Staying on Top of Shipping

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One of the most important things about selling online besides listing your items is shipping them out.

Everyone likes different parts of online selling but I like listing and shipping equally.  I can’t make money if it’s not listed, and items needing to be shipped means that my items actually sold :D   (That’s the whole goal here).

You should be jumping up and down and SUPER excited when you have items needing to be shipped out.

Shipping is actually higher on my priority list than listing is.  I view purchased items not just as items, but I  think about the customer and make the current customer  more of a priority than a potential customer–items to be listed.

I ship  items every day except Sunday. After the mail carrier has picked up on Saturday, I print labels for items that were just paid for and put the packages in my mail tote by the front door.  I find that if I don’t stay on top of preparing items to ship out over the weekend that Monday morning is way too hectic.

I don’t want you to think that I’m a slave to my shipping and don’t do anything else all weekend long.  I find that it’s much easier for me and a lot less overwhelming to prepare my packages and print out a few labels at a time than it is to ship out 12 things on Monday morning.

You have to do what works best for you, your family, and your business, but I find that by staying one step ahead on shipping, I save myself a lot of frustration on Monday morning.

Rachel

Selling Strategy: List Items Every Day

I don’t know about you, but it seems like my pile of items to be listed on eBay never ends.  Sometimes it gets smaller, but most of the time, it seems to get bigger.  When you list online, it seems that the work is never done.  Job security is what I call it ;)

When I don’t have a lot of time to list everything at once, I like to do the following:

*Take pictures of everything I plan to list that week.

*Get the pictures ready

*Sort them by similar items (Jeans, shoes, DVD’s, etc)

*List 2-3 items per day.

Sometimes, it’s 5-6 items a day, just depending on what I’m listing, and how much time I have to list.

If I have time, I do like to list 15-20 items in an afternoon, but that doesn’t always work.

Life happens, and the point of being self-employed is to enjoy what you’re doing and not have to stress out about it.  If you don’t have time to list large quantities of items in a day, just list a few items every day.  By the end of the week, you’ll have listed a minimum of 21 new items if you list at least 3 items per day.

As you list new items,  different people look at your store.  Someone may be looking for that pair of shoes you just listed and find your store that way.  They may leave your store with something entirely different than what they came to your store for in the first place. That doesn’t matter.  The more you list and the more types of items you have listed, the more you’ll attract people (and most importantly, different people) to your store.

The point is to get people looking at your store.  They can’t find you if you don’t list……and it can’t sell if it’s not listed.

Happy Listing!!!

Rachel

A Few of My Favorite Things……

I’ve posted before that I like to work smarter, not harder and how I like to look for ways to improve my efficiency in the processes I use to sell online.   I’ve learned that sometimes, you have to spend money to make money or to save you time, so here are a few of my favorite tools to help me increase sales and save time:

My #1 favorite is my laptop. :)   I found a GREAT deal on one the weekend after Thanksgiving and all I can say is that I LOVE it.

It has helped me save so much time already in the few months that I’ve had it. I don’t know what I ever did before.  It’s so nice to be able to order music books or set up invoices for my students between lessons or on my lunch breaks.  It’s also been a great help with eBay.  Now, I can take my laptop to the living room or to be in the same room as my daughter so that I can list while she watches a movie.  LOVE it.

#2 is Stamps.com.  They have been a HUGE time saver already to me in the last 7 months that I’ve been using them.  I may even consider advertising the fact that I’ll ship internationally to customers again.  I took  that off because it had become an issue, but I may just change my mind on that now……..

#3 is Outright. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an application on eBay that tracks your sales, ebay fees, paypal fees, shipping, inventory costs, EVERYTHING all in one place for you to make your taxes easier.

If you haven’t signed up for outright yet, click on the applications tab on MY EBAY and search for it, then sign up.  Even if you’re not going to use it now, sign up because when you sign up, it can only pull up your last 90 days of transactions, so if you wait till the end of the year to sign up for it, you won’t be able to use it for the 2011 tax year.

#4 is Peel and Stick shipping labels.……..HUGE time saver and a whole lot less wasted tape and paper.  They make shipping a BREEZE.  I’m even teaching my 5 year old daughter how to put the labels on for me……….of course, the entrepreneur that she is, she does remind me to pay her for her services :)

#5 is USPS carrier pick-up. I cannot say enough about carrier pick up.  If you’re not using this service now, either talk to your mail carrier or check it out at This is a HUGE time saver. I’ve mentioned it to people and they’ve said things like “well, the Post Office is on my way.” or “The mileage is a tax write off, so it’s no big deal.”  if that’s you, I encourage you to at least TRY carrier pick up for a week.   If you don’t like it, you can always go back to driving to the Post Office every day.

I’d love to hear your favorite time saving tools!

Rachel

From the Inbox: How Do I Organize My Inventory?

We received an email asking how we organize our inventory. Here’s what we told Jami.

Question:

Hi Ladies,
I am new to selling on eBay, but my goal is to become a work at home mom.  I purchase my items from thrift stores and garage sales.  Right now I have 65 items listed in my store, and have maybe 25 items that are sitting around in my house and have not been listed.  That’s 90 items I have laying around in my house! I’m sure I could buy much more, but for now, I try to hold back because I simply don’t know where to keep this stuff. And even sometimes something sells, and I have to dig around my house to find it.

Lizzie’s Answer:

I have an enclosed porch where I store my items in plastic bins. I write the basic category of the items on the outside of the bins with permanent marker. If I need to change categories, I just write a line through the words and write a new category on the bin. This doesn’t bother me since I only use them for inventory storage.

I just set the items inside the bins until they sell.

I have basic categories like–

*clothing

*vintage

*misc

*toys

*books

I also have an old book shelf for larger glass items. I just set them on the shelf.

Large plush toys have to go in a closet, because they’re just too big for a bin! I hope this helps you a little, Jami.

Lizzie

I store my items pretty similarly to the way Lizzie does, rubbermaid bins in my garage.  I print out signs for my bins in large print and tape them on because from time to time, I stop carrying a certain kind of item in my store or I reorganize my bins, so that way I can change the signs when necessary.

My categories look like this:

Starbucks

Jeans

Cashmere

Shoes

Books

Puppets

Ponies/Unicorns

Misc Plush

Clothing

Most of my large plush I store in a large black garbage back to keep them from getting dusty in the garage.

Rachel

How do you store your items? Please chime in and help Jami out!

Working From Home and Maintaining A Schedule

When I decided to start working from home, I had two fears:

#1 That I’d be lazy and not get anything accomplished.

#2 That I’d feel secluded from the rest of the world.

Thankfully, neither of them became a reality for me.  I learned quickly that I had to take working from home just as seriously as I would if I worked a job. I just get to take facebook breaks as often as I want to now :) .

What helps me is  having some sort of  flexible schedule and working on things in small steps when I have the time.

I fit in my “treasure hunting”  between piano lessons and while I’m running errands.  Sometimes on weekends, we take road trips to thrift stores in towns around us to explore different stores. When we take vacation, you can bet you’ll find us treasure hunting.

I’ve been eBaying since before my daughter was born. She’s grown up with it and is used to it by now.  She’s a great treasure hunter and helps me ship items sometimes.

When she was little, I had to fit it all in whenever I could.

Treasure hunting wasn’t hard because I could put her in the cart and she’d sleep,  or play with a toy. Sometimes I’d buy her chicken nuggets before we went to the store, and she’d sit in the cart to eat them.  I was a little nervous about that at first until one of the employees saw her with her nuggets and said “that is a great idea!”

I listed during her nap times or after I put her to bed at night.  When she was very little, I’d hold her on my lap when I listed.

Now days, she keeps herself busy while mommy’s “working”. She loves working puzzles, playing in the back yard, riding her bike, or watching a movie while I work on my listings.  Sometimes, she even helps with the process of taking pictures.  My philosophy is to get her involved in as much of the process as I can so we can have fun together and so eBay doesn’t take time away from our lives.

My week pretty much looks like this:

Monday: (One of my favorite days)

On Monday, I have 2 piano lessons in the evening. After I get her ready for pre-school, I go back to bed for an hour (another benefit of working from home :) ) When I get up and head to “work” (the living room) I light all the candles in the house, turn on some music and the computer and get to work shipping out anything that was paid for since Sunday.

Then I get started with my listings.  I try to take pictures on Friday or Saturday and have them ready to go for Monday)  I pretty much list from 9:30AM-11:00AM.  I stop for a quick lunch at 11:00 and then I go back to eBay until about 12:30PM.  My eBay morning primarily consists of listing, but I also ship out items that get paid for while I’m listing, accept offers answer questions, etc.

Tuesday:

I teach piano lessons and music classes from 9:30-5:00 on Tuesdays, but I have an hour lunch (yet another benefit to being self employed) and an hour break in the afternoon.  These breaks are perfect opportunities for me to get some treasure hunting and errands done.

Tuesday evenings, after my little one’s asleep, I usually take pictures of my items and load them to photobucket so they’re ready to go the next time I’m listing.

Wednesday:

On Wednesday mornings, I try to get in a few listings and get some shipping done.  I teach piano from 12:00-5:15 on Wednesday, so whatever I get done on Wednesday morning is what I get done on Wednesday.

Thursday:

Thursday is my jam-packed day.  I teach from 8am-6pm, so there’s not much room for eBaying.  After putting my little one to bed on Thursday, I work on shipping and try to get in a few listings.

Friday:

I only have 4 piano lessons and we don’t have pre-school on Friday. We have a relaxing morning, run some errands, and I work on eBay listings for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

Saturday:

Sometimes, we have a road trip on Saturday to go treasure hunting Other times, we head out to have some fun on Saturday morning and then I work on eBay listings for a couple of hours in the afternoon.  I also try to get any items shipped out that have been paid for since Friday so that I don’t have so many items to ship out on Monday morning.

Sunday:

I try not to eBay on Sunday……I need one day where I don’t feed the addiction :) . I check it on Sunday and ship out anything that’s been paid for since I shipped on Saturday to save time on Monday morning.

*I’ve learned that it’s OK if I don’t feel like listing for a day or a few days.  It’s my store and I can manage it the way I want to.  I try to get even a few things listed each day so that I feel like I’m accomplishing something, but once in awhile, I don’t feel like listing anything.  When that happens I allow myself to take the time off.  I know that come Monday morning, I’ll be ready to list again.

*I’ve  learned that if it’s not listed, it can’t sell.

*I’ve learned not to be a “hoarder.”  In the beginning, I would buy all kinds of treasures and only list about half of them before buying more, and I would repeat the process over and over.  Finally, I had bins of stuff sitting around that had to be listed.

I decided this was a waste of money and space for items to sit around unlisted.  I stopped buying items for an entire summer and just listed until I got caught up.  Now I try to list items the same week  I buy them.  Sometimes if I’m lucky, they get listed within 24 hours of buying them.

What helps you stay focused on your online business?

Rachel

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