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October 16, 2000-- Newsletter #102
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HTMLGOODIES EXPRESS (tm)
October 16, 2000--Newsletter #102
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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,
Did you hear
A U.S. congressional report has stated that the nation's air traffic system is more than vulnerable to hacker/cracker attacks. The FAA will soon put forth a plan to plug up the holes in the system. Hopefully hacker/cracker groups will be smart enough to leave this segment of the computer world alone.
MSN and Microsoft are spamming! If you've signed up for or are using MSN explorer, then you may be sending out emails singing the praises of the service without even knowing it. Upon installation, you are giving the ability to turn the service off, but most people miss it. If you're one of those people, with each change of address email, a copy of the spam letter goes out to your friends.
Now onto today's topic
Well, I'm on eBay.
I have been on the buying side of eBay now for a good year. I have a baker's rack in my house that I use to place knick-knacks just for show. It's high enough that the cats can't get to it. I've been collecting items with the name Burns for a while now. I have a pretty eclectic collection. Of course, it's worthless to everyone except me.
I often wondered, while surfing eBay, why I was drawn to one item over another. Why did some people have little images next to their ads? Why this? Why that? How does eBay make their money?
Now I know.
Yesterday, I received a business credit card specifically set aside for nothing but business expenses. I got it for that purpose alone. That way I can easily keep financial records. I signed up for eBay. I'm now a seller.
If you'd like to become a seller, here's what you'll go through:
1. You'll register first. This is where you set a login (your email address at first) and a password.
2. You'll get an email with a confirmation code. It came right away for me.
3. Next you give a credit card number so eBay can bill you.
4. Finally, you get to change your login if you don't want to use your email address. I changed mine to StreetArtist.com. Luckily it wasn't taken.
Now you're ready to sell!
This is where I ran into all kinds of trouble. It's not that selling is difficult. On the contrary, it's very easy. The problem comes with what exactly do you put for some of the items they want?
The title comes first. I knew that is was the title text that gets searched when someone starts looking so I have to be clever and stick all kinds of text in there that explains the painting, the artists, and helps in a search. All of this in 45 characters including spaces. I came up with:
Lace Window with Flowers: A Paris Oil-Canvas
Not bad, eh? I was pretty happy with it. It only took me twelve tries to get it all into 45 characters.
By the way, I made a promise to myself that I would never actually place the text L@@K in my subject line. Those of you who know eBay are probably thanking me for that.
Next, what category do you want to be in? It's an easy choice for me. European art. No sweat.
The description is next. This is a little tougher than people think. First off, the description accepts HTML so you can go nuts with color and code. Tammy and I decided to create a block of color through a table cell, use Arial font, and be very business like. We kept it under 200 words and made reference back to the StreetArtist.com site if people wanted to read about the artist or where the painting was purchased.
That wasn't so bad. Luckily you get to go in an edit as long as you don't have a bid. I had a typo that needed to be fixed. In fact I had a typo in two of them. Go figuretypos and me. Huh.
Next you put in a URL for the image you want to display. EBay will house the image for you but we had our own image so we just put in the entire URL pointing to the image.
Next you put in a location for your business. You have to put one in. You can't go on unless you choose one. I put in New Orleans, LA. That always sounds pretty cool.
Quantity is next. I only have one so that was pretty easy.
Minimum bid is next. Hmmm Minimum bid. Uhhh. Minimum Bid. Let's see
I'm dead. I have no idea to put for a minimum bid. I sat and stared blankly at the screen for a good ten minutes. I know I should put in a minimum bid, but I had no idea what to enter. I meanI paid money for this thing, a pretty good amount of money. I can't allow a $1.00 bid to stand. I'd lose money hand over fist. I mean, eBay cannot be only for people who received really nice stuff for free and will be happy with a $5.00 bid, right?
I certainly can't allow a $.01 to stand. I have often wondered if a bid of $.01 was a real bid or if someone was somehow offended by the item and is showing their dislike through a snippy one-penny bid. Remember, if you win a $.01 bid, the post office frowns on sending cash through the mail. Write a check. We only accept money orders.
Yes, I know I could put in a reserve price, but I hate them. For those of you know don't know, a reserve price is a hidden amount that someone will accept. Any bids lower than the reserve price are unacceptable to the seller.
I never liked that. Twice I bid on something I really wanted and didn't meet the reserve price. Later, after the auction was over and I was the high bidder, I contacted the seller and got the reserve price. One was so high I know why they hid it. The other was like two dollars over what I had bid. I thought both uses of the reserve price were silly.
I didn't want to use reserve price so I have to set a minimum price. I literally picked a number out of the clear blue sky. It isn't what I paid for the piece. If it were, that would be sort of killing the entire concept of an auction.
It's a price I can live with getting. Hopefully people will bid it up. It has a piece to go before a profit can be made. We'll see what happens.
You set the auction duration next. The choices are 3, 5, 7, or ten days. I chose ten in all cases.
Reserve price is next. You know my feelings on that. I put nothing in this box.
Next I get to choose if I want a private auction or not. I read all of the specs on holding a private auction, didn't really understand it, and hated the one time I was bidding in a private auction. I chose no.
Next you get the options that cost you more money. They are:
For $199.00 your item can show up on the home page. I chose no.
For $ 19.00 your item can be featured at the top of a category listing. Ditto.
For $ 5.00 your item can be highlighted in yellow. Nope again.
For $ 2.00 your item can be listed with bold typeface. Nope once again.
I did, however, swing 25 cents to have my listing show a little image of the painting rather than just a simple line of text. I can swing a quarter. Hey, you have to spend money to make money.
Now the final questions:
1. What forms of payment will you offer? (checkboxes)
2. Will you accept escrow? (checkboxes)
3. What are your payment terms (checkboxes)
4. Shipping terms (checkboxes)
When you've made all of those decisions, filled in the price, you click to review the submission. All the information seemed correct and the image was showing up. OK, I guess that's all. I submitted the page.
The auction had started. I knew that because the top of the next page informed me that the auction had started.
My account, and soon my credit card, will be charged $2.00 for the auction posting and a quarter more for the little image display. That's a grand total of $2.25 to post the auction. I did three so I am out $6.75 at this point. I was charged the highest amount because of the cost of my opening bid. Lower bids cost less.
Ebay will grab another percentage if the item sells, most likely, 5% of the price because my items are over a certain amount.
Man! No wonder these guys are making so much moolah.
My next stop was at a site titled Honesty.com for a free counter. I signed up, gave them my eBay auction number, and password, and a counter soon popped up on the auction. They put the code in there for me. I guess that's why they can claim such honesty. If you ever decide to use such a counter, make a point of putting some white space after your description when you create it. If you don't, the counter text will bump right up against the bottom of your description. I learned that the hard way.
An hour later, the other two paintings went live. By the time you get this newsletter, the three auctions I just posted will probably already be over, but feel free to search for StreetArtist.com on your next eBay trip.
You just might get a deal.
That's that. Thanks for reading.
Joe Burns, Ph.D.
And Remember: Since the successful launch of space shuttle Columbia on mission STS-90 there have been more crickets in space than humans.