Astonishingly Easy Ways to Make Your eBay Listings Go ‘Pop!’

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An eBay listing is an advertisement.  This may seem like common sense to some, but I’ve seen enough poorly-presented listings to know that it’s worth repeating.

Now this doesn’t mean that visual presentation is the most important factor in creating a successful listing.  Obviously, price, title, and shipping cost are more crucial in obtaining a successful sale.  But as eBay grows more and more competitive, oftentimes it’s not possible to underprice all of your competitors all the time, nor always offer free shipping, nor create a title that’s always significantly more effective than all the others for the same product.

As a result, convincing a buyer to purchase your item instead of someone else’s can often come down to other factors, and one of the most important of these (if not THE most important) is visual presentation.

Why is visual presentation important?

Whenever you see advertisements in magazines or on TV, they look really professional, color-coordinated, and well-organized.  Think of how many car commercials there are that show the car looking really shiny and perfect, driving along a deserted winding, mountain road, with lots of trees and greenery, just overall beautiful scenery.  How many cars do you think the manufacturer would sell if the commercial showed the car dented and covered with rust, driving through a dirty city street with lots of garbage on the ground and graffiti on the buildings?

Or think how you would feel about the car if, during the commercial, the camera kept shaking incessantly and tipping back and forth the whole time.  Would you want to buy the car? Probably not.

And if you think about it, this concept is even more important on eBay, where all of the other “commercials” are right next to yours, breathing down your neck.  It’s amazing to me how many eBay sellers forget that fact.  They create their listings as if in a vacuum, as if their listing is going to be the only one on the search results page.

Why do you think eBay emphasizes the fact that it’s so crucial to have a gallery picture? Visual presentation, folks -- don’t underestimate how important it is.

Drawing eBay visitors in

So let’s say that you’ve got a good title, a nice gallery picture, and a competitive price.  That’s enough to “open the door”, which is when someone clicks on your item title and looks at your listing.

So they pull up your listing, and they see a larger version of your gallery picture, which still looks nice, of course.  They also see your title, but they already saw that in the search results.  And they also see your price again...but yep, they already saw that in the search results too, as they did your shipping cost (in most cases).

So what’s new for them to look at? What’s going to seal the deal? Need I answer this question myself?

So let’s talk some more about what happens when someone has seen your gallery picture, price, title, and shipping cost at the top of your listing and is getting really excited about your item.  That is, until he scrolls down the page and looks at your description.  Then all of a sudden, his excitement deflates to mere mild interest, or maybe even worse, to outright displeasure or disgust.

A poor item description can significantly devalue your item like almost nothing else.

If your description looks like it only took you 5 minutes to create, then how valuable could your item really be? If you didn’t even take the time to create a half-decent description, your item must not be worth that much, right? Or at least that’s what many buyers will think when they see a description chock full of misspellings, grammatical errors, poor spacing and format, etc.

But let’s say that you put forth a certain amount of effort to make sure that all of your words are spelled correctly, you use correct grammar, and you even think to separate your text into a few different paragraphs.  Now you’ve got a very neat, clean..........and possibly very boring description.

Plain black text on white background.  Plain black text on white background.  How compelling is it to read plain black text on white background? Maybe if you can’t sleep.....

The average person spends about 8 seconds looking at an eBay listing.

If you can’t grab the buyer’s attention within that time span, you may not grab it at all.  There’s this funny thing that happens in the human brain when it sees long sections of plain black text on white background -- it sort of shuts off, tunes out, loses interest....

Back several years ago, when eBay was young and nubile, you could sometimes get away with having a less-than-stellar item description.  After all, the only way to NOT have plain black text on white background was to put in your own HTML code, and how many people could really do that? Not too many.

But these days, eBay and others have made it so painfully simple for you to create a fantastic, gorgeous, visually appealing item description that to not do so is a big mistake.

How to create listings that go 'pop'!

Between the Text Editor and Listing Designer options that are present by default in eBay’s Sell-Your-Item form, you don’t even need to use a separate listing tool to create a really great description.  Everything you need is right in front of you, right there in the toolbar that has been placed conveniently across the top of the description field.

Here are all of the amazing text editing and formatting options available to you in the toolbar:

  • 9 different font styles
  • 7 different font sizes
  • 120 different font colors
  • Bold
  • Underline
  • Italics
  • Left Justification, Centering, and Right Justification
  • Bullet-point lists
  • Numbered lists
  • Left Indentation
  • Deindentation
  • Spell Check
  • Inserts (automatically add links to your other items and/or to add you as a saved seller)

Getting back to the comparison between listings and advertisements, really good ads also create an entire "ambiance" related to the item being sold.  Think of how effective a truck commercial would be if it had lots of pink flowers, lace and pastel colors? Trucks are targeted primarily towards men, so a truck commercial with bubbles and ballerinas isn't going to nearly as effective as ones with mountains, rough roads, splashing water, and construction workers.

By the same token, when you're listing an item on eBay, think about what types of people are the most likely to want to buy that item, and create your listing according to the tastes of those people.

Before listing your item, it can be helpful to create an outline for it, and to use a predetermined layout, such as the following:

Heading restating the item you're selling

  • Centered at the top of your description
  • Written in large text in a prominent color (oftentimes red)
  • Bolded and underlined
  • No more than 1-2 lines at the most (usually just a few words)

Short introductory paragraph (2-3 sentences long)

  • Disclose the item's condition
  • Present item's main selling point(s)
  • Slightly smaller text than the heading
  • Different color
  • Left justified

Bullet-point or numbered list of features (should be fairly long)

  • Underlined heading announcing the list
  • Same text size as 1st paragraph
  • Different color
  • As long as possible
  • Left Justified

Short concluding paragraph and/or closing statements

  • View my other items
  • Add me as a saved seller
  • Bid with confidence
  • Larger text size
  • Different color
  • Link to view other items
  • Link to add you as a saved seller

Separate sections with headings for each of your logistical/policy areas

  • Contact Us - How to contact you, response timeframe
  • Payment - How quickly to pay you, payment method(s) accepted
  • Shipping - How soon you'll ship, shipping carrier and methods used, shipping costs, where you'll ship
  • Returns - Return timeframe, money back or exchange, any other instructions
  • Warranty - How long, how to redeem, what it covers

This may seem complicated and time-consuming if you’ve never spent much time on your descriptions before, but you really only have to create this once.  Then you can use it as a template for all of your other listings, oftentimes only making a few changes to it.

Of course, it’s important to note that there are several eBay listing tools you can also use to create visually impressive item descriptions, but it’s good to know how to do it from “scratch” as well!

How do you create your eBay listing descriptions? I'm keen to get your feedback so please comment below!


About the author
Simon Slade
CEO of SaleHoo Group Limited

Simon Slade is CEO and co-founder of SaleHoo, a platform for eCommerce entrepreneurs that offers 8,000+ dropship and wholesale suppliers, 1.6 million high-quality, branded products at low prices, an industry-leading market research tool and 24-hour support.

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  • Mary Frumkin 1st of July
    I haven't listed anything on eBay in quite awhile. Now I'm excited about using these great suggestions! I'm going to save this article to use soon. Thank you, Mary
  • Terri 1st of July
    This is really important,But alot of times in a rush.I have setteled for quickest description. But I do notice a difference in how much an item is viewed when written well.
  • Bernice 1st of July
    I sell on Ebay. I use some of the things in your blog. but some of them I was not aware of. I will now be using the new ones I learned today to improve my listings. Thank you for sharing
  • Robyn Whitehead 1st of July
    Brilliant. I have just started simplifying my listings using black text on a white background as I have found from the messages I receive, that most buyers do not read a listing. I usually have great photos, description etc., but I must be doing something wrong. I am going to give Erika's information a try. Thanks, Erika
  • j lyons 1st of July
    I have never used e-Bay, but I have some items that I have planned to offer. This blog has presented good information for the beginner (and i suspect for the regular E-Bay user). Thank you
  • Rensi 1st of July
    Thank you Erika, You give some Great advice. I will try some listings and see how they work.
  • Colette 1st of July
    Good article. I'm always interested in reading other viewpoints for creating listings and looking for fresh ideas to make mine informative and pleasing to the eye and intellect. Color in text, background, and photos are a priority with me and is closely followed by complete disclosure so the buyer doesn't have to wonder or ask but has everything in the listing to make a decision. I'm fortunate to have some basic knowledge of HTML plus have a good editor so I can get a lot of variety in color, font, and text size. Everything is simply copied and pasted into the List Your Item form which makes posting a listing quiet easy and fast. Selling on eBay for almost two years now I still make decisions based on how I would feel as a buyer of my products. Looking at things from that perception makes deciding what to do a no-brainer . . . make the browsing and buying experience as pleasant and stress-free as possible for the buyer. Thanks again for giving me some new ideas! Colette TopCat2x2 / eBay Bronze PowerSeller
  • deborah 1st of July
    I would use red sparingly. I will click off a red description in a second.
  • Bob Pinkman 1st of July
    Good post . Most is common sense but, thereagain, some folks forget that in the rush to list their items.
  • Alice Delore 1st of July
    Great post Erika!

    When I create listing descriptions, I always try to think about the buyers perspective; what questions do they have about the item? What would make them reluctant to buy this item?

    Then I write my listings so that their questions are answered, and iron out any hesitations they may have.
    • vishalthakkarin 20th of November
  • Olmeca 2nd of July
    It´s something that we have used all the life doing our homework, but it seems that we forget it for the presentation of our products. Nice to remember this tool.
  • nicole 2nd of July
    I have never used e-Bay, but I do have some items i would like to offer on e-Bay.This article is very helpful for me, a beginner. Thank you Erica.
  • Terry 2nd of July
    Bit nervous about selling on e-Bay but now feel more confident to give it a go.
  • John L. Shellabarger 3rd of July
    I have a program which goes through all the steps in making a lister and provides step by step detailed instructions on making a listing. I only have a star rating (10 sales), but I do not use EBay much as I seel mostly on my web store, This program is called Bright Lister. It also comes with another program to do research to find out in great detail when to list, how much to list at, and whether the item will sell at all. This is a valuable tool, because, one might be just wasting ones time if the item won't sell anyway.
  • Ed 3rd of July
    I'm using ebay and I owe aprox $70 and not sales since 20 days using a estore...
  • Dee 3rd of July
    Erika I just finished reading your article, and I agree with you completely. Although I do not sell on e-bay, I sell on Bonanzle. It actually does not matter where you sell your items, it is always important to present a professional image. Especially when the customer can not touch the item. Pictures, descriptions, grammar, mispellings, etc. are like you said, extremly important. So thank you for the article. I hate to do this here, I tried to send you an e-mail from your link. But that was just your listings. So here goes: Under the description where you have everything in color. you have a NOTE: that says - Color of item may slightly different from picture because of light when take picture and your monitor settings. You might want to edit that sentence. Because other than that everything is informative, gramatically correct and professional.
  • nnakwue 4th of July
    Your advice on eBay Listing is very helpful but one should only use COLOUR in less than ten percent of the wording; one could easily run the risk of making the whole thing tacky.
  • Ken A. 4th of July
    I found this article to be quite helpful. I have stressed description and condition honesty in my ebay ads. When I first started ebay selling almost 5 years ago I subconsciously relied on buyer knowledge and competence as a determination whether he/she would bid on and buy the small percentage of my items that needed repair. Time and experience with ebay bidders has taught me to adapt. Now I make sure everything sold is in working condition and if not I thoroughly explain the issue. I have cut my returns to zero since adopting this philosophy. Presentation is very important. I use a neutral setting when photographing an object. If the item doesn't stand out I only attract the hardcore bidders: i.e. get fewer bids and less price. I have studied other ebay ad presentations to improve mine. I have had passing viewers praise me for my honesty while others suggested I be less wordy. I also recommend selling worldwide instead of locally. When everyone is allowed to bid in our marketplace you, the ebay seller, can not only earn a little more for your efforts but you correspond with some really great customers!. Ideas I have picked up from this article will be a great aid for future ads. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. Ken 4catdoorman/ebay USA since late 2005 ebay Bronze Powerseller
  • cookiebabe 4th of July
    I agree with everything except left justified text as I center my photos and have them in my ad description. Left justified text looks awkward when the picture is centered.
  • Jose 6th of July
    I'm really excited since I first received the "how to" import from China" so let me tell you that I'm convinced that my venture with Salehoo will work in the near future in order to get my lifestyle! by the way, I started doing sales on eBay Kindly JJose from Mèxico.
  • Richelle Monfort 8th of July
    @Dee: The grammatical error you pointed out is NOT an actual listing of Erika's rather an example she used to get the message across. So no grammatical error there on her part - Hope that's clarified :)
  • I changed my ebay listing based on Erica's suggestions, and I must say it makes for a much more interesting read. Thankyou
  • Richelle Monfort 12th of July
    Hi tradeeba :) It's really nice to hear from someone who actually made changes on their listing based on Erika's suggestions. All the best!
  • ebay tools 14th of July
    Ah eBay…I still use them after all this time and actually am growing faster than ever recently. I’ll always use eBay as one of my revenue streams. It’s simple and reliably sits there providing extra money month after month!
  • Neillo 4th of August
    Save on image fees using image combiners as well as online image hosting. I've been taking my eBay listing photos with my iPhone using the Auction Fee Saver app which combines your product pics into one image, saves on image fees every time!
  • Richelle Monfort 5th of August
    Thanks for the tip Neillo :)
  • Neillo 15th of August
    No probs Richelle thanks for the reply
  • computer sales 22nd of October
    thanks for sharing the info.that is interesting.
  • sales strategy 23rd of October
    Easy to understand,I like it!
  • strategy sales 26th of October
    Thank you very much. This really helped me with my work. I appreciate your help. Thanks a lot.
  • S I 15th of June
    Thank you for your sharing of information. I sell on eBay. I am new so I am learning as I go along. But it would be nice to get some good leads that will sell.
  • Dave dave 26th of August
    A lot of good feedback here from the people commenting on this post. The one thing that I would like to mention is that I disagree with your tip on creating a Heading written in a prominent color (especially red.) Personally, if I see an ad created like that, I immediately click away.
  • Abbie 8th of February
    Great article! Quite often I search for new ideas on how to present engaging listing on eBay. It's great that there are people, who can give useful tips. My own rules are to be honest with your buyers and present only relevant information. I also take some time to make good photos of the item. Recently I've made a video) Speaking about picture hosting and creation of listings in general, I found very useful comosale selling tool for eBay. It offers free picture hosting, ability to add YouTube videos, profesionally developed templates design a lot of other opportunities, so I though sellers might like it) Thanks for sharing great information! I'll definitely come back to learn more from you!
  • Susan Shafer 20th of May
    The article was very good but it lacked instructions on how to hyperlink on those spots that would take the buyer to other areas. Do you think you could list that here?