Writing Good Description for eBay Auction

In: Selling Tips

11 Mar 2009

Write the Right Description
If the listing title is the headline of your ad, the listing description is your ad’s body copy. Which means it’s time to put on your copywriter’s hat and get down to the nitty-gritty details.

Take All the Space You Need
What makes for good copy? First, you have all the space you need, so say as much as you need to say. Unlike with the title description, you don’t have to scrimp on words or leave anything out. If you can describe your item adequately in a sentence, great; if it takes three paragraphs, that’s okay too.

When you’re writing the description for your ad, be sure to mention anything and everything that a potential bidder might need to know. Note any defects or imperfections of the item. Include your desired payment terms and your preferred shipping methods. If the object is graded or evaluated in any way, include that assessment in your description. In other words, include everything you can think of that will eliminate any surprises for the buyer.

First Things First
You should probably put the most important and motivating information in your initial paragraph because a lot of folks won’t read any farther than that. Think of your first paragraph like a lead paragraph in a newspaper story: Grab ’em with something catchy, give them the gist of the story, and lead them into reading the next paragraph and the one after that.

The Bare Necessities
There are certain key data points that users expect to see in your item description. Here’s the bare minimum you should include:

  • Name (or title)
  • Condition
  • Age
  • Original use (what you used it for)
  • Value (if you know it)
  • Important measurements, contents, colors, materials, and so on
  • Any included accessories (including the original instruction manual, if you have it)
  • Any known defects or damage

If you don’t know any of this stuff, that’s okayas long as you admit it. If you’re not that familiar with the type of merchandise you’re selling, just say so. Better to plead ignorance up-front than to have a more savvy buyer cause problems for you after the sale.

Describe ItAccurately
Because other users will be bidding on your item sight unseen, you have to make the process as easy as possible for potential bidders. That means describing the item as accurately as possible, and in as much detail as possible. If the item has a scratch or blemish, note it. If the paint is peeling, note it. If it includes a few non-original parts, note it. Bidders don’t have the item to hold in their hands and examine in person, so you have to be their eyes and ears.

That’s right; you need to describe the item in painful detail, and be completely honest about what you’re selling. If you’re not honest in your description, it will come back to haunt youin the form of an unhappy and complaining buyer.

Stress Benefits, Not Features
Although you need to be descriptive (and in some collectibles categories, you need to be obsessively so), it doesn’t hurt to employ a little marketing savvy and salesmanship. Yes, you should talk about the features of your item, but it’s even better if you can talk about your product’s benefits to the potential buyer.

Let’s say you’re selling a used cordless phone, and the phone has a 50-number memory. Saying “50-number memory” is stating a feature; saying instead that the phone “lets you recall your 50 most-called phone numbers at the press of a button” is describing a benefit. Remember, a feature is something your item has; a benefit is something your item does for the user.

Break It Up
You should include as much descriptive copy as you need in your listing, but you should also make sure that every sentence sells your item.

And if your listing starts to get a little long, you should break it into more readable chunks. Use separate paragraphs to present different types of information, or just to break one long paragraph into several shorter, more readable ones. You can even use eBay’s formatting options to use different type sizes and colors for different portions of your listing description.

Comments are closed.

About eBayweb

eBayweb provides you with free eBay tips, tools, information and resources for beginning and professional eBay sellers and buyers.

  • bud: I know that people want to make a profit. But most of the people on ebay are asking outragous prices [...]
  • rich: i have early 1940's 50's photos of country musicians i have had some authenticated and have got som [...]
  • Con Heagney: I purchased an excaator for £11000 through ebay and transfered the funds to ebays bank account, pro [...]
  • V S Agarwal: Ebay and paypal helping scammers to cheat buyers. Seller get registration on ebay with only user id [...]
  • Mike Online Auctions: Good points about shipping internationally. I usually just ship domestically but I have been lookin [...]