Everyone’s thoughts are obviously turning to getting a bit of sun…

To be honest, this awful weather we’ve been having here has gone beyond a joke now! And coincidentally, I’ve noticed a distinct theme appearing in your emails this week! Everyone’s thoughts are obviously turning to getting a bit of sun, and many have been asking what you should do about your ebay business when you go on holiday. Now, I’m absolutely with you on this one!

Once the school summer holidays are upon us in mid July, I will be taking a holiday myself and I can’t wait! After the coldest winter, spring and summer so far, a bit of warm sun has been on my mind too!

We all like to have a break or two during the year when we can relax, unwind and generally get away from it all, even if like me, you love your job, it’s nice to take a step back once in a while, get a bit of sun and recharge your batteries. And this is fairly easy if you work for someone else; you simply book your 2 weeks off in advance with your boss, make sure your work is up to date and then hop on the plane with hopefully, no thoughts of work until you get back! It’s a bit different though when you are self-employed, which you will be if you run an online business as your only source of income.

Most self-employed people understand that unpaid holidays come with the territory. After all, unless you can take your work with you on holiday (which doesn’t really make it a holiday!) then you won’t be earning any money until you get back and the reality is, that if you really want a break and want to get away from it all then you must simply work a little bit harder on the run up to your time off and be prepared to do the same on your return. And this goes for ebay selling too.

I’ve been asked several times this week: “What do I do about my ebay listings when I go on holiday for 2 weeks?”

Well, there are several options for you to consider, which are all very straight-forward and which I’ve explained here.

First consider: Does two weeks off mean just that? …Two weeks OFF?

If you really, really want two weeks off from doing any kind of work what-so-ever then read on. This is the easiest option to take, although not a profitable one which is probably why it is the rarest option to be used by successful ebay sellers. ebay is very addictive and after working hard to reach the top of the searches and with a number of sales under your belt, the last thing you will want to do is this.

Never the less, it is an option although not one of my own top 3! Simply end all your listings a couple of days before you go away, leaving yourself enough time to dispatch any outstanding orders and ensuring that you email your recent customers to let them know that you will be unable to answer any queries until the date of your return – you can include a note in their parcels or you can add a note to your automated dispatch email via Selling Manager Pro to make this really easy.

Then schedule your listings to restart a couple of days before the end of your holiday so that they have been running for a short time when you return, or of course you can restart your listings once you get back. Remember that you won’t lose your search placement or sales history if you end and restart a listing within 7 days. Any longer than that and you may want to make sure that you schedule your listings to restart whilst you are away as suggested above.

Obviously as I’ve said, if you go for this option you will have no orders coming in during your holiday which on the plus side, will give you a true break and a chance to unwind, but on the downside, no orders equals no money, so if that fills you with fear and dread, you will need to consider the following alternatives;


How to let your ebay listings run during your time away

You can leave your listings running (hurrah!), however you must make it absolutely clear that you are unable to answer queries or dispatch orders between date x and date y otherwise you might find an overflowing inbox and a lot of unhappy customers waiting for you on your return! So, if you have a small number of listings running, just add a note to each of your descriptions politely stating the facts and that customers are still welcome to order, tell them that there will be a small delay in dispatch and all orders will be posted immediately after date y.

I realise that due to ebay’s rules about having to display your business address somewhere within your listings there may be security issues here, especially if you are working from home – which most, if not all of you will be. So, please don’t write the following on your listings:

“Unfortunately I will be unable to dispatch orders or answer queries between 1st August and 14th August as I will be out of the country on holiday for 2 weeks”

You might as well add “Please feel free to burgle my home – the spare key is under the second flowerpot on the left and my valuables are hidden in the cupboard under the stairs.”

Do write this (or similar) instead:

“Due to a short delay in the arrival of exciting brand new stock, orders placed up to and including 14th August will be immediately dispatched on the 16th August. Apologies for any inconvenience and please feel free to continue with your order as it will receive our prompt attention on this date.”

I know this is bending the truth just a tiny bit, but it’s not doing anyone any harm and it is protecting you. So, in my opinion this is perfectly acceptable. It’s the customers’ decision then whether they order from you or not. It’s subtle, covers you for the dates you will be away without letting on that you will actually be away and importantly, is telling your potential customers that you care enough to keep them informed.

Add to this the fact that you have slipped in the words ‘brand new stock’ and ‘apologies’ and you are subconsciously passing on the message to your potential customers that you are a totally professional outfit! So it works all round. Of course, some people won’t like a delay of that length of time and so won’t order from you, but others won’t mind at all so at least this way you will collect some orders whilst you take your holidays. Imagine – you’ll be sunning yourself by the pool with a nice G&T or whatever takes your fancy and you’re still earning money. Perfect.

If you do receive any questions about your products whilst you are away then it’s pretty easy to check these via an Internet Café or by using a Smartphone.

Ok, now this next option only applies to you if you have an ebay shop.

How to use your holiday settings

If your product inventory is enough to warrant an ebay shop then you may know that there is a nifty little tool that comes within your ebay shop called ‘Holiday Settings’. It’s fabulous and is simply like flicking a switch and selecting Holiday Settings On or Off! If you already have an ebay shop and you don’t know where to find your holiday settings go to: ‘My eBay’ then go to the ‘Account’ tab on the top left and click on ‘Manage My Shop’ from the drop-down menu. On the next page scroll down to ‘Related Links’ at the bottom left of the page and click on ‘Shop Holiday Settings’. Look for ‘Shop Holiday Settings’ and choose ‘Turn On’.

These holiday settings allow you to choose from a range of options or create a bespoke message. It’s all very self-explanatory once you reach that page, but I’ll go over this briefly here. First, you have the option to hide your Buy It Now listings (this doesn’t include auction listings) so that they are still listed but buyers can’t find them or purchase from them. This covers you if you are going away for longer than 7 days and you don’t want to lose your search placement because your listings will still be ‘running’ but they just can’t be seen.

A second option is to display a pre-set default message in all of your listings which says: “The seller of this item is away until date x, month y, year z. You may purchase the item, but there may be a delay in processing your order.”

Personally I am not keen on this one as it’s a very small message at the top of  your listing and can easily be missed – but plenty of ebay sellers do use it. It is displayed at the top of all your listings and also at the top of every page in your ebay shop

And thirdly, and I like this one the best, you can create a custom message that will be displayed instead of the pre-set message. Great for adding a personal touch and being more specific. Simply type your message in the box and save.

So actually, going on holiday when you are also running an ebay business is really more straight-forward than you might think and those are the options that you might want to consider. But there’s more…

Take a holiday and earn a full time income whilst sitting on the beach!

If you are using a drop shipper then you only need to be able to access the internet a couple of times a week in order to continue to ship orders even whilst you are on holiday! You can even log in to your ebay account and answer any messages if you want to. This goes against the fact that you are supposed to be on holiday, BUT, if the thought of not having any listings running for 2 weeks really does fill you with horror then this may be the option for you.

Simply leave your listings running. Go on holiday. Take your Laptop, Smartphone or find an internet café and check your orders a few times a week. Forward your orders to your dropshipper (as you would normally), pay for them (as you would normally). The dropshipper will dispatch your orders (as they would normally) and you log in to your ebay account and mark the orders as dispatched. Everything carries on as normal and no-one will be any the wiser as to where you are in the world!

Alternatively you can always ask a willing and reliable friend to dispatch orders for you whilst you are away. If you don’t want to divulge your passwords then simply log in to your accounts a couple of times a week and email your helper with the names and addresses of your customer and the items they have ordered – then you can log in to your accounts yourself to mark items as dispatched.

Now what’s your excuse?

I think I’ve covered every possibility here, so there should certainly be an option that suits you. So you see, selling on ebay is a truly flexible opportunity if you want a more comfortable lifestyle and the ability to spend your ebay earnings on well deserved holidays!