8 Tips For Creating a Successful eBay Storefront

February 5, 2012

Many are looking for employment, a second job or a different career, especially one that may be part-time, full-time, and run as a home business. This article, by Sarah Kessler, covers tips for a job that almost everyone qualifies for and can do successfully. The start-up costs are minimal and most already own the necessary equipment: a computer, a camera, and Internet access.  It is true work from home employment and once started, runs automatically, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A seller needs a little creativity and research along with solid customer service skills, though almost no direct contact with the public occurs. Further, the world is your marketplace, thanks to the Internet and popularity of eBay.

eBay wants its sellers to succeed, offering tips and tutorials via online classes about setting up stores for new sellers.  eBay also has information for forming an eBay business and lists several resources for sales ideas.

Do you have a collection of coins, inherited jewelry or a unique antique you no longer want?  eBay will provide exposure, a far higher number of buyers, and assistance with all parts of a sales transaction.  Several hundred million potential buyers is much more than a local store, craft fair or garage sale could ever provide.

If the Internet has a quaint pastime, selling things on eBay is probably it. Before a thriving e-commerce sprouted a handful of platforms on which anyone can sell anything to anyone, there was a slightly thrilling novelty to participating in the online auction. “Yes,” we told our friends, “I sold it on the Internet.”

Some of the mystery and magic may have been lost over the last 15 years, but the easy selling platform remains. Up to 100 individual listings per month are free on eBay, but many people go beyond that — the site’s 90-million-person community now buys enough (about $1,900 worth of goods every second) to support many full-time businesses.

If you’re thinking about setting up a storefront on eBay, here are eight pieces of advice to keep in mind.

1. Ask yourself if eBay is right for your business

Though Marc Cohen’s business sells merchandise on Amazon, Buy.com, and through each of his two store’s websites, his two eBay storefronts bring in about 80-90 percent of his business. eBay works well for him for several reasons. For one, sites like Amazon and Buy.com have catalogs of merchandise that make it easy to create listings. If you’re selling something other than what is in the catalog, however, it can be more difficult to create a listing. Because Cohen sells a wide variety of used video games and other discount merchandise, at times it’s easier for him to list them on eBay. If you sell unique items like collectibles, eBay might also be the best way to go.

Another aspect that makes eBay an ideal choice for Cohen is that he deals exclusively in merchandise that is somehow distressed — used, returned, part of a closeout sale, or excess inventory. “eBay is an online flea market,” he says. “It is extremely price competitive. Most products (except rare or out-of-stock products from primary retailers) will not fetch prices even close to the retail prices.”

Like all third party online retailers, unless you can offer something that is harder to find or lower priced than the majority of other sellers, it’s unlikely that you’ll have much success.

2. Start slowly

“[Most eBay sellers] don’t think of their businesses as business, and they don’t come from business backgrounds, and they tend to make mistakes in their business practices based on this lack of experience,” says Jim Griffith, eBay’s senior manager of seller advocacy and the author of The Official eBay Bible.

Before you jump into eBay full throttle, Griffith suggests starting out with a few listings while you perfect your processes. Taking on more listings than you are prepared to smoothly package, ship and provide adequate customer service for could lead to detrimental buyer reviews.

3. Customer service is king

Aside from offering quality products at competitive prices, customer service is probably the most important factor for successful selling on eBay. Sellers who win glowing reviews from their buyers will turn up higher in product search results than a competitor with low ratings, and achieve a better public feedback profile.

Frequent sellers who maintain good customer service ratings also become part of the top-rated seller program. Benefits of belonging to this program include an endorsement badge that is displayed alongside listings, UPS discounts, and a 20 percent discount on eBay’s final value fees.

4. Create effective product listings

Griffith works with new sellers every day. He says one of the most common innocent mistakes he sees them making is in their descriptions, terms and photos.

One thing that sellers should avoid is adding text that could be viewed as negative by buyers. “Harsh or restricting terms of service — requests to do not do this, do not do that, you must do that — that kind of language doesn’t work in any marketplace, and on eBay it’s actually an effective way of getting rid of customers,” Griffith says.

Terms should be simple. Consider using a bullet-point list to convey your shipping and handling, payment and return policies. Product descriptions can be more robust. Griffith suggests watching how others selling in the same category handle their product descriptions. Clothing sellers, for instance, used to use simple sizes like XL in their descriptions. Now they are migrating toward exact measurements.

It might seem obvious, but another great way to increase your sales is to provide quality photos. eBay sellers can upload up to 12 photos with each product and should use as much of this space as possible.

5. Brand your storefront

One of the great things about selling on eBay is the opportunity to create a branded store page that highlights specific products and can set you apart as a seller. Unlike most other selling platforms, eBay allows all sellers to create up to 15 customizable pages.

Cohen, whose Thumbmonkey Video eBay store beat out about 12,000 other stores to win a marketing award from eBay in 2008, says that some things that are being upfront about the return policy and providing contact information.

eBay provides a free tool for customizing your pages. Marketing and merchandising apps can also help you make you customize the look and functions of your storefront. In addition to themes, the section contains apps for doing market research, sharing your listings over social media, or even tracking your buyers’ locations.

6. Remember, the customer is always right — even when they are not

Griffith gets a fair share of heroic customer service stories during his daily conversations with eBay sellers. Recently, a seller of packaging materials told him about a customer who complained about an order of pink packing peanuts.The customer said he had received white, not pink, packing material. After assuring the customer had another order of pink packing peanuts on the way, the seller asked if the buyer could send a photograph of the mistake in order to show the supplier its mistake. The customer sent a photo — of indisputably pink packing peanuts.

“That to me as an example of what a great seller on eBay will do, not to protect themselves, but just to make sure that somebody is happy, even if they’re completely wrong,” Griffith says.

7. Consider free shipping

“When it comes to shipping, the standard is moving across the industry toward free shipping,” Griffith says. “Buyers don’t want shipping to be part of their decision making. The best way to take it out of the decision making process is to offer free shipping. Even if that means moving some or all of the cost of shipping into the price of the item, it’s still an easier experience for the buyer.”

Unlike many other selling platforms, the seller is in control of setting shipping prices. Whether you decide to go with free shipping or not, you should ship your merchandise as quickly as possible. Cohen says that even if there’s a problem with the order, buyers are usually much more amicable when they’ve received their products quickly.

8. Do a bit of method acting

In order to understand what eBay buyers want, become one.

“You’ll garner a lot of valuable information about your business once you understand what the eBay buying experience is like,” Griffith says.

By Sarah Kessler (mashable)

Article Source:

http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/article/8-tips-for-creating-a-successful-ebay-storefront-sarah-kessler?cid=em-smartbrief

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunity.


7 Tips For Fantastic Blog Content

October 29, 2011

How long should my posts be?

Can other people write articles for me?

How often should new content be posted on my blog?

Are off-topic posts a good idea?

How do I create fantastic content that attracts dozens to hundreds of comments and shares every day? How do I get visitors to return and read everything I post?

These content questions and many more are common to most, if not all bloggers at some point.  Perhaps you have some of these questions right now.

Blogs are important to your social media strategy and business goals.   This post shares several tips for producing incredible content for your blog:

1. Find your voice.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for a writer, finding a unique style that fits and brings out your personality is tough!  Experiment with different points of view and emotions.

Here is some advice about finding your voice from expert blogger Corbett Barr:

How do you convey your full personality through words? It’s not an easy thing. How do you show that you’re passionate, gutsy, funny, provocative, dynamic and vibrant like your friends know you to be? How do you let people know your full values, traits and even quirks through writing?

There are two areas that keep us (or me) from fully self-expressing ourselves:

The first is courage. It takes guts to do something you’ve never done before. Knowing that once you write something online it’ll be out there for good can make you question every word, every sentence, every blog post. And what if people don’t like your fully-self-expressed self? That could make a grown man cry. Or at least stop revealing himself.

The second is writing ability. I’m not talking about innate writing ability, something you can only be born with. I’m referring to a learned skill here. The skill of being able to write conversationally, drawing on all of your experiences and thoughts and feelings, and to get those across in a coherent way. I think you can learn that skill. Some people come to it naturally, and other people have to work at it.

Without the courage and skills, many of us end up with a half-assed persona online. Something that sounds stiff and formal in a way that we don’t sound in person. (Side note, this doesn’t just apply to writing, either. You can create personas that you use in real life in different situations, especially in business situations).

To muster that courage and gain those skills, you have to experiment. Try writing rants, try expressing parts of yourself you’ve never shared before, try being funny, try being serious, try acting like a leader.

Dig in and examine your favorite writers and try to figure out how they’re able to connect so easily with you.

Finding your voice is something every blogger should strive to do. Once you have, your writing will be more exciting and powerful forever.[i]

2. Use other resources for your content.
Yes, you can create some really useful content by pulling other sources together on your blog. As a curator or facilitator, you provide a service and time saving for your readers by searching hundreds to thousands of posts and re-posting relevant content.

When writers block occurs and you have nothing interesting to write, try creating a post that comments on existing content. Link freely to get noticed by other bloggers.

Learn to curate content effectively from Brain Pickings by Maria Popova.  Popova is a master of “combinatorial creativity” as she calls it. She uses hundreds of sources, both online and off to create unique content.

3. Write attention grabbing headlines.
You don’t spend enough time on headlines.  However much time you spend, double or triple the effort to produce ones that go viral.

Killer headlines are key to making your post stand out from thousands of similar ones. A headline means a difference from a wildly popular post and a mundane one.

4. Posting more frequently is better.
More frequent posts provide: opportunity to connect with your potential audience and increases the chance of writing a viral post.

Be careful to balance quantity and quality.  Don’t post lots of crap just because you want lots of posts.  If you can write high quality content on a regular basis, try posting more often to grow your audience.

5. Use a successful blogging formula.
Research posts with large numbers of followers or are viral on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.  Examples of successful blogs are Mashable, Business Insider, and TMZ.

Copy the formula of these wildly successful blogs and add you own slant and voice to create unique content for your blog.  The results may surprise you!

Another viral blog example is seen in the graph below.  Jim Harmer who blogs for ImprovePhotography, followed changes recommended by Pat Flynn of smartpassiveincome.

6. Write with emotion and passion.
You’ve heard this before:

People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing – Dale Carnegie

When you really care about what you’re writing or working on, the passion comes through. It makes your writing more human, more connectable, and powerful. Your words will resonate with your readers and they’ll want to share your content.

If you’re writing content you’re lukewarm about, change. Write about something you care deeply about, something different and challenging.  It will make a difference.

7. Make content readable.
Bloggers work hard to create dynamic and brilliant content but fall flat when paragraphs are long, tedious, and boring.  Visual markers and breaks in text can make a radical difference.

Writing in long monotonous paragraphs without emphasis, is a great cure for insomnia.  Your readers will fall asleep or miss the blog’s point and wear out the back button on the keyboard.

Readers like to scan an article; don’t make them work hard to find the point.  Key words, phrases and headings – especially early in the document – will keep readers on your page.

Scannable text will keep readers interested and improve the chance that they’ll read what you’ve written.

Finally, try making one of these simple changes in your next post.  If that works, great.  If not, try another or two in following posts.  Once you’ve found a combination that works, your blog will run wild.

By Dion Shaw

Adapted and edited from thinktraffic.

Dion Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs.

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunity.

 

Disclaimer

Homepreneurs does not endorse nor have any relationships with any of the services listed.  Homepreneurs receives no compensation or consideration for its suggestions.  Homepreneurs strongly urges all interested parties to conduct research and accepts no responsibility for any losses incurred.

© Homepreneurs 2011

 

Reference



4 Tips for Writing SEO-Friendly Blog Posts

June 9, 2011

June 9, 2011 -

Small businesses and home businesses increasingly rely on website and blogs for publicity, marketing, and product sales.  A successful blog or site needs readers; as many as possible.  Increases in viewership is partly due to valuable content and largely from SEO or Search Engine Optimization methods that help Internet searchers find blog posts and website pages.  A post is considered SEO-friendly if search engines Google, Bing, Yahoo and others can easily find articles based on key words and phrases.

Most potential readers use search engines to find content or information desired; rarely are specific page titles directly entered into a browser.  With this in mind, it is very important to embrace SEO as a tool to gain readership.

Samuel Axon provides tips to assist a blog writer in creating SEO-friendly content.  Axon’s tips will help send more viewers to a site – and by extension – potentially more money from PPC ads, product sales, and advertising.

————

4 Tips for Writing SEO-Friendly Blog Posts

By Samuel Axon

In addition to writing for their human readers, web writers and bloggers have to consider the digital web crawlers employed by search engines like Google. Your business can’t skip the task.

Since most would-be readers use search engines to find blog posts, you need to make sure that Google ranks your site highly when those readers search for terms related to your business and the content you’re writing.

You could spend thousands of dollars to have a search marketing firm optimize your business’s blog for search engines, but chances are that you can learn a lot of the fundamentals yourself, saving yourself a lot of money as long as you have the interest and the time. Here’s a basic primer on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your company’s blog.

1. Always Include Search Terms In Your Post’s Title

When Google reads a website to index it, it reads the code directly, not the snazzy presentation that humans see. The way most blogging platforms are built, the headline or title of your blog post is among the first things Google sees, and Google generally assumes the words that appear earliest are the most important. That’s why the title is the most important part of your blog post when it comes to SEO.

Think about who you want to reach with this blog post, and what that person might be searching for when looking for your business’s goods or services, then include critical words from that hypothetical search in the title. The most important terms should appear as quickly as you can reasonably fit them in. Just be careful not to make the title unreadable or awkward to human readers — that SEO effort will have been for naught if the reader is immediately turned off by the content once he or she finds it.

Here’s a pro tip: You’re not likely to win strong ranking for more than one or two search terms at once, so minimalism is a virtue here. Don’t get over-ambitious. Focus on one potential search term, then if you want to rank for a second term, write a separate and unique post specifically with it in mind.

2. Link Important Words to Earlier Blog Posts

Search engines generally assume that a blog post that has been linked to has more authority than one that has not. They also consider exactly what word or phrase linked to the post; a blog post about the iPhone is going to be more likely to show up in Google searches on the subject if another page links the word “iPhone” to the post.

You’ll get the most value from external links from sites that Google or other search engines already consider to be an authority of the subject (if the top blog about iPhones links the word to your post, you’ll get a huge boost), but all incoming links will still pass rank to your page, even those from elsewhere on your site.

So be sure and link important keywords to other pages or previous posts on your blog to gain some credibility and search rank. It will make a big difference. Just don’t overdo it; not only do human readers hate reading blogs so filled with links that they might accidentally click on something, Google may penalize you if you go overboard, too.

3. Hit the Tagging Sweet Spot

Most blogging platforms let you apply tags to your posts. Tags help organize your blog so both humans and search engines can find what they’re looking for. They’re terms like “consulting,” “local” or “technology” that reflect the topics and content of the post.

Google tries to recognize tags and use them to prioritize your site in its search ranking for those terms. The tags are usually links to other pages on your blog (usually a backlog of other posts with the same tag), and like we said earlier, linking search terms to other pages on your site helps too.

So by all means, add pertinent tags to your blog post, but be warned that Google and other search engines are wary of sites that try to game this system. They will penalize you in the search rankings if you use so many tags that the web indexing bots suspect you might be attempting to associate your content with unrelated topics just to score extra traffic.

The method for determining this is arcane, but a good rule of thumb from a pro blogger is that five to 10 appropriate tags are usually right in the sweet spot.

4. Use Google Insights to Find the Best Search Terms

You don’t have to play a guessing game about the best tags or search terms to link or put in your post’s title. Since Google is the most popular search engine, it makes sense to focus your efforts there. Whenever you’re not sure which terms to go with, hit up Google Insights, a web-based tool that compares the popularity of any search terms you want to know about.

For example, if your business is a coffee shop but you’re not sure whether would-be customers are more likely to search for “café” or “coffee shop,” Insights can tell you which one is more popular.

These four tips should get you on your way to having a more SEO-friendly corporate blog. Add your tips for search engine optimization in the comments below.

Source: http://www.openforum.com/articles/4-tips-for-writing-seo-friendly-blog-posts-samuel-axon


How To Set Up A Facebook Page

May 24, 2011

Homepreneurs has blogged several times about using social media to your advantage for marketing, branding, and sales.  The current biggest social media marketing outlet is Facebook with approximately 500 MILLION ACTIVE users.  Yes, you read that correctly:  500 million.

This is a huge potential market for your product or service.  A customer base this massive has never existed at any time or place in the history of sales and marketing.  The business industry is even for all competitors, large or small, established companies or startup concerns.  Facebook is simply a sales network that cannot be ignored if a business wishes to compete and thrive.

In the article below, Lauren Drell walks readers through setting up a basic Facebook marketing campaign.  Her information is not overly technical, very timely, and presented as a simple step-by-step guide.

Time to start marketing your business on Facebook.  With this guide, there are no excuses for not setting up a page for your business.

——————————–

How To Set Up A Facebook Page

By Lauren Drell

There are 500 million active users on Facebookit’s about time you get in on the action and start a Facebook Page for your business. After all, the best marketing reaches out to consumers where they already are, and people spend more than 700 billion hours a month on the site. Exposure to that many eyeballs could translate to a lot of business for your company.

Not tech savvy? That’s not a problemthe process isn’t too technical. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you initiate your Facebook marketing campaign

1. Create your Page

Go to facebook.com/pages and click “Create Page” in the upper right hand corner.

The next screen asks you to select a category from the following list:

  • Local Business or Place
  • Company, Organization or Institution
  • Brand or Product
  • Artist, Band or Public Figure
  • Entertainment
  • Cause or Community

2. Fill In information

Once you select the category for your business, you can fill in the name, address and phone number. Check the box next to “I agree to Facebook Pages Terms” and click “Get Started.” You’ll see a Page that looks like this:

3. Add a photo

Upload a picture for your page. It can be a logo, a photo of a store or a photo of a person—whatever makes the most sense for building your brand. The file needs to be smaller than 4 MB, and it can be square or a vertical rectangle. However, note that the avatar that shows up next to status updates and wall posts is square, so if you don’t want anything chopped off, square might be the way to go.

4. Suggest your Page to friends

Get your Page started off with some “likes” by recruiting your own friends. Start typing in names and when you drag the cursor over someone’s name, it will highlight in blue. Click once to check the person and add them to your invite. Click “Selected” to see who’s on your invite list. When you’re ready to invite, click “Send Recommendations.”

5. Import contacts

Click on “Import Contacts” to reach out to your e-mail contacts about your new Page. You can upload a file (Outlook, Constant Contact, .csv) or you can enter your e-mail log-in info so Facebook can access people in your e-mail contact list. Again, you can check the box next to the names you’d like to invite, and you can preview the invitation to see what it’ll look like. For people who are already on Facebook, they’ll get a “Recommended Pages” widget on their Facebook, while everyone else will get an e-mail that looks like this:

Want to read more on Facebook Pages? Check these out:

6. Start writing content

Once you have a photo uploaded and have a few fans on board, you can start engaging.

For status updates, you can either share with everyone or you can target by location or by language. Targeting comes in handy if the Page is for a business with several locations in various states, especially if there is a contest, event or update that is only for a particular city.

If you want to post a link to a blog post or news story, don’t just type or paste the URL into a status update. If you do, it will look like this:

To post a link the proper way, click “Link” and paste the URL. Click “Attach.” Once you “attach” the URL, you’ll see that the text and photo from the page you’re linking to will populate automatically. You can change the title, paste different text into the snippet, and change the pictures (if there are several options, indicated by the “Choose a Thumbnail” prompt):

This is the best and cleanest way to link to another page. The post looks better and it will perform better if the link is attached instead of typed into the status. Note that you can click on either the link or the snippet to change the text before you click “Share.”

7. Get a vanity URL

Once you have 25 fans on your Facebook Page, any of a Page’s admins can reserve a vanity URL so that your Facebook URL is http://www.facebook.com/yourbusinessnamehere. Go to the Username page, select the Page name from the drop-down menu and then write in the name you’d like to use. Click “Check Availability.” If it’s available, a prompt will ask, “Are you sure you want to set [URL] as [Facebook Page]‘s username?” Click confirm to lock in that URL—and keep in mind that you can’t change the URL for a Page once you confirm.

8. Use the tools that are available

Facebook Insights is a great tool that can help you figure out when to post and what kind of content does well. Measuring social media success is complicated, but many brands focus on engagement. Activity on your Page is a good sign, and you can keep tabs on activity by clicking “Facebook Insights” on the right sidebar, just below the admins.

9. Assign other admins

Speaking of admins, you can invite several people to run the Page and post content—links and statuses will come through as written by the Page and not the individual. (Note, the statuses above were generated when I was on my personal account—but the posts came through from “My Sweet New Candy Shoppe” because I am an admin.)

In the “Admins” section of the sidebar on the right, click “See All.” A new page will populate with the names of the admins. To make someone else an admin, just type in his name (it’ll populate in real time)—there is no limit to the number of admins a Page can have. Admins are kept abreast of happenings on the Page—including comments and posts so that your company can interact with its fans—via e-mail.

Now that your Facebook Page is all set, you can learn more about what to do, what not to do and when to post to get the best engagement.

Source: http://www.openforum.com/articles/how-to-set-up-a-facebook-page?cid=em-smartbrief


How to Get Free Publicity

March 9, 2011

Everyone knows publicity is good for your business (and free publicity is even better). After all, publicity:

* Creates buzz
* Positions you as an expert
* Brings traffic to your site
* Skyrockets subscriber sign-ups
* Launches the heck out of a new product
* Drives sales
* Increases brand awareness
* Establishes authority and credibility
* Builds your platform
* And much more…

But let’s face it, professional publicists are an expense most small business owners can’t afford. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get great publicity — for free? Well, you can. All you need is a little time and a lot of desire.

Here are six ways to get amazing publicity that won’t cost you a penny.

Social Media

More and more, media outlets are using Twitter and Facebook to find great sources for the stories they’re working on. Is there a magazine or TV news show you’d like to be featured in? Chances are, they’re on Twitter and Facebook, and once you “follow” them, you’ll see awesome shout-outs for sources like you.

Help a Reporter Out

Like Match.com for reporters and sources, HARO provides publicity-hungry sources with hundreds of media opportunities each day. All you need to do is sign up, get your HAROs, and start pitching.

Guest Posts

Get your business in front of a whole new audience by guest posting on other people’s blogs. Check out Copyblogger for 10 tips on how to land a guest post on an A-list blog.

Press Releases

Despite what some PR people say, the press release isn’t dead. Writing and distributing a press release can announce news, launch products, tweak your SEO, and help you reach the media. DocStoc.com has several free press release templates and Mashable.com lists 20+ free press release distribution sites.

Editorial Calendars

An editorial calendar shows the major editorial features planned for forthcoming issues of a newspaper or a magazine. Editorial calendars are traditionally used by the advertising department to sell advertising, but you can use them to increase your chances of getting featured in a publication.

Where can you find editorial calendars? Go to the publication’s website and look for a link or tab that says “Advertising” – it’s usually way down at the bottom of the website. Click on that and you’ll likely find rate information, closing dates, and a “download editorial calendar” link. Download the editorial calendar and start hunting for publicity opportunities in the features the publication has planned.

Product Placement

Have you ever seen your favorite products being used in movies or TV shows? That’s called product placement and you can get your product placed, too. Sarah Shaw of Entreprenette has a genius free service called Instantly Famous Products that’ll help get your product on the big screen.

Much like HARO, Instantly Famous Products broadcasts queries from TV and movie producers looking for certain products – clothes, accessories, green items, food, bags, shoes, whatever. All you need to do is pitch your product and cross your fingers.

Publicity is a powerful way to boost your business. And as you can see, there are many fun and free ways to get it. So go get it!

By Heather Allard

Heather Allard is a mother of three kids, Hope, Grace & Brendan — and one big dog, The Dude. She’s also the founder of TheMogulMom.com, a website for moms who run a business, raise a family, and rock both. You can find her on Twitter at @heathALL.

Source:  http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-get-free-publicity-heather-allard-wise-bread


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