New Internet Marketers are renowned for being tight with their money. It’s good to be careful with your expenditure but if it’s to the point of hosting your website on an advert supported service or trying to subsist on nothing but pop-tarts, then you’re taking it too far.
When you’ve got a nice, regular income to rely on, spending money on your business is easy. But when you first start out and your income is nil, anything you spend automatically places you in a business that is losing money. Little wonder then that new online business owners are so keen to padlock their wallets shut.
Like it or not, this is one nettle you’re going to have to grasp quickly. If you were starting an offline business you’d probably have to get a business loan to get things rolling. An online business has far fewer overheads but it’s a mistake to think you can get away with spending nothing. At the bare minimum you need:
Decent, advertising-free hosting starts from $4.95 at Hostgator.com.
You might prefer to spend time, rather than money, on building your online empire but you’re going to HAVE to outsource the things you’re no good at. Unless you’re an awesome web designer, for example, no amount of time spent is going to produce a decent looking website.
You need something that runs quickly and doesn’t crash every ten minutes. If your computer is relatively new, you might be able to get away with just buying some extra memory.
Broadband access – the fastest you can afford.
In physical terms, your business is the contents of your hard drive. Protect it by investing in an online backup system. Carbonite.com is a solid system that backs up automatically in the background, storing all of your essential data offsite. For $54.95 a year your house can burn to the ground and you’ll be able to upload your business to a new computer without missing a beat.
There are plenty of other things that your business could use and there may be other items you consider to be essential that I’ve missed off my list, but the point is that you can’t avoid spending money to get your online business started. If you don’t have any savings then spring clean your house and collect a big pile of items that you can sell on eBay.
Make It Count
Selling stuff on eBay is easy. Ensuring you squeeze the maximum from your eBay auctions takes a little more preparation. Back in the day, I used to build my own eBay auction pages in HTML and manually upload each item. A lot has changed since then. Let’s take a look at some of the services and equipment that are available to make eBay listings easier and more profitable.
Handily enough, eBay is a pretty good place from which to purchase tools for packaging up your items. Look in the “Packing & Shipping” category for:
Postage Price Calculators
Before you list an item, you need to know how much it’s going to cost you to ship the item. With a bit of googling, you should be able to find a postage price calculator that’s specific for your country of residence. Here’s two to get you started:
US Postage Price Calculator: http://postcalc.usps.gov/
UK Royal Mail Price Finder: http://tinyurl.com/3coa25
To calculate an accurate shipping cost, you’ll need to weigh your item. Postal scales can be pricey so shop around for digital kitchen scales instead As long as the maximum weight capacity is sufficient for the items you’re selling, this will do the job nicely.
Auctiva is a third-party system from which you can list items on eBay. Register an account and you can schedule your auctions, auto-relist items, create scrolling galleries, and access a myriad of other handy features. Auctiva also boasts over 1700 templates for you to use when showcasing your wares. A 30-day free trial is available (NO forced continuity); after that accounts start from $2.95 a month.
My system for getting a fast, but reasonably-priced sale on eBay is to work out the average selling price of an item and then set the “Buy It Now” price to one pound more. Figuring out the average selling price used to mean trawling through completed auctions to gather the data – Get4It.com compiles the data for you in a flash.
Let’s say I was going to sell my Battlestar Galactica Season One DVDs (as if!). I enter the search term into the calculator and hit “PriceIt”. A few seconds later I know that the average selling price for items with this search term is $9.
A search at Get4It.com offers a range of other data, including the most common keywords – very useful when it comes to selecting the title for your auction.
ecal, an eBay calculator, is geared more towards the regular eBay user but if you have a lot of items to sell this will help you prioritize your auctions. Simply enter your starting price, postage costs and estimated sale price, and ecal will tell you the eBay insertion fees, PayPal fees and total profit after shipping and handling.
Hard Work vs Money
At the time of writing, eBay is 21st in Alexa’s “Top Sites” list. Ironically, it’s often possible to find items cheaper elsewhere on the net. But the opportunity to snag a bargain is still a great draw, making it the perfect place to sell your stuff and gather some funds to invest into your business.
Don’t deceive yourself into thinking you are the exception to the rule and that you can build your business with nothing but sweat and tears. Start treating your business like a business and invest what is needed to make it a serious prospect.
About the AuthorDavid Congreave began working online in 2001. He is now an SEO and Internet marketing consultant, a writer, and an editor. He lives and works in Leeds, UK with his wife, Leanne.
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