When I first started in this online marketplace and community, I thought that the name was pig Latin for "be." While the name and origin weren't quite in sync with that, it is no less relevant.
Do you have a storefront in downtown Norwalk and want to expand your sales? If not, do you have a kitchen table in a Huron residential subdivision with a few things to sell? You can get yourself in front of millions of collectors, customers, enthusiasts, or others with a need you can fill outside your own community! There is an enormous advantage to accessing this marketplace (and a bit of a learning curve). Even if you don't have an official "eBay Store" or the star next to your name is one color or another, you will still be seen by many who never would have heard of you before. It also will present to your customers local, domestic, or abroad a track record of who you are as a Buyer or Seller. Feedback is key not just with peoples' perception of you, but also it helps you become an even more trusted user.
One thing that this marketplace can do for your business or hobby is help show you just what is going on within it. Even if you don't have an account you can still see sales trends and prices over time. Don't worry, you don't need special training for this! Let's say that you want to sell an old comic book and you think it will go for $10. Hop online, go to "Completed Listings" (make sure it is sorted by End Date: Recent First) and you can see immediate pricing trends! Are you adept at sewing and think making stuffed, plush hamsters would be cute? Look for them and see if there is anyone else doing it, and if so, what theirs are like and how yours can be different! There is SO MUCH to learn but one thing to keep in mind: eBay is in most cases a liquidation market. There is plenty of opportunity for profit, but sometimes it can be slim.
The forums on the site aside, there is excellent networking potential as either a Buyer or Seller. Beneficial relationships can be made to everyone's advantage if communication is done properly. Tact and proper language skills will carry you a long way in finding a reliable vendor for your car parts or in getting repeated business from someone who enjoys your wood carvings. Including hand-written notes, business cards, or following up on a transaction to see if there is anything else the other user needs will round out your own skills at interpersonal communication as well as open the door to referrals!
When buying or selling there are a great many rewards that this marketplace can provide. Even after you pay your sundry fees (earning the site the tongue-in-cheek name of "feeBay"), there is so much money that can be had if only you have the time to put into it. As a Buyer you can also be frugal in obtaining the things you want, need, or can't get elsewhere. Of course, you should always give your local shops a chance to meet your needs for as beneficial as eBay can be, supporting your home-grown businesses is beneficial to everyone and can open even more doors and deals than the Internet.
Whether you buy or sell, expanding your marketplace to eBay can help you in many ways, even non-economical ones. Be sure to read over its guidelines, browse the forums, or feel free to ask other users "IRL" (in real life) for advice. I'll happily help any of you readers who want to know more about conflict management, best practices, or other facets of this powerful tool!