071: Purveyor of All Things Creative – Charlene Anderson

Charlene started selling on eBay in 1998 and on Amazon in 2002, and has grown her business from a $100 investment to a business that grosses in the high-six figures, all without employees! Known for her laser focus on wholesale sourcing before it was the cool thing to do, Charlene brings organizational skills, business smarts and enthusiasm to everything she does.

Interesting Notes

  • In 1984, Charlene has a brick and mortar store for yarns where she learned how to source her products. It is for people who knit and crochet and spun roll. But, yet, she shut the store down when she started spooling her time between Wyoming and Hawaii.
  • 3 years after closing her brick and mortar store, Charlene ventured to e-commerce. She is living in Hawaii then. She got back to her contacts, took a $100 and placed an order with somebody. She got the products and sold them. Since then she has kept building her e-commerce business.
  • At the time she started selling on eBay, pictures are not yet required in the listing. People could leave feedback for anybody, whether you have a transaction or not.
  • At those times, she had more time than money. So she put the time in to make her business grow. She became focused on sourcing good products. She does not have a lot of money so she cannot afford to make mistakes. She spends time in researching.
  • She has sold everything. From books to CDs, old hard drives (RAM), old computer mice and keyboards. Now, she sells more on arts and crafts. It is the field, she knows best.
  • She does everything in her business except bookkeeping. She outsources her bookkeeping because she hates doing it. It was like a torture to her.
  • The products she sells are all new. Those are from a manufacturer. In 95% of the cases, the manufacturer provides her the photos which are a huge time saver for her.
  • Charlene opted for a wholesale kind of sourcing her products to sell on eBay. There is only one thrift store in their town. The next one is 100 miles away. Garage sales don't exist except for May and July. If she'll hunt in a garage sale or a thrift store, her business will not progress.
  • Her advantages of selling new products: 1. She can do away with taking photos which can be difficult to learn the pro way, and a bit frustrating. 2. She can get listed faster. 3. With ease, she can replenish items from the manufacturer.
  • She does a lot of reviews, articles, and blog posts about her products. So, if people look for them, they will look for her eBay store. This is her secret in driving traffic to her eBay store.
  • She gives 100% free shipping. The shipping does not come out of her pocket. She builds the shipping cost in the price. It is also an incentive to the buyer because they usually do not want to figure out how much will it cost them. They want fast, simple and easy sale.
  • She does not practice auction because she has replenishable items.
  • She got 100% feedback. Her secret? 1. She treats her customers the way she wants to be treated. 2. She ships products on the same day. 3. She is accurate in her product description. 4. She allows a return and give the money back to the customers. 5. She identifies problems so it won't happen again on the next batches.
  • Last February, she went to a trade show to coach 6 people who have not been in a trade show. She helped them navigate the whole trade show thing so they can learn it and have confidence. She was amazed that the 6 people get interested in 6 different niches, 6 different products. It showed there is a wide range of interest and products people might sell.
  • Charlene goes to trade shows too to find the latest stuff that is coming in. In fact, she has got a new line of products in Germany that she has never seen anywhere.
  • What motivates her to keep going on her business? That is, being able to travel. She wants to earn enough money to travel because it is the most favorite thing she wants to do.
  • Charlene's great advice to sellers: 1. Do research no matter what you are selling. 2. Know the brands that are in your field. 3. Know the people who would buy your products. 4. Sell something that at least you enjoy looking at, handling and thinking about. 5. Be consistent in listing your products. 6. Look into yourself and ask, “what motivates me?”. If you don't love it and your heart is not on it, don't do it. If it keeps you going, then use it as motivation for the times when things are not going too well.

Quotes

  • “You can see the possibilities if you are willing.”
  • “It (eBay) is doable. It really is.”
  • “It takes steady growth. It takes focus. It takes a lot of work.”
  • “The thrill of learning can really motivate you too if you are interested in what you are learning.”
  • “You can do well in pretty much any category on eBay.”
  • “Treat your customers well and you will make sales even if other people are selling the same stuff.”
  • “It's hard to maintain. It's a lot of work. But if you love doing it, it's possible!”
  • “You can't put all your eggs in one basket.”
  • “Mean, nasty people, and people trying to scam you are the shoplifters in the online world.”
  • “Once you decide to do it (eBay), treat it as a business. You made a commitment to your customers when you take their money.”
  • “Treat it seriously. Do your job! And your job is to list products, sell products, ship products. Then you'll be successful.”
  • “Stumbling blocks come up in any kind of business. The litmus test is: are you willing to work on fixing those? Or are you going to give up?”

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