|How to list an eBay auction for maximum profit|
| August 9th, 2007 under Money, eBay|
This article written by: Mike Panic
Over the last 8 years I have been buying and selling items on eBay for myself and more recently, small businesses. In that time I’ve learned a few tricks to help get you maximum profit for your items with just a few tweaks during the listing process. Here is a checklist to go through when listing your items.
List the item on Sunday. It is a proven fact that listing a standard seven day auction late Sunday afternoon into early evening will give you the best chance of a great auction selling price. More people are likely to be home and you will get the exposure of the remaining part of that day and the entire following Saturday. If you live on the east coast of the US, list it somewhere between 6 and 9pm, this will give people on the west coast ample time to see it. Ideally, you want as many people to see it in the last few hours as possible, which is when most people make the decision to buy.
Research what similar items have sold for. You’ll need to login to your eBay account to do this then go to the advanced search options. Search for already completed auctions to get an idea of what recently ending items have sold for and how much of a bidding war too place. With this information you should be able to properly gauge what your item is worth and start the auction accordingly.
Be realistic with what you want to get for the item. After you’ve done your research on what similar items have sold for, be realistic with the condition of the item you are selling and how much you can get for it. Sometimes people shoot for the stars and end up not selling the item; by not selling it you waste money in listing fees. If you are not comfortable with the price at which recent auctions have ended, don’t list your item. There is a chance the market for that particular item will have an upswing, just as likely as it could have a downswing though.
Get a good starting bid, avoid reserves and use Buy It Now. Low starting prices attract buyers, reserves scare them away, and so I’d avoid using them unless you really need to get a certain amount for the item. Listing your item at $1.00 with no reserve will more then likely draw attention but be aware that it might only sell for $1.00. Over the years, the Buy It Now option has become more popular; I personally prefer to buy auctions with them. There is a small fee associated with it, but auctions that list with the BIN add-on usually sell faster.
List the item for maximum visibility. eBay offers several add-on features for a fee to get your item to stand out better in the search results, some of these are worth looking into some are not. The only one I’d ever really consider is the thumbnail view of your item to the left of the text link. What you can do for free is use all the space available for your auction title. Currently eBay gives XX characters, use all of them. Additionally, use the underscore to separate words instead of a blank space. Why you ask? The modern type is dynamic to each letter; the lower case letter l takes up less horizontal space then the lowercase letter w. By using the underscore instead of spaces you will essentially widen the auction title and possibly get it to spill onto a second line for free. An example can be seen here:
New Playstation 3 Core System With 2 Controllers
Not only is the wider one easier to read, it will attract more viewers. There is also an add-on when listing your auction called Gallery, it is a $0.35 add on feature. While I am against most of these add-ons because they can really cut into your profits, this is one that is worth it. Why? Because it will show the buyer what your item looks like from the search results field. This can be very handy for many different types of auctions, in addition to drawing more attention to the listing.
Be as descriptive as possible. If the item is of electronic nature, say a home stereo, see if the manufactor still has the specs listed on their site and either link to it or copy over the important ones. In addition, list your personal experience with the item, how it works, functions, etc. You’ll want to make a point of listing everything positive you can about the item. In some cases, I’ve also listed why I’m selling some items, depending on what it is. Recently I sold a piece of luggage that I purchased in California on vacation that was needed to haul home all the stuff I bought. It was used once as a carry on and was in as new condition. This information was listed in the auction. Also take the time to list the environment the items lived in. If for example you were selling clothing, even new with tags on it, list in the auction that the item is new with tags and if applicable, that it comes from a smoke free, animal free home, kept in a cool, dry closet. Don’t lie here!
Use quality photographs. If it is something small, get a piece of white poster board from a local Wal-Mart type store and place it on your kitchen table. Put the item on it and turn on all the lights in that room. Take a few pictures of it making sure nothing else is being shown but the item and the white background. If the item is fairly small, look for a macro setting on your camera and use that. For any given item, 3-6 quality photographs will go a long way. Resize them down to be used on the web; an easy way to do this is with the freeware program Irfanview (Windows only, Mac users can use iPhoto). Once open, go to Image > Resize / Resample and click the 800×600 option, then OK. Save these to a new location. Since eBay only gives you one photo for free, use a free web photo hosting solution for the other images to be listed in your auction. Some of these sites are:
They all provide code to place them into eBay auctions and are free to use. I’ve been using xs.to for sometime and never had a problem. Simple and straight forward.
Spell check. Take two minutes and reread what you wrote, make sure it makes sense and there are no spelling errors. Not only will this make the auction more valid for your potential buyer, it is the right thing to do.
Explain shipping & handling fees up front. When listing your auction, eBay has the boxes you can use for shipping, flat rate, by weight, etc. I think it is also worth listing in the auction itself what the shipping & handling fees are, where you will and won’t ship to, what the insurance options are, etc. My experience is that buyers prefer flat rate shipping, so you will need to determine what your item weighs packed up and what the rate is from who you will use as a shipper (UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc.). I usually add $1-4 to that to cover my costs of the box, packing material and gas to drive to where I’m mailing it from. Insurance is an option in the listing process, you the seller decide if you want to make it required, optional or not available. I usually use the optional portion, 50% of the time the buyer will want it, and the other half they won’t.
Create a disclaimer. At the bottom of all my auctions I use something similar to the following:
Ship fast. If you can, ship an item the day of payment or the following day. This will help build a positive feedback rating for you as a fast shipper, something a lot of buyers look for. No one wants to pay for something on Monday to find out it hasn’t shipped out till Friday. Take this into consideration when listing your item.
Use PayPal. PayPal allows instant payment and the ability for you the seller to receive credit card payments. By doing so, you have now enabled someone who may not have the cash to purchase your item to do so by putting it on their credit card. Additionally, it allows you to track payments and create shipping labels for both USPS and UPS. Using the built in option for shipping labels will also send notification to the buyer that the item has shipped and what the tracking number is, one less thing you need to do. There are too many instances where checks and money orders bounce, get lost in the mail, etc. to make them worthwhile. Additionally, it adds time until the buyer receives their item.
Promote your auction. On any given day there are millions of items listed. Just having a clever title isn’t good enough anymore. You need to tell people you have an auction. Get on the social network of your choice, like MySpace and make a blog or bulletin post announcing your auctions. Don’t go around spamming people, but once when you list the auction and another the day before the auction ends can help drive extra traffic to your auctions.
Lastly, build relationships. Use the feedback options on all auctions, making sure to emphasize what the buyer has done right, using terms like fast payment or painless transaction. This will make you seem much more human and more buyers will want to deal with you. Should have an issue, do everything in your power to resolve it as fast as possible.