Tuesday, March 29

Did you know? What Do the Stars Next to eBay User IDs Mean?

What Do the Stars Next to eBay User IDs Mean?

When you see a star next to an eBay user’s ID, check out the color of the star. This tells you that user’s feedback rating. When you first join eBay, it seems like everyone on eBay has a star next to their user ID except for you. Fortunately, that will change over time as you get more experience as a buyer or seller (or both). The stars of many colors are awarded based on the amount of your feedback rating. For example, when you receive a feedback rating of 10, you get a bright new gold star (just like in school).

You may notice stars of other colors — even shooting stars; the following table gives you the lowdown on what each star color represents.

eBay Star Colors
Star Feedback Rating
Gold star 10 to 49
Blue star 50 to 99
Turquoise star 100 to 499
Purple star 500 to 999
Red star 1,000 to 4,999
Green star 5,000 to 9,999
Gold shooting star 10,000 to 24,999
Turquoise shooting star 25,000 to 49,999
Purple shooting star 50,000 to 99,999
Red shooting star 100,000 and higher

Once you have a star and you reach a higher level, you will probably get a silly tingly feeling of accomplishment. Very silly, yes, but it's all part of being an active member of the eBay community.


Friday, March 25

eBay Tip: How to Make Changes in a Current eBay Listing

How to Correct a Current eBay Listing

If you make a mistake when you list your eBay item, but don’t catch it until the auction is up and running, you can still make corrections. eBay allows revisions before the first bid is placed as well as after the bidding war is underway. You can’t correct everything, though. Here’s what you can change about your listing before bids have been placed (as long as the listing doesn’t end within 12 hours):
  • The title or description of your item
  • The item category
  • The item’s starting price
  • The item’s Buy It Now price
  • The reserve price (you can add, change, or remove it)
  • The duration of your listing
  • The URL of the picture you’re including with your auction
  • A private listing designation (you can add or remove it)
  • Accepted payment methods, checkout information, item location, and shipping terms
When you revise a listing, eBay puts a little notation on your auction page that reads: Description(revised).

Correcting an eBay auction before you receive bids

To revise a fixed-price listing or any auction before bids have been received, follow these steps:
  1. Go to your My eBay page and find the item you want to revise.
    image0.jpg If the item hasn’t received any bids, a message appears on your screen to indicate that you may update the item,
  2. Click the Revise link from the drop-down menu on the right side of the item.
    image1.jpg You arrive at the Revise Item page, which looks like the Sell an Item form.
  3. Make changes to the item information and then click the Save and Continue button at the bottom of the page when you’re finished.
    A summary of your newly revised auction page appears on your screen.
  4. If you’re happy with your revisions, click Save Changes.
    You’re taken to your newly revised item page, where you see a disclaimer from eBay that says you’ve revised the listing before the first bid.
  5. If you want to make further revisions instead, click the Back button of your browser and redo the Edit your Listing page.

Correcting an eBay auction after you receive bids

If your listing is up and running and already receiving bids, you can still make some slight modifications to it. Newly added information is clearly separated from the original text and pictures. In addition, eBay puts a time stamp on the additional info in case questions from early bidders crop up later.
After your item receives bids, eBay allows you to add to your item’s description. If you feel you were at a loss for words in writing your item’s description, if you discover new information (that vase you thought was a reproduction is actually the real thing!), or if a lot of potential bidders are asking the same questions, make all the additions you want. But whatever you put there the first time around stays in the description as well.

Wednesday, March 16

New Regional USPS Flat Rate Priority Shipping: Low-Cost Solutions for Packages with a Short Trip

When you sell online, your shipping times are crucial. Priority Mail is a great option, but not always the most economical. Until now the Flat Rate boxes and envelopes have been limited in size and variety.

The USPS has issued four new flat rate box sizes (free from the USPS site) that are charged by distance (within limits, see rate chart below). There's no longer one rate for the entire country. You can pack as heavy a package as you wish, and still have it arrive quickly at your customer's door. There are also new free bubble padded 12 1/2" x 9 1/2" Flat Rate envelopes, as well as legal size.

You can only use these items if you are registered with the USPS as a Commercial Base Customer. This isn't as difficult as it sounds, not does it require you to ship many boxes every day. By using a service like Endicia (who has options for all the new boxes) you are automatically eleigible for these rates. (Here's a link to 60 days free Endicia service).

  • Regional Flat Rate Box A has a 15 pound weight limit
  • Regional Rate Box B has a 20 pound weight limit.

If the box exceeds the maximum weight for the box (either 15 lbs. or 20 lbs.), you will be charged the Priority Mail price, based on weight and zone.

There are two different shaped boxes, side loading and top loading for each of the two weighted categories. A total of four new boxes will be available.



Dimensions for Regional Rate Box A are as follows:

Side Loading – 13 1/16" x 11 1/16" x 2 ½"
Top Loading – 10 1/8" x 7 1/8" x 5"

Dimensions for Regional Rate Box B are as follows:

Side Loading – 16 1/4" x 14 1/2" x 3"
Top Loading – 12 1/4" x 10 1/2" x 5 1/2"

Box SizeZone 1
& 2
Zone 3Zone 4Zone 5Zone 6Zone 7Zone 8
A $4.97 $5.08 $5.58 $7.15 $7.83 $8.36 $9.37
B $5.81 $6.88 $8.06 $10.51 $12.29 $13.12 $14.62

Tuesday, March 15

For eBay Store Sellers: How to avoid upcoming eBay fees on shipping charges

There’s an interesting wrinkle in the change on eBay.com where fees will be charged on free shipping.
Lets suppose you offer a One-Day shipping service, a slower domestic service and International Shipping options. eBay’s change says that in this instance you’ll only ever be charged final value fees on the slower domestic shipping service.
Final Values Fees will be calculated on the shipping service paid by the buyer unless the buyer pays for a One-day or International shipping option. If a One-day service or International option is selected, the first domestic shipping service offered other than One-day will be used to calculate Final Value Fees. If there are no other domestic shipping services offered, fees will be calculated on One-day service or International service.
There are two important points here, firstly if you currently only offer a One-day shipping or International service you should consider adding an economy service to your shipping options. There’s no need to make it your first shipping option, let buyers downgrade if they really want to use a slower service. However just by offering it means that’s the service your shipping final value fees will be calculated on.
Secondly consider making your first domestic shipping service offered (other than your One-day shipping option) free. This will mean you’ll never be charged final value fees on your shipping costs as they’ll always be based on the free shipping option even if your buyers stick with the first option for One-day shipping or are based overseas.
New eBay policy: "Sellers subscribed to a Store: To reward free and low-cost shipping, Final value Fee rates will be reduced and applied to the total amount of sale—including shipping—starting July 6. As always, you get the same low Insertion Fees—as low as 3¢."

For non-store sellers: Starting July 6, Fixed Price Final Value Fee rates will be reduced and applied to the total amount of sale, including shipping.

Sunday, March 13

Charles Justiz' book "Specific Impulse" reading material on the International Space Station!

My dear friend, Dayna Steele's husband Charlie wrote an amazing space thriller. I enjoyed reading the gripping sci-fi thriller and it looks like it's an intergalactic hit! NASA astronaut, Cady Coleman needed a little reading material on her trip, so she brought the book with her. Dayna sent me the following photos, and they were too amazing not to share.

Astronaut Cady Coleman with Charlie's book on the International Space Station


NASA Shuttle Discovery in the background:

The earth outside the window:
Of all the authors I know, no one has had a book launch like this one!

Friday, March 11

How to Avoid Getting Fired for your Tweets. 2 Major Brands, 2 Egregious Snafus. Simple answer

I often advise: "don't tweet and drink." Posting on Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms while inebriated can lead to serious embarrasment. In many cases, it can lead to getting fired. As you know, tweets can be deleted, but once something is on the internet, it's there forever. Not only does Google archive tweets, but the National Archives logs every tweet, every day, into the Library of Congress archives.
In the past two months we've seen representitives for major brands tweeting on their own accounts, and accidentally tweeting their "playful" tweets from their employers accounts.
The F-bomb was dropped from the official @ChryslerAutos account on Wednesday. Presumably after a long commute an employee of Chrysler Group's social media agency posted the fullowing tweet:
The social media agency for Chrysler, New Media Strategies (NMS) quickly deleted the tweet, but not before it caught on and was reTweeted by the Twitter community.Chrysler apologized on Twitter and postsed a somewhat old school retraction on their blog.
Last month, the American Red Cross Twitter account had a similar situation:
Although the tweet was summarily deleted within the hour and tweeted an apology. They then followed up with a blog post with apologies and a screenshots of Twitter member's humorous responses. Seems the Red Cross is well equipped to handle even the most simple disasters as well. By some grace, this employee didn't loose her job.
Mistakes like these are only too easy to make. There is a simple solution to avoid this for social media professionals. Tweet your personal tweets from one platform (Seesmic? Tweetdeck?) and tweet your clients from another, more powerful platform. Simple. Be adept at your work and just do it!

Wednesday, March 9

Three Tips for Monitoring Your Business' Competitors on Social Media

Marketers the world over are using social media not only to connect with customers and prospects, but also to see how well their competition is doing. As the wired social world grows in sophistication, so do the means to monitor the conversation.

Sure, it's easier than ever to keep an eye on the competition, but exactly where does one begin, you ask? Here's some help.

Founder Bill Balderaz of Webbed Marketing has offered three sound tips for using social media to keep an eagle eye on your rivals:

Set up Tweetbeep. "If you can use Google Alerts, you can use Tweetbeep," Balderaz notes. Visit Tweetbeep.com to enter competitors' names; you'll get email alerts whenever someone tweets about them: "Competitors' clients will tweet about how well (or poorly) the latest pitch went, their employees will complain about working all night to get the new product into beta. A reporter will talk about using them for a source. Customers will talk about pricing." Twitter spy tool—check!

Get "LinkedIn." Q: What does LinkedIn know about a company? A: Who joined, who left, who got promoted, who's connected to whom. Visit linkedin.com/companies to see your company profile (and your competitors'). Great for recruiting competitive talent, identifying companies intimately connected to your competitors—or checking the veracity of rumors that Rival, Inc. is having a shakeup.

Go deeper with Manta. Manta profiles more than 63 million companies and specializes in hard-to-find information about small businesses and private firms. Use its free membership to track competitive data like annual revenue, key contacts, affiliates and number of employees. Premium financial reports can also be had for a fee.

The Po!nt: Stay in the know. Don't get caught off-guard by rivals that likely use tools to track your movements. Like any good spy, you can know them as well as they know you.

Looking for great social media marketing data? MarketingProfs reviewed hundreds of research sources to create our most recent Social Media Marketing Factbook (May 2010). With 140 pages and 102 charts, it is full of relevant social media marketing stats and trends. The Social Media Marketing Factbook is Part 5 of the complete Digital Marketing Factbook (our 296-page full report).


Monday, March 7

Google Social Search - Google Profiles Coming to Local Businesses

Google rarely overtly tips its hand on coming products, preferring to operate under the practice that it doesn't preannounce new software services, but if you read enough of its 30 or so product blog posts a week you can glean some stuff.

Take for example, this closing note in its Social Web blog post on how its new Google Profiles have been improved to be more user- and reader-friendly for people who search for users on the search engine:

While profiles work well for individuals, we'll continue to work on new ways for businesses to engage with their customers, so stay tuned for updates.
Google Profiles.png I asked Google if Product Manager Greg Marra was referring to increased socialization of Google Apps, which has long been alluded to by Google Enterprise executives and product managers, or whether he was describing a plan to offer local businesses, such as those who are part of Google's Places program, their own Google Profiles (pictured at right).

A Google spokesperson told me: "More for businesses that want to set up profile pages. Stay tuned, we're working on more features for profiles over time."

Profile pages allow users to post biographical information, interests and other info to the Website, making it accessible to people to looking for people.

Profiles for businesses would be exciting because they would mark another step in the evolution of Google's local search strategy. It's also obviously a move against Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts.

Consider that Google Profiles are the search engine's attempt to tie users to some sort of social graph, where users are connected by Gmail, Google Talk, Google Reader, YouTube and other Web services.

Google tried to add some glue, that is, to productize Profiles with Google Buzz last year. While Buzz has tens of millions of users, it's not as if people spend the same amount of time on it as if they would on Facebook. As a social conversation service, Buzz works; as a social network, Buzz is limited.

But by opening Google Profiles to local businesses, the companies will by default constitute a sort of social hub for local businesses that can extend Google's bid to connect stores with consumers.

At the least, it will make these businesses easily searchable on Google.com, providing another outlet for local businesses, along with Google Places, Hotpot, Google Boost, Google Tags and the nascent Google Offers local deals service.

Google Profiles could be the nut that holds all of these local spokes together. At the least, it would give Google another weapon in the race versus Groupon, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft, among others.

Of course, if Google Profiles gains traction among local businesses, and consumers start to look to Google as another Yellow Pages, it may entice consumers to sign up for Google Profiles.

That would be the best case scenario for Google trying to organically build a social network: by luring as many as the 1 billion searchers it has as possible to create and actively use a profile.

Then maybe we'll finally have to dispense with the "Google doesn't get social" label.

Friday, March 4

Quick Tips for Creating a Great Description for Your Online Store or eBay Item

Writing a good description of the items you sell online can mean the difference between success and failure. There are many ways you can improve your description, by using the right tone, knowing how much information to include, and making your text easy to read.
A concise description of a silver dollar for sale.
You can write a magnificent description, by using this list of suggestions:
  • Write a factual description. Carefully describe the item, stating every fact you know about it. Avoid the use of jargon, and answer almost any question a potential buyer might ask.
  • Accentuate the positive. Be enthusiastic when you list all the reasons everyone should bid on the item. Unlike the title, the description can take up as much space as you want. Even if you use a photo, be precise in your description — tell the reader, for example, the item’s size, color, and fabric.
  • Include the negative. Don’t hide the truth of your item’s condition. Trying to conceal flaws costs you in the long run: You’ll get tagged with bad feedback. You also don’t want the buyer to send back your merchandise because you weren’t truthful about imperfections or modifications. This type of omission can lead to a fraud investigation.
  • Include some friendly banter. You want to make the customer feel comfortable shopping with you. Don’t be afraid to let your personality show! Think Infomercial!
  • Limit the number of auction rules (or terms of sale). Some sellers include a list of rules that’s longer than the item’s description. Nothing turns off a prospective buyer like paragraph after paragraph of rules and regulations.
  • Choose a reasonable typeface size. Many users are still looking at eBay on an 800 x 600 display. If you design your auctions at 1024 x 768, your typefaces may be way too large for the average user. Forcing a user to scroll leads to frustrated customers.
  • Quote a shipping amount. Many bidders pass up auctions that don’t disclose the shipping charges. Use eBay’s shipping calculator to give your customers a fair shake at the shipping costs.
  • Keep photos to a practical size. Many users still connect with a slow Internet connection, and if they have to wait more than a few seconds for your large pictures to load, they may go elsewhere for the item.
  • Be precise about all the logistical details of the post-sale. Figure out the costs of shipping the item and add those charges to your description. If you charge extra for shipping insurance in your online store, mention it as well.
  • Promote yourself, too. As you accumulate positive feedback, tell potential buyers about your terrific track record. Add statements like “I’m great to deal with. Check out my feedback.”
  • Be concise and to the point — don’t ramble! Too many people online these days drone on and on, causing prospective customers to have to scroll down the page several times.

Wednesday, March 2

20 Years of Publishing Magic. For Dummies: Technology for the Rest of Us

When people mention the For Dummies series, one hears a lot like: "I'm not a Dummy!" But just as Dr. Ruth Westheimer was won over to be a Dummies author, millions of people worldwide love the series of plain talking, humorous books. There's no better way to learn a topic than from a For Dummies book. Did you know that you could set 5,700 stacks of Dummies titles next to the world's tallest building in Dubai. (The stack of my books alone is over 5 feet)!

It's been an honor to write for the For Dummies series for over 14 years. eBay For Dummies started my career. My latest social media book in the series, Facebook and Twitter For Seniors is selling to a whole new market. 35 books later, and over a million of my books sold... I still look forward to writing my next one.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary, buy any “For Dummies” book between March 1 – 31, 2011 and receive a five dollar rebate with this mail-in rebate.


Tuesday, March 1

How to Automatically Snipe Auctions, Bid and WIN on Multiple eBay Items

If you're serious about winning an eBay auction, you can use a Web site such as BidRobot to automate the sniping process. That's what I do! They will bid for you whether you’re near a computer or sleeping peacefully.

Easily place snipes in advance by using the BidRobot Web site.
Easily place snipes in advance by using the BidRobot Web site.

BidRobot deftly places sniping bids for you from its servers. The service is one of the least expensive out there, charging a low flat rate. They also offer a three-week free trial (all you can snipe for three weeks!).

They also have a BidGroup feature to use if you’re bound and determined to get the lowest price for an item. This is accomplished by planning a bidding schedule at a set price. The bidding continues until you win your item (or not). Here’s how it works.

  1. Search for your item.

    Search for your specific item on eBay. You may find a large number of eBay auctions that offer your item.

  2. Select the auctions you’d like to bid on.

    Review the listings (checking the seller’s feedback, description and select up to six different listings.

  3. Create your first snipe.

    Type your first snipe bid in the pale yellow Bid section at the very top of the BidRobot bid screen. Click also to indicate that you want to create a group of bids with the other five auctions.

  4. Group the other auctions.

    To bid on other sellers’ auctions, scroll down until you find the Pending BidGroup that contains your first item bid. Then use the form in that BidGroup area to add more snipe bids for other auctions in that specific BidGroup. You may add bids for as many additional auctions to this group as you like.

  5. Winning.

    If you win any one of the auctions in your BidGroup, the remaining bids in that specific group will not be placed. This is automatic.