Selling stuff on eBay can be a great way to make money while also cleaning out your house — a win-win in my book. You can also use eBay to start your own business or to flip things you find at garage sales or thrift stores to make a quick buck.
eBay is such a popular, powerful marketplace because it connects you with millions of buyers around the world. It operates in 190 countries, and there are currently 1.4 billion live listings on eBay Marketplace.
The opportunity is vast … but so is your competition.
Having professional-looking images helps your eBay listing stand out from the crowd.
I know this from experience — my husband recently reached $20,000 in sales on eBay! Granted, that amount is cumulative over 22 years of successful selling. He’s mostly sold used cycling gear, cameras and lenses, other electronics, and — more recently — baby products that our family has outgrown. But the one constant over his two decades of selling has been his commitment to providing buyers with high-quality photos of the items he’s listing. Here’s what we’ve learned about taking images that sell.
What is the best way to take pictures for eBay?
You don’t need a fancy digital camera or photo editing software to create images that sell. Cellphone pictures are usually good enough, though you should put some thought into how you take your product photos — and I’m here to help.
How many images do you need?
Many people selling on eBay snap a quick pic of their product with their cellphone and are done with it. But I recommend taking a few shots from a few different angles to truly let buyers see your item. Selling shoes? Show an image of the sole as well as the top and sides.
Three to five eBay photos is a safe bet for most items, but if your listing is for a more expensive product (think electronics, collectibles, etc), the more high-quality images you include, the more chances you have to reassure potential buyers that they know what they’re getting.
Where should you take the photos? (Hint: The background matters)
Okay, so you’re not selling a house here, but the old real estate principle still applies: location, location, location! You want your images to show off your product — not draw attention to your quilted bedspread, cluttered countertop, or carpet that still needs to be vacuumed (not judging).
The point is, where you take your picture matters, and the background shouldn’t be distracting.
Product images with no background look clean and crisp are more likely to sell your stuff. And, yes, you can achieve that look without an expensive camera and photo-editing know-how.
Simply photograph your item sitting on something flat and white, like a bed sheet or piece of posterboard. (I don’t like using bath towels for this because you can see the fibers in close-up shots.) And presto! You have a clean background for your photo. This looks more professional and builds trust with potential buyers.
Easy cellphone hack: How to digitally remove the background in an eBay photo
If you’d rather do your photoshoot wherever and then digitally remove the background, eBay has a tool to help you. Using the eBay listing app on your mobile phone, upload your photo and use eBay’s Image Cleanup feature. Image Cleanup automatically replaces your background with a crisp, white background. No photo editing is required.
What about lighting?
Ever see online listings where the photo is too dark to make out what you’re buying? Or ones where you can see the shadow of the person taking the iPhone shot? Don’t be that gal.
Take your pictures in a well-lit place. Outside is great, even (especially) on cloudy days for beautiful natural light. But if that isn’t an option, using a flash or an inexpensive LED light will brighten up any room.
Even if you’re using eBay’s Image Cleanup feature, pay attention to your lighting because if there’s not enough contrast between your item and your background or you have too many shadows, the tool won’t work as effectively.
Don’t forget the detail shots
If your item is used, take pictures that show it. For example, if you’re listing a used hardcover book and one of the corners is a little bent, take a close-up to show the extent of the damage. Same goes for scratches, dings, and other imperfections. Shoppers on eBay know they’re hunting through used items so they don’t expect perfection, but they do want to know what they’re buying. Get up close and personal with your item when you’re taking these types of photos.
If you’re using eBay to sell your own creations, take close-ups to highlight the personal touches you put into your crafts!
Pro tip: Show the original packaging
If you still have the original packaging for whatever you’re selling, include it in your photos. The packaging can make your item more valuable to buyers and indicate that you’ve taken great care of it. This is especially helpful when you’re selling higher-end, name-brand products and can help you get a better price at auction.
Go forth and photograph!
There are plenty of factors that influence someone’s decision to buy your item, though your listing photos may be the single most important. Set yourself up for success by sharing multiple, high-quality images of your product in good lighting with a clean background. If you have smart pictures, getting buyers’ attention should be a snap.
Are you a seasoned eBay seller? What are your tips for taking great product photos? Answer in the comments below.
–By Nelle Bligan