Chances are you’re just starting out on your online auction adventures learning how to buy and sell and take advantage of everything eBay has to offer. As you gain more experience, however, you may decide that you’re pretty good at the whole thing, and start to wonder what it might take to ramp up your eBay activities. You might even dream about one day making your living from selling goods online.

For tens of thousands of eBay users, making a living from online auctions isn’t a dreamit’s reality. It’s definitely possible to sell enough items to generate a livable income from eBay auctions. It takes a lot of hard work and it’s as complex as running any other business; but it can be done.

One of the steps to running your own eBay business although not a requirement, by any means is to become an eBay PowerSeller. eBay’s 100,000-plus PowerSellers generate enough business to warrant special attention from eBay, in the form of dedicated customer support, premier tools, and the occasional special offer. Plus they get to display that cool PowerSeller logo in all their auction listings.

To become a PowerSeller, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • Maintain a consistently high level of eBay sales
  • Maintain a minimum of four average monthly total item listings for three straight months
  • Have been an active eBay seller for at least 90 days
  • Achieve and maintain a minimum feedback rating of 100, 98% positive
  • Deliver post-auction messages to successful bidders within three business days of each auction close
  • Be an eBay member in good standing and uphold eBay’s “community values”including honesty, timeliness, and mutual respect

The most important point is the first, because it’s the most quantifiable. There are five levels in the PowerSeller program; qualification for each level is based on average gross monthly sales, calculated over the past three months of selling activity.

Note: To keep your PowerSeller status, you have to maintain this sales rate. If your sales drop below these levels, eBay will give you 30 days to bring your account back into compliance; if you don’t, your membership in the program will be revoked. (You’re free to re-qualify at a later date, however.)

That’s right, there are some eBay sellers who average $150,000 or more a month. That’s almost two million dollars a year in revenues from eBay auctions no slight accomplishment!

Membership in eBay’s PowerSellers program is free. However, you can’t apply; PowerSeller status is by invitation only. Each month eBay sends out invitations to sellers who meet the PowerSeller criteria. You become a member by (1) meeting the criteria; (2) receiving an invitation; and (3) responding positively to the invitation.

The biggest difficulty in selling to non-U.S. buyers is shipping the item. Not only are longer distances involved (which necessitates more secure packagingand longer shipping times), but you also have to deal with different shipping options and all sorts of new paperwork.

Chances are your normal method of shipping won’t work for your international shipments. For example, you can’t use Priority Mail to ship outside the United Statesnot even to Canada or Mexico. This means you’ll need to evaluate new shipping methods, and possibly new shipping services.

If you want to stick with the U.S. Postal Service, you can check out Global Priority Mail (reasonably fast and reasonably priced), Global Express Mail (fast but expensive), Airmail (almost as fast, not quite as expensive), or Surface/Parcel Post (slow but less expensive). In addition, UPS offers its Worldwide Express service, FedEx offers its FedEx Express service internationally, and DHL is always a good option for shipping outside the United States. Be sure to check out your options beforehand, and charge the buyer the actual costs incurred.

Given the increased chances of loss or damage when shipping great distances, you should purchase insurance for all items shipping outside North America.

You’ll also have to deal with a bit of paperwork while you’re preparing your shipment. All packages shipping outside U.S. borders must clear customs to enter the destination countryand require the completion of specific customs forms to make the trip. Depending on the type of item you’re shipping and the weight of your package, you’ll need either Form 2976 (green) or Form 2976-A (white). Both of these forms should be available at your local post office.

When you’re filling out these forms, describe the item in terms that ordinary people can understand. That means using simple, generic terms. A “greatest hits CD compilation” becomes “compact disc.” A “SimCity extension pack” becomes “video game.” And so on.

You should also be honest about what you’re shipping. Some buyers will try to talk you into describing the item as a gift so that they can save on duties or tax on their end. That’s lying, and you shouldn’t do it.

eBay offers several pages of advice for international trading at

In addition, there are certain items you can’t ship to foreign countriesfirearms, live animals and animal products, and so on. (There are also some technology items you can’t ship, for security reasons.) You need to check the government’s list of import and export restrictions to see what items you’re prohibited from shipping outside U.S. borders. Check with your shipping service for more detailed information.

Finally, note that shipping across borders takes longer than shipping within the United States. This is especially true if an item is held up at customs. Make sure your international buyers know that shipping times will be longer than what you might state for domestic buyers.

One of the issues with selling outside the United States is in dealing with foreign currency. First, you have to convert it to U.S. dollars. (How many lira to the dollar today?) Then you have to receive it in a form that is both secure and trusted. (Do you trust a personal check drawn on a small Spanish bank?) Then you have to find a way to deposit those funds and convert them to U.S. dollars. (Does your bank handle foreign deposits?)

The currency issue is simplified somewhat when you specify bidding and payment in U.S. funds only. This puts the onus of currency conversion on the buyer, which is a plus.

The payment process can be further simplified when the buyer pays by credit card or, even better, by PayPal. PayPal is now active in 45 countries (including the United States) and can handle all the payment, conversion, and deposit functions for you.

Should you sell internationally? The answer to this isn’t a simple one. It depends a lot on your tolerance for differences (in money, in language, in routine), and your ability to deal with unusual post-auction activity especially in regard to payment and shipping.

The pros of opening your auctions to non-U.S. bidders include the following:

  • You might be able to attract additional bidders and thus sell more items at (presumably) higher prices.
  • You can offset some of the seasonality of the U.S. market; when it’s winter here, you can still be selling swim suits to the summer market in Australia.
  • You establish a reputation as a hard-working global trader.
  • It’s fun (sometimes) to interact with people from different countries and cultures.

The cons of selling outside the Unites States include the following:

  • You might run into difficulties communicating with bidders from outside the United States.
  • You might have to deal with payment in non-U.S. funds, on non-U.S. banks.
  • You’ll have to put extra effort into the packing of an item to be shipped over great distances.
  • You probably won’t be able to use your standard shipping services which means investigating new shipping services and options.
  • Shipping costs will be higher than what you’re used toand will need to be passed on to the buyer.
  • You’ll need to deal with the appropriate paperwork for shipping outside the United States including those pesky customs forms.
  • If there are any problems or disputes with the item shipped, you have an international-sized incident on your hands.

Just looking at this list, it may appear that the cons outweigh the pros. That might not always be the case, however especially if you’re a real “people person.” Many eBay sellers get great joy from interacting with people from different cultures, sometimes turning foreign buyers into lasting friends. I can vouch from my limited personal experience that most non-U.S. buyers I’ve dealt with are exceedingly polite and tolerant of the extra effort required to complete an international transaction.

If you decide to sell outside the United States, you’ll want to state this in your auctions, along with a line indicating that “shipping and handling outside the United States is higher,” “listed shipping charge is for United States only,” or something to that effect. If, on the other hand, you decide not to sell internationally, state that in your ad also with a “U.S. bidders only” type of notice.

My personal opinions on international sales are sure to invite argument. No offense to non-U.S. users, but I don’t ship internationally, period. I’ve done it in the past, and the hassle factor simply isn’t worth it. Even if the transaction goes smoothly (and it often doesn’t, all things considered), the big issue is that the procedures involved are just too different from what I have set up for my normal day-to-day auction activities. In other words, international auctions are unusual transactions that mess up my normal domestic auction production line. My apologies to buyers outside the United Statesmost of whom I’ve found to be wonderful people to deal withbut I can’t let my normal activity be jeopardized by these high-maintenance shipments. (I do, however, make the occasional exceptionprimarily with small items shipping into Canada that can be handled without much additional paperwork or hassle.)

Vendio lets you reach buyers where they are shopping, without forcing you to learn a different interface for each online channel. Whether you are a seasoned online sales veteran, or the next ecommerce success story, Vendio provides an ecommerce solution that makes it easy to build and run your online ecommerce business no matter where your buyers shop. The Vendio Platform lets you manage items, orders, buyer communication, and your very own store all through one integrated Platform. Best of all, selling from your store with the Vendio Platform is FREE! When we say free, we mean it. There are no sign-up fees, no insertion fees, no image fees, no final value fees, and no subscription fees.

For more information visit:

  • You can use feedback ratings and comments to judge the trustworthiness of other eBay users.
  • For quick reference, different levels of feedback ratings are indicated by a different color and type of star.
  • You can view other users’ feedback by clicking on the feedback rating numbers next to their user names.
  • At the end of every auction, you should take the time to leave feedback about the other user although you should be cautious about leaving negative feedback.

Many eBay users are zealous about their feedback ratings. Although it’s a good thing to want to build up a high rating, some users get quite obsessive about it.  For that reason, you want to be very sure of yourself before you leave negative feedback about a user. Some overly zealous users might retaliate by leaving negative feedback about you even if it wasn’t warranted.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do if you receive negative feedback; under normal conditions, feedback comments cannot be retracted. (There have been some exceptions, when the feedback has been obscene or slanderous in nature.) What you can do is offer a response to the feedback, which you do by going to your My eBay Feedback page and clicking the Review and Respond to Feedback About Me link. When the feedback comments list appears, click the Respond link next to a particular comment and then enter your response. Your new comment is listed below the original feedback comment on the Feedback Profile page. Just try not to get defensive; the best response is one that is calm, clear, and well-reasoned.

You should leave feedback at the end of every auctionwhether it was a positive or a negative experience for you. Don’t miss your chance to inform other eBay users about the quality of the person you just got done dealing with.

Transaction transpires in a timely fashion.Positive“Great transaction. Fast payment/shipment. Recommended.”
Transaction goes through, but buyer/seller i s slow or you have to pester the other user to complete the transaction.Positive“Item received as described” or “Payment received,” accompa-nied by “a little slow, but otherwise a good seller/buyer.”
Transaction is very slow (over a month to completion).Neutral“Very slow payment/shipment;” if you’re buying, follow by “item received as described.”
Other user backs out of transaction, but with a good excuse.Neutral“Buyer/seller didn’t follow through on sale but had a reasonable excuse.”
Other user backs out of transaction without a good excuse, disappears off the face of the earth before paying/shipping, or bounces a check.Negative“Buyer/seller didn’t complete transactionavoid!”
Transaction goes through, but item isn’t what you expected or was damaged in transit; seller refunds your money.Positive“Inaccurate description of item” or “Item was damaged in ship-ping,” followed by “seller refunded money.”
Transaction goes through, but item isn’t what you expected; seller won’t refund your money.Negative“Item not as described and seller ignored my complaintavoid!”

As you can see, there’s a proper feedback and response for every situation. Just be sure to think twice before leaving any feedback (particularly negative feedback). After you submit your feedback, you can’t retract it.

Don’t get too upset if you receive the occasional negative feedback; it happens to the best of usespecially those that run a lot of auctions. You can’t please everyone all the time, and sometimes you make mistakes that justify a negative feedback response. Just try to work out as many issues with other users as you can, and don’t let the occasional negative feedback get to you.

You can click a tab to view All Feedback Received, just those comments From Buyers or From Sellers, or comments that this user Left for Others.

You can leave feedback from any item listing page; just click the Leave Feedback link. When you see the Leave Feedback page, you can choose to leave Positive, Negative, or Neutral feedback, along with a brief comment (80 characters maximum).

Make sure your feedback is accurate before you click the Leave Feedback button; you can’t change your comments after they’ve been registered.

eBay regards its feedback function as the best protection against fraudulent transactions. I certainly recommend that, whether a transaction went swell or went south, you leave feedback about your partner in every transaction. I know that I check the feedback rating of every seller I choose to deal with; it really is a good way to judge the quality of the other party in your eBay transactions.

Next to every buyer and seller’s name on eBay are a number and (more often than not) a colored star. (shows my personal star and feedback number.) This number and star represent that user’s feedback rating. The larger the number, the better the feedback (and the more transactions that user has participated in).

How are feedback ratings calculated?

First, every new user starts with 0 points. (A clean slate!) For every positive feedback received, eBay adds 1 point to your feedback rating. For every negative feedback received, eBay subtracts 1 point. Neutral comments add 0 points to your rating.

Let’s say you’re a new user, starting with a 0 rating. On the first two items you buy, the sellers like the fact that you paid quickly and give you positive feedback. On the third transaction, however, you forgot to mail the check for a few weeks, and the seller left you negative feedback. After these three transactions, your feedback rating would be 1. (That’s 0 + 1 + 1 1 = 1.)

If you build up a lot of positive feedback, you qualify for a star next to your name. Different colored stars represent different levels of positive feedback, as noted in Table below.

Yellow star1049
Blue star5099
Turquoise star100499
Purple star500999
Red star1,0004,999
Green star5,0009,999
Yellow shooting star10,00024,999
Turquoise shooting star25,00049,999
Purple shooting star50,00099,999
Red shooting star100,000 or more

Obviously, heavy users can build up positive feedback faster than occasional users. If you’re dealing with a shooting-star user (of any color), you know you’re dealing with a trustworthy and extremely busy!eBay pro.

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