Jul 242008

After you’ve researched supply, and chosen an item to sell on eBay, the next step is to write your auction. Today we’re going to focus on the most important parts of an auction – the title and description.

Your item’s title and description are your advertisement, your chance to grab the attention of potential buyers and get them excited about your item. It’s important to write a title and description that is clear, accurate and appealing. Here are a few tips for writing an effective title:

• Use descriptive keywords that clearly describe what you’re selling. It’s best to just state exactly what your item is. For example: “KING OF QUEENS COMPLETE SEASON 8 DVD USED”

• Include your item’s brand name, artist, or designer.

• Include words or terms that buyers might use to search for your item. This will increase traffic to your auction.

• Buyers don’t search for words like “LOOK” or “WOW!” It drives me crazy when I see these in titles! You only have a limited number of characters available for your title, so make intelligent use of your space!

• Browse completed items to see which titles brought the highest prices.

When writing your description, try to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. What would you want to know about the item before buying it? Be sure to include the following:

• Item features – list all of the item’s specifications, and all parts or extras included (original box, owner’s manuals, extra battery, etc). Details are important! They help your buyer make an informed purchase, and give you an advantage over sellers who don’t provide enough information.

• Item condition – is the item new, used, refurbished, or still under warranty? Be sure to mention any repairs, flaws, or damage. Be HONEST!

• Payment and shipping – be clear and specific about accepted payment methods and shipping costs. Remember that buyers want to know shipping costs before they bid, so they can factor the cost into their maximum.

To have a successful auction, you absolutely must include a picture of your item! When we first began selling on eBay, we didn’t have a digital camera, but after receiving gazillions of e-mails requesting pictures of our items, we bought an HP Photosmart 315. We still have it! It’s dented, scarred, and gigantic compared to the little Canon Powershot I use now. I’m not sure why I keep it. Nostalgia perhaps.

Here are a few tips for effective photography:

• Use good lighting. I find natural, outdoor lighting to be best, but the important thing is that your item is thoroughly and properly lit.

• Use a plain, colored fabric backdrop to make your item stand out. We always used a cream-colored piece of seat vinyl that my husband had laying around our auto shop. Don’t use pure white – too much contrast. If you don’t use a backdrop, make sure to clear other stuff out of the way so it doesn’t detract from the item you’re selling.

• Take close-up photos. Buyers want to see detail, so your item should take up the whole frame.

• Use your camera’s editing software to improve the photo quality. Remove unnecessary background, and balance the contrast and brightness to really make your photo eye-catching.

eBay will host one free picture for each auction, but as of this writing there are fees for additional pictures. I use eBay Picture Services to host my images, because it’s simple and convenient, but many people prefer to use other image hosting services, such as Photobucket.

I hope this article helps you get started on your auctions. Next week we’ll talk about payment and shipping terms, and I’ll show you an example of a complete, effective auction.