Saturday, December 6, 2008
Tips for using forums to advertise without spamming
1. Google forums along with keywords relevant to what your selling. Using the seller above as an example I will say google "Comic Book Collector Forum" you will come back with many results.
2. Check out some of the forums. Check to see how active they are. If nobody has been posting for months now do not even bother. Check to see if they allow signature lines with links. Normally in most forums it is okay to have a link in your signature line. Some forums however do not allow ANY links at all even in signatures. You will want to stay away from these.
3. Once you have found a few target forums with good traffic that will allow you to have a signature line sign up and post an introduction. Most of them will have a forum thread just for this. When posting your introduction do not come off like a sales pitch. Using the comic book example: Let them know who you are, where your from, how long you have been collecting comics, when your interest in comics was first sparked, your favorite comic books, your least favorite, how many you have in your own collection, ones you have been looking for. You can also mention very slightly how you run a comic booth online in order to support your own comic book purchasing habits ha ha ha.
4. Look around for other posts in the forum that you can reply to in a genuine way. If you look at it as a way to advertise that is how you will come off. Look for posts that interest you, ones you have an opinion about. Reply to these posts in an honest sincere way. Do not mention your booth at all. (only that little link in signature line)
5. Get to know other people on the forum have fun and be friendly. All the time while meeting new people and having fun you are getting your link out there to people who do enjoy the things you sell or need the things you sell and you are not spamming them with just another sales pitch.
6. Watch for "Wanted" posts. These type of posts are okay to post a response to letting them know if you happen to have what they are looking for. It is also a good idea to give a discount to:
"Hey I am looking for Batman edition 72" (I have no idea what I am talking about ha) Then you reply with "What a small world I happen to have that issue listed in my booth over on Bonanzle (or wherever) and its in mint condition, since I know you from here if you want it I will give you a 15% discount".
NEVER go in with a "I am here to make money off these people" attitude. It will not get you far. You may make life long friends and sales at the same time. Who could ask for more?
(Most of my blogs I use Bonanzle as an example. It is one of my favorite sites out there and the main one I sell on. Most things I write about can be applied anywhere however)
Recently on one of my favorite sites that I sell on "Bonanzle" I have read some sellers complain "no sales I am closing up shop". I am always curious I cannot help it. I have to go look and see. I always try to encourage those wanting to give up without sounding insulting in any way. I do however have to point some things out. I do not do this to be mean. I am far from perfect and need the advise of others many times as well.
I know some will say well I was selling over at such and such. Hmmmm then why were you looking for a new venue to begin with if everything was going so well? Million dollar question there.
As far as those who are perplexed and do not understand why they are not getting sales. I am writing this for you. Once again not to insult only to help you achieve your goal of selling those items and making money for yourself & your family.
When I go and check out profiles of people wanting to give up this is what I find:
1. They have been there less than 2 weeks (have not given it a chance to even work)
2. Come to find out they never did the google base feed (thats a free way to be seen sitting right there and increased traffic and sales hugely). On Bonanzle if you cannot figure it out - heck I could not - Send an email to Mark with your google base email & password and your Bonanzle booth name he will set it up for you. Now thats above and beyond customer service there!
3. They joined a month ago or less ago and listed less than 15 items in their booth (you barely have any inventory how can you complain your 15 items are not selling in an endless see of online items for sale) In all seriousness, expand your inventory get more listings up. Give your customer a selection. Add new items at least once a week. Give them a reason to keep checking back. If they come back a couple of times to see the same things, they wont bother to keep coming back in the future.
4. They have not filled in their profile, imported feedback, simply threw a few items up with one sentence descriptions and no combined percentage off sales, no combined shipping nothing. (this looks very fly by night to me and I would not purchase)
5. They are complaining in the chat in their own booth about lack of sales (again not a good thing for a prospective customer to see upon entering your booth, they are going to wonder what is wrong with your items or you that you are not getting sales) Keep that chat in your booth friendly. Welcome your customer, encourage them to leave you a message, let them know you combine shipping, let them know if you gift wrap etc.
6. The pictures! Oh my this is a big one. I have seen pictures that I can barely make out what the item is. Pictures speak a thousand words. Lets not have them screaming the wrong things with blurry out of focus and dark images or piles of junk in the background of the photo. Take clear pictures, edit them with a photo editor if need be. Bonanzle has a cropping tool built in CROP out those boxes of stuff in the background. Let the photo be of the item you are selling not the piles of stuff in the background. You want the focus on your item up for grabs not the background.
7. Boys Shorts Blue - That is not a title that is going to make someone click and check out more. Okay I admit I don't always use all of the space provided and sometimes get hung up on what to put in the title. Please though put as many key words as you can - Boys Blue Shorts Sz 2 Osh Kosh Elastic Waist - Might seem simple, but trust me it helps in a big way.
Laziness is the key to why many sales are lost. I fall into the trap myself many times. Pull out the tape measurer. Measure the length of the necklace, get a ring sizer (ask any avon seller to order one for you) list the size of the ring. Pictures do not always show accurate size of a pin or pendant take the photo of them next to a ruler or a quarter or penny. So people can see the approximate size.
If we are to succeed in anything we do it will be through hard work, trial and error and not giving up. This stands true for life in general and certainly for online sales. There are times where you might feel you have done everything you can possibly do and still come up short. Thats when you instead of giving up brainstorm to come up with even more ideas. Maybe your items are not what people are looking for right now. Keep in mind we are in a recession. Some things that might have done great a year ago will be hard sells now. Keep an open mind to change as times change we must change with them to continue to be successful. The time will come again when shoppers are making the impulse purchases but we have to face facts right now is not that time in most cases.
I hope this helped at least one person to decide to look over their approach and helped them fix up their Bonanzle booth, website or store and in turn bring them in some sales.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Well on Bonanzle the ideas of ways to advertise are common conversation between sellers. Which got me to thinking about all of the ideas I have seen there along with all of the ideas I have seen over the years. I wanted to put a little something together to help get the gears turning for people wondering about ways to advertise with business cards. I am going to share here some of the ideas I have used or have seen others use.
For todays blog I am going to talk about Business cards - This is an obvious way to advertise BUT once people get those cards made up a lot of times they are not sure where to place them out there or who to give them to. I say EVERYWHERE & EVERYONE!
- The library
- The hair salon
- The nail salon
- Making loot bags for your child's party or class? Put your card in there
- Sending out Christmas cards? - Insert your card in them (even better make special Holiday design cards and insert those)
- Take a trip to local flea markets share your card with booth owners. Leave a couple here and there like on the table in the food court type areas or phone booths
- leave a couple on the phone booth outside your post office (most have them) OR forget some there with the packaging supplies and labels table at the post office when your there
- Taking your pup to the vet? Ask if you can leave some of your cards on the counter there (especially good if you sell any type of pet products)
- Doctors appt ? Yep even there. You can leave some cards in the lobby, or you can even ask your favorite receptionist if you can leave some on the counter there.
- Laundromat - Go back once a week and leave more cards. I know personally when I have had my washer or dryer break and had to go there I tend to read everything in the place in boredom waiting on my clothes.
Just a few suggestions. Basically anywhere you go through your day is an opportunity to place some of your cards on a counter, a table, a booth etc. Also everyone you meet through your day is another person you can give your card to. Get to talking with people. In my case selling on Bonanzle now I would find a way to bring up Bonanzle in the conversation. Sometimes its not possible, but the times you can you have just made contact with a potential customer.
Taking the time to go to the post office to ship instead of dropping after hours or scheduling a pick up is also a great time for advertisement. Every time I have gone into the post office while standing in line I meet other online sellers. Most online sellers are also people who purchase online as well. It is very easy to get talking with someone else who sells online. Always before parting ways be sure to give them your card.
The park, yep even the park is a chance to spread the word. When taking your children to the park you normally wind up talking to at least one other parent. If you sell any kind of children's items this is a great connection. Just be natural, have fun, talk and when the opportunity arises don't be afraid to mention your booth or store. When the other parent mentions how the economy is just so bad its been hard to pull Christmas together this year. I would take that opportunity to mention Bonanzle where I happen to sell and I know of many other booths there offering great sales and combined shipping discounts too and how I got many stocking stuffers for my daughter this year there for very little money. I would pull out my card and say, here this is the site. Point to my URL and say thats my booth there please stop by and say hi if you visit there. I would tell her about how the booths have a chat feature to talk to sellers and to leave me a message if I am not there at the time.
There are so many chances in the course of a day that you are out there in the world interacting with others that you can get the word out and do it without sounding like a walking advertisement. That part is important. Thats why I say be friendly and have fun. Let it NOT be your mission, let it be a way to meet new people and in addition to meeting new people sharing your business card and information with them so the advertising is more like a side effect instead of the main goal.
There are a million more ways to share your business card BUT this is meant to get your brain brewing and help you to come up with the many possibilities.
Hope this helps some. I will blog more about ways to advertise so keep an eye out. You will see I never shut up :)
Head on over to Bonanzle join in the fun and let them know KimsKorner sent you. Thank you
(and don't forget to stop by my booth and say hi)
Over 2 years ago now I decided I wanted to try Amazon for selling books. I missed the way you could find rare books for pennies on the dollar and then resell them online for an amazing profit. I managed to list about 15 books using the option of a free account. I wont go into all of the details of this attempt BUT I will say I failed miserably and decided Amazon was not for me. That there was no way to make money there. I was fed up with it only a couple of months of signing up and only about 15 books listed.
Then a little over a year ago my fiance decided he wanted to give Amazon a try. I have to say I found every way to knock down the idea because I simply was dead sure there was no way to make money there. He did not give up hope though and began to list. He did things I had not too. He would go to list the book and then look at all of the others that were listed of the same kind. Make sure it was the same edition, same cover, same publisher etc. Then he would look at the condition of the books listed compared to the one he had, and the lowest and highest prices listed for the book. He used all of this information to decide on the price to list his copy for.
Within less than 2 weeks of him listing he had over a hundred books listed and started making sales. The fees were murder though on the lower priced books. We had a free account so there was an extra fee for each book sold. Also with the free account we knew in 30 days each listing would end and then we would have to manually re list each one. Since he was listing so many books we could see this was going to in the soon to be future create a huge mess with a lot of work for us to do all of the time re listing, which would take away from listing more books.
We decided to sign up for the premium selling account. It was free for the first month, 19.95 for the next 3 months and 39.95 after that. Now 39.95 seemed like a lot, but since that first month was free and the next 3 highly discounted we decided it would be well worth it to try. We could always cancel if it did not work out. Well it worked out very well. We usually average around $500.00 in sales a month. The monthly fee gets charged to our amazon account on the 9th of every month but it does not come directly from our bank account. It puts our Amazon in the negative and as we sell books the sales apply to the negative balance. Our sales between the 9th and the 14th always work out to cover our fees so we have never run into a time where our bank was charged. With premium our items are also listed with no expiration date therefore our time is spent listing more books instead of re listing ones over and over again.
If your interested in trying Amazon out for selling books keep these things in mind:
1. There are a lot of fees not to list, but after selling an item. With premium you can reduce one of the fees and it is a big help. With the free account it is basically pointless to sell anything under $4.00 - $5.00
2. You do not decide the shipping cost. Amazon has a flat rate for media, expedited, and international which it charges customers and you get. Most of the time this works out to be more than what you will actually pay to ship the book.
3. As long as your book is under 4lbs and fits in a flat rate priority envelope choose to sell it internationally also. The majority of our bigger sales have been international.
4. Only give expedited inside US as an option if the book you are listing fits into a flat rate priority envelope.
5. Amazon has specific definitions for the condition of books. Go by their guidelines when choosing the condition of your book and also describe your book in detail in the spot they give you to do this when listing. The more detailed you are the better the chance of it being sold AND the better the chance of staying away from negative feedback comments due to a customer not being satisfied with their purchase. We normally are very harsh on rating condition of our own books BUT in return many customers have been pleasantly surprised when their book arrived even better than they expected.
6. Penny books - you are going to see them and lots of them and it is going to drive you insane. It bugs the majority of sellers on Amazon that so many books have suffered being brought down in selling price to be worth no more than a penny. You will wonder how are these people making money. Well normally they are not and if they are it is only a few cents if it is an extremely light paperback book. Penny books I have read many times is a way for a seller to build feedback quickly. I do not even attempt these massive listings of penny books. I have seen it backfire upon many of sellers and they wind up with bad feedback OR losing money left and right. If the book you are looking up comes up with hundreds for a penny and it is the edition you have my best advice is to put it to the side and move along to the next book. You could list it for more, say 2.99 or around there and still sell it but odds are it will sit for a long time before that happens. We do honestly do this at times and we have had some sell, but overall we usually don't as time is better spent moving on and making a bigger sale instead of fighting the penny listings.
7. The shipping of books when sold must be done within 48 hours. Amazon has a strict shipping policy. Repeat late shipping can get your Amazon account closed. When books sell on Friday they do not count weekends so you have a little more time to ship. It is best to ship ASAP however still as it keeps the customers happy and in return gets you great feedback.
Amazon gives a credit currently of 3.99 for media mail, 6.95 for expedited inside US (priority) and 12.95 for international. If your book is a paperback or light many times you can ship first class mail for less than or just a few cents more than media. Highly suggested. Also expedited just use a flat rate priority envelope the 6.95 credit covers more than enough for that. International also use a flat rate priority envelope which the 12.95 credit more than covers also.
8. Feedback on Amazon. Don't get frustrated when it does not come in fast. Amazon has to be the worst place I have seen as far as customers not coming back to leave feedback. Out of hundreds upon hundreds of sales and over a year of selling we have only had 48 customers actually come back and leave feedback on their purchase. We are guilty of usually not following up with a feedback request but even when we have normally it did not get many back to leave feedback. The feedback will come however it will just take a lot longer then other sites. It can be frustrating, but it is normal. We are going to begin inserting a Thank you note with packages from now on and in it request to please leave feedback. We have done this in the past on other venues and it worked well. Plus in addition to helping to achieve feedback it is also a good way to build repeat customer base. I admit though in the rush of packaging and getting things out quickly it is so much easier to overlook this. We are guilty of it and we know how important it can be.
9. Invest in some bookmarks or make your own. Include them when shipping out books as a free gift. In the the thank you note jot down something in regards to Thank you for shopping with us and enjoy your free bookmark as our thank you. Customers love free gifts. I do not always do it, but when I can I do. I don't let them know they are getting an extra freebie I let it be a surprise when they get their package.
10. Pick up bookshelves at yard sales or freecycle as you list you want a place to put them safely and make it easy for you to find them as you sell. We have recently reorganized our books that we have the hard covers alphabetized on the shelves by the last name of the author. We plan to soon have paperbacks done the same way. Anything you can do to organize your shelves will make your life so much easier as your listed inventory grows and as items sell makes it so much easier to find them and get them shipped fast.
NOW YOUR WONDERING WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO GET ALL OF THESE BOOKS TO SELL?
This is actually the easy part. You will most likely find yourself buried in books and not able to keep up. We have thousands upon thousands of books. Book inventory usually is not a problem.
1. Garage sales - you can normally find books from 10 cents to a 1.00. I tend to when purchasing a book individually stay under 50 cents per book. I also stay away from novels when doing this. I will spend 1.00 on a newed dated textbook however, sometimes even a couple of dollars especially if it is a textbook from the last couple of years in excellent condition & if it comes with a disc and it still has it, even better. Also at garage sales people that have boxes and boxes of books and it is nearing the end of the day are more than happy to make a deal on a price per box. You can wind up with boxes of books for just 5.00. I have done this many times. The person usually just does not feel like dealing with cleaning up the sale and dragging them all back into the house so is happy to make a few bucks and have you haul them off.
2. Estate sales - You know the ones... where you walk inside someones house who has passed on or maybe has been moved into a nursing home or with family. Usually there is still things in the cupboards and closets. Keep an eye out at these for really old and unusual books. They could be on a shelf in a closet or in a drawer. So look carefully you never know what kinds of treasures there are to be found.
3. Storage Unit Auctions - these are very popular. You used to be able to purchase whole units for as little as 20.00 this does not happen as much anymore BUT as a book seller you have another way to approach these. Most people buying at storage unit auctions are on the lookout for other things. Go to these auctions, if your lucky and are able to win a unit for a low price thats wonderful but even if you do not, get to chatting and making connections. I know a few people who sell off the books they get in a unit and furniture (some that even give it away) because they need to have unit cleared out usually the same day or by the next day. If they do not sell books they do not want to be bothered with them. You can make an offer or let them know you would be happy to take the books of of their hands. Be friendly and have fun.
4. Thrift stores - not just inside them on the bookshelves either. Check their dumpster. Nope I am not kidding. I worked at a thrift store. It was sad how many older books and magazines were thrown away because they get so many and are very picky about them. I remember one day when I was off of work they had filled over half of the dumpster with books. Hundreds of them.
5. Friends & Family - yep your friends and family very likely have books they have no need for anymore but have not gotten around to getting rid of. Never hurts to ask.
6. Freecycle - Now this one you have to be careful. It is a big no no in most freecycle groups to ask for items to make a profit on. BUT as long as you let the person know you are getting them to resell you have done nothing wrong. Many people do not mind as long as the stuff is gone and they do not have to deal with it anymore.
7. Craigslist - Wanted section- Place an ad in the wanted section looking for books. Explain you will clean up after yard sales, clean out storage units etc. free (don't even have to mention books in that case). You can offer to purchase books on craigslist OR ask for them for free. Just use the wanted section. Also check the free section on craigslist daily.
8. Library sales - Now this is one a lot of people think is pointless believe it or not. See most books that are from the library do not resell well at all. So people think library sale and they think discarded library books. But 99% of books sold at library sales are ones that were donated to the library NOT ex-library - Many great finds at Library sales.
So as you can see there are many places to purchase books for almost nothing and plenty of places to get them completely free.
I have not covered everything, but I hope this helps some to decide whether they want to give it a try and helps make it easier for them getting started.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I just finished doing this so I do not know what the results will be but its free to do and takes only a couple of minutes so it is well worth trying.
From Randy Smythe's "My Blog Utopia":
I'm trying a little experiment over on Twitter, why not join me and spread the word. It is called #ShopTwitter.
What is the experiment? Basically, I've created a Twitter thread for online store promotion. I have no idea if this will generate any sales, but it’s free so it’s worth the effort. The idea is to expose your online store to millions of Twitter followers in one simple list.
This is not the same as Twibbler and you should only promote your stores, not individual listings. Please only post one tweet for each online store.
Here's what you do:
1. Setup an account on Twitter if you haven't already. It is very simple and you won't be able to participate in the promotion unless you setup the account. Don't worry about learning Twitter right now, you can learn what you need to know just by following these instructions. This link will take you to the Twitter sign-up page if you need to sign up.
2. Once you have an account, type a store promotion tweet into the comment box underneath "What are you doing?" that ends with the word "#shoptwitter"
Here is an example:
Bonanzlemark – Vintage items 25% off use coupon code: "Bonanzle" at checkout http://www.bonanzle.com/booths/bonanzlemark
If you have a coupon code, add that as well. You only have 140 characters, so be as concise as possible. Start with your booth name and then a short description including important keywords. Don't forget to include the URL of your store. You must include the string "#shoptwitter" in your message to get in the list! Don't forget that detail!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Well for no start up cost which is also a problem for me as well there are some out there that you can make work and that are not scams. They do take work though. There is selling things on eBay (but with their listing fees there is still technically money being put in with possibility of no sales). There is Bonanzle which I personally love because you can sell things from your closets, attic, kids clothes they grew out of, things your family and friends need to clean out and don't want anymore AND they don't charge you to list so you are HONESTLY not paying anything unless you make money, something called a final value fee when you make a sale and even better it is a very low one at that.
There is couponing for cash. Which still you would want to use Bonanzle or craigslist or some women use just garage sales to sell the stock they build up. Best places to do this is CVS & Walgreens. You collect your coupons every Sunday get organized and each week set up plans to do the extra care buck deals & register reward deals at CVS & Walgreens. You can get most items free or for pennies on the dollar. Especially high priced shampoos and other H&B items that you can then resell for a couple to a few dollars each and some people make a killing that way. If you really get into this you are going to want a spare room or garage to store all of your stock as your building it up. This is also a way to save money on things you need like razors, tampons etc. I have not had to actually purchase a razor or tampons, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, cleaning products, cold medicine, and much more in months now by using coupons and sales. It is time consuming and takes a while to really fully get the hang of it. I am not a pro yet but have saved hundreds upon hundreds of dollars doing it and made money on the items I did not need and resold them. I did not even have to buy diapers for about 2-3 months because I had gotten them all free combining Walgreen's sale, Walgreen's coupon in their rebate book, and a coupon they had in their pharmacy red flier thing a while back. Some parents wound up getting enough diapers to last them until their child is through potty training (those are the coupon queen pros lol).
If your looking for something that you can make spare cash here and there and can write a little. Try http://associatedpress.com it wont make you rich by far but by writing articles for them the money does add up over time. Same as http://epinions.com both of these are not scams but they are not full time employment type things either.
I have also made money on http://cashlagoon.com probably around 60.00 or so now if I remember correctly. And http://fusioncash.com I made 68.00 on there. They both are sites that do pay out. It is tedious and boring and a lot of clicking and you will want to make separate email accounts for each of them and ONLY enter your home phone number for the survey site (example cash lagoon) to confirm your account to get paid DO NOT off site when doing the surveys and sign ups, so you do not get telemarketing calls. Another smart tip with these is to clear your cache between the offers you do. I only do the completely free offers. Sometimes there will be some that do not credit. Don't fret it. This is something to do when you have a bit of time to sit and click, click,click away. At first you will think "All this clicking and I get what a quarter" but trust me it adds up.
If you are looking for something more full time there are jobs with no investment you can do from home with internet access that is anything higher than dial up connection and a phone line. I think there is one that a friend mentioned to me where you can do the data entry without even a phone line to start out. I am looking into those more but I am compiling the list for myself and will blog about it as well. You apply to these like you would any other job. They either hire you or they don't and you do not pay them to work for them. I know people who are doing at least 5 different ones (different people). I am planning on getting into it but have not gotten the places to apply or made the list just simply because my son was still too little and I did not know how I would do it with him screaming in background if I had to do calls.
Just this morning I found out about work at home opportunities with 1-800-flowers. Its in states that they have regional offices. It is worth looking into if it's in your area or not as they offer positions from home for about 9.00 an hour 30-40 hours a week. The job is to take calls for peoples orders and customer service.
They are out there I promise you. Yes there are some places you have to make an investment even if they are legit. I cannot personally do those as I do not have the money to invest BUT not every place that asks for money is a scam. You just have to look at WHY they are asking for money. DO they send you a start up package? Samples of a product things like that. Then it is a reasonable request that they do not want to just send these things to everyone for free, they would lose a lot of money that way.
Research is important. Especially if it is something you are going to be investing money in or a lot of time. Make sure it has worked for someone else and you see proof of it before jumping in. And in todays economy its best not to put all your eggs in one basket.
Take it from a mom 2 inches from going under constantly for about a year now. Things are just crazy right now and we have to do whatever we can to make ends meet. We also have to stick together and try to help each other out when we can. Like the Bonanzle site I belong to I have made over 30 sales there with things that I did not need that I just had in my house, and some left over from days of selling on eBay. Nope I am not striking it rich but I did not have too much to sell either. Don't think you have NOTHING to sell, you can sell old books, old clothes, trinkets, costume jewelry all kinds of things so if you need to make some cash and possibly turn it into a business it is well worth a shot especially since you can list and not pay anything to do so. Or if your crafty or have a unique product of your own such as an e-book or any service like Tarot reading, banner making, website building etc. it is also a very good bet. You need to be able to offer great sales in todays economy to compete with other sellers. The money I am making goes towards bills so I am hoping to win the referral thing over there this month to help with Christmas. Everything helps.You will find more blogs by me here in the near future about working at home, about Bonanzle, and about how to start selling books on amazon too. I will even be blogging about some off the wall little business's I have had over the years off the internet as well as on.