So, you're selling a few things on eBay? Want to optimize your listing for the most traffic and highest impact?
There are several tools available to help with research and listing. Here's the best part: powerful research, fee calculation, and listing management services are available for free.
Last week I had seven awful looking Gnomes sitting in my garden, but with the free tools I was able to:
- Target my eBay listing to the most effective category, at the best time of day, with the keywords buyers are most likely to be searching for.
- Understand what kind of listing is the most effective in the market.
- Find a title for my listing that would give the best impact.
- Get an idea, in advance, of what fees I would be paying, and what my profits might be.
- Easily create a listing that effectively promotes my Gnomes.
- Monitor my listings as they were selling, on a convenient, single page.
- And most importantly, make more money.
Understand Your Market
So goes the selling mantra. It holds true for selling on eBay. I could quickly put my Gnomes up for sale, but with a bit of research, I can direct my eBay listings for maximum impact.
eBay have their own free research tool. On the left of any search results page is a "Search Options" box, and within that is a "Completed Items" checkbox. Select this box and search again to find finished listings that match your keywords — this tells you which items sold and for how much. The Completed Items search requires a lot of work to get any idea of general trends, because the data is unfiltered — you have to read through one item at a time. It would be much easier if this information was compiled by a research service.
Terapeak provides an online suite of research tools, and the basic tools for eBay.com are free ("International" sites come at a cost). Just enter keywords in the search bar, and Terapeak will spit back enough data to keep you amused for hours. For example: 33% of similar auctions resulted in a sale, and at an average price of $20.35; it is better to sell Garden Gnomes on a Sunday or Monday than a Wednesday, and the most effective Category to list in is "Home and Garden".
Terapeak also offers the "Title Builder", a free tool which works with the same data to pin-point the best title for your item, by showing the most effective keywords in recent sales. I learned that "Gnome" is most common, but that the keyword "Statue" will fetch more cash than the more frequent "Elf". So, I know that "Garden Gnomes" is not the best title for my eBay listing, but rather "Elf Garden Gnome Statue". That doesn't use up the 55-character allowance, so I fill each listing title with a description of the Gnome's position - "sitting in a tree", "catching a fish", "dancing a jig", and so on.
Mpire Researcher also offers a free and complete research tool for eBay.com (although you do need to complete a quick registration process). Mpire's data finds similar results to Terapeak, but with a simpler interface. Where Terapeak will list mountains of data, Mpire makes it clear by showing essential data, and highlighting the best decision. With Mpire, I find the best way to list my Gnomes is through a standard auction with the Gallery upgrade, and it shows the optimal subcategory - one reserved just for Garden Gnomes and their lesser known cousins, Garden Sprites!
Now I've done my research, and I list all my Gnomes on eBay following the free advice from Mpire and Terapeak. I'm confident now that I will get the best price for my diminutive friends.
What Will eBay Charge?
A search will produce a long list of free eBay fee calculators, but it is important to ensure that whatever calculator you use is up to date and easy to use. For eBay.com users (and promised to International sellers soon) eBCalc is an efficient tool on one nice clean page. International users will find ecal works for them, where each country's eBay site has a unique page to bookmark for easy access. Free Auction Fee Calculators provides a long list of fee calculators, and not just for eBay.
I know from my research that I should expect my Gnomes to sell for about $20 each, and that the Gallery upgrade will really help. By entering these details into a fee calculator, I can see I will be charged a total of about $2.62 by eBay, for each of my Gnomes. That's pretty steep but at least I know where I stand, and how much profit I can expect to make. Now to produce a listing.
Setting Out The Stall
Auctiva is web based software for managing eBay listings. It does this in a colorful and easy to use environment, complete with tutorials. After a quick and well-explained signup, Auctiva imports listings directly from eBay so their tools can be used immediately. You can develop eye-catching listings using their free template gallery, upload photos, add counters and organise content with their tools. Auctiva makes it easy to manage eBay profiles, as well as feedback and listings, simplifying the selling process from beginning to end. One of the things Auctiva does very well is make it easy to see what add-on services have fees attached, as little green $'s denote what will cost money.
AuctionSplash has tools similar to Auctiva, but is Windows-based software. As it resides on the desktop, it means listing building and management tools are available offline. When online, AuctionSplash's shows pop-up notifications on the desktop when a bid has been placed, and indicates when an auction is about to close, providing reminders while an auction is under way. Like Auctiva, the various tools available in this software package make creating a listing easy with over one hundred pre-made templates, and also provides free seamless picture hosting: when a picture is uploaded it goes to the AuctionSplash server and not to eBay, saving money on fees without any extra effort.
ChannelMAX has a similar service, and is web-based. The interface is not as clean as the other two, and at first is quite intimidating, but this is a powerful tool for managing eBay sales. With it you can develop listing templates, or your own eBay "storefront". It can monitor listings, control inventory, and even contains a page for "employees". Now I'm feeling ambitious! ChannelMAX's pricing is rather complicated, but everything I need is free and the few services they do charge for are reasonably priced.
Before long, my Gnome ads are constructed and placed, and it's fun. Over the next seven days, I monitor my targeted listings from a central page in my management software. My starting prices were low, and they all sell - beating the $20 average I had hoped for! As the payments come through, I package them carefully and send the wee folk to their new homes. I'll miss them, but only a little.
I enjoyed selling those seven little people, but it wouldn't have been so much fun without the free research, fee calculation, and listing tools I used. Better yet I made more money, knowing exactly how to target my listings and get maximum impact from my eBay fees.
If you are selling without a little help from the likes of Mpire, ecal, and Auctiva, give them a try — I think you will be really surprised that such good services are available for free. You don't have to use these tools to sell on eBay, but it makes it quicker, easier, and more profitable.
Now the Gnomes are gone, but I'm wondering if I can get rid of my wife's CD collection!
More Free Selling Tools
Partly free selling tools (have a free "lite" version or limitations on free use)
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About the Author
Sam Carson is from Canada, but now lives in London, England, where he is reforming after years lost to a heavy sailing habit.
He can usually be found at Carson's Post.