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Take It Up a Notch

Whether it's shoes or soap, selling on eBay is no longer business casual--today's sellers are serious. Are you?


Long gone are the days when eBay was merely a hobby, a novel way to make a quick buck off of a long-forgotten item. Now, more than a million people worldwide use eBay as their primary or secondary source of income, and the need to look professional as a seller in the global online marketplace is more important than ever.


"People are now recognizing that if they're going to [sell] on eBay, they have to be serious and they need to look serious," says Debbie Levitt, president of As Was , a company that specializes in creating custom eBay listing templates and helping eBay sellers with branding, operations management and marketing. But, as with anything, looking professional requires some technique. Here, Levitt offers some tips as simple ways for eBay sellers to look professional in both their listings and their communications.


  • Stand Apart from the Crowd. "Don't steal other people's designs, and don't ride on the coattails of eBay's design and logo," says Levitt. Instead, focus on creating a design that is uniquely your own. This will help your customers remember you and your products and give you a professional edge over others sellers who don't take the time to create a truly unique brand identity.
  • Keep Your Listings Clutter-Free. Levitt says a mistake he sees often is sellers using the same format as a basic web design, with links running across the top and down the left side of the page. For an eBay listing, the priority should be selling the item on hand. "Describe [the item], show great pictures of it and let [buyers] fall in love with it," advises Levitt. "Do not surround it with extraneous information or links to other things."
  • Eliminate Questions About Your Listings. Levitt has discovered that when buyers have questions about an item, there is usually a break in momentum. So when writing your listing, make sure all relevant information, like payment options and shipping prices, is clearly displayed. And if you continue to get the same questions, take a moment to see what you can do to clear up any confusion and, consequently, improve the listing.
  • Pay Attention to the Little Things. It may sound simple, but when writing your listings and communicating with customers, pay attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation. Correcting minor mistakes can make a major impact on first impressions. Says Levitt, "You have to remember, people will take less than a second to [get] an impression of someone."
  • Focus on the Photo. A picture says a thousand words, so take the time to embellish your listing with high-quality photos. Levitt recommends using photos that are large, in focus and well-lit. "The picture [needs] to be honest," she says. "It needs to be clear and attractive and show [the item] for what it is."
  • Look Professional by Seeking Professional Help. Because looking polished is very important, skimping on the design of your template might not be such a smart move. So if eBay listing design does not come naturally to you, Levitt advises seeking out the help of a professional with extensive eBay experience and a solid track record to support it.
  • Dress the Part. Attending an eBay networking event? Leave the sweats at home. Though running a business on eBay may not demand high fashion, it's still important to put your best face forward when representing yourself and your company.