Tools and Opportunities for New Sellers

Connecting with others is a great way to learn what you need to know about starting a business on eBay. We'll show you how.

By Janelle Elms

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With so many people using eBay to build their businesses, youhave a huge network from which to draw information and ideas whenyou need to learn more about eBay. "eBay education is anever-ending process; we like to refer to it as the 'yellowbrick road,'" says David Hardin, eBay Platinum PowerSellerand 60-year-old founder of Shoetime (eBay User ID: shoetime), aMayfield, Kentucky, business that sells designer shoes. "Asone learns more about the world of eBay and its constant evolution,one learns new ways to use these new tools to create new businessopportunities."

Connecting with other sellers and experts inside eBay is a greatway to boost your knowledge of the different solutions, tools andopportunities eBay has to offer. If you find the world of eBay tobe intimidating at first, don't worry. It's easy to findwhat you're looking for, and there are a multitude of helpfulresources right within reach--you just need to know where to look.Start with these suggestions to get in touch with your neighbors oneBay:

eBay Community:
Ten years ago, eBay was founded on a sense of community, and youreBay journey will show you that the community can assist in yoursuccess. By clicking "Community" at the top of any eBaypage, you'll find numerous options for networking with othereBay members. A few of these sections include:

  • Discussion Boards: From feedback to dolls, PayPal tosports cards, eBay's discussion boards are a great place toconnect about almost anything.
  • Groups: eBay Groups are similar to the discussionboards, but many are created by members of the community. Are you a1972 Miami Dolphins fan? Do you collect frogs? Would you like totalk to other stay-at-home moms from New Jersey who sell on eBay?eBay Groups will help you connect with other members with commoninterests and goals.
  • If you want to start your own eBay Group, follow these easysteps:

    • Go to
    • Click on the "Community" button.
    • Click on "Groups."
    • Sign in to enter.
    • On the right side of the page, click "StartGroup."

    eBay will ask you for the name of the group, its description,whether you want the group to be public or private, if the groupwill meet in the real world, and for a charter specific for yourgroup. Upon becoming moderator of your unique group, you'll beallowed to invite members and create polls, event calendars, photoalbums, discussions and announcements.

  • Answer Center: Have a question or want to share someinformation you found helpful? The Answer Center on the eBayCommunity page is for member-to-member assistance. Topics includeeBay Stores, international trading, packaging, shipping, policiesand more.
  • Workshops: These board events are a must for any new orseasoned eBay seller. The workshops--presented online in adiscussion format by experts from eBay and the community, as wellas by Certified Providers--cover a wide variety of topics. If youcan't make the live workshop discussion, don't worry: eBayhas kept transcripts of all the workshops since late 2003, so youwon't miss out.

eBay University:
Learn from eBay experts and network with other eBay novices andexperienced users at these educational events. eBay University toursthe U.S. educating sellers of all levels. "Sellers who startout by attending an eBay University seminar are generally moreconfident when they list their first item," says Jim"Griff" Griffith, dean of eBay Education. "Thisconfidence, along with the tips and instruction they receive duringthe seminar, help assure greater and faster initial success, bothin the listing process as well as in garnering bids and newcustomers." If you can't make it to a live session,classes on the topics of Selling Basics and Beyond the Basics areavailable on DVD or CD-ROM, allowing you to learn in the comfort ofyour own home. For more information, visit

eBay Live!
Every year, thousands of eBay community members come together for athree-day celebration of all that is eBay. This ultimate eBaynetworking event includes valuable business resources, extensiveeducation programs and an opportunity to meet both eBay users andeBay employees. At last year's eBay Live! in San Jose,California, more than 160 eBay classes were taught. For thisyear's event, eBay's Networking Center will include speednetworking, networking breakout sessions, short presentations andmore. Mark this year's eBay Live! on your calendar now to getin on the fun, excitement and educational opportunities. eBay Live! 2006will be in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center fromJune 13-15.

Education SpecialistProgram:
If you're craving interaction with other eBay users who are ata similar level, you can usually find an Education Specialist'sclass in your area. Education Specialists are armed with the mostup-to-date information about eBay, and they've been speciallytrained by eBay to teach you how to sell. "eBay is a road withno speed limit, no stop signs and many forks in the road that willtake you on amazing paths," says eBay PowerSeller andEducation Specialist Marcia Cooper, 70. Marcia and her partner,Harvey Levine, 66, are eBay buyers, Gold PowerSellers, TradingAssistants and owners of General Enterprises (eBay User ID:generalent), a Fort Lee, New Jersey, company that sells an eclecticmix of items, from concert tickets to antiques to designerclothing. With one of the top U.S. Education Specialist ratings,these five-star educators teach other eBay members how to buy andsell on the site. To find an Education Specialist in your area, goto

eBay DevelopersConference:
The eBay Developers Conference brings the eBay and PayPal developercommunities together to talk about new ways to make the eBayMarketplace better. Whether you're just getting started,you're looking for innovative ways to enhance or launch anapplication, or you're ready to dive into advanced applicationdevelopment, this unique event will help prepare you forsuccess.

The agenda includes inspiring keynotes, in-depth technical andbusiness sessions, hands-on labs with advance access to new toolsand technology, and plenty of opportunities to exchange informationand ideas with your fellow innovators. This year's eBayDevelopers Conference will be held June 10-12 at the Mandalay BayHotel in Las Vegas. For more information, visit

eBay Developers Forums and eBayCommunity Codebase:
There are two online ways to get more involved with the eBaydeveloper community 24/7. The eBay CommunityCodebase is intended to help software developers collaborate oncreating open source applications using eBay Web Services. "Wehope to encourage new ideas, and [to] make developing with the eBayand PayPal [application program interfaces] faster, easier and morecost-effective for members of our program," says Greg Isaacs,director of the eBay Developers Program. Using the Codebase,members can browse current projects, download code, and join aproject using their eBay Developers Program User ID.

Also, there are bulletin boards called eBay Developer Forums These forums allowdevelopers to share knowledge and ask questions about buildingapplications using eBay Web Services. Once you're an eBayDevelopers Program member, you can visit the forums for livelydiscussions about new technology or to get valuable technicalsupport from fellow program members.

Trade Shows:
A great way to meet both eBay employees and eBay users selling in asimilar category is to attend trade shows in your industry. eBaygoes to scores of trade shows throughout the year, many of whichinclude classes specific to selling within a certain category. Fora list of trade show locations and other eBay events, go tohttp://

Reviews & Guides:
This new sectionof eBay allows you to read comments and ratings of specificproducts written by eBay members. Are you passionate aboutsomething? Write a review or a guide, and share your knowledge withthe community. Guides, usually written by experts, collectors andeBay members, include topics such as "Introduction to eBayShipping," "Buying and Selling for Charity on eBay"and "Seller's Guide to Researching Your Market."

eBay Radio:
Made famous by Griff, eBay Radio is broadcast at various timesduring the week at Featured guests always includeeBay experts, and you can interact during the call-in portions ofthe show. If you miss the live show, you can listen to the archivesat

The Disabled OnlineUsers Association helps bring tools, support, guidance andtechnology to the disabled. "Our goal at DOUA is to help thedifferently abled become self-sufficient and independent,"says Marjie Smith, founder and executive director of DOUA. "Ifyou're disabled and would like to start your own onlinebusiness, we can help." The DOUA Training Center includesstudents, mentors and volunteers, forming an educationalcommunity.

As your success takes you to the very top, there's anothercommunity you may want to join: the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance. Though theorganization is not associated with eBay Inc., members representmore than 70 million eBay transactions and $1 billion in eBay grossmerchandise volume annually. PESA member and Shoetime founderHardin says the learning never stops. "My advice to those whochoose the eBay way to make a living is to look at eBay as avehicle, but you will have to learn to apply the gas, hit thebrakes, keep a trunk full of merchandise and, most of all, rememberthat the steering wheel is continuously turning down your ownyellow brick road."

Learn to Teach
Would you like to teach others how to buy and sell on eBay? eBaywill not only train you, but will also provide you with up-to-datecourse materials, including eBay-approved Student Guides to teachindividuals and groups.

Upon registering at, you'll receive the "Basicsof Selling on eBay" welcome package, which includes yourinstructor's manual and an eBay University CD. Next, an onlinecourse will show you how to teach the "Basics of Selling oneBay" class. Upon finishing the course, you'll receive acertificate and student materials, and be allowed to use theofficial "Education Specialist Trained by eBay" logo.eBay also assists you with your marketing efforts by providing youwith advertisements in the Education Specialist online directory,links on the eBay University pages, and even a private EducationSpecialist discussion group that includes tips on running asuccessful teaching business. Once you're officially trained byeBay and have met certain criteria, you'll be eligible to learnto teach other courses, such as "Beyond the Basics,""Buying on eBay" and the popular holiday courses.

The cost is $149, which includes the training, instructor'smanual, CD, use of the official Education Specialist logo and alisting in the online directory.

Janelle Elms, eBay University instructor and onlinebusiness consultant, specializes in coaching individuals andcompanies to build successful businesses on eBay. She is thebestselling co-author of Tax Loopholes for eBay Sellers.
Janelle Elms

Janelle Elms eBay University instructor and dean of Online Business for LA College International, is creator of the eBay Stores Video Series.

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