Increase eBay Sales by Improving Photos

Taking pictures for eBay

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The only connection between eBay sellers and buyers is a computer screen. Buyers can't touch, handle, examine, smell, or inspect items for sale. Consequently, buyers must rely on photos and words to fully understand the items before they make a purchase. Unfortunately, far too many buyers don't read the listing thoroughly—instead, they glance at the photos before clicking the Buy Now button. Because eBay is a visual platform, it is imperative that sellers take the necessary steps to represent their items accurately and completely. Here are a few suggestions for how to take outstanding photos that will help you sell your wares on eBay.

Avoid Using Stock Photos

It is against eBay policy to use stock photos without the express written permission of the owner. In other words, if you are selling a pair of Birkenstock sandals, using a photo from Google Images or Zappos is not permitted. Manufacturers are unlikely to give any eBay seller the use of their images unless the seller has an exclusive selling agreement or the item is in a drop ship catalog. Furthermore, stock photos do not show the actual condition of the item being offered, especially for used items. Always take your own photos so that the buyer sees exactly what they are getting. Familiarize yourself with the eBay Images and Text Policy so that you are doing everything correctly.

Take Photos in Natural Daylight

Photos usually come out better when taken in natural sunlight. Avoid using harsh flashes which can alter the color of items and create glare or reflections and (if possible) photograph items outside—weather permitting. Otherwise, most sellers find a good spot is inside the home near a window or glass door where natural daylight comes in several hours a day. If you can't take photos with natural sunlight, try making a simple and inexpensive light box or light tent.

Use a Solid Background 

There is nothing more distracting than a busy or messy background that distracts from the item. Use a plain white or black background when taking photos. Sloppy photos snapped on unmade beds, messy kitchen countertops, or worse, stained carpet, will not help you sell your items. Take the time to set up a photo area and your items will be much more appealing and your sell-through rate will improve. 

Prep Used Items Before Photographing

While some vintage and antique items sell better with a patina, take the time to clean up used items before photographing. Thrift stores routinely write on items with a permanent marker or grease pencil. An easy Google search will reveal many ways to clean these marks from various surfaces, such as a guide to removing permanent marker from anything.

Be sure to wipe the dust off of hard goods using a damp cloth. Rinse mud from the bottom of shoes with warm soapy water and machine washable clothing should be washed before listing. Use Goo-Gone to remove price stickers from hard goods like picture frames, mirrors, or ceramic items. Don't expect the customer to be able to visualize a clean item—you need to help them out by cleaning each of your items before photographing them.

Crop Photos Closely

Cropping photos tightly (from edge to edge) makes them easier to view on mobile devices. eBay estimates that 40 percent of all sales are made on a mobile device. If photos aren't viewable, many shoppers will simply move on to a listing with better photos. Don't get passed over because your photos aren't zoomed in close enough. 

Avoid Using Props or Accessories

Ebay is not Etsy or the Bed Bath and Beyond catalog. Adding extra props for artistic flair can confuse buyers. Photos should only include the item(s) for sale. If you are selling a dress and showing it on a mannequin, do not accessorize the mannequin and add a necklace, scarf, or belt. The accessories will distract from the dress—and the buyer may assume the accessories are included. According to the eBay Guarantee, sellers cannot misrepresent the item in photos, and that includes photographing accessories that are not included.