eBay, my way: Six steps to earning great sales (and feedback) on eBay

Greetings from carmaproductions! OK, so you know me better as "Recession Diaries" columnist Lou Carlozo. But over the years, I've also made a hobby of buying and selling on eBay, amassing great finds, surprising sales and 100 percent positive buyer/seller feedback. That should especially come in handy next month, as eBay plans to offer sellers five free listings every 30 days. (Check out the WalletPop story here.)

Note that eBay will still charge 8.75% of the final price at the end of the auction, or $20, whichever is lower. But with all that free auction love to spread around, now is the time to scour your garage, attic or basement for things to hawk. Here are my six tips for doing it right:

1) Research before you sell. Look around eBay and see what items similar to yours sell for. Can you offer a competitive "buy it now" price? Is the site glutted with that item? Can you offer an edge over your competitors, such as free shipping?
2) Sell items in the best condition possible. Common sense, right? But you'd be surprised how many eBay items go up for bids in less-than-stellar shape. Ask if you'd buy an item with a broken knob or a seam rip from someone you didn't know. Didn't think so.

3) Take and post great photographs. People want to see what they're getting. Make sure your photo gallery offers at least six clear views of the sale item, including any minor dings or distinguishing marks. This reinforces the message that you're thorough and honest.

4) Write your description clearly, free of hype-and spelling errors.
If you can't craft a complete, error-free sentence, you might as well make your pitch with a glob of spinach in your teeth. Proofread your announcement before posting -- twice. Avoid salesman harangue ("This baby will go fast!") and stick to concrete details. ("Mint condition. Not a scratch on this 50-year old item.")

5) Answer questions right away, cheerfully.
If a prospective buyer asks a question, respond within 24 hours-sooner if possible. Be cheerful, even if someone tries to act pushy. They may still buy from you in the end, so you never know.

6) Service after the sale.
Pack and ship items with care. Let the buyer right away know when it should arrive. Ask them to respond in kind with feedback that reflects the attention and respect you've offered them. And if you're a repeat seller, encourage them to follow your other sale items on eBay via email notices.
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