Getting It Picture Perfect

Create a listing pictures

Whatever you sell, buyers rely on an image (and they may be suspicious if they don't see one). Unless you are planning on selling CDs or books (for which eBay provides the cover image, as explained below), you will need to master some photo tasks.

eBay provides a helpful photo tutorial, and you can find more tips in Marsha Collier's eBay Business All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies (Wiley). If you are still using a film camera, now is the time to get a digital camera (you can buy it on eBay!), unless you are creating images of two-dimensional items only, in which case you may be able to create suitable images with a scanner. Listed below are some additional suggestions for creating eBay photos.

Get a mini studio. As any actor will tell you, lighting makes a difference in appearance. The best and easiest way to create pro lighting effects is with the aid of a portable enclosure — for example, a mini-photo studio, lighthouse, cloud dome, or light tent. Power sellers use these devices as shortcuts for creating consistently professional photos. These helpful devices (priced from $50 to $150 retail) are made of translucent material that diffuses light, allowing the photographer to illuminate an item from any angle without shadows. The cloud dome is ideal for small items like jewelry, stamps, documents, and gems. You can see examples of these various devices at the Cloud Dome website.

Photo editing software. You can perform basic photo editing with programs like Picasa (free), Adobe Photoshop Elements, or Ulead's PhotoImpact. Photo editing programs like Pixby Software's Fast Photos and FotoKiss are created specifically for auction photography. In addition, some of the auction management tools discussed in Auction Management Tools perform basic photo editing. Photo editing is helpful for removing extraneous background material, but do not use it to remove flaws in the item.

Photo specs. Your eBay photos should have a resolution of 72 pixels per inch (PPI). Image size should be no wider than 480 pixels. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, you can find both of them in your photo editing software's "image size" tool. Save your photo in JPG format (for maximum compression). If you take these steps, your photo files should be under 50 KB in size (ideal for posting at an auction). To determine a photo's file size, hold your mouse over the file or right-click on the file and click "Properties."

Cropping. Come in close to the item when photographing it. Use the crop tool in your software program to remove irrelevant background material.

Names and watermarks. To cut down on competitors using your photos to sell similar items, insert your business name into the image. This can typically be accomplished by a "Text" tool feature in your photo editing software. eBay prohibits content and picture theft. Report any sellers who steal your photos or descriptions.

Images for books and CDs. You won't need to take photos if you are selling a book or compact disc that has an ISBN number (it's the number above the barcode). If you are selling one of these, a pop up window will appear (see the illustration below) as you are completing the Sell Your Item form. You only need to supply the ISBN. eBay provides the image as well as the name of the author or artist, the year of publication, the category (such as "Business"), and the format (such as  “paperback”). If the cover of your product is damaged, that is, it looks different from the image provided by eBay, include that information in the item’s description.

Finding a Book or CD image

Find Your Product

Loading photos onto eBay. eBay lets you post the first photo of an item for free. After that there's a charge of $0.15 cents per photo. Photos are easy to load onto eBay—you simply browse through your computer's files until you find the image and click on it to accept it. If you want a picture to be viewed in extra-large size, you must pay eBay for a Picture Pack, which lets you add up to twelve pictures and supersize them (up to 800 pixels on the longest side).

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