This is the second post in my series ‘”How to Create the Perfect eBay Listing.”

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the case of eBay listings, it’s definitely true. Your photos (or lack of them) can determine whether your item sells or not. They can make the difference between an item that sells for a high price or a low price. So don’t get lazy and slap any old picture on your eBay listing. Take the time to do it right.

eBay Listing Pictures: Common Mistakes

I’ve shopped eBay on and off for several years, and in that time I’ve seen some really bad pictures. Really bad. Since I shop a lot for (and have sold a lot of) children’s clothes, I’m going to use that category as my example.

Take a look at exhibit number one:

There is so much wrong with this picture, I don’t know where to begin.

  • The background is busy, drawing attention away from the clothing.
  • The background is messy, causing potential buyers to wonder if the seller takes good care of their stuff.
  • The clothes are wrinkled.
  • The clothes are laying in such a way that the buyer can’t see the details.
  • The lighting is bad.

Another common mistake I see is exhibit number 2:

What’s wrong with this picture?

  • The clothes are folded up, so the buyer can’t see what they really look like. If I’m buying jeans, I want to see the knees.
  • The clothes are lying on the floor. Many buyers are put off by this.

A few more problems I commonly see are:

  • No picture at all.
  • A stock photo, instead of a picture of the actual item (though sometimes stock photos are OK for books).
  • Blurry pictures.
  • Pictures that show items that aren’t included in the auction…such as “This auction is for the jeans only, not the shirt.” That’s just asking for problems.

Taking Great Pictures for eBay

It’s really not that difficult to take a great eBay picture. I’m definitely no photographer, but I’ve done pretty well with my pictures. And if I can do it, anyone can. Here are a few examples and pointers.

This picture isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough for eBay. Take note of the following:

  • The background is a plain, neutral color (I used a blanket).
  • The clothes are ironed, presented neatly, and arranged in such a way that you can see the parts which would most likely be stained/worn.
  • The lighting is good. If it’s a sunny day, taking pictures outside in natural light is a good idea. If you have to take pictures inside, make sure you have a lamp nearby for good lighting, and watch out for shadows.
  • The shot is straight-on. I positioned the camera directly above the clothing, so I could get a picture without weird angles.
  • The picture is cropped in closely around the clothing. You want the item you’re selling to take up the whole frame. If you lack photo editing software, you can edit photos at It’s free.

Sometimes one photo isn’t enough. This is especially true if you are selling a big lot of something. In that case, you might want to take a picture showing all the items for impact, but then add more pictures of smaller groupings, so potential eBay buyers can see the details in what they’re buying.

Speaking of details…

If your item has any details that are interesting to the eye, make sure to take a close-up. It’s often more difficult to use words than pictures to describe details, so if you think a detail will add to the sale price, make sure you snap a photo.

Along the same lines…

Make sure you take a picture of any flaws. The shirt above has a light stain. It’s hard to see, and I want my buyer to know that the shirt has a stain, but it’s hard to see. I don’t want my buyer to complain that I didn’t mention a stain in the listing, but I also don’t want to scare a buyer away by describing a stain without showing the buyer how faded the stain is. Many buyers will see the word “stain” and run far, far away.

By taking a picture of a flaw, you allow the buyer to see how bad it is and make their own decision on whether they’re willing to pay for it.

A Final Note About eBay Pictures

The first picture in your eBay listing is free, but additional pictures will cost you, if you have eBay host them. If you have an outside hosting option, fell free to add as many pictures to your listing as you like, using HTML.

However, if you use eBay to host your pictures, as most casual sellers do, make sure you weigh the price of the pictures against your expected final selling price. You can use one free picture with each eBay listing. Additional pictures cost 15 cents each, or you can buy 6 pictures for 75 cents or 12 pictures for $1.00.

You’ve already done your research, so you should have a pretty good idea of the low and high end range of the expected sales price for your item. If the range is big, or your item is probably going to fetch a good price, pay for the extra pictures. It will be worth it. However, if your item is not expected to sell for much after eBay fees are taken into account, post one really great picture of the item. Extra pictures aren’t worth it, if they cut out your profit all together.

Taking great pictures is a sure-fire way to help your eBay auctions are successful.

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