I built a beautiful Bombay desk from rich mahogany and rosewood. I spent months hunched over it with my carving chisels creating perfectly crisp details. When I was done I knew it was the most beautiful thin I’d ever make. I put it on ebay, sold it for twenty five bucks to a guy who complained it was going to cost so much to crate and ship across the country, and when it arrived it was dented and splintered, so I had to give a full refund, pay the return shipping and burn it in the shop stove.
I know, the story above is a bit sad. It’s also not true. I would never put something like that on there! I’ve learned the hard way what to sell a what not sell on ebay, and this edition of my blog is dedicated to passing a few of those tips along to you so you can keep your shirt and maybe even make a few bucks to buy a nice new one by selling woodworking products on ebay.
1. It starts with design. If you sell it on ebay, you are probably going to have to ship it. So keep this in mind when you design it.
2. Build it to fit the box. Don’t make an item and then try to get a box to fit. That’ll only lead to a lot of frustration and bad packaging. Find a supply of boxes (Home Depot sells three sizes for cheap) and design your product to fit inside, saving room for padding.
3. Overweight is bad. If you make it entirely out of rosewood it’s going to weigh a ton which may make it too costly to ship. Nobody wants to spend $100 to ship a cutting board. The more expensive the item, the more people may be willing to pay for shipping. But there comes a point when it becomes impractical.
4. Bigger isn’t always better. I once designed a Morris Chair that I could build relatively cheaply and that could be broken down for shipping. The chair cost me about $150 to build (materials) and sold for $300. But it cost over a hundred dollars to ship and I spent two days making a crate and securely packaging it. Even though I had already made parts for four more of the chairs I never posted another one. It wasn’t worth it. Unless the buyer is going to pick up, large furniture is not a good idea on ebay.
5. Package well or lose a lot of cash! I used to go to shops and buy their clearance items to resell in ebay. Once I bought a couple of large wine cabinets. I sold one on ebay and spent a day packaging the thing, very well I thought. UPS dropped it several times, it arrived fatally damaged and it turned into a month long nightmare that cost me a bundle. The moral is, sell small and package well because it WILL be dropped!
6. Buy the insurance. That wine cabinet was insured, and even though it took a month to get it all settled, I would have lost a lot more without it. In fact, insurance has saved my butt a number of times from damaged, lost and stolen packages. The customer never wants to pay for it, so just add it to the cost of the item and get it anyway.
7. Make what sells. You may love to make wooden whirligigs, and your whirligigs may be absolutely stunning. But will they sell on ebay? This is a search based marketplace and nobody ever searches for whirligigs. If your item causes people to say “Wow, I never saw one of those before” it won’t work on ebay. You need to make what people already want, not what they might buy on impulse.
8. Do your research. Use that “completed listings” option in the search page and see what actually sells, not just what people are trying to sell. If a wine rack is selling well, examine it, find out why and make one better. There’s nothing wrong with competing, that’s what business is all about. If someone is successful, try to emulate what he’s doing. Just don’t steal his designs.
I could go on all day, but you’d get tired of reading. So why not add some of your own comments below…
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