Well, October could be the perfect example of what running this business while working FIFO part of the year (I.E 3 Months) might look like.
This time the eBay store was technically open 100% of the month, however, I was set to store vacation mode for 3 out of 4 weeks. One of those weeks I had a 10-day handling time set on listings and for 2 weeks I increased this to 15-day handling.
I did sell items throughout this time whilst set like this but the total for the month was a tiny 9 items.
Interestingly, the one week that I was actually home I did not sell a single item even though I had reduced my handling time back to 2 days for that week. Being that leading up to this time (the previous month) sales had been rather consistent at almost 1 per day or more (before I went away) I could not help that think somehow the eBay algorithm was punishing me for going on vacation!
Obviously, my sourcing time was very much limited this month and I did miss the national Op Shop day where loads of places had 50% off everything which I was pretty sad about… I know that I missed out on that day. At 50% off, some of the items I often overlook at shops in my area would be quite attractive.
I did however come across a small shop that was doing its own clearance for the entire month and as such picked up several quality items of clothing new with tags for only $2 each. Bargain City.
Auto Hot Key
This was the month of massive productivity upgrades using Auto Hot Key (my previous post on the use of Auto Hot Key can be found here). My only idea initially was simply to create hot strings to enter entire sections of text with only a few keystrokes. I wanted this to work for me whilst creating eBay listings inserting proper descriptive text with only a few keystrokes. I easily achieved that but with some free time, I dove deeper into other useful examples of this simple programming language and quickly found myself going down an amazing rabbit hole filled with improvement potential across many areas of daily work which would free up further time.
The first day was frustrating, as I was learning this new scripting language and quickly tried to implement what I wanted. However, I was consistently getting hung up on syntax and spent more time reading examples. Tried to run before I could walk, sigh…
Day 2 was much better, and I found myself able to problem solve with far more success. By the end of this day, I had implemented a shortcut menu for common use folders mapped to a hotkey, several search functions for use when selecting text, and I had created a basic GUI (Graphic User Interface) to use with my eBay listings and had it (almost) working how I wanted it to.
Once back to work (the day job), I had the idea of “hey maybe I can make this work with Etsy too?”. After all the variables that I enter for each listing remain till the GUI is closed or cleared.
That took less than 10 minutes to code and get working!
I have to refine this part a little more (as I have minimal experience on Etsy) but in theory, I could create a listing for say a Vintage Toy on both eBay and Etsy in less than 5 minutes! I wonder how much more exposure that would give each item being on both platforms?
This month I had scheduled an annual leave day to take some photos and get items up. A work on my own business day. I have actually scheduled one day a month for the next few months to do the same. Sure I can hustle after work (when in the city) and do, but having a whole complete day to focus gives me a good idea on what I could achieve each day if I was to go full time.
Franks day off (a shout out to Ferris Bueller, one of my favourite movies) went well for the most part and I began testing out the auto hot key base code setup I had been working on whilst away on my home computer. It required a few tweaks upfront due to different screen setups and I also ended up rewriting some of the code to ensure consistency of execution due to the way eBay dynamically adds listing suggestions based on title text which were throwing off my screen positions.
By midmorning, I had it functioning correctly as intended, every time without errors.
I spent the rest of the day in batch mode taking photographs of every item I had accumulated that was not clothes (with a couple of high dollar item exceptions). Then I ran each of these through the auto hot key GUI interface and saved each as a draft on eBay. While I was away for the coming 2 weeks till the end of the month I could review the listing for any errors, research price further if needed and then post the listing, all during lunch of course…
This style suits me well as the listing confirmation can be done from multiple locations whenever it is convenient and allows me to upload a greater number of photos into listings which is where my current bottleneck in the listing process exists.
A Unique Item
This month I listed my first $500+ item. So far it is yet to sell but I am confident it will eventually to the right buyer, likely international.
Once sold the profits from this item alone would equal more than 2 months of my current monthly profit target. This profit will also be the equivalent of 0.5% of the total investment property mortgage. I need the find more of these items!
I have been working hard over the last 2 months to begin to upgrade my focus to higher value items whenever possible. This may mean spending a little more upfront but the eventual payoff at the end is far better with greater money per item sold but even more importantly big savings in time with fewer items to list.
Total combined active listings have decreased slightly for the month due to having 40 listings on a second free account which can not be placed on vacation mode.
I managed to grow my total $ amount of items listed from $9500 in September to $10914.15 worth of items listed with another couple of hundred $ worth sitting in drafts still to get listed.
Sales were terrible at only 9 total for the month but then again the store was set to vacation for 75% of the month so it was to be expected.
Again this month I spent $129.90 on inventory and got some great items. I expect to 10x that spend in sales over time!
I did not strictly meet the goal for the month obviously but the additional 3 weeks of working away more than made up for this, this month.
A $60.05 extra payment was applied to the investment property mortgage.
This mortgage has ticked over to 2% of the principal repaid, yay.
Business Improvement Ideas to Explore in November
I have been trying to find ways to smarten up my photos to get that brilliant white background like many other shops.
I invested in a lighting setup last month which has been ok but a lot of the time clothes items tend to come out looking like they are sitting on a grey background. Maybe the light is not quite bright enough for this?
However, on the editing end, I have been looking for a way to bulk touch up photos for listings.
I know I could do this myself, I have the necessary Photoshop skills but it’s all about the additional time I would have to spend on each listing.
So far I have considered using a Virtual Assistant (VA) which access to Photoshop but even doing this I might only get 60 photos an hour (1 per minute). At the full 12 photos per listing, this equates to 5 listings. At a cost of let’s say $1.50 per listing.
Is this good or worth it? Will the improved photo quality sell more items and pay for itself?
Another possible candidate could be a bulk photo editing service called: Clipping Magic. This service removes the background quickly and efficiently for a cost. This is worth a trial to see just how well this functions in particular as they have a bulk edit function.
These ideas have monetary costs, however, there are elements to consider before a decision:
- It’s a tax-deductible cost.
- There is a time cost I will save.
- A VA could also complete other tasks in addition to this at a later date.
Anyway, it is something to test out over the coming month (dependent on work schedule).