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Quick Tips for eBay Photos

Don't just use any old photo to sell your goods

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Quick Tips for eBay Photos

You don't necessarily need a photo studio to take listing photos, but fundamentals matter.

Photo: David McNew / Getty Images
Both conventional wisdom and experience suggest that it’s important to include a photo of the item up for sale in every eBay listing. All photos, however, are not created equal—especially for a site like eBay. While the range of photo options runs the gamut from no photo at all to slideshows of externally-hosted marketing posters, the basic approach is probably still best. Follow these basic guidelines for eBay photos and you’re well on your way to selling success.

  • Don't use "stock" photos. Take your own pictures rather than using an image taken from a product brochure or manufacturing website. Savvy buyers want to see the actual item's condition, which rarely matches that seen in "official" photos.

  • Take your photo in good light where a flash isn’t needed. Too many eBay photos show items dimly or with lots of grain, discoloration, or motion blur (caused by shaking hands in dim light). Others use a strong flash that causes a blinding reflection from the item. Shoot with natural daytime light near a window if possible. Don’t shoot by lamplight and avoid using a built-in flash.

  • Shoot light items against dark backgrounds and vice-versa. Dark-on-dark or light-on-light images are best left to professional photographers, because they have a tendency to make the item indistinct or hard to see.

  • If your item is used, clean it up a little before shooting. Run a wet wipe over plastic, metal, or wood goods, or launder textiles. Certainly don’t show a photo of a dusty or filthy item if you expect to draw top dollar bids when you list it.

  • Set the item on a nice, clean surface in front of a clean background. Present your item well. Don’t show it in a messy room or surrounded by so much clutter that the buyer can’t really get a good look at it. Don’t show more than one item in the frame unless all of them are for sale in one lot.

  • Get just close enough for the item to fill the camera frame. Photos that are mostly empty frame with a tiny item in the middle aren’t very useful most of the time. Your bidders want to get a good look at the item. Give it to them by filling the frame with the item so that it’s as large as possible.

  • Set your camera to a resolution of 1024x768 (1 megapixel) or higher. By using a resolution at least this high, you'll ensure the best possible appearance after eBay resizes your photos.

  • Use a photo editor to fix color, brightness, and sharpness issues. Photoshop is the classic program for doing this, but there are alternatives that are free, like GIMP, and even some that are both free and very easy to use, like Picasa.

  • Add your own logo in the corner. If your image editor supports it, type your member ID or add your business logo in the corner of your image. This prevents other eBayers from stealing a copy and using it without your knowledge.

  • Save your images at the highest quality (lowest compression) setting. eBay automatically resizes your photos, degrading quality. Saving at a high quality setting to begin with ensures that they'll look great to your buyers and bidders..

  • Use multiple views if necessary. If your item will be well-served by being shown from several different angles, don’t be afraid to use a second or even third or fourth shot so that your prospective bidders can feel like educated buyers.

Through all of this remember that the idea is to present your item in the best light possible. Use a decent camera, shoot in nice light, save at nice quality, and take pride in the way that you present your item. The benefits of this approach will show in your sales results.

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