Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Perfection - with the help of Photoshop

I wish this entry was about taking photos for eBay, but this one is not about eBay, but about a topic that holds a lot of meaning to me.    I needed to get this off my chest, whilst I have the words to say in my head.

A topic came across my Facebook newsfeed this afternoon from Upworthy - an American website who post great videos on topics that matter right now.

The lady in the video/picture below is Boggie, a Hungarian singer who released this video in 2013 about what we do to the already-beautiful human body to sell an unattainable ideal.  She also sings the lovely song that is played during the video. 

This is the screen capture for the video, or you can look at the whole thing HERE (it only goes for 3.34 minutes).

This video struck a chord with me, and I watched it in tears.   There is a moment in the video when the software is used to make a copy of one of her eyes (presumably, her "perfect" eye), and it is mirrored over her other eye.

This reminded me of a moment when I was offered the same service on a photo of me. 

Lucky imperfect me.

It was 7 years ago, and my parents were having their 50th wedding anniversary.  My siblings and I decided to get a family portrait done of us as a gift for them, as we'd never had one done.

I awkwardly allowed my photo to be taken, only because it was a special occasion.  I usually avoid cameras like the plague.   I was so glad when it was all over.  

When we came back two weeks later, the photographers showed us the resulting photographs via a slide show on a huge screen.     I sat there cringing, and holding back tears at every photo with me in it.    I was still married at that time, and they had taken a couple of photos of just me and my husband.  I "really" wanted a photo of us, as we'd had no formal photos since our wedding some 14 years earlier.      

The photographer asked if I wanted to order a copy of the photos.    I shook my head violently, and she asked why not.   "Because I look like I've had a stroke,"  I blurted out.

I should mention that I have a sagging eye due to nerve damage that was caused during surgery 15 years ago.  The surgery was to remove a cancer.  

"We can fix that," said the photographer with a big fake-white-teeth smile.   "We just copy your good eye over that one."

I can't imagine what the look on my face was.   "But that wouldn't be a photo of me," I remember saying, tempting as it was to have a photo of me with two "good" eyes - an imposter hanging on my wall.

I'd kind of pushed that memory to the back of my mind until this video found the splinter that's still there lurking in my mind, and hiding under my skin.  Now I can pick at it again, and renew the pain.   

I have only had my photo taken once in the last four years.  It was a nerd moment, and I needed to have my photo taken with a Dalek from Doctor Who, on display in a bookshop.    

 I tried to take a selfie once about 4 years ago when I thought (very briefly) about joining an on-line dating website, and I cried for a day when I saw the result.   How nice it would have been to upload a "perfected" picture to their website, and have my date, looking for the false me, walk past the freak hiding in the corner.

My niece was taking selfies on her phone the other day, and showed them to me.   She's making faces in some of them, and goofing around.    I smiled at her and I told her she looked beautiful in all of them.    She showed me a few of them and told me that she didn't like them because she "looked fat".     She's ten years old, already as tall as me and has arms and legs like sticks.

What are we doing to these girls?   Next thing you know they'll be photoshopping the school portraits to show perfection instead of the growth of awkward child to (in my case) awkward adult.   

When will it end?  Soon the reality of photos modified on our phones and computers will be our reality, and what we see in the mirror is just a myth.   Whilst I don't like what I see, at least it's real.

I still have my favourite photo of me.  I am 6 months old - my skin is perfect and both my eyes are "normal".    Photoshop did not exist, and I had not yet learned to despise what I see in the mirror.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Making money from NOT selling the same thing 3 times

I didn't know that you could NOT sell something three times and make a profit.  But I have seen it first-hand, and it is possible, apparently.

I sell on a website called Fishpond, which is a small Aussie wannabe of Amazon.  I send a box of books/DVDs every few months and they store them and sell them for me.     I don't have to lift a finger.

This sale was for a used DVD that I got for free from a family member who was moving house.

It first sold on 3rd March.   The buyer paid, money (after fees) from the 1st sale was transferred to my account.  

Then the same DVD sold again on 25th of March.  I was surprised and assumed that they had accidentally listed the same DVD twice.  They would figure out the problem.

The buyer paid, and the money (after fees) from the 2nd sale was transferred to my account.

I was intrigued as to where this second DVD had come from and looked back at the first sale.
It now came up as "Buyer Cancelled This Item".  So they must have paid, and then pulled out of the sale.  Fishpond automatically transfers money after payment so it went through to my account.   So Fishpond paid me for the sale that never happened.

I thought it was nice of them to cover the non-sale.  

THEN, on 9th April, I got a 3rd sale notification for the same DVD.

What the F***?  The proceeds for the (3rd) sale went into my account 2 days later. 

I went back to the previous (2nd) sale, and saw that the buyer had cancelled the item on that one too.   So Fishpond had paid me again for a sale that never went through.  They were being awfully nice about this covering all bases again.  I was embarrassed and hoped it didn't happen again for their sake.   

Then yesterday, I poked my nose in to see if there was any new sales.  And sitting at the top of the list, was the 3rd sale of this (obviously possessed) DVD, now showing as Buyer Cancelled Item.


Oh boy.  I sure hope they don't think that I am colluding with a third person on this!!!   Is this the same looney buying this DVD three times, or did random people suddenly feel the burning to buy and then not buy the same DVD?   

Either way, I have been paid $13.86 x 3 = $41.58 for this DVD.

I've checked and they haven't re-listed it again, so hopefully it's power has waned now, along with that of the full red moon.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Lost & Found

Eeek - I have nothing to say for a week or so, and then suddenly I have a lot to say.  So I need to space it into smaller messages each day instead of one rambling long message.

First and most importantly - my Dad went missing again yesterday.   Those who read my blog, may recall almost exactly a year ago, my Dad went missing for nearly 24 hours.  The original story was here.

Well yesterday, he left home at 11:30am to put petrol in the car and pick up some things from the supermarket.  Then he disappeared.

He has improved greatly since a year ago.  Put on weight and gained strength again.  It all turned out to be something to do with his kidneys & lack of iron in his bone marrow.    Anyhow, yes - he's still driving at 85 years of age.

Mum called me at 2:30pm to say that he hadn't come home.  My sister was driving the areas where he should have been but there was no sign of him.

By 4:30 we were all cruising the streets, uselessly searching for him or his car.  By 5:30 I was feeling ill because it was going to get dark soon.    I sat at home with my stomach churning wondering where the heck he was again - waiting for the phone to ring and hoping for good news.

Then at 6:00pm my Mum called.   She said he'd just called her from the hospital and quite calmly said "They said I can go now, can somebody come and pick me up?"

We don't know the full story yet - but apparently Dad went to a sports bar at a local restaurant (to make a sneaky bet, or to watch a horse race that he'd bet on) - fell over something , and cut himself on some glass.    The cuts aren't bad, but he has skin like tissue paper and bleeds like a stuck pig.    An ambulance was called and whilst we were all frantically running around for hours, he'd been lying in hospital getting his cuts looked at and flirting with the nurses.

He must have been at the hospital for hours.   Whilst we are happy he was looked after following his fall we are still trying to figure out why they never called us when he was first admitted.  

Oh well, at least the news was good in the end.    If I can muster up the courage I will go to the restaurant/sports bar today and try to find out exactly what happened and thank them for looking after Dad.  

In the meantime, my wish for free listings finally came true - they threw 100,000 free listings at me over 7 days so I was working like a mad thing to take advantage of them.    Will check in again soon!

Friday, 14 March 2014

March Madness - Board Games

So, I'm still sitting here waiting for another invite for free listings.  It's been over a month now, and not a one has been thrown my way.  *sob*

Total Inventory In My Store  :   255 items   (38 of which are board games)

Unsold Listings Waiting for Freebies Because I'm Too Tight To Pay Listing Fees Now :  714

As part of my store package I get 80 free listings a month.   Because Board Games cost me 50 cents a pop, and everything else I sell is 5 cents a pop - I decided to only focus on my board games.  Plus these also generally have the highest selling price of my items.

With that in mind, my op-shopping for the past few weeks has focussed mainly on Board Games.     It has totally changed my way of thinking.    Now I can list one board game and get an average $10 to $20 profit per item instead of only about $4 - $8 for my books & videos  (truthfully, sometimes even less than that).

As a result of filling my store with board games, my $ sales have been at a similar level to when I had over 1,000 lower-priced and much less popular items.  Board games are in demand at the moment, and there is not much competition for others selling the same item.

This is a quick overview of the Board Game sales in the past 3 weeks (since I went to the Gamers side) :

Race To The Top Australian Edition - sold for $17.99 - cost $3

Trivial Pursuit Baby Boomer Edition - sold for $14.95 - cost $2

Spirograph Set - 1973 Edition - sold for $19.99 - cost  $2

Triolo - sold for $14.99 - cost $2

Scattegories Refill Pack # 1 - sold for $14.99

Scattergories - sold for $19.99 -  I purchased this + the refill kit above for $3 in total

Trivial Pursuit - Volume 3 - sold for $19.99 - cost $3

Trivial Pursuit - 20th Anniversary Edition - sold for $23.99 - cost $2

Oz Quiz - sold for $29.99 - cost $4

Battleship - 1975 Edition - sold for $14.99 - cost $3

Battle of the Sexes Simpson Edition - sold for $14.99 - cost $3

Secret Weapon - sold for $15.99 - cost $2

Scrabble 1978 edition - sold for $11.99 - cost 50 cents

Game of Life - sold for $19.99 - cost $3

Test Match - sold for $19.99 - cost $3

Scotland Yard - sold for $26.99 - cost $5

Sumo! - sold for $11.99 - cost 50 cents

Nightmare - sold for $25.99 - cost $6

Trivial Pursuit Original - sold for $14.99 - cost $3

Rum Rebellion - sold for $29.99 - cost $2

Cluedo 1983 edition (still sealed) - sold for $29.99 - cost $5

Connect 4 - sold for $10 - cost $2

Scrabble Board Game 1988 Edition - sold for $11 - cost $5

Trivial Pursuit Genus II  (Canadian Edition) - sold for $16.99 - cost $3

These are all the games I've sold since 24th of February (about 3 weeks).  

That's a total of 24 games - at a cost of $67 to bring in sales of just around  $450.

This is not taking into account the selling fees, but it's still a pretty good turn-over on only 24 sales.  I would usually have to sell 45 - 80 books/videos to make the same amount of money.

I think by being forced to reduce my number of listings, it has given me the ability to find this niche that seems to work for me.

Of course there are down-sides to board games.     The biggest charity shops (not pointing any fingers)  tape their games up so you can't check inside and they price them hideously high.  

 Just last week at my local Salvation Army I saw a Nightmare game.  If you look above, you will see that this sold for $25.99.   I was willing to pay the price of $6 (with gritted teeth) - but was the game all there?   I surreptitiously cut through the sticky-tape with my car key - another good hint!!! - and checked the contents.

 The game board was torn half-way through.  Not all items were there.   One of the pieces of the game had been replaced with a BEER BOTTLE CAP !!!!   Classy.   Um no.  Sorry Salvos - but I will be that annoying person cutting open your boxes to check the insides of your games.   Until you get your act together I will keep doing that.

Then I must give cudos to those other op shops that lovingly put a sticker on the box listing what is missing from the game, or just putting 'Complete'.   Of course their idea of complete may differ from the game contents on the box, but at least they've tried.

Needless to say I have piles of board games that are incomplete - but have kept these for that "just in case I find another copy of the game" moment.    You really need to be organised or it can be overwhelming.  I have spent the past week going through all my incomplete games, and making a list of what is missing so I know what to look for.    How many incomplete board games do I have languishing around my house?    About 70 I think.  They are taking over.   I still have about 15 board games to photograph and list as well.

There are times when it is good to buy a game that is incomplete.  It helps to keep an eye on what games are selling.  Some can go for crazy high prices.  

More on this in my next blog.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

February update

Oh, I couldn't think of a witty title.  So there it is.  If I wait any longer February will be gone before I can blink.

My store is currently sitting at 150 listings.  A week ago it was at 1,050.  Now all those listings from the last 10,000 free listings offer have rolled off and I'm waiting impatiently for some more free ones, so I can relist everything.

Yes, it's got to that stage.

This morning, I got an invite on my eBay Dashboard, and saw "10,000 Free Listings".  In a rare moment of actual joy, I actually pumped my fist and shouted "Yes!"  - causing one of my parrots to fall off their perch in fright.  But then I read it more carefully and saw it was only for items over $100.    WTF?   I've had about 5 items over $100 in my 15 years on eBay.     

Thanks for nothing !!!!   I may have to bite the bullet and actually fork out for some listing fees.   Nooooooooooooooo.

I wish I had lovely interesting shiny things for sale like other blogs I read.  Here are my best sales so far in February.  Prepare to be underwhelmed !   Board games have been my highest price sellers as usual.

"Nova Ace of Aces WWI Air Combat Game - Balloon Buster 014 - VGC - 100% - 1985"

Bought for ???? - Sold for $19.99

I found this on my bookshelf.  I bought it at an Op shop a couple of years ago, and kept it myself as I have an interest in aeroplanes.  It sat unused.  I don't know who I thought I was going to play this with - myself?

There were no previous sales on this exact one that I could compare, but after research a website said this was the most common one.  So I just put this price on it.   It sold one hour later.  I guess I should have sold it for more.  Oh well.

"Monopoly Australian Edition Board Game - 100% Complete - 12 x Metal Tokens - VGC"

Bought for 50 cents - sold for $27.99

Vintage or special edition Monopoly games always sell quickly for me.

"Cluedo Board Game - Vintage 1983 - 100% Complete - Contents VGC - Waddingtons"

Bought for $2 - sold for $17.99

Cluedo is also a quick selling board game for me.

"The Great Australian Road Trip Trivia Board Game - Reader's Digest - Unplayed"

Bought for $3 - sold for $27.99

"Holden VU Ute : A New Legend - PAL VHS Video - Hosted by Peter Brock - 2001 RARE"

Bought for 50 cents - sold for $15.99

This is just a short promo video from Holden to sell some shiny new car.  Cars = high interest.  Also hosted by Peter Brock, a famous Australian race car driver, who died in a race car crash a few years ago.   So this hits a few interest buttons.   I had no other sales to compare this to when I priced it, so I just put this price on it, and waited.  Took a few months, but finally sold just before I was going to reduce the price.

I'll go back to job searching (there'll be a separate blog on that farce), and sitting here like a gargoyle glaring at my "Promotional Offers" box on my eBay dashboard.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Lost listings

I find myself at a loose end today.  It's Monday, and the Australia Day public holiday, so post office is shut, and no Paypal transfers go into my account.

A week ago, as the latest 2,000 free listings bout was coming to an end, I was ending my listings that were finishing soon, and relisting them as "sell similar".     I would do this 50 listings at a time, and then delete them from the Unsold area.  

Just before Christmas I managed to get my number of listings to over 1,000 items.  It was an achievement that I was proud of, but did little to affect my sales.

Anyhow, once I'd done all my end listing / sell similar / delete ended items spate, I realised that my numbers were off.  I had somehow deleted 50 ended listing without doing the "sell similar" first.     I had no idea what these listings were.   *scream*

So, today it's hot, and I'm unmotivated to list anything, so I'm going through all my stock (all 1,000 of them!), and seeing which ones are not listed.   It's good to do this every now and then, as it's amazing how much stock you think is listed, but is nowhere to be seen in your store.   I've also picked up a few duplicate listings, and incorrect titles.

The OCD in me enjoys the process, and I get a feeling of satisfaction.  So far I've checked all my board games and all the kids videos, and already found 20 items that weren't listed.  Woohoo!  Only 820 more items to go.....

Then to start online, for 5 jobs to apply for this week.  Happy times.

Enough seriousness!

A couple of years ago my sister innocently sent me a link to a website that had scans of old crochet/knitting books.    This picture was on the main page at the time.    

Feast your eyes on the cover of this one - let them roam around.  Does anything catch your attention?   I can tell you what caught mine.

My sister is the knitter in our family, so I requested the yellow penis for Christmas (nawww, he has eyes & a nose!), but she has yet to produce one for me.   

 This Christmas Day just a month ago,the family sat around after opening our presents.   I looked my sister in the eye and said "where's my penis?" (for the second Christmas in a row).  She made excuses, but I brushed them aside.    I probably won't see it until I'm ancient, and no need for what I might store in it.    ;-)        (Just kidding, I'll never be too old).

In the meantime I thought I'd share some photos from this cute board game I need to list:

Aren't these rubber sumo's just adorable?   Just look at those magnificent bums.  And who else wants to do a mouth fart on their superb tummies?  I know I do.

But then there's the back cover, where these two have more than a hint of lunacy to their smiles.   

Happy Monday !!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

I'm back ...

Hello, remember me?  I'm sneaking back in sideways, wondering if anybody noticed that I was gone.

I apologise for my lack of posts in the past 5 months!  

Happy New Year to you all.

I've finally managed to crawl out of the black hole that I had dug for myself.  I've also been like a fish on a feeding frenzy with all those 1,000s of free listings that have been thrown our way.   They don't seem to have made much difference to my sales, but at least they had me dragging my sorry butt off the couch and getting some listings done.

Today (Sunday) is Australia Day, and tomorrow is the public holiday.   It's going to be hot today, and tomorrow (39 degrees).   I will be hiding inside with the curtains shut, spending the two days alone.  I'm hoping to put some stuff up for sale on Facebook today, so if I get any visitors it will be buyers from there.  *fingers crossed*.

I've taken a good hard look at myself over the past few months, and I don't like what I see.  I'm not just talking about avoiding mirrors (which I've done all my life), but the birds-eye view of myself from above.  All I can see is a great yawning empty space around me, and inside me, and also the gaping empty space in my bank account.    :-0

I figured that I could fix the bank account, by getting a job, as eBay just wasn't covering my cost of living.   I figured that this would also fill some of the space around me, and maybe just a little bit inside of me.   Doing this eBay job suits me, because I am an introvert, and people tend to over-whelm me.   But also, I found that it was making me more reclusive.

Applying for a job meant job interviews.  Nothing is more likely to turn me into a stammering, jibbering, red-faced fool, shaking so hard that I have to hide my hands from the interviewers.   How can I sell myself to somebody else, when I didn't even believe in myself?

So I put off looking for a job, because of the fear of those "job interviews."  

Then it hit me, that I wasn't going to find any self-confidence by hiding away in my house.  It was only going to come, with me having a job, and connecting with people;  feeling that if I dropped off the face of the Earth, somebody might even miss me.

Then I found out that I may be eligible for something called "New Start", which is a fancy name for going on the dole.    I shuffled into my local Centrelink office, guilty & embarrassed, and found that I make so little money, that I am eligible for a partial Job Seeker payment.  

I've had a 13 week wait before it kicks in , but it gave me something positive to look forward to.

This week is my first week on it.    As part of this I have to apply for 5 jobs a week.     So this has FORCED me to track down a couple of people I used to work with to be my referees, and to get my resume in order.  

Even though I am shit-shared at the thought of interviews, I just have to suck it up, and stop making excuses.     There are people far worse off than me, who have got through far harder times.  Enough with the self-pity and playing a victim to my own insecurities!

And, yes, doing it all on my little lonesome is hard too - but I've got my imaginary friends to help me.  ;-)

And now off to read all the blogs I subscribe to, and catch up on what all my Blog friends are up to.