Q. How do we talk to you?
Just email us: TheScavengerLife@gmail.com
Q. I have an item I want to sell. Can I email you a photo so you can tell me how much to price it for?
Here’s a better idea. Search under “sold items” on eBay for your item and see what others have sold it for. This is how we do it. No mystery. Or, link to a photo of your item in the comment section of our blog. Let others help you. Or post it on Reddit’s page called “What is this thing?”
Q. I just started selling on eBay. Will you tell me what to buy and how to do everything?
There are numerous Facebook groups that new people can join to discuss all the newbie questions. There are also endless videos on Youtube where you can watch the “haul videos” where people show you what they buy. I find them boring because I’m not a new seller, but a great free education for new sellers.
There’s also the cottage industry of paid eBay coaches who will meet with you in live video streams, chats, and phone calls for money. But selling on eBay is our full-time income, not answering questions. We do this for fun. If this isn’t fun, we’ll stop doing it.
We see our blog as the AP Biology class. We expect sellers to bring their A-game. We’ve never found a place online where experienced sellers can talk openly about the lifestyle of running a full-time. We like having focused conversations. We aren’t here to talk about “I’m new, how do I do this?” We’re here to talk about “I know how to sell, but how do I make this a sustainable lifestyle?”
We hope new sellers can still enjoy our blog and podcasts. This is what it looks like when serious sellers talk to each other. No drama, no bullshit, no whining. It’s about solving problems on a daily basis because we’re putting food on the table.
Anyway, boundaries are very healthy in life and relationships. Hope this make our boundaries clear.
Q. Why do you always push “Buy It Now” on items instead of Auctions? I love auctions.
If you love auctions and auctions work for you, keep using them.
We started selling on eBay using auctions and hated the fees. Every time an auction didn’t sell and needed to be relisted, that’s a smaller profit that we’ll make when it eventually does sell. Plus, we found that many auctions were selling at the opening price. As much as we all love a bidding war, it was a rare occurrence for us. Buy It Now with Make Offer allows us to price items where we want while also allowing buyers to offer a better price. Plus, Buy It Now fees are only pennies a month so this allows us to maintain a large inventory.
Q. What printer do you use and why?
We love our Brother Laser Printer because its a workhorse, printing thousands of labels per toner refill. We even refill toner this way so its even cheaper. We spend about $20 on toner refill kits per year. So much cheaper than inkjet printers and their expensive cartridges.
Q. What camera do you use?
We use a Panasonic GH Series DSL camera with 20mm Pancake lens. Its an affordable but higher end camera. The “pancake lens” (nicknamed because it’s so flat) that really gives us the shallow depth of field that make items look professional. Also, be sure to use natural daylight as much as possible, as opposed to a flash or studio lights. However, if you need some inexpensive, professional lighting, The Cowboy Lighting Kit (for big stuff-see how to use it) and Light Box Kit (for smaller stuff), are great.
This being said, you can use almost any camera these days because technology has gotten so good. Even cameras on newer phones work well if you use good light. But if you are using a camera more than 5 years old, we do suggest an upgrade to something like a Canon Powershot ELPH. People expect clear, unpixelated photos online now.
Q. How do I ship internationally?
We love eBay’s Global Shipping Program (GSP) and we highly recommend using it to increase your global sales. We talk about Global Shipping here and here. If your item does not qualify for GSP, we recommend using USPS Priority International with full tracking and insurance.
Q. Why do you sell on eBay? Amazon is so much better.
Cool–if Amazon works for you, keep doing it. We like eBay for various reasons that we discuss each week, but we’re also open to selling on any platform that works. Listen to our interview with an eBay seller that also loves to sell on Amazon. Mostly though, we only have enough time for one platform. eBay works for us.
Q. Why is eBay trying to ruin my store and/or my life? How is eBay ruining your store/life?
Oh boy. If you hang out on the eBay message boards, you’ll very quickly get mired in the muck that is only darkness and despair. We certainly don’t have the same issues as these people are having.
Ultimately we think it’s a more positive approach to selling that helps us avoid the problems that want us to spend wasted hours on the phone yelling at an eBay operator. We try to imagine what kind of experience we would expect as a buyer. We share what works for us here.
Q. Where do you find all the things you sell?
Once we started scavenging, we found treasures everywhere. We can’t drive to town without finding something cool that will sell. The USA has so much abundance that people are throwing away stuff they simply can’t fit in their house. We talk about where we buy our inventory here and here.
Honestly, we find more than we can handle within 100 miles of our house. But here’s some online links to help broaden your horizons. It’s so much more fun when you scavenge outside Goodwill.
Estate Sales http://www.estatesales.net
Yard Sales http://yardsales.net
Military and Government Surplus http://www.govliquidation.com
Q. What is your process for photographing, listing and selling on eBay? It’s boring and I hate it.
Listing on eBay is boring? Maybe, but at least we don’t have to go work a regular job anymore. Any day is Saturday if we want it to be. No more waking up by the alarm clock. We describe our daily routine here and here.
Q. Why do you let items sit in your store for twelve months or more without selling? Aren’t listing fees killing you? You should firesale all your items!
Let’s do the Math.
We spend $150/month for an Anchor Subscription on eBay.
We get 2500 free listings with this level.
If we have 4000 items listed, then we have to pay for an additional 1500 listings each month.
At 5-cents a listing, that’s $75.
So we pay $225 each month to have our items listed.
(If you look at our numbers each week, this is a small expense when you consider our profit.)
Let’s break it down by the item.
We pay $1 for an item.
It’s cost 5-cents a month to keep an item listed in our store.
So if the item takes 12 months to sell, then that’s 60-cents in listing fees.
But because our goal is always $30+ on a sale, we’re still making a in credible amount of profit ($25+) per item.
So yes, listing fees are really not an issue. If you don’t have inventory listed, then it wont sell. We find that waiting for the right buyer to pay the price we want is so much better than selling an item in a week at a much lower price. What’s the rush?
Q. When do you re-price an item?
Basically it’s all about doing research. When you’re listing an item, search under “sold items” to see how much similar items sell for. If it’s a one-of-kind, collectible, or vintage object, there probably won’t be many of them. We price it on the higher end, and then add “make offer” so there is leeway to make a deal. The sellers who do auctions will quickly sell their item (probably at a lower price), and then ours will be available for the buyer who needs it at the moment they are searching.
As far as “when to call it quits”, we rarely ever pull an item out of our inventory. We rarely ever lower prices. Because if we’ve done the research, then the price we’ve chosen will always be attractive to someone. We also are patient enough to wait up to 12-24 months to sell an item.
It all depends on your anxiousness about hanging onto an item. Tim (who we interviewed) here has a good system because he doesn’t want to hang on to anything for more than two weeks. Like the 1970’s Kung Fu movies would say, Choose your style.
Q. How do you research prices? Do you use Terrapeak, etc?
We don’t pay for any research tools. We find all our info on “Sold items” on eBay. Or Google. Google images is a great place too.
Q. How do you do your taxes?
Around December of every year, we start getting many emails and questions about taxes since new sellers realize the IRS is going to want a piece of their action. (In the US, you must pay taxes on any income).
Go here and here to listen/read about how we do our accounting. But like we always say, we are just people on the internet and NOT tax experts. Every seller will do things a little differently. If eBay is a source of income for you, please get an accountant since taxes are serious business.
Q. When you list your “cost of goods sold” for taxes, how are you figuring that out? I can guesstimate, but when there’s a bunch of new inventory, do you somehow catalog what you paid when you bring it home?
Here’s our forum where sellers share how they keep track of their COGS.
Q. What is the best mobile phone service to use?
No one really would ask us this question, but we do have a good answer. The biggest surprise of 2014 is when we switched from AT&T to Ting.com for our cell phone service. We went from paying $200/month for two phones to paying just $45 for the same exact usage. We call this Digital Scavenging. Go look at the numbers we documented and see if switching to Ting work for you.
Q. Should I open an eBay Store? eBay always has free listing offers so what’s the point of paying for a monthly subscription?
Yes, you can list items on eBay for free because eBay is always sending out free offers. That’s cool and if it works for you, keep doing it. But these listings always end which means you must juggle relisting.
We subscribe to an eBay store for several reasons.
- We like having a store front where we can “brand” our items and have a specific look.
- Our success has come because we have a large inventory which we could never do if we only used free listings. By having a store subscription, listings fees are pennies.
- The free eBay listings are usually auction-style, or 30-day fixed price. These will end and you must figure out how/when to relist these items. It’s a lot of management. Since we believe in “list it & forget it”, a store subscription allows us to list items as “good til cancelled”. Items stay listed till they are bought or we cancel them. So much easier.
Still have a question? Leave a voicemail (540) 407-8486 or Email us TheScavengerLife@gmail.com