The Fundamentals of Compelling eBay Listings

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eBay PowerSeller and Former eBay Top Seller Account Manager, Erika Garnica, is back with more eBay listing tips and tricks.

In my last Salehoo blog post, I concentrated specifically on eBay item descriptions.  I mentioned some of the easiest and best ways to make an eye-catching, effective item description.

In this post, I’m going to expand beyond just the item description and cover a few other important aspects of creating a good listing.

Writing a Magnetic Title

When it comes to the title of your listing you will want to do all you can to fill up the 55 available characters of title space with popular keywords that are also relevant to the item being sold.

Obviously this will include the title/name of the product, condition (if New), and any other keywords that are commonly used in conjunction with your product.  

Naturally, make sure they are relevant to the product as well.  Most buyers search for items on eBay by just typing in keywords, so your title needs to contain words a buyer might typically type into an eBay search field to find that type of item.

Here's an example of a poor eBay title:

First, it's much too short.  It's also missing a lot of potentially very helpful keywords - "diapers", "baby", the number of coupons included, the value of the coupons, etc.

In contrast, here's an excellent eBay title for the same type of item:

It's very long, using up the entire 55 characters eBay allows for item titles.  It uses great additional keywords like "diaper", and includes both the value of the coupons as well as the expiration date, both of which are very helpful pieces of information to include in the title.

Captivating Listing Images

The images in all of your listings should be crisp and professional, and with a solid color background that contrasts with the color of the item.  Depending on the item being sold, in most cases you'll want to have more than one picture, if possible, with each picture taken from a different angle and/or distance.  

In cases where you're selling a used item, never use a stock photo taken from a manufacturer or dropshipper's website, since a stock photo implies that the item is new.   All items, new or used, which you have in your own possession, should have original pictures that you take yourself using a digital camera, ideally one with at least 8 megapixels. Make sure that it's very easy to see exactly what the item looks like from your picture(s), and you'll be greatly rewarded, since a good picture or two can do most of the selling for you.

Here's an example of a good picture:

Do you see how easy it is to create a good picture? All this seller did was photograph the outfit as it was laid flat on a background in a contrasting color.  That's all it takes!

Now here's an example of a poorly-created image:

Unlike the seller of the previous item, this seller didn't take a picture from the vantage point of looking straight down at the shirt as it was laid flat, which she should have done.  

Instead, she stood back and took the picture from an angle.  As a result, you can't see the shirt very well.  In addition, the fabric in the background is distracting and doesn't highlight the shirt at all.

How to Select a Starting Price

eBay encourages all sellers to start their auctions with low starting bid prices, anywhere from 1 cent to 99 cents in most cases, in order to stimulate bidding activity, drive buyer traffic to the listings, and enhance your exposure in the search results.  One of the biggest mistakes many eBay sellers make is overpricing their items, and those sellers are rarely successful.  

To that end, make sure to research your items thoroughly beforehand.  And keep in mind that over half of the items on eBay tend to have more success when being sold at a fixed price instead of an auction.  And naturally, it’s crucial to make sure your price is competitive, compared to the other sellers listing the same item at that time.  

I also suggest that you always indicate that you accept Best Offers (you don't have to actually accept any of the offers, but you should allow buyers to submit them anyway -- it gives them the impression that you’re flexible and willing to compromise).

Formatting your eBay Listing Description

Descriptions can vary somewhat depending on the item being sold, but in general, every description should at the very minimum contain all of the following (usually in this order):

  1. A header restating the name of the product, written in a fairly large font size, as well as possibly bolded and underlined and maybe in all caps, as well as in an eye-catching color like red or dark blue.  In most cases, you can just repeat your actual title.
  2. A short, introductory paragraph (2-3 sentences) describing the product you're selling, the main benefit of your product, and what is unique about the product.
  3. A clear, detailed and professional image of the product within the item description.
  4. You should also have either a bulleted or numbered list with short concise statements, providing the most important details and selling points for the item.
  5. Following that, you can have another paragraph summing up the main benefits of purchasing this item (optional).  
  6. Lastly, make sure to provide sections with payment and shipping details, your return policy, and a contact section.

Examples of Bad eBay Listings

Next are some examples of both good and bad item descriptions taken directly from actual eBay listings to illustrate the points above.


Admittedly, it's difficult to read this description as it's displayed here, but for this discussion, it's unnecessary.  This description is noticeably pretty unorganized and scattered, and is even more so without a header.  If you were reading this description, you'd probably have to keep scrolling back up to the top of the page to read the title because you can't really figure out what the item is from this inadequate description.


eBay's selling form is set up so that it should be impossible to successfully submit a listing with a blank description, but somehow the seller of this listing was able to submit it to eBay anyway.


In this case above, the description was shorter than the item title!  This tells us almost nothing about the item being sold - the condition, more information about the actual cards, etc. and the picture shown on this listing is equally vague and unhelpful. The listing is selling 5 cards, and yet only 1 is shown, in a somewhat blurry image.


There are a couple of things wrong with the following description.  First and foremost, who is going to be persuaded to buy something when the first item in the description is a statement saying "ALL SALES ARE FINAL"? That has nothing to do with the item being sold and has no business being placed at the top of the description.  It's almost like the seller is telling people not to buy the item.

Additionally, this listing goes way too far in using a variety of different font colors, styles, and sizes.  It doesn't look professional, it looks distracting.


Next, this is what I like to call a "lazy description".  It appears the seller was too lazy to take an extra 10 seconds to even copy and paste the item title into the description.


Now here's the opposite extreme. Obviously, it's possible to do TOO MUCH with your item description.


Examples of Good eBay Descriptions

Ok, now we’re going to turn the tables and look at good description examples. First, here's an example of a very nice "feminine" description:

And here's an excellent description for a more "male" type of item:


More Description Tips

  • Have short, "bite-sized" sections of text -- buyers tune out when they see long paragraphs.
  • Vary the formats of the sections in the description (i.e. header, short paragraph, image, bullet-point list, short paragraph, policy information (contact, payment, shipping, returns, etc.) with plenty of space separating the different sections).
  • Use a few different colors of text, as well as font sizes, and pick a font style that fits the product you're selling.  In other words, make your description look interesting and visually appealing to read.
  • It's usually best to establish a color scheme that fits with the template you're using (see below).
  • Never use the default font style, size and black color against the default white background! This calls out to buyers that you put almost no time and effort into creating your description.

eBay Listing Templates

You should always add a template/background/border to your listing that fits with the type of product you're selling as well as the color scheme of your text colors in the description.  Even if you’re still just using eBay's Selling form, you can add a Listing Designer template for 10 cents and choose from dozens of different templates eBay has to offer:

Here are several of my favorite Listing Designer templates:

Naturally, this post is not exhaustive; there are actually many, many more things you can and should do to create an effective listing.  But if you can at least tackle the items listed here, it will go a long way towards improving the success of your listings.

Erika Garnica

eBay User ID theauctionguru
eBay Powerseller and Top-Rated Seller
Former eBay Top Seller Account Manager

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  • Richelle Monfort 7th of July
    Another great post erika! I'm sure a lot will find this truly useful :)
  • frank vanbeek 7th of July
    Super good information..thank you so much .i will be using your tips on all my auctions.I'm a newbie and need all the help i can get regards frank
  • Alice Delore 7th of July
    Great article, Erika!

    Our members will have the smartest listings on eBay :)
  • John Baca(aka bacpro) 7th of July
    Great post, I have been selling on ebay for a long time & I hardly ever use the designer templates, however I going to try see how they work. Thanks for the tip. Just never bothered! John
  • Bev 8th of July
    Very helpful post. Thanks.
    • Limitless 17th of June
      can one be mentored on this process?
      • Justin Golschneider SaleHoo Admin 19th of June
        Hi Limitless! I'm afraid we don't offer any one-on-one mentorships, but our support team is always happy to help members who get in touch. :-) You can also talk shop with other sellers in the forums:
  • Iris Haney 8th of July
    I am new at eBay. I have placed 3 or 4 ads. I wish I had read this advice first. I would have been successful in my listings. I will use this information next time. Thanks.
  • Tammy 8th of July
    Great Post! Great information! Awesome tips on how to build a great looking eBay description!
  • coffee gifts 24th of August
    good!it' s very useful!thx!
  • good magazine 28th of August
    I've got to hand it to you
  • student loans 30th of August
    I think it is going to be some boring old article, but it really compensated for our time. I will post a link to this post on my blog. I am sure our visitors will think that this is very useful.
  • Emmanuel Nwofor 30th of January
    Excellent post thank you
  • Dalana Cormier 21st of June
    Hi every one i'm new to salehoo. I can not ist on EBAY because they only allow new mebers five istings so I've been setting up a store on bonaza but i have not sold anything and would love some insight on what i might be saying or doing wrong. thank you
  • ann 9th of June
    I sell items on consignment from my downsizing business. I focus on vintage home decor items and occasionally high-value items ( over $100) that come from my downsizing business. I only sell items that are in perfect or near perfect condition.
    My questions: Do buyers want to know about the source of the item they are considering? E.g. Does the Provance of the listed items encourage buyers?
    How likely is my location in Washington D to turn off buyers?
    What about enclosing a thank note in my packages
    • Rhea Bontol SaleHoo Admin 12th of October
      Common practice is not to reveal who your suppliers are, or where they are located. Otherwise, end users buy straight from your suppliers hoping to get a better price for it. Apart from price and quality of goods; location can be a contributing factor to base purchase decisions off. Contact your local courier service to determine your delivery time to certain states, even countries (if you decide to sell internationally) and you can add this information to your item description. This will give buyers an idea of how fast the delivery can take should they purchase good from you.
  • Robert Williams 7th of September
    Hi Erika!
    This is really a nice piece of knowledge about how to increase sales in eBay. I would say that if anyone implement these tips on his eBay profile then it can have boost in its sales. eBay product listing optimization can really have great impact on survival of your eBay business
    • Rhea Bontol SaleHoo Admin 9th of October
      These tips may sound simple but when implemented as suggested, it can indeed help boost your sales on eBay.