eBay

Who: This post is for people who are thinking of starting a small eBay business or for those who just have a lot of stuff in their house that they want to sell off. If you’re more interested in buying, the Buyer’s Guide to eBay is a must read.
What: This post will offer some tips to sell items on eBay for the best price possible. There will be a variety of tips focusing on different aspects of the selling process.

1. The listing itself is key - This one should be obvious, but I will give you a couple of tips to make sure your listing is in tip-top shape.

  • Keywords in description - This is the single most important tip that I can give. The majority of buyers on eBay purchase items by searching for them (duh). People search for many different things and use different keywords to search for the same thing. If someone doesn’t see your item, they cannot buy it (duh). It is much more important to include all the keywords that describe an item in the title of a listing than it is for the listing title to be a grammatically correct sentence. For example, with “Brand New Canon EOS Rebel with 2 Lenses and a Cool Carrying Case” vs “New Canon EOS Rebel Digital Camera Lenses Carrying Case,” The first example may read better, but the second example doesn’t waste words, gets in more keywords and has more information about the item. More people will find the second title in their search, and that means more bids for you. The keys for choosing good keywords are to include any words you think people will search for, include synonyms, and exclude superlatives likes “awesome” or “cool,” etc.
  • A picture is NOT optional - For almost all types of items, listings that include a real picture of the item end at a much higher price on average. This tip depends a lot on the item, but often it is a good idea to have a few pictures taken from different angles so that the buyer can get a good idea of the product that they are buying. The higher their confidence level in the item, the higher their bids will be. In general, it is a bad idea to just take a retail image of the item from an online store because then the buyer doesn’t have a picture of the exact item that they are purchasing and there is less of a connection between the buyer and the item.
  • Include a pretty girl - I’m serious. If you’re a pretty girl, include a picture of yourself in the listing. If you’re a hairy old man, find a picture of a pretty girl that isn’t very famous and put it on the listing. Now, I am not saying that this is right. I am not even saying that I necessarily agree with it. But what I am saying is that it will increase the selling price of your item. You don’t need an explanation or anything, just the picture.

2. Psychology is Important. This is a life lesson that I have learned mainly through Poker. Whether we believe it or not and whether we like it or not, specialized psychology concepts govern many, many things. Ebay selling is an area where psychology is very important. If you master some of the eBay psychology tricks, you’ll be in great shape to succeed as an eBay seller.

  • Initial price - I have never listed an auction on eBay that I did *not* start at $0.01. The demand on eBay is unparalleled and as such any item that has value will sell for a “fair” price, provided it is seen by the right people. There are a couple of reasons to start your auctions at $0.01. First, if you have a low starting price auction it will either a) get people curious as to why the price is so low and more importantly b) get people to bid on the auction even if they don’t REALLY, REALLY want the item, just because it is so cheap. These things lead to more bids on your items and as such, more people will be interested in looking at it. Once the bidders who are really not interested have bid up the price a LITTLE, the interested folks will take care of the rest. In the process, it is often easy to get many people to bid on your item when they don’t need it. Psychologically, they will consider not winning the item, a loss. No one likes losing. This will cause people to stick around longer than they intended to and will cause the price to rise higher and higher. *Caution* If you really would NEVER sell the item below a certain price, or the item is somewhat bizarre or unique, I SUPPOSE I can advocate starting it at a higher price or using a reserve. But normally, this is a no no.
  • Feedback - People always look at feedback. Folks like sellers with high feedback and are more willing to dish out cash for big ticket items to sellers with a large amount of feedback. What does this mean for you? Well, if you are just starting as a seller on eBay, I strongly recommend starting with cheaper, less valuable items to build your feedback. Perhaps try buying some things on eBay as well. Once you’ve earned your first dozen or so feedback, you can start scaling up your sales to slightly more valuable items. As you get more and more feedback, it will become easier and easier to sell larger and larger items for more and more money.
  • Cheap tricks don’t pay off - Sophisticated eBayers are privy to all those little tricks that you think only you know. For example, when someone is selling a $5.99 item with $6.99 shipping, people are going to be immediately turned off to the auction. The key it to make sure your shipping price is enough to cover your expenses and then some but not enough to set off any red flags or turn off any potential buyers. The $2 you make off inflating shipping does not make up for lost bids, I promise.

3. Do your research - If this tip sounds familiar, it should be. This is also the #1 tip on The Buyer’s Guide to eBay. When you are selling items on eBay it is very important to do your research so you know the value of your item and so that you can present it in the manner that generates the highest price for you. Remember that in many projects, investment of a little bit of overhead time will reap significant benefits over the long haul. eBay selling is no exception to this rule!

eBay

  • Completed listings - I have to say, this is one of my favorite features of eBay. You should always check previously ended auctions before you sell your items. The major things to pay attention to are the average selling price of the item and the auctions which ended at a higher (and lower) price than other similar auctions. You want to find out what the high selling auctions had in common and mimic them. Commonly, higher prices can be found on auctions that had clearer pictures, more descriptive titles, were more succinct, etc. Another item to pay attention to would be the end date and time for the auctions. In my experience, auctions ending at 8PM EST on Sundays often generated the highest prices. This may be different for other types of items, but the only way to be sure would be to do your research.
  • Explore other venues - What if eBay is not the best place to sell your items? Could there be other places that are better for you? A quick and easy example is textbooks. I have found by a quick and dirty set of calculations that textbooks on eBay sell for about 30-45% less than they do on the used book sale sites at Amazon.com and Half.com. These calculations are accurate, NET of all fees assessed by eBay, Amazon and Half.com!! For other items, it may be a good idea to consider specialty auction or sales platforms that may have a more specialized group of buyers that are willing to pay a higher price than the general populace on eBay.

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