Though there have been millions of items listed on Ebay, there is one characteristic shared by most winners: they have a good photograph. Ebay is a virtual marketplace, but buyers still like to see what they’re paying for. Auction listings that include quality photos reassure the buyer that they are making a good purchase. That means more money is your pocket, just because you snapped a picture!
But all Ebay photos are not created equal. Here are a few tips for making the most of your item photos.
First, make sure your item is in top shape before photographing it. If your item is dusty or stained, buyers won’t want to make the purchase. Before you take the picture, wipe down any merchandise with a hard surface. Wash clothing or other soft items. You want the merchandise to look its best.
If a product is worn or has a few scrapes on the surface, carefully document these through your item description and photographs. It might seem counter-intuitive to point out flaws in the item, but it pays off in the long run. You don’t want to get a reputation for dishonesty. Plus, minimal damage rarely puts off Ebay buyers, particularly if the item is rare or discontinued. They’re looking for a good deal. As long as the product is in working condition, a little wear and tear is often deemed acceptable. For instance, the picture of the GeoSafari unit below shows that the box is very worn, but the unit itself is clean and in working order.
Here is an example of a photo I uploaded to a website when I was selling a Franklin Library edition of "The Agony and the Ecstasy". This was before eBay's own photo hosting allowed for enlargements. The item description advised the buyer to click on the photo to see the enlarged version so they could see for themselves if there were any flaws in the cover.
Another thing your buyers will want to know is if an item is in good working order. The GeoSafari unit below was photographed at an angle showing that the lights were on, indicating the unit was working. You can also show older console video game cartridges are operating by taking screen shots of the game in play.
When setting up your photography session, aim for natural light and good contrast. Take pictures near a window when the sun is shining. Avoid using a flash if you can; flash photos often turn out too bright and detract from the item’s detail. For best results, light products should be photographed on dark backgrounds, and vice versa. Take pictures from two or three different angles if possible. Do ensure that the item is displayed by itself, unless it’s a part of an entire lot for sale. And when you take the picture, get as close as you can without distorting the image. You want the item to fill the camera screen.
Take care when selecting a surface and background on which to display your item. Too-reflective surfaces can reveal the photographer’s image, and messy or busy backgrounds can distract from the item. For a professional look, use a very simple surface and background that show off the item well.
Many Ebay sellers use Photoshop or similar programs to clean up their photos before listing. This is fine, as long as the resulting picture is still representative of the item. Try to keep colors and hues as close to the original as possible. Photoshop can be used to lighten up too-dark pictures or to sharpen images. Save the photos as 400 by 300 pixel JPEGs of the highest quality. That way Ebay won’t reduce their resolution too much when it resizes the uploaded images.
Ebay sellers should consider using Ebay’s built-in image hosting service. It’s cheap and reliable, and it’s subject to Ebay’s technical support. They let you list your first image for free. Every successive image costs just a few cents. This convenient service is worth investigating.
It’s long been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. On Ebay, a picture can be more valuable yet: it can bring you buyers.