The eBay Auction Page
In This Chapter
- Designing an online auction page
- Better ways to sell your auction items
- Template markup
Whether you are trying to buy or sell a car, a rare CD, or a bologna sandwich that bears an uncanny likeness to Calvin Coolidge, eBay has become the 21st century’s answer to the street marketplace. In fact, with more than 50 million active participants, eBay is sometimes referred to as “the world’s garage sale.” However, if these staggering numbers are leaving you starry-eyed over your expected profits, be careful: With millions of items for sale, it’s easy for your “Coolidge-looking bologna sandwich” to get lost in the crowd.
Given this reality, the more attractively your auction item is presented and the better the description is written, the greater the chances your item will sell and at a higher price.
In this chapter, we show you how to effectively use HTML to make your eBay auction look wicked cool. You’ll discover how to
- Highlight parts of your description.
- Add pictures.
Although eBay is the most popular online auction site, you can use HTML in your item descriptions on most other online auction sites as well, such as Half.com, Yahoo! Auctions, and ubid.
Designing Your Auction Page
Online auction sites let you include a few specific elements in your auction item page, such as
- Title (and sometimes a subtitle)
This chapter focuses on the item description because that’s where your HTML markup can enhance the look of the description and add pictures.
Figure shows an example of an auction description from eBay that uses HTML to add style and an embedded picture.
Figure : This auction description uses HTML to style the text and add a centered picture.
Auction sites typically allow you to use a series of online forms to list items for sale. If you want to use HTML in your item description, you include the HTML markup in the text field the auction site gives you for the description, as shown in Figure.
Figure : Entering HTML in the online description form field at eBay.
eBay allows you to use HTML for style only in the item description; you can’t use it in the title or subtitle lines.
Because the auction site itself creates much of an online auction page, you don’t have to create the entire page of HTML markup. You just need to create markup for the item description part of the page. That means that you
- Don’t need to include the <html>, <title>, or <body> tags
- Can’t include any scripts in the description
When you create your auction item page, be aware that all browsers are not created equally.
- If you use Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 as your browser, eBay gives you an HTML editor that allows you to style text directly and then turns it into HTML markup, as shown in Figure.
- Other browsers, including Mozilla Firefox and Safari on the Macintosh, display a simple text form in which to enter or paste your HTML markup.
Figure : Using eBay’s HTML editor to style your text in Internet Explorer 6.
When designing your item’s title and description, don’t immediately rush to add fancy HTML formatting. Instead, your first task is to create a description that effectively presents your product. Before you worry about the HTML markup, write a compelling title and description. Consider the following tips when you write your text:
- Write a great, descriptive title. A good title includes words that clearly and specifically identify what you are selling. eBay’s search engine uses these titles to help people find your item, and you won’t sell what buyers can’t find.
- Look at completed listings to see successful descriptions. Use those ideas to stimulate your own.
However, don’t plagiarize other people’s descriptions (or rip off their pictures).
- Spell words in the title and description correctly. Misspelled words will not be found by visitors searching for your item. In fact, we’ve bought equipment worth thousands of dollars for a fraction of its worth that got no other bids because the sellers misspelled the items’ names in the auction title.
- Be sure that you’re listing the item in the proper auction category. If you list it in the wrong category, your item will get lost, buried, obscured, masked . . . well, you get the idea.
- Resist the temptation to use large fonts and lots of styles. Buyers want to see your item description and photographs as quickly as possible. Keep your text and images direct, visually uncluttered, and to the point.
- Use good photographs. Items with pictures sell much better:
- The photo of your item (more than one is usually better) should be sharp, with the item’s important features clearly visible.
- Make sure that your image files are a reasonable size; buyers hate large photos that take a long time to load or that require scrolling.
Use a photo-editing program to reduce the pictures that your digital camera or scanner produces to a smaller size and lower- resolution jpeg file. You want a size that loads quickly and can be viewed without scrolling.
- Avoid animation and music like the plague. Serious bidders click off of your item in a flash if you have either of these annoyances in your item description.