The Secret Art of EBay Sales

Here are some unorthodox tips for selling stuff on eBay while minimizing your own cost. Not only do the tips minimize the money one has to spend on an auction, but they generate sales on par with other items in the same category (and often higher) and create very happy customers. I have been selling items on eBay for years with a 100% feedback rating using this strategy and I feel it is rock-solid.

Here are the prongs to the strategy:

No matter what the item (unless it is extremely unusual), list it for $0.01 to start bidding. “WHAT?” you shout, “I’LL GET RIPPED OFF IF I DO THIS!” No, you won’t. Have you ever noticed that pretty much any common item listed is bidded up to roughly the same price? That’s the average price the market will bear on the item. Thus, it doesn’t really matter what you list it for to begin with; all you’re doing is giving money to eBay via higher fees because you’re spending more per listing.

Even better: if you start it at such a low price, you will get a lot of active bidders and watchers on your items. Lots of active bidders means lots of competition, and sometimes you’ll get someone to bid something up really high because they just can’t stand to lose. I used to put starting prices near the average of what they might get on eBay, but I wouldn’t get many people bidding or watching the auctions. Now, I save money on the initial cost and on most items the final sale is actually higher than I expected. I win both ways!

Unless your item is extremely unusual, don’t put any “extras” on your listing. Again, on regular items like used music, DVDs, books, etc., don’t waste your money on bolding it or highlighting it. This is only useful if you have a very unique item that might otherwise be overlooked.

Add the “human aspect” when you describe what you’re selling. Tell a bit about yourself and why you’re selling the item. This makes the situation seem more “real” to the buyer; I tend to inherently trust individuals who are trying to sell old textbooks or a DVD in order to buy a crib for their new son than an individual who brags about the good deal they’re offering you. That means I’m more willing to bid up the item from the expectant parent.

Get a tracking number when you ship. This is your proof the item was delivered in case they try to claim that it was not and attempt to revoke payment. This little trick has saved me tons of grief (and lost income) over the years.

My estimate of the net gain of using these tips over the years is about $2 per auction compared to my earlier, supposedly “saner” methods.

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