How to make money on ebay

Ebay is an online auction site. For a fees that vary, and for a percentage of the final price, this site hosts a 24/7 international auction. Anyone can participate in this, both as a buyer and a seller.

To make money selling something on ebay, you need to do several things. First of all, you need to offer something that people want. In spite of stories of bizarre things being offered on ebay, most of what is on ebay is stuff that people logically want. Since the only way that people can make an evaluation of your item is on their computer, you must describe it and photograph it well. It's important to do your homework, which you can do online, for the description. What make or model is it? What year? You can usually find these out. Consider that your buyer will being doing their homework, too. Don't exaggerate, don't lie. If you've ever sold anything at a garage sale, you know what to say. Tell them the dog chewed on it, or it's missing a part. If you're a person who is honest and just naturally speaks the truth, you will be fine.

Crisp, accurate and appealing photography is essential. You don't need an elaborate studio and an expensive camera for this. The photo at left was taken with my very basic, inexpensive, digital camera in my back yard. It's best to crop and optimize these images in Photoshop.

You will have to learn about shipping costs. You can't offer an item for sale unless you include the price of shipping. And ebay buyers who "pad" their shipping are seen as dishonest. Your buyers will know that it only costs $5.50 to ship that item, so charging $19.95 to cover "handling" is a turn-off to them. Don't do it. Boxes, tape, your labor, etc. is part of your "cost of doing business", and like in all businesses, comes out of your profit.

Speaking of shipping, this is one place where our very own United States Post Office has gotten it right. They have left UPS and Fedex in the dust here. Check out the USPS web site, especially priority mail.

Ebay sellers live by their reputation. Disgruntled buyers have little recourse against you if you have cheated them but to post a complaint on your ebay profile. But those complaints are read by other potential buyers and can put you out of business. So, do what's right. Follow-through. Describe your items honestly and deliver as promised. You will be fine.

If you would like to learn more about selling on ebay, and especially using Adobe Photoshop, please contact me. I do personal training sessions in Photoshop in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

Selling on ebay

If you're fairly comfortable using the web, selling on ebay is fun. It's really just a "click and build" kind of thing. You fill in the blanks and the ebay program does the rest.

In my experience, the best place to start is to have something worth selling. People don't go looking for stuff that they can find at a garage sale on ebay.  You have to consider that an ebay buyer must be willing to spend several dollars on shipping, and no one is going to do that for a 25-cent trinket.

If you have something that you think is valuable, do your homework. Research it. Most of it can be done on ebay and all of it can be done from the comfort of your computer. Just because you think you have a "First Edition To Kill a Mockingbird" doesn't mean it is. People who are going to pay good money will know. And being "innocent" of information makes you look like you are trying to cheat people on ebay. Don't do that.

Another vitally important thing is to get the shipping costs right. Collectors of baseball bats know that it costs $14 to ship using Fed Ex Ground, so list it at that price. Inflating the shipping charges, to handle miscellaneous expenses like boxing and tape are not only frowned on by ebay, but it makes you look a little suspicious. If you are going to lie about the shipping charges, bidders may think you are lying about something else. Post the correct shipping charge. The box, tape, etc. comes under the heading of "cost of business" - and that comes out of your profit.

Ebay is like anything else, there are bad guys there. But the vast majority are good people like you and me who are buying and selling.

Using Photoshop for ebay listings

Good, clear, sharp photos are the most important selling tool on ebay. Photoshop is an important tool to achieve this.

As a former art director, I know how important it is to start with the best photo possible. If there is an imperfection in your photo, such as a bad shadow, do not "Photoshop it", reshoot it. Yeah, photographers hated me, too.

Your goal for a photo on ebay is to be as clear and honest as possible. That means - put away all of those "image manipulation" tools. Minor imperfections will show on your items and that is normal. Don't "Photoshop them out" - not only is that unethical but when the actual item arrives to the buyer, they will feel cheated. And you will have cheated them. Don't do that!

What you do want to do in Photoshop is to crop and then set the image size to 1600 pixels at its longest size. You can do a gentle sharpen or brighten, but very, very little. The original photo should be in razor-sharp focus. If not, go shoot it again. Clean the item, clean your camera lens. Look at the background.

When you get ready to upload to ebay, select the zoom and supersize options. Yeah, ebay gets a few extra cents for this. Be sure to check your listing after it goes up. If it the ebay photo windows says, "Zoom unavailable" upload them again, and get it right this time. By the way, "Zoom Unavailable" also says to potential buyers "this item isn't worth much". Having just one photo says the same thing. Have lots of photos, lots of angles. Show it off! Don't "shoot around" imperfections, but don't zoom in on them either.

If you would like to learn how to use Photoshop, please contact me. I do personal training sessions in the Phoenix, Arizona area.


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