Selling Tips and Info

Value Time

Don’t forget to value your time. whole reason I created this site was because it is extremely cost inefficient to post cards. If you can list AND ship 10 cards every hour (pictures, uploads, descriptions, pricing, paying for shipping, weighing, dealing with returns), after taking into account fees and shipping, each card would have to sell for at least $3 to make $14 an hour. That doesn’t even take into account buying the cards in the first place and assumes that all 10 cards sell.

In a much more reasonable situation, only 30% of cards sell and you have to pay just 50 cents per card (that sells for $3) you are looking at a measly $2.69 per hour of work.

This is why your time is so valuable. In order for posting cards to be worth it at this rate, you have to be able to post 50 cards per hour (pictures, uploads, descriptions and pricing) in order to make $13.497. Imagine how hard it would be to take 50 pictures, list 50 cards, print 50 packing slips, fill 50 envelopes, find 50 cards in your collection and so on in a single hour. Your time has value and you have to figure out how to make your time as efficient as possible.

In my personal experience, a 3 row box of toploaded cards holds around 700 cards. I can scan, identify, and list an entire box in just under 3 hours. Which means I am listing 233 cards per hour. If the card + shipping sells for $3 then the average hourly rate for this system is $62.28. If the price of the cards + shipping is $1.99, the average hourly rate plummets to $1.47. When accounting for shipping time you are looking at about $0.40 per hour.

Understanding Fees

The eBay fee structure is simple but very important to understand. It also feels like there are fees for everything. The above time example is with the maximum fees one can pay. The following fees are pretty standard:

1) $0.30 – Listing Fee. Every time you list an item you pay eBay 30 cents.

2) Auction ending fee (12.55%). 12.55% INCLUDING SHIPPING is a fee for every listing that sells. So for a $1 item and $1 of shipping, you pay $0.25.

3) Fixed Transaction Fee - $0.30. For every single transaction, there is a fixed $0.30 fee. This means if you sell a $1.00 card, there is a 30 cent transaction fee. If you sell a $2000 card, there is a fixed 30 cent transaction fee. If you sell 15 $1.00 cards to the same person in the same order, there is a $0.30 cent transaction fee.

4) Foreign Address Fee. If the buyer has a registered address OUTSIDE the USA, even if you are shipping within the united states, there is an additional 3% fee. This is much less common and cannot really be prepared for.

Now, most of these fees are a fixed cost, and the inordinately affect low cost cards. Take for example a $1 card with $1 shipping + handling. The fees and costs are pretty much: .30 listing, + .25 final value fee + .30 transaction fee + .53 shipping at the absolute cheapest. When you account for the top loader (.07) and the envelope (.05). You are actually looking at less than 50 cents profit on the card… assuming the card was free. If the card costs over $0.50 to buy, you are actually losing money every time you sell this card. This doesn’t even include the value of your time. The total shipping + ebay fees total 75% of the sale. If it was a $100 dollar card with free shipping the total fee amount is .30 listing, $12.55 final value, $3.00 shipping, so a grand total of 15% of the card. The fee structure makes it very difficult to make much money of anything under a $5 for card + shipping, which is why it is fairly rare to see $1 card with $1 shipping.

Now, given the fee structure, it is obvious we need to reduce fees as much as possible. We will talk about each fee and how to do it.

Listing Fees are the easiest to reduce to a very small amount (assuming you have a large volume of cards to sell). You do this by buying an eBay store. An eBay store is eBay’s attempt to get a more modern subscription revenue from users. You pay a fixed fee every month and you get a few benefits. The most valuable of these benefits is you get a fixed number of listing you can post every month for free. A basic store costs $21 a month and gives you access to 10,000 free listings. If you are going to listing more than 66 cards a month, then this store makes sense. If you use all 10,000 free listings in a month than the listing fee has essentially gone from $0.30 to about 1/10th of one penny. The listing fee is non existant at this point.

There isn’t much you can do about final value fees. It is a fixed percent that cannot really be reduced. The only thing that reduces this fee is if you are a top rated seller. Being a top rated seller is not terribly hard to get and it does offer a little 10% final value fee reduction. This means that for a $100 dollar card, instead of paying $12.55 dollars you would pay $12.55 - $12.55*.1 or $11.3 dollars. Its not a ton but it is still worth it.

In order to reduce the fixed transaction fee to as small as possible we either want to sell a few big items or bundle lots of little items. Bundles can be done in 2 ways: 1) Sell cards as a lot. Instead of selling 30 cards for $1 each, sell 30 cards for $10. All the cards sell, all the cards sell to a single buyer. There is only 1 final transaction fee and shipping is much easier. The total take home amount is very similar ($12 for the cards individually if they all sell vs $8.4 as a bundle). 2) Incentivize buyers to buy multiple items at the same time. When a buyer looks at your store, you wan to give them a reason to buy multiple cards. Each additional card they buy doesn’t come with that additional $0.30 price tag for you. This also reduces your shipment costs. How do we incentivize buyers? There are a few options. 1) Combined shipping. When sellers see there is a discount for buying items with combined shipping, they buy more items. This reduces both shipping costs and reduces a fixed transaction fee. 2) Have a variety of items. Have multiple items that buyers want to buy? The more listings you have, the more people will buy multiple items. When we reduce our fees, selling cards for .99 with .99 instead of making a paltry $0.40 per hour we can up that to around $12.75 per hour including shipping. Now, if the cards are all worth on average $2.99 then an hour of labor is worth approximately $33.71 including time spent shipping.

Multiple Accounts

Never buy and sell on the same account. Keep your accounts for buying and selling separate. Sometimes angry sellers you have bought from will see you selling low cost items, buy them and leave bad feedback.

Offer Returns

The truth is eBay is very buyer friendly. Buyers can leave negative feedback for sellers but sellers cannot leave negative feedback for buyers. When any dispute happens, eBay always sides with the buyer. As a seller you may eventually win a case but it is very rare. Because of their buyer friendliness, a no returns policy does not have any real meaning. If a buyer wants to return something, they will generally be able to. Don’t allow a 1 year return policy, but 30 days is completely reasonable. You won’t be able to stop a return anyways for the most part.

Tools

Remember, there are two main keys to making money selling: 1) Be efficient with your time and 2) Minimize fees Since minimizing fees is a straightforward process that tools do not help with all the tools are for making time as efficient as possible.

1) Envelopes – These are self explanatory. You need to send your cards in something. For cards under $20, you can send it using the eBay standard envelope… which is just an envelope with a label attatched to it.

3)A Polono label printer. These label printers print on labels 4x6, which is one of the output sizes of eBay purchased shipping labels. It means you have to spend no time transferring addresses, writing your own and most of the time consuming shipping busywork is taken care of. These are also thermal printers which means you never have to purchase ink, which is still one of the most expensive liquids on earth.

4) Label Printer Paper – Goes in the label printer. Straight forward. There could be a debate here about printing directly on the envelope. However, I decided the cost of the thermal labels + a thermal printer would be less than an ink printer and ink in the long run.

5) Painters Tape – Each card should be inside a top loader sealed with painters tape. Don’t use normal scotch tape as it is an amateur move. Scotch tape is harder to remove from the outside of top loaders and sometimes forces the top loader to bend in order to remove in completely. Use painters tape. It looks more professional.

6) A “Do Not Bend” stamp. I personally don’t believe the post office treats “fragile” or “do not bend” stamped envelopes any different than other envelopes. However, they are very cheap, quick to apply and provide a bit more professionalism to the envelope. It shows buyers you are at least trying and any bending damage is probably due to shipping.

7) Flatbed scanner. A flatbed scanner can scan cards 9 at a time. You need some way to get card images from to eBay. A phone will work but a flatbed scanner provides a more professional look. It also does help the cardboard gems identifier in terms of accuracy. I started with a phone but quickly moved to a scanner.