Thursday, July 12, 2007

Interview with reporter from e-commerceguide about promotion of eBay auctions through blogs

I just completed an interview with Vangie Beal of about eBay and promotion through blogs:.

Here are some excerpts:

Q:Your eBay profile says you've been a member since 1998. How long have you been a pretty active seller on the auction site?

I actually got involved on eBay in late 1997 selling "repaired" and surplus Apple computer inventory. In 1998, I sold an information book for $15-$35 each. The day eBay stock went IPO, my auction was featured on CNBC because it had a lot of bids. The CNBC show hosts were saying things like, "This is the future of commerce, selling information, he doesn't have a physical product, he's just selling information here." Actually it was a physical product ... a book about Apple laptops that I had written and burned onto CD instead of printing. From 1998-2000, I sold 1100 copies of the book through eBay. I used the "book sales" to offset my eBay fees and buy more inventory for auction. By the summer of 2000, I was listing 250 items a month and at that point had 2 people helping me list and package while I wrote the auctions and promoted my listings at various websites including my own. Now, I'm just back to plain old me ... but eBay still accounts for 50% of my income.

Q:Outside of eBay we can also find you blogging on Fix Your Thinking. Can you tell us a bit about your own blog, and how it fits into your consulting and eBay selling business?

One item that I sell is unique to eBay - a USB to Ethernet adapter for Apple Computers (Macs). My FixYourThinking blog is mostly about helping Mac users better understand Apple news that circulates the web. Loosely, it's an an educational exercise. One issue that a lot of Mac users face is expensive motherboard repairs if their ethernet port is surged or hit by lightening and goes bad. Mac users are in a rather unique situation in that most Macs are "built in" or considered "all in ones" - meaning cheap expansion or component replacement is usually out the question. Before my adapter, your only viable option if your ethernet connection on your Mac failed was to get your motherboard replaced. With labor this was usually in excess of 60% of the original cost of the computer. After my adapter, it's as easy as buying my adapter and plugging it in - costing you less than $25. Where my blog comes in is as a tool to help my Google searches for this adapter. By discussing this adapter regularly almost as a "website infomercial" - I build interest and knowledge of the ethernet adapter's existence. Recently, I have been using eBay's "eBay to Go" blogging feature - this has given me direct links to my eBay auctions from my blog.

My blog also discusses eBay drama. I've covered the topics of the problematic eBay Dropoff business, as well as discussing the complexity of using PayPal on eBay. Every once in a while, I give a tutorials on how to save on shipping, how to list an eBay auction with more voom, or use a certain eBay feature.

Q:For other sellers interested doing their own blog (eBay hosted or otherwise) or reviews, what advice can you offer (e.g. can one fail due to too much eBay-promotion within the blogs, etc).

You certainly have to balance self promotion - which is what a blog is. If the intent of your blog is to promote your sales - then I suggest not doing one. There's too much commercial competition promoting the same thing and most likely with a better, cheaper product than you can offer. I don't do my blog to promote anything. I write because I enjoy it and I write to inform and educate my readers. Buyers follow. The lesson I can give anyone about eBay, promotion of your listings, or becoming a great seller is - be personal - be a real person with a real understanding of both perspectives; buyer and seller. The most important thing about eBay is understanding pop culture. It's not what you're offering, it's not how you describe it, it's not how you advertise it - it is SOLELY about how you relate the purchase to the buyer and make them feel like they have something important or of significant value. An eBay sale is about ownership. Creating ownership in your auctions is very important. With my blogs and reviews I show people I own and USE the things I sell or i at least have a sort of attachment to them that I want to share.

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