Placing Photos Inline with Your Text
Buyers love seeing pictures of the products in your auctions. That’s why eBay lets you add a free picture to every auction you post. Of course, eBay also offers you the option of adding a few more pictures to the auction (for a minimal fee, of course), but unfortunately every photo you include gets shoved into the same section at the very bottom of the auction — and that’s not the best place for photos to go.
You can overcome that positioning problem and add any number of photos to your auctions at the same time by creating your own photo storage area and then including image tags (<img>) in your auction text. Although this adds an extra step to your posting process (namely, copying the photos to your online storage area), that minimal amount of work provides you with tons of flexibility, plus the ability to make a really awesome-looking auction.
First things first — you need an online home for your photos. Luckily, any Web hosting service covers this task perfectly. Even the storage space built into every AOL account (check out key word My FTP Space) works great! If you already have a Web site, just use a bit of space on that server. And if you always wanted to start a Web site, this makes a great excuse to start now.
Web hosts come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges, so shop around. You can find basic hosting for as little as $2.95 per month, although reliable hosting usually starts in the $4.95 to $7.95 per month range. Many books and online articles tell you how to pick a hosting service, so dive into Google (or pick up a resource at your favorite bookstore) and see what you can find.
After you arrange for your Web space, find out how the host recommends transferring files from your computer to your online space. Some host companies offer a nifty Web-based tool for this, although a good FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program like Direct FTP from CoffeeCup Software usually works faster, easier, and better. Check with your Web hosting company for its recommendations.
Even though you can add pictures until your auction looks like a photo mosaic, don’t get carried away. Every image you add increases the loading time for your auction, so keep the number low. Most auctions benefit from using two to three images instead of just one, but only the priciest auctions — stuff like cars, houses, priceless Ming vases, and such — require more than three pictures. If you want to use a gallery image for the auction, you still need to put one photo into the standard eBay image area.