You get what you pay for.

I once made my living selling full time on ebay.

And while it sounds simple it really is as hard, if not harder, than a normal job.
If you work for yourself you don’t get paid on a regular basis; I forgot how many times I lay in my bed at night wishing I got a regular pay check, even if that pay check was less than what I was currently getting!

Each morning I woke up and filled out the mornings orders, then answered any emails that needed responding too.  Then it was time to do research – this took up nearly 50% of the working day.

Why do so much research?
Because I needed to stay ahead of my competitors, if not then they would catch up to me and take away my market share.

The one thing I noticed when researching is that I got what I pay for, and that rule still applies today.

We’ll start with free advice
You really do get what you pay for here.
Ask an open ended question on a forum board (e.g “What is the best way to do this?”) then you will get 101 different answers; of which 10 will be accurate.

Another method of asking questions on ebay is to ask ebay directly – this would be the worst thing you could do as they ‘cut and paste’ the answers, and I’m convinced that a computer reads the email and tries to answer it. The answers I have received to my own questions have been so wrong as to make my head spin.
What I find offensive about this is that each month I receive a large bill from ebay (which I pay straight away), so you would think that they would have better customer service for paying customers – but I digress.

Cheap advice
I have bought a lot of ebooks off ebay for around the $1 – $10 mark. And most of these have snippets of advice that is worth the price of the ebook, but they also include a lot of waffle (It’s not BS information, the writer is simply trying to fill out a 20-30 page ebook so it looks like you are getting your moneys worth).
Rarely have I bought an ebook at this price and been disappointed, but nothing has ever really stood out from the crowd.

Medium(?) advice
Medium is the wrong word to use, but if I think of a better term then I will come back and edit this blog 🙂
Ebooks around the $10 – $50 mark are the ones I refer to here.
Because of the price I can’t afford to purchase each ebook I see at this price; but the one’s I have bought are usually worth it – the writer has several points to make and knows their stuff.
I notice with these ebooks that the writer has gone out of their way to show their credentials throughout the sale; this may include screenshots of payments, screenshots of search engine rankings.

My biggest mistake was not buying a particular ebook valued at $30 that showed how this person got a number 1 ranking on google. The writer gave out the term he was number 1 for and if you searched in google (which I did) his website was number 1 AND number 2!
I think I saved it in my ‘watched list’ but didn’t do anything for a long time and it disappeared!
I search for the ebook regularly but so far I have come up empty handed 🙁

Expensive advice
This is for ebooks or courses over $50.

The best purchase I ever made was from a marketing course, it cost me $600 (at the time I only had $800 in my credit card, but I took a chance).
The sales letter was very impressive so I thought I would give it a go.

And it was the best purchase I ever made!

I’m currently reading the whole thing for a third time (I read it once a year) and each time I congratulate myself on buying it.

Finding a bargain on ebay

Found a bargain on ebay? It’s a nice feeling when you find what you want for a good price. Before you buy though there are a few things you should look out for.

I remember once I was searching for a Digital Video Camera and found one on ebay for $5.
Bargain of a lifetime I thought.
A lesson I learnt from experience though is to always read the fine print; and in this case it threw up a few surprises.

I’ve sold over 3,000 items on ebay so I know a bit about postage costs and I estimated that the item would cost about $12 via registered post or $9.70 express post. So you can imagine how shocked I was when the local postage cost was $80!!
So this camera is now $85 instead of the $5 I thought it was.

I kept reading though for any more unpleasant surprises – and found one more.
This item required insurance – $20!
When I insure my items I pay about $1.80 to $3 depending on the item. So where is this $20 coming from??
So now this camera costs $105, not what I expected!

So why the high postage costs? The item was supposed to be located in Sydney but in the fine print the item is coming from Asia, hence the high postage costs.

So, is the item worth $105? Reading the feedback for this item I would say no, nobody was happy with it for the price they paid.

But the description states that if someone is unhappy with the item they can return it for a 100% refund – so if buyers are unhappy they should simply return it shouldn’t they?
Read the description more carefully and you will see that a 100% refund only covers the BUYING price (Please note that this is in line with ebay’s policy). You don’t get a refund on the postage or the insurance, so you get a refund of $5 only. And to rub salt into the wound you need to pay the postage cost to send it back to Asia!!

So what are the Golden rules for looking for a bargain?
Read the fine print.
Check out the postage costs, are the items combined? Is there a postage cost?
Should you insure it? Remember that Australia Post delivers 98% of items quickly BUT the flip side is that 2% of items get held up and maybe lost.
Don’t assume anything!! Don’t assume postage will be combined unless it says so in the description, if there is no postage cost then don’t assume they will charge a reasonable cost (some people make their living on ebay by overcharging on postage).
Check the feedback of the person, this is critical to find out how honest they are and how happy buyers have been with their service.

Don’t get all paranoid after reading this article though, 99% of transactions are as honest as the day is long. Happy ebaying.

Learn from porn

The Internet started for the general public in about 1994 (it had been around since the 1960’s but only for academics and military personnel).

When I started in 1996 I often compared my first five years on the Internet to the old Wild West of America; the more I think about this claim the more accurate I believe I am.

Since then the Internet has evolved into order with people having wised up to the tricks and pitfalls of being online.

In the old days people believed that running a store was easy and that the old rules of retail didn’t apply.  Most people believed that the store with the lowest price would ‘win’.

They were WRONG!

Stores simply wanted you to send them money and they would send the goods.  If you sent a seller an email to ask if the item had been sent yet then you were considered a nuisance! 

It took about 6 years (from personal experience) before things got better on the Internet and customer service improved.

And where did this ‘revolution’ start?  It started in an online industry that was making a $10 billion yearly profit.

And this industry is?  … Porn.

Love it or hate it Porn is the most profitable industry on the Internet, far outselling anything else.  In fact it makes more profit than Microsoft!

Pornography was profitable from day one, which caused a lot of competitors to appear; and there were a LOT of competitors.

The irony of this is that porn kept making huge profits while the industry experts claimed that nobody would ever make a profit on the Internet (that comment now ranks up there with the head of the US patent office claiming that man would never fly).

So all those that were not in the porn industry were not making money, but some wised up and realised that if porn could make money then why couldn’t they?  They proceeded to look at the porn industry in order to work out how it was making money; and came to the startling realisation that the porn industry was using ‘real world’ tactics to remain profitable.

The main lesson learnt was that ‘customers’ aren’t very profitable – it’s ‘repeat customers’ that make you the money!  You always encourage new customers but the old customers are the ones that are the most profitable.

So how do you turn a ‘customer’ into a ‘repeat customer’?  Simple – Customer service.

Customer service was really missing when the Internet started.

Companies realised that if they had a customer service department it raised the cost of business but it took them a while to realise that the increase in sales was worth it.

Morale to all this – treat your online customers the same way you treat your real customers.