Handy tips for selling on eBay

In this article, we’re going to present you with some tips to enable you to sell more effectively on eBay – whether you’re trying to flog your CD collection, or old antiques (actually, these days, those two things might be one and the same).

Okay, on with the tips…

A little research goes a long way

Success as a seller on eBay depends on many factors, and your understanding of your market – and the eBay culture – is just as important as technical know-how. Before you dare list an item for sale on eBay, do your research to find out what it's worth.

Start by searching eBay for your item, as though you were planning on buying another one just like it. On the search results page, click the Completed listings check box on the left, and sort the list by “Price: highest first” and examine the first few hits with bids (signified by a number in the Bids column). This is the upper limit of what other eBayers have been willing to pay for items like yours in the past 30 days, and a pretty good approximation of the kind of cash you'll get for your item – if you play your cards right.

Of course, you may decide not to sell, or to wait and sell in a few months when the market for your item might be better. But at least now you don't have to worry about not getting any bids, or worse, letting your item sell for too little.

But there's more: eBay's archive of completed listings is a strategic goldmine. Take a closer look at the top sellers and see what titles they used to describe their items and in which categories they chose to organise them. What starting prices got the most bids? What kinds of photos earned the most money?

Although it's against the rules to copy other sellers' text and photos outright (not to mention bad for business), you'd be wise to use the most successful completed listings as guides for constructing your own listing.

Attention to detail

When it comes to writing your listing out, ensure that the title contains the manufacturer and full name of your item, plus the model number. Also, say what you're selling (for example, "camera"), and add some keywords to help buyers find your item when searching.

Spelling is very important. If you try to sell a "motorsykul," nobody searching for a motorcycle will ever see your listing. And anyone who does will think you're an idiot. In all seriousness, if you even mistype one letter, your auction could go unseen save for the eBay poachers who deliberately search for items with slight spelling mistakes, so they can bid on them without much competition (as most people won’t find them).

When writing the description, include a few extra sentences to answer any questions interested bidders might have. For instance, if you're selling a part that fits something else, measure your item and include its dimensions in your write-up. You'll have fewer questions to answer while the auction is running, and your customers won't have to worry about getting the wrong part.

Always write in full sentences. Use proper capitalisation and punctuation. If you look professional, folks are more likely to buy from you.

Inspire trust

Feedback on eBay, as you’re doubtless aware, is very important. Someone with 50 positive comments and zero complaints will get more bids – and thus more money – than someone with just a few bits of feedback, and certainly will do better than a seller with an excess of complaints. But feedback is only the beginning.

When you assemble your listing, bear in mind that customers won't bid on your item if they don't feel they can trust you. You can inspire trust with a thorough description, flexible payment terms, and clear, original photos.

When describing the condition of your item, don't just say "used," but elaborate by meticulously documenting scratches, missing parts, and other defects. You'll get more money for that year-old laptop if you list every scratch, and you'll be a lot less likely to get negative feedback if your buyer knows exactly what to expect when it arrives.

And remember that old saying about flies and honey: Include welcoming statements like "If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask." Leave out threats like "Deadbeat bidders will receive negative feedback and a note to their mother."

For advice on how best to avoid negative eBay feedback, see our article here – and good luck with your virtual auctions!