Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Auctions and Other Stuff...

Whew! What a day... shipped a whole bunch of stuff off this morning, and had one more sale today with payment already made (plus two other sales that haven't been paid for yet)... Thanks to my readers who bought from me! I still have some other auctions closing on Saturday that you may wanna check out, and I'll have some new stuff up in the next few days, I'm sure.

What have I learned from this last bunch of auctions? Well... Justice League of America is always a good title to sell. I'll definitely be looking for more JLA issues when I'm at comics shows. Pre-Crisis Wonder Woman also sells well, and so do lots of odd 1970s DC titles (odd 1970s Marvel titles don't seem to move so well, however).

I do find myself sometimes longing for the "good old days" when I first started selling at online auctions, back in the days when Yahoo Auctions were free (yeah, I know they're free again now, but nobody ever bids on anything there anymore). In those days, I was making a pretty fair amount of extra cash from my auctions!

Basically, I was buying 1970s titles at comics shows for a quarter to 50 cents each, reading 'em, and then I'd sell them with a starting price of 50 cents. If I had stuff worth starting at more than 50 cents, I could do a fair business with those, as well. However, when Yahoo decided to start instituting fees (and outrageous fees at that -- they wanted a piece of eBay's pie, and got grabby), the buyers and sellers left Yahoo Auctions en masse... and it was some time before I made the switch to eBay.

I did try one or two other sites over the past few years... sites that made a try of it, but ultimately weren't worth using.

I still believe that someone could really be good competition for eBay, but it's going to take a lot of work, and a lot of investment up front -- especially in advertising! They'll also have to offer stuff that eBay doesn't offer... and what the heck, I'm feeling generous, I'll throw out a few things that I think eBay should add, and that their competition needs:

1. Automatic shipment tracking. I always ship everything with Delivery Confirmation... so why can't I enter the DC number into a field after shipping, so that eBay can show that to my buyer (as well as automatically email them with that number, and provide both me and the buyer the latest status from the USPS). It should also be able to recognize that a package has been delivered, and alert me and the buyer of the fact (with a reminder to the buyer to leave feedback -- perhaps even providing a link to the appropriate feedback page). Is that really too much to ask? Heck, PayPal even requires a tracking number in order to qualify for seller protection, but don't even ask for it unless there's a problem!

2. Better search and alert functions. If I'm searching for "Friends" merchandise, I shouldn't have to guess at how many search terms to make sure that I only get merchandise listings for the TV show "Friends," with Monica, Chandler, etc... and no listings for "Barney and Friends," for example. Perhaps the solution to this would be that when you're listing an auction for TV or movie merchandise, there'd be a field for entering the name of the show (this could also be used, for example, with comic book auctions, to enter the specific name of the book, as well as issue number, in the case of single-book sales).

3. Simpler views on "My eBay" page. On my "Items I've Sold" page, I should be able to collapse the views of buyers who've bought multiple items from me if I want.

4. Better functionality. These days, when I'm listing auctions (or even relisting them), I have to use Internet Explorer on my Mac. I'd prefer using Netscape, but it doesn't work! I can, however, look at "My eBay" and specific auctions in Netscape. Also, I'd like to see them allow me to customize the selling pages a bit more -- it takes way too long to go through each page!

5. Smarter functionality. Sometimes, eBay's just dumb... I put the actual weight of all my auctions in when I'm entering them, but every now and then, when someone buys multiple items from me, I have to manually enter in the shipping amounts for the invoice! (and why I can't get it to automatically invoice for me when I've provided all the information in advance is beyond me).

Work Stuff

My latest project at work to pad out my time card for a full 40-hour work week is a wedding tabloid product. It's entirely possible that I'll get this done by the end of the week. So far, I've established the format for text, collected a bunch of sample ads and articles, and brainstormed categories for a leads list. Tomorrow, when things are slow, I'll continue working on the mock-up. When the mock-up is done, I'll take that lead list category, and use Yahoo's Yellow Pages to get company names, addresses and phone numbers to get all businesses who might consider advertising in this to give to the sales department manager with the mock-up. I'll also likely write up my thoughts on the approach we can take with it.

I hear, too, that the pet page I proposed back in September may become a tabloid publication... and that they're still interested in my automotive tabloid concept.

Now, maybe I'm just getting cranky or something... but with all this stuff I've been doing that, frankly, will benefit the sales people more than it will benefit me, financially (to say nothing of how the newspaper itself, proft-wise)... I just have to wonder why the hell I haven't even been considered (so far as I'm aware) for employee of the month!

I mean, compliments are nice, but as employee of the month, I could get a $100 check!

Convention Stuff

There's two conventions coming up... I've already mentioned Emerald City (which won't have a trivia contest this year)... but there's also one in Portland that'll be happening a month or so before that, and unless my next paycheck is way bigger than I expect, I won't be going to the Portland convention. I'll probably end up going to just one day of Emerald City, for that matter.

One of these days, I really need to think about putting together the comic book swap meet in this area I've been considering for the last year.

Final Thoughts for the Night

There are no Final Thoughts!

Jon

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Random Bits o' Stuff!

Let's get you caught up on the latest...

Saturday Wrap-Up

Weight Watchers was good... I had another loss, so I'm getting closer to where I was a while back.

After the meeting, we rushed home, had breakfast, and headed up to Seattle for the Bike Expo. We collected all the freebies we could -- lots of apples and water bottles -- and as I expected, Jessi enjoyed it much more than I did.

Following the Expo, we met up with one of Jessi's friends and her husband, and the four of us went to lunch at the Keg, then we headed home.

Once we got home, I took the dogs for a short walk, because they needed it! Then it was home for the evening.

Sunday Wrap-Up

This morning, Jessi was planning a bike ride with her friends (the ones we had lunch with yesterday), a longer ride than I was up for, so she went off to meet them in Yelm, while I stayed home and watched some stuff on the DVR, and then took the dogs for a two-mile walk, after which I did some grocery shopping.

When she got back, we watched some Law and Order and some Olympics padding on USA, and then I started on dinner while she traded out the tires on her old bike so it would have the mountain biking tires on it for the Monday ride (she has the day off Monday; I don't). Just as she was finishing that up, the power went out. Since we couldn't cook dinner, we went out to eat, and the power was on by the time we got back. We watched "Cold Case," and then Jessi went off to bed.

I got to the computer, reset the clock (it was way off thanks to the outage), and checked email. There was news of new guests for Emerald City (more on that in a bit), and I wrote Jim, the guy in charge of the show, about the trivia contest.

Then, I packaged up what had been paid for with my eBay auctions, and saw there was a response from Jim.

It was bad news for me... the trivia contest isn't happening this year. Jim had taken a job with Image Comics since the last show, and apparently, the guys up here who were working on the panels apparently forgot to schedule it, or just decided not to do it.

Honestly, I'm disappointed. The contest went over real well last year, and on the second day of the show, I had lots of people asking if we were doing it again that day. I expected turn-out would be even bigger than last year, and I had lots of great ideas for this year's contest.

Fortunately, I hadn't actually started working on the questions yet... so I don't feel like I wasted any efforts.

But still... it's disappointing. I really enjoyed doing it last year, and was looking forward to doing it again. I'd imagine that most of the people who remembered the contest from last year won't recognize me this year, thanks to my weight loss... but still, there'll likely be at least a few people asking me about it, I'd imagine... and I guess when they ask me about it, I'll point them to the convention's organization table and tell them to ask them why it's not happening, and tell them they want it for next year.

Jon