smart spending

Need cash? Sell stuff through online auctions

7. Don't forget photos.  Auction experts say pictures are important as or more important than words. Baughman advises photos taken from different angles and shots of any particular markings or damage. Ellenberger, whose site has a video offering tips on taking the best pictures for an online ad, suggests even taking a photo of the receipt for the item, if you've still got it (with personal info blocked out, of course). Authenticity paperwork is also worth a shot. If using someone else's wording seems to be a must, write something like "As noted on xxx, these are the features," she adds.

8. Don't reveal too much.  Tread carefully if mentioning why you're selling, for example. This may be an exception to the honesty rule. When auctionPAL gets clients selling because of financial need, the copy may say things like "reducing the size of my collection" or "moving" instead, Ellenberger says. Still, at least one marketing expert believes it's ok to admit misfortune, as a way to help sell an item with a below average price that may cause buyer suspicion. In that case, explaining the situation acts as a "credibility enforcer," says Jean Biri, president of Groupe Biri, a strategy consulting firm that works with entrepreneurs. "Retailers understand this principle well when selling normally expensive items at bargain prices" -- when they'll mention seasonal sales or going out of business sales, for instance.

9. Do try to add a personal touch .  "We think it's important to tell a little bit of a story about the item," Ellenberger says, adding that it might say the item was found in your mother's basement or that you have many happy memories using it. "People might be touched by and attracted to a personal story," Livingston says. As Baughman points out, "There's a fine line between not enough info and too much info. What your Aunt Tilly did with the item, I don't care. If the info is pertinent to the item, then list it. If it's not, then leave it out because you don't want to turn off a buyer." Is there an instance where someone might care about Aunt Tilly's affection for the piece? Perhaps, Baughman says, "if she worked for the Rockefeller's and they gave it to her as a parting gift."

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10. Do maximize title space.  A punchy media-like headline won't cut it. The best titles include all key words a buyer would search for, as well as unique or description attributes, according to an eBay tip sheet. Say you're selling a pair of designer shoes. The brand, size, and color should all go in the title, Ellenberger says. An auctionPAL seminar on title writing also advises listing the most important words first.

11. Do fill in the attributes section.  Do fill in the section for specific item attributes and descriptions so that buyers will find your ad during a search.  Words entered to describe the color, brand, model, etc. become "tags." Strive to use keywords that you would use if you were looking to buy the same type item. Don't worry about repeating words or phrases used in the title.

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