Why Run Test Auctions?
It is time for an update on the Edward Weston photo plates that I researched and purchased in my Print Sorcery preview videos.
As you know we did a test listing on the 5th of June with 10 unmatted plates listed as 7 day auctions with a start price of $49.99 each.
When you are researching eBay for popular print niches you will notice that some sellers use the auction format to sell their prints while others use fixed price “buy it now” listings.
But how do you establish the best selling format and the start price/buy it now price that is going to yield the highest profit?
My strategy is to ‘test the water’ with a 7 day auction listing beginning with a relatively high starting price (you remember the Edward Weston plates only cost me $4 each).
The idea is to start high and if the plates don’t sell to move the starting price down and run a second 7 day auction. At the moment we are in the middle of our second test auction with a start price of $37 as no plates sold at the $49.99 start price in the first auction.
This process is repeated until we get down to the price that is sufficiently low to encourage bidders.
Once we get a couple of bidders involved eBay does the rest by emailing each bidder as they are outbid to encourage higher bids and this ensures we get the best possible final value.
Using this technique avoids the situation were you list your prints at a low start price and get just one bidder leaving you to ponder whether your one bidder would have happily paid a higher price.
When you have successfully sold several prints from the same book you can take an average of the final values and test this as a ‘buy it now’ price.
To Mat or Not To Mat – That Is the Question….
The first point I want to stress on the subject of matting/mounting your prints is that it is possible to make very healthy profits by selling your prints ‘as is’ ie. completely unmatted.
The majority of serious print sellers that I have researched on eBay do exactly this and I recommend you do likewise particularly if you are just starting out.
The key thing is to jump in, gain confidence, build your reputation (feedback) and make some money.
Buy a low priced book remove the plates & list them ‘as is’.
Once you have mastered the research and listing basics and you have regular money coming in you can begin to develop your business by buying a small supply of mats and testing whether the final values achieved justify the additional money and time invested.
Mounting Concerns… I’m Here To Help!
My UK mat supplier is Kadinsky.co.uk I have used them for over 5 years and have always found their quality, prices and service to be top notch.
When ordering your mats you need a ‘mat kit’ consisting of mat, backing board and self seal cellophane bag. Kadinsky are happy to custom cut mats to your specification and their current price for 12 x 16 inch mat kits with custom cut apertures is £1.35 plus VAT and carriage (this works out at around £2 per kit inclusive which is approx $3.23)
Mats measuring 12 x 16 inches are large mats and I obtained quotes for this size because you are unlikely to need anything bigger so this gives you an idea of the maximum cost.
I have done some research to find a US supplier and the company I recommend is bux1picturematting.com
They also operate an eBay store (bux1matting) with a 100% feedback score of 12,899. They provide a custom mat cutting service and a comparative quote for 12 x 16 inch mat kits comes out at $4.43 per kit (inclusive of postage).
All of my email enquiries were answered promptly and helpfully and a purchase of custom cut mat kits was dispatched and received within 3 days (by Deb in the US).
Successful Packaging: Where To Buy Yours?
You will require rigid backed envelopes (also known as ‘board backed envelopes’) to protect your prints in transit.
There are a lot of cheap foreign imports on the market which use flimsy cardboard backs so take care to order heavy duty envelopes using 950 micron board.
My UK supplier is Defendapack, they sell a range of sizes and the price for the 18 x 12.75 inch envelopes (this size will take the 12 x 16 inch mats mentioned above) is 91p each inclusive of VAT and UK mainland postage (this is based on a small order of 10, ordering 50 brings the price down to 38p each).
In the US, rigid, “no-bend” mailers seem to be the only way to go. Deb has been unable to find the exact same type of mailer that I use.
The US supplier that she found sells no-bend, “stay-flat” kraft mailers.
They operate an eBay store (Bubblefast!) and have a 99.9% feedback score over 52,525. They also have a separate website bubblefast.com.
All their prices include free US shipping and insurance.
Bubblefast! sells a box of 100 rigid 13 x 18 inch mailers for $92.95… working out to $0.93 each. It would appear that when using this type of mailer, no additional interior cardboard would be necessary as it may be with the board backed envelopes (depending on whether your print is matted or not).
ALL of the recommendations in this post are based on my personal buying experience and research and I will NOT earn any commission should you buy from these suppliers.
Looking To Learn It From Scratch?
Check out my eBook Prints Make Profits which includes a step by step guide to matting and packaging plus my eBay listing best practices (and all my up to date research techniques).
You get a $10 subscriber discount through this link!
This offer is now closed, to be kept in the loop with more great money making ideas sign up to my blog using the opt-in form below!
|Want 5 easy side hustles?|
Get your FREE guide: "5 Easy Etsy Product Lines You Can Do Right Now!"
Marilyn aka G-Ma says
Thank you for this wonderful information, Stuart. I have your Print Sorcery and Prints Make Profits. They are both wonderful resources. Thank you for the link to the mailers. I was having a hard time finding them.
Hello Stuart. Thank you for finding the time to lead me to this post as well as reply to my other questions.
Just a question for a newbie, I been reading all of your blogs, newsletter regarding Print Sorcery. It don’t seem to hard at all from what I read. But is there a call for this??
I guess people are really into buy prints??? Can you make some kind of money from this??
Just getting all my facts first.
Thanks for your question, Antoinette!
The vintage print market on eBay is huge!
There are many print sellers with feedback running into the thousands who are making great profits simply selling plates (prints) removed from old books!
I know it sounds too good to be true but you really have to check this out.
You can learn everything you need to know to do this for yourself in my eBook Prints Make Profits
Seeing is believing so grab it now before the price goes up!
Hi Stuart, very informative post. It is always a worry once you get into selling something how much the ‘other stuff’ will cost. I just had to change the packaging for my chimneys and the boxes I now have to buy cost me 80p more each than the old boxes that are no longer available anywhere. It’s a shame because I keep having to put the prices up and my regular customers have noticed, I already put the prices up when VAT went up, as it raised the price of the chimneys I buy.
Enjoy the journey.
Andrew J Titcombe says
I am in Cumbria (just up the road from you I guess) and found the UK packaging link helpful
ALSO I sell one-off collectibles in vinyl records and CD and your pricing suggestion has been a light bulb moment for me as lately I have been achieving simply the initial (low) start price on my auctions. Will be starting as fro now to try your strategy with my collectible and if it works then if you’re ever up this way I may have to buy you a cuppa
P S and I am very tempted to look at the prints market!
Biker Gifts says
I am interested in looking to sell motorcycle prints on my site and I have read your prints make profits book and some of the place you say to find prints.I’m a little confused about whether you actually orint these yourself etc.You give great advice.
Thanks for your question!
My main focus is on finding sought after prints in old books and removing and selling them (in this case copyright law doesn’t apply)
You can print your own copies (or have them done professionally) provided the source print is in the public domain (not copyright protected) and I provide a guide “Public Domain Questions Answered” in my Print Sorcery course (you can get a special subscriber only discount through this link).
Stuart! Great post full of very useful information for us newbie print sellers! I am testing the waters, now, too… Sold three prints, and have lots of product collected for many more auctions. I’m finding that mailers and pre-cut mats are expensive here in the USA so these resources for mats and mailers are wonderful to learn about!
Thanks so much!
Looking forward to update to Prints Makes Profits and was lucky to get in on the old price!
Highly recommend your great eBook to new readers!
Stuart…..also meant to say looking fwd to your update on matting an packaging……..thanks
Thanks Stuart…………great info and just what you promised……………and the To mat or not to Mat gets me going……..thanks again…………
Thanks for the great information, Stuart. I have bought your resources and am about to stick my toe into the water and start selling prints. I was wondering about old books where the prints may be partially damaged/stained, etc.–Are these still sellable?
Thanks in advance!
I have sold prints with small tears and creases but damage like this does have an effect on the final values.
I wouldn’t recommend you invest your money in damaged plates, there are plenty of opportunities out there so it isn’t necessary to take the risk.
Good luck with your sales!