Here’s a question that I just got from the mailbag from someone who asked to remain anonymous:

Hi. I wanted to ask you about advice and knowledge when working with somebody as an eBay seller. I’m an eBay seller looking to do business with some one who wants eBay sellers to sell their inventory, provide customer service, etc, on eBay. I’m not that literate on the legal inner workings of that, like what contracts and other paperwork is involved.

I promise this is a real email and I did not send it to myself. But you’d be forgiven for thinking that because it just tees me up so very perfectly to pimp my book: The Trading Assistant’s Assistant.

Anonymous seller, the relationship you describe is called serving as an eBay Trading Assistant. If you wish, you can officially register as one at the aptly named but that’s basically just a directory to help you find new customers. If you already have a client that’s ready and willing, you don’t need to be able to be signed up on the marketplace to start working as a TA.

I have an entire book out on getting started as a TA which I recommend checking out if you need more info but the official website can give you a basic overview of the program. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want it but don’t enter into anything until you’ve made sure to write up a good contract so you’ll be protected.

As for the legal details and inner workings, everything is up to you because eBay doesn’t oversee the program in any way. This is, at once, a good and bad thing. It’s a good thing because you can literally name every single term of your service. It’s a also a bad thing, though, because, in naming all your own terms, you’ve got no protection if you leave yourself open for trouble. If you’re not confident in your contract, it may be worth a few bucks to have a lawyer go over it just to be on the safe side.

You’ll need to decide everything from what kind of fees you want to charge (and whether they’ll be flat fees or commissions) to the time frame you’ll promise the clients payment by and thousands of details in between. Being a TA seems really simple on the surface. You just sell items for other people, how hard can it be? But there are a wide variety of issues that can come up and you’ll need a plan for dealing with them ahead of time.

That said, working as a TA can be an extremely lucrative full or part time business once you get the hang of it.