The Ebay and Etsy Business Model

In America today, the dream is not just to have a job, it is to be financially independent, to be one’s own boss. As the recession has stolen many jobs from unsuspecting workers, the dream of financial independence has been put on the back burner for some, while other entrepreneurial spirits have seen the job loss as an opportunity. What better time to strike out on one’s own? What better time to learn some new skills? The Internet makes it possible to find avenues for employment that are deeply non-traditional and exciting. While many of them are also scams, there are plenty of legitimate opportunities out there. For many, auction sites like Ebay or boutique sites like Etsy offer free storefront real estate with ready-made traffic, just waiting for the right kind of products.

So, how do you go about opening your own store, and, moreover, how do you go about making a profit? It’s not as complicated or difficult as you might think. If you have an eye for quality and the time to shop the bargains, you can make a tidy profit on these sites. The trick is to pay less for the products you sell than you sell them for. Visiting thrift stores is the easiest way to find quality products priced far below market value. Do a little research before you start to see what sorts of products sell. Name brands are always good, and stain-free name brands in good shape are better. Invest in a dress form and a decent digital camera to photograph clothing attractively. If you’re selling objects, invest in a simple table-top light box to make your listings look as professional as possible. If you are buying and selling objects, set up your store on Ebay. If you are making objects, Etsy is the better choice.

Setting up your store is simple and can be done in a day with a credit card and a Paypal account. Getting traffic to your store is a little more complicated. These sites are highly trafficked which means the eyeballs are there. Your job is to divert them to your store. If you have the capital, you can invest in enhanced ads for your bigger ticket items that highlight your listings so they are more readily visible on the page. You can also pay for rotating ad space in the sidebar on Ebay. If you don’t have the capital, you can drive just as much traffic with free marketing techniques like listing your new items on social media sites and in the classifieds.

If you really want to get serious about building your own online retail business, you’ll need a website. Even if all of your sales are made on sites like Ebay or Etsy, having your own business website gives you a place to send your customers to learn more about you and what you do.  Include a newsletter sign-up form so you can follow up with customers and keep them coming back to shop.

Lastly, be sure to keep careful records of your sales. You won’t know how profitable your business is unless you compare what you spend for the things you sell and what you sell them for. You’ll also need that information for filing your taxes. Treat your business like a business and stick to it. There are many people with shops on Ebay and Etsy who are entirely financially independent. It’s not just a dream.

References and Resources:

Business Week: Etsy

Handmade Marketing: Etsy vs. Ebay