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eBay Alternatives (Pt. 3): DIY Auction & Selling Solutions

May 14th, 2007 by shawn · No Comments


If you want to sell online but you wish to have absolute full control over what you sell and how you sell it, you can always start your own auction site. By starting your own site you can also charge other sellers to use the site and basically become an auction landlord (or slumlord) – kinda like eBay does.

While it’s relatively easy to start your own auction site, it’s not automatic money. Let me explain the simple steps involved in starting an auction site, first of all.

1. Buy auction software. This typically will come as a script, written in PHP, that must be hosted. The script can cost anywhere from $0-$1000 depending on what you choose.

2. Buy a domain. You’ll want a really cool name for your auction site. Get the .com, and you should probably get the .net and .org because when you’re a huge success you don’t want people registering those names. (Oh yeah, be sure to register all the other domains that GoDaddy recommends – like the .biz, .us, .tv, .yo, .sisenor, .uh, and whatever else.)

2. Buy hosting. You can get hosting cheap if you know where to look. Make sure you use a reliable host however – read the reviews!!

3. Buy or make a custom skin. You don’t want to have the same exact look as all the other auction sites out there, so make sure to pimp your site. If you pay someone to do it, it might run about $300 if you look on elance.com.

4. Set up your new site. You need to set up all the emails, templates, payment options, etc. You’ll probably invest half a day doing this stuff.

So that’s it. You do those things, and you’ll have a brand-spankin’-new website. And no bidders. Like I said, there’s more to it. The complicated parts are:

  • Telling people about your site.
  • Convincing them to use your site.

If you can do those two things, you’ll be a success – but very few people are a success at running auction sites. The companies that make auction site scripts do quite well (I’m sure) but very few people ever make back their investment of time and money after they set up their site.

eBay is on top, remember. If you get someone to use your site to buy or sell, you most likely need to take that customer from them. Can you do it? It takes more time, effort, money, advertising, and satanic ritual sacrifices than I care to discuss. So remember, kids: You will not get any users just by putting up a new auction site.

In case you want to forge ahead with this endeavor, here are some of the more popular/better scripts.

PHPProBid – Written in PHP so you can fully hack it. Which a lot of people do. I have seen some decent looking sites using this platform.

AJ Auction – Another PHP script. I don’t know too much about the software.

phpauction XL – This is also widely used, but I’ve read some negative things about the guy who wrote/supports this.

rwAuction Pro – This is an ASP .NET script. It looks like it has all the necessary features, but then again it’s ASP and not PHP.

The auction business is flooded with sites – homegrown auction sites come and go. While I would love to see someone beat eBay at their game and equalize the playing field, it’s not likely in the foreseeable future. Is it impossible, though?? No way. Anything’s possible.

Perhaps someone can be successful with a niche auction site; if so, I hope these resources help you if you’re investigating getting into the auction business.

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