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Volume 1 Issue 17 8-4-06

For those who would like to read this in HTML format, this issue of Boomer eZine is posted on the Boomer eZine website at http://www.boomer-zine.com/V1I17_080406.htm and on the Boomer eZine Blog at http://boomer-ezine.blogspot.com.  

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For those who would like to read this in HTML format, this issue of Boomer eZine is posted on the Boomer eZine website at http://www.boomer-ezine.com/V1I17_080406.htm and on the Boomer eZine Blog at http://boomer-ezine.blogspot.com.

Table of Contents for this issue.....

1.    More About Google Site Maps

2.    The End of Front Page

3.    Setting up an eBay Store

 

 

Author's Comments

 

Last issue I told you that it was our 40th wedding anniversary and our children had planned a surprise for us.  Well, that was an understatement.

 

For over six months, our clever children worked on a surprise party for us.  It was amazing that no one slipped, because we were totally surprised.  Several of our friends told us that they had to make certain that they took the invitation off the refrigerator before we came over for dinner.

 

I have included a few pictures on John and Linda 40th Anniversary if you care to share it with us.  Since we are a few years ahead of most of our friends on making the “big 40”, they want to borrow our children to throw a party for them.

 

It is a wonderful thing when your children grow up and become your adult friends.  Life is good!  

More About Google Site Maps  

We discussed Google sitemaps last week.  Here is some additional information about site maps.  

Let’s take a look at what the site map looks like for www.retirement-jobs-online.com (RJO).  Click on the link http://www.retirement-jobs-online.com/gAe7FNB6.xml to see what is in the site map.  It is basically a list of the pages in the website.  

Here is an example of an entry in the RJO site map.  

<url>

<loc>http://www.retirement-jobs-online.com/advanced-ebay-education.html</loc>

<lastmod>2006-07-01T16: 04:36-04:00 </lastmod>

<priority>0.5</priority>

</url>  

The site map is written in XML.  The <url> tag starts the entry.  The <loc> tags specify the URL for the page.  The <lastmod> tags tell the date of the last change to the page.  The <priority> tags specify the priority of this page relative to other pages on the same site. The value is a number between 0.0 and 1.0, where 0.0 is the lowest priority and 1.0 is the highest priority. The priority can affect the order that search engines select URLs to explore on your site. Since the priority is relative, it is only used to select between URLs within your own site; the priority of your pages will not be compared to the priority of pages on other sites. The </url> ends the entry for this page.  

Google has a free utility to help create site maps at http://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/docs/en/sitemap-generator.html.  

We will not spend anymore time on site maps right now, but be aware of them and how they assist the search engines in crawling your site.  

Go to Google for more information on how to submit your site.  http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769.  

The End of Front Page  

This is information that I am quoting directly from a Microsoft website about FrontPage:

“What happened to FrontPage?

After nine years of being an award-winning Web authoring tool, FrontPage will be discontinued in late 2006. We will continue to serve the diverse needs of our existing FrontPage customers with the introduction of these three brand-new application building and Web authoring tools using the latest technologies, Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Designer 2007 for the enterprise information workers, Microsoft® Expression™ Web Designer for the professional Web designer and Microsoft® Visual Studio 2005 for the Web developer.”

I have used FrontPage to design and maintain our web sites for almost as many years as FrontPage has been in existence.  I will now have to start planning to change to something else.  However, I doubt if I will have to change too quickly since I am sure that FrontPage will be around for a long time to come.  It just will not be supported by Microsoft.  

If you are using FrontPage, be aware of a change in the future.  If you are not on the cutting edge of new web technology, don’t get in a big hurry to find another web development tool since FrontPage will serve you well for a while yet.  

For more information about the tools that Microsoft has developed to replace FrontPage, go to http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/assistance/HA101205221033.aspx.  

Setting Up an eBay Store

Back in Volume 1 Issue 13, I discussed the eBay Boomer Retirement Store and said that the shelves were empty, but I would post items for sale soon.  Well, “soon” was longer than anticipated.  

I expect that everyone has heard of Murphy’s Law.  “If anything can go wrong, it will and at the most inopportune time”.  Another corollary of the Law is “everything takes longer than you expect” and that is the one that got me.  

We thought that posting books in the store would be easy, but when we started our research and  we realized that we were making policy decisions for the future of the store that needed research and thought.  We probably made this into a larger project than was necessary, but those who know us, know that we are not prone to charge into battle without being fully prepared.  

The store has five books listed in it now and we invite you to go look at it prior to reading the rest of this article.  http://stores.ebay.com/BOOMER-RETIREMENT-STORE.  Open one of the items and scan through it from top to bottom.  Then come back here to continue the article.  

I must warn you that this is a marathon article, but I want you to understand that listing an item in a store or in an auction requires research of the market and research of the competition to see what the competition is offering.  This needs to be done ahead of sitting down in front of the computer and bringing up the “Sell Your Item” screen.  

I will go through the steps in posting a book on an eBay store and the thinking that goes with each step.  Bear with me since this takes a lot of steps.  There is one thing to remember as we are wading through the detail, once you go though this exercise the first time, the next time is much easier since your inputs will be retained in eBay and most of them become your default options going forward.  

The first decision to make is to choose your selling format.  That is easy since one of the formats is “Sell In Store Inventory”.  

The next page asks for the eBay Category.  This is selected from the master list.  “Books” is a no brainer choice.  

The next page asks for the book subcategory which in our case is Non-Fiction.  Again, not too difficult.  

The next page has a time saving feature that is really helpful.  You enter the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for your book into the input box and eBay will access a database and give you a picture of the book and a summary of the content of the book.  If your do not want to use this, you can elect to enter your own description.  

I had trouble with this and some other eBay features due to our security software not allowing some eBay scripts to run properly.  Ultimately, I had to shut down the security software (Zone Alarm) to post the eBay supplied information.  

When you enter the ISBN, the next page will show the eBay supplied information about the book.  Verify that you have the correct information.  Here is where you enter if the book is new or used so don’t miss that input.  

You can enter a subtitle on this page which is recommended since this give additional search information for the buyer.  It costs a whopping $.02 extra per 30 day listing period.  

Next, you enter your own description.  This is where you can get creative.  I use FrontPage to create the description and then copy and paste the HTML generated by FrontPage into the description box on eBay.  You can enter the information directly into the box, but I recommend that you use an HTML editor to create the description off of eBay and then copy and paste it into eBay.  There are many HTML editors from which to choose.  Many of them are free software.  Use Google to research this.  

Our intent for the store is not to become rich from the selling of books, but rather to use the traffic visiting the store to grow the subscriber list of Boomer eZine.  The description section is where you can put links encouraging the reader to visit your “About Me” page.  Our “About Me” page has an audio message promoting a subscription to Boomer eZine.  You cannot be too blatant about this promotion, but eBay will allow this link.  

There is another link to the “About Me” page at the end of the description and a link to the Boomer Retirement Store in the middle of the description.  

The rest of the description section is tailored to the specific book and it ends with store policy information.  This store policy information is what took some time to formulate.  Here is the policy statement that we finally developed.  

We Guarantee 100% Satisfaction

Book Availability: All books may be sold elsewhere before the eBay listing ends. If you bought an out of stock item, we will cancel your order and promptly issue a refund. Please do not leave negative feedback for cancelled orders.

Book Condition: Please check the individual book information above for condition, attributes and special notes.

Combined shipping: Email us about combined shipping and we will try to accommodate your needs.

Payment Method: We only accept Immediate Payment through PayPal. Sorry, we cannot accept other payment methods.

Shipping Info: We only ship to the US . We cannot ship internationally.  Orders are shipped within two (2) business days of receiving cleared payment.

Shipping Cost USA : $3.50 standard (media) mail; $5.50 expedited mail.

Delivery Expectations:
Standard Shipping: 4 - 14 business days, may take up to 21 business days.
Expedited Shipping: 2 - 7 business days  

The next page of the selling form deals with “Enter Pictured and Item Details”.  First, you enter the store categories for the item.  You are permitted to have your own categories for your store to help your readers more easily find items in the store.  These are set up ahead of time in the “Manage My Store” page of eBay.  On the selling form, specify the category and subcategory for the item.  You may have to go back to the Manage My Store and add a category.  

Next, enter the pricing and duration of the listing.  What is the market price for the book?  I spent time on eBay researching the postings of the same book of the same condition (new or used, used with markings, amount of wear, etc.).  For the duration, we used “Good ‘Til Cancelled” which renews every 30 days.  

The next input is the quantity if you are offering multiples of the same item.  We are selling single books so this is easy – one.  

The next is the item location.  This is set up once with your zip code so you do not have to enter it multiple times.  

The next step is to add pictures.  Every eBay “how to book” that you read says that pictures make the difference in the number of bids for an item.  With a book listing in eBay, a picture of the front cover is standard, and we did not elect to use additional pictures.  

Next is the Layout Designer.  Here you can dress up the listing, but eBay will include your store heading in the listing automatically so we did not use any other design options. (additional fee for this).  

The next section is “Increase Your Items Visibility”.  Here you are offered options (for an additional fee) to promote your listing.  The only option we selected is the “Gallery Picture” which puts a small picture of the book in the store listing for the book ($.01 extra for 30 days).  

The next section is “Promote Your Listing on eBay”.  This costs $19.95 for 30 days.  We declined this option.  

The last (yes, we finally reached the last option on this page) is if you want a hit counter.  We opted for the one that is visible only to us when we look at the item in “Manage My Store”.  

The next and final page in the selling form is the “Payment and Shipping” page.  This page is not too difficult, but you do have to make the decisions about your payment and shipping policies to complete this page.  

First, in “Payment Methods”, you specify how you will accept payment.  We decided to only accept payment through PayPal.  This will allow the customer to use PayPal direct or use a credit card through PayPal.  There are other options, but I will leave them for you to explore at your leisure.  PayPal is the easiest and cleanest method.  

Next, you specify your “Ship-to Locations”.  Again, to keep it simple, we specified the US only.  You can select various other locations if you wish.  

In the “Shipping and Sales Tax” section, specify how you will ship.  There are all kinds of options using the United States Postal Service and UPS.  We chose the USPS Standard Flat Rate Shipping Service for $3.50 and the Standard Expedited Flat Rate Shipping Service for $5.50.  If you must charge sales tax for any sale within your state as we must in Texas , enter the information in this area.  

We stated that we would ship within two days of receiving a cleared payment.  We will not offer shipping insurance and we will not combine orders.  We actually say in the description terms and conditions that we will consider combining if the buyer emails us and requests it so we will do this if requested.  

The next decision is if you want to enter a formal return policy.  What about a return policy?  eBay says that 70% of all buyers prefer to buy from a seller that has a stated return policy.  I did not see one in the book stores that I studied.  I wrote up one that basically said that if you return the book at your expense along with the receipt and the book was returned in the same shape as which it was sold, I would refund the cost of the book, but not the postage.  

After thinking about this for a while, we decided against it since the cost of a book is so cheap, people are probably not going to pay to ship it back.  Probably they will just resell it on eBay themselves.  

We finally settled on an idea that I saw on a site that covered the subject in the “Seller’s Payment Instructions” section of the auction format.  We rewrote it to say, “Thank you very much for your order. PayPal is the only payment method that is accepted. If you are not satisfied with the book, promptly return it along with the receipt at your own expense, and we will refund your payment.”  

You might think that this allows people to take advantage of you and I agree, but feedback on eBay is a “life and death” issue for future success.  This policy will allow a buyer to return the book and hopefully not leave negative feedback.  As I said earlier, I do not think that the cheap price of the book is going to warrant too many returns.  

This completes the input for the sale of one book.  The good news is that most of this information is saved for you for the next listing.  Once you slog through the first listing and make the tough decisions, the second listing requires you to select the category, select the book ISBN, enter your description information, and specify the selling price.  

Click to the “Review and Submit” page and you will be given a complete summary of all your input and options.  There is a link on this page, “Preview How Your Listing Will Look to Buyers”.  Click this and you will see exactly how the listing will appear live on the Net.  I do not want to tell you how many times I viewed the first book we listed to find mistakes and go back and correct them.  

When you are satisfied with your work, click the “Submit Listing” button at the bottom of the page and pat yourself on the back for listing an item in an eBay store.  

I will discuss some additional eBay tools in a future article, but I expect that is all the eBay you can stand for today.  

That wraps up our issue for this week.  Until next week, stay tuned.  

John and Linda Howe

www.boomer-ezine.com

www.boomer-entrepreneur.com

www.boomer-marketplace.com

http://boomer-ezine.blogspot.com

http://stores.ebay.com/BOOMER-RETIREMENT-STORE  

 


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