- USE PICTURES! Without question, this is one of the best tips, but not everyone heeds the advice. If you don't know how to add a picture, I'll give it to you the basics, but don't post an item for sale unless it has a picture.
- Obtain a picture of the item. You can use a digital camera, "borrow" a picture off the net, or take a photo, develope it, and then scan it. Use software such as PSP or any paint program to save the file to your harddrive as a jpg or gif image. (jpg prefered because they are smaller in size.)
- Upload the picture (now in file format, something like .jpg or .gif) to ANY SERVER you have access to. There are lots of places that will give free space, or you can use your ftp account w/your ISP, or a webhosting company, or some auction sites host the image for you. You'll either use an FTP client to do the transfer or your browser, depending on the the location (server) you choose.
- Link the picture to the url (the address in cyberspace where you uploaded the file to) using the following format:
Be sure your photos are good quality and include closeups of important stuff, like dates, manufacturer marks, authenticity marks, etc. You can use just one photo, or many. But too many photos take too long to load and you should carefully balance the number of photos with the time it takes to load them. Also, when I said "borrow" one from the net, I didn't mean to steal someone else's picture. But if you are selling an item, many times you can go to the manuf. page of that item and find a photo on their website of the item you are selling. It might be a violation of their copyright claim, or then again, it might not. But if you are selling their product, are they really going to tell you to stop using their picture of their product you are selling? I don't think so. I've done it many times and never had a single complaint. If you are looking for a good digital camera, check here. I strongly recommend getting a digital camera if you sell anything online. You'll pay for it many times over if you are a regular seller.
- Be sure your title is the best it can be! Use words that others will search for. Very few search engines search the description of the ads by default. (Takes too long.) So use key words in your title. Also, ALWAYS put one "emotion" or "excitement" word in the title. ie, "GREAT condition," "Like NEW!", "PERFECT!", "FAST!", etc. Don't over-do it, but it's important. Take off your "seller hat" and put on your "buyer hat" and think about how you would find the item you are about to post. Use those words in the title.
- Select your ending time carefully! Never end on a holiday or holiday weekend. The best time to end an auction is 7-9pm, PST. The best days to end an auction are Sunday, Wednesday or Thursday, in the evening as close to the 7-9pm PST time as you can. Some items can close as late as 11pm, PST and still get good bids. Consider your item and the demographics of the buyers. If you are selling surfboards, forget the EST people and you might even consider closing it on the Hawaiian time zone, again, 7-9pm would be good. Your ending time can make as much as 100% difference in the final bid.
- Start your auctions as low as you can. You want to draw as many bidders as possible. If you must, use a reserve, but it's better to try to refrain from reserves, as they tend to "turn off" bidders. The key is to get many people interested in your item, so that you get a "bidding war" going at closing time. You can't do that if you only have 2 people bidding on your item. (It always takes 3 or more. One bid will always be a "holder." Someone who puts a very low bid in, just in case no one else bids on the item (because it's a holiday, the item has a poor title, is in the wrong catagory, etc.) and then they may get it for a song. You need 3 or more people bidding on an item to get it's true market value.
- Include a link "to view my other auctions" in every auction if you have several items to sell. Then, take the item w/the highest probably selling price, and if you can risk it, pay for the "featured auction" in the catagory listing. This works best if you have similiar items, but isn't required. The idea is to use the "featured auction" to draw in people to that one, and then maybe get them to see some of your other auctions. (If your other items are similiar or related to the item on feature, be sure to state this... ie, "click here for more rare Bingo Neckties.") This really works. Be sure to look over the catagory of the item you are selling. If there are only 1 to 2 pages of listings, then paying for a featured auction in the catagory is a waste of money. On the otherhand, if the catagory has 100+ pages of listings.... then the featured auction is the way to go, especially if you can link it to several other auctions you are running at the same time. To generate the url for your link to your other auctions, go to the search function and search by seller. Just enter your account name, or number, and most auction sites will show you a listing of all the items you are selling (or have sold). Just copy that url from the address window into your ad using the following example:
<a href=http://urlfromyoursearch>Click Here to see my other auctions</a>
- Ask for feedback on completed transactions. Lots of new people don't understand the importance of the feedback system. Always go and leave feedback for your buyer as soon as you get their payment. After the items is received, send an email inquiring how they like the item, and if satisfied to please leave positive feedback. You might also give them the url to take them to your feedback page directly if they are a new user. (Easy to spot, they usually don't have any feedback for themselves!) You might also consider using a 3rd party feedback system such as http://www.virtualfeedback.com
- Consider a specialized auctioneer. While eBay has the gross numbers, your ad can easily get lost. You will see a specialization of online auction houses as the general merchandise places get too big. We all know how much better targeted marketing is over the "shotgun" method, so using a specialized auction house can yield better results if your item's market is focused enough. I predict cars, trading cards, photography, books, health, etc... will split off eBay and go into focused auction houses. (That is where Amazon.com blew it btw... They had the opportunity, and missed it.)
- Category listing is super important. So many times I've picked up items being sold in the wrong category for pennies on the dollar. Then resold them in the right category for a profit. If you are selling something, but unsure of the catagory, do a global (the entire auction) search for the item using keywords. Note not only where they are being sold (what catagory) but what categories have the largest number of bidders as well as highest bids. Don't underestimate the importance of the right category.
- Feedback is very important, but resist the temptation to blast deadbeats and trouble-makers. My policy is to leave negative feedback only in one of two situations:
- Was high bidder, never replied.
- Repeatedly promised to pay; never did.
But if I get an email of explanation or apology, or even just a nicely worded "I changed my mind..." I let it go. I believe this helps the seller maintain a clean record of feedback. When you do leave negative feedback, be sure to stick w/the facts of the case. Leave out any emotion. Sometimes, it's better to leave neutral feedback than negative if you have any doubts as to email reliability, mis-understandings, etc.
- On second thought, maybe this page shoul