Almost anything can be bought on eBay, so it's an ideal place to start a collection. The tools that eBay provides make starting a collection on something very easy. The following steps will outline how to start that collection that you have been longing for or, if you have already started, how to build on that collection!
Start with an idea
Think about something that you are longing to start a collection of, or something that you have already started to collect. Some examples are: celebrity memorabilia, novelty pens, CDs of a particular artist or genre or time period, Olympic collectables, the list goes on. I will be using the example of novelty pens below.
Begin with a simple search
Start your collection (or building your existing collection) by simply searching eBay using the search tool at the top right hand corner of the window. For example, if searching for novelty pens, type in "novelty pens". If the search brings up a massive amount of results, then it is simply a case of scrolling through and finding the items that you believe are suitable for your collection. You can also limit your search results to filter through all those results that do not apply to you, by changing your search term. For example, instead of "novelty pens", try "fuzzy novelty pens" and see what comes up.
If your search results in minimal or no items found, do not worry. You should try and change the search term you type into the search field, for example, instead of "novelty pens", try "pens" and see what comes up.
Use the eBay tools
They are there to help you find what you want. If you can't find any items using your search terms, then add your search to "My Favourite Searches". Navigate to the "My Favourites" section by clicking on the "All Favourites" or "Search" (under "All Favourites") buttons which are located on the left side-panel of your "My eBay: screen. It helps to add more than one serach term to your "Favourites", so that you have a greater chance of finding the item. For example, create separate "Favourite" searches for "novelty pens" and "fuzzy novelty pens". You can also elect to refine this search, so thaty you will be provided with more specific finds, or even create a "Want It Now Post", which notifies other eBay users that you want this type of item. These extra options are available by clicking on the menu to the right of the search, once you create it. All your saved "Favourite Searches" will be available at anytime by clicking on the "My Favourites" button located in the left side-panel on your "My eBay" screen.
Another helpful aspect of adding "Favourite Searches" to your eBay account is that eBay will automatically send updates to your elected email address every time an item matching your search criteria becomes listed. Just another helpful resource to help you in getting that collection underway!
If your search turns up masses of listed items, a lot of the items will be available from online eBay stores and/or Power Sellers. Click onto the user's store to see if that user specialises in selling the particular item you area looking for, or at least sells lots of it (e.g. lots of different kinds of novelty pens). It would also help to add this seller to your "My Favourite Sellers", using the link that will be provided on the user's online store web page, or on the page listing the item that the user is selling. You can also elect to have automatic emails sent to your elected email address when that user lists new items for sale. Your listed "Favourite" sellers can be accessed in the same way that your "Favourite" searches are accessed, as described above.
Moreover, when searching using the serach tool at the top right-hand corner of an eBay screen, a list of categories that your search term appears in will be given in a yellow panel on the left side of the page that opens up with your search results. For example, the search "novelty pens" comes up as being linkes to "Collectables: Weird Stuff" and "Toys & Hobbies: Wholesale, Bulk Lots". You can also add these categories to "My Favourite Categories", and have automatic emails sent to your email address each time new items in that category are listed for sale. Simply navigate to the "My Favourites" page as described above and scroll down to "My Favourite Categories". Click on the link "Add a favourite category" and add your category/ies.
Thus all these tools can assist you in fast tracking the build up of your collection.
Don't just stick to your country; broaden your horizons
When you search for an item using the search tool located on the top right-hand corner of an eBay screen, a yellow panel, as described above, appears to the left of the results page. Underneath the "Matching Categories" heading is the "Search Options" heading. Here you can elect to conduct a Worldwide search for the item/s you are looking for, or limit the search to a refined area if you are after items in a particular area. Remember to se these tools if you are looking for a specific item, or want to broaden your search. The Worldwide search option is particularly useful for those seaches that do not bring up many item results.
Be wary of users with lower feedback scores
In your haste and excitement to start your collection, you may quite willingly bid on and win a host of items. However, make sure to remember to check out the seller's rating and feedback. After all, nothing is worse than getting your hopes up for finally finding that item, when it does not turn out the way you want. As a general guide, those users with 99.8% to 100% are the safest to go with. But do read feedback comments, especially negative feedback comments, before putting in a bid. Power Sellers are often great to purchase from, as eBay has strict guidelines for giving Power Seller status, including maintaining an immaculate positive feedback score. Information on the seller's feedback is available from the seller's item page: just click on the seller's username, feedback score (it will be in brackets next to his/her name) or the "Read feedback comments" link underneath the seller's information. These links are located in the blue panel wheich is on the right-hand side of the item web page.
Read item descriptions very carefully
You should always expicitly read the description of the item, including its condition (New, used, etc.), location (so you can work out how much it will end up cosing including shipping), postage and payment details (the user may only accept one type of payment), the seller's return policy (if they have one), and payment instructions. Make sure to fully understand the conditions of the item before you decide to bid on it. In doing so, you can maximise the enjoyment and efficiency of your collecting!
Hopefully this information will be valuable to you for helping to start a collection of your own. Remember to use the eBay tools specifically designed to help you search for particular items, and to be careful and learn about the item and its seller befor deciding to bid. Most importantly, have fun!