Over the last several years, rising numbers of people have bought and sold goods at online auction sites such as eBay. Naturally, many folks who joined internet auctions soon realized the income potential available to those who could sell successfully. These have included stay-at-home parents looking for some extra income and entrepreneurs at heart who wanted to start their own full time business. Online auction sites are attractive to new entrepreneurs because they're a target rich environment: people cruising internet auction sites tend to be people wanting to buy something as opposed to people just looking for information. In order to start a business selling through internet auctions, you first have to decide what market to target and figure out how to obtain a solid product you can sell for profit at a reasonable retail price. Next, you have to figure out how to sell it. Here, I address the last issue, which is the easiest: how to sell online using auction sites. If you follow these two basic tips then you should succeed in launching your business, provided that you have a suitable product to offer that you know has some consumer demand. The two are: 1. Provide accurate and attractive product descriptions 2. Understand the policies of your auction site and payment provider, e.g., PayPal Everyone knows by now that a photo is a must-have. The text descriptions are equally important, but sellers sometimes skimp on this part. There is no point in endlessly fretting about "What should I sell online?" only to later cut corners when you prepare the auction listings. A detailed description is particularly important if the product is sold with multiple accessories, such as a camera with different lenses. Also, if you are aware that the product is used with another item that is not part of your online auction, it is best to state explicitly that the other item is not included in the auction. These can be illustrated with iPod auction listings. You probably know already that iPods are supplied with variable amounts of memory. Your description of the memory capacity for the specific item you are selling must be accurate, because if an item advertised a 32 Gb iPod turns out to actually be an 8 Gb model you can jdbyg the buyer will lay a claim against you to get his money refunded. This is also why it can be hazardous to copy auction listings from another seller for a product if you don't really know anything about it: yours might not be configured the same way his was. Negative feedback can be very damaging when you are in the startup phase for an online business. Suppose you are selling a used iPod without any headphones. Your picture just shows an iPod and no headphones are visible, since you aren't auctioning a headset or earbuds with it. An iPod needs a headset of some sort, though, and any new iPod purchased in a store would include earbuds. Assuming that the buyer understands a headset is not part of the auction based strictly on your photo is risky. I advise an explicit, written statement that headphones are not included. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure to make money online. Policies of online auction sites and their payment providers can change over time and you need to be aware of what their pricing or other policies are before jumping into selling in online auctions. As an example, occasional Paypal holds on payments have recently caused confusion for some new eBay sellers. Sellers have at times reported holds of up to 21 days on payments from PayPal. Of course, a seller is still required to ship items to buyers after Paypal has received cleared payment. This means a seller may be compelled to ship items before receiving payment, even funds to cover the shipping charges. Some folks have listed items for sale without recognizing this possibility and have then gotten frustrated when confronted with an unexpected delay getting paid. Online auctions generally do not require sellers to accept PayPal, but it really is the easiest service to use when starting a business with online auction sites. If you want to avoid PayPal, internet merchant accounts can always be used instead. Other options may also be available depending on the terms of your auction site-just beware of checks from buyers claiming to be from Nigeria! Another area of frustration for sellers is not unique to online auction sites: returns! Some folks don't want to cope with returns, so they'll list an item with a return policy of "no returns accepted". Others offer a return policy such as "returns accepted within 7 days, buyer is responsible for return shipping plus a restocking fee." Requiring the buyer to pay return shipping and/or charging a restocking fee is standard. No matter what you write as a return policy, however, you can be forced to accept returns if the buyer alleges you provided an item that was Significantly Not As Described (SNAD). PayPal allows SNAD complaints to be leveled up to 45 days after the sale, so even if your listing said that returns would not be accepted after 7 days you are still bound by the PayPal SNAD policy if you accept payment through PayPal. The terms of service for online auction sites and payment providers are not unduly complicated, but make sure you read the fine print before you try to start selling. Participating in auctions first as a buyer is usually a good idea. This also helps you to establish a good reputation within the online auction sites. If you have obtained a quality product to sell that consumers want to buy, you are able to create attractive and clear auction listings, and you understand how your auction site works, then you have all the makings of a successful internet auction based business. Good luck and have fun when you buy and sell online!