My tips for selling costly camera gear (and other stuff) on eBay

You gotta love the exhilaration of selling stuff on eBay.  I'm proud to say that I have had very few bad experiences on eBay, and none while selling.  Selling can be rewarding in more ways than just making money.  I like to start popular items at $1*.  Sounds crazy?

The whole idea of starting at $1 is to get the maximum number of people watching an item.

With one day to go in the auction (pictured), the number of watchers (individuals who have taken an interest and saved the auction) watching the current auctions should make the next evening very interesting.  I know that watchers all get an automatic email in the morning and later in the day just before the auctions finish reminding them to bid.  This is the key to the price boost at the end of the auction and it works well.

For added buyer convenience (and convenience matters), I stagger the ending times too.  Some people may be interested in more than 1 of the items and this helps them out.

It takes time and patience

In my opinion, starting auctions at $1 no reserve* works really well if you take the time to write all the description properly, provide many good photos of the gear and also time the auction to end when the maximum number of people will be watching.  Sunday night is my recommendation.  This 10-day auction started on a Thursday and has had the opportunity of a two weekends worth of viewers.  Maximum exposure is the key.

Yes, of course I run the risk of becoming committed to selling a costly item at a low price, but with research it's possible to see what other items have sold for over the last month and gauge what the average price should be as well as best/worst scenarios.

Oh and pre-pack all items (well) so you know the package dimensions, weight and can then setup calculated shipping options.  This makes it possible for the buyer to calculate their own shipping accurately (under most circumstances) at the time of bidding using Australia Post's current pricing.  Helps to avoid surprises or to scare people off with worst-case price shipping.

So, in a nutshell...

  1. Do your research!  Search for similar items that sold at auction (not Buy It Now).  I make an Excel sheet with all the recent prices and work out the average: =avg(range).  Then see where your item stands against the others.

  2. Set realistic expectations of price.  Refer to point 1.  People need to accept that some value is lost when the item leaves the showroom.  I laugh when I see the same items getting re-listed with a BuyItNow price that is almost RRP.  Once you list you're in for the ride.  You shouldn't end an auction prematurely (you can, but then you'd be a point 11 and in breach of eBay policies and potentially up for auction fees anyway).

  3. Write a good and accurate description for your listing.  Don't just copy-paste manufacturer website info.  Most people will do their own research for items of considerable cost.  There's no point fudging the details as I believe it'll come back to bite you either as a returned / refunded item, negative feedback or as general bad karma.  Believe it.

  4. Do the item justice with good photos.  Detail any areas that a buyer might be interested in (damage, dings, scratches etc.)

  5. Pre-pack and record measurements and weights of all items (after you take great photos of course).
  6. List your auction starting at $1 no reserve*.

  7. Schedule the auction to start on a Thursday between 7pm - 9pm (thus ending on a Sunday at the time started).
  8. List for 10 days.  7 days is ok, but 10 is better.
  9. Know your rights (and your buyers').  Ignorance is no excuse.  Ebay had a tonne of info for sellers on policy and advice just like this.  It's mostly well written and clear.  
  10. Answer all buyer questions during the auction.  Even the seemingly dumb ones.  Remember, the buyer may not be seeing your painstakingly handcrafted listing on their mobile device.  They may also be testing your attitude or whether you know what you're talking about relative to your description.
  11. Don't be a jerk.  Send good communications at each required stage and keep the various statuses in eBay up to date.  Treat buyers just as you'd expect to be treated in a reputable store.  Also, if someone just bought an item for a $1000, they ought to be treated like royalty.

I hope this helps some of my fellow eBayers.  Remember it's best to be selling when you want to, and not when you need to.  It takes a great deal of effort to sell effectively but it can be a lot of fun.

Happy eBaying and be nice to each other, especially on eBay.

(* This doesn't work with niche items of limited interest ).

A current auction.  I'm selling my main Nikon camera kit to downsize to a mirrorless kit.

Using eBay for price research.  Look at actual sell prices for previous similar items.