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expense control Selling

Save Money on Your eBay Listing Fees

We have been selling stuff on eBay for a few years, now. It’s how we used to generate most of our online revenue.

eBay Inc.
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I had a lightbulb “doh!” moment a few days ago. I’d like to share so maybe you won’t hurt yourself slapping your own forehead.

eBay’s Changing Environment

eBay, in its own efforts to attract more high-volume Sellers and to settle the fears of new Buyers, has been re-working various fees and listing policies.

Most notoriously, they have removed the option for a Buyer to use personal checks or Money orders as a method of payment, and forced most Sellers to accept PayPal as their only means of payment.

But, eBay has also raised the Final Value Fees on items sold from a Store, lowered the fees to List a Fixed Price item, and the fees for any Book or CD/DVD.

This is all wonderful and confusing and maddening and generating “who-knows-what-this-will-do-to-MY-business” howls from Sellers of every business level.

One change we have taken advantage of is the new Fixed Price Listing fee structure. They are now just a Flat Fee.

For a single price of $0.35, we can create a Fixed Price Listing offering unlimited number of the item. It used to be based on the Total represented by the cost times the quantity. Now – Flat Fee for any quantity/price offering.

Yay!

The Gold Among Dross Secret

But, buried in these changes was a simple concept that I had overlooked or dismissed as not important.

Was I ever wrong.

It was a simple change to a previously forbidden or very restrictive policy. This is found in their “Circumventing Fees” examples.

Choice Listings – A listing where a seller allows buyers to choose from a selection of completely different items.  In general, sellers are permitted to offer a choice of sizes, colors and configurations of a particular item within a listing,  However, a listing may not offer buyers a choice of completely different items.

This is the final piece:

Listing a single item but offering additional identical items for sale in the item description is not permitted.

Exception: Multiple quantities may be sold in one listing through the following formats:

  • Dutch auction-type listing
  • Fixed Price listing
  • Lot listing

So What?

As it turns out, we sell primarily Brand New items. We do a good buying job, and then offer them on eBay and our other online store, www.bobbibopstuff.com.

We sell 8 different designs of the same Locking Diary for teens. We sell a dozen different designs of Blank Book Journals. We sell several items that are identical except for design or color.

All Righty Then!

My light-bulb is that I now only need to create a single listing for Teen Diaries, show all the design choices, and ask the Buyer to indicate how many of each design they want.

I can then keep track of how many are left.

As we run out of a particular design (which happens far more often that I generally keep track of) I can modify the hosted photo of that design to say “Sold Out” and then any and all my listings with that design are current as to availability.

Ordinarily, I will have 3 or 4 listings of a design, sell out, and then have to find and cancel the remaining ones – wasting the listing fees in the process.

WooHoo!

I cut my listings to only a fraction of my previous number and I keep track of inventory all in one swell foop.

Conclusion

What did I learn from this? Sure – I learned a technique for saving eBay fees.

Mostly, I learned to look a bit more slowly at the fine print, and to think more seriously about always finding ways to improve my business.

Saving a dime is a dime more of profit.

Save enough dimes, and the Profit dollars begin to add up.

What did you learn?

John L

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Categories
Goals

Setting Your Business Priorities

One of my constant battles is to set and keep my priorities straight.

Little things called life keep getting in the way, distracting me from making progress on my priorities. .

I keep a little sign near my PC monitor that says:

“Do Something EVERY Day Towards Accomplishing Your Goal!”

And I’m pretty good at doing Something.

It just might not be towards a higher priority.

Why Priorities Are Important

The trouble with not having clear Priorities, is that without them, you lose a very important filter with which to evaluate competing tasks or events.

You use filters or biases all day long when you subconsciously choose what to do, to think, to say, to ignore, or to avoid.

These filters are your past actions and experience, and current “known” priorities.

By “known” I mean that they are currently occupying space in your conscious thought.

If your Priority is to stay healthy, then this filter helps you put down the donuts and pick up the carrot.

But, if you haven’t pre-programmed your conscious thoughts to be aware of your eating habits, then the donut is gone, and you are left with regrets, not results.

You Want Results, Not Regrets.

After all, results are the tangible indication that your efforts have been effective.

Being Effective means that you have been working on the right things. Right things are the tasks and actions that move you towards your goal, that provide momentum and progress.

You feel better about your day when you see that Progress.

When I end my day, I want to look back and see my footprints on the path of progress. I don’t want to see a wandering mishmash of confusion or random happenings. I want to feel satisfied that I didn’t waste my day wasting my time.

I want to feel that satisfaction of, “Yes! I Did IT!”

Results each day bring you closer to your goals. Priorities keep you focused on those Right Things to do.

Your Highest Priorities In Business

There are only Three.

  1. Cash
  2. Content (Your Product or Service)
  3. Customers

If you need something to help you focus on what to do, these are your filters. Use them every day.

The Importance of Cash

If you don’t have any Cash, then your ONLY Priority is to get some.

“Cash is King!”

That motto summarizes this Priority.

If you don’t have any Cash, you will be out of business in a very short time. You need cash to do most anything in business.

I spent $89 – in cash – to get my business LLC paperwork prepared and filed. I spend $7.00 every month – in cash – to have this website hosted. (Is that a good expense?) My car (which I bought with cash) takes gasoline to run, which takes cash to buy.

Cash is ALWAYS required to keep business going.

“What about credit and lines of credit?”

What about them?

They provide a source of cash you can use, temporarily, to keep business going, but it takes Cash to pay it all off.

Ultimately, you have to generate more cash than you borrowed so you can stay in business.

The Federal Bailouts are providing an infusion of cash into various segments of the national economy. But the bailouts are funded by debt, not cash. Someone, somehow, some-when will have to end up forking over cash-money to pay these bailouts off.

So, if your business has no cash, your highest priority is to get some.

Credit or a loan is an acceptable short-term solution, as long as your long-term plan has all this paid off – using excess cash from your business revenues.

Saving or conserving cash from your existing cashflow is an even more acceptable method.

Just because you have it doesn’t mean you need to spend it.

The Dotcom bust of the early century wasn’t a failure because of lack of cash. No.

Most every dotcom venture was awash in it from eager investors. But, management, being unused to actually running a business and handling large sums of cash, ‘burned” it all up by spending on Cool Stuff.

They didn’t have the next 2 Priorities fixed in their operations.

Cash is King. If you don’t have any, get some – NOW – and then keep as much of it as you can.

You Gotta Sell Something

If you have Cash, then you can focus on your Second Priority, Content or Product.

If you don’t have a Product, then your ONLY priority is to get some.

I call this Content.

Your Content (I’m using this generically to include products and services, too) is what you will sell to continue generating Cash.

No Content, eventually, no Cash, and then, no Business.

But, remember Priority One – Don’t pay too much for your Content.

If you are planning to sell physical products, then you need to find and cultivate relationships with manufacturers or distributors or wholesalers of the kinds of products you intend to sell. You need to select, not settle, on a line of products that complement and supplement each other.

Your product line is You in the marketplace.

If you invented something and want to sell it, then your priority is to find a manufacturer that will produce your product for you.

A friend of mine invented a gee-haw in his spare time. He had me help him make a prototype for his patent application. He took that prototype to trade shows to see if he could sell it – no go.

He decided to produce it himself.

He has now interviewed and selected a job-shop that will produce and package for him at a cost he can afford.

He NOW has a product. He is actually on the road, now, paying attention to the Third Priority.

If your intention is to sell eBooks on the internet, then you need to buy, or create your eBook. You need to write Every Day until it is done.

If your intent is to make money selling advertising on your Blog, then write, write, write.

If you are offering your services, then clearly define what you will be doing and how much you will be charging and what you will NOT be doing or what will cost Extra.

You are in control of your content.

Be sure you can verbalize it in a short sentence or motto. Be sure you can paint word pictures to describe it. Be sure you can be distinguishable from all the other Sellers in your market.

Get your Content or Products solidified and available.

Who Are You Going To Sell It To?

“The Customer is King!”

Without a Customer, your product languishes on the shelf, your loans come due, your babies go hungry, and you fail.

WITH a customer, your product becomes known, your loans are all paid off, and your babies attend Harvard – you succeed.

If you have some cash, and you have your product, then pursue your Third Priority.

If you don’t have any Customers, then your ONLY Priority is to get some.

If your business is local, then you need to do local stuff to find and secure your customers.

Conserve Cash, and go door-to-door if necessary to get your customers.

Use the phone.

Post notices on bulletin boards.

Signs and Posters in your store-front.

CraigsList.

If your business is online, then build a great website with good Search Engine Optimization. Visit and participate in Forums where your likely customers hang out. Write articles and Blog entries to help solve people’s problems. Get your name and business out there as being the Expert in your field. Answer every email. Follow up on every lead. Ask for referrals from every lead.

Be vigorous and relentless in your pursuit of Customers.

Repeat

The reality is that every day brings these three priorities into conflict.

That’s OK.

Because if you know these are your Priorities, using them as a filter to examine your daily activities will always lead towards successful progress.

Ignoring these filters will bring you to eventual ruin.

Focus on Cash, Customers, and Content – All day,

Every Day.

Success is yours.

Non-focus or wandering around leads to dead-ends, no cash, and Failure.

Be successful.

John L