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Shortcuts: How to sell on eBay

By Linnie Rawlinson for CNN
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(CNN) -- Need more funds for the run-up to the holidays? Want to turn your clutter into hard currency? Our guide will help you make the most cash for your trash on eBay, the worldwide garage sale.

Starting out: Buyers are put off by sellers with no feedback, so your stuff won't sell for much if you list it when you're new to eBay. Once you've registered on the site, get some positive feedback by buying a few items yourself. (It's the ideal time to complete your World Cup Panini sticker collection.) Once you've got a good reputation as a buyer, start selling small stuff. When you've got feedback from satisfied customers, list your more valuable lots.

Protect yourself: Worried that your signed Beatles album will sell for $5? A low starting price plus a reserve (which costs a few cents) will tempt bargain hunters without risk. It's worth considering if you're selling something of value; don't bother if you're flogging a broken Franklin Mint plate.

A picture paints a thousand words: It's a cliche, but it's true: you'll make more cash if your photos are good. Take clear pictures, use more than one if you can, and show as much detail as possible. Some buyers won't mind a vintage Barbie with frizzy hair while others will leave negative feedback for a doll with a shock mop; but if your Barbie has a sleek coif, show it off.

Short and factual: Your title and description are crucial -- they'll help people find your items as well as entice them to bid. Keep it relevant (your Toby jug doesn't really look like Keira Knightley, does it?) and short -- no matter how great you think your carved Indonesian doorstopper is, people won't read a novel about it. Make sure your descriptions are readable, too -- massive text is a no no.

End on a Sunday: More items are listed on a Sunday than any other day, and most auctions run for seven days, so Sunday evening US time sees a frenzy of bidders. Who knows, while they're waiting to snipe Madonna's toenail clippings, they might just impulse-bid on your Starsky and Hutch mirror.

Be flexible: The more payment options you offer, and the more places you'll ship to, the more people will vie for your stuff. Get yourself a Paypal account and swot up on shipping options -- they'll be fighting for your Snoopy bedspread from Tipperary to Timbuktu.

Market your junk: Draw attention to your lots -- use the Gallery or Featured Items options if you think you're listing a winner. Do your research -- make sure your stuff is in the right category -- and cross-reference items as necessary. (Your Transformers annual might not get noticed in Books but it might stand a chance in Vintage Toys.)

Ship swiftly: Be businesslike. Ok, so you might not value Auntie Nora's rhinestone hatpin, but your buyer does, and they want it quickly. Pack your items well -- and charge a little more for materials if you need to. Your buyer won't be impressed if their Sherlock Holmes figurine unexpectedly arrives with a chipped deerstalker. The real money, as with any business, is in repeat purchases.

Leave feedback: Once your buyer's happy, leave them positive feedback -- it'll increase the chance of them leaving it for you, thus increasing your reputation. If your buyer has issues, try to resolve them amicably -- there's no need to be a walkover but most disputes can be sorted out.

Want to make serious money? Specialize. Ebay is perfect for niche markets -- and as you build a reputation, buyers will prefer your lots over those of newer sellers. To stay on top of the game, you'll need to watch emerging trends (bet you're kicking yourself for selling all your Star Wars figures for $30 in 1989) and tour garage, yard, car boot and attic sales.

And finally... Of course, you might make more from writing a "How to make a million on eBay" book...

Snap up a bargain: Check out our guide to buying on eBay >>


man selling scarves in market

Selling online: Less of a crush than your local market

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