $95 at an auction. I thought he was insane, and would take a huge loss on the item. Wanna guess who was wrong? He sold it within 12 hours on ebay and made a $100 profit. A guy just gave me a monster stack of CD's recorded by artists that I had never heard of...I really thought I would mark them $1 each at the flea market. The wife convinced me to list them on ebay in seperate lots, and they brought $98.50 total, and I still have 35 CD's left to list.

    That in a nut shell is my two cents. I think there is tremendous opportunity to profit on ebay, but you really have to work it or get lucky. Like Ken said, the 'herds' are out there, even though there are some unbelievable finds at garage sales and auctions. There are still people looking for the same stuff you are, but gems are everywhere waiting to be found!!!!

    Again, great side money, but as a full time job???? I know I couldn't make it.
    clove
     
  5. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    To follow-up on comments:

    Some people shop eBay with the specific intent to resell on eBay. Usually they look for grossly underpriced buy-it-now auctions or for improperly listed ones. For example, check out misspelling of simple words like diamond. I admit to having done this myself, such as finding listings which used wrenches rather than wrenchs or adjustible rather than adjustable.

    This is another one of those thundering herd areas though.

    Bear in mind on auctions you are also dealing with part-timers, such as a non-employed spouse or retiree, just looking to make a couple of bucks on the side.

    I have a firm conviction eBay has caused prices at auctions to go up significantly over the past 5-6 years. One could sometimes buy a pile of odds & ends boxes for $1.00. Now individual boxes, which don't even appear to have anything of value in them, go for $10 or more.
     
  6. CraftyDiva

    CraftyDiva Is anybody here?

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    I guess the place to be then is at the auctions, selling on consignment those box lots.
     
  7. blufford

    blufford Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi Mike, Go to the ebay home page and type the word homemade in the search line. Then click on to the completed listings to check the items that have sold. You can further narrow your search my choosing specific catagories on the left.
     
  8. DenverGirlie

    DenverGirlie Well-Known Member

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    I'm a hobby seller.

    I pick things up at yard sales and also have some unusal scorces for getting things to sell that don't cost me anything.

    However, in lean times of reduced income I've made enough to cover my bills. I would say that on the things I purchase for selling on eBay my average is a 50% return after fees, cost of merchandise, etc.

    I find that lots of photos help sell things. To circumvent eBay fees for photos per listing I use an outside service that I pay $10 a month for that let's me set up templates, photos, etc offline and then the system uploads it for me at the time I want it to list.

    It's a lot of work thou. Cleaning items, photographing, uploading to computer renaming and organizing photos, uploading those to the internet, writing descriptions, determining postage costs, listing, answering questions, packaging and mailing takes a good bit of time.
     
  9. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    In theory perhaps, but perhaps also not in reality. People go to consignment auctions pretty well knowing what is there is likely to be junk people can't sell otherwise. At auctions/estate sales usually it is least things only one family, etc. has accumulated and need to dispose of usually for a death, downsizing, moving, etc. with no prior sale attemps (excluding possible pre-sale yard sales, etc.).

    Just had a somewhat typical sale for me. In my eBay store I had listed shopmade pokers for wood burning stoves and for outdoor woodburners. I received an inquire if I could make something inbetween for a firepit. That market had never occurred to me. Used the one I made in a listing and have sold several since. Sale this AM was for one about halfway between the firepit one and the outdoor woodburner one (a beefed-up firepit poker). Due to additonal stock and effort I charged buyer 1.5 times the normal firepit price. That too will become a listing once I make it up. I often add items to meet demand I hadn't anticipated.
     
  10. clovis

    clovis Well-Known Member

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    Ken, I have to respectfully disagree with you on a couple of points, at least in my area in central Indiana.
    Most of the consignment auctions I attend still have TONS and TONS of ebay bargains. I also have to disagree about ebay sellers running prices thru the roof. It was the case several years ago, but not so today. I can still fill a Chevy S-10 for $125.
    I think the case in our area is that most of the ebay sellers know certain items, like Ford Model T parts or Lionel trains, but they don't usually know everything else. I bought a lot of vintage ladies hats for $1, and resold them on ebay for $51 this past week. The auction was crawling with ebayers, yet I made that simple score. I find this is the case at nearly every auction I attend.
    I have also found that at alot of auction barns have tons of good items, often because the consigners simply don't want to mess with listing the items they have for sale on ebay. Lots of foreclosed storage units come thru our local auction barn, as well as estates. I find lots of ebay items there.
    I do agree, however, that in some areas, ebay has caused auction items to dramatically rise. I am sure of this, but is not true in our area.
    clove
     
  11. A'sta at Hofstead

    A'sta at Hofstead Turkey Wrangler

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    We have a sign shop and sell vinyl decals on ebay (signs, wallwords, truck stickers, mailbox lettering, boat lettering etc) We have a busy business here, but keep our Ebay store up even when we are too busy to list auction format- I have to tell you Ebay saves our butts in the winter time! We also sell the occasional unwanted item, and have always done quite well. You MUST be service minded, the feedback you get is a HUGE part of buyers clicking on that bid or buy it now button.
     
  12. mwtslf23

    mwtslf23 Texan in Ohio

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    Thank you for all the feedback. It seems to me that ebay is like any other business. You have people making money and people losing the shirt off their backs. I guess you have to know what people want and market your business like any other.

    Mike
     
  13. featherbottom

    featherbottom Well-Known Member

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  14. Show-Me-Stater

    Show-Me-Stater Well-Known Member

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    Ken-
    You've got some real nice items in your store. I passed the link to your store along to my little brother, who is getting into blacksmithing. He's been shopping for a propane-powered forge.
     
  15. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    "Go to the ebay home page and type the word homemade in the search line. Then click on to the completed listings to check the items that have sold. You can further narrow your search my choosing specific catagories on the left."

    Rather illustrates my point. When I did the search there were 2009 regular listings. I only looked at first 200, all of which closed in less than 6 1/4 hours. Only 34 of them had bids, and several of those were for things such as quilts. Of course, this doesn't inlcude buy-it-nows which sold.