6 Steps to a Successful Online Auction Business

Step 4: List Your Auctions

Now it's time for the nitty-gritty. You've done your research to determine if there's a market for your product and what you should expect to get for your tchotchke. Let's start a bidding war.

First things first: Your titles and descriptions. Your titles and gallery photos are what entice a bidder to view your auction. A lot goes into this--you can use all caps sparingly to make certain words jump out, carefully choose key words to attract searchers, or even pay extra for eBay goodies like highlighting ($5 a listing), bold type ($2), gallery photos (a mere quarter to have your photo show up on listings pages--this is Colliers' favorite bargain) and more. Again, go back to those "completed items" searches to see what's worked for those who've gone before you. And remember that every extra you get cuts into your bottom line, so be sure they're worth it.

As for descriptions, do your research on each and every item and lay out your terms as simply and thoroughly as possible so you're a pleasure to do business with. "You have to write your descriptions thoroughly. Describe the good parts--and the bad parts--of whatever the item is. Because what sells your items on eBay are your titles and your descriptions," says Collier. "That's the most important thing--it sets you apart from other people."

This is also where you're going to set prices. Again, eBay offers several options for your auction, including:

  • Fixed-Price Format. Bidders can buy the item at the price you set immediately, no auction at all.
  • Reserve Price Auctions. You set the lowest amount--the reserve price--you're willing to accept for your item. Your opening bid may be below this, and bidders will be told if they don't reach your reserve price, which isn't disclosed unless you do so in your description.
    Your To-Do List
    What really happens on a day-to-day basis for an online auction entrepreneur? Read A Week in the Life to find out.
  • Dutch Auctions. If you have several of one item, you can sell them as a Dutch, or multiple, auction at either a fixed price or as an auction. If you do it as an auction, bidders can choose the amount and price they want. They can only be outbid if the total price (number of items bid on multiplied by bid price) is higher. All winning bidders pay the lowest successful bid.
  • Buy It Now. This gives bidders the option to buy your item at a set price without having to wait for the auction to end. But when the first person bids, the option disappears. So for instance, you're selling a glass bowl with an opening bid of $1, but your Buy It Now price is $5. Someone can pay $5 and end the auction, or they can bid $1.50, and the Buy It Now option disappears.

Of course, each option has some restrictions and fees. You can also choose to have auctions of different duration--3-, 5-, 7- and 10-days. eBay, if nothing else, likes to provide lots and lots of options for sellers. Explore these in the Help section. As you sell more and more items, you'll discover which formula works best for you.

How to Start an Online Auction Business
  • Step 4: List Your Auctions
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