How to Create the Perfect eBay Listing: Step One – Research Before You Write

This week I sold some homeschool curriculum on eBay. While I prefer to use Craigslist, because it’s free, sometimes selling on eBay makes sense. In this case, I know homeschool curriculum tends to do well on eBay, and it’s easy to ship, so eBay is the venue I chose.

If you want to create an eBay listing that fetches a high price for your goods, there are a few steps you can take to increase your chances of getting the most money for your item. I’ll cover these steps through a series of posts, but today we’re going to focus on the first step: research. Many people are tempted to skip this step, because it takes time. In my opinion, that’s a bad move.

Before you begin writing your listing, it’s best to do a little research. By doing a search for completed auctions for items similar to those you’re selling, you can find a few tips to help you optimize your listing.

Search Completed eBay Auctions

To find completed auctions, click on “advanced search” from the eBay home page. You will need to sign in first, if you haven’t already.

Plug in a few keywords for the thing you want to sell. In my case, I had a set of Rod & Staff English 6 books to sell, so I entered Rod Staff 6. Don’t worry about categories or anything else. Just put a checkmark in the “completed listing” box and hit search.

The results page will bring up several listings of ended auctions. Pay attention to those that were selling the exact (or close to it) product that you’re trying to sell. In my case, I see auctions that ended for $28.02, $21.01, $24.50, and $20.00. Obviously, I’d rather sell higher than lower, so I’m going to take a peek at these ended auctions to see what the seller did (or didn’t do).

Analyzing the Results of Your Completed Listing Search

No matter what you’re trying to sell, peruse the completed auction listings to see what the sellers did. If there are too many listings to read, pick a few auctions that ended high, a few in the middle, and a few at the low end. Look for obvious similarities and differences. You want to emulate (but not plagiarize!) the eBay auctions that ended high and avoid the mistakes of the auctions that ended low.

Here are a few interesting things I noted about the listings for Rod & Staff English books:

  • They were all listed in the same category.
  • They all had pictures of the actual items (as opposed to stock pictures).
  • The auction that ended for the LOWEST price had free shipping.
  • The lowest ending auction was also the only one that accepted returns.
  • The lowest ending auction had a starting price of $20, and it received exactly one bid.
  • The other three auctions had similar shipping rates, a “no return” policy, and all started the bidding at 99 cents.
  • Two of the three highest priced auctions described the books as “good”, while the third described them as “like new.” One of the “good” books was the auction that ended the highest.
  • The auction with the “like new” books had a tiny description (unreadable without my reading glasses). The description stated that there were several marks in the book…in other words, it really wasn’t “like new.”
  • The highest ending auction provided a clear description in fairly large type, and noted the problems with the book (in this case, dog-eared pages).
  • The highest ending auction described the books as for elementary school. All other auctions described the books as for middle school.
  • The auction with the highest ending bid was also the only auction that offered a shipping discount for bidders that won multiple auctions from the same seller.

Pay Attention to Titles

Perhaps the most important thing to note is titles. Many people search, rather than browse, eBay. Thus, it’s important to get the title right, so people who are using the search box can find your auction.

In the case of the Rod & Staff English books, the titles of the four auctions, from highest ending bid to lowest, were:

  • Rod and Staff English 6 Progressing With Courage Set
  • Rod and Staff English 6 – Progressing With Courage
  • Rod & Staff 6 English Progressing With Courage 6th home
  • Rod and Staff English 6 Progressing With Courage

The one notable difference is that the auction with the highest ending bid included the word “set” in the title. It makes sense that people searching for a set of books would search for the word “set.”

I’ll confess that the auction with the highest ending bid was my auction. It wasn’t perfect, as the picture wasn’t great, and the description could have been a little better. But I did my research, and I’m happy with the result. In the next post (or posts) in this series, I’ll talk about how to put your eBay research to good use.

Posts in the How to Create the Perfect eBay Listing series:

4 thoughts on “How to Create the Perfect eBay Listing: Step One – Research Before You Write”

  1. Great tips on doing research. Another important thing to consider once you’ve done the research is putting enough details in the listing. Whether on Amazon or eBay, there are too many listings that don’t have enough details or pictures.

    Just buy adding more details about the product, size, condition, use, front/back pictures, warranty info, brand info, and so on, you’ll be light years ahead of most sellers online.

  2. Hi, I sell on ebay quit a bit, and another thing to look at when selling on ebay is when is your item going to end? For what I sell, sporting good items, the best time for me is friday, sat, sun evenings and don’t forget the east coast is 3 hours later. So if it ends at 5pm here it is 8pm there. Since I sell more to east coast people I really make sure I end at a good time. Know your audience, mine is guys and gals who like to hunt and normally work so they can afford their hobby. So evenings are great time to end.

  3. What a great post. While I don’t sell things on eBay, I have helped friends in the past and my first rule was to always research items that were similar to what they were going to sell. It is very important to make sure you aren’t going to lowball or price your item too high. Thanks for your insight!

  4. Lynnae,
    Thanks so much for this post. My husband and I have been trying to sell some things on ebay. Some did okay and others not so good. I think this will help us! I love your blog and check it every day. Keep up the good work!

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