How you describe your goods is vitally important to your chances of making a little or a lot of money from every listing.
Your listing comprises not only words used in the title and body text; it includes layouts and colours, too, as well as fonts, size of text, even the length of sentences and paragraphs. These tips will help you list more products, create better listings and eventually make more money:
* Inside your listing, give viewers a reason to call back later if they are in a hurry now or not quite ready to bid. Ask them to visit your ‘About Me’ page for a free eBook or newsletter and be sure they give their email addresses for you to contact them later. You can also begin a mailing list for later sales outside of eBay. Remind them, too, to add you to their Favourite Sellers list.
* Choose keywords to describe your items and use them in the heading and body of your listings. People can choose to search according to heading (title) or by checking body text too, but few remember to check the box to include this second option. Most people will find your product by either going directly to category listings and clicking through to their appropriate sub-category or, most likely, by simply keying words to describe the item into eBay’s search tool. This means if your title does not include those keywords your listing will be missed. Check what keywords are most common when people search for items like those you are listing by going to http://pulse. ebay.co.uk (or .com or other) and continue through the sub-categories until your product type appears. Now check the most commonly keyed search terms at the left of the screen. Alternatively, go to ‘Advanced Search’, top right of screen and on the next page use keywords to describe your item and tick the ‘Completed Auctions’ box. From the results choose ‘Price: Highest First’ to locate similar items, check the keywords used in the heading on which to model your own. Be careful not to breach eBay’s stringent rules on ‘Keyword Spamming’.
* Avoid using too many bells and whistles in your listings. One that is guaranteed to make me move away really fast is the wizard that flits about the screen thanking me for visiting and generally getting in the way of everything I am trying to see. Music, flashing lights, moving conveyor belt pictures of other products from which to choose a selection – if you’re quick enough - have roughly the same effect, as do many other totally useless and generally hugely frustrating devices.
* Use colour, sparingly, in your listings, as well as experimenting with different fonts and font sizes. It all adds interest for the visitor while also creating a professional image for your business.
* Never write titles in full upper case – CAPITALS. IT LOOKS AWFUL, UNPROFESSIONAL, AND FAR FROM ATTRACTING ATTENTION IT MAKES YOUR TITLE MUCH HARDER TO READ. IT IS OKAY TO USE UPPER CASE ON ONE OR TWO WORDS IN YOUR TITLE.
* Try using html to create a more professional appearance especially in highly competitive product fields. For old postcards and other rare, sometimes one-off collectibles, basic text is fine. Where similar or identical items are available from numerous sellers, such as CDs, modern jewellery, make up, improving the appearance of your listing will help distinguish your business from others with hastily created listings packed with spelling mistakes, poor descriptions, and so on.
* Basic html is very easy to use and stunning auction templates can be created in Microsoft Word or FrontPage. Alternatively, choose from thousands of free and low-cost auction templates available online.
* Use templates where possible, it saves listing time later, and can create a more professional appearance. They can look especially good with subtle use of colours, different fonts, background designs; subtle meaning delicate, not garish or gaudy.
* Use light coloured backgrounds, not vivid red or dark blue with black text (Yes, I saw one like this only yesterday where the text was completely unreadable). If you must use patterns, use simple pastel patterns, not bold tartans or flashing backgrounds or dazzling stripes.
* Use fonts that make reading easy. Never make it too hard for visitors to read your listing or they will do the most intelligent thing. Click out and look somewhere else to buy! Most popular fonts are Times, Times Roman, Arial, New York, Verdana.
* When you find a font you like, stick with it, don’t change fonts between templates. It isn’t worth it and time wasted would be better spent on listing new items. Avoid using too much italic or other embellishing device such as embossing or shadowing in your listings.
* Do not use large fonts in your listings, except for headings and sub-headings, and even those do not need to be more than two or three sizes bigger than body text. Size 12 or 14 is adequate for body text, 18 for main headings, 16 for sub-headings.
* Very large text is a big put-off and is also difficult to read, while also absorbing more memory and taking longer to upload and download.
* Use a maximum two or three different colour fonts (including basic black or navy or other appropriate choice) and never use different colours within the same word. I know major companies like eBay do it but they are well-known, their logos are professionally created, anything less would look trashy and cheap. Not to mention hugely unprofessional.
* Keep text aligned to the left, sometimes to the right where the graphic is placed extreme left. Don’t center or justify a column of text without good reason. And there are few if any goods reasons for doing so. Centre text is difficult to read and creates odd lengths that create a totally amateurish appearance. Justified text is even worse with lengthy gaps between words which themselves are longer than average.
* Keep listings fairly narrow especially when using html. Wide listings are okay on wide screen computers, but on narrow screen computers the entire right side will be missing and few people will scroll left and right every few seconds to get the gist of your listing. eBay’s own listing boxes, that is where you type directly into eBay, and those created in Turbo Lister, are just the right size, never too long, never too short. When using html or creating your own designer template, practice using eBay’s systems first to get the desired length.
* Keep paragraphs short and always with a gap between them. And actually USE PARAGRAPHS where text extends beyond two or three lines. Notice how some listings containing hundreds, sometimes thousands of words, are created in one L – O - N - G chunk which no one in their right mind would read. Others with long, long descriptions actually use paragraphs though the effect is hardly noticeable.
* Try to stagger listings even if you list just once a week. This helps people who are bidding on several of your items and might want to check last minute bidding against them on those items. Too many of their chosen items ending within seconds of each other is confusing and frustrating for them, and means you lose out on last minute impulse bids. Using Turbo Lister you can choose how many already listed items to upload at any time, say in units of 20, and you can also alter the order of items to hopefully prevent ‘same item’ products selling within seconds of each other.
Avril Harper is a triple eBay PowerSeller and editor of eBay Confidential and webmaster of http://www.publishingcircles.com . She has produced a free guide - 103 POWERSELLER TIPS - which you can download with other freely distributable reports and ebooks at http://www.toppco.com