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by Lloyd A. de Vries

Vol. 2 - Selling Online

Have you bought or sold anything in one of the online auctions yet?

Chances are, you answered, "yes." Practically everyone I know online has.

Most are using eBay. It's such a powerhouse, with so much traffic, that it's hard to ignore. BidVille has a number of interesting features eBay doesn't, but eBay has the customers.

Last year, I took the plunge. I produce my own occasional cachets for U.S. first day covers, called Dragon Cards (which means, technically, they're not really covers), and also found several hundred Hammond Cards from the 1960s and 1970s in a drawer.

I wanted to sell off the Hammonds and explore the new opportunity for the Dragons. I've already learned that marketing my Dragon Cards on the Internet is fast, inexpensive, and it works.

Personally, I'd rather sell with fixed prices. I'm hurt when one of my Pride & Joys sells for the minimum, and nervous when something sells for six or seven times the usual price. But, as famed bank robber Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks, "That's where the money is," so I'll keep listing items on the online auctions.

Among the online auction selling tips I've picked up, mostly from my friends in The Virtual Stamp Club, are:

  • Include the lot number when corresponding with bidders.
  • If you have more than one of an item, you can offer an additional copy to an "under-bidder" (loser).
  • Include the Scott catalogue number in the title of the lot; many bidders search by Scott number.
  • Group multiple lots awarded to a single customer at the same time together; don't send separate messages for each. And offer a discount on shipping for multiple lots. Not doing either of these annoys customers, and they may not patronize you again.
  • Illustrate the lots. This is especially important for first day covers, of course, where the quality of the cachet art may be an issue.
Illustrating a lot requires that you upload the image somewhere, and then link to it using HTML code. That code is pretty simple:

<img src="http://www.domain.com/filename.jpg">

The auction sites also will take care of hosting the image for you, for a 25-cent fee per item.

Or if you have a web page, you can do it yourself. Practically every Internet account includes a free web page. You don't have to make the lot's image visible on the page, just store it on the site, and link to it.

Of course, having pictures of your stamps or covers requires that they be scanned. (Most cameras aren't made for close-up work.) You may want to invest in a scanner yourself - they start at just over $100 - or you can ask a friend to do it for you.

©2001 Lloyd de Vries

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