July 6, 2006


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eBaysic training
How to get in on the Webarific flea market
By John “jaQ” Andrews  jandrews@hippopress.com

Every now and then, an industrious reader takes some initiative and sends me a note to ask how to do something geeky.

I’m always happy to oblige, especially at my heinously inflated consulting rate that I never disclose until all advice is dispensed.

This question’s answer could easily fill a whole column, though, so I, always on the lookout for easy work, decided to publish it.

I’m looking to broaden my computer experience by selling on eBay. What I would really like is a “show and tell” type of education, but adult evening classes usually are in the fall. Any suggestions for immediate gratification?


In the Internet age, you would expect immediate gratification to be more readily available, wouldn’t you? Fortunately, eBay does try to make it pretty simple to sell on their site. Even a first-timer can muddle through their multi-page listing form with a little patience and a lot of time.

Once you’re all hooked up with an eBay account, you can sign in to the “Sell” section. You may be asked for additional information — like bank account numbers. Yes, giving this information out over the Internet is usually a bad, bad, BAD idea. In this case, though, go for it. The info is used to validate you as a seller and make sure you don’t make off with buyers’ money. You can even sign up for PayPal, which lets you accept credit card payments.

Once you’re actually on the selling form, it’s cake. Choose a category in which to sell your item or let eBay recommend categories by typing in the name of the item. Chances are your item has been sold before, so someone has categorized it before.

Next comes naming and describing what you’re selling. Part numbers are great for researching what you have; if you’re selling something that’s not so crassly labelled, you’ll have to come up with a name and description yourself. Be as detailed as you can, and cram as much as possible into the 55-character item title — that’s what most people search on. Don’t worry about grammar.

The next page looks scary, but you only need to fill in the boxes with the green asterisks by them. A low starting price with no reserve means you might not make much money on your sale, but you’ll attract more attention. The duration of your auction and quantity are probably already set to the values you want (7 days and 1), so all you have left to worry about is a picture. You can either upload a photo you’ve taken yourself for free or search for a pre-existing picture through Google’s image search, which you can save to your desktop and upload the same way.

After that, just fill in your preferred payment methods and how much you’ll charge for shipping. That amount will be automatically added to your buyer’s invoice. Preview your listing and you’re done! You’ll be charged a flat insertion fee for listing your item and a final value fee that’s calculated based on your eventual selling price.

If you really do want a guided tour, eBay does sell a DVD called “Selling Basics” in their eBay University section. It’s $7.95 plus shipping. They also offer one-day classroom sessions; there’s one scheduled for July 22 in Portsmouth for $114. Free options include tours right on their site (http://pages.ebay.com/education).

Yes, I do occasionally answer reader letters! E-mail jandrews@hippopress.com.

Comments? Thoughts? Discuss these articles and more at hippoflea.com

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