The money making game on eBay – Part 1
Remember now, I only have $300 in my first hot rod project. You might say buying the first two cars, the 1930 and 1931 Plymouth for $3500 and selling the 1931 Plymouth for $3200 was a bit of good luck. I don’t think so. I did get the 1931 Plymouth running and put back together so it looked like a car again and not a bunch of pieces in boxes. Most first time and even seasoned car builders do not want to buy kits. This is just a basic marketing technique. Do not leave anything to the imagination of the buyer. Make sure your product looks good or as good as you can make it. Remember, human beings are very visual and need the visual cues. This is exactly what I did.
All of the parts on the 1930 Plymouth that I determined would have no use in the hot rod project were removed from the car. I did this in an orderly manner and I spent bit of time cleaning, painting, and taking pictures or scanning parts on my HP scanner. All of my photographs at the time needed to be scanned into a digital format. Again, I used my good old HP scanner for this. All of this took a bit of time. This was long before our move to digital cameras. The move to digital cameras was forced on us and is another interesting story that I will tell later on. I must say that the digital cameras we used today sure make everything considerably easier. On occasions, some of my film pictures that I took did not turn out very good. So, out came the camera again, and a new set of pictures were taken. Another trip to the local grocery store for 1 hour processing was required. I had more pictures in hand along with a bag or two of groceries. Boy, those pictures sure got expensive, if you included the bags of groceries. It’s all marketing.
If you want to be successful on eBay, you need to research everything you can about the item you are selling. First, you will need an eBay account. After you have an eBay account, which is super easy to get, I would look at the completed listings section and the active listings for item you want to sell. From this, I would be able to tell which parts were selling and which ones did not. You will give you a bit of an idea what to expect for an item that you list. Even if items did not sell, I would try to analyze why they did not sell. Most often, the information in the listing was very poor. I would also spend of time looking up the parts using one of the search engines on the internet. Even if you just type in a part number for a part you have, you will be pleasantly surprised in the internet search and the information you will come up with. The more information you provide for an item, the buyer confidence improves, and often, somebody will buy your item at a higher value, rather than an identical item with a poor item description, spelling mistakes, bad grammar, and terrible pictures. Make the items look good. Not just good, but real good. I call this picture perfect. It takes a bit of elbow grease, and more time away from the build of your hot rod. This is what I did. It all started with a bit of curiosity, and then become an obsession. I wanted to see how much I really could make and how little I could spend on my hot rod build. The results were absolutely amazing. At the end of selling the unneeded 1930 Plymouth parts, I made over $2500. Now I am about $2300 ahead of the game, and I still have the 1930 Plymouth to hot rod. Not so bad. The story just keeps on getting better.
The money making game on eBay – Part 2
Over the next few months, I cleaned and painted anything that appeared to have value. I gave a few items to the fellow that bought the 1931 Plymouth. I suppose that was not a wise move, but I was very inexperience at the selling of vintage parts especially on eBay. All of the items that I kept needed to be checked over to the best of my ability and repair as required. One of the first things I sold on eBay was the dash gauges from the 30 Plymouth. I measured and recorded the resistance of the windings inside the ammeter and fuel gauges using my digital multi meter. Here my knowledge in electronics helped me out to determine the overall condition of these gauges. I connected the oil pressure gauge to my air line in the shop and check a few different pressure readings. The speedometer was connected to my variable speed drill to see if it worked. The speed varied with the speed of the drill. Everything looked good, so I shined up the chrome bezels, clean the terminals, and took a few pictures. On the listing, I mentioned my findings and how I tested each gauge. I set the reserved bid at $175 USD. Over the week, I noticed several people were watching the listing. It was not until the last 30 minutes before the listing ended did I see any activity. The bids started. This is not that unusual on eBay. Bidders do this to keep the price of the item lower. Once the bidding started, one bidder just kept on bidding till the reserve price was achieved and he did this all just before the listing finally ended. I made $175 USD on this sale. This was just the start. Thinking about it now, I most likely could have made more on this. I look at this as a price for my education in this most interesting hobby of mine.
Vintage car parts cannot be bought at Wal-Mart or your local auto parts dealer. The parts are rare and hard to find in good shape. There are companies that specialize in rebuilding and restoring these old dash gauges, but you pay a premium price for the service. This is okay if you have a TV show with several sponsors, or a magazine publication with very good advertisers. I am just an everyday guy that likes to build things, and I have a limited budget for my hobby. The selling of items on eBay became a bit of an obsession. As I started selling more items, I realized that building a hot rod would not be that expensive. I even started to think that I might be able to build it without any out of pocket expense. That is exactly what has happened over time. Remember, when you do this, it is at the expense of steeling building time away from the build of the hot rod. Was it worth it? For me it became a game. Just like a hunter out for the kill of his prize.
All of this gets me closer to my ultimate project, the 1929 Ford Roadster. Please make sure you bookmark this site and keep coming back for updates. You will need to be patient, I will get to the design and building of the chassis for the 1929 Ford Roadster using C4 Corvette suspension components.
The money making game on eBay – Part 3
If you are going to sell something for $200 or more, then include lots of pictures in the eBay listing. Often for cheaper items, I will merge several photos into one image for my eBay listing. It is easy now with digital cameras and your favourite photo editing software. When I first started selling on eBay, I scanned anything that would fit on my HP scanner and took film pictures of everything else. Pictures are something you cannot skimp on when listing items on eBay. Remember, the more information you provide, the easier you make it for the buyer to make the purchase decision and that human beings like getting their information visually.
Normally, I time the start of my 7 day listings on Sunday night. I would not recommend having a listing end on Friday. Friday is a day when everyone wants to wind down from a long week at work. This is when most buyers are out socializing, having fun, and not surfing the net. Do not have a listing end during the normal part of the working day. Again, you will loose a potential part of your market place because buyers have limited computer access. Now, many workplaces and employers monitor email and internet usage at the workplace and really do not like employees using these services at the workplace. In some cases employees caught working on personal matters on the job have been fired.
Make your listing on eBay available to the world. This means that you will ship your item anywhere in the world. The buyer pays for shipping and there really is no extra effort on your part. You should be prepared to provide information about shipping costs to potential buyers. This means, you better know how you are going to package the item and how much everything will weigh. You will need a weigh scale. A mistake made in determining the weight of a parcel, especially after you quote a foreign shipping price, will cost you. Ship everything using the post “and what they lose, but I must say that I have shipped things all over the world and have never lost a single item. A couple of times things got a bit tense. A few buyers wanted ground shipping to Hong Kong and Tasmania, and those items took much longer then the predictions the post office made. When you use ground carrier services through the post office and are shipping overseas, this means your package will be placed in a container, and when the container is full, it will head off to its destination. These containers will be loaded on ships. This service is very slow so I would not recommend using it no matter what the saving is to the buyer.
You will need to be available to provide fast responses to email questions. Buyers like this. Do not bother to list an item if you plan to go away, even for a few days. I prefer to list as many similar items as possible at the same time. I find that this improves my sales and final selling price. Normally, about 20 items per 7 day auction period is manageable. Once the items are sold and paid for, do not waste any time getting sold items shipped. Buyers want everything yesterday. Always give the buyers an approximate time they can expect to receive their item. I send the buyer an email the day the item is shipped informing them of an approximate delivery time. This simple step will ensure a happier buyer with fewer enquiries to answer. Even still, the buyer starts emailing you a few days after they paid for the item with the question, I paid for my item but I haven’t received it yet, WHY.
In a few days I will update the Blog with a new post. I will continue with, “The money making game on eBay – Part 3”. All of this gets me closer to my ultimate project, the 1929 Ford Roadster. Please make sure you bookmark this site and keep coming back for updates. You will need to be patient, I will get to the design and building of the chassis for the 1929 Ford Roadster using C4 Corvette suspension components.
The above 7 pictures are from a 1934 Plymouth instrument cluster I purchased for $75 and sold for $375 on eBay. Just click on an image to make it larger and then click on the arrows at the bottom left or right of the image to advance to the next image. To close the viewer, just click anywhere on the image.
I took these pictures with a small Canon digital camera and included all test information about the gauges and pictures in the eBay listing.
The money making game on eBay – Part 4
Make it easy for buyer to pay for items. Use PayPal, take postal or bank money orders, wire transfers, and etc…. Do not take personal cheques. Do not ship anything till the item is paid for in full, including shipping. When it comes to money, promises do not mean anything.
Your packaging needs to be given consideration. Where are you going to find it? Do you need to purchase it, this will be an added cost to the buyer? I manage to pick card board boxes up at the local grocery store, they give them away for free. I pick up packing tape at the local dollar store. Shipping labels are made on my inkjet printer at home. Insure every item shipped, and keep good records. You never know when you might need to refer to them. Most of all make sure your item is not too big or to heavy to ship using conventional shipping carriers. Once I sold a convertible top and frame from a 1986 Corvette. With the packing frame it became a bit heavy and the dimensions of the crate were a bit big. I ended up taking the crate apart, and disassembled the convertible frame to make the shipping crate an acceptable size. This all took time.
I always look at the buyer’s feedback to see what kind of things they have bought. You might get an idea. I did. I started to sell old microprocessors from computers and other absolute electronic parts I had laying around the house. I would have never thought of selling this sort of item. One day I noticed in the feedback of one buyer purchasing a vintage car part, that they had been buying old microprocessors. To me these parts are obsolete and have no value. Remember, I am an Electronics Professor at a local community college in my area. It was most interesting finding out what buyers would spend on old IBM XT processors and vintage EPROMs. This was state of the art technology 25 years ago. What a surprise for me!
Set a fair price on the items you want to sell and if needed a reserve price. If you start out with a very high price, you will not sell you item. What I find surprising sometimes, is that I will start at a low starting bid and the final selling bid is absolutely incredible. Now I have developed a policy of just wanting to get rid of things for any reasonable price. Not so long ago, I had a collection of old 35mm film cameras and lenses. I would have been happy if somebody gave me $100 for the collection. Just for the fun of it, I listed everything separately on eBay, and seven days later, I made over $2000. The oddest things that are collecting dust in closets and drawers, that you never intend to use again, just might be worth a bid of money. I even sold old computer software, books, vintage tools, and many more things that had been taking up space in the house. One year for the fun of it, I sold enough on eBay to pay for all of our Christmas gifts, new decorations, and all of the food for the holidays. It all started as a bit of a joke but the joke became reality. Sometimes items need to be re-listed on eBay a few times before they will sell. I have always sold eveything I listed on ebay, sooner or later.
Well, EBay proved to be a valuable tool for me. I was able to sell the majority of the unneeded parts that I removed from the 1930 Plymouth for about $2500. Now, I am ahead about $2300 in my hot rod project. This was not free money, I worked to make this, and it did take time away from the hot rod build which really hasn’t started yet. Where is the 1929 Ford Hot Rod? Be patient, its coming. Just a bit more wheeling and dealing to come. Where did my interest in the wheeling and dealing come from? Maybe watching my father when I was a young boy. He as always making a deal, and best of all, I was with him. Making money this way can be a slow but profitable process.
In a few days I will update the Blog with another new post. Please make sure you bookmark this site and keep coming back for updates.