BOOT CAMP 385 (12/07/05)

ebay Top Tips part 4, more about selling


If you followed the advice given last week you should have prepared one or more photographs plus the title and description of the item you want to sell. You should also have made a note of the category or categories it will be listed in, plus a good idea of the sort of price you can expect it to fetch.


There’s one more job to do before setting up the listing and that’s to wrap and weigh the item so you can specify postage. Do not skimp on the packing, especially if the item is fragile; use plenty of bubble wrap, polystyrene chips or at a pinch, scrunched up newspaper (The Daily Telegraph works very well…), and where appropriate, a strong cardboard box or padded envelope.


Most items can be safely sent using Royal Mail and Parcel Force services; heavier and bulkier items can be sent by courier; for more details see this week’s Top Tip.


When calculating postage it’s not unreasonable to factor in the cost of packing materials and incidentals, including a modest amount for your time and trouble, but don’t be greedy as this will only alienate bidders. Whatever shipping method you use some form of insurance is advisable and make sure that you have proof of postage or documentation, just in case…


You are now ready to list your auction, so log on to ebay, click the Sell button and choose between an auction and a fixed price ‘Buy it Now’ sale. In this example we’ll be concentrating on the auction option but the steps for a fixed price sale are broadly the same.


Online Auction should be checked by default so click the ‘Sell your Item’ button and the Select Category page will appear. Choose the Main Category for your item click the Continue button and you will be asked to choose a sub category. If possible avoid using an ‘Other’ heading as this will reduce the chances of your item being found by casual browsers. This page also gives you the option to choose a second Category; this doubles your listing fee but it can be worth it for the extra exposure.


Click the Continue button to proceed to the Title and Description page. Copy and paste your prepared text from your word processor into the Item Description box, fill in the Title box and select as many Item Specifics (Type, Style, Brand, Condition etc.) as you deem appropriate. When that’s done click Continue to move to the next page, which is Item Details and Pictures.


The first box to fill in is the Start Price and an optional Reserve price. You are going to have to use your judgement on this one but remember last week’s advice about starting as low as possible to attract the most interest. By default auctions last for 7 days but you can change this to 1, 3, 5 or 10 days.


Next upload your pictures; click the Browse button next to Picture 1 and you will see a standard Windows Explorer type dialogue box to locate the folder where your images are stored. Repeat for each image then click the Gallery option to display your main picture as a thumbnail. You can also choose design ‘themes’ and extra embellishments but these all add to your listing fee. Finally select the Counter option, which will tell you (and others) how many times your auction has been viewed.


The next page deals with Payment and Postage. The more payment options you tick the simpler it will be for buyers to pay you and if you haven’t already got a PayPal account consider doing so as this makes it easier to sell your item to overseas buyers (see part 1). Note that foreign currency cheques, bank drafts and money orders can be difficult to cash and may involve substantial transaction fees. You can use this page to specify any special conditions, such as ‘buyer collects’ (advisable on very heavy items), and your returns policy or any guarantees that you are offering.

Click Continue and the final page appears, which gives you the opportunity to check the photographs and edit the details plus a summary of your listing fee. When you are happy with it click the Submit button. A few minutes later you will receive an email confirmation and a link to your auction page, which you should check. Provided you haven’t received any bids you can change the description, details and photographs if you spot a problem.


When the auction ends you and the winning bidder will be sent emails. Yours has the option to send the buyer an Invoice, which you should do as soon as possible. If you receive payment by PayPal, Postal Order or cash it’s polite to send the item straight away. Otherwise allow 5 working days for a cheque to arrive and a further 5 to 7 days for it to clear. For cheques of more than £50, say, or if you have any doubts, it’s worth asking your bank for additional verification. 


Hopefully the buyer will leave Positive Feedback for you once they have received the goods and you should reciprocate as soon as possible.  


Next Week -- ebay Top Tips -- Disputes, scams and more tricks


Part 1 2 3 5





A certificate of posting is provided free on request when items are sent via Royal Mail from a Post Office



Catch-all sub-category listing for items that do not fit into one of ebay’s standard Selling categories



Colourful borders, backgrounds or custom layout, designed to make your auction page look more interesting




To see a full set of options for UK and overseas shipping services available from your local Post Office and to calculate costs go to: Royal Mail Special Delivery is ideal for most small items as it provides a guaranteed next day ‘signed for’ delivery with compensation between £500 and £2,500 and prices are quite reasonable. For larger items, weighing up to 25kg, I suggest a courier service like Parcels2go (, which offers free collection and next day delivery anywhere in the UK, via Securicor and DHL, for as little as £10.56.

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