I wrote an eBook and taught a little class some years ago on how to sell things through online auctions. I wasn’t a hard-core seller, but it was something I really enjoyed doing and wanted to share the fun with others. The book is from 2008 though, so while I’d like to give it to you – I also wanted to do a little update and create an eBay tutorial for beginners. There are going to be links that are out of date, but the bulk of the information is still very helpful. In the meantime, I haven’t sold very much in the last few years myself, so creating a tutorial will make a great refresher for me.
Here is the eBook I wrote: Online Auction Selling Basics by Melissa Olivero.
The first thing I did was look through my stash of things to sell. I have these figurines from Panton International. The collection is called The World of Krystonia and they are dragons and wizards and other mystical creatures — all perfectly adorable. I have 6 or 7 pieces and was planning to take them over to a local comic/gaming store. As I was thinking of doing this tutorial though, I realized that using one of these pieces would be the perfect example. Even though I do not expect it to sell well at auction, there are still buyers out there, so it is worth a shot. If it doesn’t sell, then I will just go through with my original plan.
I am going to assume that you have at least been on eBay and bought a few things. If not, go read the eBook before reading further here.
Done yet? Okay.
Research is going to be your friend. Whatever your item is, I want you to not only Google y our item for private sellers but also go on eBay and check both current and completed auctions. The figure I’m going to be selling is named “Gurneyfoot & Shadra”. My research tells me that through private sellers, this piece runs from $25 to $35.00. On eBay, I’m seeing three current auctions, but they are being sold through storefronts and not via regular auction style.
There is one completed auction. It ended at $25 which puts it right in line with what I found outside the site.
Now that I know my pricing, it is time to start the form process over at the site. Once you’ve logged into eBay, go to the upper right corner and click on Sell.
The form may seem overwhelming, but it is actually very helpful. The beginning part of the form helps you decide what category to place your item. While many people do searches for specific items, there are folks who do *window shop* and visit their favorite sections just to see what is available. Category matching is very important. You can input the ISBN number or just some keywords and eBay will do the rest.
Now for the title. This is what will initially grab your buyer’s eye, but you want to stay professional. I never use all CAPS or lots of !!!!. You have limited space and you want to use that for keywords. I’m title mine: “Gurneyfoot & Shadra World of Krystonia Boxed with Insert Mint Adorable!”. Only one adjective and one “!” and I put that at the end. If for some reason you need more space, you can buy a second subtitle for $.50.
I am listing it as used even though it is still in the box with the insert because I did have it out on a shelf for a while. But it is in mint condition… there are no nicks or cracks or chips, so I am comfortable stating that condition.
Each listing form will be slightly different. When I listed my brother’s watch, they had phrases I could check off that would only relate to watches. I believe that there are other categories like that too. For this one though, the heavy description writing will be on me and not a pre-filled item list.
It asks for the country of manufacture and then you get to add photos. eBay is now allowing hosting of up to 12 photos for free. It used to be you were allowed one and then you paid for extra or had them hosted elsewhere. I am thrilled with this upgrade because when the customer cannot feel the piece — your photos have to do it all for you. You will find lots of photography tips already on the net, so I’m not going to address that too much here.
Here is one of the photos that I’ll be using in the auction:
I have a simple older camera: Canon Power Shot A2000 IS, 6x optical zoom and 10 megapixels. I like to take the photos by a window with lots of natural light, but any room that can be lit up bright will work. I have never worried about trying to create a light box or anything special. I do try to get a lot of close-ups using the Macro function and have the area clean of any clutter. If your item has any flaws, please be up front and photograph them clearly. I usually use Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop to re-size the pictures and perhaps sharpen the images a bit for even more clarity. I made sure that all the photos weren’t larger than 1024 on either height or width and I used a total of 8 pictures.
What I did forget to do in the photo program was to add my copyright to all the pictures. Unfortunately, online photography theft is pretty common. Use the Alt key and while holding that down, use the keypad to enter 0169 for the © symbol. Add your name or website next to it to create your copyright notice. I only did it on this one and I’m too tired to go back and add it to the rest, but I do highly recommend it.
Once the photos are uploaded, you may use the arrow keys on each thumbnail to put them in the order you want them to be in for viewing.
Next is the description area. If you are familiar with using HTML, then go ahead and click on that tab. Otherwise, just start typing in that box. Pretend that you are describing your item to your best friend. What would they want to know about it? Allow yourself to be excited, but there isn’t a need to oversell.
And now as I am describing the piece and going over every inch, I do find a flaw. Gurneyfoot is missing his crystal that should be sitting in his bag. This will not sell for the price range we were originally hoping for and I have to consider not selling it at all. I dump the box of all the styrofoam peanuts and I’m so relieved to find the crystal in there. I decide that I should not try to repair it. I don’t have the right glue (probably E6000) and it would be better to allow the new owner to handle it. But what do I do now? I try to mentally weigh the scales of what we do have against this one flaw. We have the original box and the original insert which is HUGE, but is it enough to make up for the crystal not being attached?
As I also factor in the fact that this tutorial is almost complete, all the photographs and the work I have put into this and realize that I’m not ready to just throw it away. So, I amend to take out all references to being in mint condition. I add the part of the crystal being unattached and keep moving on. I also take a photo of the separated piece so the buyers know that they will receive it in their package.
The next hurdle is shipping. The mail system has changed so much since I used to sell on eBay. First I take a look at all the auctions, current and closed, that I found and see what they were charging. I also visit usps.com and see what they say. I enter in my zip code and then 90210 because I grew up with the show (the original) and it is the opposite side of the country. I mark off that it will be a box and that I’m estimating after wrapping it, it will weigh around 2 pounds. It gives me Express Mail options first and it takes me a moment to see the Priority tab below it. It looks to be $10.40, but I’m going to round up to $11 because I will probably to get a tracking number.
Due to it being a fragile piece, I am going to require insurance to be paid for by the buyer. It is $1.85 making for a total of $12.85. This makes me uncomfortable because due to the flaw, I will not be starting this auction at $19.99 as I planned, but at $4.99 instead. I always hate it when the shipping is higher than the item cost, but that is my own issue and shouldn’t have an effect on the auction. I add this information inside the body of the auction as well as at the bottom of the form.
The rest of the form should be simple. I’m not paying extra to make the listing look *pretty* and I always keep the counter (number of page views) hidden. We already have the start price of $4.99 and then the only major decision left is start time.
In the past, my experience showed that Sunday evenings were the best ending time, followed by Thursday evening. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays were never good for me and I have never sold business related items that perhaps be better ending during the day.
Why do we care about ending time? Because most people do the most bidding during the last hour of the auction. Bidders do not like to show their hand too early in the game. You list your item for five to seven days to get the exposure. This way you have time to get the word out on Facebook and Twitter and for it to show up on search engines. So, normally I would pay the extra dime to schedule my auction to start later tonight. I love Sunday nights so much though, I am hoping that I actually get someone excited about listing their own auction tonight. With that in mind, I want mine running before I post this so everyone can see.
I am not going to be donating my profits this time and I already have the Paypal information in there so I can skip that section. I’m in the shipping section now and I add in my info. I also check off that I’m willing to ship worldwide. Some people get afraid of it, but there isn’t any need. It is one extra small form to fill out at the post office. The only issue is making sure the shipping price quoted within the auction is for US bidders only. They need to contact you for their specific charges.
Below that, you want to block bidders who have a negative feedback score.
I am not accepting returns on this item and I ask that the buyer pay for the item, insurance and shipping within seven days of the auction closing.
I scroll back up to check for mistakes and then hit the continue button for the preview of what it will look like. I’m happy, so we are good to go! Here is the final product:
If you haven any questions or want to share with me what you listed tonight or even later in the week – please feel free to leave it in the comments. I hope you have found this to be helpful and you enjoy clearing out some clutter and profiting from it.
xoxo ~ Melissa