Hot Topics:

How to Become an eBay Consultant, Part 2

eBay experts share tips for turning your online selling expertise into a business.

In How to Become an eBay Consultant, Part 1, we spoke with successful consultants who shared advice for would-be consultants. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll turn our attention to eBay consulting. There is so much to learn about e-commerce that eBay is today, as it has been for years, the best place to learn about having an online business.

When you were building your own business, you probably had to devote 110 percent of your workday to listing, shipping, learning and building. Along the way, no doubt, you made countless mistakes, some small and some doozies. In those early days you were actually getting paid twice, once in money and once in education and knowledge.

By now you know exactly what you have to do to sell anything and everything on eBay. Have you planned to take this expertise and turn it into another revenue stream in your e-commerce career? We spoke with three people who have done just that to get an insider’s look at how they decided to take this step and what they did once that decision was made.

Experience + success = expertise

Becoming an eBay consultant is a natural progression for some, as Stephanie Inge, stephintexas on eBay, explains.

“Once the word gets out that you’re selling on eBay, and especially if you’re successful, people start asking for advice or assistance with selling their treasures,” she says.

Skip McGrath, mcgrrrrr on eBay, also emphasizes the need to step into your consultancy from a successful place.

“When I was still fairly new, I would just answer the questions—and then I realized I was giving away all my tools!”

“Don’t try becoming an eBay consultant if you are not skilled at designing an eBay Store and creating fixed-price listings,” he advises. “Take the time to learn good online selling skills, and to learn all the little tricks and tips that successful eBay sellers know.”

Most of you reading this have this type of e-commerce expertise already, but for those of you who don’t, this is advice you can put into place today as you go about gaining that success.

At some point, you’ll find people are eager to share your advice and experience.

“Years ago, when I was still fairly new, I would just answer the questions,” Inge remembers, “and then I realized I was giving away all my tools!” That’s when she decided to start charging for professional advice. She began conducting classes and consultations one on one.

“After a few years and much more confidence, I began business and corporate consults and trainings,” she says.

Let your niche be your starting point

Grenda Walton, bobbysocks on eBay, also came naturally to her consultancy. As a professional clown and puppeteer, she discovered eBay years ago when a puppeteer friend told her about selling his unused puppets on a site called eBay. Walton, or Poppins as she’s known in the clown world, went home and signed right on thinking, “I didn’t know this was here!”

Now, more than a decade later, Walton both teaches others to sell on eBay and sells items for other people. She’s found her niche.

“Most of the people who come to my classes are seniors,” she explains. “I’m a senior myself. They’ll have a go at it, but they’re overwhelmed by the amount of stuff they have to get rid of.”

That’s when Walton switches from teacher to consignment seller. In her case, her customers literally come to seek her out.

“I had a lady who came to my eBay class, and she only came to see what type of person I was and if she could trust me,” she adds.

If you can find a niche in your life, that’s a great place to start your consultancy. Do you have experience with a particular target audience, such as young families or retirees like Walton? Is your expertise in a certain field of study? Wherever you can carve out a spot that allows you to compete directly in a smaller market may just be the way you can get your consultancy off the ground.

Opportunity may come when you least expect it

Once you have begun to establish your consultancy, McGrath offers great advice for getting your name and reputation out among your potential client base. There are basically two ways to market your new business, he says: advertising, which is expensive, and networking, which is free.

“I follow the ‘three-foot-rule’,” he explains. “Anyone who comes within three feet of me hears about what I do for a living.”

The first step toward earning money by helping others is to identify your own focus, and then follow it and build on it

A few years ago, when McGrath was doing a lot of eBay consignment sales, he and his wife, Karen, were sitting at a local bar enjoying the happy hour drinks and food. They struck up a conversation with the couple next to them.

“Of course I told them what we did,” he says. It turns out this couple had come to town to clean out their late father’s house. That casual chat led to the McGraths earning $2,800 in consignment commissions.

He further recommends more formal networking opportunities and advises new consultants to join local networking and community organizations.

“Most business networking groups meet weekly or monthly, and everyone gets a chance to stand up,” he explains.

Members talk a little bit about their businesses and share contact information. Through one such group, McGrath met a man who owned a carpet-cleaning business, not an expected potential client in that he didn’t sell anything. Still, in talking together, McGrath got a job setting up a Facebook page for this man’s business.

“It took me about an hour to set up the page and then I spent another hour with him showing him how to use the page to attract business. That consulting gig earned me $150 an hour,” he says. “Had he been a retail business, I would have recommended he set up an eBay Store to sell his products. Depending on how large the store was and how many initial listings he needed, I would charge between $300 and $1,500 to set up a store.”

Play to your strengths

However you decide to move into the consulting part of your career, turn inward first to see where your strengths lie. For Inge it just came naturally.

“I love to teach and share my knowledge with others,” she explains.

Walton loves research. That’s the most important thing about eBay, she says. “You can’t put anything on eBay if you don’t know what it is,” Walton adds. “You won’t make any money and neither will your client.”

Her love of research makes her consignment business within her target niche a success. She recently sold a book for a client after discovering it was by a known artist. Because she did her research so carefully, she listed it for $800, far more than she would have asked for it if she hadn’t made this discovery.

Everyone who operates an e-commerce business has a particular knack, skill or expertise. The first step toward earning money by helping others is to identify your own focus, and then follow it and build on it.

About the author

Brad & Debra Schepp
Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book is How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Brad is also a literary agent for Waterside Productions. For further information, visit the couple's website, Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • cp

    Thank you for the article. I did laugh a little however when I checked out your “example” sellers. I couldn’t fault them and I would buy off them in a second however, despite their high professionalism & great items etc, hardly any sales! 28 sales in the last 90 days do not a “business” make. That’s why people don’t become “ebay consultants” because the opportunity to make any money out of eBay (unless you are a multi national with a premium account listing 10,000 plus items a month for free) died years ago. You forgot to mention that.

  • Texas

    I agree with “cp”, the example seller are Top Sellers, but with very low sales volume. Truth is, selling on eBay is getting harder and more expensive, new requirements, and high fees leave very little profit to make.

  • Anonymous

    Inspiring post! The examples are so very likely.

Newsletter Signup