6 Valuable Tips for Selling on eBay

Making Money with Antiques and Collectibles Through Online Auctions

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- Pamela Y. Wiggins

Whether you're a new seller just getting started, or you've been selling on eBay for years, there's always something new to learn. Take a look at a few ideas to make your selling experience on eBay less time consuming and more fruitful:

Do Your Research Before Listing 

Bidders love it when sellers are too lazy to research their items to find out what they're worth before putting them up for sale on eBay.

Those sellers consistently offer them bargain after bargain, which can be sold again on eBay with a better title and description for lots more money. Use your books on antiques and collectibles, websites like this one, and conversations with other sellers to learn about what you're marketing on eBay long before you attempt to auction it off.

Think Twice About Ending an Auction Early 

If your item is not bringing in the bids you expected during the course of the auction, don't panic. Since many bidders wait until the last minute to bid, a practice known as "sniping," the price on a desirable item can double or even triple during the last few seconds of an auction. If a potential buyer makes you an offer via e-mail to end the auction early and sell the item to them outright, that's not a good idea either. It's not only against eBay's rules to skirt around paying ending item fees, you could be cheating yourself out of a high ending price by selling to someone making a low-ball offer.

Consider Search Keywords in Titles 

The small amount of space you're allotted for an eBay item title is valuable real estate from a selling perspective. Why? Most searches on eBay are done on item titles rather than descriptions. When you leave out specific keywords pertaining to the size, maker, color or age of a piece in your item title, fewer potential bidders will find your wares.

Consider replacing extraneous words (such as wow, must see, huge and look) with pertinent detail words most bidders would use in a search. To do this, put yourself in the searcher's shoes. Do you think a bidder will key in "signed lovely old sparkling choker" as a keyword phrase? Perhaps "vintage clear rhinestone necklace by Lisner" would be the foundation for a better title.

Keep Your Shipping and Handling Charges Reasonable 

Shipping and handling charges can really jack up the cost you pass along to bidders. Some folks avoid auctions that quote very high shipping and handling fees altogether. Consider charging only what it costs you to mail the item, and build in the cost of packaging and labor into your starting price instead. 

Package Your Items Carefully 

Nothing turns off repeat bidders like receiving a poorly shipped item. Whether that means you're not using clean materials free of odors and stains, or you just didn't wrap an item securely, packing and shipping inadequately can come back to haunt you. At the very least, the item will arrive unbroken, but the buyer will be less than pleased and shy away from shopping with you again. Worst case, the piece arrives pulverized and your bidder asks for a refund.

Always take the time to pack and ship with care to avoid disappointment for both you and your buyers.

Keep in Touch with Your Best Bidders 

If you specialize in certain items such as glassware, pottery, toys or jewelry, consider setting up email lists to keep in touch with past bidders. You'll want to ask them before placing them on the list so your email won't be considered spam, of course. Once you've compiled lists of people interested in your specialties, you can keep in touch with them weekly, bi-weekly or monthly to let them know when you've listed items they might be interested in viewing. Include links directly to the items, or to your eBay seller's list in your communication.

Pamela Y. Wiggins, About.com's Antiques Guide since 1999, is the author of Buying & Selling Antiques and Collectibles on eBay.