Selling Your Art on Ebay
What Do You Need to Know?
Selling your art on ebay may be new and exciting for you. However, there are things you need to know before you get started. Lets have a look at a few aspects of selling your art on eBay:
What Will You Sell?
Firstly, you will need to know what you are going to sell. A lot of different kinds of art will mean a lot of different kinds of auction designs, postage options and policies. The easiest thing you can do for yourself is sell one kind of artwork that you are especially good at. Stick with it until you get a feel for the ebay world. This will make selling your art on eBay a lot more simple and less time consuming.
This will do more than one thing; firstly, it will let you pull in some sales and feedback without having to reinvent the wheel. You can reuse the auction templates, postage options, policies etc over and over without having to change so much.
Also, it will allow you to bring in collectors; people that go to you knowing you sell something in particular. If you sell completely random artworks of every shape, form, medium and topic, you will find it difficult getting repeat customers... if at all.
Remember, don’t ever sell something highly valuable as your first artwork on ebay. Do you have something small and inexpensive you can sell off? Sell that. Selling your art on eBay can be risky. If you mess up and have to refund the money, at least it won’t be quite as painful if you do it that way. What you sell here doesn’t necessarily have to be what you’re intending to sell a lot of. You just need a trial run.
Get To Know Your Area
Ebay has a huge number of categories to choose from when you go to list your item. Some categories get more attention than others; some are broad and some have a really fine niche. You absolutely must do your research before selling your art on eBay.
Think about which categories you would likely list in, and stalk it. Watch all of what would be your competition, see how many pieces are gaining interest and what sort of auction styles are popular. Take notes of everything.
This will also allow you to see what the market is doing. Are sales slow? Are people only buying cheap artworks or are they buying a select few high value ones?
Also, with experience, you’re more likely to sell your artwork on www.ebay.com as opposed to perhaps www.ebay.com.au . Think about what country you are in. If your country’s language is English, chances are it will be best to sell on the American Ebay (ebay.com).
America is a big place and the more eyes looking at your artworks the better. Yes, there is an option to make your auctions be seen internationally, but I find it just isn’t as effective as listing it on the American website.
However, there are two things you need to think about:
Customs: If your artwork has natural materials in it, such as wood, fur, grasses etc, you may find it difficult to post outside of your own country. This may be a situation where it would be inappropriate to list your item internationally. To dodge this, you should try to use faux replacements where possible.
Postage: I know with Australia, postage can be really expensive, especially when you are looking at posting internationally. The US postal system is incredibly cheap, and if you list on ebay.com your postage prices are going to be directly compared to your neighbouring auctions, which may be a deal breaker in your customers’ eyes. If you do choose post international, perhaps include your postage price in the cost of the artwork so you’re not reminding your customers just how expensive the shipping is.
Know the Different Auction Types
There are all sorts of ways you can sell your artworks on ebay, and they all have their pros and cons. This is where your research comes in. See what types seem to be effective, and which just don’t seem to be working for people. Here are the different styles of selling:
This is probably the one that nearly everyone is familiar with. You list a starting price of your auction, and people bid on it. The highest bidder at the end of the allotted time wins the auction. They pay you the money, and hopefully you walk away with a large profit. Selling your art on eBay with this method is probably the most simple.
This is very similar to the normal auction. The main difference is that you can put a reserve price on the item. This means that people won’t win the item unless your reserve is met.
For example, you start the auction at $1, but you put the reserve at $50. Although people start bidding up from $1, you are comforted in knowing that if bids are slow, your artwork will not be sold for under $50. If no one bids up to your reserve, no one wins the auction and you can keep your artwork.
Unfortunately, reserve auctions tend not to generate as much excitement and can actually inhibit bidding, so make sure you think hard and do your research before deciding on this option every time. I know it might be hard to see your artwork sell for cheap, but sometimes it is worth the leap.
Of course, make sure you have carefully watched your category to see if the market is booming. If there aren’t any sales, even high quality artworks, chances are there will be less bidders out there.
Some people choose to tell people what the reserve is in there auction description. I highly recommend this. It’s widely known that the majority of people get too intimidated to bid if they have no idea what the reserve price is. There may be a minority who don’t really mind either way, but you really want the odds to be in your favour.
Buy it Now (fixed price) Auctions
This is a multi-functional option. You can choose to add a buy it now button to a normal auction, so if a bidder wants to bypass the whole auction process, they can click the button and win the item instantly for whatever price you have set for it.
You can also choose to list your item only with a Buy It Now button and forget the auction process all together. Some artists find that having a Buy It Now button (be it in an auction or stand alone) can work for them.
However, the biggest downer is that you have just cut off your chance of the price being pushed higher than you initially listed it at. Wouldn’t you hate it if 5 people wanted your sculpture, and instead of selling it for $50 it could have sold for $200 because the 5 people were fighting over it? Either way; and at risk of sounding like a broken record; research what your market is doing. What format do they appear to favour?
Know The Language
You have to know the common language (or lingo) used on ebay. It’s always better to write things out as clear as possible on your own listings, but you will have to know the terms in case of curly questions and the like. Here are some common ones:
BIN: Buy It Now
Obviously there will be more than just what’s stated here, but here are some of the most common basics. As stated before, although you should familiarize yourself with all these terms, I would highly recommend against using them in your auction description so as not to confuse anyone. Let’s face it, not everyone who buys on eBay know ALL the lingo and selling your art on eBay is enough of a trial without confusing your customers.
Buy Some Art
Obviously buying a $300 piece of art may not be the best idea, but you should buy some sort of artwork from eBay just to see how the whole process works. Look to a notable seller and buy something from them. Note how they communicate, how they make you feel, how did they post it to you, etc. You can learn a lot just by being on the receiving end of a transaction.
By doing this you not only get to test it out, but you also get some feedback in return. Selling your art on eBay with no feedback to speak of is a difficult way to start out, so it’s good to have something there.
What you SHOULDN’T do though, is buy supplies with the account you intend to sell your art on. I learnt this the hard way; collectors think it’s a bit cheap when they can see exactly how much your art supplies cost you and where you bought it from. So try not to do it. Use a family members’ or friends account to buy your supplies, not your artwork account.
There you have it. Of course there are still endless things you can learn about selling your art on eBay, but hopefully this will send you in the right direction.
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