Getting to Know You: Danna Crawford, the Power Selling Mom
Danna Crawford started selling eBay items from home to help pay the bills. She now teaches seminars on eBay selling and Social Media Marketing at a variety of venues and through her own website.
In the mid-1990s, Danna Crawford was in a difficult position. A single mother working three jobs and raising three children, she desperately wanted to move from Chicago to Florida. To do so would require a substantial nest-egg, and she wasn’t likely to accumulate that by working for wages.
“At the end of the day, I had to get the bills paid” says Crawford.
She learned that a new online auction platform – eBay – might provide an opportunity to make a good income. But, starting any business required an investment of time and money. She had little of either. Since eBay could be worked from home, and she could start small, she took the plunge. When she discovered that her estate sale and flea-market finds didn’t provide the sales volume that she needed to reach her financial goals, she placed an ad in the local newspaper, looking for consignments. That was in 1997.
The newspaper ad changed the course of her business and the course of her life.
“My first client was a young woman who wanted to consign her Beanie Babies collection so that she could buy a car,” recalls Crawford. With a little research, she was able to get her client top-dollar for her collectibles. “Once I discovered how very rewarding it felt to help this lovely girl buy a car and at the same time make a profit, too – I was hooked!”
“Hooked” is an understatement. Crawford threw herself into mastering her chosen career. She learned the fine points of eBay photography, research, keywords, search engine optimization, shipping, and writing descriptions. She studied email marketing and, when social media took hold, she became proficient in that as well. Selling online became second-nature to her. As her business grew, she was able to quit the other jobs and focus full-time on eBay.
Her efforts paid off. In 1999 she was able to buy a home in Florida. Becoming certified as an eBay Selling Assistant gave her business another boost. In 2008, she became an eBay Hall of Fame winner, and that year she also received the Golden Ribbon Award as a Community Seller for eBay Giving Works (the charitable giving arm of eBay). In 2010 her email marketing skills earned an All-Star Award from the online platform Constant Contact, and in 2012 she was chosen as one of the Top 100 Women in Ecommerce™ by WE Magazine.
Despite the accolades, Crawford says that her core eBay business hasn’t changed all that much in the past twenty years. She describes herself as a “treasure hunt seller”; that is, she still scouts for inventory and takes consignments. She picks at estate and yard sales, Goodwill “by the pound,” and does a brisk referral business.
What has changed for Crawford is that she has become an in-demand trainer. In 2007, she graduated from eBay University as a Certified Education Specialist. Building on that foundation, in 2009 Crawford met eBay’s requirements to become a Certified Business Consultant. She now travels extensively, teaching seminars on eBay selling and Social Media Marketing at a variety of venues:
- United States Postal Service
- Regional Libraries
- Corporate Offices
- Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
- U.S. Small Business Administration
- Webinars, through her website.
Crawford also offers coaching, consulting, and training on a one-on-one basis. She advises eBay sellers on maximizing their online stores by using her eBay Store Analysis & Recommendations Report, and provides all-day boot camps for individuals and organizations. She even makes house calls!
Crawford offers copious free information about eBay selling on her website, Power Selling Mom, as well as in 179 archived episodes of her show Power Selling Mom Radio on Blogtalk Radio. Also helpful to sellers is her 2008 book Words for Auction: a Guide to Acronyms and Jargon Commonly Used on eBay, co-authored by “Uncle Joe” Adamson.
Maintaining a Top-Rated eBay business while keeping up a rigorous seminar schedule is challenging, admits Crawford: “Keeping up with the changing economy, marketing styles and the eBay marketplace can be overwhelming. It’s important to take a step back now and then and evaluate different strategies to adjust to new styles of online selling; becoming better with each change that rolls out. I embrace change. Change challenges me to improve my business.”
One strategy that Crawford has come to rely on is using online databases to assist with research. eBay’s current sales data doesn’t always provide the best and highest selling price, she maintains. When an item needs to be thoroughly researched, Crawford relies on WorthPoint. “A client recently consigned a collection of glassware. I used the WorthPoint marks library to help identify the manufacturer, and then focused my research on selling prices. WorthPoint’s data goes deep as well as wide, so I was able to choose price points that were much higher than those listed in recent eBay sales data. Also, WorthPoint proved valuable in getting ideas for keywords and descriptions.”
Ultimately, Crawford’s efforts paid off: she got high prices for her client’s collection. As collectors and dealers, isn’t that what we are all looking for? Danna can get similar results for you, or teach you how to achieve them for yourself as an eBay seller. Either way, perusing Danna’s website is worth a few minutes of your time.
Wayne Jordan is a Virginia-licensed auctioneer, Certified Personal Property Appraiser and Accredited Business Broker. He has held the professional designations of Certified Estate Specialist; Accredited Auctioneer of Real Estate; Certified Auction Specialist, Residential Real Estate and Accredited Business Broker. He also has held state licenses in Real Estate and Insurance. Wayne is a regular columnist for Antique Trader Magazine, a WorthPoint Worthologist (appraiser) and the author of two books. For more info, visit Wayne Jordan Auctions or Resale Retailing with Wayne Jordan.
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