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Reap the Rewards of Online Auctions

Wanna skyrocket your sales? Try auction sites.

With over 49 million registered users buying more than $9 billion worth of goods in 2001, it is a wonder why every company with a product isn't selling it on eBay.

Over 2,000 bids are placed on antiques and artwork every hour; 30,000 clothing, footwear and accessory items are sold every day; 375 die-cast cars are sold every hour; a craft item is sold every 9 seconds (with over $38 million in crafts and needlecrafts supplies sold last year); 2,200 Hallmark ornaments are sold every day; and more than $190 million in photography items were sold last year.

Next Step
Learn more about the wonderful world of eBay in our guide, Six Steps to a Successful Online Auction Business.

Johnny Morgan, founder of TexSigns, used eBay to rocket his business. He has a positive feedback rating of 22,514, with about 1,500 auctions running each day.

"I started selling a few products out of my garage in 1993," Morgan says. "In December of 1998, I started selling online. We now sell both locally and online, with probably as much as 60 to 70 percent of our sales online."

Before the Internet and online auction houses such as eBay revolutionized business-to-consumer selling, retailers did most of their business with the local market, which could be negatively affected by a slow economy and a cutback in spending.

"Located in Midland, Texas, we have an oil-based economy," Morgan says. "When times are bad here -- when the price of oil goes down -- things get tough, but the rest of the world is booming. So if anybody can get online, they can take advantage of the national or world economy and not be tied to a local economy, and I think that is the thing that has made us more successful than any other one thing."

While an auction outlet like eBay can help grow sales dramatically at an existing brick-and-mortar store or Web site, it can also be a place to start a whole new business. Launching Planet Glass in January of 2002, Laura Friedman began with auctions.

"I started buying and collecting through eBay and I found a passion for modern glass, which is what started me," Friedman says. "Then I learned more and more, and eventually I decided to move on from eBay and start my own Web site because there were no Web sites I could find which specialized in modern glass."

Friedman has no immediate plans to open a bricks-and-mortar store. "I thought about opening a retail store, but I'm not sure it would help sales because most of my customers are serious collectors," she says. "They seek me out."

Selling on eBay opens the doors to 49 million potential customers that spend over $9 billion each year. Whether you already have a product, or want to start selling a new one, chances are it will fit in somewhere among the hundreds of categories on eBay.

If you aren't already taking advantage of this incredible marketing opportunity, start today. Trust me; as a 13-year-old, I took my software businesses to eBay in 1997, and sales boomed. Fifteen hundred sales later I am still reaping the benefits of eBay's intense site traffic and high level of promotion to my products.

Once you've mastered eBay, grow your sales even more by branching out to other online sales venues such as Half.com, Amazon.com Z-Shops and Yahoo Auctions.


Joel Holland, age 17, has been starting and running businesses since he was 12 and is currently the chief marketing officer for Nortel Networks Kidz Online, a digital studio that creates educational content about technology for schools nationwide and in Canada. Holland is ranked in the top 10 nationwide for his marketing skills through DECA, a national organization with more than 300,000 teen members, and was named Business Student of the Year by the McLean, Virginia, Chamber of Commerce. To contact Holland, write to joel@joelkentholland.com.

Joel Holland, 25, is the founder and CEO of Footage Firm in Reston, Va.

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