1. Start Small
If you're anything like me, once you have a good idea you want to put it into action immediately! Although you probably know in theory that any business takes 12-18 months to become established, somehow you still hope that you can get there in 2!
But, one mistake entrepreneurs consistently make is to throw their life's savings into buying case loads of stock - before they even know how eBay works. It's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security on eBay after buying just one or two items. For buyers, eBay is meant to be user friendly. For sellers, things are a little more complicated. All powersellers agree that there are new things to be learned all the time and you'll be surprised at how much more you know after several months selling small, inexpensive items.
Be prepared to spend the first couple of months buying and selling a variety of inexpensive items you can purchase with your loose change. Keep track of what sells best and work on narrowing down the possibilities to a few strong products. By this stage you will also have experienced the best and worst situations eBay has to offer, so you will be much better prepared to crank things up a notch.
2. Respond to questions as quickly as possible
Most people use the Internet because it provides what they need instantaneously: information, contacts, gifts, advice, and so on. Therefore I can't emphasize enough the importance of checking your emails as often as you can and replying to queries as quickly as possible.
3. Organize your time and keep to a schedule
If you are holding down a full-time job and working after hours to get your ebay business in motion, then it's vital to have a list of what you need to get done and stick to it so you make the most of the precious time available. Once you are working on eBay fulltime, this becomes even more important! It's all too easy to reach the end of another day and find that you have got hardly anything done. So keep a planner or diary and make a timetable of what needs to be done and when.
4. Do take professional photographs from the beginning
The old saying remains as true as ever: A picture speaks a thousand words. A bad picture can look unappealing and unprofessional. Plus, if the buyer can't really see the item properly, they may be put off bidding because they can't tell if it is what they really want. So right from the beginning, work on creating the most professional pictures you can, even if it means spending money on a photo tent and better lighting.
5. Don't put all your eggs in one basket - use other ways of selling apart from eBay
eBay is not the be all and end all of selling online - although it is one of the best ways to start. As soon as you can though, try thinking of other ways you can increase your web presence. Perhaps you could place a classified ad in Yahoo or write about your auctions in a MySpace blog. There are plenty of cheap and easy ways to build up your profile.
6. Do keep a constant look out for other products to sell, while also monitoring carefully what you are already selling.
Don't become complacent! Even if your items appear to be stock standard - such as chairs for instance - make sure you keep looking at what other sellers are doing, emerging trends, magazine articles, home decor programs, and more. There may be another related product opportunity just waiting to happen that you completely overlook if you keep your blinkers on.
7. Do keep in contact with your wholesale supplier regularly to ensure you are aware of any stock issues.
A backorder can create a lot of extra work for you soothing customer's ruffled feathers. And if they want their order refunded, it costs you money too. So make life easier for yourself by regularly touching base with your suppliers and ensuring communication lines stay open.
8. Do carry out regular keyword and market research
Keyword research is the way to ensure your potential customers find you successfully. Set aside some time each day for marketing and research to ensure that you're keeping at the top of your game.
9. Do use software to help organize your sales
It's hard to part with the initial investment when the business is still finding its feet, but the right software will make life so much easier. My eBay quickly becomes unwieldy when you are selling more than 15 items, and software ensures that you avoid making costly mistakes, such as under-ordering stock, forgetting to ship to a customer, and so on.
10. Don't offer free shipping as a gimmick unless you can afford it
Free shipping is a very effective way of attracting more people to your listings. However, before you consider offering free shipping, think carefully about your profit margins, how much your item weighs, and the fact that shipping will vary depending on how far away you are sending it. Offering free shipping is a good move if you can absorb the cost in your profit margin, but it could easily become crippling if you apply it to a variety of items of different shapes and sizes.