Tips From a Pro

JCK Web manager and seasoned eBay seller Maria Miriam gave us the skinny on what to do and what not to do at online auctions:

  • Always include photos of the item you’re offering.

  • Describe items in detail and be honest.

  • Clearly state sales terms, including sales tax, and what type of payments you accept-personal checks, money orders, PayPal, etc.

  • Don’t waste time on slow-loading decorative graphics-bidders want to see your product.

  • Don’t collect “handling” charges, an additional few dollars tacked onto product and shipping fees. Bidders will avoid you.

  • Set up easy return policies. Though some winning bidders have been known to return items for no good reason, return policies will put people at ease.

  • Read any and all fine print. Even as a seller.

  • When receiving payment via Billpoint or PayPal, trust only your account balance for verification of a deposit from a buyer. Don’t rely on the e-mail notification that “you’ve received cash.” Some folks actually photocopy past cash deposits and forward them to you, in an attempt to trick you into thinking you’ve been paid.

  • When corresponding with buyers, don’t be afraid to sound “folksy.” Talking through cyberspace is impersonal, so using a warm and friendly style can boost bidders’ comfort.

  • Be prepared to check your e-mail frequently. Even if pieces aren’t being bid on, people will e-mail you with questions about specific auctions or other jewelry you may have in stock.

  • Check out www.eBay.com/usps/calculator.html to obtain estimates of shipping costs. You’ll still need to buy a postal scale (about $30 at most business supply stores) to determine exact weights. You may even want to wrap packages-including any newspaper, “peanuts,” or bubble wrap-and then weigh and total shipping costs, as those additional materials do add up and ultimately cut into your profits.

  • Download auctionwatch.com’s Auction Manager Pro, which lets you “list” auctions offline (saving you money in Internet fees), then upload the information when you’re ready. (See sidebar on page 104 for step-by-step instructions.)

  • Use screen ID names that let bidders know you’re established. If you own John’s Jewelry store in real life, use johnsjewelry or a similar user ID.

  • Consider the most saleable or outstanding feature of your item when picking listing categories. Many items could be listed under several different categories but may sell better in one than another.

  • Don’t waste precious keyword/headline space on conjunctions or subjective adjectives such as “gorgeous,” or “LOOK!!!” Nobody ever searches for these words. People search for “diamonds,” “vintage,” “platinum,” etc.

  • Save and load images as “lightweight” or small jpeg files, which load faster.