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Becoming an Expert in Your Offerings

Develop deeper knowledge in your product area to instill buyer confidence, and increase profits.

If your question is, “What should I sell on eBay?” one answer you might consider is, “Sell what you know.” In the online marketplace, buyers are eager to find reliable and knowledgeable sellers. One sure-fire way to increase your customer base and improve your online profits is to become recognized as an expert in offering and representing certain sorts of goods.

When you deal in goods you truly understand—personally, technically and historically—you’re poised to attract more buyers and enjoy better sell-through rates. Here are some tips to help you present yourself as a trusted expert in the goods you’re offering online.

What sorts of goods do you know?

As previously stated, gaining expert status in buyers’ eyes starts with first determining what sorts of items you tend to know the most about. Each of us has plenty of knowledge about certain sorts of goods, be they crafts or comic books, electronics or Eames-era kitsch, marionettes or movie memorabilia. If you’ve been fascinated with any sort of item, either as a hobby or as a profession, you’ve already been developing an expertise.

Over the course of our lives, most of us have become specialists in one thing or another, either through our work or through our play. Chances are somebody you know has asked you about your interests to learn what you’ve learned, and to seek your advice based upon your experience. If you know you’ve already done your homework on certain items, for fun or profit, then you’ve been nurturing your own expertise. Therefore, as you work to present yourself as an expert, begin by assessing your personal passions and determine if they can be the means for you to become successful in selling such goods online.

Do you need more expertise?

If you have a Web site or blog, write about the items you specialize in

Of course, even the most astute experts consider themselves as perpetual students of their passions. Therefore, the appropriate follow-up to selling what you know is to ensure you’re constantly on the lookout for ways to learn even more.

The quest for additional knowledge in a professed area of interest or expertise is what will truly establish you as a trusted source of information among your customers. The good news is that enhancing your expertise has never been easier. Consider these ways to sharpen your acumen:

  • Review all the reference books you can find. Scour the online booksellers constantly (and don’t forget the used and out-of-print book sources you can tap online) for materials that deal with your area of specialization. The real experts always surround themselves with a vast and ever-growing reference library.

  • Search your local community for relevant classes and seminars, be they collegiate for-credit courses or personal enrichment sessions.

  • Seek out local or even online clubs where enthusiasts with interests similar to yours gather to discuss and learn from each other.

  • Search the Internet for information. These days, almost every answer you need can be found online, not to mention important and informative networking sources, so keep your search engine revving at all times.

  • Seek out even informal engagement with others who share your passion to learn more about what they have discovered. Share your knowledge with them, and they’ll likely share their expertise with you.

  • Write about what you know! That’s right, if you have a Web site or blog, write about the items you specialize in, and you’ll force yourself to continually reinforce and extend your knowledge on the subject matter.

There are plenty of ways to learn more about what you’ll specialize in, whether you’re just building your expertise, or continually honing it. These days, there is a near-plethora of sources of information that will give you the additional background knowledge to build an impressive and sought-after expertise.

Seek information with every sale

What are other sellers saying about the kinds of goods you want to specialize in?

If it’s true that experience is the best teacher, then each of us is a veritable “professor” in our own right, thanks to our personal experiences and interactions in online selling, especially at eBay. As you further enhance your expertise, don’t forget the wealth of knowledge all around you at the big marketplace site:

  • What have you bid on or bought lately? Review the details of the items you purchase carefully and make note of why you decided to buy. Chances are, there was some distinguishing factor about the item, or a revelation of new information that attracted you—the same that other buyers would hope to glean from you when you’re selling.

  • What are other sellers saying about the kinds of goods you want to specialize in? In a classic case of “watch and learn,” astute sellers continually review other sellers’ goods and carefully study images and descriptions, either to validate a present understanding or to discover new aspects about certain goods. As you build your expertise and begin sharing such pearls of knowledge in your own listings, it’s a fair bet that others will be learning from you, too.

  • What are the buyers doing at eBay? Look closely at the number of bids and the final values for items like those you’ll specialize in. Many buyers, themselves, are experts and many can sniff out an expert’s offering over a novice’s dabbling. Carefully watch all the completed listings at eBay and study each to see why some sold well while others sputtered and sank, possibly as result of a lack of demonstrated seller expertise.

Above all, stay constantly involved in your area of desired expertise. Read constantly, listen carefully, and bid and buy wisely on the sorts of goods you aim to specialize in. Be tireless in your quest for knowledge, and you’ll soon be an expert yourself.

Then, when you list goods for sale, let the appropriate amount of that hard-earned expertise shine to instill confidence in your buyers and gain you higher profits along the way.

About the author

Dennis L. Prince
Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay...and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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