One of the challenges of selling online is the lack of people contact. It’s something I really notice. One of the things I do to combat this is to volunteer at an Op Shop (Charity Shop) for half a day a week. I was very careful when I chose the op shop, I looked at the volunteers who all seemed very nice and were quite happily talking to who-ever walked in. I liked this so I promptly volunteered. I was feeling particularly bold that day as I had recently shaved my head for the Leukaemia Foundations Shave-For-A-Cure and so it was easy to bite the bullet and speak up. I was quite open about selling books online and they were rather blase about it. They did ask for more details but they also exclaimed over my lack of hair in the same way. I was quite explicit about needing to pay the same for books as regular customers and some of the other volunteers actually stick to that and don’t make me pay the volunteer rates. I’ve met some lovely people at the op shop. One lady I’ve worked with asked me to get her two copies of a particular book, Something That Happens to Other People, a book I’ve recently reviewed on my own blog. She tells me she is in the book and I’ll talk to her about it in the New Year. Then there’s the lady who does scrapbooking and has returned a number of times, I have some little craft items from my house that are waiting for her in the new year that she might be able to use.
I have to mention the gentleman who sells second hand books in markets and is keeping an eye out for Doctor Who books for my youngest, she only needs about a dozen books before she has the whole collection of the Target novelisations. I also must mention the gentleman who came in looking for black plastic knitting needles, we had to be nosy and ask him why he was being so specific and he told us about the wood creations he makes and how he uses the knitting needles as decoration. He fits the knitting needles into holes in the wood, cuts them off, sands the whole thing back and stains the surfaces. I’ve blogged about this with photos on my own blog. The reason he wants black, plastic knitting needles is because the black goes all the way through and can be sanded down without losing any quality of colour.
I do meet people online, however and some of these people are truly lovely people. There’s a whole community of online sellers who band together to help each other. I’m part of several online forums and we all talk about books, our purchases, sales, what we’re reading and collecting and our respective online selling structures whether through an online auction site or through our own websites. We help each other when we’ve oversold on a specific title, on occasion I’ve helped out a friend with a title and other times others have helped me. I recall one particular time when I was trying to go across Melbourne to a friend’s parent’s house and I got lost, not once but twice so she ended up posting the book for me. We help each other out with the online auction site’s rules and regulations and in dealing with troublesome customers and we celebrate when we have had a particularly nice customer. We also help each other with setting up and running our websites. I’ve had so much help and consolation when I’ve had glitches on my website.
Sometimes we have lunch together and go op shopping afterwards. I can’t imagine how that looks to the volunteers to have eight people all pile in and head straight over to the books. We then check them all out discussing them and deciding who will buy which book. Sometimes it’s first come, first served and other times we’ll pass a book over to someone else. Some people specialise in romance and one friend has a website devoted to Sweet Valley which unfortunately is in hiatus while she builds her house – sometimes mundane things such as housing comes before selling.
One other group I must make mention of is one I’m going to name – it’s called the Business Mums Network. It’s for people in business and has given me a great deal of help. They have an online forum and also organise a lot of networking opportunities. There aren’t a lot of book people involved there, only one that I know of but the people involved there are very business oriented and have helped me with the business parts of my business.
So, in trying to get myself out and about to meet people I’ve succeeded in meeting some really delightful people which helps to relieve the boredom of being alone. Sometimes we connect online and other times in real life.
You can find me popping up all over the place. I sell on http://www.suzs-space.com , I’m often on Twitter @SuzSspace, I scribble a few words here and there on http://suzsspace.wordpress.com/ and sometimes I can be found on Facebook.