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Selling collectibles online -- tips and tricks

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selling collectibles online
If you are at a point where you can look around the house to realize how much stuff you have collected over the years, it might be time to consider selling collectibles online to clean out some of the excess. You may have enjoyed it for a long time, but sometimes it just becomes too much stuff. Selling less-loved items not only frees up some space, but it puts a little cash back in your pocket.

With these simple tips, it is easy to get started selling collectibles online.


Sell what you love

Start with what you love to collect. Whether it's a true collectible category, or your favorite china or silverware, what you love to buy will also be exciting to sell when you are ready to sell it. As a bonus, you start off with something you already know about. Choose a few items you love less than the others to be your very first listings.

Choose a selling venue

Research potential venues by searching online for a venue with shops selling similar collectibles. Check out some of the dealers on each venue to determine what resonates with you. If you can, talk to some of the dealers to ask their opinion of their selling venue. What do they like best about the venue? Are the fees reasonable? Is there good community and administrative support for sellers?

Before you settle on a selling venue, be sure to read the venue's terms and conditions. It is critical to understand the rules and regulations of each venue and how they will affect you as a seller.

Start small when selling collectibles

It might be best to treat this as a hobby when you first start selling collectibles online. You can look into setting up a business as a sole proprietor as your business grows. The Small Business Administration in your locale may offer free classes on starting a business.

Once you have selected a few items to list, it's time to decide how best to store and organize your inventory. If possible, have an area dedicated to inventory storage so you know where to find an item quickly when it sells.

Payments and accounting

While cash is fine for in-person local transactions, online sales require a virtual payment method such as Paypal. You will need to set up an account with Paypal to accept payments.

Tip: For accounting purposes, keep separate savings and checking accounts for your business. For a sole proprietor, you can set up sub-accounts under your personal account to use for your business. This will make it easy to transfer money between your checking account and Paypal.

Once that is done, choose accounting software to help you both organize your inventory and track your sales and purchases. Set a schedule for entering your data so it doesn't become overwhelming. Also, back up your accounting software regularly. You never know when your computer might crash.

Brand your shop

Create a logo for your shop, the more distinctive the better. This is not the time to go cheap with clipart or a stock photo. If you can't draw, commission someone to design a logo for you. This is the "face" of your business -- what does this logo say about you? Create something which has a connection to the name of your shop. Also, check the spelling of your shop's name as part of the logo design process. You don't want to find out months later that you misplaced an apostrophe.

Once you have a logo, you can use it for an avatar, for social media, for your shop header, and for business cards.

Create your first listing

A good listing sells the item for you. Include as much detail about the item as possible:

Tip: Photos do not preclude a thorough description of the items in the listing. Don't ever list condition as "see photos for details". If a potential buyer has to contact you for more details and photos, that gives the buyer more time to take their business to another seller who created a better listing.

Remember, it is better to err by giving too much information then to have a return from a disappointed buyer because you omitted important information.

It is also helpful to practice taking and editing photos. Each venue will have its own policy on the number of photos allowed per listing, but it is up to you to make sure the photos are clear and show what a buyer might want to see.

Tip: Make sure your photos are as close-up as possible, in focus, and don't show yourself, your hands, or the kitchen clutter in the background. A simple white sheet can be used as a backdrop in a well-lit area.

Shipping items

You will need to determine at the time you are creating the listing how much it will cost to ship the item. It is not okay to list something for a low price while you profit on shipping. Small things can be shipped in a small Priority Flat Rate box. Larger items may need special handling (make a note in the listing if it's a larger or fragile item). Books can be shipped via Media if you indicate that in the list, but don't send rare or expensive books this way. Insure all items appropriately in case something goes wrong in transit. Also, postal receipts will have tracking info for packages. Even if you submit the tracking info to Paypal and/or your shop's admin order interface for each order when an order is placed, keep the receipts until the items arrive safely.

Tip: Remember that while packaging counts toward shipping weight and volume, the item does need to be secured properly. A padded envelope is insufficient for almost every item you are likely to sell, as is any box such as a cereal or TV dinner box which previously held food. Sturdy corrugated cardboard is good, with plenty of bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and/or air pillows. If the box rattles, you need to add more filler.

Also, remember that the buyer will need to open the packaging once the package arrives. Try to make it obvious where the packaging can be cut open without damaging the item.

Promote your shop

Use social networking sites to advertise your shop. Join appropriate forums and communities to interact, and include your shop link in your signature. If a signature image is allowed, make one with your shop logo and use it.

Finally, remember that sales won't happen overnight. Even if you submit your shop's URL to a search engine the moment the shop site is live, it takes time before customers find you. Try to be patient.

Tip: Add a few items at a time rather than hundreds at once. It is not only easier for you to process a few at a time, but it allows a regular update of the shop.

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