5 Ways To Ensure Your eBay Auction Is Successful

Joel Lee 28-10-2013

Not selling much on eBay? Don’t worry because you aren’t alone. Despite the fact that eBay is one of the websites you can’t live without 7 Most Important Websites We Can't Live Without The World Wide Web (now more commonly known simply as the Web) has been with us for over 20 years now, and in that relatively short space of time it has unequivocally changed the world.... Read More , and millions of people are making money from using the service, there are even more people who struggle to gain visibility and sell even a single item. If you’re one of them, listen up.


First thing to keep in mind is that selling items is a long-term endeavor. Some weird items will sell right away and some popular items will take a while to turn over. There’s a lot of chance and unpredictability involved in a market as huge as eBay, so understand that there’s only so much you can do to influence your sales — the rest is out of your control.

With that said, there’s still a lot you can do to improve the likelihood of a successful auction. Here are some helpful tips that will improve the odds of your items selling.

Write Descriptive Listing Titles

The most important detail that you need to perfect is the title you use for your listings. The title is the gateway that users use to arrive at your products for sale. It is the first thing they ever see, which is why you need to make it enticing. If they don’t like the gateway, they won’t step through, and if they don’t step through, they can’t buy it.

So what makes a good eBay listing title? It’s hard to say.

On the one hand, you want to maximize search visibility by including as many related search terms as you can. Don’t just title it “Headphones” when you can title it “Wireless USB Headphones with Bluetooth” because the latter will pull in a lot more search queries. Similarly, you want to entice users who might be browsing through lists, title by title. Words like “cheap” and “sale” are bound to draw in eyes.



Don’t capitalize the entire listing title, but do capitalize important words that you want to highlight. For example, “CHEAP” is good if you are selling below market price and want the item to go fast. “50% OFF” is good if you’re running a promotion.

Separate sections of the title with dashes so the phrases don’t get all mushed together. For example, “CHEAP – 50% OFF – Wireless USB Headphones with Bluetooth – NEW” is a lot easier to read and more professional than “cheap 50% off wireless usb headphones with bluetooth new,” right?

Writing a good title is only one part of writing a good eBay ad Winning At eBay Classifieds - How To Write Great Ads You 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... Read More . Bottom line: think of yourself as a potential customer and think about what sorts of listings you end up clicking on, then try to apply those thoughts to your own.


Take Clear Photos From Multiple Angles

Once a potential buyer clicks on your product link, the most important detail becomes your photos. The product descriptions are important as well but the photos will often determine whether or not the deal is sealed. Obviously this only applies if you’re selling a physical product.

In other words, make sure your photos sell your goods Selling Online? Make Sure Your Photos Sell Your Goods How many times have you bought something second-hand in a shop without properly inspecting it first? Any answer other than "never" means you're doing it wrong, and the same is true for Internet sales too.... Read More .


Take photos that are high quality and take them from all angles. Show every detail, good and bad, so the buyer can gather as much information as they can regarding the product before making a decision. Personally, I always exit out of a product page with few or no photos because I feel like I’m taking a shot in the dark.


Essentially, you want to eliminate as much buyer doubt as you can.

Even if your product is scratched, scuffed, or covered in some other kind of flaw, take clear photos of those, too. Let the buyers see the condition and decide for themselves whether they want to buy it or not. You’d be surprised how many buyers will actually decide to put up with minor cosmetic damage as long as they can get a good sense of it in the photo.

Whatever you do, DO NOT try to deceive with your photos. That never ends up well.

Pick the Right Price

The third most important detail to pay attention to as a seller: price. This one’s obvious, right? If you overprice the item, nobody but the uninformed will even consider buying it. But you don’t want to underprice it either, otherwise you won’t make much of a profit. Picking the right price can be difficult.


That’s why you need to research. Look around for listings that are similar to yours, whether on eBay or elsewhere. If you’re selling a used iPad, make sure you price it in the range of other used iPads of the same generation. Feel free to undercut or overprice as long as you understand that you’ll receive less profit or it may take longer to sell.


Relatedly, charge a fair price for shipping! Some sellers think they can charge a little bit extra for shipping (more than the shipping would actually cost) and pocket the difference as profit, but buyers aren’t stupid. If shipping is cheap, say $2, consider eating the cost and offering free shipping. Buyers love a good deal.

Pick the Right Time

The time of day is also very important. For the most part, buyers need to be available at their computer or on their phones in order to place their bids. Most bids tend to be placed in the final hour of an auction. Therefore, you want your auction to end at a time when people are most likely to be not busy.


In other words, make sure your auctions end on a Sunday night. That’s when most people are at home, relaxing, with time to spare before the work week begins. Ending an auction in the middle of the week will drastically reduce the number of bidders that fight for your items.

In a broader sense, try to time your auctions during periods that aren’t shopping heavy. If you put up listings during the Black Friday or Christmas seasons, you’ll be competing with a lot of other sellers, which ultimately reduces your visibility. If you can wait, selling in the off seasons can be beneficial.

Offer PayPal As A Payment Method

Over the years, PayPal has built up a controversial name for itself due to inconsistent customer service and strange policy decisions. Some people have sworn off PayPal forever while others, like myself, don’t hold too strong of an opinion.


If you don’t like PayPal, stick to your guns, but understand that a lot of buyers still prefer PayPal when shopping online. It’s pervasive, it’s easy, and it’s extremely convenient. By declining to offer PayPal as a valid payment method, you’ll end up alienating a huge portion of your potential audience, which means lost sales.


In the end, be a good seller and the sales will come. Provide high quality listings with enticing titles, keep the consumer in mind, and make it convenient for them to shop with you. Rack up the good feedback and 5-star ratings and people will be more likely to buy from you. It’s a giant snowball that you need to keep feeding.

Also be sure to keep an eye out for pesky eBay scams 10 eBay Scams to Be Aware Of Being scammed sucks, especially on eBay. Here are the most common eBay scams you need to know about, and how to avoid them. Read More that buyers might try to pull on you and, at the end of the day, consider whether eBay is the right service for you. Though it sounds weird, sometimes you might find more success by using a less popular alternative to eBay Fed Up With eBay? Here Are Some Worthy (And Cheaper) Alternatives For Sellers When you want to sell your excess junk online, where do you go? For most people, the one and only answer is eBay. With millions of daily users, it only seems logical to use the... Read More .

Do you sell on eBay often? What other tips and tricks have you picked up to help ensure that you sell more products? Share them with us in the comments!

Image Credit: Happy businessman Via Shutterstock, Boots, Free Shipping Via Shutterstock, Woman On Laptop Via Shutterstock, Shopping Cart Laptop Via Shutterstock

Related topics: eBay, Make Money Online.

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  1. Krzysztof B
    November 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    These tips are quite easy and understandable. I think everyone could list those tips by themselves, but most of people forget about these when they sell something. Why? I have no idea, but it's good that the author decided to highlight those.

    • Joel L
      November 12, 2013 at 2:12 am

      Life is rarely about learning new things but remembering and applying the things we've already learned. :)

  2. Kieran C
    October 28, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    The "pick a time of day" thing isn't really that much of a deal-breaker, as given that each ebay site pulls in results from every other ebay site, different time-zones come into play as well. Unless you're selling something that you definitely reckon is only going to sell in a particular locality, then the timing of when your end time isn't all that important. I'm in Ireland (so GMT), and I've bought and sold stuff with ppl in the US, Japan, Australasia, and Eastern Europe. Sometimes as a buyer, I've found that the same thing can be gotten cheaper from the other side of the world than from someone down the street, even taking shipping into account.

    And as for Paypal, one thing you need to consider with them is that just as ebay take their cut on your final sale price, if you're getting paid though paypal, they take a cut too, and AFAIK it's larger than ebay's. So, reckon on being 15-20% down on what you think your final selling price is by the time you actually get the money....

    • Joel L
      October 31, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      Good points, though I think the 15-20% figure is a bit exaggerated. I can't imagine the cut between eBay and PayPal would be more than 10% at the most extreme.