The Description: Use Words That Sell

Create a listing description

 An item’s description, is the third key element in a successful listing, after its title and photo. An effective description will preemptively answer all questions a regular buyer would have about the item. Answer everything you would ask if you were the buyer. For example, is the label still on the Juicy Couture hooded sweatshirt? Is there certification with the signed Oasis photograph? Does the Star Trek lunch box have a glossy or matte finish? If you are not sure what buyers want to know, read descriptions of similar items, particularly for sold items in completed auctions. Some additional suggestions as follows.

Go from general to specific. Good descriptions start with general information -- for example, the brand and model of video camera you are planning to sell, and then become more specific, including details such as a scratch on the camera’s handle and whether original packaging and manuals are included.

Use words that sell. Did you know that there are 62 ways to say “exciting” and 57 ways to say “reliable”? Richard Bayan’s Words That Sell (McGraw-Hill) is the best resource for jumpstarting your description or title. Check out all six sections of Bayan’s book—Grabbers, Descriptions & Benefits, Clinchers, Terms & Offers, and Special Strategies.

Automate if you can. Auction management tools can help you create templates for commonly sold items. (See the section Auction Management Tools for more information.) Even without auction management software you can save commonly used item templates in your word processing file.

Appearance counts. Use an easy-to-read font, write short paragraphs, and make your description as concise as possible. If you really want to spice up a listing, check the box marked HTML mode and add HTML coding. It's not as hard as it may seem. eBay provides a basic HTML tutorial, and you can find more information at eBay-community style websites such as this one. For an additional $.10 you can use the eBay Listing Designer to enhance your description with a theme and picture layout (a patriotic motif is one choice). Check the box under the Description and look at the preview.

Check it twice. Maintain high standards by first writing the description in a word processing program (using a spellchecker), and then copying and pasting it into the Description box. (There is also a spellchecker you can activate above the Description text-entry box.)

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