smart spending

Need cash? Sell stuff through online auctions

2. Do make the ad look professional.  Consider downloading a template from the auction site, or just look around to see how people with auction site businesses set up their auctions, Livingston says. Using spell-check and having a friend look over the ad before it's published also help. An ad with a lot of misspelled words makes potential buyers wonder what kind of seller they're dealing with and whether other details may be incorrect, Baughman notes.

Beyond eBay
There's little doubt eBay  is the gold standard in online auction Websites, but there are alternatives. Depending on your individual circumstances and needs you may want to consider the following lesser known auction sites:

3. Do include a basic item description.  And include all the relevant facts. Both to help draw interest and avoid misunderstandings (that is, unhappy buyers). A seller's tip sheet on eBay advises including the item style/type, brand, condition, and other attributes, and keeping in mind, "The more information you provide, the more likely buyers are to place a bid." Tips offered on the auction site ePier also include describing the item's shape and size, as well as what it's made of and how old it is. When applicable, adds Ellenberger, also list specs like the model or serial number, "because there are so many fakes out there." Staff at auctionPAL find themselves doing quite a bit of fact checking in pricing items for clients. And, finally, include the shipping terms and acceptable methods of payment.

4. Do aim to be reader-friendly.  "I have been frustrated so many times weeding through paragraph after paragraph of an ad, trying to find the information that I want," Baughman says. It's not just a tedium issue. "People feel like maybe you're trying to sneak stuff in there, maybe to hide a bit of info like a broken piece that's mentioned," she adds. Strive for "economy of words." Also, says Baughman, use a bulleted list to break up any big chunks of text.

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5. Don't copy someone else's description.  Ellenberger recalls a woman who recently was selling a wheelchair. When auctionPAL staff requested more detail, "She did what anyone might do, taking a picture and description right off the company website. We put it up, thought it was hers, and the wheelchair company called us." While the company dropped the matter after the copy was changed, "not everyone's that nice." Popular auction site eBay removes ads where the copy is discovered to be someone else's, and if the owner of the text pushes the issue, eBay may ban you from selling ever again.

6. Do be honest.  "It's going to come back to haunt you if you try to gild the lilies, so to speak," Baughman says.

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