When Selling (Is) Your Life

Recently I came across a book entitled A Life Sold, Or, Whatever Happened to that Guy Who Sold His Whole Life on eBay? The book (published in 2010) details how Ian Usher sold off all his belongings on eBay after his wife left him.  The sale included his home, car, clothes, personal belongings and even his friends (or at least introductions to them). With the money Usher received from the sale, he decided to travel the world armed with his bucket list.  He ran with the bulls, met Richard Branson, acted in a Hollywood movie, fell in love with a Canadian, and even purchased a Caribbean island. Disney has also optioned this book, so you may find that his story makes it to the big screen some day!

I’m not about to sell my whole life, but I did recently set up an online store from which to sell vintage items. Selling online obviously allows you to increase your market, as the Winnipeg market can often be limited. In fact, I’m finding that most of the  online sales are coming from all over the United States, not even Canada. Though I was hesitant about creating an online store as I thought it would be a lot of work, I set it up with siblings so that we each take responsibility for a different part of the store.

If you have crafts or other items to sell and want to start your own online store, you’re likely going to choose either eBay or Etsy.

eBay has been around much longer than Etsy, and is primarily known for its online “auction” function.  When you sell an item, people can bid on it while you have a reserve bid in place.  There is also a “buy it now” feature with eBay if customers want to avoid the bidding option. eBay is definitely still the most popular online selling site, and it has been a favorite with collectors. You can find almost anything on eBay–from rocks, to used books, movies, and clothes, to expensive art glass.  If you’re at all interested in selling items on eBay, check out Starting an eBay Business for Dummies and eBay for Dummies. Both books are recently published, and provide you with all the information needed to start selling such as how to build a store and how to set your prices and policies.  Armed with these resources, you’re sure to set up an online presence on eBay that will help you maximize your selling potential.

Etsy is another viable option which began as an online commerce site for crafters and crafting supplies. Etsy doesn’t have an “auction” function so you just list your price. You can find a wide range of handmade items on Etsy such as lip balm, purses made out of book covers (like this Jane Austen one), cards, jewelry… the list really is endless. If you make crafts you might want to consider Etsy as a venue for increasing your visibility and expanding your market. As well, in the last few years Etsy has become a go-to place to shop for vintage items (defined as any item over 20 years old), including fabric, clothes, patterns, glassware, pottery, jewelry and more.

We decided to start an Etsy site as we weren’t interested in the auction option, and we’re definitely finding it easy to use and set up. If you’re at all interested in starting on Etsy, the following titles will help get you going: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Selling Your Crafts on Etsy, How to Sell Your Crafts Online: A Step-by-Step Guide to Successful Sales on Etsy and Beyond and Starting an Etsy Business for Dummies.

Whether you decide to use Etsy or eBay is really a matter of personal preference, but the titles above may help you decide what option is better for you. Don’t forget to spend some time browsing on Etsy and eBay to see where your items will better fit in. And keep in mind that there are other online sales options out there you might want to consider, although Etsy and eBay do get a significant amount of traffic.

You might not have a whole life to sell, but you’re sure to find success with online selling, one sale at a time!


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