Selling on eBay: Taking Great Photos

Selling on eBay? Awesome. Make some real money by including great photos with your listings. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then why not add as many pictures as possible? You’ll have less writing to do, and will likely get the attention of more buyers who are ready to bid.

Back in the day, when eBay was new and the world was a simpler place, taking pictures for eBay listings was anything but simple. I was there and I remember—the clunky digital camera that sat in its charger between photos, the process of uploading, editing, and publishing to the listing… with extra fees for extra photos. Today, though, it’s a breeze, and—perhaps because eBay knows that photos sell—you can typically include as many as 12 photos for no more than it would cost to include one.

It’s easy all right, and it’s about to get easier.

Photos sell. And the more photos, the better, right? And the quicker, the better, too. In fact, you can list your items right from your phone—taking photos and uploading them to your listing in minutes. Hold on a minute. Before you start shooting selfies of you holding your Aunt Edna’s doilies that you are sure are “antiques” (because she is), take some time to think about what kinds of photos sell, and why.

The photos of what you are selling on eBay convey not only the quality of the item, but also something about the seller (that’s you). If your photos are blurry, that says that you have a piece of junk for a camera—and, by inference, what you’re selling could be junk, too—or that you were drunk when you took the photo or in the middle of an earthquake. The latter two do not bode well for potential buyers. So you’ll want to post photos that are clear, which is possible with almost any mobile phone’s camera.

Next, try to keep the photos as simple as possible. Let’s say you’re selling a vintage t-shirt. Unless you have a really gorgeous model or a mannequin close by, take a picture of the t-shirt on its own, laid out on anything but the floor. It amazes me how many people take pictures of things on shag carpets, and hope the buyer doesn’t notice.

Get as many photos as possible: front view, back view, inside label, etc. If there are any flaws, make sure to photograph those and mention them in your listing. Some items, especially vintage or antique, have flaws. Better to put the flaws on display and let potential buyers know what they are getting. This approach builds trust and prevents the hassle of lots of returns.

Once you upload all your photos, and set your starting price, hit the “Preview listing” button. Sometimes a photo that looks great on a camera just doesn’t work on eBay. For this reason, if you can look at the preview on a laptop (vs. a cell phone), do it. That way you’ll see what most buyers are seeing.

If you’ve spent time on eBay you’ve probably noticed that some photos are exceptionally clean, with bright light, no shadows and no distractions. They even have a bit of “Matrix” feel to them. These were likely taken in a white box—also called a “light box” (not to be confused with this type of light box) or a “light tent.” It’s a space with diffused light and a seamless background, and you can make one yourself in 20 minutes. Check out this video.

On a budget? No problem, here’s an easy DIY guide to making a white box for under $10.

With a white box, you’ll take great photos. That, combined with researching your items and setting the right starting price, is a solid start to making money on eBay, and perhaps even clearing out your clutter once and for all.

Conna Shannon

Conna Shannon

Conna is a writer, editor and aspiring filmmaker. She's into DIY, upcylcing and macrobiotic cooking. She lives in Monterey, California, with a yellow lab named Daisy.
Conna Shannon

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