Making Money on CardShark -
While I am not the greatest of CardShark retailers, I'm a decent one. I've been in the business for eight years now, and have amassed several thousand dollars in sales along with a modest 4.8 rating. Most of the customer reviews I read are very positive, and I often get repeat business. CardShark has done me right, and to say thanks, I decided to write an article to tell everyone else what I've learned, and what the "secrets" are to getting good reviews, good sales, and good business. These are the rules I follow, and I think everyone can agree that they are sensible, and I know personally that they are effective.
Rule #1 - Treat the customer like you'd like to be treated.
This is my guiding principle in all CardShark sales. Every time I conduct business, I make sure that my customer gets the sort of treatment that I'd like to be receiving. I'm always prompt, polite, and complete. When doing trades online, I log in as soon as I receive the order so that I can either complete the trade immediately or leave a the buyer a note so they know when I'm available. As for physical cards, I always send them out next business day, with proper packaging and in full. If I make a mistake, I own up to it, and I always ensure that refunds (when necessary) are immediate as possible. I even go so far as to always include a few extra junk commons in my physical orders, just to say thanks. It's that sort of care that gets me good ratings and ensures that new customers trust me to do them right.
Rule #2 - Pack and ship the cards properly.
When I first started selling on CardShark, I would shove three cards into a hard-back protector, shove it in an envelope, and chuck it in the mail. As you might imagine, I got complaints, some of which still taint my record since CardShark doesn't remove ratings simply because they are old. As such, I now take a lot of care to ensure that my cards are packed properly, and I've even gotten some compliments as to how well I do so. My general rule is that you can fit two cards, back to back, plus a plastic sleeve, in a single hard-back sleeve. I use the cheap "penny sleeves" for this, since they are just there to protect the cards from casual wear. I then put them into a single hard-back sleeve and put a strip of tape over the top to keep them from sliding out of the hard back. I then tape the hard-back to the invoice slip (always print and include an invoice!) to keep it from moving around in the envelope, as such hard-back sleeves may work themselves free and rub a hole in the envelope, causing it to fall apart. Using this method, I can fit eight cards into a standard envelope, or 16 into a 9"x6" manila envelope, or 32 into a standard manila envelope. For orders larger than 32, I use a box.
As for labeling and postage, I've gotten a postal scale so that I can estimate the cost of postage. In general, putting on one stamp per ounce is effective, although this is overpaying a little and may not be wise if you do a lot of orders. It's a good idea to put something like "CARDSHARK ORDER" on the envelope as well, so that your customer doesn't think that the letter is mis-delivered or that it is junk mail.
Rule #3 - Update your inventory often.
One of the problems with buying on CardShark is that you need to put together a whole dollar to make an order, and often a particular seller only has one or two of the cards you need, invariably commons at a nickel each. This causes the buyer to look elsewhere so that they can get all they want in a single order, and often even in-demand cards will sit unsold for long periods if you don't regularly ensure that there are plenty of other things to buy with them. At the conclusion of every sealed or draft event that I enter, I always sort the cards and put every one I don't want into a pile. That pile gets listed on CardShark, including the commons and uncommons and low-value rares. While certainly most of them will sit in inventory for months or even years before sale, making them available is the only way they'll ever be sold, and there's no telling when some card will suddenly rocket up in value because of a new combo (I'm looking at you, Dark Depths
!). It's also a good idea to sort your cards by color or set or something, so that you can quickly find them.
Type: Legendary Land
Sub Type: Legendary Snow Land
Artist: Stephan Martiniere
Text: Dark Depths comes into play with ten ice counters on it. 3: Remove an ice counter from Dark Depths. When Dark Depths has no ice counters on it, sacrifice it. If you do, put an indestructible legendary 20 20 black Avatar creature token with flying named Marit Lage into play.
Rule #4 - Keep prices low
This is a big problem I see with most new retailers. Either they set their cards to the "recommended price" or else they charge the same as their local card shop, foolishly thinking they can get as much. The "downside" of CardShark (it certainly isn't one for the buyers) is that prices are driven up and down by demand very aggressively. Remember, every time you list a card, you're competing with thousands of other people just like you who also want to sell the card. While it might be nice to get more, if you price anything above the bottom, odds are you won't do too well. Most buyers care only that the price is low and the seller doesn't have a bad rating or serious complaints. I know it hurts, but you have to be willing to cut prices, so don't be afraid to do so.
I update my prices once every month or so in order to keep them low, and every time I list new cards I set my entire inventory to "Lowest Price." This means ensures that I keep my prices right at market levels, increasing the likelihood of sale.
Rule #5 - Rate the cards as worse than you think they are.
One of the most common complaints that I got was that I wasn't down-rating the quality of the cards enough. A seller will always see a card as being in better condition than will a buyer, and many of my now-former customers have complained that I rated "Good" cards as "Like New" or "Heavy Play" cards as "Acceptable." To prevent this problem, I grade the cards aggressively, and this is my usual rule-of-thumb:
If I pull a card from a pack and have never played it at all, then it is "Mint."
If I have played with a card in sleeves, it is "Near Mint"
If I have played with a card without sleeves, it is "Good" unless it shows physical damage.
Any card with any physical damage to it is "Heavy Play."
I know that this is a little rougher than what you might grade your own cards, but I assure you that there are picky customers who will complain if you don't. And you can't blame them: going back to Rule 1, wouldn't you be upset if you found out that a "Good" card had black mold spots on it, or a Cheetohs-dust thumbprint?
Rule #6 - Ow
n up to your mistakes before your customer finds out about them.
Artist: Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Text: Whenever any creature damages a player, for each Ow card in play, that player says Ow once or Ow deals 1 damage to him or her.
This one doesn't come up often, but it's very important when it does. If you find that a card isn't in your inventory but you listed it by mistake and someone bought it, include a cash or check refund with the order, or (if it's the entire order) contact Cardshark and ensure the customer's order is refunded. If you realize you listed the wrong edition of a card but you have another edition in stock, e-mail them and see if a substitution would be OK. If you forgot to set the correct vacation status and some orders came through while you're away from home, fix the vacation status then e-mail an apology to your customer and offer to refund the order if they can't wait. Most people are very forgiving when it comes to honest mistakes, and those who aren't will complain less if you take the initiative.
Rule #7 - Get organized!
Odds are your orders will come in rushes when the new sets come out and new combinations/decks are created. As such, you should always be ready to field multiple orders in the same day. Keep a stock supply of penny sleeves, envelopes and hard-back sleeves at the ready. Make sure you replenish this stock BEFORE you run out, not after. Go through each invoice with a pen and check off the cards as you sleeve them and get them ready, so that you never miss any. I'm a buyer as well as a seller on CardShark, and more than once I've found myself frustrated by a well-meaning seller who forgot to include a card or who included the wrong one by accident. The best way to avoid such mistakes is to make sure that you are organized and paying attention, so that you don't make them and can correct them before mailing the envelope.
These rules aren't comprehensive and the rules of thumb above should not be followed slavishly. Still, they're a good starting point for beginning sellers, and I think that they should prove useful and informative to those who are just beginning to convert surplus cards into cash.
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