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Tips for Selling Hobbyist Goods on eBay

What to remember for this enthusiastic crowd


eBay is one of the hottest marketplaces in the world for hobbyist goods of all kinds, from outdoor and naturist activities like gardening and fishing to more involved specialized hobbies like model rocketry or bicycle repair.

If you’ve got a hobby, chances are you’re going to be interested at some point in selling some of your own used goods or equipment on eBay. But whether you’re a hobbyist contemplating periodic eBay selling or an eBay seller looking to break into the hobbyist market, there are some things about selling hobbyist gear on eBay that you should keep in mind.

  • Every hobby is its own little world. No matter what the type of hobby or activity in question, enthusiasts have their own language and specialized knowledge about the hobby in question. If you are to be successful selling to fishermen, you must know something about fishing; the same goes for potters or hot rodders or hot-air balloonists. To generate the revenue that you should from your hobbyist sales, you’re going to have to know something about the hobby in question—be able to speak the language and separate the wheat from the chaff in your own stock. If you don’t know much about a particular hobby, it’s probably not a good market for you to try to sell to.

  • Remember to name the hobby at every opportunity. As a simple matter of searchability, you should always remember to name the hobbyist market you’re addressing, whether in one-off listing titles, in the name of your eBay store, or even in your member ID. If you’re specializing in woodcarving supplies or even selling a single old woodcarving tool, for example, be sure to include the word “woodcarving” in your listing title(s), store name, and/or member ID both for searchability and for memorability. The same goes for fishing supplies, or model rocketry supplies.

  • List all relevant item details specifically. At the same time, hobbyists more than anyone else are specialists in their areas of interest. If your target market is a hobbyists, you must take care to use very specific make, model, feature, and condition details in your listings in addition to general descriptions. For example, “vintage camera lens for photography” will not generate bids in the same way as “vintage photography like new zeiss 50mm f/1.2 m42 screw mount lens.” Hobbyist buyers tend to either be “window shopping” or to know precisely what they want; either way, you should include both general terms and specific details whenever possible.

  • Mention prominent users and/or uses. Hobbyists like to know that the item they’re buying is used by the best. If you are aware of prominent names and/or famous people (whether famous in general or only within hobbyist circles) that use or endorse the item(s) you’re selling, be sure to mention it in your listing, including relevant link(s) if possible in the HTML portion of your listing to demonstrate this fact to buyers. Include any similar marketing information that you have—that more guitarists use this brand of strings than any other, for example, or that this is the largest lego kit currently being manufactured and sold to the general public, etc.

  • Include close-up photos of the actual item(s) in question. For hobbyists in particular, a photo is critically important, since many sales in the hobbyist marketplace are either used items or consumable items for which the quality of goods is of utmost concern. Hobbyists care about quality—a lot. Your photos should be clear and well-illuminated, and should support the description of the item’s condition that you provide in your item listing. For these reasons, your photos should probably be close-ups from several angles.

  • If you’re selling as a business, sell the entire hobby. Whether its pottery wheels versus clay, needles versus yarn, or bait and line versus rods and reels, most hobbyist markets involve both consumable and durable goods. eBay offers a great way to sell both along with introductory and instructional “getting started” goods for hobbyists. This is especially true of eBay Stores. If you can become a top-to-bottom supplier for a specific type of hobby and your buyers come to conceive of you as a top-to-bottom supplier of quality products at fair prices for the hobby in question, the prospects for creating a strong repeat customer base on eBay are very, very good.

  • Keep your about me page and eBay blog up to date. If you are planning to sell hobbyist goods as a business proposition, it is important that you earn and maintain the trust of your buyers and bidders and do whatever possible to form a dedicated clientèle. Two of the easiest ways to do this are through your eBay About Me page and by maintaining an eBay blog, both of which should describe your own history and activities involving the hobby in question in personal, enthusiastic terms. Hobbyist buyers want to know that you as a supplier share their passion, and that you can therefore be trusted to sell quality, well-selected and/or chosen goods to them at fair prices.

  • Include marketing value-adds. Hobbyists love getting free gear related to their hobbies—even if the item(s) in question are small and/or trifling. Such items can be very cheap for sellers but can be a great form of marketing and can encourage repeat buys. Microfiber cleaning cloths, pens and pencils, little straightedges or rulers—nearly any kind of promotional product imaginable can drive repeat sales if it is useful to your hobbyist market and emblazoned with the name of your eBay store.

Whether you’re selling one hobby-related item or trying to make hobbyist sales into an eBay business model, keeping these tips in mind can ensure that your listing(s) bring in as many bids and the best prices possible, as well as encouraging repeat shopping.

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