A woman who brings in $25 million a year selling clothes on eBay has revealed her tips for becoming a top seller in celebration of the e-commerce website's 20th anniversary on Thursday.
Linda Lightman, a 53-year-old eBay seller living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has turned her luxury consignment store, Linda's Stuff, into a multi-million dollar business over the course of 15 years.
The mother-of-two, who got her start selling her son's video games, told Daily Mail Online: 'Most people don’t know that the average household has over 52 items worth over $3,000 just lying around their house ready to sell.
Fortune hunter: Linda Lightman, a 53-year-old top eBay seller who runs the consignment shop Linda's Stuff, makes $25 million in sales a year on the e-commerce website
‘But you don't have to be limited by what is in your home. Branch out. You can make money selling other items on eBay,' she added.
For Linda, a former labor and employment attorney in New York, it all began when she ran out of video games and started selling her own clothes, shoes and accessories instead.‘I was always so passionate about fashion and for me it was a no brainer,’ she explained. ‘Within weeks, my friends asked me to sell their clothes and so on. Word of mouth is a very powerful marketing tool and it spread quickly. I instantly knew I was on to something.’By 2006, she had 20 employees and moved Linda’s Stuff into a 5,000-square-foot office space; today, the company is still thriving, almost a decade later, turning over an impressive $25 million every year.
Business model: Linda said that aspiring eBay sellers should do their research and understand the marketplace for the items they want to sell‘We list approximately 5,000 items a day with approximately 140,000 unique items listed on a site,’ the Brooklyn Law School alumna said.‘Linda’s Stuff has truly become a cult of sorts for some people who visit our site and check out the new things we are listing and selling daily.'E-auction site eBay, which was founded in September 1995 by French-born Iranian-American entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar, has 157 million buyers and 25 million sellers worldwide.And as far as Linda is concerned, the money is there for the taking for anyone who knows - or is willing to learn - what makes a good sell. A pair of shoes is sold every two seconds on eBay in the US – and a cellphone every four seconds, and Linda has shared her top tips for becoming a top seller.
- 1. Do your research'Even though you may be familiar with the product, it is important to educate yourself about the market,' Linda explained to Daily Mail Online, noting that you should ask yourself: 'Is there a market for the item you are thinking about selling?' 'eBay is an incredible marketplace because you will most likely find a buyer for almost anything you are thinking about selling.'
- The lawyer-turned-eBay star advised that you should 'learn how to price by researching what similar items are selling for'.
- 2. Pick a great user ID
- 'Clearly, I wish I had taken this advice,' Linda said.
- 'For me, I chose Linda’s Stuff because at the time it was simply my own stuff. Had I known then, I would have chosen more wisely.'
- It's all about the pictures! Quality is key
- 3. Use quality images and detailed descriptions
- 'It’s all about the picture. Remember the potential buyer cannot see or touch the item so he or she is relying on your image. Quality is key,' Linda noted. 'You don’t have to be a professional photographer - I certainly was not when I started out. But you do want a crisp, sharp image.'
- The business woman also advised users to take 'lots of pictures'.
- 'Get up close and personal with the item,' she said. 'Show all the detail that a buyer would want to see.'
- And while the images are of the utmost importance, Linda says that the most successful eBay sellers are the ones who write detailed descriptions of their products.
- 'Describe, describe. The pictures are great but they need a great description to highlight the item,' she explained. 'Is the item new or pre-loved? Does it have tags? What is the fabric content? What are the measurements? The more you include, the better.'
- The site is competitive, so sellers need to ensure that their items stand out.
- 'Write a great title. Don’t waste the 80-character limit on words like "wow",' Linda said. 'Make sure to include the designer name, size, color, style and other identifiers that buyers would search for.'
- 4. Customer service is key
- Linda advised that sellers should clearly state their terms for payment, shipping and returns and always 'be prepared to answer questions from potential buyers'.
- 'Even if you have included the information in your description, the buyer often wants to know additional things,' she said. 'Remember the customer is always right!'
- 5. Be prompt and reliable
- 'Once the buyer has paid for the item, be prepared to pack and ship it quickly and in the manner agreed upon in your listing,' she said, advising that sellers should 'pack the item nicely'.
- And while Linda noted that buys like free shipping, she said if you are charging, you should be 'reasonable'.
- 6. Have fun
- One of the reasons Linda is so successful is that she truly loves what she does.
- The entrepreneur advises eBay users to 'think outside the box' when selling their items, utilizing social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- 'Also, remember eBay makes selling on your smartphone incredibly simple, so get selling,' she added.
Excellent point: Linda advised that sellers should remember that the 'customer is always right'
Linda has become an expert at leveraging eBay’s platform and she remembers how quickly she got hooked.‘I was fascinated with every aspect of eBay’s model - how to take the right pictures, write the perfect listing and market each item to ensure that my friends and I would get the most money for them,’ she said.‘I kept going, until almost every room in my house was filled with boxes and clothes from friends and their friends. My home was 100 per cent eBay.’Soon enough, Linda thought it was time to take things to the next level. I was fascinated with every aspect of eBay’s model
‘When the business outgrew my ability to solely list and take pictures, I quickly placed an ad to hire my first employee from a local art school,’ she explained.‘I also enlisted the help of my husband - together we took a leap of faith with Linda’s Stuff and never looked back.’Her husband of 26 years, Fred, who graduated from Columbia Law School like the current eBay CEO Devin Wenig, joined Linda’s Stuff in 2003 and is the president of the company.Their oldest son, Max, 25, recently joined his mother's company as the vice-president of business development after working at an investment banking house in New York for two years.‘It is a true honor to work with him and we now have a true family business,’ Linda said. Meanwhile, their other son, Jonathan, 22, just graduated college and is working at a private equity firm in New York.
Family affair: Linda's company has grown rapidly over the course of 15 years, and her husband Fred (right) joined the company in 2003, serving as president of Linda's Stuff
And Linda's company has grown faster than she has ever imagined.‘I didn’t realize how big my company was going to be, so we moved offices four times in less than seven years,’ she said. ‘We first had a 5,000-square-foot location, then 12,000, then 25,000, to finally our new home of 93,000 square feet.’‘We have truly grown in leaps and bounds - I should have trusted my instincts more.’Instead of eBay’s original auction format, Linda’s store sells items instantly at a fixed price. The ‘buy it now’ feature, introduced in November 2000, has become the preferred option for a vast majority of sellers: 70 per cent of the items sold on eBay are sold this way - and 80 per cent are new. ‘I didn’t realize how big my company was going to be
‘eBay has always been about connecting buyers and sellers around the world – but the nature of the items and the format has evolved as eBay has grown over the years,’ said eBay’s former CEO John Donahoe, who left in July 2015.‘I remember constantly being amazed on how powerful it was to connect buyers and sellers around the globe.’Linda praised eBay’s platform for enabling her to reach an audience of 155 million shoppers around the world. This has been one of the website’s distinctive traits over the past 20 years according to John.
Linda, who went to law school because she thought this was what ‘traditional success’ looked like, says she has learned it’s important to do what makes you happy.
‘People say if you do what you love and love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life – I never believed it until I started Linda’s Stuff.’
She is one of 25 million eBay sellers around the globe. Twenty years after its creation, the website has 800 million listings at any given time. It made more than $660 billion in sales in the 21st century.