Your Quick Guide To Not Screwing Up on eBay.

 

I spent several years teaching (unofficial) eBay classes at a local college. 

 

So I'm giving you a free guide that is the essence of the classes. The basics of presenting what you have to sell on eBay (or any other auction site) remain the same, even with changes in forms and policies.


It's all about presentation and inspiring confidence that you are not an inexperienced jerk or crazy person.

 

We'll sort that out in a bit.


eBay sellers prosper or go down in flames depending feedback they receive from folks who buy their stuff. A history of unhappy buyers will make folks skip you,

as there is almost always another seller offering the same thing.


One of the cardinal rules for beginner eBay sellers is sell stuff you know a lot about.


I know a lot about cameras, lenses and some tech items. I can state they are "tested and working" and describe them accurately. That, along with my good feedback history, gives buyers a feeling of confidence. I also take a decent set of photos of what I am selling. More on that later as well.


If you know a lot about crystal goblets, you can do the same. I cannot. I'm sure to pass over items at thrift stores that are fine, rare crystal that I mistake for dollar-store items.


I recently purchased a 15 year old digital camera. The seller (with only 8 feedbacks - a bad sign) claimed it worked great. It did not. I gave the seller the dreaded negative feedback which sent a message: check things out carefully before selling them!  Just because something lights up does NOT mean it works!


So if you don't know squat about your item, make NO claims other than "untested as-is" and be prepared to get a much lower price.


But this is even more important: Before you start, find out if the item is worth selling! You may know everything about Dickens Village sets, Avon bottles and Precious Moments Figurines, but it does not mean anybody will pay much for them. Wanna find out?


Go to eBay's "advanced search" and tick off "sold items." You'll see what sold and for how much.

 

In the second week of my class, I had students bring in stuff and check them. I called it the "wailing and gnashing of teeth" class session. "You mean my Disco Barbie is only worth $1.99??????  I heard it was worth $200.00!"  Reality sometimes sucks. The problem is there are just too many of all of this stuff.


Avoid stupid adjectives in the subject. One of worst is "rare." With duplicate items coming out of closets all over the country, seldom are items truly rare. Search for "rare Russian camera" and find dozens of them.


Then there's "vintage." Vintage means anything older than ten years! And remember, to someone born in 1995, items from 1985 seem vintage. Pretty much the same thing is true of "antique."


More abused terms: "art deco,"  "Eames era" and "mid-century." There is a difference between genuine items representing these terms and just common junk made at those times.


Avoid bad copy such as "don't know much about this item" [find out first!], "looks complete" [it is or it isn't!] and "worked last time I used it" [but how about NOW???]


And the number #1 rule for photos is

 

PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHERE IT HAS BEEN. 

 

Just shoot what you are selling with a plain background. Refer to catalogs and magazine ads to get a better idea how to "pose" your item, as product mug shots are very unattractive.


To the right are some bad examples, real ones.


Pack well, ship promptly and don't try to be clever and make excessive money from shipping costs.


And remember, an online sale is a contract. You cannot sell the item locally to a neighbor or friend while the item is listed.  Also, even if the winning bid is far less than you hoped YOU STILL HAVE TO SELL IT.


Finally, eBay has a system where they can ship overseas for you. Most foreign buyers are fine, but beware of anyone, foreign or domestic, who tries to convince you to somehow avoid the eBay/PayPal system, stop the auction and sell direct or anything involving receiving more money and sending some back. 


Follow these guidelines and you will have more success and avoid problems.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


 

"In the second week of my class, I had students bring in stuff and check them. I called it the "wailing and gnashing of teeth" class session.  "You mean my Disco Barbie is only worth $1.99??????  I heard it was worth $200.00!"  Reality sometimes sucks.  The problem is there are just too many of all of this stuff."

Compiling a bunch of junk and offering it for sale is not a good idea.

Do not include any part of your body or your shower curtain in the photo.

Is it worth selling, circa 1971. Or "Is it worth hauling all this stuff to the flea market in the pickup truck?"