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Online Auction Checklist

Every so often while cleaning out, you’re bound to come across an item that’s just too good to toss in the “donate” box or chuck onto your lawn at the next yard sale — a rare book you have no interest in reading again, an expensive item of never-worn clothing lurking in the back of your closet, or a particular high-end piece of sports equipment that would be much happier living in someone else’s home. However, you can’t find any place to consign these treasures locally — what do you do? If you’re ready for the brave not-so-new world of virtual sales, here are some tips for getting started with online auctions.

How Selling On The Interwebz Works

Checkmark-Iconearn money while getting rid of unwanted junk, from the comfort of your living room

Xmark-Iconlike placing a newspaper ad — but it all takes place automatically via the net

Checkmark-Iconyou post a description and photos of your product

Xmark-Iconset a minimum starting price and bidding time-limit — then wait to see what happens

Checkmark-Iconany questions are handled with a quick e-mail

Xmark-Iconwhen the listing ends, you receive payment and mail your shipment

Helping Folks Find Your Merchandise

Checkmark-Iconyour product shows up as a title hyperlinking to the larger description

Xmark-Iconthis title is generally limited to a single line — so make it count

Checkmark-Iconinclude enough information to grab a customer’s attention on that first pass

Xmark-Iconif the thing is brand new, say so — “NWT” (new with tags) if it’s never been used

Checkmark-Iconinclude recognizable brand names like “Whirlpool” or “Donna Karan”

Xmark-Icondon’t forget size/color and any other relevant descriptors

Checkmark-Iconwith clothing, indicate whether it is men’s, women’s, or kid’s

Xmark-Iconalso super important that you choose an appropriate category for your stuff

Checkmark-Iconplace your goodies with other similar items, where shoppers are already searching

Xmark-Iconask yourself, “where would I look for this thing-a-ma-bob if I were trying to buy one?”

Your Expanded Description

Checkmark-Iconusually not a space limit, so be as detailed as possible

Xmark-Icongeneral rule of thumb is “the more information, the better”

Checkmark-Iconfewer clarification e-mails and a more automated process by being thorough upfront

Xmark-Iconthe more folks have to contact your with questions, the less likely to buy

Checkmark-Iconlet bidders know the age of the item, its features, and any flaws or damage

Xmark-Iconincomplete product descriptions feel scammy and deceptive

Checkmark-Iconhonesty is an  important factor impacting your success with virtual sales

Xmark-Iconviolate a bidder’s trust, risk negative feedback — which will hurt you as a vendor

Worth A Thousand Words

Checkmark-Iconthe internet keeps buyers at a physical distance from your merchandise

Xmark-Iconthe only way they have to evaluate a product is through any photos you post online

Checkmark-Iconmany shoppers won’t bother with a product description that doesn’t include images

Xmark-Iconuse a neutral color background so the focus is on your stuff

Checkmark-Icontake pictures from several different angles

Xmark-Iconinclude close-ups of any important features or small parts

Checkmark-Iconif “minor damage,” take a zoomed-in shot of the damage to show how minor it is

Xmark-Icongood photos can mean the difference between a sale and a waste of time

The Money Side Of Things

Checkmark-Iconchoose from a couple of different options for pricing your merchandise

Xmark-Icontraditional — starting amount with incremental increases (highest bidder wins)

Checkmark-Iconreserve — minimum amount you’ll to accept (if not met you’re not obligated to sell)

Xmark-Iconbuy now — can bid and risk losing out or buy for a set amount at start of the sale

Checkmark-Icontry to select a shipping method that goes anywhere in the country for one price

Xmark-Iconor choose an auction service that offers real-time postage calculations

Checkmark-Iconor find out the cost to ship to the farthest point within national mainland boundaries

Xmark-Iconjust be clear that shipping charges may be higher for bidders outside this area

Checkmark-Iconinclude shipping method in your description — also whether insurance is included

Xmark-Iconis a nice service to your customers — and will prevent untold hassles later on

Questions To Ask About Fees

Checkmark-Iconwhether you’ll be charged for simply listing your item — regardless of the outcome

Xmark-Iconif commissions are based on earnings — or applicable even if product doesn’t sell

Checkmark-Iconwhat protections you’re offered in the case of a dishonest buyer

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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