Sunday, May 15, 2005

Start Making Money at Home

Thank You, Louisville
Cliff Ennico

I was privileged to attend the recent Small eBusiness World conference in Chicago ( for business owners who are thinking about selling on the Internet but don't know how to get started.

"This is the first time anyone has ever attempted to bring all of the leading e-commerce players together in one place to help small business owners overcome their fears of selling online," says Paul Berger, serial entrepreneur and founder of MNetworks, Inc. (, the Florida-based media company that created and hosted Small eBusiness World. Attendees at the conference were able to choose from over 100 programs on virtually every aspect of starting and running a successful e-commerce business, offered by eBay, Yahoo!, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, the U.S. Postal Service and Entrepreneur magazine, among others.

Want to make really serious money selling online? Here are some tips and tools from folks I met at the conference:

-- A successful e-commerce business is a "three-legged stool" consisting of an online store, an Internet marketing strategy and a presence on eBay, according to e-commerce expert and author Jill Finlayson (;

-- Wanna put together a high-profile online auction of celebrity stuff for your charity or nonprofit organization? Check out, a Web-based service that can handle the whole thing; -- For only $15.95 a month, you can open an "eBay Store"

-- an e-commerce website on eBay that is search engine optimized for Yahoo!, Microsoft Network and Google -- and get up and running in about 10 minutes, according to Janelle Elms, author of "eBay Your Business" (;

-- According to eBay Motors expert Steve Lindhorst (, the biggest mistake people make when selling cars on eBay is failing to stay in close contact with bidders

-- Lindhorst recommends, a vehicle listing tool that handles most communications so you don't have to; -- Not only can you set up your own Weblog (or "blog") completely free on Google (through, but you can now post text and images to your "blog" directly from your cell phone;

-- The U.S. Postal Service now offers a "flat rate box" for $7.70 -- they give you the box, and you can stuff as much stuff in it as you want and pay only $7.70 for priority mail (that's first class) delivery, no matter how much the bloody thing weighs (, click on "What's New at USPS" link);

-- Yahoo! is now offering "Local Listings," a free five-page website for your store that you can easily customize with your logo, text and links to other sites (;

-- Wanna generate USPS-friendly mailing labels that won't show your customers the exact amount you paid for postage? Check out Endicia Premium, a complete desktop shipping system with built-in insurance (;

-- When investing in an e-commerce startup, investors look particularly for companies that are "using technology in a novel or intriguing way to give them an advantage over their larger competitors," according to Jon Staenberg, partner of Seattle-based venture fund Rustic Canyon Partners (;

-- Wanna create a database of all your eBay customers and send them newsletters by e-mail so they keep coming back to buy more stuff from you? Check out ConstantContact, a "do it yourself" e-mail marketing system (;

-- If you are selling stuff on eBay, Yahoo! Shopping,, Google, Froogle and other Internet sales channels and want to keep track of all of your auctions, sales, stores and listings in one place, check out MarketWorks, a Web-based solution for managing inventory and processing orders from any online sales channel (;

-- To build a successful e-commerce company quickly, "start playing around with this stuff; don't wait for things to get perfect, because [the world of e-commerce] is changing too fast, and you'll miss out on the best opportunities," according to Rieva Lesonsky, editor of Entrepreneur magazine. So you missed the show? Not to worry. MNetworks plans to launch a nationwide series of "eCommerce Boot Camps"

-- one-day programs where business owners can get hands-on training to get started selling online -- in the very near future. Stay tuned.

Cliff Ennico ( is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at