How to not irritate an Amazon FBA Seller

By Kate Hornsby | January 27, 2015


When I visit some of my Facebook groups for online sellers, I find that most of the sellers who are asking questions are polite and seem sincerely thankful when someone responds to them.

Unfortunately, the etiquette for asking questions when visiting a seller group online isn’t always clear or in some cases the “rules” are ignored. So, today let’s look at the best way to ask for this type of advice.

Look to see if someone has already answered the question before you post. New sellers always ask the same questions. How much profit should I get when I sell something? Where do I find products (we’ll get to that one in a minute) to sell? How do the fees work?

Before you ask the same question, which you will immediately know that you did because someone will get snarky and tell you or point you to the file section where the information is already sitting there waiting for you, scan down a bit and make sure the question wasn’t already asked. Also look up at the top or over to the left (depending on whether you are on Facebook or a Yahoo group, etc.) and see if there are files to look through.

Do your own product research. We all run across items that we don’t know what they are or whether they are worth listing. In those cases, it is perfectly acceptable to ask if anyone knows what it is. Before you do, however, do at least make a half-hearted attempt to figure it out for yourself.

Google what you think the item is, or if you’re looking for possible value, check on Amazon or eBay for the most current prices. While sellers will somewhat overlook this if you’re new, if you seem to be trying to get them to do all the research for you — they will quickly catch on to your game.

A little thank you goes a long way. If someone goes to a lot of trouble to help you identify something or research prices, etc., the least you can do is thank them for the help. It never ceases to amaze me how many people will ask for help and then when you provide it, they never come back to tell you how much they appreciate it.

A good rule of thumb is to always thank the person if they give you an answer, even if it’s not the correct answer you’re looking for. If not, I and a lot of other people will just pass your future questions right on by.

Find your own items. Another mistake that newbies make is to ask sellers where they find their products. While most sellers will give you a generic answer, pushing for the exact place that the seller purchases their items will not only irritate the seller, but in some cases make them mad.

Think of it like giving away trade secrets. If you find a super hot product that is flying off the shelves, do you want to tell everyone else where you found it? Although some sellers are a little too guarded about their inventory, if you simply ask where the best place is to get started (and then thank them for the help), they will usually point you at least in a general direction.

photo by:

Topics: Amazon FBA | No Comments »

That Kat Radio – Podcast 3 – January 20, 2015: Mark Faggiano – TaxJar

By That Kat | January 25, 2015

In this episode, Kat spoke with Mark Faggiano.



Mark Faggiano is the founder and CEO of TaxJar.  TaxJar is a service that automates sales tax compliance for multi-channel eCommerce sellers. Mark’s passion is solving complex problems for small businesses. He is on a mission to make sales tax simple for online sellers.  He previously co-founded and led FileLater to become the web’s leading tax extension service for both businesses and individual taxpayers before being acquired in 2010.


Questions that were asked and answered were:

  1. What exactly is Sales Tax?
  2. Do all eCommerce Sellers need to collect Sales Tax?
  3. Why is it so complicated for FBA sellers?


Questions that were asked and answered were:

  1. What do you say to those who tell you that they won’t collect sales tax and are not afraid of the consequences?
  2. What’s so unusual about the month of January for FBA Sellers?
  3. How do the states decide when you have to file


Questions that were asked and answered were:

  1. What is the Marketplace Fairness Act?
  2. Is it still alive?
  3. What are the chances online sellers will eventually have to collect sales tax?
  4. Where does eBay stand and what are they doing?
  5. Where does Amazon stand and what are they doing?
  6. What can we as online sellers do?


Questions that were asked and answered were:

  1. What is TaxJar?
  2. Is Taxjar for all eCommerce sellers or just FBA sellers?
  3. How does Taxjar help us?
  4. How much does Taxjar cost and are there any discounts?
  5. How do we learn more about Taxjar and find out if it is for us?

Links from the show:

Google+: ; use “THATKAT” to get 10% on your auction


You can follow Kat on TWITTERFacebookGoogle+ and Instagram. Read the blog on

Purchase one of Kat’s books on Amazon. Kat’s Sales Tax Book or Ultimate Guide to Savings by Store.

Join her Facebook Group to be notified of upcoming shows.

Topics: Podcast Notes, Sales Tax | No Comments »

That Kat Radio – Podcast 2- January 13, 2015: Tim Chapman – “Home Runs”

By That Kat | January 24, 2015

In this episode, Kat spoke with Tim Chapman.



Tim Chapman has been a full time eBay seller of 13 years with username Mr.customerservice. He buys and sells almost anything as long as it is not offensive. and he LOVES to hunt for treasures. Tim talks about where he finds his inventory, finding home runs and the difference between those and bread & butter Items. This month Tim’s Home Runs included: Portable Spectrum Analyzer, Classic Ham Transceiver, Digital SLR Camera, Stainless Chateau Oneidacraft Flatware piece, 8 pcs Golf Set, 1st Edition Gun Book, Camcorder Transfer Player, Microcassette Recorder, Left Knee Hinged Brace, Rear Mtb Wheel hub Mountain bike, Vintage Disneyland main gate entry ticket and Canon camera lens.


Questions that were asked and answered were:

  1. How you got started on eBay.
  2. How eBay has changed over the years and how you have adapted.
  3. The Recent news aboutebay:
    • Global Shipping Program update with security in 34 countries.
    • Requirements to put in measurements for  GSP.
    • New “out of stock” option for listings.
    • Free pictures on Vehicle listings
    • Discounts for Store owners (Sprint, LegalZoom, eBay Wholesale)
    • Printing labels from mobile devices.


Tim talked about his home runs:

  1. What is this? –
  2. Where do you find these things? –
  3. How do you ship these? –


Tim talked about his home runs:

  1. How do you identify first editions? –
  2. Are all these sellable? –
  3. Nice find – love old/new stock – let’s talk about these? –


Tim talked about his home runs:

  1. Do you part out a lot of bikes? –
  2. This was cool.  What is its story? –
  3. Another camera lens, do yo find these often? –

Links from the show: ; use “THATKAT” to get 10% on your auction



You can follow Kat on TWITTERFacebookGoogle+ and Instagram. Read the blog on

Purchase one of Kat’s books on Amazon. Kat’s Sales Tax Book or Ultimate Guide to Savings by Store.

Join her Facebook Group to be notified of upcoming shows.

Topics: Podcast Notes, ThatKat | No Comments »

4th Quarter Blues: Is EBay Circling the Drain?

By Kate Hornsby | January 23, 2015


EBay reported its 4th quarter earnings this week on Wednesday and the news wasn’t good. Nope, it wasn’t good at all. According to Fortune, While eBay’s revenue number was up ($4.9 billion over $4.5 billion from last year), they also posted a loss of $41 million and note that this was after they had an increase of $2.9 billion in profits in 2013.

The most dismal part of the report, however, was that eBay is now going to layoff some 2400 workers. That’s approximately 7-percent of its workforce. This all comes ahead of the PayPal spinoff, which actually has been a huge part of eBay’s profits and reportedly generated about $2.2 billion in revenue. In addition to all of this, John Donahoe has also announced that there will be further splits for the company as now eBay Enterprise is going up on the proverbial chopping block too.

Interestingly, the plan now for eBay is to take a step back and take another look at eBay’s 2009 strategy, which was to focus on buyers who were shopping for lower prices and good deals on the website. (which ironically is what eBay sellers have been wanting the company to do all along…just saying.)

The big question, of course, is where does this leave the eBay seller? It’s really hard to say. The Internet rumors have it that the big breakup of eBay is making them ripe for the picking by Alibaba which is currently China’s biggest online commerce company, and soon to be the biggest e-commerce marketplace in the world. The rumor probably isn’t much of a stretch either, since the profits that eBay has been making are leaving with PayPal when the big split occurs. This means eBay is going to have to do something really fast if they want to bring in some working capital.

Regardless of which way the wind blows on this, it really all goes back to what you need to do now as an eBay seller. If you still have all of your eggs in eBay’s basket –- wake-up because it’s past time to start diversifying. Set up your own website, give Amazon a try, look into some other marketplace options that are out there. If you study it, you’ll see all the signs are there. It’s just a matter of time before things start to play out and whichever way it goes you should probably expect rough seas ahead.

photo by:

Topics: eBay | No Comments »

How to turn your old clothes into cold-hard cash

By Kate Hornsby | January 21, 2015

Beginning to work on Modavia Fashion directory graphic layout.

Is your closet overflowing and yet you have nothing to wear? If so, it might be time to turn those gently worn clothing items into some cold-hard cash. While listing on Amazon and Ebay are probably still the best two ways to bring in the most cash, it may surprise you to learn that there are now several mobile apps that allow you to sell your clothing items right from your smartphone.

Here are two that have caught my attention, although in the spirit of a full disclaimer, I have not yet tried selling on either of these sites…yet.


As the name might suggest, Poshmark is what you might call a “virtual” boutique. Brand names sold on the App are upscale with names, such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Jeffrey Campbell. They list themselves as a “fun and easy way to buy and sell fashion.” While I have read in a few reviews that you have to be careful buying through the website due to scammers and people not shipping items, when it comes to the selling side of things, Poshmark seems to make it incredibly easy.

After downloading the App on your iPhone or Android device, you simply take a photo of whatever the clothing item is that you are wanting to sell and then use their unique filter system to create a photo that has a magazine-like look to it. They call this a “Covershot.” You can then promote your item by attending a virtual Posh Party based on themes like handbags or cocktail dresses. They also use the “share and follow” system which is somewhat similar to eBay’s Collections.

Perhaps the thing I like best about Poshmark is that they take the hassle out of shipping. Once your item sells, they send you a pre-addressed and stamped package. All you have to do is put the item you sold in it and run it to the post office (or have the post office come to you!).

The only downside I’ve seen to this App is that Poshmark wants 20-percent from each sale. This does cover the postage and the return shipping (if needed), however, so if you just want the clothing gone, this might be a good way to do it and make some cash.


If Twice were a bird, it would be a bird of a different color, since the premise behind the App is a lot more like Ebay Valet than EBay itself. As you may recall, Ebay started a program a while back where you can send your items to them and then they determine a value and make you an offer. If you accept the offer, you get paid. If you don’t…well, with Twice it will cost you $5.00 in shipping to get your items sent back.

There are some good things and some bad things about Twice. Let’s get the bad part out of the way first. The amount they offer is low. I mean really low, as in about an 80-percent markdown from what the original retail price was. Twice also doesn’t accept some name brands, so no Old Navy or Forever 21.

The good news is that there are a lot of brand names they do take, including certain labels from Kohl’s and even Land’s End (one of my favorite places!). They also allow you to either print a shipping label through them or they will send you a box to ship your items in. Once they receive the items, you will generally hear from them with an offer in about three days. While I don’t necessarily recommend this App for trying to make a lot of money, it may be a good place to get rid of some of those items that have disappeared into the back of your closet, but are quite suited for bigger profits on eBay or Amazon.

Have you used Twice, Poshmark or another App to sell your old clothes for cold-hard cash? Leave a comment below.

photo by:

Topics: Online Business | No Comments »

Sales Tax Compliance in 5 Simple Steps

By That Kat | January 20, 2015

By Mark FaggianosNaOzEv

Read  More:  Sales Tax Compliance in 5 Simple Steps

Topics: Guest Posts, Infographic | No Comments »

Improve your business and improve your life

By Kate Hornsby | January 17, 2015

black & white Glasses & Book - exhausting read

If you’re like a lot of online sellers, you sometimes have trouble thinking of yourself as a small business owner. After all, a lot of friends and maybe even your family members don’t even think of what you do as having a real job.

Is it perhaps our fault that others don’t take us seriously? Afterall, it’s often hard to get out of that hobby mindset and into one of being a small business owner, even though that’s exactly what online sellers are. If you’re struggling with this way of thinking, never fear. Here are some steps that will not only improve your business, but also improve your life.

Invest in learning something new each month.

As your online business’s chief employee, you are central to the success of your business. If you procrastinate, you slow down your business’s progress. If you don’t provide excellent customer service, your business receives negative feedback. Most importantly, however, if you don’t continue to improve both personally and professionally, your business will remain average (if you remain in business at all). I don’t know about you, but that’s not what dreams are suppose to be made of.

So how do we overcome being average? By investing time to develop our skills. This could be by reading a book on business or taking a course on online selling. Many established sellers now even have tutorials on YouTube that sellers can watch that will not only help take your business to the next level, but also provide sellers with tips on social media and email marketing.

Track and understand your business’s finances

I confess, I always start with good intentions about tracking my business finances and by mid-March, I’m back to relying on PayPal to tell me how I’m doing each month. (If there is money in the account – must be doing okay…if there is no money in the account…Oh, oh!)

Seriously though, if you don’t have some kind of bookkeeping in place, you’ll never know how your online business is really doing. Invest in a bookkeeping program to help you keep up with everything and then make a point to balance your checkbook each week and reconcile your accounts every month.

Create a work-life balance

I’ve been a small business owner for over 15 years and if there is anything I have learned it’s that all work and no play makes Kate a very grumpy girl. It may not always be possible, but most weeks you should strive to have a consistent schedule and when it’s time to close up shop, shut down that computer and get away from the desk.

I’ve also found that getting away from the computer and taking some “me-time” at lunch helps to re-energize me for the rest of the day. Read a book, go for a walk or escape by watching a television show. Whatever you choose to do, just make it a work-free zone for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

photo by:

Topics: Motivation | No Comments »

The Reform Small Business Really Needs: A Memo To The New Congress [Part 2 Of 2]

By That Kat | January 16, 2015

By Cliff Ennico

Here are more legislative reforms the new Congress should consider to promote entrepreneurship and business development in America:

Allow Tax Credits for Job-Changing Education. One of the stranger dichotomies in tax law has to docliff with your ability to deduct continuing education classes. Under current law, you can deduct classes that improve your ability to practice your profession or perform your job, but classes designed to help you change jobs or switch careers are not deductible . . . at all.

In a world where millions of Baby Boom geezers have been left out to dry by the job market, having been trained in skills that are no longer necessary or marketable because of technological advances, this dichotomy no longer makes sense, and should be abolished. Continuing education at all stages of life – regardless of its purpose – should always be deductible.

If a sixty year old wants to learn computer coding in order to stay relevant in his industry, paying thousands of dollars out of his own pocket to a “coding academy”, why the Devil should he not be able to deduct that expense?

Better yet – make the cost of such classes a credit, reducing the student’s taxes dollar for dollar.

Create a Simplified Sales Tax System for Interstate Sales. Our system of sales taxes in America harks back to the days when virtually all sales were local. You went to a store, bought something, and paid cash at the register. There were no “mail order” companies, and certainly no online merchants.

Under current law, interstate sales – where the buyer and seller live in different states – are not subject to sales taxes. Anywhere. The buyer is supposed to pay a “use tax” on items bought for personal consumption from out of state vendors, but guess what? Nobody pays it, and the states don’t enforce it.

Since virtually all Internet sales are interstate or international, this means that states lose billions of dollars in sales tax revenue, and “brick and mortar” merchants are placed at an unfair advantage (because they have to pay taxes on all sales made at their registers, without exception).

A lot of people are unhappy about that, and frankly, Internet sales should be subject to some sort of tax, so that states are not compelled to make up for lost sales tax revenue by raising people’s property or income taxes.

Unfortunately, Congress’ proposed solutions to this problem to date (such as the recently-failed Marketplace Fairness Act) would have required vendors to collect sales taxes based on the rules in effect where their buyers are located. While many large Internet merchants (such as probably could survive in such a sales tax environment, asking hundreds of thousands of Mom-and-Pop Internet vendors to keep track of the more than 7,500 sales tax jurisdictions in the United States alone would put them out of business, and stifle the fast-growing peer-to-peer e-commerce marketplace that has made eBay, and Amazon possible.

A much better solution, and much fairer to small businesses, would be to require Internet vendors to pay sales taxes on their transactions based on the sales tax rates, exemptions and other rules that apply where the VENDOR is located. That way small businesses would have to keep track of only one set of rules, and answer to only one regulator – one they are already (hopefully) familiar with.

Such a rule would also force state and local governments to compete for Internet merchant business by offering lower tax rates, more generous exemptions, and so forth.

Allow Early-Stage Companies to Raise Capital on the Internet. It is simply too difficult for startup companies to raise capital in the United States. Most founding entrepreneurs do not have personal relationships with the wealthy individuals and professional “accredited” investors who are currently the only people allowed to invest legally in startups. It is time to allow these companies to raise capital – legally – from strangers through Internet crowdfunding.

In October 2013 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed regulations – as required under the federal Jumpstart Our Business Startups (J.O.B.S.) Act of 2012 – that would allow startup companies to offer their stock, bonds and other securities to investors through crowdfunding websites (such as and that register as “portals” with the SEC. Comments on the proposed regulations were extremely light, but as this column is being written (January 2015) the SEC has not taken action to approve the final regulations.

The SEC should make it a top priority for 2015 to finalize these regulations and make “equity crowdfunding” a reality in the United States. It will take at least a year for crowdfunding websites to register as “portals” and set up their operations, and for startup entrepreneurs to become familiar with the crowdfunding process and produce disclosure documents that comply with the new regulations. Each month that passes dooms many startup companies to cash-flow collapse and ignominious failure. Let’s get this done.

Cliff Ennico, a leading expert on small business law and taxes, is the author of “Small Business Survival Guide,” “The eBay Seller’s Tax and Legal Answer Book” and 15 other books.

Topics: Cliff Ennico | No Comments »

The Reform Small Business Really Needs: A Memo To The New Congress [Part 1 Of 2]

By That Kat | January 15, 2015

By Cliff Ennico

cliffAs the new 114th Congress slouches its way towards Washington this week, America’s small businesses and their owners may well be wondering: is this a good thing or a bad thing?

While nobody knows for sure, I personally believe there is a chance for some real reform in the new Congress, for two reasons:

One of the surest ways for both the G.O.P. Congress and the President to achieve their respective goals is to pass laws making it easier for America’s small businesses and early-stage companies to survive, prosper and grow. There’s a growing consensus that America’s economic future depends on its entrepreneurs, small businesses and self-employed professionals. It’s time for Government not only to get out of the way of new companies, technologies, workstyles and business models, but to get behind them and start pushing.

Starting with taxes.

There is already talk in Washington about a major tax reform bill in 2015, one that would, among other things, reduce corporate income tax rates and make permanent lots of tax benefits that currently have to be renewed from year to year.

But such “fine tuning” is not nearly enough. What is needed is an entirely new tax code designed to promote entrepreneurship and small business development as a fundamental policy objective. Here is my “wish list” for such a code.

Eliminate Taxes for “Qualifying Small Businesses.” First, Congress should create a new class of “Qualifying Small Business,” defined as any for-profit business, regardless of how it is legally organized or how long it has been in business, that:

Then, Congress should exempt “Qualifying Small Businesses” from all federal income, employment and Medicare taxes. That’s right. Make them exempt from taxes, at least at the federal level (states would be free to tax QSBs, but many will choose not to do so in the hopes of generating in-state business development and attracting businesses from other states). Each year QSBs would file “information returns” with the IRS showing they continue to qualify for tax-exempt QSB status (similar to the “postcard” annual reports filed by small nonprofit organizations).

Yes, there will be a negative impact on federal revenues at first, but it won’t be as serious as many think. Most QSBs make little money, especially during their first few years, and those that are profitable jump through hoops trying to “zero out” their earnings each year to minimize their tax burden. With tax-free status, that would no longer be necessary, and QSBs would be free to hire more people, invest in plant and equipment, and make more aggressive/creative business decisions without the need to factor in tax consequences. Rather than creating roadblocks to entrepreneurial startups and companies, the Government would become their incubator.

Eliminate the “Employee vs. Independent Contractor” Distinction. It is virtually impossible for most small businesses to distinguish between employees and independent contractors using the IRS’ vague and confusing “20 Factor” test. As a result, they face a no-win choice between:

QSBs should be allowed to “elect” to treat their workers either as employees or independent contractors, in much the same way small businesses can currently “elect” to be taxed as a corporation, partnership, or LLC. New businesses could make the election when applying for a federal tax ID number (EIN) on IRS Form SS-4, while existing businesses could make the election using a form similar to current IRS Form 8832.

QSBs electing to treat their workers as “independent contractors” would continue to file Form 1099 for each worker in January of each year, with a penalty for failing to do so, and workers so treated would be required to pay self-employment income on their earnings.

Would it be too much to ask also for a reduced self-employment tax rate for QSB contractors? Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

More next week . . .

Cliff Ennico, a leading expert on small business law and taxes, is the author of “Small Business Survival Guide,” “The eBay Seller’s Tax and Legal Answer Book” and 15 other books.

Topics: Cliff Ennico | No Comments »

Midwest e-Com 2015 – 2nd Annual Conference

By That Kat | January 14, 2015

Bloomington, MN — Friday, July 24 and Saturday, July 25, 2015: Join us for our second annual Midwest e-Com Conference at the Ramada Mall of America Hotel – Minneapolis, MN. . It’s a two-day, fully catered event packed with tips and tools on e-Commerce for only $199.99 a person. (to save $50 for a limited time, use TL50OFF). Two-day sessions are from 9am to 4pm, includes fully catered lunch and networking fun and happy hours afterwards. Tickets are on sale now at our website:

If you are a current online seller on eBay and Amazon or always wanted to start your own business, this is the place to be. Two days of dynamic sessions featuring well-known professionals in the field; sharing tips, tools and techniques for running a successful e-Commerce business. Topics to include selling and sourcing inventory on eBay and Amazon; Thrifting for profit and using tools like PayPal and Inventory Lab. Learn about FBA selling on Amazon and the new Sales tax rules all sellers are talking about. More information and detailed sessions and speaker profiles at:

The Ramada MOA Hotel is offering discounted rooms, Free WiFi and complimentary Shuttle to and from the airport and the Mall Of America.

Thank you to our sponsors: NeatOScan, Etail, BubbleFast, Kioui-Apps, and Bid On Fusion. Please contact us if you would like your company to become a part of Midwest e-Com 2015.

For more information on the conference, hotel, sponsorships, to purchase tickets and press:

Travis Barritt


Topics: eCommerce Events, Press Releases | No Comments »

« Previous Entries