It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…Say What?

Christmas-Stockings-Peace.jpg
If you’re like most people, June 25th probably came and went last week without you thinking even one single time about Christmas. No surprise there. With the sun shining and much of the country seeing temperatures in the 90s and even the 100s, how can one possibly think about a holiday in December when it’s not even the 4th of July yet?

But…wait.

Did you realize that June 25th was exactly six months to the day before Santa comes down the chimney? Yep, that’s right. Before you know it, the halls will be decked and buyers will be making those lists and checking them twice.

While you might think that you have plenty of time, keep in mind that the holiday season is considered the busiest time of the year for store owners, both those in brick and mortar stores as well as those who sell online. In fact, the National Retail Federation reports that the holidays, or rather, that period in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, actually accounts for around 20 to 40 percent of a seller’s total annual sales. This means that period of time is more lucrative than all the other gift giving holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day combined.

While you’ve still got a “little” time to get ready, it doesn’t hurt to go ahead and do a little pre-holiday planning, even if you’d rather be sitting in the shade drinking an ice cold lemonade.

First, think about the type of items that you want to sell. During the holidays people will be buying gifts for family members, co-workers, friends and neighbors. If you sell clothes, it’s not too early to start scouting for Christmas sweaters and as an added bonus, you’ll probably get them for rock bottom prices. Also, start watching for Christmas decorations. Not only are they likely to be overlooked in thrift stores and yard sales right now, but by the end of July you might actually start seeing a few of them sneaking into department stores. Last year, I actually took a picture of a Christmas tree that had been set up for display at the end of August! No joke!

Second, you may not be able to tell what the super-hot items for Christmas are right now, but take a look at Amazon’s Best Seller list and you can see what people are snatching up right now. As an example, those “Go Pro” cameras are doing well and since the company already has commercials running, you can bet that there are going to be quite a few people who decide that they would like to give one for a gift or ask for one to show up under the Christmas tree.

Finally, if you have a lot of listings, now is the time to clean them up a bit, maybe update the photos and rework the titles. If they are Christmas items, you may even want to start playing up those key words, so buyers will head straight for your store when those Black Friday sales kick off.

Ho ho ho. Are you already preparing for the holiday season? Leave a comment below.

Etsy policy change bans metaphysical items

Crystal Ball
Until a few weeks ago, Etsy was the place to go if you were looking to buy or sell handcrafted goods of the metaphysical variety, such as candles, tarot cards, crystals and poppets. A recent update to Etsy’s policy, however, has put some metaphysical store sellers up in arms. The policy change bans the sales of these types of items, even going so far as to suspend store owners who had the items listed in their store before the ban went into place.

Although the selling of services on Etsy has never been allowed, until now there was a slight gray area that allowed spells to be sold as long as the seller provided proof that the spell had been cast and, more importantly, that the seller didn’t make a firm promise that the spell would bring about the desired effect. Unfortunately, those days are no more.

Interestingly, Etsy didn’t actually provide a date when it issued its new guidelines, one day the update to the policy wasn’t there and the next day it was. Prior to that, Etsy was simply contacting sellers to give them a warning that they would delete the listing or suspend their store unless the sellers included something in the listing that was tangible.

Etsy isn’t the first one to put this type of policy into place. EBay did it several years ago, which is why so many of the metaphysical community where so happy to move to Etsy and call it their new home. Now, as sellers ponder this turn of events, there are a few theories floating around that speculate why Etsy would make this change.

One theory has to do with the fact that Etsy went public back in April and wants to make sure it has a squeaky clean image. There does seem to be some credibility to this particular theory since those that sell the metaphysical items are quick to point out that other types of items, such as Saint Anthony medals continue to be sold without an issue. They point out that there really is no difference between a spell and a prayer, only the religious aspect seems to be different.

Regardless of the reason for the ban, it appears that for now if you want to sell these types of items, you will have to look elsewhere. Do you sell metaphysical items? Leave a comment below.

EBay, Amazon, Etsy join movement to stop selling Confederate battle flag

Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument -- Libby Hill Park Richmond (VA) June 2012

Although not everyone may agree with the decision, the deadly shooting of nine people at a South Carolina black church last week has led to a growing movement to remove the Confederate battle flag from public displays. Yesterday, this movement gained even more momentum and found some new ground after WalMart announced that their 11,000 stores will no longer carry any products that bear the Confederate battle flag.

Today, other retail stores, such as Sears also stated they would join the movement and no longer carry the products. Both Amazon and eBay soon followed suit. Johanna Hoff, a spokesperson for eBay stated that the company believes the Confederate battle flag has become a symbol for divisiveness and racism, so it will no longer be available for sale on the website. Amazon and Etsy also confirmed that they were taking down Confederate battle flag listings too and announced sellers can no longer list them on the company’s websites.

This means that the Confederate battle flag now joins other types of merchandise that both Amazon and eBay ban. As an example, the Nazi Swastika is a banned item as well as other types of Nazi propaganda memorabilia.

Interestingly, while many associate the Confederate battle flag with racist groups like the skin-heads and particularly, the Klu Klux Klan (KKK), the flag was initially created simply as a way for the Confederate Army to discern itself from the Union Army and make their own soldiers more recognizable. Prior to it’s creation, the first National flag and the Union flag were quite similar and this caused confusion for leaders in the commanding of their armies during maneuvers.

Since many people from the south, or rather, those living below the Mason-Dixon line have distinguished ancestors that fought in the Confederacy and and gave their lives during the Civil War, the symbol has a different meaning to them and has been a popular collector’s item for those who want to honor their Southern heritage.

How this move by retailers will affect the collector’s market is anyone’s guess. With less places offering the Confederate battle flag for sale, prices could very well go through the roof. For Amazon, eBay or Etsy sellers who are interested in selling or continuing to sell Confederate battle flag memorabilia, however, they will now have to look elsewhere for venues that will let them.

Cliff Ennico’s Report from the 2015 eBay Radio Party and Conference

Ciff Ennico HeadshotLast week over 200 top-level eBay sellers attended the 12th annual eBay Radio Party and Conference in Las Vegas. This event, sponsored by the eBay Radio podcast (www.voicemarketingradio.com), has become the must-attend national “meetup” for people who sell on eBay.

I always look forward to this event each year (my talk this year was on “Social Media Marketing and the Law”), as I get to catch up with the latest developments and resources for eBay sellers.

The big item of discussion at this year’s conference was eBay Seller Release 15.1 (http://pages.ebay.com/sellerinformation/news/springupdate2015/index.html), warning that unique product identifiers – such as Universal Product Codes (UPCs) and Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) – must be included in new listings of branded items in “new” and “manufacturer refurbished” condition within many categories starting June 29, 2015. Sellers of antique, collectible and one-of-a-kind goods will not be affected by this change.

Up to now, sellers have not be required to include product identifiers in their listings, but only suitable “keywords” to help buyers find the products they want. As pointed out by eBay spokesperson Jim “Griff” Griffith, the host of eBay Radio, while this makes life easier for newbie and inexperienced sellers who may not be familiar with product identifiers and how they work, the process is often frustrating for buyers. Someone searching for a particular Versace® product (for example) will see lots of unrelated and irrelevant items in the eBay search engine results. Requiring product identifiers in all listings will, in eBay’s view, lead to more accurate search engine results and a better buying experience.

The new rules will, however, pose a challenge to new or inexperienced sellers who will have to add product identifiers to their “learning curve” when learning to sell on eBay. Release 15.1 does not say what resources (if any) eBay will make available to sellers to help them identify the correct product identifiers for their merchandise.

The new rules will also (although this is not stated anywhere in the eBay release) make it a lot easier for eBay to identify sellers practicing “retail arbitrage” – buying branded or trademarked goods at retail stores and then reselling them at higher prices on eBay without permission or authorization from the product manufacturers – and shutting down their listings if the manufacturers complain about the practice.

Here are some other new things I learned about at the conference:

Many eBay sellers are fans of the cable TV reality show “Thrifting With the Boys” (www.thrifting-with-the-boys.com), which teaches folks how to identify best-selling secondhand merchandise at local thrift stores, bargain shops and other venues. The bad news is that the show has not been renewed for another season (although I suspect it will continue on YouTube® and other online venues). The good news is that co-host Bryan Goodman has written and self-published one of the best – and hands down the funniest — book on negotiating I have ever read that I have not myself written. The title is “Everything is Negotiable”, and it’s available wherever books are sold (even, maybe, on eBay).

So, you found an interesting collectible item at a local thrift shop, garage sale or flea market and have absolutely no idea what it is, much less what it’s worth? WorthPoint Corporation (www.worthpoint.com) has created “Worthopedia” – “the largest online database of antiques, collectibles and other one-of-a-kind items in the antiques business” — featuring full access to “sold for” prices dating back eight (8) years and unlimited access to millions of sale recods with item details and images.

eBay auction expert Lynn Dralle (www.thequeenofauctions.com) offers these tips (among others) to new sellers:

  • you should make at least 10 times your purchase price when selling on eBay;
  • list at least 50 to 100 new items at auction each week;
  • always auction first before selling at a fixed price (otherwise you’re leaving money on the table);
  • when selling fixed-priced items in your eBay Store, price “super high”;
  • use eBay’s “Markdown Manager” feature consistently so you will not be grossly overpricing the market; and
  • always use eBay’s “Best Offer” feature on every item in your store.

Marsha Collier, author of the best-selling “eBay for Dummies” series of books (www.coolebaytools.com), introduced the audience to Periscope® (www.periscope.tv), a mobile phone app owned by Twitter® that allows users to capture streaming video in real time, post it instantaneously to social media and get immediate feedback from users around the world. It’s available for both the Apple® and Android® mobile platforms, and is guaranteed to increase the income of copyright lawyers throughout the world.

A number of software products offer to help eBay sellers automate and manage their listings, control their inventories, and handle bookkeeping chores. The latest entry is CampaignGo® (http://campaigngo.com).

It’s no secret that success on eBay depends on building a profitable niche – the narrower, the better. The “nichiest” sellers I met at the conference are:

  • Barbara Baur, vintage auto license places (thelicenseplateguy.com); and
  • Leslie Ann Batistich, hoof care products for horses (www.hoof-it.com).

Cliff Ennico (cennico@legalcareer.com) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series ‘Money Hunt’.  This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state.  To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com.  COPYRIGHT 2015 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO.  DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

 

How to get off the hamster wheel and take action in your online business

Hamster Fun

If you’re like most people, you probably have that one friend who is an online seller who is always talking about what they are going to do with their online business and all their plans to make it a success. In fact, it’s entirely possible that you might actually even be that one person. Have you ever wondered though what would happen if you actually stopped talking about what you were going to do and actually started doing it instead?

Don’t get me wrong. Talking about your plans especially around people with a common interest is a great way to get it all straight in your mind on what you want to do and how you want to do it. There comes a time, however, that you need to get off the hamster wheel and either put up or shut up. In other words, maybe it’s time to stop talking about what you’re going to do with your business and actually start doing it instead.

So, how does one get out of the “talking mode” and into the “doing mode?” Well, you could set some goals, but let’s look at it another way. Think about your goals as a plan, or rather, your road-map from getting you from where you are now to where you want to be.

First, clarify exactly what it is that you want to do. If you want to go from making $1,000 a month to $3,000 a month, then that is the destination for your road-map. By taking some time to establish what it is you want, you’ll then be able to work on what it will take to achieve it. Once you know what it is that you ultimately want, take some time to actually write it all out. You can then start taking actionable steps to get you to your destination.

What you gain from all of this is that you’ll quit talking and thinking in endless circles and turn those thoughts into actionable steps. You can still use your sellers friends as a sounding board (and really you should), but if you find yourself moving back into those thoughts of indecision where you catch yourself thinking “where do I go…what do I do???” it’s time to take a step back and refocus on your plan or what some refer to as the “end game.”

Do you have a plan for your online business or are you caught in the talk mode? Leave a comment below.

Online Sales Tax Revisited by House Oversight Chairman

NEW Dollar Bill

Although the online sales tax bill known as the “Marketplace Fairness Act” failed to pass through Congress last year, in a case of “here we go again,” a new bill has been introduced this week that will add more fuel to the fire in the ongoing online sales tax debate. This time, a new version was introduced on Monday by House Oversight Chairman Jason Caffetz, (R-Utah). The new bill is known as the Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2015. If passed, it would give states greater latitude in charging sales tax on purchases that are made online by out-of-state buyers.

The new bill would supposedly be a bit different that the one introduced last year. This go around, a person buying an item online would pay the same amount of tax as if they had walked in and bought it from a physical store located in their same state. Before, in the unpassed bill, the amount of tax to be collected was based on the physical location of the seller.

Despite the introduction of the bill, keep in mind that the Supreme Court has already ruled once that a state can only collect sales tax from businesses that have an actual physical location within the same state. If the bill were to pass, sellers can no doubt expect another challenge to the bill to work its way once again through the court system.

It should also be noted that this is the second bill on the same subject to make its debut this year. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) also circulated a draft proposal back earlier in January, but in his version small businesses would not be exempt from the sales tax and wouldn’t protect small business as much from audits. His feeling has been that an exemption for small sellers would just make the bill too complicated.

How this new bill will play out is anyone’s guess, but all sides agree that it will be a tough road ahead to get it passed.

What do think of the new proposed bill? Leave a comment below.

4 Great Kitchen Items You Can Sell On EBay and Make a Profit

Cow Cookie Jar
It’s almost summer and the yard sales are upon us. This means it’s a great time to find items you can resell on eBay. If you’re looking for a great niche to sell in, kitchen items may well be worth looking into. Here’s 4 great kitchen items that you may want to put on your “BOLO” (be on lookout for) list.

Vintage cookie cutters. You may think that cookie cutters are simply for cutting cookies, but take a look on Pinterest and you’ll find that crafters have found many other colorful ideas for these cookie making instruments. They are being re-purposed for everything from wind chimes to Christmas tree ornaments. Keep in mind, however, that not all cookie cutters are created equally. Since certain brands are usually hotter than others, it pays to do some research to see what people are looking for. At the moment, Martha By Mail cookie cutters seem to be doing well with a single cookie cutter selling for $24 to $25.

Cookie jars. These are one of my favorite items to look for. Depending on what year it was made and what type of character the cookie jar is, some can sell upwards to even a $1,000 on eBay. Vintage is always better and some brands to watch for include, McCoy, RedWing, Brush, and American Bisque. While the better the condition, the better the return on profit, cookie jars don’t always have to be in pristine condition to make good money on them. You do need to make sure that you note any flaws, such as crazing, chips or cracks in the listing details, however, and take plenty of photos that show these defects so buyers know exactly what they are getting and paying for.

Bread Machine replacement parts. This is one you need to be careful about because while some parts bring good money, others have no value at all. Paddle kneading blades, breadmaker pans, and even timing gear pieces can bring in some bucks if you know what to look for. Although the kneading blades and gear pieces appear to bring in around $5 to $10, the breadmaker pans can go from $14 to $30 depending on the brand. Don’t forget to put “replacement part” in the listing title.

Cookbooks. It probably wouldn’t be right to have a list of kitchen items to look for and not include cookbooks. My experience with them though has been a bit mixed. While cookbooks by Julia Child, and vintage Betty Crocker have done well for me in the past, I haven’t had much luck with niche cookbooks like McCall’s cookie cookbooks or even Sesame Street (which I was sure would bring big bucks).

My personal suggestion is to do some research before you start buying them and then do a quick check of sold listings before buying a cookbook if you’re unsure of the value. If there are a lot of the cookbooks for sale (such as the McCall’s cookbook) even if they are currently listed at a higher price, it may mean that the market is over-saturated with them and you will be holding onto your investment for a very long time.

That Kat Radio – Podcast 19 – June 9, 2015 – eBay Homeruns with Tim Chapman

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: A Solid Gold Pen & Pencil Set, Bose Radio Set, Stubben Horse Saddle, NUskin Green Shakes, Vintage Navajo Yei Rug, Suzuki Omnichord, Vintage Wood Pipes, Nikon Flash unit,and CUTCO steak knives.

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http://www.HomeRunSecrets.com

https://twitter.com/timdchapman

https://www.linkedin.com/pub/tim-chapman/a/a32/18b

http://InventoryLab.com

http://www.bubblefast.com use “ThatKatRadio” to get 10% off your order

http://Stamps.com

You can follow Kat on TWITTER, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram. Read the blog on ThatKat.com.

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

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Minions appearing on Amazon shipping boxes

One Eyed Minion
If you’ve got kids or you’re an adult who loved the Minions from the movie “Despicable Me,” then you probably know that the Minions have their own movie coming out on July 10. What you may not know, however, is that Amazon is tying into the promotion for the movie by featuring advertisements for the movie on their Amazon delivery boxes.

The cheery looking yellow boxes, which feature different Minions started shipping out about two weeks ago. There are reportedly three different ads with each one featuring one of the three characters. The ad you get depends on the size of the box your item is shipped in.

This isn’t the first time that Amazon has done advertising through their shipping. They have previously run advertisements for their Prime services on the packaging tape used on the boxes. They also sell advertising space on their Amazon Lockers that are used as delivery locations. This is the first time that the advertising has gone outside of their normal type of advertising, however, with independent ads running on the boxes.

Really, it’s not a surprise about the Minions appearing on Amazon’s boxes. They are also showing up on a variety of products with the little yellow creatures on everything from Tic Tacs to Mott’s applesauce. They are even apparently showing up on a special edition Monopoly board.

Interestingly, the boxes have already become somewhat of a collector’s item with some Amazon buyers hoping to collect all three boxes. If you’re like most sellers though, your big question is probably whether Amazon is sending the Amazon FBA products out in these adorable boxes.

Well, yes and no. Apparently, only certain warehouses have the box, but if the item that is ordered comes from one of those warehouses, your buyer may have their item delivered in one…at least, until the supply of boxes runs out.

Are you a Minions fan or have you seen one of the boxes? Leave a comment below.

Should You “Ghostwrite” Other People’s Social Media?

Ciff Ennico Headshot “I am a social media marketing consultant. Basically, I help small businesses and others build a marketing presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media websites.

Normally, I just set up the client’s pages on these sites and post content to them whenever the client sends me material to post. For example, a restaurant will send me their evening specials and I will ‘tweet’ those on Twitter.

Lately, however, a couple of clients have asked me to generate original content for their social media posts because they don’t have the time to do this themselves. The money they’re offering is fairly tempting, but I want to be sure I’m not putting myself or my reputation at risk by doing this.”

This sounds like a great opportunity, but you will have to be careful how you go about doing this work.

Right now, you don’t have a lot of liability, because you are merely a “conduit” for your client’s content. When I look at your client’s Facebook page, I see only information and content generated by your client, not you.

Your clients can get into a lot of trouble, however, if they send you content that is illegal or otherwise is going to create legal problems for them. As an “expert” on social media, it is your duty to review the content they send you and warn them of any potential problems before you post the content online. Also, your standard contract with your clients should have an “indemnity clause” saying that the client, not you, is solely responsible for the content they are asking you to post on social media. That language should guarantee that:

  1.  content is original, accurate and complete;
  2. the client is the owner of copyright to the content;
  3. the content does not infringe anyone else’s copyright (in other words, the client didn’t steal it from the original creator or copyright owner);
  4. the content is not offensive and does not libel or slander any individual or group; and
  5. the content otherwise complies completely with the law.

Your contract should also say you have the right to pull any content offline if you receive notice that the content is problematic (although that’s very difficult to do on most social media websites – once something is posted there it usually stays there forever).

Your relationship with the client will change completely once you start creating original content for the client’s social media pages. First, some social media sites (such as Facebook) expressly prohibit “ghostwriting” of content in their user’s agreements, so check these first.

Second, as the author of the content and an independent contractor to your client, you own all the intellectual property rights (such as copyright) to the content. If the client is smart (or has a smart lawyer) they will want you to assign your copyright to them once they pay for the content. By doing that, you are selling and giving up all rights to that content. You cannot use that same content for another client, or for yourself (for example, as part of your marketing portfolio), without the client’s permission.

Because of that, you should insist on an “acknowledgment” or “credit” clause in your client contract saying that although the client owns copyright to the content, they will not use it without giving you due credit online. If you are taking photos for your client’s social media page, the photo will be accompanied by a standard “photo credit” acknowledging

you as the photographer. If you are writing articles for the page, your byline will appear underneath the article’s title. You still won’t be able to use the content elsewhere, but at least your authorship will be recognized.

Lastly, because you are now the author of the content, it is your responsibility to guarantee to the client that they won’t have legal problems because of the content you create. That “indemnity clause” we talked about putting in your client contract will now be turned around and pointed directly at you. Before sending any content to the client for review, you will need to make 100% sure that the content is original, that it doesn’t infringe anyone else’s copyright, that it won’t offend anyone, and so forth. Make one mistake, and you’re the one who will have to fight the battle in court.

Some clients – your more established ones – may also require you to obtain “publisher’s liability insurance” in case your content creates legal problems for them. Such coverage is not cheap and may run you a couple of thousand dollars a year in premiums.

So, should you write content for your clients’ social media pages? Unless you are intimately familiar with the client and its business, I would say “no”, unless the client agrees to approve every piece of content in writing before you post, and absolves you of any legal liability for the content once they give their approval.

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.