I started selling on Ebay quite by accident. I was living in Japan at the time and I read on a Japan related forum how a guy had sold something on Ebay to someone from Texas for several hundred dollars. He obviously didn't want to reveal what the product was, but it gave me the idea, that perhaps I could find old antique and collectible items in Japan and sell them on Ebay.

I started by searching in shops and old markets for things to sell. I noticed that the items weren't particularly cheap. Then I remembered how Ebay doesn't even exist in Japan and the online auction marketplace is actually run by Yahoo Japan. Most Japanese, especially young Japanese aren't particularly interested in antiques.

I found many people were selling old stuff from around their house from all over Japan and most of it was being sold for very little. When I searched on Ebay, I found that similar items were selling for several hundred dollars. I knew then that I had definitely found a way to make money.

I still wasn't sure what items would sell best and I only had one way to find out. I started buying old cast iron tea pots. Many were rusted on the inside and were no longer functional, but they made beautiful decorative pieces. Unfortunately, they were very heavy to send by air or sea mail. I undercharged for the shipping and didn't make much money.

I then discovered the huge interest in samurai swords. Samurai swords in Japan have to be registered with the police and they are very expensive. Some Chinese sellers sell knock off products, but they are nothing like the real thing from Japan. I did notice however that there was a pretty good market in sword fittings, particularly "sword guards". Sword guards are call "tsuba" in Japanese and they are usually circular shaped with a rectangular hole in the center for the sword or "katana".

Some of the pieces were beautifully decorated. I could often buy them for 1000-2000 yen or $10-$20 and sell them for around US$100. They are small and easy items to send in the mail. I develop a bit of a strange hobby learning about the different tsubas and their makers. I have lost track how many I sold and I feel a little bit of regret now that I didn't keep any for myself.

I also started buying and selling Japanese war memorabilia, which was another lucrative market, but keeping that kind of stuff around the house was a little freaky.

I developed a list of people who were interested in my auctions. I also set up a basic website, to list what items I had. It was one of my first forays into the world of making money online. I am a little disappointed now that I didn't keep the website online.

From the experience, I found how much I love working on the internet. I eventually gave up working on Ebay, because I didn't enjoy some of the aspects to it like packing the goods and taking them to the post office. I am no longer active on Ebay but I didn't learn some valuable lessons from the experience, which I still use today in my efforts at making money online.

  • keep exploring new markets and ways of making money
  • keep your customers happy at all times. If someone asks for a refund, just get it to them, no questions asked.
  • look for ways to automate your business as much as possible
  • And mostly importantly make sure you have fun doing it!