Automating Your Auction Activities

In: powerseller

10 Nov 2009

Managing hundreds of simultaneous auctions is hard work. Most power sellers end up working more than a standard 8-hour day, and more than five days a week. (eBay reports that most of their PowerSellers work anywhere from 10 to 16 hours a day on their auctions!) The time it takes to find new items to sell, photograph them, write detailed item descriptions, post the auctions, send post-auction emails, and pack and ship all those items quickly adds up.

The more auctions you list, the more it behooves you to automate as much of the auction process as possible. For most power sellers, that means signing up with one of the big websites that offer bulk listing and post-auction management, such as Ándale (, SpareDollar (, or Vendio ( Be sure to factor the site’s fees into your cost structure, and let them help you manage all your auctions.

You should also try to automate your physical auction activity. That means creating some sort of auction “office” or workspace in your home. This workspace should include everything you need in order to create auction listings (including your digital camera and scanner) and to pack and ship your finished auction items. In addition, you’ll need space to store all your excess auction inventory; this may be your basement or garage, or even a rented storage locker.

Automating your processes also means establishing some sort of auction-related schedule. Pick one or two days a week to launch all your auctions; pick one or two days to visit the post office. Stick to your schedule and you’ll avoid running around like a chicken with your head cut off; after all, dead chickens aren’t known for their business efficiency.

On the subject of shipping, you should try to simplify your packing and shipping activities as much as possible. This means limiting the types of items you sell to just a few so that you can standardize on packaging. It’s much easier to stock just one or two different-sized boxes than it is to store a dozen or more sizes. If you sell a limited variety of merchandise, you’ll also be able to better estimate your shipping costs ahead of time.

When you reach this sales volume, you should also investigate the pick-up services offered by many shipping services. Dragging hundreds of items to the post office every week is a lot of work which you want to eliminate, if you can.

Although it’s important to keep detailed records regarding your eBay auctions, generating a few reports is no substitute for engaging an accountant especially when taxes enter into the equation. Remember, any profits you make on your auctions must be reported as income, and you must pay taxes on your income. Unlike in a “real” job in which taxes are deducted from your weekly paycheck, the taxes you owe from your self-run business are paid to the government as quarterly estimates. Trust me, you don’t want to handle this tax stuff yourself. It’s definitely worth a few bucks to have an accountant handle all your business taxes for you and he can probably help you find a few extra deductions, besides.

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