Winning At eBay Classifieds – How To Write Great Ads

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ebay classifiedsYou probably already know about eBay, but believe it or not, the core site has a secondary site: the eBay Classifieds. The site is quite a bit like Craigslist in functionality and purpose, but it has a much cleaner, fresher design. However, in order for your item to sell, you need to know how to sell it. Fortunately, MakeUseOf has pulled its resources together to develop a fantastic article about writing great ads for the eBay Classifieds.

Disclaimer: we can’t guarantee your item sells. After all, this is all about what the consumer wants, and sometimes, the consumer doesn’t want the¬†“five-star weed-eater used two blocks from the set of Star Wars Episode 3.” ¬†But we¬†can try and help.

Write A Spectacular Title

ebay classifieds

“Cool camera for sale – $150″

Oh man. I’m sure this thing is going to sell based on the title alone. Right…

This is one of the most generic, vague titles ever, but for some reason, there are people out there who – for whatever reason – believe that it’s enough. Do they not realize that there are different types of cameras out there? Fact: when you go to a camera store, there aren’t hundreds of white boxes on uniform shelves with the word “CAMERA” written on the box.


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Enough said.

When you write out a title for an eBay classified ad, you can drastically improve your listing by specifically writing out the details of the item. Think of it this way: the title is merely a summary of your listing as a whole. How can you condense things into five to eight words? Try this title on for size:¬†“Canon 60D Camera (Body Only) – Used, Good Condition.”

Boom. It’s concise, informative, and easy to understand. If the seller knows what he’s looking for, then he’s already likely searching for these terms, too. With that said, you are not only providing a descriptive listing right out the gate, but you are also guessing ahead of time what buyers will likely be entering in the search box.

Be Honest About The Item

how to write ebay ads

“This item is really nice! Minor scratch here and there – but really nice!”

“Item has a slight dent, but it works just fine!”

“Paint slightly chipped – runs okay!”

Remember back when you were a kid, and you broke something of your parents’ that was very important to them? When it was time to face the music, you¬†probably¬†came up with an excuse that’s slightly like the ones above:¬†“Sorry I broke the china, Dad. But… I was able to piece it back together with some super glue!”

Yep. That’s about what these kinds of ads sound like. Actually, that’s exactly what these ads sound like.

If there’s a problem, be up front about it. Don’t try to make it sound as if it’s better than it actually is. I once called about a Craigslist ad for a car earlier this year. The guy told me there was a slight dent on side of the vehicle.

After checking it out, I discovered that this dent was actually an entirely missing side of the front fender. Oh, and perhaps this was supposed to distract me from the gigantic crack in the windshield. And the fact that the car reeked of smoke. Or maybe that the guy had only owned the car for a couple of days and was trying to get rid of it as quickly as possible.


Anyway, if there’s a flaw, be blunt about it. Don’t try to cover it up, but don’t make it overbearing either. Something like this could work:¬†“Small dent about the size of a baseball on the driver’s side of the car.”

Relatively speaking, the dent is small. You also give the potential eBay classifieds buyer an idea of what they can expect by doing this. It’s as easy as that.

Make It Easy To Understand

ebay classifieds

When writing out the specs of your item, make things clear to your buyer-base. Furthermore, make the description unique to the item. How long has it been in use? Is there anything wrong with it? Is there anything interesting about this particular model?

If you use a stock description written by the original manufacturer, then you aren’t really doing anything for potential buyers. Chances are that they have already read this description somewhere else, so you are only repeating what they already know. In fact, because they read that¬†description, it’s probably the reason they are even wanting to buy your item in the first place.

Give your audience something new to look at, and clarify what it is that your selling:

“This lawn mower has slightly worn blades (two years’ use), is red with a five-inch long, narrow scratch on the right side, and has new tires. Will come with a full tank of gas.”

That’s clear, isn’t it? It’s honest, provides a decent understanding of the item, and explains the condition. Could I have been more detailed? Always, but this will work for our purposes.


You may have not tried out the eBay Classifieds, but as aforementioned, it’s quite similar to Craigslist. In fact, all of the above tips could directly apply to Craigslist! Give it a try, test them out, and see if they enhance your sales.

Have you used any of the above methods for writing a description? What other eBay classified ad tips do you have to offer?

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14 Comments - Write a Comment



My name is Kelly and I am the Community Manager at eBay Classifieds. Thank you for writing this informative article on how to use our site. If anyone needs assistance at any time please do not hesitate to contact us here:

Joshua Lockhart

Thanks, Kelly.



Good article though much more could be said. One caveat: Your ad copy about the lawnmower said “Will come with a full tank of gas”. Shipping it in that condition would be unsafe and probably illegal.



Having recently used ebay, and having to ‚Äújump through hoops,‚ÄĚ impossible to speak with a real person there, I will NEVER use ebay and strongly recommend others not to, especially if one buys anything online from China! It has to be the worst online buying site, EVER!!!

Amazon is the best and most reputable and as for ebay, I hope it sinks like the Titanic, or the Lusitania !!!

IT SUCKS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joshua Lockhart

The eBay classifieds are a little different.


Joses Lemmuela

Errr… I thought this was supposed to be taught in schools…

Joshua Lockhart

eBay Classifieds 101? Huh?


Onaje Asheber

Real Nice!!!


Roy McMillan

Good article but really much of it is just common sense. One additional thing that may have been there but I didn’t see it; make sure all words are spelled correctly Nothing ruins an otherwise well written ad like a bunch of misspelled words.



look at the youtube clip under “wicked sick bmx” – created by advertising agency to answer the question “does creativity work?”


David C

Was this paid for by eBay?

eBay bought out Kiiji and turned it into eBay classifieds. But you neglect the fact only a VERY small percentage of people use it. Everybody uses Craigslist. eBay is a day late and a dollar short. Just because it says eBay doesn’t mean people are going to flock to it.

eBay is eBay and they should stick with what they are good with and leave Craigslist to Craigslist.

It would have been better to make the article about online classifieds in general.

Joshua Lockhart

I can safely say this wasn’t paid for by eBay, David.


Stephanie Staker

Joshua, this really could apply to any classified ad-writing and you did a great job explaining what we, the public, do want to see and grabs us to buy. However, having said that, I avoid eBay only because it is confusing to me. Hubby uses it a lot and has really had good success. Not the classifieds, I hasten to add. :) When the “dummy” folks have to write a book on how to use eBay, that tells me it is more trouble than it is worth, for me. I know members of my family use it, bid on stuff, etc. but I am not remotely interested in ANY bidding site. Thanks for the info and I agree with one of the commenters below that punctuation and spelling speak volumes to a potential buyer.


Captain Obvious

Pictures! A picture is worth 1000 words. I see ads on Cragslist with no photos, or crappy out of focus ones, and I wonder who even bothers to read further.

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