The discussion of whether to pay for a listing service or not that was started here and here brought up an interesting question: is a paid service always the “better” or more professional choice?

I have been running a successful eBay business for many years. Other than two brief months of eBay’s Selling Manager Pro (spread a year apart, one a free trial, the other a month of extra help at the holidays) I have never used a paid listing tool. In the same way, other than a painful 6 months with the demon spawn that is, I have also never had a postage meter or similar. I don’t have a contract with any company that handles the bookeeping. I list with Turbo Lister, print postage through PayPal and export my finances with the free eBay Account Assistant. To those of you running huge operations, in comparison, I sound like I am running a Mickey Mouse business over here, I am sure. But there has yet to be anything a paid service can offer me that the free services don’t also give me so, no matter how many times I run the numbers, it isn’t worth it to change for us. If I can pull in PowerSeller money using the free newbie tools, why shouldn’t I continue using them?

This doesn’t make paying for a service wrong. Remember, selling online isn’t one size fits all, no matter where you sell. I always suspected the day would come when I would need to pay for a listing tool or postage meter but, so far, it has yet to come to the point where I feel like I need extra services beyond what I have always been doing. Maybe I will never hit the point where I need an outside paid service. Maybe you hit that point the first week in. We are all running very different businesses and have very different needs so you the question of what is worth the money or not is never going to be the same answer for you as it is for me.

I believe that if it isn’t broke, don’t fit it. That said, does there come a point where being thrifty gives way to just plain being stubborn or stupid?

I resisted buying my own domain for many years before I realized how stupid I was being. I didn’t want to spent the extra money a year but, obviously, the money was nothing compared to how the domain improved branding, business and a million other things that helped me to sell more. I was being stupid under the excuse of being thrifty for a long time before I realized.

No matter which site you sell on, what role do paid services play in your business? Did you hit a point when you realized you were being silly by not paying for extra help or do you still rely on free services for all or part of your business?