Devoting Time to Your eBay Business - dummies

By Marsha Collier

So you’ve decided to get serious about your sales at eBay. Now you have to step up to the plate and decide just how much time you have to devote to your eBay business.

When you set out to launch a business, any business, you need to set your priorities. A business at home requires definite priority setting. You must apply some level of discipline to anything that you want to make a success of; your eBay business requires this discipline, too.

According to legend, Pierre Omidyar started eBay to help fulfill his girlfriend’s Pez dispenser habit. He started his Auction Web (as it was called then) with a laptop, a regular Internet Service Provider (ISP), and an old school desk. He and his buddy Jeff Skoll (a Stanford MBA) ran the 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week Auction Web all by themselves. When the site started attracting more traffic, Pierre finally had to install a server in his apartment. To pay for the server, Pierre and Jeff began charging 25 cents to list an auction. Pierre was so busy running the site that the envelopes full of checks began to pile up — he didn’t even have time to open the mail.

When Pierre incorporated eBay Auction Web in 1996 with his partner Jeff, they were each drawing a salary of $25,000. Their first office consisted of one room, and they had one part-time employee to handle the payments. They started small and grew.

Now it’s time to talk about budgeting your time and planning just how much time you will be able to devote to your eBay business. Your eBay business won’t grow overnight, but with dedication and persistence, you may just form your own online empire.

Budgeting your time: eBay as a part-time money maker

A part-time eBay business can be very profitable. You can spend as little or as much time as you want at eBay, from a few hours a week to a full-time job. One thing to keep in mind is that the more time and energy you spend on your eBay business, the more money you can make. That said, take a look at the lowest possible level of time that you can devote to your business.

Maybe you enjoy finding miscellaneous items to sell at eBay. You find these items somehow in your day-to-day life. So you can figure that you spend at least a couple of hours (maybe three) a week at eBay. That’s already in your schedule; now, you must figure in the time it takes to write up your auctions. If you’re not selling the same thing every day, you need to allow approximately twenty minutes to write your auction, to take your picture or to scan your image, and of course, to upload it to a photo-hosting site.

How much time it takes to perform these tasks varies from person to person, and will improve according to your level of expertise. Regardless, every task in your eBay auction business takes time, and you must budget for that time.

Only you can decide how much time you want to spend researching going rates for items at eBay and deciding when your item will sell for the highest price. You can take great photos and write brilliant descriptions, but cashmere sweaters won’t go for as much in the heat of summer as they do in winter. Doing your research can take up a good deal of time when you’re selling a varied group of items.

You also have to consider how much time it takes to shop for your merchandise. You may have to travel to dealers, go to auctions, or spend time online discovering new ways to find your auction merchandise. Many sellers set aside a full day each week for this undertaking. Your merchandise is what makes you money, so don’t skimp on the time you spend identifying products. The time you spend on this comes back to you in higher profits.

Here’s a list of various activities that you must perform when doing business at eBay:

  • Setting up and photographing items
  • Cleaning up and resizing images in photo editor
  • Uploading images to eBay Picture Services when you list or before listing to your ISP or third-party hosting service
  • Weighing items and determining shipping costs
  • Choosing auction titles with keywords
  • Writing concise and creative descriptions
  • Listing your auction at eBay
  • Answering bidder questions
  • Sending out end-of-auction e-mails
  • Carrying out banking
  • Performing bookkeeping
  • Packing the items safely and securely
  • Addressing labels and affixing postage
  • Going to the post office

Take the time to perform each of the tasks; watch the clock and time yourself to see how long it takes you to accomplish each of them. The time varies when you list multiple items, so think of the figures that you come up with as your baseline, a minimum amount of time that you must set aside for these tasks. This information can help you decide how many hours in a month you need to devote to running your part-time eBay business.

Jumping in with both feet: Making eBay a full-time job

As you can see in the list in the previous section, the tasks required for your eBay business can be time consuming, but careful planning and scheduling can turn your business into an online empire. The best way to go full time at eBay is to first run your business part time for a while. In any business, ironing out the wrinkles takes time; an eBay business is no different.

After you become comfortable with eBay as a business, you’re ready to make the transition to full-time seller. As a full-time seller at eBay, you’ll probably become an eBay Power Seller. The minimum gross monthly sales for a Bronze level Power Seller is $2,000. If you plan your time efficiently, you can easily attain this goal.

Running a full-time business at eBay is the perfect option for the working mom who prefers staying at home with her children, a retiree looking for something to do, or someone who’d just rather do something else than work for his boss.