March 7, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 35 Comments

Image Hosting Explained – A Step by Step Guide!

One of the first things you want to sort out when you start selling on eBay is Image Hosting.

While eBay offers to host your product pictures on their server, it comes at an extra cost plus eBay’s image hosting won’t give you the features and flexibility your own hosting account will give you.

Any serious eBay seller should use their own hosting account instead of eBay’s service, because:

1) Your own hosting account will save you tons of money in eBay fees;

2) Your own hosting account will give you more control over your images;

3) Your own hosting account will also give you a professional email address and the ability to create a blog or website.

What is a hosting account in the first place?

To put it simply, it’s a server space you rent out for an agreed period of time. Your own hosting account means that you can upload product pictures and even videos and other graphics and show them online via your eBay listings. Look at it as your own virtual hard disk drive that’s connected to the Internet.

Now, there is an alternative to your own hosting account – free online file sharing sites that allow you to upload product images for free, such as Photobucket.com. But it’s only free till you reach their free account bandwidth limit; after that you will have to upgrade to a Pro account and pay a monthly fee.

Photobucket and similar free accounts are meant for personal use, hence their limit on the storage space and bandwidth on free accounts. Very often on eBay I see this:

This means a person has been using a free Photobucket account and exceeded their bandwidth limit. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me this doesn’t look very professional at all. Imagine one day all your product pictures on eBay turn into these Photobucket warning banners – not good, right? Besides that, Photobucket won’t give you an email address, not to mention the opportunity to build a blog or website.

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March 4, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 286 Comments

The Biggest Tax Mistake An eBay Seller Can Make!

…is to register for VAT (Value Added Tax). Yes, registering as a VAT payer when you don’t have to is the single biggest VAT related mistake you can make as an eBay seller. Why? Because by doing that, you become less competitive on eBay’s marketplace where the majority of sellers are not VAT registered.

I know this may initially all sound too complicated and confusing so let’s cover the VAT registration process in detail, and both the advantages and disadvantages of becoming VAT registered.

The whole VAT system is quite complicated, with many exceptions and special rules. I won’t go into minute detail on every aspect of VAT now but if you want, you can read all the information about it on the HMRC website.

I’ll keep this blog post simple and straight to the point – so that you, as an eBay seller, get a clear idea on what VAT is and when you should apply for it.

VAT Rate Explained

The current standard VAT rate in the UK is 20% (as of 4th January 2011). There’s also a reduced rate of 5% applied to some specific goods and services (eg children’s car seats) and zero rated goods & services, such as children’s clothes. We’ll go into more detail on these exceptions in a minute.

The VAT rate is not fixed across all European Union countries so if your business is based outside of the UK, you will want to check your local authority’s website to find out the VAT rate in your country. For example in Ireland, the standard VAT rate is currently 23%, while in Luxemburg it’s just 15%.

When Should You Register for VAT?

You should register for VAT ONLY when you reach the “VAT threshold” and registration becomes mandatory, which currently stands at £77 000. The VAT threshold simply indicates the maximum turnover a business can have had over the last 12 months and still remain / work VAT free. (more…)

February 28, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 4 Comments

My Monthly Round-Up: February 2013

Welcome to the first ever AndrewMinalto.com Monthly Round-Up Post covering February 2013!

February was my first month actively producing and publishing content for this blog. As I previously announced, this year I’ll be focussing my efforts on the blog to make it the ultimate one-stop resource for eBay and eCommerce sellers!

It was a spectacular month in my personal life, too. My son, Oliver, was born on February 13th making me a happy daddy for the second time! Also, my daughter Charlotte celebrated her 3rd birthday on February 19th, so this has been a very productive month for me by any standard!

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February 25, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 17 Comments

What Products to Sell on eBay When Starting Out?

Hi Andrew,

Reading your bog with great interest – loads of valuable information here! I have already followed your used goods business guide and made my first 40 pounds in profit! I will stick with used goods for now, but in the future I want to start selling brand new goods, maybe phone cases or something similar – small & cheap, just to build some experience.

My question is this – how to know what type of products and what versions (colours, styles, sizes etc.) should I start with if I’m on a limited budget? For example, take mobile phone cases – there are hundreds of different mobile phones out there, then there are plastic, leather, clear, metallic and other cases. From what I understand, to import from China, I’ll have to buy a decent quantity (probably hundreds per item) so won’t be able to start with all styles/models.

Hope this makes sense, Andrew.

Looking forward to your reply.

Richard.

Hi Richard,

Thanks for your question. It’s a good one and highlights a typical problem many new eBay sellers face – the hard choice of picking the right products to start with when limited buying power doesn’t allow you to start with dozens or hundreds of products.

There are 2 ways to go with this:

1) After doing some research and seeing what sells best, go the RISK TAKER way and start selling products that are different from the current offers on eBay. This approach involves some risk as it could well turn out that people don’t want to buy these ‘different’ products, styles or colours.

2) Start with products that already sell well on eBay! With this concept, the risk is minimal as you know that these particular products already sell well on eBay and if you source the same products and create superb listings, you too should be able to make sales and take some % of the overall market. This concept is more newbie friendly, especially suitable for people who are just starting out and want to gain some experience. There’s nothing worse than having loads of dead stock you can’t move!

But this doesn’t mean that the first approach can’t work, not at all! If you have good business sense, some experience and you spot a new product or modification of a current product that you think will become a best seller, consider the risk and order a trial amount. Once again, some risk is involved so it’s not recommended for newbie traders. (more…)

February 21, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 32 Comments

Complete Warehousing Guide for eBay Sellers!

One of the first things you face when starting an eBay business is where and how to store the goods you plan to sell. Most people don’t have access to a warehouse, so they have to set up their own goods storage system. In this blog post I’ll try to cover the warehouse set up options available to small-time online traders.

If you don’t want to store and dispatch goods on your own, you can always take a look at fulfilment houses and the services they offer.

But in most cases, when you are just starting out and want to save every penny, having a storage system in-house is the best way to go.

The best, most suitable set up will depend on what type of goods you’re selling.

For small items (like jewellery, craft supplies and similar), these would be the most suitable options:

1) Linbins – one of the most popular and oldest ways to store small items. Linbins are affordable, come in a variety of sizes and can be stacked on top of each other or attached to special wall panels to create gigantic storage units. The downside of Linbins is that they don’t close so expect dust to get onto products in the long run. You can protect your products from getting dirty by placing them in plastic bags first.

Linbins from Plastor.co.uk

2) Storage bins with cabinets – these will be more expensive, but they close fully so no dust problem here. These storage bins are very durable but the downside is the cost – they’re really quite expensive.

Storage Bins from from Plastor.co.uk

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February 18, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 205 Comments

eBay Negative Feedback Removal Explained

No, don’t worry – that’s not your eBay account. And I hope yours will never look like this.

But let’s be honest – maintaining 100% positive feedback on eBay is hard, very hard, especially when you start dealing with hundreds and even thousands of transactions per month. We all make mistakes from time to time and on eBay OUR mistakes can cost us a lot – negative feedback and low DSRs which in the end can result in a lost Top Rated Seller status or even a suspended account in the worst case scenario.

So what to do to avoid bad feedback?

First of all – do whatever it takes to minimize the chances of buyers even starting to think about leaving negative or neutral feedback for you. This means:

1) Offer high quality products.

2) Create detailed and accurate product descriptions.

3) If dealing with used goods, always describe the item’s condition as it is. If there are scratches on an item highlight them with a photo, don’t hide them! (This actually increases your credibility in a buyer’s eyes).

4) Offer fast, preferably next day delivery whenever possible.

5) Pack items in suitable packaging materials (Jiffy envelopes, boxes, mail bags) so that you keep the chances of items being damaged during the shipping process to a minimum.

6) Communicate with buyers – answer all e-mails and messages within 24 hours, Monday to Friday.

7) Leave positive feedback once the buyer pays you (Selling Manager Pro does this for you automatically).

8) Always honour your returns policy; go the extra mile if people are a day or two late and still accept returns after 16 days, if your returns policy says, for example, 14 days.

9) Replace damaged, faulty items at no cost to the buyer (it’s your fault at the end of the day, not the buyer’s, so you have no right to ask him to pay even the shipping fees).

10) Whatever disaster strikes at your end, keep your buyer informed! Say you run out of stock and this creates a 3 day delay in order processing. Email buyers and let them know about this problem AND ask what they want to do – wait a few extra days OR receive an instant refund. Never assume that the buyer will be ok with delays in order processing – always, always ask first.

11) Lastly, and most importantly – your customer is always right, even if he’s not! This classic cliché is even truer on eBay than anywhere else as buyers can hurt your business instantly by leaving negative feedback. Don’t let that happen! Even if you feel the buyer is trying it on with you, if you CAN’T do anything about it just apologize for the trouble caused and issue a refund. In the long term, your loss will be minimal but your business will be protected.

If you follow all these guidelines, your chances of getting negative feedback are minimal. But it will still happen of course as it’s a numbers game – the more you sell, the more your chances of getting a dissatisfied customer.

So what to do when you do actually receive negative or neutral feedback? (more…)

February 11, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 16 Comments

Why Leave Positive Feedback for Your Buyers?

“Hi Andrew,

What’s your take on leaving feedback for buyers? Some people recommend doing it after feedback from the buyer has been received, while others do it straight away after payment is received? I’m not sure which method is best and would like to hear your opinion.

Thanks,
Nathan”

Hi Nathan,

Thanks for your question.

It has been several years now since eBay changed the rules so that we (the sellers) can leave nothing but positive feedback for buyers. Since that change I have used just one, single approach – I leave positive feedback for a buyer once payment is received.

Why? There are several reasons:

1) As I said, we can’t leave negative or neutral feedback anyway, so what’s the point in holding off?

2) Once payment is received, the buyer has completed the transaction from his end: he has paid you for the item you sell. Everything else is in your hands.

3) By leaving positive feedback for a buyer you’re giving the impulse to the buyer to do the same in return, thus increasing your chances of getting any feedback at all (it’s no secret that only roughly 50% of buyers leave feedback for sellers).

The last one is the most important in my opinion. When you leave positive feedback you can mention it in the Thank You letter or invoice you send out. This will act as a friendly reminder that the customer should leave you feedback, too.

Opponents of this method will say that when you do this you move all the power to the buyer to play you around if something is wrong with the item etc. But in reality they have the same power if you leave the feedback first, as remember – you can leave nothing but positive feedback for buyers in the first place.

There are idiots on eBay who will leave you negative feedback no matter what – and the fact that you don’t leave feedback first won’t change this. If you receive unfair feedback you can always go through the Feedback Removal process.

So yes – to sum it up, leave positive feedback for buyers once payment has been received and then forget about it.

You don’t have to do this manually: if you’re using Auctiva.com, for example, they have a built-in system that leaves automated feedback for your buyers based on your criteria. The same task can be carried out by Selling Manager Pro and other selling tools.

Thanks,
Andrew

February 7, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 113 Comments

Anatomy of a Perfect eBay Listing!

I’m amazed! It’s now 2013, but the majority of eBay sellers still can’t get this right – create a listing that really SELLS! And I’m not talking about fancy templates here – no, basic, common sense guidelines that everyone should be following. But they’re not!

If you have done any research on eBay you’ll find loads of unprofessional listings. Listings without product pictures in them. Listings with crazy font styles and sizes. Listings with no product descriptions. And so on.

I can understand that an individual who just wants to sell off his used iPhone doesn’t have a clue about how to create a good looking listing, BUT when business sellers who have hundreds of listings can’t put together a half decent listing, that’s beyond my imagination. Why? Because they’re leavings tons of money on the table by doing this! Or should I say – by NOT doing this!

So here’s the deal – in this blog post I have put together basic guidelines which ANYONE can follow to create good listings. You don’t need any designer skills – that’s not the idea here (anyone can hire a designer for a custom made template and formatting, that’s a whole other story) – in this post I want to show you how you can make good looking listings using basic, free tools. Without further ado, let’s get started!

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February 4, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 26 Comments

How to Sell an eBook on eBay THE RIGHT WAY!

These are questions my readers often ask me: How can I sell eBooks on eBay? What’s the right way to sell eBooks on eBay? Is it still allowed? Is selling eBooks on eBay a profitable business idea? In this post I’ll try to answer all these questions in detail.

So, to begin with – Can you still sell eBooks on eBay? Yes, you can, if you follow eBay guidelines.

And with eBooks, there are different rules for eBay.com and eBay.co.uk websites:

On eBay.com (USA website), you can sell eBooks AND deliver them digitally as long as you follow these rules:

  • List your eBooks in the Everything Else > Information Products category using the Classified Ad format.

As you may know, a classified ads format on eBay.com won’t get you as many views as normal listings, the sale won’t actually happen on eBay and you won’t earn any feedback.

If you want to list your item in a more suitable category and use auctions or Buy It Now listings, you can’t deliver your eBook in digital format – you have to burn it onto a CD or DVD or USB stick and post it out.

On eBay.co.uk (UK site), there is no Classified Ads format at all, but you can still sell eBooks there IF you burn your eBook onto a CD or DVD or USB stick and post it out . (more…)

November 29, 2012 by Andrew Minalto - 160 Comments

Become a Top Rated Seller on eBay in 30 Days!

One of the first steps to eBay success that we discuss in my personal coaching program, 60 Day Blueprint, is getting TRS status — that coveted Top Rated Seller status that gets sellers so many benefits you can’t get any other way.

It’s no secret that to make your eBay business a success, you have to play by Best Match rules, and TRS status plays huge role in that.

If you work in any competitive niche, you absolutely must try to reach and maintain TRS status. Otherwise, your listings will get lost in dozens of search results pages.

How many people, do you think, really browse past the first few pages? Not that many I’m afraid. Some might look at the first five. In fact, though, most people will check only listings on page one!

So what exactly is the TRS program all about? Let me first explain a bit about the Power Seller program.

Qualifying For The First Step Toward TRS Status

Basically, TRS status is the next level up from the Power Seller program. Looking at the TRS requirements carefully, you’ll see that it’s basically the Bronze Power Seller level by sales volume PLUS an exceptional customer service history.

Here’s what you need to become a Bronze Power Seller on eBay UK:

To meet basic requirements, you must:

  • be registered as a BUSINESS seller on eBay.co.uk or eBay.ie
  • have 100 feedbacks, 98 percent or more positive (from global transactions)
  • have been an active member for 90 days
  • have an account is in good financial standing
  • have no policy breaches in the preceding 90 days

If you meet all of these requirements, you also have to fulfill these additional requirements:

  • have a minimum of 100 transactions to UK and IE buyers per 12 month period
  • have minimum sales of £1000 per 12 months (to UK and IE buyers)
  • have an average DSR (Detailed Ratings Score) of 4.60 or greater

We’ll get into the exact steps you need to take to achieve these numbers later in the post. (more…)