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Cheat Sheet

Starting an eBay Business For Dummies

If you've decided to move from listing a few items on eBay to starting your own eBay business, make sure you follow some general eBay selling guidelines; take quality photos of your items; figure out the best places to find merchandise to sell; and know your time zones to maximize your eBay auction time.

Becoming a Great eBay Seller

So your eBay bug has morphed from selling as a hobby to building an eBay business. Becoming a great eBay seller means there's a great deal of work — and a lot of fun — ahead of you. Follow these tips for researching, setting up, and successfully selling on eBay:

  • Answer all e-mail questions from prospective bidders and buyers within 24 hours and check your e-mail hourly before the close of your auctions. (Doing so can pay off in higher last-minute bidding.) Good customer service goes a long way in promoting and building your eBay business.

  • When listing a new item, research it and be sure that you know its current value and the going price.

  • Before listing, weigh your item and estimate the shipping cost. Be sure to list shipping (and handling) costs in your ad whether you use a flat rate or the shipping calculator for heavier packages.

  • Always see how many other sellers are selling your item. eBay is a supply and demand market. If too many people are selling the same item, the price may go down.

  • To encourage bidding in the case of auctions, set the lowest possible starting bid for your item.

  • Check the eBay guidelines to be sure that your item is permitted and that your listing doesn't violate any listing policies.

  • Get to know the listing patterns of sellers who sell merchandise similar to yours, and try to close your items at different times or days.

Taking Quality Pictures of eBay Items

Taking a quality photo of an item that you want to sell in an eBay auction is important. These eBay photography tips will help you present a professional image to enhance your merchandise and fetch top dollar on eBay:

  • Be sure that the item is clean, unwrinkled, and lint-free.

  • Take the photo against a solid, undecorated background.

  • Make sure the picture is in focus.

  • Check that you have enough lighting to show the details of your item.

  • Take second and third images to show specific details, such as a signature or a detail that better identifies your item.

  • It's unnecessary to use an image that's more than 72 dpi for online purposes. Don't worry about megapixels.

  • Try to keep the total size of your pictures in the description less than 50K for a smooth and swift download. eBay compresses the photos you upload for the top of the listing but does not compress the photos in the description.

Purchasing Items to Resell on eBay

The biggest question someone with an eBay business has to face is this: Where do I find good stuff to sell on eBay? Try these hints for stocking up on items for your eBay auctions:

  • Try to pay the lowest possible price for your item — buy at wholesale or less, whenever possible.

  • If you're the handy fix-it type, find items in need of minor repair, fix them, and put them up for sale "like new."

  • Search for unique items that may be common in your geographic area but hard to find in other places across the country.

  • Attend estate sales — many a saleable gem is hiding in someone's home.

  • Visit closeout stores, liquidators, and auctions regularly.

U.S. Time Zone Chart for eBay Sellers

Successful eBay sellers are always aware of the time zone differences across the United States. When you have an item listed for auction on eBay, you want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to see it. Remember that eBay officially runs in the Pacific time zone. Keep this time chart handy and refer to it when you post an eBay auction to make sure it doesn't close while part of the country is asleep.

U.S. Time Zone Chart
eBay/Pacific Mountain Central Eastern
00:00 (midnight) 1:00 a.m. 2:00 a.m. 3:00 a.m.
01:00 2:00 a.m. 3:00 a.m. 4:00 a.m.
02:00 3:00 a.m. 4:00 a.m. 5:00 a.m.
03:00 4:00 a.m. 5:00 a.m. 6:00 a.m.
04:00 5:00 a.m. 6:00 a.m. 7:00 a.m.
05:00 6:00 a.m. 7:00 a.m. 8:00 a.m.
06:00 7:00 a.m. 8:00 a.m. 9:00 a.m.
07:00 8:00 a.m. 9:00 a.m. 10:00 a.m.
08:00 9:00 a.m. 10:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m.
09:00 10:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m. Noon
10:00 11:00 a.m. Noon 1:00 p.m.
11:00 Noon 1:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m.
12:00 (noon) 1:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m.
13:00 2:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m.
14:00 3:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m.
15:00 4:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m.
16:00 5:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m.
17:00 6:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m.
18:00 7:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m.
19:00 8:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m. 10:00 p.m.
20:00 9:00 p.m. 10:00 p.m. 11:00 p.m.
21:00 10:00 p.m. 11:00 p.m. Midnight
22:00 10:00 p.m. Midnight 1:00 a.m.
23:00 Midnight 1:00 a.m. 2:00 a.m.
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