Have you ever wondered how people reach Powerseller status and manage to keep it by sustaining their business over the long term? In simpler terms; how people consistently turn self-sustaining profits on eBay?

There are of course, the obvious factors; find a reliable supplier that can offer competitive prices (lower than those of your competitors), find a market that isn’t overly saturated with sellers and ideally flooded with interested buyers willing to pay good money for your intended product, gain as much exposure as possible for your auction item, as well as making your advertisement as attractive as possible so as to tempt the highest possible bidder. These factors are but a few in the infinite factors affecting how potentially successful you can be selling on eBay, and whilst we could talk for days discussing the ins and outs of the online trading business, this piece will focus on just two; i) How to develop an attractive advertisement geared to tempt the highest possible bidder, and ii) How to gain maximum exposure for your online auction through keywords, search strings and Boolean terms in listing titles.

Whilst the following tips could prove useful to almost every level of eBay seller out there, for the purposes of this piece we will assume that the reader has a limited advertising budget, seeks to employ a value for money approach to online auction trading, and above all has a willingness to learn and adapt new business practices to their current or intended operations.

1. Advertisement Design

Regardless of whether you are using a turbo-lister application for your advertisement design, confident in HTML coding or web page design using a what-you-see-is-what-you get application like Dreamweaver or similar, or whether you are just now using (or thinking of using) an online trading site like eBay for the first time, the proceeding points and theories can be useful to you. As we go through the points please note that there are an infinite number of variations for the final advertisement but the one described and pictured has been proven by ourselves to be effective in achieving notably better results over competitors averaged over numerous product types, categories and auction times.

When building your template the goal should be consistency. This template will become the standard used for all of your products, and whilst they will undoubtedly vary over various product types and evolve over time it will be the standard all the same. The template will be your calling card so to speak; a way for shoppers to identify you and your (hopefully) successful business in an instant – giving them the confidence that your business is (or will soon be) famous for. There is no point wasting time convincing every shopper for the first time that they should trust your business, especially if they have already happily purchased from you in the past. This is called branding.

Next, create even just a simple logo for your trading name to give a named identity for your brand. It’s easy if you use your seller username as buyers will instantly make the connection between your advertisement and your seller profile. That, and you are guaranteed to have a unique name specific to that auction site. Even if you are not running a fully-fledged business and simply selling some of your old effects here and there for pocket money the branding and logo creation you implement will pay dividends down the road. Please note that trading name laws vary from country to country so please check with the appropriate authorities for precise information.When designing logos don’t be worried if you don’t hold a graphic design degree, you only need something distinguishable as yours. For example, if your username is larryjones64, then a simple LJ64 in ‘Franklin Gothic Medium’ in a chosen color might suffice.

You need next to decide on your color scheme. Again, if you are not that way inclined color schemes are readily available via a simple Google search. The goal here is to use only a few matching yet distinguishable colors to use for your i) theme colors, ii) font colors, and iii) miscellaneous sections. You should base your color scheme on the types of products you sell as well as your personal preference. For instance if you are promoting cosmetics made from 100% natural products you might opt for an earthy and green color scheme or even a pink color scheme depending on your target market. These colors however might not be as suitable for an electronics company aiming to capture the attention of bargain hunting males between the ages of 16 and 22 years old. Regardless of your choice of scheme you’re the one that should be happy with it as your standard color scheme for all of your advertisements to come.

Now that you have decided on your color scheme you must now decide on your font. Typically, your font should be clear and easy to read. Since Arial is the most common and easily legible font available on the internet currently, we will use it here. You should use this font for all of your advertisement text spread across only a small number of sizes. By limiting the variation of font size and color you will better be able to direct the viewing of the potential buyer, making sure they receive the important information as required.

We will now separate our developing advertisement into 5 sections. One for the header, another for the product picture, the next for the item description and information, followed by the shipping, payment and warranty block, and finally the terms & conditions section.

As per our earlier larryjones64 example a blue, white and grey color scheme has been chosen to sell his range of consumer electronics and miscellaneous personal effects.

Section 1

A simple image editing program has been used to place the logo created earlier on a blue background. This has been saved in a web friendly format and will appear as our calling card at the top of all of our advertisements for larryjones64.

Section 2

The white space here provides room for our product picture. In this case it will be of a watch he plans to sell in his online auction. Use this space to let your potential buyer know exactly what they will be bidding on. It’s the first product image they will see after clicking on the search listing item; make it count.

Section 3

This is the information section. It’s where you will highlight the strong points of your product, hopefully convincing the viewer to make a bid. Be careful here not to bore the viewer with paragraphs of product information. In the case of many niche products, your viewer will already know what they are looking at. It is more important to describe the product condition and package inclusions so that the bidder knows exactly what they’re bidding on. Detailed pictures are a great way to tempt that potential bidder. The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been more true. These days with free image hosting sites such as Picture Trail it has never been easier to make your advertisement hosted-image friendly.

Section 4

Whilst your auction listing may provide the appropriate space for postage costs, we’ve found it quite useful to display specifics within the bulk of the advertisement itself. The same applies for payment methods. What better way to remind your potential bidder that you accept a bank deposit from their favorite bank as well as their credit card. Any warranty offered with your product should also be listed here. Again, let the bidder know exactly what they’re bidding on.

Section 5

Finally, we list the terms and conditions for your auction. Use this space to further elaborate on your warranty statement in the previous section, as well as your postage time disclaimers and any other liability disclaimers you may with to include should an unfortunate occasion arise, even if only a typographical error. The key here is to include what you know. If you are not sure about something it is better to omit it rather than look foolish contradicting yourself. For certainty, consult the necessary authority on your subject in question.

Ok, so there you have it. Your advertisement is now designed and you have a template calling card that your current and future clients will recognize your good business through.

2. Keyword Success

The most obvious and often most underestimated source of online auction success is the auction title; what good is the most attractive advertisement in the world at the world’s best bargain if no one gets to see it?

There are several options for highlighted listings, bold listings, super bold listings, stroked listings – all of which require varying degrees of payments. As mentioned at the beginning of the piece we are looking for the best value for money, which in our opinion is the regular auction listing with a small standard gallery picture. This is the most common (and package-wise, cheapest) form of auction listing and thus a perfect way to measure the success of our listing.

Now most (if not all) auction sites will only give you a capped number of characters for your title so it is important to use this space as best you can. Based on eBay’s 55 characters main titles limit the first way to attract attention is by printing the entire title in capital letters. In a sea of lower cased rambling the capitalized title is quite effective. Next are the words in the title. You must find the balance between communicating to the buyer as efficiently and accurately as possible your item as well as making use of keywords that might increase the exposure of your advertisement.

Take the example below:

Nokia N95 great condition plus leather case charger box

Whilst it may appear to accurately describe the product in question as well as use the entire 55 character allocation it wastes precious character space and words that should be saved for the advertisement itself. It is quite possible for you to achieve a number of advertisement views or hits from people searching Nokia, N95 and several others from those searching case, charger, and box. Those searching for the latter group are unlikely to pay for a $300 item when they were only looking for a $10 item in the first place.

Take the next example:


In comparing the two the second example jumps at you from the page simply because of the capital letters. Most buyers of cell phones need to know first up if it is unlocked, as in most cases they already have a SIM card. By highlighting the important attributes of the item like GPS and camera you are also exposing your advertisement to potential buyers of GPS units as well as those searching cameras. Unlike the first example, GPS units and cameras are quite often priced similarly to high end cell phones so it is not completely out of the question that the phone could be purchased by those searching these items as well. Please beware that eBay and other auction sites have policies in place forbidding the use of title keywords in an attempt to gain exposure if the keyword doesn’t directly relate to the item for sale. This means that inserting the keyword iPod Nano or Motorola Samsung into the title simply to gain extra exposure across various categories is illegal – and will cause your listing to be removed and possibly have your account suspended. In the end, it pays to know your product and your target audience as well as the rules of the auction site you are using (or intending to use).

You may be thinking that the points you have just read are completely commonsensical and that anyone would be able to figure them out – and this is 100% true. The preceding approaches to online auction trade do not require any specialization in design or trade, but require only that people think as they approach this field. We cannot guarantee success for every application of our theories into your trading practices, but based on our averaged results they have worked in achieving the desired results.

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