Why your listing sucks

In my twelve years on ebay and six years on Craigslist, the one thing that has not changed is the level of human stupidity. Here are some of the things that people put in listings that make me go “NEXT!!!”

  • Mis-spelling the name of a key term in the title: “Inspirion” is a common, though understandable one, in spite of the fact that it is printed across the item that you are trying to sell. Nothing says “I’m too stupid to be allowed on the Internet” like the word “Labtop” – if someone searches for a “Laptop” they will not see your listing. It only takes thirty seconds’ work to not look stupid.
  • Pictorial Shenanigans: The inclusion of a picture makes a huge difference. For one thing it shows people that you actually have the item you claim to be selling. Don’t use a “stock” picture – this looks and smells like a scam, particularly if it is a big-ticket or high-demand item. Wherever possible, use an actual picture of the item for sale few things put me off as quickly as a listing with a pic of a new retail boxed item when the item offered is a used item with no box – but this is common practice on eBay. If you don’t have a camera, borrow one. It’s not that hard…
  • Too little information: Some sellers apparently think you can read their mind. A listing titled “Ipod for sale”  could mean anything from a 2001-vintage 4GB First-gen model to a brand-new 160GB monster. Is it a iPod/classic, a “mini”, a “Nano” or a “touch”?. Try to answer the obvious questions up front. What is it? How old is it? How long have you had it? Otherwise you’ll get a bunch of emails asking the same questions, which leads to much annoyance all round.
  • Too much information: Others go to the opposite extreme; they surf to the manufacturer’s website, copy all the info and then paste it into their listing. The end result is a huge wodge of information – usually poorly-formatted – that half the viewers don’t want to see and the other half already know. I call this practice “barfing“, as it looks like they barfed the specs all over the listing. Use a link instead; it’s not exactly hard…

and finally…

  • Price realistically: It is sadly amusing to see someone asking a ridiculously high price for a new item. This is particularly true with computers, where a $1000+ item can lose half of its value before you have got it home. Remember that computers depreciate in value faster than cars; after three years they have lost most of their value, and after six years it is difficult to give ’em away. So check eBay’s “completed auctions” and get the bad news up front.
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