Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

Overcoming eBay's Digital Download Prohibition

In March 2008, eBay prohibited the sales of digital items downloaded by buyers after payment.

Now you can no longer list downloadable items in categories outside everything else > information products, and must use classified ads rather than auctions or fixed price listings.

This took me by surprise. Just before this prohibition on digital downloads, I'd spent two hours putting together an ebook I could sell on eBay. I listed the book once and got a few sales before eBay changed the rules.

A note about the two hours, I learned long ago not to spend a long time setting things up unless I know for a fact they'll sell. Today I tend to test something thrown together quickly and then if I get some quick sales, put more time into the project.

Since I'd proven people would buy the download, I was planning on improving the auction and testing a few things to get it dialed in.

Yesterday, eBay changed their downloaded products rules.

Did I waste the two hours?

Before I answer that, let me explain exactly what I do with these ebooks.

I write ebooks designed specifically to be listed in categories other than information products. I don't write ebooks about how to make money while picking your nose.

I'm making this distinction because the ebooks I have were designed to be a slightly profitable way of building an interested newsletter list.

Here's an example. If I wanted to build a list of people interested in vintage Volkswagen beetles, I'd put together a simple report about buying your first Volkswagen. I'd list it on eBay in the VW categories.

It would sell for a few dollars and everyone who bought one would surely be interested in additional information about bugs. When they were downloading the ebook, I'd talk them into signing up for my VW newsletter.

I'd at least break even selling the download and then make money offering other items to the newsletter readers.

That's the concept as it existed last week.

Today that's not possible.

Or is it?

Let me go back to my earlier unanswered question first -- did I waste my two hours?

I don't think so. I think it will increase my work improving the ebook, but that work will also allow me to get higher prices and may make it harder for people to copy me.

Working Around eBay's Digital Download Rules

FIRST OPTION - List the digital ebook in the everything else > information products category. I don't think this will work because few buyers would see it.

Sure I could add keywords to the title and description so it came up in searches, but I was suspended for doing that six years ago. Keyword spamming is not a long term solution.

For some people this might be an option. If you run a lot of auctions for related items, say you sell VW parts, you could link to the classified ad within your eBay auctions.

The eBay linking policy allows you to link to your other auctions, and many people use cross promotion tools to do this.

As long as you are actually listing items for sale, you shouldn't have a problem linking to your ad.

This isn't a long term solution, but will work. It's also not as effective in attracting eyeballs to your ebook page because there are additional steps.

If you use classified ads to list ebooks, don't force people to read your offer twice. Put a short benefit laden summary in the classified ad, and a longer sales letter on your website.

The short summary goes on eBay so more people end up on your website where you can ask for their email address.

SECOND OPTION - Convert the download to a printed report. My fancy $150 laser printer does booklets. I also own a stapler with a big throat. I can print a 27 page ebook on 7 sheets of paper. With a little more formatting I might get it down to 5 sheets.

Then I'd have to mail the reports which involves envelopes and stamps. My math is $1.15 per booklet mailed which assumes having a printer do them.

I currently make $1.01 per ebook sale at a $1.49 price, so I could easily eat the 14 cent loss if I have a back end that is profitable or just raise the price to $1.99 or $2.49.

Your sales might go up because of the printed nature of the report. However, sign ups to the newsletter might go down because the buyer doesn't have to go to the website to download the book.

THIRD OPTION - Put the digital ebook on a CD. A CD in a mailer costs about $2.20 postpaid to US address. That assumes I pay someone to duplicate them for me. I'd have to charge $2.79 to break even which is still do able.

I doubt this is a good option for 3 reasons.

Firstly sending a printed booklet is cheaper and easier. Any copy shop can print booklets meaning I don't have to drive 25 miles to get CDs duplicated.

Secondly just sending a CD with a PDF on it will surely increase support requests. I have problems with people now who complain because they didn't get the book in the mail. I can imagine the problems when a buyer gets a CD in the mail after ordering a book.

This second option isn't a bad option if you're dealing with a larger book with higher printing and mailing costs. You could explain the book comes on a CD to lower the cost of printing and shipping and note how you're passing along the savings to the buyer in your descriptions.

Thirdly, the book on CD has the same problem of people having no reason to go to your website as the printed booklet.

FOURTH OPTION - Send something in the mail, and give buyers a bonus ebook they download immediately after paying. The item in the mail is the offer we sell on eBay. The ebook is the download.

Remember, eBay says we can no longer sell downloadable reports in auctions. We can sell something else and give buyers a downloadable report as a bonus though.

So what would we send them?

Whatever it is, it has to be something people want. We might have to explain why they want it, but it needs to be desirable enough to get people to click on the auction title when it comes up in a search result.

It also has to be cheap and easy to make, pack and ship. Something we can do ourselves, or have done in small quantities as we need them.

How about a CD with an interview on it? I can do interviews in my sleep. They aren't very hard. Just go down an outline on the phone and record the call. Interviews have higher perceived values, so we could charge more for them.

How about a CD or DVD with some videos on it? These aren't that hard to do either. If you're doing a product about something related to the web or computers screen capture videos are easy to do and you could put them on a CD.

My VW example isn't suited to a screen capture video, but it wouldn't be much work to take a video camera outside and crawl around my car showing people what to look for. We could just show buyers what I overlooked. The download could just be a checklist of things to look at.

Side note - My 1969 convertible VW needed some small pieces of rubber sealing here and there -- about $400 worth. If I'd bought a video that explained what the rubber cost, I could have used the knowledge to talk the seller down more when I bought the car.

Read that last paragraph again. That is a major benefit for buying the video.

I covered CD costs earlier. DVDs cost about $3.20 each duplicated and mailed. Videos have bigger perceived values so we could charge more for them.

Doing a CD or DVD is more work than just providing link to a download page, but will surely result in less competition. At the right price points, the videos could be a profit center.

The videos might also open new doors you haven't considered.

As an example, this newsletter you are reading right is a direct result of me trying to figure out how to sell my collector strategies manual that explains how to buy antiques and collectibles.

I was looking for a cost effective way to sell the package because ads in antiques magazines weren't working well. Neither were ads on eBay.

I did a video on how to sell antiques and collectibles on eBay. The idea was to sell the video and wrap a sales letter for my package around it.

It turned out there was a really big market for eBay instruction. Today eBay instruction is over 70% of my revenue.

By trying to solve a problem, I found a whole new market.

While you cannot sell digital items on eBay anymore, you can sell cds, booklets, and videos. Think about how you can use these to generate new leads for your business.


PS. Adding Backend Sales To Your eBay Sales is an interview about selling simple reports on eBay, then selling people additional products outside eBay.

PPS. Prospecting on eBay is a package that contains step by step instructions for running auctions to build a newsletter list.

"The IWantCollectibles Guide to Ebay Sales"
is now available for immediate download.

Many of the articles and free reports here on IWantCollectibles were originally sent to readers of my Antiques and eBay Newsletter. Not all articles make it onto the website, and readers also get notices of free reports and special offers.

Ted at his desk.

Most Popular Articles on IWantCollectibles
  • Finding Products To Sell On eBay
    How to find products to sell on eBay is the most common question I get from my readers. This page has links to all the articles and reports I've written about finding eBay products.
  • How To Be An Antique Dealer
    The best way to start an antiques or collectibles business. Part 1 of a five part series on being an antiques dealer.
  • Understanding eBay Changes 2011
    This page covers eBay changes and has links to all articles on IWantCollectibles about working within the changes. Sign up for my free newsletter for articles covering new changes as they are announced.
  • Tips for Starting an eBay Consignment Business
    Selling on consignment is the perfect way to start on eBay. This article is an introduction to consignment selling, and explains what you'll need to be successful. First in a series on eBay Consignment.
  • Shopping For eBay Products At Garage Sales
    Thirteen tips for garage sale shopping. Part one of a two part series on garage and yard sales.
  • Finding New Products for eBay
    If you want to sell new products you need to concentrate on items others are not selling. You need to find sources other sellers are unaware of. That is not hard to do. Here's a list of articles to get you started on the right path.
  • eBay Auction Category, Title And Keyword Advice
    A series of articles about getting your items found on eBay. Covers category selection, eBay keyword rules, and researching keywords. Finally you'll learn how to write an informative, keyword rich title.

The IWantCollectibles Guide to Ebay Sales
is now available for immediate download.

Free Antiques and eBay Newsletter
Get 9 Free eBay Ebooks
Free emailed newsletter includes free ebooks, interviews with eBay sellers, and helpful articles. You can unsubscribe at any time.

More Newsletter Information

eBay Questions and Answers

About .

Contact Terry

Free eBay Ebooks

eBay Advice

Antiques Advice

Antiques and eBay Reports

eBay Articles

Finding Products To Sell On eBay

What to Sell On eBay?

How eBay's Best Match Search Works

How To Sell On eBay For Beginners

The Drop Shipping Myth Explained

Dealing With eBay Changes 2018

Overcoming Common eBay Seller Frustrations

27 Ways To Find Antiques To Sell On eBay

Advice for Writing and Selling Ebooks On EBay

Selling Antiques On eBay

Using Facebook and Pinterest to Promote eBay Auctions

Tips for Starting an eBay Consignment Business

eBay Title Tips

Selling At Antique Shows Versus On eBay

Buying eBay Products at Yard Sales

Finding eBay Products At Garage Sales

23 Tips For Taking Better eBay Pictures

Finding Wholesale Products To Sell On eBay

How To Use eBay Listing Upgrades And Options Efficiently

Does An eBay Store Make Sense For You?

Minimizing eBay Fees

19 Ways To Quickly Improve Your eBay Auctions

eBay's Detailed Seller Ratings Reexamined

The Fixed Price Listing Trap

Finding eBay Keywords For Old Items

Adding Youtube Videos To Your eBay Auctions

Commonly Used eBay Abbreviations

How To Drive Traffic To eBay Auctions and Websites

Selecting The Best Category And Keywords For Your eBay Auction

Finding eBay Products By Finding People

Identifying eBay Products People Want

Signing Up People For Your eBay Consignment Services

Motivating eBay Auction Visitors To Bid

Getting Started Selling On eBay

eBay Keyword Rules Explained

How To Add Free Pictures To eBay

eBay Selling Tips

Free eBay Shipping Calculator

Shipping Advice for eBay Sellers

eBay Packing With Paper

eBay Arbitrage Profits

Figuring eBay Consignment Fees

How To Have Negative Feedback Removed For Under $500

Finding Antiques And Collectibles To Sell On Ebay

eBay Reports

Setting Your Ebay Business Up For Growth

Start Your Own eBay Consignment Business

Finding Profitable eBay Niches

Finding Profitable Hidden Bargains at Garage Sales

Finding Wholesale Products To Sell On eBay

Secret eBay Product Sources

Selling Public Domain Items on eBay

BMO Harris Mortgage Brokers Lie

The Resentful Consumer
© Copyright 2001-2020 Terry Gibbs
IWantCollectibles LLC
IWC LLC PO BOX 842, Mesa, AZ 85211