In our very first post we explained how we started selling on eBay. For the first two years or so, Max and I worked from home. Our eBay business was doing about $3,000 a month in revenue, leaving Max and myself with some pocket money to buy coffee and donuts. We didn’t have a clear eBay business strategy, but we were eager to improve sales.
We were literally possessed – Our small eBay business was the only thing we could think and talk about, we had this blind belief that it was only a matter of finding the right methods to break the glass ceiling and prove to our Jewish moms we didn’t need to “stop playing and get serious jobs” – We believed our eBay business could become a serious job.
We tried hundreds of tactics that failed, but eventually the few that worked took our business to a new level.
In this post I’m going to cover the exact methods we used to grow our eBay business from $3,000 to $30,000 in monthly revenue.
The 3 Methods We Used to Grow Our eBay Sales from $3,000 to $30,000
The saying goes – “The first million is the hardest”. Well, let me tell you – breaking the glass ceiling and going from $3,000 “hobby” eBay business to a $30,000 real business, not only required an immense amount of testing and failure, but also a fundamental mental change. Looking retrospectively – we needed to start thinking and acting bigger to become bigger.
#1: Expanding to local eBay sites
In Israel, where we don’t have a local eBay site, when people talk about eBay – they usually mean eBay.com, the US site.
While eBay.com is the best known one, eBay has local subsidiary sites (23 of them) in many countries, for example:
For Australian consumers for example – the 1st online shopping destination is the local eBay.com.au, where they get a “local” shopping experience, with every eBay listing having a shipping option to Australian addresses and where the prices are shown in AUD. Australians would seldom go to eBay.com – where only some sellers offer shipping to Australia, and which has prices in USD.
It was only natural for us to focus our business on the biggest site – eBay.com, completely neglecting the smaller, local eBay sites.
We knew that our listings were somehow represented on the local sites, under the “International listings” section. We initially assumed this would give us enough exposure, as we were getting orders from non-US customers.
However, studying this in-depth, we found out that these listings automatically go to the bottom of the search results, below listings that were created directly on the local eBay sites.
Realizing that we were only scratching the surface of our businesses potential while listing on eBay.com – we began expanding and listing on local eBay sites.
We were used to doing cross-border transactions, so there was very little new stuff for us to learn while expanding to local eBay sites.
Non-English sites, like the German eBay.de have the same interface as the US one, so we had no problems orientating and easily creating listings locally.
We were surprised to discover that only a fraction of the eBay US sellers also list on local eBay sites or even offer international shipping for their items .
This must seem like a lot to deal with – cross-border shipping, tracking currency exchange, dealing with non-English customer support etc.
After listing and selling on local eBay sites for several months, we understood that there was a business opportunity there – we now knew how to solve the above mentioned pains, and figured we could do this for other sellers.
We began to contact US sellers, offering to re-sell their products on local eBay sites –
How did expanding to eBay local sites affect our business?
The effect was two-fold:
- By expanding to local eBay sites we exposed our selves to an entirely new audience, the demand for our products grew tremendously and sales multiplied.
- We also uncovered a new business opportunity by becoming international re-sellers for US businesses who used us as their international sales operation.
#2: Bulk listing
For the first few years, our eBay business was a two men show. Max and myself did everything:
- Sourcing suppliers
- Creating listings
- Customer service
- Order processing
Understanding that eBay was one of the world’s most competitive marketplaces, we knew we needed to automate as many tasks as possible (which required paying for eBay seller tools) to get an edge over the competition.
Manually creating eBay listings was one of the most time-consuming tasks for us.
With every new item we wanted to add, we had to manually list it on 5 different eBay sites. Multiply this by 10’s or 100’s of items from every supplier and you get TONS of manual work!
This is when we began the search for technological solutions to speed up the process, after all – time is money! And we knew our time could be spent in a much more effective way than on manually listing each and every product on each and every eBay site.
The first solution we found was eBay’s free FileExchange – A clunky, buggy, outdated tool that allowed us to list 100’s of items at once.
FileExchange is hard to use and it isn’t suitable to upload professionally designed listings, so we had to develop our own technology to apply a template to the listings we launched on eBay with FileExchange.
This pain was one of the foundations that led us to building CrazyLister (in which you can apply a professionally designed template to 1000’s of your listings in a single click). We believe that professional eBay listing design should be easy, and not require any coding or design skills.
Today you don’t have to struggle like we did, because there are easy (and free) substitutes to FileExchange.
One such tool is Codisto xpresslister, an Australian company whom we met at the eBay open event in Vegas.
Xpress Lister is 10x faster than any other solution to create eBay listings in bulk, and best of all – it’s completely free!
Here’s a quick video showing how it works.
Simply import a spreadsheet of containing product data such as title, quantity, price, description and an image URL.
Quickly configure eBay settings such as shipping and returns policies and click list. Sellers can use the example import spreadsheet format or use an existing product spreadsheet in their own format. Xpress Lister automatically categorizes products, saving sellers hours of set up time but overriding chosen categories is quick and easy.
Xpresslister integrates with CrazyLsiter – Sellers can use CrazyLister templates for listings launched from Xpresslister.
You don’t need to struggle with FileExchange like we did, you can easily use Xpresslister + CrazyLister to create professional, mobile-optimized listings – in bulk.
Here is a quick tutorial showing how this works.
How did this affect our business?
Adopting the bulk listing technology multiplied our power by x100. While other sellers had to hire extra people to list manually, we were able to easily list 100’s of professionally designed listings in a matter of minutes.
This helped free our time to spend more time on growing the eBay business rather working on the day to day operations.
The time we gained by automating the listing process helped us find new products to sell, list them quickly on eBay and make more money!
#3: Meeting suppliers in person
Our marketing director – Amir Levi, and myself have recently returned from a business trip to California, where we met with eBay in their headquarters in San Jose and with CrazyLister partners from San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Let me tell you – the flight from Tel-Aviv to San-Francisco isn’t an easy one, it takes 14 hours, but it’s worth every minute and every cent.
Business is all about communication with people. In fact, studies show that more than 90% of communication is non-verbal, we mostly communicate with our body and face gestures.
There is simply no substitute to meeting your suppliers and business partners face to face.
Skype calls and emails just don’t convey the whole story. When you meet a person face to face, you create a new level of connection.
I have seen this happen countless times – people with whom I corresponded via the internet and were like “nah, maybe later” turned to “Sure! let’s do it” after we met in the real world.
Getting out of our comfort zone and flying to meet our dropshipping suppliers in an exhibition in Amsterdam took our business to a new level.
We felt how the attitude towards us changed, and we got a warmer service. The suppliers who met us in person now knew us, and we were no more some anonymous people from behind emails.
How did this affect our business?
Meeting suppliers and partners in person changed our way of thinking, we started to think strategically for the long run – Yes, it’s an immediate expense to go to exhibitions, but the investment quickly pays itself.
I remember times when a lucrative supplier wanted to check us and asked for a reference from existing suppliers we worked with, we connected him to a supplier with whom we met in person who vouched for us being honest and trustworthy. Boom – new business was earned, courtesy of a face to face meeting.
There are many methods and strategies for building a successful eBay business (we even shared some of our most successful eBay hacks). Our experience shows that it’s a matter of trying 10’s and 100’s of tactics until you discover the ones that work for you.
Do you have different methods that worked for you? Feel free to share with us.