eBay, which was started by Pierre Omidar in 1995, aptly calls itself 'the World's Online MarketplaceŽ.' If you've ever visited eBay, you've observed its mission statement 'to provide a global trading platform where practically anyone can trade practically anything' in action. Clothing, antiques, trading cards, CDs, A/V equipment, autographs, shoes, used cars, zambonies, toys and much, much more can be procured on the site.

An eBay business takes time and effort, but it can be profitable and fun. In this series we'll focus on how to start your own eBay business, considering common mistakes, essentials to success and steps involved in the process.

This six part series will be broken down into the following installments

Part One: eBay - the Most Common Mistake

Part Two: Getting Started

Part Three: Businesses that Work

Part Four: The Ins and Outs

Part Five: Site Rules and Regulations

Part Six: Basic Internet Business Smarts

Let's consider eBay and how you might use it.

Part One: eBay - the Most Common Mistake

The fact is eBay has given potential retailers a highly visible worldwide storefront from which they can sell their wares. There are a few things to consider in relationship to you as a retailer on eBay prior to setting up your business.

First, can you make money on eBay? Yes you certainly can, but it will require appropriate planning, it will not simply flow to you over the Net. The same sound customer relationship practices that govern your eBay site will also pertain to your online auction site. If you sell something on eBay, your customers will be rating you in terms of quality of merchandise, dependability and value. Thus, it's important to represent your business and products accurately, to deliver what and when you say you will and to be responsive to customer queries.

In creating your online auction site, you should start slowly and learn how to properly use eBay. The most common mistake people make is to try to start out big without understanding the manner in which the site works. eBay, like everything on the Internet, is constantly evolving - every day new merchants sign up, new products are added and new customers buy their first item.

To begin, gather four to seven items that you will post to sell on eBay (these can be items you own but that you no longer wish to keep). Articles such as:

  • Books
  • CD's, DVD's and Video Tapes
  • Clothing and Shoes
  • Collectibles and Small Gifts
  • Comic Books, Trading Cards and Memorabilia
  • Kitchen Items
  • Toys and Video Games

To set up your auction, place only one item up for sale. Prior to doing this check and see how much others are asking for similar articles. You'll want to sell one item first, get the feel for how that selling process works and then go onto another item or two, generating positive feedback, learning how to work with your clients and developing an understanding of how best to market your product.

This will not garner much cash, but this process will give you some firsthand experience on selling on eBay. Think of this as a time to flex your auction/retail muscles, to begin to develop a positive online presence and to discover how to set yourself apart in a positive manner from other eBay sellers.

Following this process prior to taking the full plunge will help you succeed in a big way later. Be ready to be patient, observant and to learn some real World Wide Web lessons. Every journey starts with the first step, start with little steps and you will complete your journey successfully. This rule applies not only when you start, but also when you are considering expanding into new product lines, whether through eBay or other marketing media.

In part two of this series, we'll consider some of the steps involved in setting up your eBay auction site.