Monthly Archives: May 2011

How to Think Like an eBay PowerSeller.

So what’s a PowerSeller? PowerSellers are the people on eBay who’ve made it, recognisable by the little ‘PowerSeller’ badge next to their name. You’ve probably seen these people around – and to succeed on eBay, you want to think the way they do.

How to People Get the Right to Call Themselves PowerSellers?

eBay gets to decide who can be a PowerSeller and who can’t, and they have strict requirements. To get in at the minimum PowerSeller level, you must have a feedback rating of at least 100 (minimum 98% positive) and sell at least $1,000 worth of items every month for three months in a row. There are different levels of PowerSeller membership as you sell items of greater value: $1,000 total is bronze, $3,000 is silver, $10,000 is gold, $25,000 is platinum and $125,000 is titanium.

If PowerSellers ever fail to meet the required amount of sales, or their feedback falls below 98% positive, then they lose their PowerSeller status. In short, the only people who get to be PowerSellers on eBay are the people who have been successful for a good while, and are on track to stay that way.

The Shop and the Marketplace.

This is the most important part of understanding how PowerSellers think. They don’t see what they’re doing as being some random bazaar, or a hobby – instead, they see themselves as a business.

Put it like this. If you run a stall in a marketplace, the chances are that you have a general area of business, but you mostly just sell whatever you can get your hands on that week. If your dodgy buddy got his hands of a job lot of something at a discount, then that’s what you’ll be selling. This might be fun – and when you have a good week, you’ll have a really good week – but it’s no way to run a real business in the long-term.

PowerSellers think far more like shops. They sell the same things again and again, every week – regular stock for regular customers. They do ‘boring’ business things like keep inventories and budgets. They know what they’re going to be selling, how much they buy it for and how much they expect to sell for. Just like a real shop, there can be hard times sometimes, but their income is stable and their business can grow slowly.

The best advice I can give you on thinking like a PowerSeller is this: don’t take long-term risks for short-term gain. Look after your reputation, manage your selling properly, provide good customer service and the rewards will come to you in due course. And you’ll get a little badge next to your name that makes people trust you more!

One possibility that you might have realised so far is what eBay can do for any other businesses you might have. Remember, millions of people visit eBay every day – why keep everything separate when you’re starting to tap into that kind of power? The next email will show you a few ways you can use eBay to grow your other businesses.

The Importance of A Good Design

Your website is the hub of your online business; it is the virtual representation of your company whether your company exists physically or not. When you are doing business online, people cannot see you physically like how they could if they were dealing with an offline company. Hence, people do judge you by your covers. This is where a good design comes in.

Imagine if you are running an offline company. Would you allow your salespersons to be dressed in shabby or casual clothes when they are dealing with your customers? By making your staff wear professionally, you are telling your customers that you do care about quality. This works simply because first impressions matter.

Similarly, the same case is with your website. If your website is put together shabbily and looks like a 5 minute “quick fix”, you are literally shouting to your visitors that you are not professional and you do not care for quality.

On the opposite, if you have a totally professional looking website layout, you are giving your visitors the perception that you have given meticulous attention to every detail and you care about professionalism. You are organised, focused and you really mean business.

On the other hand, you should also have anything related to your company well designed. From business cards to letterheads to promotional brochures, every little bit matters. This is because as you grow your business, these items become the face of your business. Once again, think of the “salesperson dressed shabbily” anology, and you will get my point.

eBay – Part Time or Full? How to Decide.

Going full-time as an eBay seller is living the dream: making a real income, working from home, being your own boss and all the rest of it. It’s the promise of a million scams, and it’s finally come true – at least for some.

What they don’t tell you in the success stories, though, is that becoming a full-time eBay seller is by no means for everyone. You really, really ought to try it part-time before you even consider taking it up full-time, and even then, caution is advisable. Before you burn your suit, here’s a list of questions you should ask yourself.

How Much Do I Earn From eBay Now?

Work out how many hours a week you spend doing eBay-related things (be honest here), and divide it by the average amount of profit you make in a week. If you were doing full-time hours, would you earn as much as you earn now?

Do I Have a Good Job?

Think about what you might lose if you give up your job to focus on eBay. If you’re in a well-paid job with good promotion prospects then it’s well worth reconsidering: you might get a few years down the line and wish you’d stayed in your traditional job, as you’d probably be the CEO by now.

Would I Really Make Much More Money?

Unless you’re selling a large quantity of small goods, most of what you do on eBay will be waiting for auctions to end – and you can wait at work just as easily as you can at home. This is why whether you would make more money on eBay really depends on what kinds of items you’re selling – for low value items, going full-time could be a good move. For high-value ones, the chances are you’ll hit the limits of how much money you have to invest in inventory long before you hit the limits on your time.

Is my Home a Good Place to Work?

Quite apart from anything else, you might find that the dream of home working is more of a nightmare in reality. People can start to depend on you to get things done that need to be done during the day. If you have a wife and children then they can resent the fact that you’re in the house but refuse to have anything to do with them for large parts of the day. Giving in to any of these things and stopping work for a while will cause your profits to fall.

Can I Survive if it All Goes Wrong?

In the end, would you be able to get by if you had a month or two where you sold literally nothing? Or would you be desperately looking around for a job and cursing the day you ever discovered eBay? That’s the real test.

If you made it through all these questions, then I guess you’re cut out for the eBay life – and even if you didn’t, you’d be surprised just how far you can get part-time. In our next email, we’ll show you how to think like the eBay elite: the PowerSellers.

Search Engine Friendly Pages

There is no point in building a website unless there are visitors coming in. A major source of traffic for most sites on the Internet is search engines like Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Altavista and so on. Hence, by designing a search engine friendly site, you will be able to rank easily in search engines and obtain more visitors.

Major search engines use programs called crawlers or robots to index websites to list on their search result pages. They follow links to a page, reads the content of the page and record it in their own database, pulling up the listing as people search for it.

If you want to make your site indexed easily, you should avoid using frames on your website. Frames will only confuse search engine robots and they might even abandon your site because of that. Moreover, frames make it difficult for users to bookmark a specific page on your site without using long, complicated scripts.

Do not present important information in Flash movies or in images. Search engine robots can only read text on your source code so if you present important words in Flash movies and images rather than textual form, your search engine ranking will be affected dramatically.

Use meta tags accordingly on each and every page of your site so that search engine robots know at first glance what that particular page is about and whether or not to index it. By using meta tags, you are making the search engine robot’s job easier so they will crawl and index your site more frequently.

Stop using wrong HTML tags like to style your page. Use CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) instead because they are more effective and efficient. By using CSS, you can eliminate redundant HTML tags and make your pages much lighter and faster to load.

Ad Swap Magic

Here is a little used technique you can implement to build your mailing list for no additional cost. I call it “using subscribers to make subscribers” like much in the context of “using money to make money”.

This simple list building formula can be summed up in two words: ad swap.

Generally, you trade advertisements with other eZine publishers, preferably of the same mailing list size or bigger. You broadcast the eZine publisher’s advertisement to your mailing list while the eZine publisher endorses your ad to his list. Yes, you are actually cross endorsing or cross promoting each others offer to each of your mailing list.

Your advertisement’s goal should be to get as many subscribers possible from the other eZine publisher’s mailing list to sign up for yours.

The result: you grow your mailing list. This method does not require money, which means it can be done for free. And the return of subscribers? Infinite!

You only have to do this with one eZine publisher at least once, because his subscribers who are also your subscribers can now be followed up within the boundaries of your mailing list.

Perform ad swaps with as many eZine publishers as possible and soon, you will have a huge mailing list of your own built free.

10 Steps to Successful Selling on eBay.

So you want to be a successful seller with your own eBay business, do you? Here’s a simple, ten-step path to eBay enlightenment.

Step 1: Identify your market. Take a while to sit and watch for what sells and what doesn’t out of the items you’re interested in. Any market research data you can collect will be very useful to you later on. You’ll probably see the ‘sweet spots’ quite quickly – those one or two items that always seem to sell for a good price.

Step 2: Watch the competition. Before you invest any money, see what the other sellers in your category are up to, and what their strategies are. Pay special attention to any flaws their auctions might have, because this is where you can move in and beat them at their own game.

Step 3: Find a product: Get hold of a supplier for whatever it is you want to sell, and see what the best rates you can get are – don’t be afraid to ring round quite a few to get the best deal. If the eBay prices you’ve seen are higher than the supplier’s, then you’re set.

Step 4: Start small: Don’t throw thousands at your idea straight away – get started slowly, see what works and what doesn’t, and learn as you go. Remember that it’s very cheap to try out even the craziest ideas on eBay, and who knows, they might just work!

Step 5: Test and repeat. Keep trying different strategies until you find something that works, and then don’t be ashamed to keep doing it, again and again. The chances are that you’ve just found a good niche.

Step 6: Work out a business plan: A business plan doesn’t need to be anything formal, just a few pages that outline the market opportunity you’ve spotted, your strategy, strengths and weaknesses of the plan and a brief budget. This is more for you than it is for anyone else.

Step 7: Invest and expand: This is the time to throw money at the problem. Buy inventory, and start spending more time on your business. Set a goal number of sales each week, increasing it each time.

Step 8: Make it official: Once you’ve made a few thousand dollars worth of sales, you should really register yourself as a business. Don’t worry, it’s not expensive or hard to do – a lawyer is the best person to help you through the process.

Step 9: Automate: You’ll probably find that you’re writing the same things again and again in emails or item descriptions. This is the time to give up on the manual method and turn to automated software that can create listings for you, and respond to completed auctions and payments with whatever message you provide.

Step 10: Never give up: Even when it looks like it’s all going wrong, don’t stop trying until you succeed. If you keep working at it then you’ll almost always find that you make a real breakthrough just when things are starting to look desperate.

Once you get into the swing of things, you might start thinking that you should quit your job and take up eBay selling part time. But it’s not always as easy as that – there are all sorts of factors that you need to consider. The next email will weigh up the case for and against taking up eBay full-time.

Reducing Load Time Through Image Optimization

Even though more and more Internet users switch to broadband every year, a large portion of the web’s population is still running on good old dialup connections. It is therefore unwise to count them out of the equation when you’re designing your website, and a very major consideration we have to make for dialup users is the loading time of your website.

Generally, all the text on your website will be loaded in a very short time even on a dialup connection. The culprit of slow-loading sites is mainly large images on your website, and it is very important to strike a delicate balance between using just enough images to attract your users and not to bog down the overall loading time of your site.

You should also go to a greater length and optimize every image on your site to make sure it loads in the least time possible. What I really mean is to use image editing software to remove unnecessary information on your images, and thereby effectively reducing the file size of your image without affecting its appearance.

If you own Photoshop, it will be obvious to you that when you save an image as a JPEG file, a dialog box appears and lets you choose the “quality” of the JPEG image — normally a setting of 8 to 10 is good enough as it will preserve the quality of your image while saving it at a small file size. If you do not have Photoshop, there are many free image compressors online that you can download and use to reduce your image’s file size.

On the other hand, you can opt to save your images in PNG format to get the best quality at the least file size. You can also save your images in GIF format — the image editing software clips away all the color information not used in your image, hence giving you the smallest file size possible. However, saving in GIF format will often compromise the appearance of your image, so make your choice wisely!

Converting Every Web Page into Subscriber Snatching Devices

If you own one-page sales letter business models or content-based websites, you should turn every webpage possible into subscriber snatching devices for you. The good news is that not only is this method extra effective, it is just as extra effortless when it comes to applying the concept.

Since visitors can come and leave without remembering your website in the future (which is very likely to happen), you can still follow up with your visitors easily by seeking their permission to opt into your mailing list through your web pages on autopilot!

You can create a pop up window to appear after your visitor attempts to close the window or leaves your website, asking for your visitor’s name and email address so that you can follow up with him or her in the near future via subscribing to your mailing list for free.

This way, you can convert a big portion of your visitors into subscribers, giving you a chance to follow up with them on other offers you may have in the future.

Alternatively, you can insert an opt-in form within the spaces of your web pages. This method is effective, especially if you are afraid of Internet users who have pop up killers installed in their web browsers, set to block any pop up windows.

In conclusion, turning every webpage you own into subscriber snatching devices with little effort can be responsible for huge subscriber-pulling results.

10 Sure-fire Ways to Kill Your eBay Business.

It’s surprisingly easy to kill your eBay business, if you’re not careful – sure, you can start over from scratch without it costing you anything, but do you really want to? Still, if you want your business to end up dead in the water, here are some simple ways to do it.

Lie about an item: Say it works fine when it sometimes doesn’t work. Say it’s in perfect condition when it has a scratch. Your customers will hate you!

Post whenever you feel like it: Make sure to leave your customers hanging around, wondering when their item is going to turn up. This makes sure they buy from someone else next time.

Let items end anytime: Few people will be around to care about your auction if it ends in the middle of the night. Why go to the trouble of working out whether auctions will end at a good time?

Don’t bother with email: Customers are just timewasters anyway. eBay businesses are supposed to run themselves! Never give informed responses to questions about your item.

Sell rubbish: Really, it’s just eBay. You can just sell any old tat from the market for a 200% profit. Let quality be someone else’s concern – I mean, really, what do they expect for that price?

Refuse to give discounts: You know what your items cost, you know what your profit margin is going to be, and you’re not going to negotiate. Remember that giving customers special deals might make them feel good and come back to you again.

Make your listings ugly: As many colours, flashing lights and animations as possible will really give those customers a headache. Write as much in CAPITALS!!!! as you can. Preferably big, red capitals. Be sure to use the fonts Impact and Comic Sans. For an extra special touch, see if you can figure out a way to add some music.

Don’t take photos: It’s such trouble, after all. If buyers are picky enough to actually want to see items before they bid on them, then screw ’em, that’s what I say.

Write short descriptions: Be as brief as possible, and use lots of mysterious abbreviations. This obviously makes you look very cool. You can even just write the title again in the description box. Think of the effort you’ll save!

Use reserve auctions: Now, this is a fairly controversial final choice, but it really is one of the best ways to scare away your customers. They’ll see ‘reserve not yet met’, and click that ‘back’ button before you know it. Luckily, they can always bid in a normal auction for the item somewhere else.

Now that you know the ten ways to kill your eBay business, how about we explore what to do if you want to do the opposite, and make a success of it? The next email will give you ten steps to successful selling on eBay.

Pros and Cons of Flash-based Sites

Flash-based sites have been a craze since the past few years, and as Macromedia compiles more and more great features into Flash, we can only predict there will be more and more flash sites around the Internet. However, Flash based sites have been disputed to be bloated and unnecessary. Where exactly do we draw the line? Here’s a simple breakdown.

The good:

Interactivity

Flash’s Actionscript opens up a vast field of possibilities. Programmers and designers have used Flash to create interactve features ranging from very lively feedback forms to attractive Flash-based games. This whole new level of interactivity will always leave visitors coming back for more.

A standardized site

With Flash, you do not have to worry about cross-browser compatibility. No more woes over how a certain css code displays differently in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera. When you position your site elements in Flash, they will always appear as they are as long as the user has Flash Player installed.

Better expression through animation

In Flash, one can make use of its animating features to convey a message in a much more efficient and effective way. Flash is a lightweight option for animation because it is vector based (and hence smaller file sizes) as opposed to real “movie files” that are raster based and hence much larger in size.

The bad and the ugly:

The Flash player

People have to download the Flash player in advance before they can view Flash movies, so by using Flash your visitor range will decrease considerably because not everyone will be willing to download the Flash player just to view your site. You’ll also have to put in additional work in redirecting the user to the Flash download page if he or she doesn’t have the player installed.

Site optimization

If your content was presented in Flash, most search engines wouldn’t be able to index your content. Hence, you will not be able to rank well in search engines and there will be less traffic heading to your site.

Loading time

Users have to wait longer than usual to load Flash content compared to regular text and images, and some visitors might just lose their patience and click the Back button. The longer your Flash takes to load, the more you risk losing visitors.

The best way to go is to use Flash only when you absolutely need the interactivity and motion that comes with it. Otherwise, use a mixture of Flash and HTML or use pure text if your site is purely to present simple textual and graphical information.

Converting Every Visitor into Subscriber

If a person visits your website and leaves, chances are that he or she will not come back, especially if there are no compelling reasons to do so. After all, we all behave rather impulsively on the Internet, so much so that we can easily forget where we were 10 web pages ago.

But the bottom line is that your visitor may not come back to your website again. If 1,000 visitors visit your website, leave and never come back again, you can imagine the amount of potential revenue lost, simply because they do not come back. You could have converted a fraction of the visitors into your customers.

Some may say that creating unique content can keep some of the visitors coming back, but very often, unique content is not the solution. The real, long-term solution lies in converting your visitors into subscribers of your mailing list.

Before your visitor leaves your website, you want to convert him or her into your subscriber via a simple opt-in to your mailing list. You do this by asking for your visitor’s name and email address through your opt-in form.

And if your visitor signs up to be on your mailing list, you can still follow up with him via email. You can get your subscriber to consider your offer, or endorse another offer to him or her.

All in all, you want to convert as many visitors into subscribers as possible and obtain the potential revenue you rightfully deserve the easy, wise way.

10 Creative Traffic Building Ideas

Everyone wants traffic to their website. It is not always easy to get more people to visit your site. There are ways to generate the desired traffic. It takes being creative and innovative sometimes; yet here are several ideas that will help.

1. Use Flickr. Social photo sharing drives people to your website. Add good tags to the photos so they attract the members on the site. Write a post in your blog and add the link to the Flickr site. The two sites will work in unison to draw traffic to your site.

2. Join a social bookmarking site. Share your favorite sites with other people sharing the same interests. Include your website. The social sites are like a specific search engine for many people. Add the bookmarks to your blog site to increase your internet traffic. Add interesting links to relevant products that the users are searching for. The more interesting links you have bookmarked the larger your following will become.

3. Start blogging. Join several sites where you comment on the blog posts. Add your URL with posting. Keep in mind you are commenting on your posts so remain focused on the topic since you do not want your posting to be deleted or considered as spam. You want to appear knowledgeable and someone others can trust.

4. Use forum signatures for promotion of your site with a live link. Use topics with great information and link them back to your sties. The more information you provide the readers the more they will rely on you for your new information. They will return repeatedly to read what you are posting.

5. Add widgets, themes, and extension to your site. There are many free additions that will enhance your site. Make your site interesting rather than the typical boring website. Make your site user friendly and exciting. Users want to see and experience new things, give it to them with your site.

6. Use your friends to know your business and have them help spread the word about your website. They can use their personal blogs, websites, and contacts to increase your website traffic.

7. Use industry specific sites to add links and networks with by contacting the websites. Many are willing to join the cause to help your build your website traffic.

8. Expand your exposure by adding podcasts to your site. Include audio and video that is interesting and intriguing.

9. Submit your feed to blog site directories. The feed will drive traffic from another site to your site.

Last but not least:

10. Submit articles to article directories, using the resource box to drive traffic to your site and establish strong backlinks to your site; for the Search Engines.

When you do your traffic building, it is not really about the traffic but offering what the readers want. When you reach out to them with information and products you service a valuable purpose.

Is the eBay Customer Always Right?

I can answer this question for you right now: the answer is ‘yes’. In fact, the answer is ‘YES!’ – the biggest yes you’ve ever heard. Of the course the customer is always right. If you want to be a successful eBay seller, you should go miles out of your way to make sure every single one of your customers is 100% satisfied, however much time or money it might cost you.

A dissatisfied customer will leave negative feedback, and negative feedback is to be avoided at all costs. That one piece of negative feedback will always cost you more than it would have to deal with the complaint, whatever the value of the items you sell. You should consider any positive feedback percentage under 100% to be an absolute disaster, and a personal failure on your part.

But What If

But nothing! There is no situation where you, as a seller, should get into any dispute with a buyer. Here are a few common situations and how to handle them.

They say the item never arrived: Politely ask the buyer to wait a few more days to see if it turns up, and then email you again if it still hasn’t arrived. If it still hasn’t arrived, you should assume it was lost in the post somehow and offer to send a replacement if you have one, or give them a full refund otherwise. No, I don’t care what that costs you. Are you serious about selling on eBay or not?

The item has been damaged in the post: You must offer to replace it or take it back for a refund without hesitation.

They say the item doesn’t match the description: Resist the urge to email back with “yes it does, you just didn’t read the description properly”. Take the item back for a refund, and edit your description if you need to, to make any confusing points extra clear.

I’m sure you’re spotting a pattern by now. Offering a refund will make almost any problem go away, and it really will cost you less in the long run. Remember, one piece of negative feedback will stay with you forever, while having a 100% positive rating is like owning a bar of solid gold.

You should always handle customers’ complaints before they complain to eBay – in fact, you should email them pre-emptively to ask if they have any. Going through the dispute process is time consuming, reflects badly on you and is downright unnecessary.

Are you still not convinced? Think this would only work with cheap items? Well, you see, the higher the price of the items you sell, the more your reputation is worth to you. Let’s say you were selling $10,000 worth of items each week, for example, and making a $1,000 profit per week overall. You might think that refunding one customer’s $1,000 purchase would be a tragedy, losing you your whole week’s profit. It’s far better to look at it this way: if you don’t give that refund, then not only will you lose the next week’s profit, but you’ll probably lose a few weeks’ profit after that too. Now which option looks better?

I absolutely can’t emphasise enough the importance of really believing that the customer is always right. But trying to make excuses for complaints isn’t the only thing you need to avoid. There are a lot of pitfalls that you need to avoid if you don’t want to kill your business before it’s even started properly – and I’ll show you in the next email what they are.