Writing eBay Listings that Create Sales - dummies

By Marsha Collier

eBay is a person-to-person marketplace. Although many sellers are businesses, the perception is that sellers on eBay are individuals earning a living (versus big business). Using the homespun personal approach improves your success rate when selling on eBay. One of the reasons many buyers come to eBay is that they want to support individuals who have the gumption to start their own small enterprise on the site.

After you’ve written a brilliant title for your auction (not IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, please), prospective buyers click your listing and scroll down to your description. Do they have to dodge through pointless verbiage, losing interest in your item along the way? Or do you get right down to business and state the facts about what you’re selling?

Here are a few things to remember when writing your auction description:

  • Write a factual description. Do you carefully describe the item, stating every fact you know about it? Are you clear in your description and careful not to use any jargon? Finally, does it answer almost any question a potential buyer might ask? If not, do some revising.

  • Include some friendly banter. You want to make the customer feel comfortable shopping with you. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through!

  • Update your About Me page. The small me icon that appears next to eBay usernames is an invitation to click. When prospective customers click the icon, they see a page that’s all about you and your business. Let people know who they’re dealing with. When deciding between two people selling the same item and when all else is equal, buyers will more than likely do business with the seller who makes them feel secure.

  • Limit the number of terms of sale. Some sellers include a list of rules that’s longer than the item’s description. Nothing will turn off a prospective buyer more than paragraph after paragraph of rules and regulations. If you really must put in a litany of rules, make it short and use the following bit of HTML to make the size of the text smaller: <font size=-1>insert your rules here</font>.

  • Choose a reasonable typeface size. Many users are still looking at eBay on an 800 x 600 display. If you design your listings at 1024 x 768, your typefaces may be way too large for the average user. Forcing a user to scroll and scroll to find the details only leads to frustrated customers.

  • Quote a flat shipping amount and expedite shipping. Use eBay’s shipping calculator to give your customers a fair shake at the shipping costs. If many other sellers offer the same item, flat rates stand out in a search, and the lowest rate may help you reel in an undecided buyer. Also, eBay gives you a lot of leeway when quoting expedited shipping, and your listing will stand out when people feel they won’t have to wait weeks to get their item.

    It’s just plain bad taste to overcharge on shipping (and a violation of eBay’s rules). eBay buyers expect that you’ll add something for handling costs, but overdoing it can make you look like you’re trying to squeeze every penny out of your bidder.

  • Keep photos a practical size. Some users still have a slower connection, and if they have to wait for your large pictures to load, they may go elsewhere. If your listing doesn’t fully open within a few seconds, the person will simply back out and go on to another listing.