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23 Tips For Taking Better eBay Pictures

In the private eBay forum (Now closed) there is a thread on how to get perfect pictures for eBay.

This article contains tips and advice gathered from that thread.

Does this describe the way you take your eBay photos?

The poster says,

"I generally feel like I am at a photo shoot, attempting to get the best possible eBay picture, and end up taking like 20 - 40 pictures to make sure I get that one photo that is going to bring in the bills....."

If so you're wasting a lot of time. This extra time becomes frustrating and causes you to list fewer items because it's just not worth the hassle.

Don't feel bad, taking good pictures for your listings is one of the most common areas eBay sellers have problems.

This is backwards. I take one picture from each angle unless I know I screwed up a picture. Then ONLY if a photo isn't good enough to use I take another and replace it after listing the items on eBay.

Get the difference? Rather than seeking perfection, I'm looking for a good enough picture.

Said another way, rather than trying to get a perfect photo, I aim for an adequate picture.

Specific Tips For Better eBay Pictures

  1. Never use stock photos. eBay bidders can tell the difference between a photo of the actual item you are selling and a stock photo. If you use them, all you accomplish is to leave questions in a buyerís mind.
  2. Archive your eBay photos. This means keep them on your memory card or computer after the auction ends so you can refer to them if there are problems. Even keep the pictures you don't use in your listings. I recently had a buyer complain that a train I sold had the wrong motor in it. He was wrong, and having a picture that showed the motor in the train made it easier for me to fight off his complaint to eBay.

    Another reason to keep your eBay photos is you can make money from them. See my article on Profiting From eBay Images With A Blog for more information.
  3. Use plain neutral backgrounds for your eBay pictures. Your goal is to get bidders to focus their attention on the item you are selling, not on the background. If you use a background thatís too busy, it becomes difficult for them to see the item clearly.

    The only exception to this rule is if you are selling a large piece of furniture and want to show it in itís natural setting. I use plain newsprint for my backgrounds. I buy it in 50 pound packages for wrapping items and tack up clean sheets as needed.
  4. Center the item in the cameraís viewfinder so itís framed with a small border surrounding it.
  5. Use diffused lighting. Often lighting can cause an item to appear differently in the picture than it does in real life. Itís important that you capture the real color, texture and condition of the item you are selling.
  6. Donít use a flash unless you are a professional. All youíll end up doing is making your item appear washed out or causing glare.

    Use either natural light or room light whenever possible. If you're using light bulbs, always use the same brand. I use GE photo bulbs EBW-4 available from most camera stores for about $5 each.

    Almost all cameras have light settings on them. Play with them a bit to find the best settings.

    Light tents are a great way to take photos of small items without glare or flash spots. Here's an article explaining How to Make An Inexpensive Light Tent.
  7. Use the highest resolution your camera offers. The last thing you want is to end up with grainy pictures. With todayís photo compression software you can quickly and easily compress your high resolution photos so they will load quickly.
  8. Get a tripod and use it. Hand held photos tend to be blurry Ė particularly close-ups. A tripod is essential if you want to take clear eBay pictures particularly of small items. Actually I don't use a tripod anymore. Instead I place both my elbows on the table for stability and hold the camera in two hands.
  9. Donít get too fancy. Always remember that youíre selling the item in the photo and not the photo itself. Bidders need a clear picture to make a decision, they don't need art.
  10. Never alter or doctor your eBay pictures. This is a huge waste of time and most buyers will be able to tell that you have made changes and assume you are misrepresenting your item. If your photo isn't good enough take another it's always faster.
  11. Include as many pictures as necessary to show your item to its best advantage, but consider the expected selling price of your item. A $30 item doesn't warrant the same attention as a $100 item. Expensive items need more photos and better descriptions than cheaper items.
  12. Always show brand names and back stamps in your eBay photos. These should also be described in your title and description.
  13. Always show close-ups of any damage to the item so buyers wonít be surprised when they receive the item.

    Time saving tip: You can crop large resolution photos to focus on small details. So rather than taking two pictures, just crop one to show only the details.
  14. Set up an area near your listing computer to take your eBay pictures in and always use the same area. I have a dedicated area that also serves as my wrapping table during packaging. Here's a link to an article explaining m my eBay listing system
  15. If your camera has a macro setting - usually this is a denoted by a small flower - use it on close-ups. On my cheap camera the macro setting is for taking pictures of items that are less than 30 inches from the lens. This describes almost all of my eBay photos.

    Since I've been using my camera to take pictures of the dog and other shots without the macro setting, I've added a note just above my photo table reminding me to turn the macro feature on.
  16. If your camera has a removable memory card get a card reader for your computer. The last one I bought was only $15. The reader means you don't have to transfer the pictures into your computer - a big time saver. Take your memory card with you when you shop for a reader as there are many different kinds of cards.
  17. Think about what the buyer is looking for, and take your photos to show those points. When I sell trains to operators, I concentrate more on showing what the item looks like from a few feet away. When I sell to collectors, I show more close-ups to emphasize condition.
  18. An index item will help buyers figure out the true color regardless of your picture quality. A can of Campbell's soup is good for shades of red, a dollar works for green, a post it note works for yellow. These are only needed if your item is a collectible in an unusual color and the color shade effects the value. Hot Wheels cars are a good example of color shades playing a role in the value.
  19. Use a camera rather than a web cam or cell phone. You can get a cheap camera like the Nikon Coolpix for about $100. I paid $150 for my Coolpix, a huge memory card and the matching reader. It was the cheapest camera with a removable card I could find at the local Best Buy.

    Unfortunately the Coolpix doesn't have a socket for a wall power adapter so I go through batteries pretty quickly. I use about 20 batteries a year which cost about $5 when I buy store brands on sale. Then again, not having a cord prevents me from stepping on the cord and pulling the camera to the floor. That's how I broke the last camera.
  20. Learn to use your software. I use one program to rename, resize and, if needed, crop my pictures. I use another program to move my images up onto the web. I've been using both these programs for over 10 years, and can whip through each operation without thought.
  21. Systemize your listing operations. I do all my listing on Friday evenings. I do the same procedures each week in the same order. My system evolved back when I was doing 150-500 auctions a week as an eBay consignment seller. It works great today when I rarely list more than 25 items a week.
  22. Photoshop is not the right program for eBay pictures. It's too much. Free image editing programs are explained in my free report: eBay Images Made Easy.
  23. I've found large clear eBay pictures usually lower the ending price of items that aren't in mint condition. I think this is because the pictures exaggerate the defects. An overall shot gives the person a better ability to determine what the whole item looks like.


PS. Here's a link to a free report explaining 44 common eBay selling mistakes.

PPS Since you're taking pictures for eBay anyway, you might as well spend a little more time and make money from them. See my article on Profiting From eBay Images With A Blog for more information.

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