Beginner's tips for eBay selling

There is no doubt that eBay has been one of the world wide web's biggest success stories. Most internet users will, at some point, have searched or bought from the auction site and with so many buyers looking to snap up an online bargain, there is money to be made as a seller.

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If you're new to eBay, here are a few pointers to help get you off to a good start.

First steps
The best way to start as an eBay seller is to sell your own stuff. This will give you a good idea as to what buyers are looking for and how much they are prepared to pay. Whether it's DVDs, ornaments or working electricals, selling your unwanted items will help you to understand what sells and what doesn't, as well as the selling process itself.

Listing your items
The way you list your items can make a big difference to how well they sell. When you list an item, consider all the categories to which it might apply, giving you the best chance of finding a buyer. Similarly, make your headline as detailed as possible - for instance, if you are selling an iPod, include the colour, the model, condition and say whether it is used or new. Buyers often include precise details within their search and this, again, will increase your chances of a sale.

A picture of the product is always a good idea but do make sure it is clear, in focus and well-lit, ideally without a busy and distracting background.

The description should also be detailed. Include all the relevant information (size, dimensions, age, condition, manufacturer) and clearly show the price, shipping and payment terms. Above all BE TRUTHFUL. If a buyer receives a product that is "not as advertised" your account can be suspended.

Pricing and timing
Before you upload your listing, do a little research to see how much buyers are prepared to pay for similar items. Getting the starting price (and indeed the reserve) right is essential if you are to make any cash. It is also worth featuring a "buy it now" button, particularly if your item is in reasonably short supply, as many buyers will prefer to buy the item outright in case the auction price goes beyond their budget.

Timing is also important - if your auction ends at 4am on a Sunday morning, you may miss out on last minute 'snipers' who wait for the last moment to place their bid.

Customer service is everything
Just as with a high street store, a good customer experience is vital. Offer your buyers the opportunity to get in touch with any questions and leave positive feedback for the good ones. Most will return the favour, giving you much-needed testimonials that will give future buyers confidence.

When the item is sold and payment has been received, don't scrimp on the packaging. Take care with packing (particularly with breakables) and labelling, and ship swiftly, keeping a receipt or proof of posting. For more valuable items, pay for delivery tracking as this will reduce the chances of a dispute and will cover you if the item is broken or lost.

Finally, a word of warning - be wary if a buyer asks to pick up the item in person, particularly if it is within hours of the auction closing. There have been recent instances in which buyers have picked up items from the seller and subsequently contacted PayPal to say they had not authorised the payment, thereby getting the goods for free. And with no postal receipt, you won't be entitled to any compensation.

Are you an eBay superseller? What tips would you give to newcomers? Leave your comments below...