So what have I learned?
1. Just because it's vintage, doesn't mean it will sell. There are trends that are hard to keep up with or know about. However, reading blogs with vintage finds and browsing Etsy can be helpful if you have the time. Mid-century items are hot which is probably no secret; items older than that seem less desirable. 80s stuff has definitely NOT come into vogue yet-- still considered junky and tacky (if the shoe fits...).
2. Having a sale/offering a coupon code does not help sales. As a matter-of-fact, the few times I offered a code, buyers didn't use it, and being the nice person I am, I refunded the discount which is time consuming, and that brings me to #3...
3. Selling online is more time consuming then one might think. Besides the initial shopping or making of an item, you must photograph it with up to 5 photos (for Etsy), perhaps even "stage" the first photo with an interesting knick knack, doily, prop of some sort. Then, of course, there is uploading and editing (bringing up the light is a good idea) of these photos. Okay, now, don't forget to measure the item, note any flaws, a copyright... to be added to the listing. Listing items on Etsy is relatively easy, but it does take time. Ebay's listing system is a little more time consuming to me.
4. Postage. Eww, postage! How many times have I miscalculated and wound up making 50 cents on a sale? No exaggeration there. Media mail is pretty easy to figure since the distance does not matter. Regular postage, however, is a crap shoot since you have no idea where a buyer will buy from. And it seems a lot of my sales are to California. So you can err on the side of high and keep your mouth shut, err on the side of high and offer a refund for the difference (most sellers offer refunds for a difference more than one or two dollars), or try not to fleece buyers and eat a little postage yourself. I've done the latter two. And speaking of postage, depending on what you sell, be prepared to start a hoard of boxes, envelopes, and bubble wrap and hope that really big item never sells.
5. While we're on the subject of postage-- keep in mind you will probably be going to your post office several times a week if business is good. Mine is nice but understaffed, and I end up waiting almost every time-- usually behind someone wanting to send a large box to Mars.
A vintage 45 that never sold last Christmas season. I'll relist it this year.
6. Seasonal items rarely sell after the holiday even if they are marked down considerably. Etsy listings last 4 months. I already listed Halloween items in my shops because of that. Of course, that being said, holiday items don't seem to sell much before a holiday either.
7. More than likely you will receive a question about an item such as: will you take a discount on an item, will you ship somewhere that you already stated you will not ship to. Some of these questions did pan out to a sale, but most of the people that submitted the questions fall off the face of the earth after you take the time to answer (i.e. tromp down to your basement in your nightgown to check some specific item late at night).
This old Halloween decoration never sold last year either, but there was a lot of interest there so I relisted it recently.
8. Pricing... that's a hard one. Obviously sellers want to make a tidy profit. Most buyers are looking for a bargain. I usually try to find similar items already for sale online and take it from there. Is mine in better or poorer condition? Is it a rare item? How badly do I want to unload it? You get the picture; lots to consider. Keep in mind, Etsy allows you to change the price. You can always lower it as time goes on.
9. Social media-- I admit it-- I'm an "itard." I don't do facebook, tweet, pinterest... I've read these can help sales so if that's your bag, you're one step ahead.
Vintage children's books don't sell as well as I thought they would.
10. A lot of Etsy folks add "freebies" or at least a business card with purchases. I tuck in a business card and an older note card, bookmark, etc. that I've made. These type of things are rarer on Ebay.
11. As for Ebay-- to be honest I don't have a lot of positives to say about it. Their fees are quite high. Recently, they changed seller ratings to mainly reflect how you ship items. I really go the extra mile to get orders out; have gone to the p.o. with migraines, in snow, etc..., but my seller rating right now is "standard" because I don't purchase Ebay's shipping labels and don't always provide tracking numbers-- I try to use the cheapest postage which doesn't always provide a tracking number. I can't see tacking on $1.05 to send an ATC in a first class envelope. I haven't made much profit on Ebay. Usually an item sits or sells for the low opening bid. I have sold a couple items with the "buy it now" option so you might want to give that a go. I also have had winning bidders not pay-- on Etsy payment is upfront. The only positive I can say about Ebay is people don't expect such fussy photos of your items.
12. Back to Etsy and my handmade shop: since dividing the shops, my handmade items have sat which I was sort of afraid would happen. I mean who writes letters or reads real books so note cards and bookmarks are hard to push. I do offer some other things, but sales have been way off which is typical of the summer. However, I may have to close the doors after this year if things don't pick up, meaning for me, vintage items sell better.
13. So one thing I know for sure-- you can never tell what will sell and what won't. It's hit and miss for some things and depends on what you're selling for other things. I would like to see some statistics on what percentage of listed items doesn't sell which brings me to relisting. If I have a considerable amount of views (which for me is anything over 10), I probably will relist an item once. After that-- garage sale pile or donation bag. I rarely relist the handmade items-- I have too many to goof around with stuff that didn't sell the first time around.
Note card currently listed.
14. I'm adding this one because I didn't want to stop on #13. Online selling is work if you want to do a good job which I guess is true of most everything. You deal with nice people and rude people which is true of most everything too. And like everything, if you don't enjoy it to some extent-- forget it!
An ACEO currently listed.
So if you stuck with me this far-- thanks! Any questions or thoughts are most welcome!