List More Items in Less Time

PowerSellers share time-saving strategies.

by staff writer
- Apr 06, 2009

Making your items pop as potential buyers cruise eBay's vast supply of goods can be tough—and it can be time consuming.

Writing good descriptions, taking sharp photos and uploading and editing listings can take hours, especially in the beginning. And if you have children, work or school—like most people do—the amount of free time you have is already limited. But PowerSellers have found ways to make the routine less tedious and reduce the time they spend listing products. So let's look at what's worked for them.

Stay organized

Lynn Dralle, aka "The Queen of Auctions," has been selling antiques and other collectibles on eBay since 1998. The PowerSeller, educator and best-selling author says saving time is all about staying organized. Rummaging through sticky notes or loose sheets of paper to remind yourself of the status of your items can add precious time to your listing process.

That's why she uses a three-ring 8-inch by 9-inch binder she designed to keep track of all of her products. Different tabs let her know which items have sold, which are for sale and which ones she still needs to list. The method worked so well for her that now Dralle sells the "I Sell on eBay" binders on eBay.

"Good written records can help you acquire and maintain a high feedback rating," she says. "Buyers leave feedback comments based on the service they received, how quickly e-mails are answered, how quickly items are shipped and general follow through. Using 'I Sell' sheets will help (sellers) to take care of these things in a timely manner."

The binder and its specially designed information sheets allow her to list 15 items in about an hour. That's a big improvement from the 60 hours listing used to take her, she says. Now she knows the status of her goods in one glance—which is good since she lists about 100 items at a time.

In all, she spends 13 hours to 15 hours a week preparing her products. That includes two hours to write descriptions, two hours to photograph items and crop images and two hours to four hours to find new inventory at Saturday morning garage sales. The rest of the time is devoted to the actual eBay listing process.

"I hire someone else to do the packing, shipping, answering questions, checking in money, etc., so I can focus on what I do best and what I love to do best: finding the items and getting them listed," she notes.

Use natural lighting

Dralle knows photos are very important in listings. They tell sellers what they're paying for, so she knows to put effort into them. She's sure to take two photos of each item to ensure a good shot. And she takes the pictures in direct sunlight.

"I never have to color correct them," Dralle says. "All I ever have to do is crop them."

Soft, natural light produces good images with few shadows so less time is wasted retaking photos, she says.

Auctiva's Seller Details profile allows you to select customized payment, shipping or marketing profiles from a drop-down box

Make time for alone time

Rebecca Miller, known as bertthedog in the eBay world, adds that taking care of all your imaging needs in one swoop is a big time saver, but there's nothing like a little "alone time," she says.

"Try to find an hour when you won't be interrupted by a child, the phone or pets because, believe you me, you won't get anything done," she says.

Miller—the mother of a 9-year-old—tries to lock herself in her office when she's tending to her eBay listings.

Don't recreate the wheel

Although using preset auction templates can reduce listing time, Miller suggests not creating new eBay listings each time, but rather reusing what you've already created to list similar items. Auctiva users can do this by navigating to the Listings tab and selecting "Create a similar listing" from the left-hand box. A drop-down menu brings up a list of recent listings to use as blueprints. Doing this saves your payment and return policies so all you have to do is change the title of your listing, update the description and add new photos.

If that doesn't work for you, Auctiva's Seller Details profile is another great option, she says. It allows you to customize marketing, payment and shipping information so you just have to select the appropriate profiles from a drop-down box. Another plus is that this feature is free for Auctiva users.

"In the olden days I would have to cut and paste from an old listing, and it was such a pain in the rear," Miller reports. "The formatting would be all messed up."

Not anymore, she says. Now Miller just uploads the saved information, reducing her time by about 25 percent.

Write out descriptions in a separate document

Nothing is more frustrating than losing a listing you've spent hours on, but it happens—as Miller knows all too well. She once spent two hours meticulously describing several strands of beads she planned to list. When she went to preview her listings, nothing popped up. When she hit the back button, she was returned to a blank listing, she says.

"I just wanted to cry," she recalls. "Nothing was saved. So from that day on, I just saved myself the trouble."

I'd get so much done if I had an hour

Now if she has a long description to write, she opens up Microsoft Word. This allows her to save descriptions as she goes along. She can start a description and leave it incomplete if she needs a break without having to worry about losing any information.

Although it might not happen often, nothing's more frustrating than toiling over the exact wording you want to include, only to lose it due to some technical glitch. "Your computer could freeze up, the power could go out, you never know," Miller says.

And an added bonus: Using a word processing program lets you spell-check your description before creating a listing. This only helps listings appear more professional and attractive to buyers.

Just be sure to remove any formatting before you copy and paste your description into Auctiva's Description Editor. You can easily do this by pasting the text into your computer's Notepad application then simply copy and paste from there into the description box in the one-page lister. At that point, you can use the visual editing tools or switch to HTML mode to add the appropriate formatting to your listing.

But there's no substitute for good old-fashioned quiet time, Miller says.

"I'd get so much done if I had an hour," Miller says.

Concentration is key, she says. But it's always good to have a few other tricks you can count on when you're trying to put your new inventory up for sale.

So next time you have several gems in your hands and you need to list them quickly, use these tips so you won't work into the wee hours of the morning. Load them fast and move onto the next batch.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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