7 Tips for Private eBay Sellers

Tina Sieber 19-09-2008

tips for ebay selling Without a doubt, eBay has been one of the most popular online marketplaces for almost a decade. Even though most new products can be found much cheaper in online shops, eBay keeps growing steadily. It’s probably the network, the reference system and the big name that keeps customers coming back to make business with confidence.


Personally, I find private auctions extremely interesting. It’s the collectors items, the used goods, the rarities, or peculiar things, like the seller mankymoomin who writes funny references, that can be real bargains, make for extraordinary gifts or are simply fun to follow.

7 Tips for Private eBay Sellers ebaytips02

On Make Use Of we have given quite a few tips and introduced you to many tools that will help you get the most out of eBay 3 eBay Tips to Get the Best of Ebay Read More , shop the pro way Shop Like a PRO: 7 Tools to Crack eBay Read More , manage your auctions 11 Critical Tips on How to Sell More on eBay eBay is one of the top online shopping sites. You may be a seasoned seller on eBay, or you may have just started with your eBay seller career, these tips can help boost your profits. Read More , find alternatives 13 Bargain Websites That Are Cheaper Than eBay eBay is a useful site for finding cheap deals, but don't overlook these shopping sites that can be cheaper than eBay. Read More to eBay, and much more. However, all of that material primarily focuses on buyers. Now here are some points to consider to get the most out of your auctions.

1. Compare and Learn
Generally, the best way to find out what and how to sell successfully, is to read listings of a few (similar) items and see what seems to work well. Don’t try to sell items that don’t go well for anybody. In preparing your listings, learn from successful sellers and copy their excellence. But do remain unique.

2. Title – select it carefully
7 Tips for Private eBay Sellers ebaytips03Compete for attention and subsequently money begins right here. This one line can make a huge difference, so be sure to select the right keywords, add relevant information and discard anything no one will search for, such as punctuation, exclamations or similar nonsense.


3. Spelling – it’s not a TV production
7 Tips for Private eBay Sellers ebaytips04Be smart and spell words correctly, especially in the title. Bad spelling makes you look like an amateur and only a minority will find your items: those that spell wrong as well and those that hunt down common spelling mistakes with special tools.

4. Description – be precise and to the point
Thoroughly and honestly describe the item, but still make it easy for a potential buyer to understand and evaluate the offer quickly. Keep a short attention span in mind! Don’t compose a novel, structure your description well, use short sentences or lists, and try to answer potential questions upfront.

5. Category – pick wisely
Many people don’t search for keywords from the main page. Instead, they skim through categories or search within a specific category. You don’t want to lose these bids! If in doubt, invest in multiple categories.

6. Picture – a must have
A picture can say more than a thousand words. Hence invest some thought and effort into creating a high quality photo with good light and smart perspective. When trying to sell a valuable item, invest in a gallery picture.


7. Timing – not to be neglected
7 Tips for Private eBay Sellers ebaytips05Although auction sniper tools are very common these days, timing can still make a huge difference. Either way, most bids are received close to the end of an auction. Thus auctions should end when most people have time to be online and follow them. So keep your target audience in mind. Housewives will probably be very busy early in the day, while someone working in an office may be online anyway. Apart from that, keep the season in mind and don’t try to sell thick coats in the midst of a hot summer.

Things I don’t want to mention separately are good communication, timely replies, fair shipping & handling fees and quick shipment. In short, even if you’re “just” a private seller, it’s recommended to act professionally, be reliable, and build a good reputation. Don’t scam your customers and don’t make them wait, it’s going to cost you!

What did I miss? What are the best bargains you made on eBay and what were your greatest mistakes?

Related topics: eBay, Online Shopping.

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  1. Karen Sharp
    August 8, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    I found a boat on Craig's list the women said it's in eBay hands an they will not give her a dime until I'm pleased with it my information Name address phone she ask for an said eBay will be contacting me I'm nervous that it's a scam does it sound like one to you ??

    • Tina Sieber
      August 8, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      Sounds like a scam. Craigslist has nothing to do with eBay. Even if you found it on eBay classifieds, this has nothing to do with eBay in terms of handling pay and personal information. She has the item and you agree how to pay her; usually in cash if it's via a classifieds site.

  2. Mark
    October 6, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Do an advanced search of the item you are selling using the "completed listing" option. This allows you to see recent sales history of items like yours to see what the going price seems to be. Watch for the prices that are GREEN. the RED prices show unsold items. See what the successful sellers did to sell their items.
    Be careful with calculating your shipping. These days it can make a big difference. If you don't know what it might cost to ship an item, check to see what shipping is on other items like it that are being sold. I know of careless sellers that actually LOST money on a sale because their listing price was low and they hadn't set their shipping cost correctly.

    Also, you may want to consider selling with a Buy-it-Now listing, offering free shipping. It can really work in the buyer's favor without cutting into your profits. Currently there are Cashback offers from that will apply to the WHOLE cost to the buyer and not just the item cost. These can return as much as 25% of the item cost! (As of 10/01/09 the Cashback reward was 8%)
    I believe using the combined Auction/Buy-it-Now listing is a good strategy. I start my auction price low at 99 cents, no reserve, (minimizes my listing fee) then I add a Buy-it-Now option at a price I would be happy to get. This applies some pressure to someone who really wants the item but wants to watch it till the end before he bids. (It could get sold any minute!) But, if there isn't much interest in this item, it can still run it's course through the normal auction process.
    Happy Selling!

    • Tina
      October 6, 2009 at 2:55 am

      Thanks for your comprehensive comment Mark. These tips are very valuable.

  3. Chuck
    September 20, 2008 at 10:07 am

    I had been selling on ebay for years, my top 3 suggestions ae:

    - make sure auction ends at ebay peak time (do research)
    - choose the right title
    - use REALLY GOOD images

    I know you have already mentioned them, but i just wanted to emhasize these 3 again.

  4. Mark O'Neill
    September 19, 2008 at 11:09 am

    I wrote an eBay column for for two years (2004-2005) so I really enjoyed this article! The points I would really emphasize is to watch when your auctions end. I ALWAYS end mine on a late Sunday afternoon (that is when I always get my best prices), keep your postage and packing prices low, answer all questions promptly and politely, go out of your way to be extra helpful to the customers during the payment stage, and even after the transaction is over, try to keep in touch with the customer if you feel they wouldn't mind. I have made lots of friends from past customers and now I sell privately to some of them outside eBay. Others, I am just good friends with them, exchanging birthday and christmas cards with them. A few of them call me once or twice a week.