Photographs For Your
You will need a digital file of your photographs in a compressed JPEG
format. It should be large enough to show all relevant details but not
take too long to load. We recommend using files that are from 450-600
pixels long dimension. Be sure to incorporate a copyright notice in the
image as well. You can also add your website URL. This is easy to do in
an image-editing program like Photoshop, PhotoImpact, or Paint Shop Pro.
Be conservative in sizing the URL in your images so eBay doesn't
construe it to be a commercial advertisement for your website.
Next, you will need to come up with a website to host your images that
will appear on your auction page. If you already have your own website,
you can use that server to host your eBay images. If you don't yet
have your own website, look at services that host images for eBay auctions,
such as Village Photos (http://www.villagephotos.com/)
or use the free server space that your ISP may provide.
Picking A Category
One of the most difficult decisions in setting up an auction is choosing
the best category to list your pictures. We have found the "Art>Photographic
Images> Contemporary (1940-Now)" category to be successful for
many of our images. Your work will be shown along with some of the world's
greatest photographers in this category, including prints by Edward Weston,
Alfred Eisenstaedt, and Ansel Adams, to name just a few. Other categories
you might try include "Self Representing Artists" or even
"Digital Art," depending on the style of your work.
Browse the listing and look at the auctions in each as a guide. Besides
the art related categories, consider other categories that the subject
matter of your photo might fit into. When Larry decided to put his photographs
of Julius Erving and the New York Nets ABA basketball team up for auction,
he found great success in the "Sports>Sports Memorabilia>Memorabilia
& Team Merchandise>Basketball-NBA>Defunct Teams" category.
Good Auction Titles
Are Critical To Your Success
Auction Item Titles are critical to your success. eBay only allows you
45 characters, including spaces, to describe your item in your auction
lot title. You can go on at great length in your description that is in
the body of the auction, but the title is critical because when buyers
search eBay, the search engine only sees the words in the title by default.
In addition, your lot title will be what people see when they browse a
category. Proper use of keywords here will often be the difference in
making sales or not. Use the names of places and things in your titles.
Chris has an infrared shot of a Japanese Maple tree that has sold every
time he has put it up for auction, and people always tell him that they
found it by a keyword search. Larry's ABA basketball photos sell
in part because he lists the player's names and team name and "ABA"
in the title, making it simple for people interested in those players
to find them.
How do you know to trust a buyer or seller on eBay? In a word--feedback.
Everytime a bid is won, both the seller and buyer can leave feedback rating
the experience. Positive feedback comments will tell your buyers you are
on the level and can be trusted to deliver a quality item. People will
judge sellers they are considering buying from by the way they have conducted
business in the past. You can buy with confidence from someone who has
dozens, or even hundreds of positive feedback comments. Negative comments
are like black marks on the eBayer's record. People who have a number
of negative comments will find it hard to sell or buy, as they will not
have built up the trust that is needed to succeed in the auction venue.
When you start out, you will have no feedback from sales you have made.
But you can jump-start the process by buying small things from others,
and paying promptly, thus getting positive feedback from the sellers.
Producing Your Prints
Keeping your costs down, and your quality up, is critical to succeeding
on eBay. People expect a bargain when they bid on things, and you will
be most successful if you can create high quality work that is low in
cost to produce, yielding a good margin even when it sells at a low price.
Remember, it's not just the total dollar amount of your sales but
your actual profit that will determine your success at selling your photography
Technology has given you several options for producing high quality, low
cost prints. Ink jet printers are an obvious choice. While ink jet materials
costs are not insignificant, using a photo printer like the Epson Stylus
Photo 2200 (capable of printing up to 13x19) or Epson's 7600 (for prints
24x36" and longer) with Epson's Ultra Chrome pigment inks will give
you long lasting, high quality prints. Even the low cost Epson Stylus
Photo 820 (under $100!) will let you produce fine prints for very little
Another low cost, high quality option is to have your prints made on a
Fuji Frontier printer. This is a remarkable mini-lab machine that produces
standard photographic prints on Fuji Crystal Archive paper. Sam's
Club and Costco's Shoppers Warehouse often have these machines in
their stores, and will make 8x10" prints for less than $2 each.
These prints can be remarkably high quality, and can be printed from negatives,
or digital files.
Whatever process you use to print, we recommend including a signed certificate
that states your process along with any other information, which can add
to your credibility. Additionally, we recommend using archival clear plastic
bags (from www.clearbags.com)
to protect the print from handling, and include mention of it in the auction.
All of these low cost additions will increase the chance of people considering
your photography as collectable.
Pricing Your Auctions
For the most part, people who buy on eBay do not want to pay the full
retail value of the object that they are bidding on. We recommend you
sell prints without matting or framing. This will help you start your
auctions at a low price, encouraging people to begin bidding on your work.
It will also greatly reduce your shipping expenses. Take time to browse
and see what others who are selling photographs similar to yours are opening
their auctions for. Pay especial attention to those auctions that have
bids. Those are the successful ones you will want to emulate.
We recommend starting out by auctioning your 8x10" prints between
$9.95 and $15.00. Your goal is to get bidding started, and hope that bidding
between people will drive the price up higher. Over time, your eBay reputation
will build and your feedback can testify to the quality of photography
that you sell. By establishing yourself as selling quality photography,
you stand a much better chance of getting a higher dollar for your images.
We have had prints bid up above what we would sell them at retail, and
have also sold many images at the opening bid.
Don't let your ego get in the way. We have seen many of our peers
who sell their photography on the art show circuit refuse to set an opening
bid below what they get for their work at a show (or set a high reserve
price), causing their photographs not to be bid on at all. We recommend
setting your opening bid for the least amount you'll take for the
photograph, just enough to give you a small profit based on materials
and cost of shipping. Let the market set its price from there.
It's best to give buyers a choice of payments. PayPal, personal
checks, and money orders are the most common methods of payment on eBay.
We highly recommend setting up a PayPal account. With it, you will be
able to accept credit cards and payments from around the world. It's
simple and cost effective, and PayPal funds can be transferred directly
in your bank account on request.
Bidders are used to paying a reasonable amount for shipping, so look at
other auctions of items similar to yours to find out what the going rate
is. We charge $5 shipping for a single 8x10", and $2 for each additional
print shipped at the same time. (It's common to have a buyer bid
on, and win, multiple auctions if they like your work.) This covers postage,
shipping materials, and adds a bit to the profit as well. Shipping internationally
is a bit more, but still very reasonable. Sending an 8x10" print
by First Class Mail to Europe from the US costs only about $4 in postage,
so we charge the international customers $9 in shipping. You may think
that the amount we're charging for shipping is excessive based on
actual cost. But consider that if the print gets lost, or arrives damaged,
we would replace it no questions asked as a matter of good will and to
keep our eBay reputation intact.
Take A Chance
eBay offers several unique advantages over any other marketplace. First,
it is a very low overhead selling space. It only costs $.30 to list a
photograph that starts at $9.95 for 7 days, plus a small percentage if
it sells. Second, eBay is an open book of what has worked for other sellers.
All items, successful or not, are listed for 30 days beyond when they
close. It is a fairly simple matter to search for people who are selling
work like you would like to, and to analyze everything they do and to
learn from their successes and failures. Do your research and you can
learn from the most successful sellers and avoid the mistakes made by
those who fail to attract buyers. A third major advantage is the ability
to sell your work from anywhere you have an Internet connection to people
anywhere in the world. You can live in the mountains or by the sea; you
will still have the same access to this amazing marketplace as anyone
else in the world.
Of course, eBay is not for everyone. First, you have to leave your ego
behind. If you start your auctions at too high a price no one will bid
on them. And if you start too low, you may find that you are selling your
8x10" prints at too little profit for the time and effort you are
expending. Only experimenting will show if eBay is the right market place
Chris Maher and Larry Berman
are photographers, writers, and web designers, specializing in image intensive
photography sites. For more information visit their web sites www.InfraredDreams.com,