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The Best Revenge is SUCCESS!

Updated on August 27, 2013
Beautiful Whiting Hebert Miner Black Dry Fly Hackle
Beautiful Whiting Hebert Miner Black Dry Fly Hackle | Source

A Great Motivational Moment for eBay Sellers

The Premise

Three months ago, I thought I'd do something different with a hub by presenting in real time the actual ongoing action with one of my listed auction items on eBay. To make it more interesting and daring, I started my auction off at a penny. This was, in essence, a throwback move to the old eBay era when auctions, not fixed price or Buy It Now listings, ruled the day.

Ever since I joined HubPages in February of last year, I've attempted to build a special niche--a marriage of two passions, if you will--promoting all things eBay on HubPages. This literary community already is home to dozens of eBay writers, but primarily the focus has been on mainstream content mill articles that more often than not replicate a How to Do This... or How to Do That...on eBay template. Don't get me wrong--these are definitely bread and butter type articles that play a significant role in teaching people how to effectively earn an income on eBay. Not only that--they also matriculate well, much better than my creations ever will, with the search engine algorithms.

But I wanted something different.

Actually, what I wanted was something old school.

I wanted to re-introduce the element of human interest stories. My gut feeling was that there were a lot of people out there who truly wanted to try eBay out. But everything they were reading was like polished apples...produced by those who promoted themselves as successful cream of the crop entrepreneurs.

No, what I wanted was to show things that were behind the scenes...the pimples and blemishes underneath the makeup; the tree stump stubble before the five-bladed Gillette Fusion does its early morning precision plowing; the real looks a husband and wife give each other a year after the honeymoon regarding the issue of morning breath...ad nauseam. This way, I reasoned, readers would be able to more readily relate to both the triumph of success as well as the despair of failure.

Even greater was the hope that the perception of failure could itself be turned upside down. In other words, it was my earnest prayer that failure--a concept that I have been most intimately acquainted with in my lifetime--could be viewed as a necessary stepping stone, and not a hindrance at all--in one's ultimate climb to the pinnacle.

So What Did I Do?

I followed my gut feeling.

Three months ago, my gut was a little bigger than it is now. So when it promoted a strong hunch, I was inclined to listen to the Big Guy.

It was reminiscent of Kevin Costner listening to whispers. List the auction with a starting bid of a penny, and they will come!

Oh, they came alright! Whoever they were, they came in droves.

NOT!

By the end of the week, there were only 69 views and a couple of watchers.

I searched all over for my gut so I could do a major rant!

But, surprisingly, it was nowhere to be found. Rumor has it that it hitchhiked cross country to a Dunkin Donuts shop somewhere in Connecticut. Mumbling something about drowning its sorrows in New Haven...

Anyway, I'm not going to belabor the point by retelling the story of the Spider-Man Bobblehead fiasco. You can read about it by accessing the link a few inches to the upper right. While it's certainly not a prerequisite for understanding the hub you're reading, it will shed some light on those who feel like mushrooms today.

I'm Back!

Okay, so I failed.

And while I kept my word about being true to the human interest angle by publishing the article, it was quite a while before I could get rid of the defeated and embarrassing taste of crow in my mouth.

I determined that the best way to learn from failure is to saddle up the old broncin' buck and have another go-'round.

This time, I came prepared. I'd done some research, and I also picked a product that appealed to at least two major population groups on eBay--sportsmen (specifically, fly tyers and fly fishermen) and beauticians (specifically, hair extension stylists).

Now, at first glance, these two vastly different groups do not appear to have anything in common with each other.

But, hold on, Jethro...there are a thousand naked chickens out there who would beg to differ with you.

Naked chickens? WHAT?!?

I jest, of course, but I'm hinting that the common denominator linking these two groups is something that will raise your hackles.

In fact, that's exactly what the product is...HACKLE!

Whiting Farms Dry Fly Black Saddle Hackle

Black Hackle (Look How Long It Is)
Black Hackle (Look How Long It Is) | Source
Looking Uncannily Like Human Hair (Okay, Maybe It's A Stretch)
Looking Uncannily Like Human Hair (Okay, Maybe It's A Stretch) | Source
Highlighting the Hackle Sheen  (No Relation to Charlie)
Highlighting the Hackle Sheen (No Relation to Charlie) | Source

What in the World is Hackle?

Specific to fly tyers and fly fishermen, hackle refers to the long slender feathers on the neck or saddle of a chicken.

Fine tuning the term even more, the product I chose to put up for a penny auction was a genetically engineered, high quality black rooster saddle. The saddle is the part of a chicken's back just before the tail. A synonym for saddle would be pelt. Each saddle consists of hundreds of hackle feathers.

Fly tyers and fly fishermen utilize hackle liberally in their creation and/or use of fishing flies. Fishing flies are handmade synthetic lures. The particular saddle featured in my auction was primarily intended for the manufacturing of dozens of dry flies, or flies that are meant to land and remain on the surface of the water, thus mimicking the adult stage of mayflies, mosquitoes, or whatever happens to be the bait food of choice for hungry trout at any given moment.

The photos to the right are of a Whiting Farms Hebert Miner Dry Fly Black Saddle Hackle. Each pelt is evaluated by a team of professionals in the business. The key items include:

  • Fine, supple quills...for neat, effortless wrapping.
  • Freedom from web...for more strength and less absorbency.
  • Uniform barb length...for optimal appearance and higher floating flies.
  • High barb count...for more hackle per turn.
  • High barb strength...for maximum support on the water's surface.
  • A longer "sweet spot"...the area where prime hackle resides on a feather.
  • Full, generous pelts...for excellent value and economy.

(Note from author: Bulleted comments above are quoted from the text on the backing board of a Whiting Farms hackle package.)

A Pair of Fly Tying Patterns Utilizing Black Hackle

Ant (Dry Fly Pattern), Courtesy Lords of the Fly
Ant (Dry Fly Pattern), Courtesy Lords of the Fly | Source
Red Butt Skunk (Steelhead Pattern), Courtesy Lords of the Fly
Red Butt Skunk (Steelhead Pattern), Courtesy Lords of the Fly | Source

Examples of Fishing Flies I Have Tied Using Black Saddle Hackle

The photos on the right are of flies I've personally tied. At one point in my life, I was a prolific fly tyer, manufacturing tens of thousands of flies that were sold in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, New York, Pennsylvania, and Alaska. There were also international sales to Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, France, and Argentina.

The first photo is that of a Black Ant pattern. Note the density of the barbs, significant for keeping the dry fly floating on the surface of the water.

While the Black Ant was used primarily for trout, the next photo is that of a Red Butt Skunk, a fly pattern tied on larger and more durable hooks for steelhead fishing. A steelhead is a silvery rainbow trout that migrates to the sea before returning to fresh water to spawn. Hackle with more web, or the soft, less dense, and larger fibers, is used to form a collar at the front of the fly. In contrast to dry flies, the Red Butt Skunk, sometimes weighted with lead wrapped around the shank of the hook, is presented to the fish below the surface and is thus characterized as a wet fly. The black hackle gives this particular fly the semblance of bulk, thus enticing or provoking the steelhead, whichever the case may be.

Hackle Used As Feather Hair Extensions

Steven Tyler Sporting Hackle Hair Extensions on the May 12, 2011 Cover of Rolling Stone
Steven Tyler Sporting Hackle Hair Extensions on the May 12, 2011 Cover of Rolling Stone | Source

Fashion Mavens Love Hackle, Too!

In 2011, fly tyers, fly fishermen, and eBay sellers of hackle (including yours truly) were initially surprised and then a bit miffed that a new fashion trend sweeping across the globe was radically depleting what had long been an abundant supply of rooster hackle.

While perhaps not the first famous personality to utilize hair extensions as a fashion statement, rock crooner and American Idol judge, Steven Tyler, certainly amped up hackle sales to beauticians all over the world when he began sporting the novel hair accessory on national television. Women especially, but a few avant garde men as well, loved and replicated the look to such a degree that fly fishing blogs and sporting goods press release statements were feverishly ranting about the new evil that had eradicated store shelves of the precious fly tying material. Expert genetic engineers were spending long hours in their research and development laboratories attempting to find a way to accelerate the growth of chickens in order to meet the huge demand for hackle. Prices for hackle skyrocketed, and soon the cost of an individual saddle soared to triple and even quadruple figures.

And the poor chickens were besides themselves trying to keep up with the cruel and unusual demand!

Round Two of My Penny Auction Campaign on eBay

So there you have it. That was the general background and marine setting of the eBay waters when I decided to avenge my 1 cent auction fail.

Basically, the key difference this time is that I'd done extensive homework in finding a product that had a better chance of moving with the old school tactic of the penny auction.

I also was directing the auction at two distinct groups that do a lot of shopping on eBay--outdoor sportsmen and hairstylists.

Now it was time to initiate the auction, kick back, and monitor its progress. What follows, then, is the action that was recorded in real time a few days ago and intentionally was reserved for a hub to be written during Karen Hellier's Ten Hubs in Ten Days Challenge for the period of February 10 through February 19, 2013.

Definition of Views and Watchers

What's the difference between a view and a watcher?

Views are the number of times unique individuals visit an auction listing. If a person views the auction listing on multiple occasions, only his first view would be tallied.

A watcher, on the other hand, has actually bookmarked the item listing with the respective eBay tool. This is an individual who wants a ringside seat to the action. He or she may be a principal bidder, a potential bidder waiting for an opportune time to enter the skirmish, a competitor wanting to gauge how a rival seller is doing, an eBay newbie studying the action and picking up valuable tips, or an eBay tourist (aka Looky Lou).

Penny Auction Chronology

01/29/13 I listed the item at 9:54 PM with a starting bid of a penny.

01/30/13 Someone places a first bid at 7:14 AM.

At 8:27 AM, a second individual places a bid for $2.75.

02/02/13 The bid remains at $2.75 for three days. Then, with about three days left in the 7-day auction, the bidding resumes. After two more bidders enter the auction arena, the bid is now at $12.49.

02/03/13 It's Super Bowl Sunday, and there's been a little pre-game action with this feathers auction. There have now been 7 official bids placed, and the leading bid is at $15.50.

What's important to me, too, as a seller is that the number of views this item has received has climbed to 125. In addition, 18 people are watching this item.

02/05/13 Okay, this is it, the very last day of the auction for this rooster hackle. When I woke up this morning, I found the bid has moved up slightly. It is now at $16.50 with just 13 hours and 43 minutes left. There are currently 21 watchers, and the view count has climbed to 195. While these last two numbers do not necessarily have any bearing on the final outcome of the auction, they indicate to this eBay seller the potential for a most interesting finish. Stay tuned!

02/05/13 At 9:58 AM, someone attempts to place a bid, but because an earlier bidder two days ago had a higher maximum bet, the earlier bidder's bid is now pushed up to $17.50.

6:23 PM--A new bidder enters the arena and bypasses the buyer who's been the front runner for a long time. The thirteenth bid is for $23.50.

7:11 PM--Two more bids, and the price to beat is now set at $31.00!

8:45 PM--Sixteen bids so far, and the bid is at $33.00.

Author's Note: This is where the bidding ended. From a starting bid of one cent, it shot up to and was sold for $33 one week later. Not a huge amount, mind you, but certainly a far cry better than the fate of the Spider-Man Bobblehead three months prior.

Comments

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  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @JayeWisdom

    Jaye, I'm thankful for my success, even on a small scale, on eBay. I've been somewhat discouraged the last couple of months after seeing huge inexplicable drops in traffic and sales. The temptation is to point fingers and rant at eBay and Google (because, just as is the case here on HP, I think our over-dependence on Google has enabled it on some level to be a powerful presence everywhere), so I do my best to just keep plugging away. I know that things will change as we approach the next holiday season. In any event, I welcome you to send me a personal email via the profile page with your eBay contact information so I can follow you and be more readily available to help you. I mention this here publicly because I am willing, as a personal mission, to help anyone who's interested. I learn more from helping others than I do from reading the good books out there. Anyway, no pressure...the welcome mat is out! Aloha, my friend, and do have a blessed evening!

    Joe

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    I'm never brave enough to list anything on eBay auction for only a penny. I've listed starting bids at 99 cents--and sold many items for only 99 cents, even when I expected a bidding war.

    A few years ago I bought a magnificent Mission-style bed headboard on eBay for 1 cent plus the shipping charge. As incredible as I found it, no one else bid on that headboard! (I have a feeling the seller was unpleasantly surprised.) I actually felt guilty paying only the shipping charge--which wasn't inflated--plus a penny, but not so guilty I didn't accept my bargain!

    Occasionally, I'll start something at 99 cents that is normally popular and watch the bids increase to a nice profit, but that's the exception rather than the rule for me. Mostly, people watch my auctions until the last hour, then bid. Rarely does the bidding become frenzied! That's why I'm increasingly using the fixed price format.

    I enjoy reading your eBay hubs and hope some of your selling success rubs off on me.

    Voted Up++

    Jaye

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @tillsontitan

    @tillsontitan

    Wouldn't it be great to find a way to "rent out" our hubs on eBay? Here's an idea...create an eBook with derivations of your best hubs, embellish it with a preface and extra images, and sell a million of them on Amazon Kindle or eBay. Don't know what prohibitions there would be, but at least you wouldn't be diverted from what you do best--WRITING! You know, Mary, I may have just talked myself into a goal for 2014! : ) In any event, I'm always here for you should you someday discover that you have time to try eBay out again. You have my word on that. Best wishes to you and yours for a nice weekend!

  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

    I must say you raised my hackles on this one ;). Unfortunately for me time and HP prevent me from returning to eBay so I'm stuck with the 99 cent sale (a small teddy bear).

    Again mt friend you lead us through you hub with humor and useful information...quite a knack you have.

    Voted up, useful, funny, and interesting...Aloha my friend.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @rajan jolly

    Thank you for reading this article and leaving your uplifting remarks, my friend. Sadly, as you know from your experience as a poultry farmer utilizing natural methods, genetic engineering undoubtedly comes at a cost, and I don't mean just fiscally. Anytime man intrudes into the natural order of things, there are consequences that, sooner or later, come to the forefront. Whatever is naturally grown and harvested is best, and that is why I enjoy reading your health and nutrition hubs.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    You are a master at experimenting with Ebay stuff. and you certainly scored well this time. I'm amazed by the length of the hackle feathers, as in my entire career as a poultry breeder, I haven't seen any as long as these.

    Interesting read, my friend.

    Voted up.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @bdegiulio

    Bill, I just read your fascinating report on the Philippines Eagle! Fascinating and gorgeous bird! Thank you for sharing in my "bird" hub, albeit a bird without its saddle hackle. LOL! Yeah, I was blessed with this one, and I just had to give the penny auction another try. I'm just grateful this one ended on a happier note. Thanks for faithfully stopping by now and then, my friend. Blessings and aloha! Joe

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @donnah75

    Donna, 90% of what my wife and I sell are items gleaned from yard/estate/garage/church rummage sales and thrift shops. That's the fun of it all--being in the midst of salvaging other people's throways, finding and restoring value to them just by virtue of using the right words and pictures, and seeing them on their way to people who will take good care of them. With your talent as a writer and with your outside the box creativity, I think you're only a month's worth of research on YouTube away from being a PowerSeller. Thank you for sharing in this experience with your loyal following and kind words. Have a great rest of the week, Donna!

  • donnah75 profile image

    Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

    Fantastic. I wish I had a bit more success with ebay. Although I will admit that what I am selling on ebay is equivalent to yard sale items and clutter that I just want to get out of my house. Oh well, every penny counts, right? Congrats on your success. It's amazing what will become a "hot" item!

  • bdegiulio profile image

    Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

    You had me on the edge of my seat. I couldn't wait to finish reading to see where the bidding ended. This was really well done and interesting. All I can say is wow, from a penny to $33, that's great. I've never sold anything on eBay either, may have to check it out. Many thanks. Up, shared, etc....

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @wetnosedogs

    I'll let you in on a secret...check out the first eBay cell in my article...the one with two items. One of them ends tonight. That, too, was a penny auction. Last I looked, it was at $31. It's fun...the trick is in knowing what things will bring in enough traffic.

    Sometimes, as the guy in the video suggests, you can draw traffic to your other items by using the penny auction as a kind of eBay door prize. You might take a loss there, but in the long run, you promote your higher ticket items either inexpensively or free of charge. Thanks for stopping by and always leaving such uplifting comments. It always means a great deal to me. Just got back from a two-hour walk, and it was so nice to see your welcome words waiting for me. Have a great rest of the week, WND!

  • wetnosedogs profile image

    wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

    Wow, that is so awesome you got a sale that high from a penny! I know you were excited. Live and learn. From one experience to the next. You really made it this time!

    You surely got a great start, also, on the ten day hub challenge. You tell great stories in your hubs.

    Will you be doing more penny auctions or was this just a "I know it can be done" thing and now that you did it, you are okay with it. Either way is great thinking.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @sarahshuihan

    Hi, Sarah! Thanks for stopping by to read and share in this hub experience. Yep, it's easier on the soul to report both mishaps and triumphs. What's really important to me is the gathering at the HP waterhole to discuss the latest happenings of the day. You've been very good about being a town scribe as well as a social activist in this literary community. I'm thankful we're reciprocal followers!

  • sarahshuihan profile image

    Sarah 4 years ago from USA

    Great hub! I admire that you're willing to be honest in your writing of ebay sales. The world needs more honest people like that.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @carol7777

    Wow, thanks so much, Carol! Before I came to the Global Comment Capsule Settings, I saw the HP feed and noticed that you'd shared this. I always feel so honored when a fellow writer does that. I am so grateful for your gifts of writing and social sharing, my friend. I am still waiting for you to try your hand selling your beautiful artwork on eBay. I found this battered painting one day at an estate sale. It may not have even been an original oil painting--more likely, a museum reproduction. I didn't know what I was doing, but I decided to give it a try. I listed it at 99 cents for seven days and wrote up a fairly decent description. The artist, unknown to a novice like me, happened to be popular in California. Anyway, he old painting sold for $53, and I'd maybe paid $3 for it and another painting as a set. Shoot! I was so stoked! Anyway, long story short, with your writing talent and popular presence on HP, you may want to think about writing a hub, or several hubs, for that matter, about your art...then, when you open or re-establish an existing eBay account, you can creatively intertwine the two entities. Food for thought, anyway. Have a great week, Carol, and thanks ever so much for faithfully stopping by.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @Mommymay

    That interesting combination of strategy, humor, and heart can only work if one is blessed with loyal and enthusiastic social sharing from writing peers like you, Mommymay! I'm most appreciative of the friendly give and take--I learn a lot from the hubs you and others diligently create, and it all gives me impetus to keep going here on HubPages. Kinda like climbing a super steep mountain...there are vertigo issues looking down as well as looking too far up...the best tactic is to look horizontally to each side at our companions, reveling in the camaraderie and team effort. Thank you for your encouragement along the way, and I pledge to you the same. Blessings and aloha from the Pacific Northwest!

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @xstatic

    Thank you, my friend! I had a really good chuckle over the chicken farmers statement. Seriously, sort of like the way I see Hub material all over the place when I'm walking these days, there was a time when every single bird I looked at was transformed into fly tying material in my mind's eye. Got a neighbor with a canary named Pretty Boy. If only Gary knew how close Pretty Boy came to being Pretty Plucked! LOL!

  • xstatic profile image

    Jim Higgins 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

    Up all the way on this one! That is quite a story of contrasting auctions.

    But, do you have a secret source of this product? Do the chicken farmers os southeast Washington look askance at their half- plucked chickens ?

    Seiously, this is a well-done episode in the life or an eBay master.

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

    Learned something new here. Have never tried to sell anything on ebay.. I may have to checkthis out. Great hub..voting up and sharing and pinning.

  • Mommymay profile image

    Heather May 4 years ago from Ohio

    That is AMAZING how it worked for you to list something at a penny! I always find it so interesting how "bidders" think and react. I think sometimes its the thrill of the bid. I recently started a bid at a penny for a $5 coupon and it sold for $3! That stinking thing had ZERO bids until the last day then from a penny to $3 --for a $5 Coupon! Thanks for always sharing strategy mixed with humor and heart!