Saturday, 14 December 2013

eBay seller tips and tricks: FASTER sales with HIGHER PRICES. Better profits with ebay!

Over the last few years I've had a few spells of selling via eBay, with moderate success, mostly getting rid of clutter, basically the stereotypical eBay user. I always wondered how people managed to sell quite SO MUCH stuff, with relatively new users being "power sellers" with six figure feedback scores etc.

My first thought was "they must spend all day just listing and packaging, and making trips to the post office".....Which is probably true.

I'm not interested in selling, just whatever I can find to make a few quid on. I don't have time to sit about buying up lots of stuff, just to flip it, and even if I did, I couldn't store it all, and I wouldn't want it sitting about for ages.

My work over the last few years has changed considerably, I rarely set foot on a site now and most of my work is done in the workshop, so I basically decided to go back to eBay to shift a few things, and re-invest it back for more practical and sensible items.

So I've spent a little while on the internet recently doing a little research into what items were already out there, steak out the competition of sellers with the same item, what the going price was that kind of thing.

Now I also have used other selling sites over the years, with varying results for craft lines and that kind of thing. and I got me thinking whilst I was researching, you know how it goes, a couple of clicks later and you can really start to wonder away from where you started! I could probably get back into eBay with the craft lines, over runs, off-cuts, and generally things that are starting to clutter.

So now we really get to the "juice".....but I'll cut to the chase! There's loads of stuff on eBay, my few items need to stick out, get noticed, get watched, and get sold! That's the point. "THE SIZZLE THAT SELLS THE STEAK", "THE SHOWROOM FLOOR THAT SELLS THE BENTLEY". Doesn't matter what witty quip you add, you need to stand out!

Here's what I found out!

1. firstly there's lots of stuff on eBay, yes! But there's also loads of rubbish, the chaff among the wheat so to speak. eBay uses algorithms much like search engines it would seem, so first off you need the title to be as good as it can be. There is a  character limit, so use it to best describe your item. make, model, year that kind of thing. don't be tempted to waste your time with "must see" "great item" or rubbish like that...If you must, spend a few pennies on a subtitle (TBH, why bother!). currently there is a tool for title optimisation, but it's only available until 15/12/2013, you can view it here. I found this tool to be of some use, but more over a little common sense and looking at similar listings helped me more than this.

2. talking of similar listings, eBay actually has a function to search VERY closely, just click on the ADVANCED SEARCH button, and you can look up not just current listings, but also completed listings, more on that later.. looking up this way lets you know whats on ebay, and whats been on ebay, it also lets you work out good titles that people are, or have been using.
The above is simply a screenshot of the results of a search for "oak table", completed items only.
You can really maximise this tool to see what's selling, and for what price. If you're clever you can equate this to items to go out and hunt for, from the point of view of selling these on for profit. From this results list, you can work out if there is demand, and if there is, you can start looking to supply! prices in RED didn't sell, prices in green did. you can then go into the listing and see how many bids, and how many bidders etc. (the more bidders, the bigger the demand).

3. assuming you have something to sell and have given your listing a good title for people to find, the next thing I think about is pictures. I use a Canon EOS 700D for my photo's, for basically all pictures. I'm not a photographer, nor do I pretend to be, but the point is this: Take the best photo's you can! I'm not going to write a massive long piece on how to take great pictures, you can find loads of info on that, in books and on the net. however, basically, do the best you can, lighting, angles, close-ups, just think of all the things you'd want to see if you were buying!
Hopefully you can see the listing above, it's just one I picked out of the "oak table" search, I've blurred the listing number etc. The point for this one is my next tip. this listing actually had a whole host of pictures, and pretty good one too. but they were using the ebay uploaded pictures. when you go down to read about teh item, you can't see the pictures. but it's really easy to do! NO, NOT SELLERCORE!
For those of you who don't know, sellercore is a seller tools, that you have to pay for, it's basically, from what i can see a pretty good HTML editor, that is FAR better than the, (IMHO) rubbish one ebay lets you use. but you have to pay money for it! But WAIT, lets use a free one! lets use a blog service! I used Wordpress, mostly because I'm ore familiar with it, and more importantly because I don't blog from there.....
Wordpress give you 3GB of storage space for pictures, so you can take your photo's, upload them to your account, and write the listing for your item using the wordpress HTML editor - even if you don't know HTML it matters not! add in all the pictures, etc as if you were writing a word document, swap to the HTML view select all the code that will be what you've just typed and copy it. then go into your ebay listing, swap straight to the HTML editor and hit past, save and preview. everything you just typed will be visible in the listing! as wordpress are basically hosting the images for free. there are loads of free image hosts out there, but doing this just makes it quicker and simpler, to do all the text as well in double quick time.
one extra thing I did was upload a few of these pictures up to ebay as normal, this means people can see an image in their search results. And TBH , they are giving 12 free pictures, so why not?!

so now we have a hot steak, lets make it sizzle! Image your looking to buy a car. If you go look at one, you'll want to see and hear the enging running right? well you can't via ebay, so why not have the next best thing?
YouTube give out free accounts, and hosting..... shoot a video of the item your selling, just a few minutes, again just like the pictures, details, see it in action, show any defects etc..... it may seem over kill, but look at as a buyer: two identical items, similarly priced, but one you've seen in action, you see it work. you've been shown the details, for only one. Which one becomes the most likely for you to buy or bid on? 

4. Adding videos is really simple. I use a smart phone. record the video. free editing software, that's basic but does the job. upload it straight to my account and make it unlisted (so it doesn't get seen by anyone who searches, just people who have the link). I couldn't resist, so here's one of my woodworking videos, the process is the same for here as it is on ebay, although ebay has stopped letting you add auto play videos :-(

adding this video is as simple as adding a picture to a blog:
 the site I use is this one vtubetools. you simple paste the URL into the box and it'll generate the code. this you just paste straight into the HTML view of you eBay listing, and save it!

It really is that simple! I spent about an hour playing with my first listing, but once I got the hang of it, i did the rest in about a couple of minutes. and there really was a big difference in sales and speed of sales! worth the effort to get my items sold over somebody else's!

let me know if you have any questions, comments etc. I really thing that this is a great way to sell. I'm looking at the moment about maybe dabbling into using some of these search techniques to find poorly listed items, to flip for a profit. might be a bit of fun as well as making a couple of quid!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Pocket holes: Why they make everyone an elitist, and you could have done it that way!

So I had a little free time today waiting for some snowflakes to glue-up, and I decided to do a little networking - internet social networking to be precise. I came across a "share" about an article relating to pocket holes. Reading the comments posted along with this share, I got the impression that people were mocking them. Now I'm not saying people were mocking pocket holes - that's just the impression I got reading the comments.

So this article; I'll put a link to it at the end, but for now, please bare with. Many times, On the social network scene and YouTube I've come across a lot of comments by people who seem to think that Pocket hole Joinery is not joinery, it's cheating. Along with their counterparts firmly defending the right to use them. It's a little like the whole biscuits argument I guess at the end of the day.

So what's your take? I kind of feel that both the Kreg jig (Yes i know there are other makes out there) and the biscuit jointer is a little like marmite. Love it or hate it? where do you fit?

Well let me know! comments below. Personally, I like pocket holes, I think they have their place, and I use them for speed, and where they are not seen. As to weather they are as strong as other joints, well, maybe - maybe not. but as with all other joints, I think they are strong enough if used sensibly. 

But wait, there's more. I didn't just want this to be yet another argument about joinery, yet another opportunity to let people say how much they think of this method of fixing two different pieces of wood together.

I started to think a little deeper.......

So you probably know I post videos to YouTube, hopefully you subscribe, and have noticed that I put a new show out on a  Tuesday, time permitting.No? well go check them out! as part of the video release I try to respond to comments made, and although this is not always possible, I do see a theme to some comments. Notably the "you could also have done it that way" comment.

Let me explain.

I, like most woodworkers have various tools, space, time and money. Also, weather we admit it or not, and although I like to experiment - we all like to work to our methods and limitations.

So lets look at joining two pieces of wood so they meet at right angle on each end. I can do a mortice and tenon - through, blind, haunched, wedged or pinned. I can screw them in a butt joint. I can nail them in a butt joint. I can half lap them. I can use a bridle, mitred, straight or dovetailed. I can put a sliding dovetail....I can use biscuits, dowels or pocket hole screws. Now I'll pick Mortice and tenon - for arguments sake, and let YOU work out how many ways you could actually cut the get the picture?

I guess in summery, you can use loads of methods, to cut loads of joints, with loads of tools for loads of applications.  I'd be interested to hear from you all, about how you cut your joints, and with what.

Here's that link that sparked it all off! enjoy.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Avoiding the rotten prices associated with rotten windows and doors.

So Whats better than having to pay someone to refit a new door frame, re-hang the stable door, and paint? Well doing it yourself of course!
I personally prefer timber window and door frames, somehow they just seem nicer to look at, and are far more appealing to the eye than plastic ones - Yes I know I'm biased, by we each of us have our favourites:-)

If you have wooden doors, or timber window frames, firstly LOOK AFTER THEM! They need a bit of maintenance every now and again, and If you can spare a little time and effort, get the paint brushes out every once in a while, and give them a little protection. Anyway, that's not the point of this post.

As you can see, this frame is completely shot, the "rusty nail" is actually a No.10x3" screw - or whats left of it! It's been painted, several times, but It's not had a coat for some time, and to make matters worse, it's on an exposed side of the building and takes the brunt of mother nature. Harsh wind and rain in the winter, sun all day in the summer, literally one extreme to the other.

So you might be thinking that the whole frame needs renewing, a big, time consuming, and specialist job for a professional. But actually it's not quite as bad as all that, just yet. Still not cheap, (about £100 for materials), which is less than the cost of a new frame. But the best bit, you can get this done in a couple of hours, and be painted the same day. AND YOU CAN DO IT YOURSELF!   

One of the first things I noticed was the fixing of the frame to the brickwork was a little "weak", so I decided to refix it with some Hammer fixings. Lukily I had four left over from something previous, so I just Drilled the correct size hole, hammered the fixing in and tightened with a screw driver. 4 in total, all safe and sound!

Now before you scroll down any further, I should point out that this is not a how-to post. It's a what-I-did-post. HOWEVER, I did say it's a DO-IT-YOURSELF job - which It really is, but I'm going to assume you either have a degree of "natural apptitude" in such endevours. Furthermore, if you've not tried anything like this before - rotton wood is rotten - so it has to GO, this means making the damage look worse before better. Think of it as a bit like dentistry.

Thirdly, Although I've carried out rotten timber repairs similar to this before, this was the first time i used this particular product, so I was kind of a first for me too. (I now REALLY like this product, and will definately be using it again)!............So......... ->

Both sides of the door frame were totaly shot and needed the same treatment, about 90% of rot in windows and doors etc occur round the bottom - for obvious reasons.All the rotten timber had to be completely removed from the area, Whatever type of  repair you carryout, the yuck has to go, as it weak, and nothing sticks to it. It's a bit like putting duct tape on a dusty floor. the picture above shows all the rott having been either drilled or chiseled out. The company that make this repair kit also sell a giant oversized manic dentists drill type monster machine, basically a long router, with a 1/4" straight or cove bit on the end to play dentist with - but TBH, that just seemed like using a cannon crack a walnut. It's also expensive, and, well I already have a few chisels and forstner bits!
You can also see a bit of the stuff used for the repair - I was concentrating on the repair not the camera.

So Whats the stuff I used then? Well It's a 2 part resin mix, actually it's kind of a 4-part resin, as there's 2 parts to the 2 parts. There's actually 3 variants of these as well in terms of set-time, but thats means the maths becomes more than being able to keep my shoes on, so we'll keep to "it's a 2-part resin system".

I first saw this system about a year ago, when it was actually a little cheaper. I like to browse the shelves of my local suppliers, if only to keep ahead of new products and developments, like alot of us, and actually thought it looked interesting but gave it not much more thought. I kind of regret it now, because it with the 20/20 heinsight we all have, I would have saved myself some money, would be more experienced with the product, Which although is VERY simple to use, never goes amiss, and would have saved myself quite a bit of time on other jobs too! You're possibly starting to thing that i like this - I do! :-) 

So as i said, the system comes in 2 parts, everything is available seperately. But you can do as I did, and buy a trial pack, which contains everything you need for a repair. including a really cool double barreled caulking gun, mixing and spreading spatulas, little wooden sticks, and coffe cups to mix the liquid part in, a board to mix the main resin on, gloves and wipes for cleaning up. ALSO the most important thing, an instructional DVD to explain how the system works, and what order to work in. Yes you can read the print on the tubes, but actually it's a really good DVD, and since it's all in the the pack of everything you need, I gave it a watch. 

What really surprised me was just how easy it was to work, it has the consistancy of "quite hard ice cream", when it's been out the freezer a little while, it holds the shape you give it very well, but at the same time is easy to shape and mould to match the profiles you have. It also works really well as a sort of morter, so you can splice in pieces of timber. This is great, as if it's a bit hole you're filling, you can keep the cost down by splicing in bits of wood, as i did here. It aslo means you can use the straight edges of timber on the corners, thus making live a little easier than if you tried to create a profile with just the resin.

I'm really impressed with this stuff, and first impressions are out standing. MUCH cheaper than a new frame, and the application areas are far reaching! paint and stain able, flexible, rot-proof, and it can be drilled, sawn, routed etc just like wood. Not sure about it's availablility wordwide, but for anyone here in the UK, It's definately worth a look at!
Just do a google search for "repair care" or "dry-flex".
Go save yourself some cash!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Handmade: More exclusive than John Lewis & spoilt by high street chains.

Since more or less the beginning of time, there has been "wealth" and "poverty". So, not wanting to get dragged into a deep and philosophical discussion relating to the meaning of wealth and poverty, lets just take it as read that there are people that are fortunate enough to not have too much month at the end of the money.
Image courtesy of Tom Curtis /
For those "fortunate" types there has also been a sort of elitist pea-cockish type behavior of wanting to flaunt this fortunate position - and well why not eh?! Not judging, just saying. Just look at those Limestone fronted country houses, imposing marble entrance halls, and sweeping staircases. There's nothing wrong with this - not at all. who builds these staircases? who cuts these Portland stones, or lays the marble floors, just think about that!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Not just your health, but also your wallet: Bandsaw Maintenance, and extraction problems.

The other day I got an order from a regular customer to make some bespoke MDF blanks for her craft business' Christmas line. I made up a template out of 12mm MDF, and cut it out on the bandsaw.

Fairly early on I started to notice things didn't sound "quite right", It was cutting fine, and clean etc, but it was whining like it was trying to Rip a 5" slice of English oak.... I stopped and took a look only to find that the guide bearings where totally clogged-up with resin, dust and all kinds of yukkyness from the last three years of fairly hard use.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Cutting Board Construction

Here's a project that's "on the list", hopefully they will turn out as nice as Olly's ones.

The importance of a tidy work space: why is a messy workshop safer?

So if you read magazine articles, or books on the subject of either safety or workshop organisation, there is likely to be mention of keeping the place clean and tidy to avoid mistakes, unsafe practices, and other little mishaps.
You might also find a section on organising machinery to optimise workflow and stay safe by organisation.

Now, first and foremost, I completely agree! There are far wiser and more experienced craftsmen and women out there with far more expertise than I, but I thought I would put this together, not to try and contradict, but to add my own experiences...


Saturday, 31 August 2013

Keeping busy: Reasons to be suspicious of wallpaper!

So it's been a little busy the last week, and if you follow me on keek, you'll probably be guessing where I'm heading with this! :-)

I was due to be packing my bags and heading up north to the seaside for a few days when I got asked to decorate the kids playroom as they would be away .......

They were to be away for a few days on holiday, and it was going to be a surprise - this gave me 8 days to strip the wallpaper and paint the walls...Easy............or not!

So first thing thursday morning all was quiet, and the kids gone, out comes all the furniture, and a mountain of toys, games, teddies etc

Friday, 2 August 2013

Routing 101 progress: Using a router for oh so many jobs!

So it's been a pretty busy few days since the last post, and by now, episodes 1-3 of the router series have been posted on you tube, with Episode 4 just around the corner...

Whilst I enjoy very much making the videos, it's never as much fun as actually doing  the project the video is about!
I also decided to take several pictures along the way, people seem to like pictures more than actually read pages and pages of tedious script it seems!

So, if you've been following my YouTube channel, you'll already have seen the videos that are out.

I asked around on Keek some weeks ago about where to start, and what to cover, after the mixture of replies I looked through, it covered pretty much all aspects, so i decided to start from the beginning: Routing 101

Small selection or cutters, 1/4", 8mm & 1/2" shanks, with various purposes.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Experiments and first times from the workshop

Ok, on the face of it today may seem, to a casual observer, to have been a rather uneventful or less than productive day.

I would however like to think that I have managed to make at least some headway and I should also like to point out, as Mr Bublitz over at did to me; that productivity does not always take the form of making things ready to ship out to a customer.

Not only am I still learning all about this blogging/website stuff, but also about other aspects, such as filming and editing for my YouTube channel. These things take up a suprising amount of time!

Monday, 22 July 2013

first post!

Well if youre reading this, well done you! as you've found it before I've even had chance to tell anyone about it!

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This is me,