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Maximize Bids by Timing Your Listings

Knowing when to list can be as important as knowing what to list

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Sellers spend a great deal of time perfecting their auction listings—they parse their item titles until they're the perfect blend of punch and searchable keyword, and they perfect the layout and content of item descriptions to encourage bidders to want their item badly.

Timing, however, is at least as important as the content of an auction listing when it comes to selling effectively on eBay. Like nearly all websites, eBay doesn't experience traffic in smooth, continuous flows. Instead, there are peaks and valleys to eBay use that can be measured by day, by week, and by season. Listing so that your auction spans or closes on a visitor traffic valley can mean that you don't earn what you could have.

Be Aware of Listing Time and Length

The item listing form that eBay uses gives sellers the option of listing items for 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 days. Notice that these are all entire days—no "one day, ten hours" or "five days, six hours, and four minutes" here. Any auction you list will close at the same time of day 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 days later.

Similarly, an item that you list for seven days will end at the same time on the same day of the week, while an auction listed for three days on a Friday will close on a Monday, and an auction listed for five days on a Sunday will close on a the following Friday.

Match Listing Endings to Peak Visitorship

There are two simple axioms that you should keep in mind whenever you prepare to list an item. By considering them in light of listing times and lengths, you can ensure always to post your auctions in the most favorable bid environments possible:

  • The longer you list, the more bids you'll get. Three days is better than one, five is better than three, and so on. Many of eBay's visitors check the site once per week or less, so a listing of at least seven days is preferable, and ten days is ideal (even given the forty-cent surcharge).

  • The closer you end to peak traffic times, the more bids you'll get. The vast majority of eBay bids are placed within the last few minutes of an auction listing's lifespan. Though it takes days to accumulate watchers, most of these people won't actually bid until the auction is nearly closed. Once your auction is down to its last half-hour or so, it will also begin to appear in "closing soon" browse results that draw in still more bidders—if there are bidders around to see it.
Peak visitorship on eBay runs in daily and weekly cycles following the same pattern seen around most of the World Wide Web. In general, traffic flows according to the following two simple rules:
  • Daily peak visitorship is often between 8:00 PM eastern time and 10:00 PM pacific time. To maximize bidding for daily peak time, list your auction during this window so that it will close during this window and gain the largest possible daily audience.

  • Weekly peak visitorship is on Sunday evening. To match your listing to the weekly peak in order to maximize bidding, list so that your auction will close on a Sunday evening between 8:00 PM eastern time and 10:00 PM pacific time. Listing seven-day auctions every Sunday evening is a convenient way to time your auctions well without having to think about it too much, while also avoiding the surcharge on 10-day listings.

Using these simple rules, you can maximize your bids on an ongoing basis. List seven-day or ten-day auctions whenever possible and time them to end on Sunday evenings. The difference can be quite significant, especially compared, for example, to endings on weekday mornings, when even people who were watching your listing closely are unlikely to remember to bid.

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