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  • Amazon Selling Tips: Listing your item

    Last month, I explained how you can sell your possessions on Amazon.com Marketplace, and promised to share some tips gleaned from my three years of selling there. Here’s the first set of tips, on listing your items. (Sorry it so long, Sam!)

    • Read Amazon’s explanation of how the Marketplace works. Be sure you understand what fees are involved, how shipping credits work, and what your responsibilities are. Decide whether you can meet the obligations imposed, especially shipping items within two business days of the order.
    • Decide what you want to sell. Unless you have a Pro or Subscriber account, you can’t create a listing, so your very first step should be to make sure the item you want to sell is listed on Amazon.
    • Next, check other sellers’ prices and decide whether the item is worth listing. At this point, you should decide what profit will make the item worth selling. When I first started selling on Amazon, I was on maternity leave after my first son’s birth, and getting to the post office was easy. So as long as I made any profit, I listed my items. But these days, with time at a premium, I only list things that will make a profit of $5 or more. You can see what profit you’ll make before you complete the listing – on the page where you confirm the listing, Amazon lists the price, fees, and the total you will receive. Don’t forget to subtract your shipping costs from the total to determine your profit.
    • Set your price. Are you pricing your item to sell, or are you pricing your item for maximum dollar? If it’s the former, set a price at or just below the lowest competitor’s price. If it’s the latter, you’ll need to look at the competitors’ prices for items in comparable condition.
    • Give a detailed and accurate description of the condition of the item. As a buyer, I like to see that the seller is letting me know exactly what to expect. I have avoided some big-volume sellers because they provide no description, and I believe that I have sold many items despite my comparatively low volume because I list specific details, such as a tiny bent corner on a paperback, or a scratch on a CD cover.
    • Complete your listing and put the item in a safe, easy to locate place. Be sure the item remains in the same condition you described in your listing, and that you can find it easily when it sells. I keep all of my items for sale in a bag under my desk. The kids know not to go there, it’s easily accessible, and I know exactly where all of my items are.

    Those are my selling tips – please add your own in the comments. And stay tuned for my tips on what to do after your item is sold.

    Someone please "steal" & implement my business idea: Weight Watchers Points by text messaging

    A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was taking Millionaire Mommy Next Door‘s advice and doing a progressive mental exercise to open my mind to more money. The exercise starts with spending $100 on day 1, and then coming up with a supportive action to bring that money into your life. The amount of money doubles each day. Like MMND, I haven’t done it for 30 days in a row, so I’m still on day 15. But it’s been a very interesting exercise, since doubling the money each day increases the amount rapidly. (Ah, the beauty of compounding.) Because aside from long-term calculations for retirement, insurance or education expenses, I’ve never thought in such huge amounts of money before.

    What would I do with $819,200? (That’s the amount for day 14.) I actually wrote in my journal:

    I realize what a happy, satisfied life I lead when I just want to take the money and invest it.

    I’d be perfectly happy to have that amount of money to my name, but I had to think hard about how I would spend it. (I decided that I would buy a home in Hawaii, in case you’re wondering.)

    The really challenging part of the exercise is coming up with ways to bring these increasing amounts of money into my life. For many of them, I find myself trying to come up with business ideas – which, since I’m not an entrepreneur, isn’t that easy for me. But I came up with a business idea over the weekend that I wish someone would implement:

    People on Weight Watchers’ Flex plan can send the business a text message inquiring about the number of points of a certain food or asking for a low-point recommendation from a chain restaurant. The business looks it up and replies with another text message.

    For example, this past weekend, we stopped at Jack in the Box. I wish I had looked up the nutrition values at Dotti’s Weight Loss Zone before I left the house, but it was too late. So I found myself wishing for another way to find out how many points were in each item. I had a good feeling about the Chicken Fajita Pita, which indeed turned out to have only 6.5 points, but I could easily have blown 10 points or more on something I didn’t even want that badly. A texting service certainly would have been handy. My cell plan doesn’t include text messaging (I believe each one costs 10 cents) but I’d add it if this service were available (and more reasonably priced than buying a Blackberry with internet service).


    Review: SwagBucks

    Update 7/21/08: I didn’t realize it when I originally drafted this review, but you can win $3 awards – I just got one. I also wanted to add that SwagBucks’ search function uses Google and Ask.com, so the results are usually what you’re looking for. If you signed up using my referral link, thank you and have fun!

    One of my daily reads is My Good Cents, which includes a weekly update on “extra” money. I saw repeated references to a $5 Amazon.com gift certificate from a site called SwagBucks, so when the author posted this review, I was intrigued and finally signed up last month.

    Swagbucks is super easy to use. All you have to do is register, sign in, and use their search function. (I’ve bookmarked the search page, but they also have a downloadable toolbar. I’ve already got more than enough toolbars, so I’m sticking with the bookmark.)

    Each search is an opportunity to win random “Swag Bucks” in the amount of $1, $2 or $5. Swag Bucks can be redeemed for various prizes. Obviously, I was interested in the Amazon gift certificates, which are 45 Swag Bucks, but there are quite a few other prizes as well.

    I hit that threshold last week, almost exactly one month after I registered. I immediately redeemed my 45 Swag Bucks for an Amazon certificate, which appeared by email within a couple of hours.

    It’s pretty effortless for something I will most definitely use. (And I would have spent that money at Amazon anyway.) I’ve found that on most days, I can earn a SwagBuck in the morning and another one at night. I get at least one Swag Buck each day, and average about five searches per award. It’s worth noting that only your first 20 searches each day qualify for the random awards.

    When you sign up, you’ll get 5 Swag Bucks to get you started. And if you’d kindly use my referral link, I’ll earn a Swag Buck every time you do. Thank you!

    One last thing to keep in mind: SwagBucks is part of a larger search and win network, but the bucks don’t seem to be transferrable. Prizes at SwagBucks’ other sites cost more, so My Good Cents recommends that you stick with the main site.

    Sell your stuff at Amazon.com Marketplace: Part One – An overview

    Make Money Selling at Amazon - chieffamilyofficer.com

    I wrote about Amazon.com Marketplace when I first started selling our used books there, but I thought it was time to revisit the topic since I’ve been selling there for three years now.

    What is Amazon.com Marketplace? If you shop at Amazon, you’ve probably noticed the “Used & New” price option on most pages. If you click on that option, you’re taken to a page with a list of sellers who are selling that particular item. The list includes each seller’s price, the condition of the item, the seller’s feedback rating, and hopefully a description of the item. This list is the Marketplace page for the item. And the sellers are usually a mix of businesses, who find customers at Amazon, and individuals, many of whom are like me and simply having their garage sale online.

    My favorite thing about Marketplace is that you set your own price and wait for someone to decide to pay it. Unlike eBay, there’s no listing fee, no auction, and no calculation of shipping costs. Amazon sets the shipping charges and gives you a shipping credit. The fees you pay to Amazon are higher than what you would pay to eBay, but with Amazon, you only pay a fee if your item sells.

    You can also ensure your profit by pricing your item accordingly. Amazon makes this easy by telling you what you will receive if the item sells during the listing process. The amount you receive from Amazon includes the shipping credit but not the actual shipping cost. More than once, I have gotten to the “confirm your listing” page and realized that after paying for shipping, my net profit would be so small, it would be a better use of my time to simply donate it.

    My least favorite thing about selling on Amazon is that a sold item must be shipped within two business days. Shipping for me means a trip to the post office, since I sell only books, CDs, DVDs, and video games, and U.S. mail is the cheapest way of shipping these items. (If you’re selling these types of items, you should definitely learn about Medial Mail rates.) Items over 13 ounces must be delivered to a post office employee, and can’t simply be dropped in a mailbox or even left at the counter with adequate postage already affixed (unless your post office is different from mine).

    Since heavier books require waiting in line, something that’s not always convenient, I usually do a cost-benefit analysis when my net profit after shipping charges would be low. If the item does not require a wait in line, I’ll usually complete the listing. But if I have to wait in line, my profit must be at least $5.

    Another thing I like is that I can list an item whenever I want, put it aside, and wait for someone to buy it. Listings expire after 90 days, but Amazon will send you an email to let you know that a listing has expired and include a link to relist the item with just a couple of clicks. I believe listings no longer expire.

    When I first started listing books on Amazon, my husband and I went through our bookshelves and sold about half of our books. One corner of our office was just filled with stacks of books, but over a period of about six months, the stacks gradually disappeared and I had a few hundred dollars in the bank from the online equivalent of a garage sale. Ever since then, I’ve had a grocery bag under my desk containing the items that are currently listed for sale, and every once in a while, I’ll get a “Sold, ship now” email from Amazon.

    In Part Two of this series, I’ll share some listing and shipping tips that I’ve acquired in the last three years, so stay tuned!

    Update: Part Two: Listing Your Item and Part Three: Shipping.

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Stuart Miles.

    Can you think your way to more money?

    My dad has always been a big believer in positive thinking, so I was probably only 13 or 14 when I read Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s famous book, The Power of Positive Thinking. But maybe because positive thinking has always been a part of my life, I’ve never really paid much attention to it. I accept the basic premise, that we have the ability to shape our life with our thoughts. But can positive thinking increase your income or net worth?

    Millionaire Mommy Next Door thinks so. She’s in the middle of an “abundance experiment” in which she is “open[ing her] mind to receive increasingly more money.” Her idea is to imagine how she’d spend increasing amounts of money and how she could bring in that money. She’s a little worried that the experiment will make her focus on what she doesn’t have and make her discontented, so she’s also expressing gratitude for the good things in her life.

    It’s an interesting idea. MMND says the experiment is working and that she’s started bringing in some money by selling things on Craigslist.

    I think that the key here is, as MMND put it, opening your mind to new possibilities and considering things you haven’t thought about before. In a way, MMND is just brainstorming over an extended period of time. But I think what’s interesting is that, as she gets into the high dollar ranges, she’ll have to consider more radical ideas. (She’s currently at $51,200, and since she’s doubling the amount each day, her next spending spree will be $102,400.)

    So can radical ideas turn into more money? Of course they can! That’s how many successful businesses get started. I’m going to start contemplating some radical ideas of my own.

    How can you think your way to more money?

    Image credit: Amazon.com – The Power of Positive Thinking(affiliate link).

    Surprising things that sell on eBay

    As I mentioned previously, A Full Cup is one of my new resources in The Drugstore Game. While reading posts there, I happened upon this thread, which reports that the following items that people normally throw out actually sell on eBay:

    Who knew?