The Education Specialist Program is just one of many eBay resources for people who want to learn how to start businesses selling on eBay. "We realized some years ago that people who were using eBay were more successful if they had a little bit of a head start," says Guldner. "So we built a lot of our education efforts around helping them be more effective in their early years on eBay."
Though buying on eBay is somewhat straightforward, the selling side of the equation is relatively more complex, especially for people starting a new business on eBay. That was part of the reason eBay began eBay University, its first in-person educational effort, in 2000. The course provides tracks for both basic sellers and more advanced sellers. There's also a virtual edition of eBay University you can take from home (see "Learn More Online" on page 26).
eBay University is especially effective because the face-to-face instruction helps motivate people to learn and go ahead with their business plans, says Joseph T. Sinclair, author of eBay Business the Smart Way. "When people go to something like that, in addition to getting the information, it energizes them. Even when it's not a pep talk, just getting the information and being around people who are doing the same thing and finding solutions to problems they've seen has an energizing effect. It gets you hyped up. I would certainly recommend people do that."
The Selling Basics curriculum of eBay University covers topics such as becoming an eBay seller, creating listings, improving descriptions, photography, pricing, PayPal accounts, monitoring listings and completing transactions. Beyond the Basics is for sellers who want to get more out of their listings and start a real business on eBay. Its courses cover, among other topics, choosing an appropriate listing format, using listing tools, marketing your business, managing larger numbers of listings, packing and shipping inventory, and using PayPal for online payments.
While eBay University offers the same curriculum taught by Education Specialists, it is taught by eBay and PayPal employees as well as independent educators with longstanding eBay relationships, including published authors and experienced speakers. Using employees and prominent experts as instructors enables eBay University to offer students the latest information about eBay, presented by instructors with deep experience. You can find out when eBay University is coming to your area, or look into its online courses, at www.ebay.com/university.
Working It Out
eBay University instructors and Edu-cation Specialists are trained to teach overviews about general eBay selling and business topics. For deep insight into narrower topics, new eBay business owners can turn to eBay Workshops. These online events, which include both lectures and interactive discussions, are hosted by expert eBay sellers, authors and other special guests.
The range of workshop subjects is exceptionally broad. A single month's worth may run the gamut from taxes and market research to sourcing products and using Skype. "They might cover eBay Stores, or even a specific product we have on our site," says Guldner. Some topics are timely, dealing with recently introduced eBay features. Others are recurring, such as how to take better photos.
One to four new workshops are presented each week, and previous workshops are archived by month and topic all the way back to the first program in 2004, so you can research topics of interest. At the Workshop discussion board, you can also discuss workshops, post questions and even suggest topics for future workshops. Learn more about workshops at http://pages.ebay.com/community/workshopcalendar/index.html.
On the Radio
The best-known expert on eBay selling is Jim "Griff" Griffith, the dean of eBay Education. In addi-tion to teaching university seminars and penning his bestselling book, The Official eBay Bible, Griff also writes "Griff's Corner," a regular column featuring tips, answers to eBay members' questions and more. The topics range from staying safe online to successful selling. "It's a little bit of the inside voice on what's going on, along with Q&A stuff," says Guldner.
The information and approach in "Griff's Corner" are directed at basic and new users rather than more advanced sellers, and all feature Griff's plain-English style and sense of humor that have put people at ease since he was hired as eBay's first customer-service representative in 1996. You can learn more about "Griff's Corner" at http://pages.ebay.com/university/griff. Questions sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will be considered for future editions of "Griff's Corner."
Griff is also featured on eBay Radio, presented live on the internet each Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. PST, and Sunday on the Ask Griff show at 3 to 5 p.m. PST. The show is also available as a podcast; archived shows can also be downloaded. In addition to Griff, eBay Radio features guests ranging from eBay CEO Meg Whitman to eBay marketing specialists and, occasionally, non-eBay experts on branding, sourcing and many other topics.
Program director Lee Mirabal presents an eBay news segment,but callers are the center of eBay Radio. By calling (877) 474-3302 in the U.S. or 011-858-678-8958 internationally, people can ask Griff and guests a question or just share their views with the eBay community. As further incentive, the show hands out a free autographed copy of The Official eBay Bible to one caller selected at random each week.
"What is most interesting about eBay Radio is the question-and-answer part," says Guldner. "This enables users to go deep into questions they have about the site." eBay Radio tends to attract a loyal audience of relatively experienced and expert eBay sellers. One of the unique characteristics of eBay Radio is that it's a learning resource eBay sellers can tap into by listening at almost any time, even while they are selling on eBay.
If you join the eBay Radio group, you'll automatically get a note from Griff every week alerting you to the topics of upcoming broadcasts and guests who will appear on the show. You can listen to current and past shows, look through archives by date or topic and learn more about what eBay Radio has to offer at www.wsradio.com/ebayradio.