Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pics and Lingerie ~ eBay, Part 5


So, last I left the eBay saga, I was slowly getting rid of the garage full of pallet merchandise. There was quite a bit that I eventually sold at a garage sale, tossed in the trash, or left in the front yard for free. But first, I created a whole bunch of eBay listings. I knew pictures were important, so I made a few modest investments. I already had a digital camera. I purchased a backdrop, which was around $80. This was essentially a large frame that came with two pieces of linen – one white and one black – because linen absorbs light well. I also got a tripod, which ran about $130, and a hanging mannequin torso for about $15.




The backdrop was convenient in that I could set up wherever there was good light in the house. However, a sheet draped over something like a rolling rack would have worked in a pinch. I read the advice somewhere to stick with one backdrop, so I chose white. This seemed to be the best choice except when photographing the many pieces of white underwear. The tripod was useful when taking pictures of 100 pieces of lingerie at a time. I could set up the camera and leave it while changing the mannequin. That mannequin caused quite a bit of excitement in my house . . . family members and visitors alike wanted to know, “Who is that?” You mean what is that? That is a well-endowed piece of plastic. But whatever floats your boat.



Lighting was the biggest challenge for me in creating decent-looking pics. Some were great and others were dismal. It all depended on the weather. There are lots of windows in my house, and I became familiar with how the sunlight angled through them at different times of day and even in different seasons. There are also many foggy days here year round, so sometimes I would just go with the grayish pics in my quest to get things listed. I was reluctant to spend more money at the time, but I could have purchased a photo lighting kit to solve my problem. I tried various light fixtures I had around the house; nothing was bright enough. I was also tempted to buy or make a lightbox, which is what it sounds like. You can photograph objects on it, completely eliminating shadows. Instead, I placed objects that couldn't be hung in front of the backdrop on an ottoman covered in the white linen.



I liked taking the pictures, especially of the lingerie, but it was a complicated endeavor with little kids. My mom was entertained watching me one day. I would dress the mannequin, grabbing lingerie out of my children’s hands while my dog poked her head through the backdrop. I would brush off the dog hair then Violet, who was still a baby, would cry because she needed something. As I attended to her, Daisy would snake a couple silky pieces of lingerie to try on in the other room. I’d recover the lingerie then try to get back to the pictures. As I clicked away, the kids would naturally gravitate toward the front of the camera. So would the dog. I would take a few family pics then situate everyone somewhere else, which would buy me a couple minutes of time before the next interruption. Maybe a cat would brush by and a swishing tale would show up in the frame. Maybe little grimy hands would find their way to the white backdrop or the mannequin's firm bust covered in something gauzy. I was usually spent after pictures.



As I went through the lingerie overstock, I found a few torture devices known as thong girdles. I had never seen these before and wondered if they were even worth listing. Turns out, the first thing I sold was a thong girdle. It took me an entire day to figure out why a man would be purchasing one of these puppies (I was still waking up a lot at night with Violet so my thinking wasn’t clear). It’s all about smooth in the front, curvy in the back. And my thong girdles were plain with a comfortably-sized thong, instead of lacy floss. I sold out of the much-desired thong girdles quickly. I heard from several men who wanted MORE, MORE, MORE. I made it my mission to find them.



In the beginning, most of my lingerie customers were men. Some seemed to be shopping for their significant others or mothers (or so they said). But others were clearly purchasing lingerie for themselves. I learned to create a discreet environment, which essentially was to never answer questions publicly, an option that results in the customer’s eBay name becoming a permanent part of the listing, and to use the private listing option, which was a matter of checking a box when creating the listing. This way, customers could remain anonymous as far as eBay’s public selling and feedback records.



I also realized that some of my male customers enjoyed a lot of correspondence with their lingerie purchases. Like A LOT. I would guess that this is all part of the fetish, which inspired me to include handwritten notes with the items I shipped out. It was too time-consuming to maintain as I made more sales, but several customers responded to the notes via email and mentioned them in feedback. In the notes, I offered to find things for customers, which resulted in a list of wanted items.



I did reorder the overstock lingerie from Via Trading, and also resumed my search for more suppliers. There were more mishaps, but I was about to discover a tool that would make all the difference.



picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aperte/399835909/

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