How David Dickinson can help grow your eBay profits

PLUS: Why some of the world’s top eBay sellers are not and never want to be PowerSellers

I’m a great fan of Dickinson’s Real Deal – a TV programme where people with antiques to sell show their goods to real-life dealers and subsequently decide whether to accept a dealer’s offer or send their antique to auction instead.

But what I really love about the programme is its closeness to how antique dealing works in reality, and how and why people with very little experience of antiques or auctions can make as much or more money than dealers featured in programmes like Dickinson’s Real Deal and others like it.

That’s because:

  • Where vendors refuse a dealer’s offer and take their goods to auction instead, you’ll often find an auction finishing price falls way below a dealer’s offer, which for me proves one main thing: dealers, even experts in specific products, are never really sure how much an item is worth. So they make an educated guess: sometimes they’ll be right and make a massive profit and sometimes they’ll be wrong and lose money instead.

Read that again, notably the words ‘massive profit’ and ‘little money’ and bear in mind that, overall, you are more likely to make a massive profit on newly purchased products than you are to lose money or just break-even. Read on to understand why…

  • The easiest and least risky way to make a great living selling antiques is to buy items inexpensively at low-population trading events, such as small-town and village flea markets and out-of-the-way auction salerooms. Then, afterwards, you sell your acquisitions to a much bigger audience of bidders via well-known auction companies such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Bonhams, and also eBay.

The reason is simple: those big-name companies have more staff, more expertise, more bidders and buyers, they promote their sales on and off the Internet, and they work hard at promoting their featured products worldwide through press release and personal emails to likely high-price bidders. That means they reach a much greater bidding audience than many offline salerooms with one auctioneer and two or three porters and, sometimes, no Internet presence.

The end result is that people like us pay low prices at local selling events and earn much higher prices on eBay and through other major auction companies.

  • Dickinson’s Real Deal proves something else I’ve always known about buying and selling antiques: it’s a simple numbers game, where some deals you will win and other deals you won’t. The big secret to success is getting it right more often than you are wrong, and never risking large sums of money on items you know nothing about, which lose you money on almost every sale.

There is one way to almost always be certain you’ll never lose your shirt on items you buy at auction and more likely you’ll make a good profit.

You do it by researching prices paid recently for goods shortly to sell in smaller auction salerooms or at other low-profile events. Research potential resale prices on eBay if that’s where you intend to sell, likewise, for any other marketing platform.

When you have potential resale prices, you buy items fetching lower prices than their researched prices on your chosen resale platform. Then you list your item at the price you paid, plus a decent mark-up that covers your buying and selling fees and leaves a good profit for you.

If your first listing fails, try a second listing with a lower starting price but still more than you paid for the item.

If your product still goes unsold, go to plan B! Plan B involves selling the product in the saleroom it came from with a reserve set at the price your nearest rival bidder was prepared to pay! If that person is a regular visitor, he or she will almost certainly pay your price and maybe more! That means, of course, you have to maintain records of bids placed for items you win on the day.

Yes, you may lose a little money on plan B transactions, but at least you tried and losing on a transaction should be a pretty rare event! More likely you’ll at least double or further increase your investment on every purchase.

Why some of the world’s top eBay sellers are not and never want to be PowerSellers

There are benefits associated with becoming a PowerSeller, and the bigger you grow your business the greater those benefits become. PowerSeller advantages include priority access to customer service on eBay, discounts on final selling fees, and others besides.

So you might be surprised to learn that some of the world’s top eBayers are not and never want to be PowerSellers. Some don’t actually qualify, even if they sell way more product each month than the world’s top eBayer. That’s because to qualify as a PowerSeller you must meet a specific level of product sales or profits in one eBay account.

‘In one eBay account’ are the operative words there, and most eBay sellers actually do have just one eBay account, into which they commit everything from household castoffs to surplus collectibles, last weekend’s boot sale buys, dropshipped items, and much more. And they quickly (and almost always) permanently qualify as PowerSellers and achieve those aforementioned benefits.

But there is a big disadvantage to this ‘throw it all in the same pot’ principle: it’s one of rarely being able to specialise or grow a niche market for your eBay business.

Niche marketing is a powerful concept; on eBay you’ll see sellers specialising in one specific product type and generating thousands of sales each month from just a few listings. This usually happens because niche-product buyers recognise niche-market sellers as people most likely to satisfy their buying needs, and many buyers will remain loyal to one or two sellers for the lifetime of their mutual presence on eBay.

There’s another benefit, based on the fact the niche-specific seller sometimes gets to cut eBay listing and final selling fees to the bone by listing just a few items on eBay and then redirecting bidders, enquirers and buyers to niche products available outside of eBay – sometimes to affiliate products, more often to a seller’s own independent website or ecommerce shop.

This redirection takes place in emails outside of eBay, and should never be attempted on eBay, which could lead to sellers being suspended from the site.

All this explains how some niche marketers make the fewest possible sales on eBay and generate the main part of their income away from the site.

It’s called ‘back-end selling’, but whereas many eBay sellers promote eBay products to first-time buyers and pay for each sale, those non-PowerSeller types focus their back-end sales on portals where listing and selling fees are lower than on eBay, and sometimes non-existent.

There’s another reason why the world’s biggest sellers may never qualify to become PowerSellers, which also explains why most don’t want to qualify anyway…

It’s because many of them have lots of eBay accounts, each catering to a specific niche audience where cumulative sales are sometimes low and sellers don’t qualify for PowerSeller status. But even without PowerSeller benefits, profits can be enormous across several different niche-product accounts on eBay.

So you see, striving to join eBay’s top-selling PowerSellers isn’t always the best idea. Try choosing one or a couple of hot niches instead, and build each one into a high-profit maker, even if you never qualify for benefits accorded to PowerSellers.

I hope today’s eletter helps grow your profits on eBay. Remember, there’s still time to learn about 101 product types that rarely (if ever) go unsold on eBay. All subscribers to my monthly print newsletter will very shortly receive my free report detailing those 101 products, but out of fairness, I can’t give this massive document to non-subscribers.

You can still get it by taking out a risk-free trial to eBay Confidential by signing up here. If you don’t like what you get in my monthly newsletter, you simply unsubscribe and pay nothing, and you still get to keep my big free report.

This article first appeared on Auction Genie. Read more and comment here