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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What about eBay?

There are probably very few people left who haven't heard of eBay. eBay has revolutionized selling on the internet with its auction and Buy it Now formats. But, is the most well known site for selling really the best option for selling handmade?


My opinion is no. Not anymore. I used to sell on eBay a few years ago. I absolutely loved it, and I used to be able to get very good prices for my work. However, eBay continued to grow, and not always in ways that benefit the self-representing artist.


For someone starting out on eBay right now, it is a very hard place to get noticed, unless you want to fork out nearly $25 to advertise your item in the featured section. For some artists, this may make sense. But for many, it doesn't add up cost wise. And believe me, nearly every category that has handmade items, also has been flooded with mass-produced items. This means you are competing with cheap goods. It is the same principal as if you were trying to sell your first quality art in a Wal-Mart.

eBay has also become more and more expensive to use. Yes, if you want to chance that you may only get $.99 for your item, you can list for $.15. However, if you want to get a more realistic price for your work, you will pay more. For example, let's say you have a handmade purse that you really hope to get $50 for. You decide to start out the auction at slightly half of that, $24.99. Your insertion fee for the auction is $.55. Not bad when you look at it, but this double what Etsy charges, and if you are doing an auction, only good for 7 days. Let's stay positive and say, without adding any listing upgrades, people find your purse and it sells for $40. You now will have to pay eBay a Final Value fee of $4.03, which is added to your $.55 insertion fee, bringing the total up to $4.58 in fees. This is over 10% of the price of the item. The same purse listed on Etsy would cost you $1.60 in fees when it sold.


This isn't to say that there are not some artisans who still do well on eBay. However, most of these people already have a loyal customer base built up, and buyers know to look for their items. Even with this, some of the handmade items I see with bids on eBay are selling at ridiculously low prices that are an insult.

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