Five Big Ways to Succeed on eBay

Special Guest Post by: Skip McGrath

SkipWhen I started on eBay in 1999 it was like the Wild-wild West compared with today. Back then almost anything went and fraud was rampant. But eBay, like everything else on the Internet, has matured.  Today there are a lot more rules and buyers a lot more sophisticated.  I am often asked, “Skip – Can the little guy or gal working from home still make a living on eBay today.” My unequivocal answer is yes!  But you have to follow some rules and do things right.

Lets look at what I call: The Big Five

1. Build Topnotch Feedback and DSRs:  eBay is a community and in every community people have a reputation.  On eBay your reputation is a combination of your feedback and your Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs).  You want to work to keep both of these high. You do this by first being honest in everything you do and giving a high level of communications and customer service.  I don’t have room here to give you all of those details, but if you go to my website, you can read my FREE 77 Tips for eBay Sellers which will cover most of the things you need to do to earn good feedback.

2. Auction Listing Titles are Critical: The really neat thing about eBay is that millions of people every day visit the site and type the name of what they are looking for into the eBay search engine. If you were selling a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt and your auction title was: Size large Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt in Red and someone typed Golf shirt into the eBay search box, then your listing would not come up.  But if your title read: Ralph Lauren Golf Polo Shirt, Lg. – Red, then your listing might appear.  Adding the word golf to your title made all the difference. You want to try and anticipate the words people will type into the search box to find an item.  eBay only gives you 55 characters (including spaces), so pick your words carefully.

3. Pictures Matter – Take the time to take good photos. Here are a few short tips:

  • Always use a tripod. Unless you are shooting outdoors in sunlight (not a good idea by the way), digital cameras use a fairly slow shutter speed. This means that any shaking or vibration will give you a slightly blurred or less-than-sharp photo.
  • Don’t use flash or direct sunlight. That type of light causes deep dark shadows and the light is very unflattering to most subjects.  If you are shooting outdoors, use open shade. Indoors use indirect light, preferable from a North-facing window or buy a couple of desk lamps.
  • Clean up your background. There is nothing worse than putting your items on the dining room table where a viewer can see your kitchen full of dirty dishes in the background.  Use a sheet or a piece of curved poster board for a background.
  • Get Close – Buyers want to see detail. Be sure and use the close-up Macro setting to show any makers marks, hallmarks or other features.
  • Open the Kimono – that is a phrase from the business world that means showing your product warts and all.  If the item you are selling has damage, a repair or a flaw of some kind, be sure to show a picture of it (and disclose it in the description).
  • Learn how to use the White Balance setting on your camera.  White balance is a setting that adjusts for the different colors of differing type of light. Look in your camera manual for a full explanation of white balance and how to set your camera to correct for it.

This is a pretty basic overview of photo issues for eBay, but if you subscribe to my free newsletter, The Online Sellers News, one of the free bonuses is my 40-page eBook, Online Photo Secrets.

4. Take PayPal – eBay now requires that you accept online electronic payments. PayPal is now the largest online payment system in the world.  They process more credit card payments every day than Citibank and Bank of America combined.  Buyers who have a PayPal account can pay with PayPal linked to their credit card, the cash in their account or their bank account. When an eBay buyer does not have PayPal, then PayPal will process the sale on their credit card.  Not taking PayPal is a sure way to lose about 50% of your potential sales.

5. Write Complete Item Descriptions:  Don’t be stingy with words or information. There is nothing more frustrating to me when I go to buy something on eBay and after I read the description, I have questions about the item.  Put yourself in a buyers frame of mind and try to anticipate the questions that someone might ask about the item you are selling. Keep writing until you have answered every question. If the product has specifications be sure and list them. Always reveal any flaws, repairs or damage to the product or the box.  BE HONEST!  That will pay more dividends than you can imagine.  If the product is something you use then talk about it as such.  Don’t be afraid to write in the first person. eBay buyers like to know they are buying from a person –not an impersonal company. I have seen advice on the eBay message boards and in books about selling on eBay that says short concise descriptions do best. That is pure BULL!  My descriptions typically run over 1000 words. My sell-through-rate is excellent and my feedback (100%) and DSR scores (5-stars) are excellent.

In the four years since the DSR program started, I have only had one sellers give me less than 5-stars for Item Description –and that one was only 4-stars.


Skip McGrath is the author of 15 books about eBay, Amazon and selling on the Internet and publishes the free, twice-monthly newsletter, The Online Seller’s News.

Tags: , ,

2 Responses to "Five Big Ways to Succeed on eBay"

Leave a Comment